February has been a great month for watching as well as reading. This year I’ve started keeping a watchlist diary. I reported on Facebook for Jan, but want to say more about some of the items I watched, hence this post…
Movies on the Small Screen
Firstly, my movie of the month is… News of the World, directed by Paul Greengrass and starring the grizzled Tom Hanks (it’s a look that suits him – in a good way) as Captain John Kyle Kidd and Helena Zengel as ten-year-old Johanna rescued from the Kiowa that he ends up taking on an epic journey across Texas back to her remaining family.
It was utterly predictable and the story was very thin, but it was so beautifully shot that it was always glorious to look at, which is why I made it my movie of the month over Black Panther below. There’s no denying Hanks’ star quality, and the developing relationship between Kidd and Johanna was lovely. Also, I loved the fact that there really used to be travelling newsreaders bringing news stories from afar, be they serious or entertaining to folk who never travelled or couldn’t read.
I watched three films on Disney+ this month. Toy Story 4 was so cute, and marked the end of an era as Woody (Hanks again!) goes off with Bo at the end.
Then I crossed my fingers and watched two Marvel Studios films. Last month I’d tried Marvel Avengers and gave up after 15 minutes – too many superheroes from different origins in one place just doesn’t work for me. Whereas Doctor Strange and Black Panther were both single myth-based and all the better and more consistent for it.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor (never Mr! as a British consultant surgeon would be) Strange and the always compelling Tilda Swinton (I adore her voice) as the Ancient One were super and having great fun. I loved the moment near the end when Wong (right in pic) laughs.
Black Panther was amazing, and I fell for Chadwick Boseman big time. It’s so sad, that he’s gone but the film is a huge achievement, and I loved everything about it. The mixture of African legend, a futuristic hidden city and plenty of high action was spell-binding and so vibrant. The whole talented cast was brilliant. I could watch this again.
The film that made cry the most this month was Beautiful Boy (iPlayer). OMG, Steve Carrell and Timothée Chalamet excelled as the father and son dealing with addiction. This wasn’t an easy film to watch at all.
The Midnight Sky (Netflix), starring and directed by George Clooney is another story where an older man has to take charge of a child. This time in a post-apocalypse nightmare, as cancer-ridden scientist Clooney races north into the Arctic to warn off a returning spaceship containing Felicity Jones and David Oyeloyo from a deep space mission that Earth is broken. Jones’ character is pregnant, thus assuring mankind will continue. It’s all a bit ponderous and heavy-handed but watchable.
Blade Runner 2049 (Prime) was another film that was glorious to look at, indeed it won Roger Deakins an Oscar for his cinematography, but it was very hard to get a grip on what was happening. I just enjoyed the film of it, and looking at Ryan Gosling of course.
Stan & Ollie starring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly as the ageing Laurel and Hardy on their gruelling British variety theatre tour in the early 1950s was a happy rewatch for me on BBC1 last weekend. The two actors embody Laurel & Hardy brilliantly, admirably supported by Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda as wives Lucille and Ida. A lovely film.
Four series have taken my attention this month… firstly I’ll just say that soon I shall start to watch the wonderful Schitt’s Creek again from the beginning. It did take a few episodes to grab me, but then I was hooked and emotionally invested to the end, while laughing with (not at) the characters all the way. (Netflix)
Then I discovered Snowpiercer (Netflix) the TV series adapted from Bong Joon-Ho’s 2013 film (which I shall now watch, which has Tilda Swinton and Ed Harris in). It’s a dystopia set on a frozen Earth on which the only way to stay warm is to keep moving – in a futuristic train called ‘Snowpiercer’ – owned by the mysterious Mr Wilford, engineered by Melanie Cavill (Jennifer Donnelly). It’s very Ballardian – imagine High Rise‘s skyscraper turned on its side and put on bogies, with the first class at the front, and the stowaways (‘Tailies’) in the tail of the train, and you’ll get it. Daveed Biggs is the former detective who gets taken from the tail to solve a crime and ends up leading a revolution. I’ve now watched as many episodes as have aired on Netflix, and am reduced to one every Tuesday now. It is a) totally preposterous, b) utterly compulsive and c) in series 2 has Sean Bean at his seediest best as Mr Wilford who reappears on other train ‘Big Alice’!
Another Netflix series I’ve watched all episodes so far aired of is Lupin, starring Omar Sy as the French jewel thief who models himself on the French version of our Raffles, Arsène Lupin. It’s made in France, and dubbed into English, which is OK, but I might re-watch an episode or two in French if I can, to see how the charismatic Omar Sy really sounds.
And finally, once started with this short Netflix series I couldn’t stop. Even knowing its secrets – I had to see if I’d have the same response as I did to the book by Sarah Pinborough (my essentially spoiler-free review here), which I wanted to throw across the room when I reached the ‘#WTFEnding’. Behind Her Eyes is the story of a psychiatrist, his wife and his secretary. He has an affair with the secretary, separately the wife befriends the secretary. Wife has a history of mental illness and is distinctly odd. Starring Simona Brown, Tom Bateman and Eve Hewson (doesn’t she look like her dad? (Bono)), I felt the TV series was way better than the book in how it handled the ‘drama’ and you’ll want to watch the denouement more than once. That’s all I’ll say!
So that’s been my viewing month.
Have you watched any of these?