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?