James Woods

Ray Donovan S1 (Amazon Prime)

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ray-donovan-1Ever since Showtime aired the first episode of this series back in 2013, Ray Donovan has irritated me. Not the show itself, you understand, but more because I’ve never been able to watch it, or really get a proper grip on whether it’s even the type of show that might interest me if I could. In the UK, it’s aired on a channel that isn’t carried by my cable provider; since it clearly doesn’t fit into a neat genre it’s usually unhelpfully classified simply as ‘drama’, and the series description tends to be just as broad and sparse. As a result it’s a show that’s appeared on the television listings tantalisingly out of my reach, while the DVD boxsets that started coming out a year later were too expensive to buy sight unseen when there was a real risk that I’d watch the first ten minutes and hate it.

Three and a half years later I’ve finally been granted a way in, after finding that the first three seasons of the show are available free to Amazon Prime subscribers. That has allowed me to dip a toe into the world of Ray Donovan and finally work out what the show is actually all about, and whether I like it or not. Read the rest of this entry »

White House Down (2013) [DVD]

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Terrorists breach the White House and only one US Capitol police officer remains alive inside to save the President and his own young daughter.

Wait! Wait! Hang on, didn’t we do this one already? You’d be forgiven for a powerful sense of déjà vu at this point, because it’s only four months since we used a near-identical introduction to Olympus Has Fallen. It’s a rare but not unprecedented case of films with virtually the same premise hitting the theatres independently just a few months apart (see also Deep Impact/Armageddon and Dante’s Peak/Volcano for starters) but having already reviewed the first of this double bill back in September it seemed incumbent upon me to see it through and review White House Down now that the other shoe had finally fallen with the release on DVD this week.

Inevitably, watching the films becomes as much a process of ‘compare-and-contrast’ as it is a stand-alone review so let’s start with a little recap. Olympus Has Fallen won the race to be released first, which undoubtedly will have cost White House Down at the box office – how many filmgoers decided not to see the second film after understandably thinking “Nah, I’ve seen that one already.” It’s an easy mistake to make: the two films have the same setting, similar titles, almost identical posters, and at the end of the day are both very much summed up as ‘Die Hard in the White House’, although in practice the two films implement this high concept in slightly different ways. Read the rest of this entry »