Ozark (Series 1 to 3) 2017-20 ****

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Arguably the best Netflix series, if something of a sleeper, is Ozark, a tense drama/thriller about a Chicago family who abruptly up sticks and move to the backwaters of America. They’re on a mission to money launder; Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman) realises too late that his business partner has some strong underworld connections, and is lucky to escape the resultant bloodbath with his life. Byrde has also just discovered video evidence of infidelity by his wife Wendy (Laura Linney), and their family unit is in danger of fragmenting. But Marty successfully begs for a chance at survival, moving to the Ozarks and aiming to launder money from a Mexican drug cartel.

With bin-bags crammed with banknotes, this covert operation is no easy task; buying a house, a share in local businesses, strip clubs and funeral parlours is not enough, and by series two, the Byrde family are getting involved in the casino trade and local politics. Their two children are initially oblivious, but as interactions with the locals grow more extreme, the Byrde family struggle to maintain a normal demeanour as the bodies pile up around them.

Ozark is an absorbing crime-thriller with a great angle; the Byrde family are normal people, faced with an extraordinary situation; how to get millions into the local economic system without giving themselves away. The same situation could easily be exploited for comedic purposes, as with Bateman’s Arrested Development, but Ozark is deadly serious, even if there are blackly comic twists along the way.

The huge plus here is the acting; Bateman and Linney are both terrific performers, and their portrait of a husband and wife way beyond the end of their tether is utterly compelling. Julia Garner is equally hypnotic as the opportunistic Ruth Langmore, who takes full advantage of the Byrde’s situation, and Janet McTeer plays brilliantly against type as the ice-cold and deadly lawyer Helen who represents the interests of the drug cartel.

Batemen has indicated that Ozark’s story is soon to be brought to a close, and that’s probably for the best. While there have alwasy been lapses into clichés (bogus religious services on riverboats with heroin delivered inside bibles), the Lord and Lady Macbeth angle gets repetitious by series three as the endless line of new characters introduced only to be rapidly killed off stretches credulity. And the mental health angle in series three, introduced via Wendy’s brother, isn’t a great look for the show; he’s yet another firecracker waiting to unleash violence when off his meds, a rote character in a creative series that doesn’t need to fall back on such negative stereotypes.

Such faults aside, Ozark is one of the best examples of a streaming show, and anyone who hasn’t caught it yet is in for a treat. Created by Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams, it’s an adult, intense show that aims for a societal fault line where crime and community intersect on Main Street. A great final season will make Ozark a show for the ages, if they can get the formula back on track.

https://www.netflix.com/watch/80117552?source=35

Breakdown 1997 ****

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Netflix have slowly eroded their reputation in terms of movies for some time, as studios take back their product to create rival streaming services of their own. So whatever you think of their new stand-alone shows and series, finding a good film to watch on Netflix is increasingly tricky, and it’s a surprise to see Breakdown pop up. Directed by Jonathan Mostow, Breakdown is a neat, unassuming thriller that delivers on the promise of a good story well told; an ideal fit for the casual viewings that Netflix seems to court so assidously.

Kurt Russell is Jeff Taylor, heading across the US in his Jeep SUV with his wife Amy (Kathleen Quinlan). Jeff unwisely leaves the bonnet of his car open while visiting a gas station, and drives away unaware that his vehicle has been sabotaged. When the car break down, a friendly trucker Red Barr (JT Walsh) offers to take them both to the nearest town, but Jeff elects to stay with his precious car. Discovering and solving the problem, he races off to re-unite with Amy, but when he arrives at the local diner, there’s no sign of her…

Some spoilers may be required, but if you haven’t figured out that Barr knows more than he’s saying, you haven’t seen many movies. Walsh was a terrific performer, and his glassy-eyed nonchalance works wonders here; a scene where Jeff hails down a police-car and demands they search Barr’s truck is intensely frustrating to watch, because Walsh is so plausible as an innocent man. But we already know he’s lying; for once, our superior position drives identification with Barr and invites us to join Jeff in his bid to uncover the truth.

Mostow does a great job with the physicality of this story, with lonely vistas and desolate, tense silences mixed up with multi-vehicle chases, burning rubber and screaming gear-boxes. And Russell’s Jeff is a truly relatable character; like John McClane in Die Hard, he’s ingenious and resourceful, but never acts like a superman. Basil Poledouris contributes a great, untypical score, and with hissable villains and lantern-jawed heroes, it’s easy to cheer the pedal-to-the-metal justice of Breakdown.

Although made in 1997, mobile phones and video-games both feature in Breakdown, but just not in the prominent way that they would if the film was made today. The locals mock Jeff’s car as being reliant on a computer, and Jeff’s re-birth as a man is largely because he sets aside his urban gadgetry and gets back down with a little primal ass-kicking. ‘What would I do with $90,000 worth of donuts?’ muses Amy; such vapid, idle speculation is the result of losing touch with reality, and Breakdown delivers that reality to Jeff and Amy with some velocity. Breakdown is a B-movie, without a shred of pretention; Duel, Straw Dogs or Deliverance might have covered similar ground, but Breakdown deserves an audience by virtue of it’s no-frills, all-thrills approach to involving and satisfying an audience in 93 minutes flat, with no stops or comfort breaks.

Marriage Story 2019 ****

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It’s always concerning when people are queuing up to tell you how good a movie is; despite the roar of the critics, a 137 minute analysis of a marriage breakdown really does need some pull quotes to sell it. ‘See the star of Avengers in a custody dispute with the star of Star Wars’ doesn’t sound like it’ll put bums on seats, but then again, this is a Netflix production, so the bums don’t have to be enticed from their sofas. Noah Baumbach’s semi-autobiographical film has genuine star power in the form of Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as functional click-bait, and although it’s the kind of self-conscious art movie that uses to pack indie cinemas, it should find quite a few takers with a contentious he-said/she-said narrative that engages and chills at the same time.

Charlie (Adam Driver) is a NYC theatre director, Nicole (Johansson) is his wife, and they have a son to take care of. Their decade-long relationship seems to be fizzling out; she’s got work in LA that expands and contracts, he’s locked into the creative lottery of Broadway and off-Broadway. Both of them get to sing a song to illustrate their theatrical backgrounds, although his rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s Being Alive is far superior to her family pastiche. Indeed, Marriage Story isn’t as balanced as has been suggested; like Robert Benton’s Kramer vs Kramer, this is divorce from a man’s POV, with Nicole’s hard-nosed career aspirations making her an antagonist to Charlie’s soft-headed sentiment.

It soon becomes obvious that Charlie’s hang-dog charms have led him to infidelity, although Baumbach is more interested in the cold aftermath than the passion, and Nicole’s coldness is not without justification. But the weight of sympathetic set-pieces falls heavily in Charlie’s favour; there’s a sensational late scene involving a knife that’s so fiercely, blackly comic that it could only have come from real experience, and draws gasps and groans of empathy.

Marriage Story promises lots of shouting and angst, but the grounded, realistic expansion of Charlie and Nicole’s feud to include lawyers, families and passing strangers provides opportunities for weapons-grade acting from Driver and Johansson, neither of whom have bettered the performances they give here. Driver nails Charlie’s addiction to lost causes, and suggests a deep, lonely soul desperate to fulfil the coveted role of father. Johansson softens the bitter edge of Nicole’s desire for escape and reveals something more tender; her desire to be the best mother she can necessitates taking care of herself, and Nicole comes across far more genuine that Meryl Streep did in Kramer.

Perhaps 137 minutes is a run-time which lacks discipline, but there are long, compelling stretches of old-school drama here. And as a bonus, there’s a wealth of star-studded turns here, all highly enjoyable, from Ray Liotta and Laura Dern as expensive lawyers, to Alan Alda as a not so expensive lawyer. Marriage Story is the most mature work from Baumbach so far, a complex view of good people who find that goodness isn’t enough to immunise them against the insidious viruses of past-vanity and domestic over-reach. It’s a parable for our time; the blue skies and clear vistas of LA are contrasted with the cold and dirty feelings of the human heart, and there’s no winners here other than the audience, who should marvel at the strength of self-analysis contained in Marriage Story for years to come.

Uncut Gems 2019 ****

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We seem to be living through a surfeit of Scorsese right now. As if it’s not enough that he delivers a film longer than most tv shows at the three-and-a-half hour The Irishman, there’s also Joker, a film which he developed. Joker is a greatest hits of Scorsese covers, mimics plot lines and specific scenes from King of Comedy, Taxi Driver and more. So it’s with a weary heart that we turn to Uncut Gems, another Scorsese-produced slice of awards fodder from Netflix, entered into competition with The Irishman, Joker and any other Scorsese wannabes in the 2020 awards stakes.

And yet, Uncut Gems is the work of Josh and Benny Sadfie, whose blistering Good Time seemed to be a blast of fresh air in the urban thriller stakes. They coaxed a career best performance from Robert Pattinson for that film, and it’s no surprise that Adam Sandler would seem them as a way out of the comedy inanity that he’s found himself yoked into. Sandler is an accomplished comic, and his hand-dog charm has worked well in films like The Wedding Singer. Attempts to re-launch him in a more serious context (Spanglish, Reign Over Me) have been less successful, but Uncut Gems will be something of a revelation for fans and detractors alike. Sandler is electrifying as an amoral NYV gems hawker, pin-balling between clients, gangsters and marks as he attempts to steady his financial ship while exposing himself to potential dangers.

Howard Ratner (Sandler) is a family man, but he’s also a duplicitous scumbag who seems to be daring fate to take everything away from him. He imports a rare opal, lines up a buyer in the form of a rich basketball player, and borrows money against his own success; he’s constructing a house of cards with unstable foundations. Ratner’s home-life is equally turbulent, and it seems like only a matter of time before clients and family members will realise that he’s scamming them all.

Although Uncut Gems is a good-looking movie thanks to cinematographer Darius Khondji, it’s never in thrall to the environment in the way that the Irishman is, side-stepping clichés and coming up fresh; the way Ratner’s bluster is sidelined by the casual use of a security cordon feels real in the way that hit-men don’t. Like Good Time, the environments is drawn in a realistic way, and the way low-key story-elements are knitted together as the walls close in on Ratner, literally in the final scenes, is striking and impressive.

Downbeat and scuzzy, Uncut Gems may draw audiences keen to see more of Sandler, but this isn’t a feel-good movie in any way. It’s a character study of a man whose lies have been out of control for some time; a scene in which he fails to sweet-talk an auction house employee is particularly painful. Uncut Gems is a triumph for the Sadfies, and for Sandler, who should expect serious awards consideration for his transformative performance. Just don’t expect a good time here; Uncut Gems is as rough, uneven and tricky as the central character portrayed here.

The Two Popes 2019 ****

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There’s been plenty of criticism of the lowest common denominator programming on Netflix; from Bright to The Ridiculous Six, there’s often a pervasive, musty aroma of a bottom drawer project that no-one else wanted. Fernando Meirelles’s The Two Popes is quite a different kind of animal, a carefully wrought adaptation of Anthony McCarten’s play about the changing of the guard in the Vatican. As a roman a clef, it bears more of a resemblance to The Crown in that it features a decidedly populist view of historical events; while hardly worth faking a box-office run for, it should do Netflix no harm to demonstrate that yes, they can generate genuinely meaningful content.

Let’s be honest, here, a lot of the fun of The Two Popes is in the margins. Did you know that Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) was a huge fan of Kommisar Rex, a tv show about a crime-fighting dog? Were you aware that his successor, Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) would drink Fanta and eat pizza with him like a couple of home-boys while they plotted the future of the Catholic Church? A funny end-sequence has them on the couch watching football; the de-mythologising of the papal home-life is a big part of the appeal here. An opening sequence, in which Francis whistles Abba’s Dancing Queen seeps into an orchestral version that provides a surprising and irreverent soundtrack to the initial selection of Benedict as Pope.

Meireilles hasn’t done too much to open up the play; the beautiful backdrops at the pope’s retreat and at the Vatican provide much to engage the eye while two great actors bring the popes to life. This is a two-hander piece much like Volker Schlöndorff’s excellent 2016 film Diplomacy, with vivid flashbacks to Francis’ struggles as a young man in Argentina. Both Hopkins and Pryce give big, relish-able performances as quite different men, and the script never lets sight of the weight that both men suffer from a deep sense of despair at their church’s failure to act over internal abusers.

The Two Popes has surprised many by coming straight out of the traps to secure Golden Globe nominations; given the pedigree of the cast and director, it’s certainly in the running for awards attention. Perhaps it’s too wordy and worthy for pop-corn-swilling crowds, but it’s an excellent, thoughtful film, and it would be nice to think that it may well end up with a higher competition rate than Roma or The Irishman; it’s a tighter, more disciplined film that either of these prestige pictures. If nothing else, it’s a great start to Netflix’s Papal Cinematic Universe, (PCU) with plenty of other key figures ripe for Pope-sploitation.

The Irishman 2019 ***

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There was once a discipline and economy to making a feature film; directors complained, but cinema-owners could only show a film so many times a day, and even video-tape cost money. The digital age allows Netflix to give directors carte blanche to make films of any length, and last year’s bloated awards magnet Roma is followed by 219 long minutes of Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Perhaps there’s a good film in there trying to get out, but handicapped by a rubber-faced CGI cast and over-familiar material, The Irishman is a limp, late return to happy hunting grounds for Scorsese.

Scorsese has a reputation as a master of cinema; Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas are all electrifying movies. What they have in common in style is the glamorisation of real-life criminal behaviour, and striking busts of violence. As a result, Scorsese has a large following with imitations as brazen as Todd Phillips’ Joker. But when the director tackles other subjects, in comedies like After Hours, or reverent biographies like Kundun, or literary adaptation like The Age of Innocence, or religious drama like Silence, and one thing’s for sure; the audience won’t show up. Bullets through brains is what Scorsese’s audience want, and the Irishman has plenty of that.

Don’t expect the old-school killings of The Godfather here; in The Irishman, executions happen at Grand Theft Auto speed, a flash of a weapon and a fountain of blood. Indeed, Robert DeNiro even looks like a video-game character, his gait awkward at every age he portrays as hit-man Frank Sheeran. We start in the 1950’s, and finish up four decades later, with the changes marked by the roll of history on Frank’s tv screen. Sheeran works his way up to a position serving, and then betraying, his boss, Teamster Jimmy Hoffa, played energetically under melting candle make-up by Al Pacino. Business associates come and go, with Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Plemons, Jack Huston and others milling around the edges, and even old pals Joe Pesci and Hervey Keitel get in on the act.

As always with Scorsese, the editing is crisp, the cars and clothes are ideal, and there’s some absorbing scenes; a discussion about fish takes on great meaning. Robbie Robertson contributes an ideal score to compel the viewer through any lapses of conversation, while the needle-drops are always on point. But the length is hellish and self-defeating; this is a tv show, not a movie, and Frank’s story is lazily told without discipline. As with Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese seems happy to find a unreliable story-teller and credulously set everything the say down as gospel truth, offering a narrow view, and a woman or morality-free text. Every time Frank mentions an explosion, the film stops to show it, an effect that comes close to self-parody, although the sight of rows of yellow cabs being dumped in the river is an arresting one. Steven Zallian’s dialogue similarly suffers from clichés; to paraphrase, it’s all ‘Jimmy the Snake taught me one thing; you never wanna cross Blind Willie McF*ck…’ Reflections on family and justice are marginalised by forensic attention to fashion and music.

Those who ignore all Scorsese’s other work will lap up the sudden shootings and the macho badinage of The Irishman, which is based on a book by Charles Brant. But the rubbery faces will put off casual viewers; The Irishman often looks like cut-scenes for a video-game, with mottled skin-tones and slick hairstyles that distract from what the characters say. There would be no place for an expensive dud like The Irishman at the cinemas; even on streaming, it’s likely to vanish quickly as a bizarre footnote to Scorsese’s career.

Dolemite Is My Name 2019 ****

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Who was Rudy Ray Moore and why should be care about him in 2019? This comeback vehicle for Eddie Murphy is a superficial but undeniably entertaining Netflix-lite account of the 1970’s comic who rose from club gigs, concert records and eventually Blaxploitation cinema to become a significant cultural influence. For Murphy, who has vanished from the big-time scene for some time, playing Moore gives him a chance to get back a mojo that’s been posted missing for decades, and Dolemite Is My Name certainly provides that showcase.

Moore is introduces as an unsuccessful hustler, tying to get a foothold with a uninterested record store DJ Raj (Snoop Dogg); in a script written by the team who brought us Ed Wood (Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski), the trajectory of Moore’s career is obvious from the moment he listens to a passing vagrant telling jokes, and realises that there’s nothing in his day’s media that reflects that culture. Club MC-ing comes easily to him in character as Dolemite, and making records in people’s houses propels him to a cult success. But a viewing of the comparably austere worldview contained in Billy Wilder’s 1974 film The Front Page inspires Moore to go a step further: enlisting the help of a playwright (Keegan-Michael Key) to create a movie, despite knowing almost nothing about what that might entail. The presence of funny performers like Titus Burgess and Craig Robinson has already provided a rich garnish for Murphy’s imitation of Moore, but a higher comic gear is achieved when Wesley Snipes enters as D’Urville Martin, who acts and directs alongside the inexperienced Moore, and who suffers long and hard for his art; for Snipes and Murphy, Dolemite gives them a chance to shine, and they grab it with both hands.

What’s less impressive here is that Dolemite Is My Name, directed by Craig Brewer, has little to actually say about Moore, comedy, or cinema aside from breathlessly relating a legend of financial success; Moore isn’t allowed a private life, or even a sex life, and most of his problems only occur to be resolved in the following scene. It’s the kind of approach that featured in The Wolf of Wall Street; print the legend and nothing else. The only characters not immediately in thrall to Moore are those who haven’t worked out how to make money from him; for a 2019 audience, without any real context beyond a few seconds of Wilder’s film, Moore’s routines, bravado and sexism don’t seem particularly amusing in themselves, however painstakingly brought to life.

Dolemite is My Name is the kind of rags to riches story that’s easy to relate to, and Moore’s approach to film-making makes for an entertaining film. But Brewer doesn’t actually make many points other than you can make a lot of money making blue jokes, denigrating women and acting out stereotypes. It’s easy to see why Murphy related to the idea of making this film, and there is likely to be a substantial audience who share his interest, even if the result seems to airbrush its subject to gain mainstream acceptance.

https://www.netflix.com/watch/80182014?source=35

The Laundromat 2019 ***

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Stephen Soderbergh has promised to retire so many times now that it’s tempting to organise a Kickstarter whip-round to get him a carriage clock and hope the door doesn’t hit him on the backside on the way out; at least we’d be spared sitting through such yawners as Side-Effects, The Good German, The Girlfriend Experience or Haywire. His latest, The Laundromat, takes the Panama Papers as a subject in the style of The Big Short, but with none of the energy or focus. There’s a certain interest in the cast assembled, and the subject is a timely one given that legislation clearly needs to change, but Netflix is hardly a non-profit, charitable institution. And given that Netflix are currently being sued or under investigation for tax evasion in several countries, the ani-corruption lecture The Laundromat ends on feels more that a little misplaced, focusing attention to the company’s own business practices.

The draw name here is Meryl Streep, and the powerful opening scene for her character grabs the attention as she loses her husband, in a sequence mirroring a real-life tragedy where a scenic tour boat was capsized. Her character, Ellen Martin, finds herself given the run-around from various insurance companies, and the scene is set for a thorough investigation of shell companies, wealth management and various other aspects of the 21st century financial ball-game. Except Ellen’s story is soon swamped by a number of other all-star elements, none of them very compelling and a few, including Steep in another role, badly misjudged.

Worse still is a framing device featuring two slices of processed ham from Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas as Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, who are portrayed as running a dubious Panama law firm and narrate the stories straight to camera. The green-screen work here is poor from the opening cave-man sequence onwards, and the device itself is questionable; why should the one-per cent get to tell the story? And why should eight dollar Netflix subscribers, presumably entertainment seekers, want to listen to a lecture on money delivered by well-heeled actors like Sharon Stone, who reportedly banked $10 million in a pay-or-play deal for Basic Instinct 2? Our fictional Mossack and Fonseca attempt to make a gag of this by pointing out a difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance, but it just feels like Soderbergh is giving himself and his pals a free pass on moral responsibility, shrugging and saying that someone, anyone else is to blame.

The Big Short was no masterpiece, but it at least managed to carry off an irreverent style and give its stars something substantial to do to earn their corn; the famous-face cameos featured here suggest nothing more than a charity telethon, with celebs phoning it in for the cash. It’s no surprise that, to quote an early inter-title, ‘the meek get screwed’ when the exposes are as toothlessly presented as this. As awards fodder, or even as an educational tool, The Laundromat barely gets started, and drops into the same dusty bin as War Machine and other Netflix misfires. That 500 million dollar deal for a 25 year old Seinfeld sitcom can’t come soon enough for a streaming service seemingly out of ideas and out of touch with its worldwide audience.

https://www.netflix.com/watch/80994011?source=35

 

Hitman Redemption 2018 ***

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Do you love the Hitman video game? Did you like Timothy Olyphant’s performance in 2007’s Hitman, or did you prefer Rupert Friend’s incarnation in the recent Hitman; Agent 47? Whatever your knowledge of the Hitman IP, you’ll be utterly bamboozled when a film called Hitman Redemption turns up on Netflix UK. Why? Because it is absolutely nothing to do with the Hitman series, and why they should be masquerading as such is anyone’s guess.

This movie was released as Asher during a US release last year, and it stars the always personable Ron Perlman as an aging hit-man who has a crisis when a job goes wrong. Whatever this film’s merits, giving the film the title of a different and far better known IP is a recipe for unsatisfied customers.

Having got all that out of the way, Hitman Redemption aka Asher is a decent little B movie that has a few points of genuine interest. Firstly, director Michael Caton-Jones is a very safe pair of hands, with a few notable successes (Memphis Belle, Scandal, Rob Roy) and an ability to get difficult films over the line (Basic Instinct 2). He uses a bluesy score here to give atmosphere to some fairly rote professional assassin shenanigans, with Asher finding his relationship with his handler (Richard Dreyfuss) under pressure. But there’s a sub-plot involving Asher’s fading abilities, and his relationship with a neighbour Sophie (Famke Janssen) that nearly turns the film on it’s head.

Viewers expecting video-game antics are going to be profoundly mystified by watching Sophie struggling to deal with her mother’s dementia and incontinence, and the contrast between her problems and Asher’s is interesting. And the mother character is played with surprising depth by Jacqueline Bisset, who makes something moving and memorable of her scenes. The action is short and not particularly distinguished, but there’s just enough meat on the bones to suggest why such a strong cast was attracted to this project.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie 2019 ****

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Is it too late for Netflix to bring the funny? With Amazon investing billions in established IP like Lord of the Rings, it seems perverse that Netflix’s latest big investment is decades-old episodes of Seinfield to complement decades-old episodes of Friends. Not that these shows aren’t great, but they’re placeholders for new comedy that’s yet to appear. Tapping into existing comedy like Joel McHale didn’t work, even though his show had some great stuff in it, so this harnessing of popular content from Funny Or Die seems like a step towards  giving Netflix an identity based on putting smiles on faces.

Zach Galifianakis has been ploughing an amusing furrow with his talk-show parody Between Two Ferns, originally Betwixt Two Ferns as he mentions in Scott Aukerman’s expanded reboot. There’s elements of Ali G as Galifianakis says and does exactly what an interviewer should not, drawing attention to himself, mis-representing his guests, and just being plain rude; there’s plenty of big names willing to show themselves as good sports. This time around, it’s pretty clear that there was an Avengers movie sending a roster of names to the set; Benedict Cumberbatch, Tessa Thompson and Brie Larson keep a straight face while names, acting talents and personal quirks are insensitively discussed.

There’s also a fresh frame; Funny Or Die boss Will Ferrell closes down the set after it gets destroyed during a sprinkler disaster that nearly drowns a game Matthew McConaughey. Galifianakis and his team head cross-country to find stars and interview them in their homes, and there’s some neatly developed sketches that turn the format on its head; a one-night stand with Chrissy Teigen leads to a troubled visit from husband John Legend. Otherwise, it’s fun to see Jon Hamm, Peter Dinklage, and perennial Netflix self-parodist Keanu Reeves allowing pot-shots at themselves; the good humour is infectious.

The shortness of the interview sections works a little against the premise, but Between Two Ferns: The Movie works far better than, say Ali G In Da House in that it stays true to the interview-based origins of the conceit. And at the centre is a strong comic character; Galifianakis is vain, downtrodden, pretentious, snarky and not as smart as he thinks. There’s mileage in the way he takes down celebrities; in an age when few interviewers pack a punch, Between Two Ferns offers fake takedowns of today’s ‘hot idiots’ in entertaining fashion.

https://www.netflix.com/watch/80243600?source=35