Such a blast! The second half of “Black Earth Rising” accelerates and coheres and thunders to its climax. I loved the opening episode, enjoyed the next three (but felt the story drifted), and was most delighted to witness the pace pick up thereafter. The plot darkens and twists and the locale shifts from UK and France to include Rwanda itself. Abena Ayivor now shines as the Rwandan president and Lucian Msmati is wonderful as her offsider. The turbulent interplay between Kate Ashby and Michael Ennis is a special treat. And the shocks and epiphanies Kate experiences dovetail perfectly with the sinuous plot. A special series that explores issues of good and evil, even while it entertains.
Amanda Palmer has forged her own path since her Dresden Doll days and is now a unique firebrand performer and Patreon favorite with an independent cast of mind. “There Will Be No Intermission” is an impressive, cohesive crowdfunded work with 10 tracks, separated by 10 musical interludes. Sparsely instrumented, mostly with her piano or banjo, her expressive voice is often delicate, sometimes roaring. Highlights include the nine-minute candid “The Ride,” a passionate cry for solidarity; “Drowning in the Sound,” with its electronica beat and backing, railing against social media hate; and “Bigger on the Inside,” her voice cracking over a repetitive refrain as she covers insults, forbearance and her dead brother. Beauty resides on every truth-infused song.
Three seasons of a dark detective thriller is often one season too long, and after the brilliant first episode of Season 3 of “Cardinal” (which I rated as 9/10), I fretted that the next few episodes dissipated energy (8/10). Rest assured, for the final three grim but stunning episodes, I’m delighted to report, are top notch. Cardinal and Delorme finally begin to piece together the complex clues just as the killing crew, led by a deranged woman, begin to fall apart. The tension climbs to nigh unbearable levels. And even during this, an off-the-books, very personal investigation by Cardinal, inches towards resolution. As usual, we get spot-on acting, a tight script full of twists, and beautiful cinematography. The climax, followed by another climax, were fitting conclusions, and I can only hope for a further season. Another of this year’s viewing highlights.