Tuesday, 1 January 2019

DECEMBER 2018 - FILMS + TV (+ OPERA)

A not too bad month of viewing, though I had expected to watch a bit more over the festive season than I actually did. I probably dipped in and out of a lot of stuff the rest of the family watched, which I'd either seen before or wasn't bothered about.

Two series watched start to finish, a trip to the opera (no I wouldn't have believed it either), three films and a couple of dramas - one two hours long and the other an hour over three evenings.......


Happy Valley - Series 2 (2016) - BBC Drama on Netflix

Missed it first time around, but thanks to Netflix all caught up now. Pretty damn good.... tense, taut, tight, compelling, amazing acting - especially Sarah Lancashire. I would never have thought the dizzy blonde Raquel from Corrie all those years ago would grow and become one of Britain's most talented actresses. I'd rate this series up there with Line of Duty as one of my favourites. Fingers crossed for a third series.

From Wikipedia.....

Series 2
Eighteen months after the events of the first series, Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is back at work and has won the Queen's Police Medal (QPM) for gallantry, for rescuing Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy) from Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), who is serving a life sentence in prison. But when Royce's mother is killed, Catherine finds herself implicated in a string of murders. While trying to prove her innocence, Catherine is tasked with investigating a human trafficking operation linked to the serial killings. Meanwhile, senior HMIT officers Detective Superintendent Andy Shepard (Vincent Franklin) and Detective Inspector Jodie Shackleton (Katherine Kelly) begin to suspect that the supposed fourth victim of the serial killer, Victoria Fleming (Amelia Bullmore), was in fact murdered by someone else. Gradually their investigation starts to lead them towards Victoria's actual killer – police detective John Wadsworth (Kevin Doyle), whom Fleming had been blackmailing. Catherine's grandson, Ryan, develops a friendship with a new teaching assistant, Miss Wealand (Shirley Henderson), who is secretly a prison groupie infatuated with Royce. Royce, whom the court has forbidden having any contact with Ryan, is using Wealand to try to build a relationship with Ryan and get revenge on Catherine. Ryan increasingly concerns his family by asking questions about his father and even suggests Royce should be forgiven.


Benjamin Britten's War Requiem (2018) - Opera at London Coliseum

My son spent a bit of time on Britten's War Requiem during one of his Uni years and mentioned this was on. I googled the tickets, nearly shitting my pants at the £125 ones that popped up. A bit more considered searching found some up in the Gods at under £25 each, so off we popped - son, wife and moi. Best night ever? No, but I really enjoyed it, despite not having the best seats. Not rushing back, but the fact a lot of it was in English made it a million times more accessible than some several hundred years old German or Italian opera. Britten doesn't hide his pacifism and war is shit attitude under a bushel. I happen to agree with him.

From Wikipedia.....

The War Requiem, Op. 66, is a large-scale setting of the Requiem composed by Benjamin Britten mostly in 1961 and completed in January 1962. The War Requiem was performed for the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, which was built after the original fourteenth-century structure was destroyed in a World War II bombing raid. The traditional Latin texts are interspersed, in telling juxtaposition, with extra-liturgical poems by Wilfred Owen, written during World War I.

The work is scored for soprano, tenor and baritone soloists, chorus, boys' choir, organ, and two orchestras (a full orchestra and a chamber orchestra). The chamber orchestra accompanies the intimate settings of the English poetry, while soprano, choirs and orchestra are used for the Latin sections; all forces are combined in the conclusion. The Requiem has a duration of approximately 80-85 minutes.

Britten, a pacifist, was inspired by the commission, which gave him complete freedom in deciding what to compose. He chose to set the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead interwoven with nine poems about war by the English poet Wilfred Owen. Owen, who was born in 1893, was serving as the commander of a rifle company when he was killed in action on 4 November 1918 during the crossing of the Sambre-Oise Canal in France, just one week before the Armistice. Although he was virtually unknown at the time of his death, he has subsequently come to be revered as one of the great war poets.



The Sinner Season 2 (2018) - Netflix drama
Another 8-part series. I think I enjoyed the first season a bit more. Maybe Jessica Biel and her family and her situation were more sympathetic than the characters and tale this time around. Bill Pullman was very good again. I didn't really find the female, lesbian, friend, daughter, cop character too believable. Any chief of police with even one testicle would have benched her. Not the worst series I have ever watched and I guess I'll be back for a third if there is one.

From Google....

Detective Harry Ambrose returns to his hometown in rural New York to assess an unsettling and heart-wrenching crime -- parents murdered by their 11-year-old son with no apparent motive. As Ambrose realizes there's nothing ordinary about the boy or where he came from, the investigation pulls him into the hidden darkness of his hometown. He's pitted against those who will stop at nothing to protect its secrets -- and the mysterious Vera, who proves to be a complicated, enigmatic piece to this haunting puzzle.


Rosemary's Baby (1968) - DVD film

Sourced a copy of this on Ebay to thrill and chill the kids, after being forced to sit through horror films of their choosing for the past five or six years. I watched this one maybe thirty-five years ago and bits of it were still familiar. It retains its potency and is still quite powerful and disturbing and possible spoiler alert............ I was willing her the throw the baby out of the window near the end, but she didn't. I ought to read the book by Ira Levin, even though I know what happens.

From IMDB......

A young couple moves in to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.


The Greatest Showman (2017) - Film - TV viewing

Watched with the family maybe Boxing Day and TBH wasn't one I was looking forward to, even though my wife and one of my girls raved over it when they saw it at the cinema maybe last year. Knock me down with a feather - pretty bloody amazing. I could probably have sat through it again a second time straight after. Much preferred Hugh Jackman to Zach Efron, but they were both good to be fair, as were the rest of the cast.

From Google....

Inspired by the imagination of P. T. Barnum, The Greatest Showman is an original musical that celebrates the birth of show business & tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.




Torville and Dean (2018) - ITV drama

I'm all over these ice skating dramas after watching, I Tonya at the cinema earlier this year. An enjoyable ITV two-hour drama on Britain's Olympic Gold Medal Winners in Sarajevo in 1984. I didn't know who the two leads were (still don't), but they were very good. Intense and gripping - even if I did know the outcome. I thought it captured the passion, determination and intensity of elite sportsmen and women.

From ITV Hub....

Docudrama telling the incredible story of former British, European, Olympic and World champion figure skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.


A Bad's Moms Christmas (2017) - DVD film


An okay film, a few laughs to be had but nothing more. One of my daughter's DVDs and truth be told I've seen worse. Not seen the original and no real desire to if it's more of the same. Next......

From Wikipedia.....

A Bad Moms Christmas is a 2017 American Christmas comedy film written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. It is a sequel to the 2016 film Bad Moms. The plot follows the three moms from the first film (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, and Kathryn Hahn) dealing with their own mothers (Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines, and Susan Sarandon) visiting during the Christmas holiday.


Principal photography on the film began in Atlanta, Georgia in May 2017, and the film was released by STXfilms in the United States on November 1, 2017. It received mixed reviews, with criticism aimed at the thin story and raunchy jokes, and grossed over $130 million worldwide.



The ABC Murders (2018) - BBC TV mini-drama series

In truth, I've never been a massive fan of Hercule Poirot dramas on the screen (or come to think of it in my reading) (Ditto Miss Marple). I've never been particularly drawn towards David Suchet in anything, but more especially as the Belgian detective. If there is another one with John Malkovich, deal me in. Rupert Grint as Inspector Crome just seems like a grown up Ron Weasley - nothing wrong with that. The bloke out of Broadchurch - Andrew Buchan was pretty damn good. A decent three hours of television. Never read the book, so I don't get to compare. A few friends thought it slow, not me.

From the Guardian......

The Agatha Christie veteran Sarah Phelps dramatises the queen of crime’s fiendish murder mystery, hailed on its publication as “a baffler of the first water”. An ageing Hercule Poirot (played here with added heft by John Malkovich) is contacted by a killer who tours the country by train, leaving a copy of the ABC railway guide at the scene of each murder. As Poirot tries to investigate, he is humiliated by the police and taunted by the “faceless beast” of a murderer. The suspense is exquisite and the production is fantastic. 

21 comments:

  1. I'm completely with you on Happy Valley, Col. That's an excellent drama, isn't it? And (at least for me), it didn't get too far-fetched, which I also like. It can get dark, but I like the dry wit in it, too (e.g. at roll call 'Good morning, you lucky people!').

    As to The ABC Murders, I have to admit that I haven't seen it. From what I understand of it, it strays awfully far from the book in places, and I'm too much of a purist viewer...

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    1. Margot, I'm glad you enjoyed Happy Valley as much as you did. Nice to have a favourite in common!

      Re ABC Murders, I can see where you're coming from, but for me it presented as fresh and therefore, appealing. Maybe you'll get to see it soon and we'll be in agreement again! :-)

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  2. Col, I have been contemplating watching HAPPY VALLEY but after your positive take, it goes on top of my Netflix list for weekend viewing. I recently started watching MARCELLA, a British "Nordic" noir detective series on Netflix and so far I'm enjoying it. The main character, Marcella Backland (Anna Friel), an ex-London detective who returns to work, comes with emotional baggage that can be off-putting though I don't mind that part of character introduction.

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    1. Prahsant, I think you'll like Happy Valley. I've yet to find anyone who hasn't enjoyed it. I'll dig into MARCELLA and see what the gang think! My reading is solitary, but my viewing is a family experience.

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    2. OOPS - fat fingered typo - sorry Prashant!

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    3. No problem, Col. Auto correct on FB and WhatsApp turns me into a "Peasant".

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  3. Col – The first series of HAPPY VALLEY was excellent. Thanks for the recommendation. Now, looking forward to the second series …… I read ROSEMARY’S BABY in high school and later saw the movie in a revival theater. Both are hugely suspenseful. The movie’s casting was perfect: Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes.

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    1. Elgin, glad you enjoyed it. Re Rosemary's Baby/Ira Levin I wouldn't mind catching up with some of the other film adaptations of his work.

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    2. Sliver is . . . differently good. The Boys from Brazil is pretty okay -- one of those movies where you reckon it's crap even as you're watching it but you still enjoy it. Unless there's a more recent remake I'm forgetting, there've been two movies of his A Kiss Before Dying: the original is a knockout -- rush out and watch, that's an order -- while the remake would be okay if you didn't remember what a knockout the original was.

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    3. A Kiss Before Dying - duly noted. I think I saw Sliver years ago, so probably time for a re-watch. I don't believe I've ever seen The Boys From Brazil.

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  4. Ha! Like yourself, I was forced to watch The Greatest Showman, and afterwards had to resentfully admit I'd loved it. (Bloody wives. I ask you. They do this time and time again . . .)

    The ABC Murders has been getting hammered by Christie fans all over the blogosphere, which means of course that I'm quite interested in watching it. As with Margot, the primary objection is that the director (Sarah Phelps, if I recall aright), has made a lot of changes. As some brave soul pointed out, where's the outcry over all those James Bond movies that resemble their original novels not one whit?

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Agreed - bloody wives! I'm loathe to admit she was spot on. (I don't think she'll read this.)

      I'm curious for your take on the new ABC then if you get the chance. I read yesterday they are doing another adaptation for 2019, but Phelps isn't so involved. I wonder if there was such an outcry over the two previous Christie's she did?

      I did try for the hyper-link thingamabob you showed me but failed miserably!

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  5. I saw Greatest Showman in the cinema and wasn't expecting to enjoy it, but absolutely LOVED it, I think it's wonderful, and have watched it on DVD since then and I'm sure will watch it again.
    I recently watched the first Bad Moms movie by chance - good fun without being a great work of art.
    REALLY IMPRESSED by your going to see War Requiem (which is marvellous) - will you be going back for more?!

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    1. I'll watch GREATEST SHOWMAN again at some point in 2019, no doubt. And seeing as my daughter bought the BAD MOMS set will no doubt suffer the first. OK suffer is a bit strong, there were a few laughs to be had.

      Re the opera. Not planning on going back for more, but would really depend on what it was to see. I'll see what cultural titivations my son dangles our way this year.

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  6. I think I saw Sliver years ago, so probably time for a re-watch.

    A rewatch you could sensibly postpone, I'd reckon.

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    1. Wasn't amazing as I recall, probably better things to view!

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  7. I did try for the hyper-link thingamabob you showed me but failed miserably!

    As do I sometimes! You made the same mistake I often make: missing the close-quote after the URL.

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