Sam Neill Update: Ruthless Businessman, Ex-Prison Guard, Sad Husband

According to my spreadsheet, I’m about 75% done with this project!!! That’s assuming no new titles become available on Netflix before the end. I might end up cheating and watching some things on Amazon Instant.

Stiff (2004 TV movie)
Not to be confused with the 2010 film of the same name about necrophilia that apparently was so bad it brought one imdb reviewer to tears.

None of these people are remotely related to law enforcement. Clears they are the best choice for solving this murder mystery!

The Movie: This movie is based on the first in a series of mystery/thriller novels about rising Australian politician Murray Whelan, who keeps solving murders, despite his actual job being something like the Australian version of a congressional aide. This time it’s the mysterious death of a worker at a meat packing plant, which leads to a Turkish conspiracy and multiple attempts on Murray’s life. He eventually solves the murder, accidentally (on purpose?) kills the murderer, and warns the ruthless meat-packing businessman who was in on it that… he totally knows what’s been going down and to watch his back. Also, Murray flirts with the pretty Turkish girl on the cover, fights with his ex-wife, and bemusedly endangers his son for a bit of comic relief.

Your standard grumpy Sam Neill face

The Character: Sam Neill plays the rich businessman who owns the meat-packing plant and is at least turning a blind eye to the Turkish conspiracy and murder going down (if not ordering it? I kind of zoned out during this part). He’s in maybe three scenes, during which he predictably tries to offer bribes and then denies everything. Maybe it’s just because I’ve seen 75% of all Sam Neill movies, but I kind of felt like he wasn’t really trying. “Stereotypical amoral businessman–I could play this in my sleep,” he probably said to his agent. Which is too bad, because the show was totally stolen by this man:

G'day, you've reached a long Australian TV movie, hilarious minor character speaking.

This guy is super angry that a local tattoo parlor made his heart tattoo say “Gaol” instead of “Gail” and is not leaving this office until their licence is revoked! In consequence, he starts answering Murray’s phone for him, taking messages, fixing the office lights, and signing goodbye cards for retiring secretaries.

What I Learned: Australian police clears have their priorities. The only time they show up ever at all (including when Murray’s brakes are cut and his car goes careening into a river) is when the bad guys attempt to plant drugs in his house.

Should you watch this?: It was kind of slow for a mystery, and didn’t really have many clues you could watch for so that you could solve it yourself. But Murray was a funny main character, so I would say maybe, if you’re on a long plane journey or something.

Alcatraz (2012 TV series)
I cheated, since this movie isn’t on Netflix. I was at my parents house and they had an episode of it on their DVR. I guess they started watching it because “Hey, Sam Neill!”, which, we’ve established, is a totally legit reason to do anything.

Look at you, all nearly the center of attention in this promo!!

The Show: Everyone keeps comparing this to Lost, so I was not expecting to understand anything from just watching a single episode. Basically, in 1963 everyone disappeared off of Alcatraz! Where did they go?? Why?? It turns out the answers are The Future and Conspiracy/Science Experiment! Or something. Now it’s the present and a detective team is trying to catch the time traveling criminals and also discover what is the deal. The main character’s grandfather is one of them (he stabs her like woah in the episode I saw!). Everyone’s after these keys to a mysterious underground room with cute olde-timey science equipment inside! What’s really going on? Like Lost, I actually don’t care very much.

You'd think a creepy prison island would be more compelling, I don't know

The Character: Sam Neill is Emerson Hauser, some kind of high up government official in charge of dealing with this issue. He was also once an Alcatraz guard back in the day! His female doctor OTL disappeared too along with the prisoners and then recently came back, which is apparently why he is so gruff and acts like a jerk all the time. How do you deal with what is suddenly a 50 year age difference? Also, it’s weird to hear him in an American accent.

But look!! He got his own desktop wallpaper on the Fox site!! Exciting!!

What I Learned: Not even the government’s best technologies or explosive can get through a door with three keys from pre-1960s.

Should you watch this?: Maybe if you started from the beginning you would care more, or if you like the “this is a deep mystery/we are actually just making this up as we go” style of TV.

Yes (2004)
This movie was pretty weird, but maybe kind of good? It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting.

I was judging by the cover, can you blame me?

The Movie: You guys. You guys. You guys. This movie was nuts, and here is why. First up, Moaning. Freaking. Myrtle.

First scene in the movie is her monologuing to the camera. Same ghost girl voice and everything.

I recognized her by her voice instantly. But it wasn’t until the next scene that I was sure:

Girl knows her way around a toilet.

Needless to say, having Moaning Myrtle narrate your film is the BEST possible choice for both weirding me out and making me pay attention. Plus, this entire movie was in iambic pentameter!!! Sometimes rhyming!!! Which just added new levels of eeriness. Here’s the deal (Moaning Myrtle aside). Characters only called “She” and “He” start a torrid affair because “She” is unhappy with her husband Anthony.

He could be saying anything, but in iambic pentameter it sounds all Shakespearean and seductive

Then there’s some angst about her failed marriage, and He returns to Beirut because everyone in England is racially prejudice. Then Her aunt dies while telling her to go to Cuba because Fidel Castro is awesome, and He follows her eventually. Happily Ever After?

Sam Neill, why are you always playing either crazy people or cuckolds?

The Character: Sam Neill is Anthony, Her husband. He seems more upset than She is about their marriage breaking up, but refuses to “make a scene”. Also, Moaning Myrtle and She both accuse him of cheating on her first so maybe he deserves it. Unfortunately, he deals with his grief by confiding in his young goddaughter and dancing sadly while reading business papers, not cutting off her fingers.

Choppy McAxeFace, where are you now?

What I Learned: Shirley Henderson will never be able to be in another movie without me shouting “MOANING MYRTLE” and being equal parts excited and freaked out. Sorry, Shirley.

Should you watch this?: Yes. Maybe. It’s so weird and kind of awesome that it’s in iambic pentameter. I guess because the only other movies that do that are adaptions of Shakespeare plays. It’s strange and great to find something so modern doing that. I think I’d watch it just for that (and Moaning Myrtle), not so much the kind of slow plot.

Previously: Rebel, Soldier, Godfather
Next: Creepster Edition

2 responses to “Sam Neill Update: Ruthless Businessman, Ex-Prison Guard, Sad Husband”

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