Film & TV Weekly Round-up (16/5/14)

Okay, so ‘Hawking’ wasn’t great. But seeing as I’d waited so many years to see Benedict be brilliant I wasn’t disappointed, because he was. He was amazing in fact. But the show as a whole was quite a lot of pants. There were some really badly written bits, and the parallel story of a TV interview with the American scientists was just so badly written, directed etc. It didn’t help that the person doing the interviewer’s voice had absolutely no acting ability. But, y’know? It was a good story told to the best of its ability, and Benedict sure as hell didn’t let me down.

On Saturday afternoon I was exhausted from too many errands and dog walking and almost fell asleep in front of Lucy Worsley’s ‘The First Georgians’ on iPlayer. It’s a great show, I was just falling asleep because I was knackered. The third part was on this week (something else for me to chase up on iPlayer) and it’s really worth watching. Especially if you’re like me and know nothing about the Georgians. On the subject of great history programs it looks like Suzannah Lipscomb is working on a ‘Hidden Killers of the Tudor Home’ program. I love those shows, I finally felt like my fear of falling down the stairs was justifiable. I followed Lucy Worsley with a crack at the ‘The Raven’ on LoveFilm. You know that John Cusack comic-bookesque film about Edgar Allan Poe? The one that nobody watched? Well, some things can surprise you so I gave it a shot. And this did nothing for me. Luckily I’ve started to learn that if a film isn’t doing anything for me after half an hour, there are better films to be watching. It was just nothingness, no boredom, but no action. And John Cusack or maybe it was Poe, was acting like an annoying dick. A dick which lots of really good British actors (doing American accents) had to act around. It was poor. Since I didn’t feel like searching any further I re-watched ‘The Sapphires’ on LoveFilm. Which is a great little film. Yeah, it’s simplified, a little cheesy, and maybe some of the special effects are a bit hokey toward the end but it really is a beautiful thing. Very much overlooked by… everyone, it really is worth seeing, if only for the adorable relationship between Chris O’Dowd and Deborah Mailman.

Saturday night was Eurovision night. Yeah, I’m a Eurovision fan. I was sober this year, which made me unhappy. And it was a real pisser for Mollie to not have gotten more points, but I think the right person won. The papers have called a battle between the people who support gay rights and those who don’t (i.e. most of us vs. Russia, who were already on the back foot because of the ongoing situation in Ukraine). I don’t think that’s really true. Because, on the whole, I think people vote for the best song and performer. And if it’s true that everyone was voting politically, then that’s scary, ’cause a A LOT of people voted for Russia. Conchita was brilliant, and her song was epic, like a James Bond song we have yet to hear. I feel I would have enjoyed the night more had I been drinking though.

Since my parents are away and I have carte blanche when it comes to watching whatever weirdness I want on my Blu-Ray player (which I’ve connected up in the living room, ’cause my parents have a monstrous tv, perfect for Blu-Ray watching) I decided to watch ‘Army of Darkness’. I got the ‘Evil Dead’ films on Blu-Ray a couple of years ago but for some reason hadn’t gotten around to ‘Army of Darkness’. The first time I had watched it I was drunk, the second, I was very ill. So I think maybe I attached negative connotations to it. Anyway, I finally watched it, and it was awesome. The fact that I couldn’t remember most of it meant it was like seeing it all for the first time. It’s just so much fun, so unapologetically cheesy and silly, and by letting itself go so over the top it comes across as some finely honed comedy. Which is something I don’t think Sam Raimi was going for. John Landis once said that ‘Evil Dead’ was a horror, ‘Evil Dead 2’ was a horror-comedy, and ‘Army of Darkness’ is just a straight comedy. It was so right. They are all brilliant in their own ways, and if you haven’t seen them then you’ve really been missing out.

The second episode of ‘Hannibal’ was on, on Tuesday night, and it was just so good. You’ll be hearing that from me a lot. It just reaches down into this dark place. It isn’t about murder, or the grotesque, it’s about real darkness, which reaches deeper than the psychoanalysis (that the characters engage in) can understand. I love it.

Wednesday I decided to watch a couple of films I’d Sky+’d. There had been lots of films on, on Sunday afternoon, and I had been too busy to watch them. The first of which was ‘Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War’ with Pauline Collins and Peter Capaldi. Yep, I heard those names and thought I’d give it a go. But it was just a bit silly and boring. The characters were a bit over the top; her husband was so obnoxious, and when she acts out after he dies, she must be crazy. It was annoying, and just kind of boring. Reminiscent of mid-90s films where people were “crazy”, except made in 2002. Plus, I couldn’t pin down Capaldi’s accent. He was aiming for London but got slightly Australian. Nothing was happening, except me getting annoyed, so I turned it off after half an hour and watched another film on the Sky box, ‘The Wooden Horse’. I’d wanted to watch ‘The Wooden Horse’ for a long time, I like WWII films and films about prison breaks etc. But I’d kind of mixed it up in my head with a story that happened in Colditz. The story of ‘The Wooden Horse’ actually happened in Stalag Luft III, the same camp as the one in which ‘The Great Escape’ occurred, but in a different compound. However, it was made much earlier than ‘The Great Escape’ and is a much simpler story and a more simply made film. But it is really great. It sees the men through their escape and into the outside world. Sorry, if you think that’s a spoiler but over half the film takes place outside the camp. That’s where it differs from most ‘POW escape’ films, actually, that you see what happens on the outside. This kind of works against it though, as it loses momentum as a film once they get outside. That being said it is a really great film, and a great companion piece to something as dramatic as ‘The Great Escape’.

In other news? ‘The Big Bang Theory’ is making a lot of changes this series, which I think is good. When they involved the girls more it definitely got a second wind. What they’re doing now will keep us entertained for the next few seasons they have been guaranteed. I’m still rooting for Luke to win ‘Masterchef, but I’m thinking that Ping just has to win it, it make more sense. Quite happy this week that Sky Atlantic had a big press fandango and announced airing dates for ‘Penny Dreadful’ and ‘Mr. Sloane’. ‘Penny Dreadful’ is a Victorian London, supernatural beings, prostitutes, and gunslingers mash-up, which is starting on Sky Atlantic next week, Tuesday 20th at 9pm. But they’ve put the first episode on the Sky box showcase so I might watch it before then. Speaking of things I should have watched when they were on the showcase, the first episode of ‘Mr. Sloane’ was on there just after Christmas but I didn’t bother watching it because it was supposed to start some time in January anyway. It didn’t, obviously, and it’s been a long wait. The show starts next week, Friday 23rd at 9pm.


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