If you're at all familiar with true crime, you probably know about the death of Kathleen Peterson.
The popular documentary The Staircase chronicled the trial of Kathleen's husband Michael, charged with murdering her. He claimed she fell to her death. What really, truly happened will probably never be known.
If you didn't watch the doco, you probably heard a podcast episode or two about the 2001 case.
Now, HBO's new limited drama series, also titled The Staircase, takes a scripted look at the case with a host of very talented actors filling out all the key roles.
At the centre is Oscar-winner Colin Firth as Michael Peterson. He has an over-inflated sense of self-importance, a 'woe is me' attitude that is very disconcerting, and very un-Firth-like. It's easy to forget that you're watching the guy who once played Mr Darcy when he inhabits this rather unlikeable American character.
Then there's our very own Toni Collette as the late Kathleen. Collette is always excellent, but it might take a while before we really get to see what she's got to give in this role.
The pair's mix of children (two of his, one of hers, and two adopted) are also played by great actors - Aussies Olivia DeJonge and Odessa Young, Game of Thrones' Sophie Turner, Arnie's son Patrick Schwarzenegger and Dane DeHaan.
Other cast members include Parker Posey (excellent in a more dramatic role, her accent is on fire), Tim Guinee, Trini Alvarado (great to see her on screen again), Rosemarie DeWitt, Michael Stuhlbarg and more.
The limited series unrolls slowly, and if you're not familiar with the family make-up, can be a bit confusing at the start, but it is compelling from the get-go. Even the opening title sequence, revealed in episode two, is a work of art.
There are moments, though, where the show becomes quite graphic - sexually and injury-wise - so if you're squeamish about those kind of things, this one might not be for you.
Props to director/creator Antonio Campos for bringing The Staircase together.
Along for the Ride
You should know before going in that this film is called Along for the Ride because one of the main characters was a BMX rider. That pun usage should tell you just about everything you need to know about this film.
The coming-of-age flick follows recent high school graduate Auden who decides to spend her summer before heading off to college living with her dad, stepmom and newborn half-sister in their small, seaside town so she can try and be a different person. There's nothing wrong with the person she was either - her main complaint seems to be that she was too smart so she didn't do stupid stuff with her classmates.
While there and suffering from insomnia, she meets a local who bikes after midnight and decides to take her on a 'quest' to do all the 'kid stuff' she missed.
For reasons unknown, legitimate actors Andie MacDowell, Dermot Mulroney and Kate Bosworth are in this movie.
Perhaps if the story had followed the bike kid, Bosworth's underappreciated new mum or even Mulroney's cad of a dad finding out that he's a bit useless, it would have been better. But Auden is a dud of a character that is not remotely interesting enough to care about.