Film & TV Weekly Round-Up (23/5/14)

I’ve been kind of busy this week, writing, and doing some Art Assignment work so I haven’t had a whole lot of time for films. In fact, I only watched one, which is rare for me. On Sunday I watched one of my LoveFilm deliveries, the Jesse Eisenberg film, ‘Why Stop Now?’. I got it because I love Jesse and there is a host of other great actors in the film. I didn’t think it would be a great masterpiece I just thought it would be fun and maybe enjoyable. But the thing is that the film really didn’t know what it wanted to be. Jesse was great and entirely watchable, as always, but the narrative was just confusing itself. I felt like I started watching a dark comedy about a young gifted man down on his luck, then it turned into a bit of a silly comedy, then back into a dark one, then back and for before it decided on being the serious dark comedy it had started with. A big problem for me was that it started with what I believed was the ending scene (where Eli arrives at his audition), but this was in fact a scene which appeared in the middle of the film. So it was like the second part of the film was an afterthought. It was also a big problem because the driving factor in the film’s narrative is whether Eli will make it to his audition? Well, yes, we’ve seen him do it already. Because of that the chance to create drama and tension is lost. My confusion over the film was answered when the credits rolled, apparently it was written and directed by two people. Now sometimes two people can be great, some people were meant to write or direct in pairs (Simon Pegg & Edgar Wright for example), but if you get two people who have two very different directing styles, and two different aims (with regards to narrative) then you have a problem. I realise now that I was watching a dark comedy about a gifted young man, down on his luck, AND a silly comedy featuring a group of extreme characters on a road-trip. Confusing. Not good.  If you really want a film like this, go watch ‘Little Miss Sunshine’. But if you’re not entirely observant of continuity of character and narrative then you might like ‘Why Stop Now?’, but I wouldn’t bother if I were you. You won’t hate it, but it won’t add to your life in anyway.

Earlier this week I decided to find out exactly why I hadn’t seen a repeat of ‘The Curse of Steptoe’, one of the BBC ‘The Curse of Comedy’ specials. Because I’m a ‘Steptoe & Son’ fan and was interested in learning more about the back story. I found it strange that there wasn’t anything on YouTube (because everything seems to get on there these days), so I googled it. And among other things I found this article. It appears that the inaccuracies in ‘The Curse of Steptoe’ were many and, as such, it has been withdrawn from transmission and DVD sale. In a lot of cases like this you suspect that it has something to do with the family not appreciating the way their father etc. was portrayed. But in this case there is a long list of factual inaccuracies. The production even had Jason Isaacs wear brown contact lenses, even thought Harry H. Corbett’s eyes were blue. Which, to me, from a filmmaking point of view, is ridiculous. Obviously, the family’s problem was more with the inaccuracies in Harry’s relationships. The whole thing was basically a farce and I’m disappointed in the BBC for allowing it go out in the first place. Glad I haven’t seen it now.

On Wednesday, what was I waiting for? The TV show ‘Episodes’! But why would this be? I don’t even like ‘Episodes’. Well, it would come up in this blog more if I included radio; I have a fascination with the comedy performer, Humphrey Ker. And he made an appearance in Wednesday’s episode… of ‘Episodes’. I quite sensibly decided to Sky+ it and watch a new documentary series on Gold about the making of Porridge (‘Porridge: Inside Out’), which was really good. It is, obviously, about the show itself but I think it’s a really good insight into comedy writing and how the BBC worked back then. Plus, I learnt that they filmed some of the pilot episode (‘Prisoner and Escort’) around where I live. But I’ll admit I wasn’t really concentrating, I was more concerned with ‘Episodes’ ending so I could fast forward the Sky+ box and watch Humphrey. Which I did, and, well. It was a bit, odd. Humphrey was, essentially, Humphrey. He was wearing his own clothes for starters, Humphrey is 6’7″ and I think TV shows find it hard to dress him. He was playing a comedy writer with a show called ‘Angry People’ (just after this was filmed Humphrey had his show ‘Terrible People’ picked up by ABC, so you get the feeling this scene was written around him). And… he was doing an American accent. Now, Humphrey does a lot of accents. But for some reason this all made me a bit uncomfortable. Actually the whole scene felt uncomfortable, but it was supposed to. Why I felt uncomfortable on another level was because, well, you see, Humphrey is a very good comedy writer and a very good comedy performer. And when I watch him in things like this I don’t feel he’s being used properly. So I was a bit disappointed. But when someone you love is in a show you don’t like, it’s not exactly gonna be sunshine and chocolate is it? Also, Humphrey is incredibly short-sighted and as such his eyes look smaller with his glasses on. But his eyes looked normal. As though he’d been wearing his contact lenses, and they made him put on prop glasses. Yeah, so what? I pick up on a lot of detail. It’s all important… isn’t it? 😛

In other news? ‘Hannibal’ was great this week, it’s always great, had I mentioned how much I like ‘Hannibal’? It’s just that gripping dark atmosphere that really does it for me. And it’s so great to see Hugh Dancy finally in a role that makes the best of him. In other news? Well, ‘Catfish’ has been back on for a week or two, and it’s still awesome. I love it, it’s like a modern mystery, that repeatedly shows anonymous internet users that we’ll find them in the end. I think we all knew Ping was going to win ‘Masterchef’ and it was deserved. I watched the last part of Lucy Worsley’s ‘The First Georgians’ and almost fell asleep again. It’s a very informative show, not boring, and I’m not the kind of person who drifts off in front of the TV, so I’ve come to the conclusion that I just managed to watch each episode while I was particularly exhausted. If it was in fact boring then I will never know for certain. I doubt it was. I still haven’t watched ‘Penny Dreadful’, even though it started this week. I just have to learn to like Eva Green first.

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