July Watchlist

This was such a busy month, especially at the beginning with all the end of term stuff – trips were back on for that last fortnight – big time! Also my daughter came home from uni, I had the School magazine to compile, cover shifts at school on admin, etc etc. So I didn’t get to watch many films. But I did find some…

Bingeworthy TV

The first thing was discovering that Disney+ is adding lots more content in the ‘Star’ section – which included Season 10 of The Walking Dead, seasons 1-9 of which I devoured during the first furlough last year on Prime. Season 10 is still pay to view on Prime, but Disney+ was ‘free’ and the final season 11 will be available there later in August! TWD10 gave us the continuing saga of Alpha, (a very scary Samantha Morton), but also finished on an absolute highlight with Negan’s origin story – which was amazing. Can’t wait for that final season.

Also I finally got around to watching Clarkson’s Farm, which was far, far, better than anticipated. Although it had moments of petrolheads on tractors (Jeremy bought a Lamborgini tractor) etc, it actually taught me (and Jeremy) about farming. This is all thanks to his sidekicks, the land agent Charlie (think farming accountant plus) and the magnificent Caleb – a twentysomething who’s rarely gone beyond Chipping Norton in his life. Between the three of them and supporting players including the unintelligible but loveable Gerald the dry stone waller, Ellen the shepherdess, Lisa, Jeremy’s partner and Simon the combine, we had an educational whale of a time, and Jeremy made a gross profit of £144 on his first year’s farming.

The real telly highlight though was turning over from the last episode of Clarkson’s Farm above, to discover that BBC2 were showing ‘Pavarotti in the Park‘ – the free concert from 1991 held in Hyde Park in the pouring rain, with Princess Di and Prince Charles, plus all the top politicos etc in the front row – getting soaked.

Pav was backed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Chorus – and my late mum, an alto, was in the latter, and although she was often blocked by the woman in front of her, there were enough glimpses of her to give me the collywobbles.

In this screenshot they were singing ‘Va Pensiero’ from Verdi’s Nabucco I think.

My brother went. I wish I had. I do have the programme though, all the choir were given a copy.

Apart from seeing my mum, my overriding memory was of Princess Di still looking chic though soaked, and Neil Kinnock proudly sitting through it all without a rain poncho.

P.S. Also watched the First Night of the Proms in BBC2. Very much enjoyed Dalia Stasevska conducting Sibelius 2 – the big tune in the last movement makes me go all gooey. Love it.

Big Screen on the Small Screen

I didn’t make to the cinema this month, and only managed to watch four movies, well 3 and a quarter actually. The quarter was I ❤️ Huckabees, which was such an anarchic silly comedy I only lasted about twenty-five minutes, despite the all star cast with Jason Schwartzman, Lily Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman.

So I rewatched Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel again (my full original review here) which made me really happy and I fell in love with M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes, darling) again.

Then I watched Wilson (2017) adapted by Daniel Clowes from his own graphic novel. It stars Woody Harrelson as a lonely middle-aged man, who is rather neurotic and says things as he sees them, which leads to many problems. Laura Dern is his estranged wife, whom he discovers gave away their baby for adoption, which leads him to search for his daughter, and cause a lot of mayhem! I rather enjoyed this film. Harrelson is good. Dern is typically ditsy. There were some good one-liners. I discovered I actually have the graphic novel on my shelves, so I may compare and contrast.

The best film I watched this month though was another rewatch – celebrating the 30th anniversary of one of my favourite films ever. I saw it at Leicester Square the week it opened. It is of course… Excalibur, directed by John Boorman, with Nigel Terry as Arthur, Helen Mirren as Morgana, a host of other stars including Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne and more – but standing above them all is Nicol Williamson as the best screen Merlin ever. I’m sure you’re getting fed up of me rabbiting on about this movie, as I take any opportunity to mention it – but has been such a huge influence on me every since I saw it. I’ve since acquired John Boorman’s memoir Suburban Boy which covers the filming of Excalibur.

What have you watched this month?

13 thoughts on “July Watchlist

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      The woman in front of her blocks her most of the time and makes some awful faces! It was a lovely surprise to find it back on the telly.

  1. Janakay | YouMightAsWellRead says:

    I’m afraid this month has not been a great viewing month for me. I’m mostly streaming things these days, although I’d love to actually go into a real movie theater again (not for awhile, unfortunately. I live in the U.S. state of Florida, land of the unvaccinated and, currently — surprise! — quite a spike in Covid-19 cases). I did rewatch The Prestige, with Christian Bales, Hugh Jackman and an unrecognizible David Bowie. It was really quite good, much better than I remembered. Ditto for Roman Polanski’s The Ghostwriter, despite a few holes in the plot.
    I absolutely love Boorman’s Excalibur! It’s worth watching just to see Helen Mirren doing her Morgana. And, yes, Nicol Williamson was a great Merlin. Did you know there’s a recent movie version of “Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight”? I’m afriad to hope, although it’s getting some good buzz. The Grand Budapest Hotel is another favorite movie of mine (thanks for the reminder; I’ll add it to my re-watch list).
    What a wonderful thing to see your Mom in the concert.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Loved the Prestige (Bowie’s accent was terrible as Tesla, but he can be forgiven anything for being Bowie). I don’t think I’ve seen The Ghostwriter. Being double vaccd I’m happy to go out (masked as appropriate) but there’s nothing on at the flicks here I want to see on the big screen at the mo. I just love Wes Anderson. Disney+ has most of them via Star on streaming at the mo (at least in the UK). It was lovely to revisit that concert and catch glimpses of my mum 30 yrs on! But I shall leave you with this:

      Anál nathrach, orth’ bháis’s bethad, do chél dénmha

      • Janakay | YouMightAsWellRead says:

        Ah, the old spell of making (I think), beloved of both Merlin & Morgana. Either that or you’re giving me good wishes in Welsh?, Old Irish? And here I was, wondering what movie to stream tonight (my dilemna is now solved).

        The Ghostwriter is a thriller type thing, rather John Le Carré. It’s not great, too many plot holes, but it’s definitely worth watching.

        There’s a great trailer out now for The Green Knight (don’t know how to link it); the director has definitely seen Boorman’s Excalibur.

        I’m also double vaxxed, but there’s some very disturbing U.S. data showing high numbers of breakthroughs due to the D variant, especially in areas with low vaccination rates. Here in Florida, we’re below 50% while my (unnamed) native state is hovering around 34%, lowest vaccination rate in the home of the free & the brave. And the vaccine is sitting on the shelf, free and easily available to all . . . .

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Me too! I spend most of my mornings watching the interesting bits from the night before. Haven’t heard of Ted Lasso, so shall check it out.

  2. Calmgrove says:

    I watched a bit of the Pavarotti though, needless to say, I wasn’t looking out for your mum, but great you spotted her! I’m a bit of a purist where Arthurian retellings are concerned so had mixed feelings about Excalibur! when it first came out, but I wouldn’t mind catching it again now on the offchance.

    Telly? The most recent thing we watched was a rather moving documentary by Chris Packham as he walked up the River Itchen to Winchester, talking subjectively to a 360° camera. Worth catching it on BBC iPlayer if you’re ever in a contemplative mood. Also the new series of Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel is a joy, and though I don’t usually watch quiz shows on tv this format works really well in addition to tickling the funny bone.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I watched the Chris Packham walk too. It was superb. The wheel is so bad it’s good – love it.

  3. Anokatony says:

    We just watched an excellent movie last night starring your hero Ralph Fiennes as well as Kerry Mulligan and Lily James called ‘The Dig’ on Netflix. It is about the Sutton Who excavation but I would classify it as a human drama.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I loved the Dig. The book is also super. Both based on real events, but fictionalised/compressed a bit for the screen.

  4. Dark Puss says:

    I may have already said this, but do watch “We are Lady Parts” (C4) if you like punk rock and an overdue demolition of female Muslim stereotypes. Filmed in part at my current university too 🙂

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