What with the über-excitement of Line of ‘Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the wee donkey’ Duty every Sunday evening, and rewatching each episode to make sure I got as much as possible from it, it’s a miracle I watched any other TV series, but I was very pleased to discover that BBC2 is reshowing AC-12’s ancestor, Between the Lines, again, with two episodes every Sunday after LoD.
I had a bit of a thing for Neil Pearson as DSI Tony Clark, the lead detective for CIB (Complaints Investigation Bureau), and loved his two sidekicks, DS Maureen Connell (Siobhan Redmond) and DI Harry Naylor (Tom Georgeson). It ran for three series from 1992-94, and I hope BBC2 are going to show all three again. I’m particularly enjoying seeing many wonderful British actors guest-starring when younger – episode 10 has Keith Allen as a customs officer; Jerome Flynn, Jack Shepherd, John Shrapnel, and Pete Postlethwaite also appear, the latter playing a barking mad right-wing Chief Super. I’m loving it all over again (although, lamenting the lack of prominent women in the Met of the time).
In between things – I’m rewatching the sublime Black Books on Netflix (no adverts – yes!).
Big Screen on the Small Screen
Firstly, two DNFs this month. Melissa McCarthy’s vehicle Thunder Force (Netflix) was utter pants, and the only way I got half way through was playing a game on my phone and not realising I wasn’t watching it at all.
The surprise though was Mank (Netflix) starring Gary Oldman as Hollywood screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, directed by David Fincher. It is centred around his development of the script for Citizen Kane. Although beautifully shot in black and white, and reverentially recreating the period perfectly, I didn’t have a idea what was going on most of the time, apart from when Mank was holed up after breaking his leg in a car crash, writing the script. So I gave up about half way through – I don’t revere Citizen Kane in that way. Oldman was brilliant though.
- High Fidelity – re-watch (Disney+). Loved this all over again. Cusack at his best,Jack Black irritated this time though.
- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou – re-watch (Disney+). Wes Anderson’s semi-documentary film about washed up marine explorer (Bill Murray) with all of his usual crew, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Anjelica Huston, etc was fun, but isn’t my favourite Anderson – those are Rushmore and Grand Hotel Budapest.
- Colette – (iPlayer). Biopic. Kiera Knightley was rather good. Dominic West was her husband Willy, who initially took all her writing credits.
- Red Joan – (iPlayer). Based on the true story of spy Melita Norwood who was exposed in her 80s for giving nuclear secrets to the USSR. Dual timeline with Judi Dench as old Joan, and Sophie Cookson as the idealistic young Joan. Good but slightly dull.
- Man on the Moon – 1998 (iPlayer) – Biopic of Andy Kaufman. Jim Carrey is the only actor you’d think of who could play him and does in bravura method style (on and off screen). Nice to see all the cameos from Kaufman’s Taxi co-stars. I had no idea about his other obsession of wrestling, and ghastly lounge-singer Tony Clifton though. Excellent.
- Love and Mercy – 2014 (iPlayer) – Biopic about Brian Wilson starring the amazing Paul Dano as young Brian and John Cusack as older paranoid Brian under the control of Eugene Landy’s (played by Paul Giamatti) unconventional treatments. It does take a leap of faith to see Cusack as the older Brian, but I enjoyed this very much, particular Dano in the studio working on ‘Good Vibrations’.
The Big Three New to Streaming
- The Trial of the Chicago 7 – (Netflix) Eddie Redmayne, Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Rylance star in this true story, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing). The story of the 1968 anti-Vietnam protests in Chicago, this was a gripping courtroom drama. Key is the interplay between the preppy Hayden (Redmayne) and hippies Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin (Baron Cohen and Jeremy Strong). The other battle is between Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella) and Rylance as the defence counsel. I enjoyed this very much.
- The Mauretanian (Prime) – starring Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim (The Serpent) and Benedict Cumberbatch. Based on a true story from Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s ‘Guantanamo Diaries’, Foster is the lawyer who takes on his case pro bono – Slahi was never charged. Cumberbatch is govt counsel. Another great courtroom drama, interspersed with the terrible
treatmenttorture doled out to Slahi. Rahim is excellent.
- My FILM OF THE MONTH though is Sound of Metal (Prime). Riz Ahmed is just amazing as the rock drummer, Ruben, who suddenly starts to go deaf. He goes through all the emotions of grief and denial, before eventually acceptance comes and a new deaf life beckons. For the hearing audience, we get to experience the effects of his deafness. There is a semi-documentary feel to parts where he joins a deaf community for recovering addicts to learn that acceptance, and sign language (ASL). However, it is a very hard journey for him. Ahmed learned to drum for the film, and was pretty amazing at that, Olivia Cooke as his girlfriend Lou gives great support, and Paul Raci as Joe, the leader of the non-hearing community also excels (Raci’s parents were non-hearing and he was fluent in ASL). Superb!
What are your watching highlights this month?