Just two notable series this month – both of which were excellent.
James May: Our Man in Japan (Prime) – May has always been my favourite of the Top Gear trio and in this series he travels down the length of Japan visiting all the main islands and cities.
He writes Haiku along the way and has great fun – doing things like being an apprentice katana-maker for the day, visiting the penis festival in Kawasaki City, playing with robots etc, but also more serious matters like visiting a town near the Fukushima exclusion zone and the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima. There is driving and motorbikes too plus mount Fuji and plenty of fun, especially when paired up with guide Yujiro.
This had a great blend of fun and seriousness and you knew that May really wanted to understand the Japanese.
The stand-out telly though was Time (BBC) by Jimmy McGovern, starring Sean Bean as the school teacher that finds himself in prison for killing someone drunk driving, and Stephen Graham as the exemplary prison officer who finds himself in a difficult position when his own son lands in jail.
Both leads were just excellent. Bean’s character is totally out of his depth and wracked with guilt, seeking redemption. Graham’s character is a good man faced with terrible consequences whichever way he goes.
Films – on big and small screens
I actually went to see a film at the cinema – it was Cruella – and it was fab fun and Emma Thompson stole every scene she was in. It had its flabby moments, but set up the Cruella DeVil origin story neatly. Joel Fry gave excellent support as one of Emma Stone as too-cut-glass accented Cruella’s to-be henchmen.
I also watched:
- Room (2010, Netflix) – directed by Lenny Abrahamson, written by Emma Donoghue from her book. Brie Larson and young Jacob Tremblay as her 5-year-old son born in captivity star and Larson won the Best Actress Oscar. Such a thought-provoking film. Not read the book and don’t plan to now.
- City of Tiny Lights (2016, Prime) Riz Ahmed is a private detective who is working the case of a missing Russian prostitute. Billie Piper plays his long-lost love, and Cush Jumbo is Melody the missing girls roommate. I don’t think I was concentrating enough, because I can’t remember what happened in the end – despite being a big fan of Ahmed.
- St Maud (2019, Prime) Creepy psychological horror starring Morfydd Clark as a palliative care nurse, Katie, obsessed with the former dancer in her care (Jennifer Ehle). Katie, a recent Catholic convert wants to save Ehle’s soul. Very dark indeed.
- Chaos Walking (2021, Prime) – Patrick Ness co-adapted his own YA novel, The Knife of Letting Go to form the basis of this SF film which stars Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley as the young couple at its heart, and Mads Mikkelsen as the mad and bad Mayor of Prentisstown. Humans have colonised a planet where a germ which only affects men means they can all hear each other’s thoughts. The women are all dead, except for one who has crash-landed from another colony ship. The film handled the ‘noise’ in the men’s heads well, but the ending was very different to the book and was rubbish!
What have you enjoyed watching this month?
17 thoughts on “June Watchlist”
I’m currently coming to the end of Mare of Easttown. The acting is superb but my god, it’s a bleak story and there’s absolutely no light relief in it and I’m wondering why I am continuing to watch 🤷🏻♀️
I’ve also just finished watching the last series of The Crown, which I enjoyed despite Gillian Anderson’s terrible caricature of Thatcher and the fact I don’t care a jot for the royal family!
Sadly that series is on sky here which I don’t have. I’ve heard good things though. I loved The Crown. Jason Watkins as Harold Wilson was almost lovable, Anderson as Thatch was not!
They should have had Meryl Streep – she nailed Thatcher in The Iron Lady
I’m catching up with Call My Agent and The Queen’s Gambit. Thoroughly enjoyed a second viewing of Twentieth Century Women. Annette Bening is superb in it. Highly recommend it if you haven’t already seen it – I think it should still be on iPlayer.
I’ll look that film up. Missed it. Love Call My Agent, and The Queen’s Gambit. Must remember to watch the second half of Lupin too now it’s on Netflix – but in French with subtitles this time – the English dubbing was awful.
Ah, the first series of Lupin’s next on my list. Thanks for the warning.
Time sounds good! I think I enjoyed the film of Room more than the book.
I’ve been watching Panic on Amazon Prime which is an adaptation of Lauren Oliver’s YA novel of the same name, I think it’s done really well.
I feel no need to read the book of Room now. I’ll check out Panic when i have a mo!
Yes, Time was brilliant, albeit very tough to watch. I thought the way McGovern managed to weave so many smaller stories into the main plotline was very impressive, particularly through the counselling / group therapy sessions with the prison Chaplin. It made for a richer, more nuanced series. Definitely one of the best dramas on BBC this year.
I was lucky enough to see Saint Maud at the London Film Festival a couple of years ago, with the director, Rose Glass in attendance, and it was thrilling to watch in a packed screening room. I’m so glad you managed to see something at the cinema again; it’s hard to beat that shared experience!
McGovern did the same for Broken back in 2017, that starred Sean Bean as a Catholic Priest full of doubt. That was similarly hard to watch and nuanced.
Time was fantastic but tough going at times. I loved Saint Maud, I thought the atmosphere in it was fantastic and that ending….
Yes, that ending… !
With near wall-to-wall sport now on (the phrase ‘A Summer of Sport’ just depresses my spirit) we caught up on some films we’d recorded such as ‘Hidden Figures’, about the crucial contribution African-American women made during the space race in the 60s, and ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’ which also featured Annette Bening along with Jamie Bell. Also, when Emily goes line-dancing of an evening, I have now got on to series two of ‘The Mandolorian’, the enjoyable Star Wars spin-off.
Luckily I enjoy the tennis (apart from the women shrieking), and at a push will watch England in the big footie matches. I must make a note to watch Hidden Figures – it was on Channel 4 and I forgot it. Loved Films Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. I don’t do Star Wars though.
“We are Lady Parts” on All4. Quite a lot filmed at Queen Mary too. Highly recommended, nice to see some unfortunate TV stereotypes about Muslim women/society being dismantled with humour. Great young actors in this.
We just finished watching Chenobyl. Absolutely gripping from start to finish.
Wasn’t it good!