Film & TV Weekly Round-Up (13/6/14)

Okay, so if anyone’s following this you may notice that I’ve missed a week. That has something to do with me being busy in the run up to the anniversary of D-Day with an art project, so didn’t have much time to watch extraneous film and tv, partly to do with me with me feeling ill last Friday, and maybe a little to do with the fact that in the time period I could have written a blog I decided to start watching the new season of ‘Orange is the New Black’ instead.

So, let’s start with last week where there were only two stand out moments, the first of which was ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’. I’m not a great lover of X-Men movies, but since they’ve gone all McAvoy and Fassbender I do make the effort to watch them. I think I’ve watched all the series mainly because my mum has a bit of a thing for Hugh Jackman (we actually went to see this because it was her birthday). Now, it’s a pretty good film. You’ve got Hugh Jackman thrown into the whole new, feistier, more interesting X-Men cast, and it’s set in the seventies which always makes things more fun. There’s action, there’s time travel, it’s certainly not boring. But it’s just sort of there. Y’know what I mean? I notice that with a lot of comic action movies these days. Here’s the story, here’s the action, everything fits into place, and here’s your film, it’s what you paid for. So it’s all just sort of fine, it will interest you for the two hours you’re in the cinema, but that’s it. Which is a shame, but that’s the way it is. There was one scene I really loved, and which would have been great in 3D (but 3D makes my mum feel ill, and it was her birthday treat), where Scott takes on the security guys in the Pentagon kitchen, that was awesome! And I loved watching McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence & Hoult. But that’s it, it was nice while it lasted, it was certainly the best of all the X-Men films, but I’m not sure I would drag you to the cinema to see it.

What else did I watch last week? And something I wish I really hadn’t bothered with? ‘Le-Weekend’ on DVD. In case you haven’t heard of it. ‘Le-Weekend’ features Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as an older married couple who go to Paris for the weekend. I’d imagined, stupidly, that it would be this great film about romance between older couples, or about how they might recapture those first feelings. But it was a mix of them arguing, them occasionally getting along, her being quite mean to him, and them spending ridiculous amounts of money to prove what frivolous people they could be. And it was all just a hodge-podge. It was well written in terms of dialogue, but there was no continuity of character, they were up and down all the time, and I didn’t really get what the film was aiming to say. At an hour and twenty minutes it was really too long. I wouldn’t say it was the worst film I’d ever watched, but avoid it.

‘Orange is the New Black’ came out on Netflix on Friday, and due to our Wii being broken (for unknown reasons) I had to watch the whole season with my laptop propped up on a chair next to my bed (which can give you a crick in the neck). And what can I say, it’s brilliant. The writers had really thought through what new characters could be introduced, and which characters could be further developed. If you haven’t heard of the show. It’s about a middle-class white woman, Piper, who gets sent to prison for smuggling drug money some ten years earlier. But if the first season at all played on the novelty of a fish out of water, the second season certainly does not. Now, Piper is very attached to the prison, which has become her home. She has also learnt to stand up for herself, and hopefully she will soon learn to stand up for other people (Piper’s main feature is her self-involvement). The new character of Vee, is complex, manipulative, and a perfect new villain. Red has fallen from her place of power and is trying to work her way back up. Crazy-Eyes is shown not to just be sweet and kooky, but also quite dangerous. In the first season we sympathised with Crazy-Eyes (Suzanne), but now the writers are reminding us that she can also be scary and occasionally violent as well. Poussey is shown to be smart and loyal, and becomes really interesting to watch. I could go on all day, the girls are all growing so much. I always say that you can’t look for feminism in film or tv, but when you see it, it jumps out and hits you in the face. And finally with ‘Orange is the New Black’ we’re seeing the complexities of women, and across races and classes. They are deep, rich characters, with stories to tell. And I love watching them. High five to the makers of the show.

This week I went to see ‘Edge of Tomorrow’. I was kind of looking forward to it, I like a bit of time travel. It was certainly nice to see Tom Cruise play a bit of an anti-hero for once, to watch Emily Blunt play such a cool heroine, and to experience a sort of futuristic D-Day (the army is based in the UK, and land on the northern beaches of France). And I liked it. But it didn’t really meet with what I expected of it. I’m not sure what I expected really. But I imagine my disappointment has something to do with this one-man show Tom Cruise has going on these days. The film is really about Cruise and Blunt’s characters, but the fact that he comes to know and understand his fellow soldiers is an important part of the story. But because we never really see these characters beyond their two dimensions, it feels as though there is something missing, it leaves you a bit cold. In a world where someone is living the same day over and over, there isn’t the chance to develop relationships, I know. But you have to try, not only to breathe life into the story, but because the narrative is repetitive, and your audience is going to get bored. Also, in this, and in ‘Oblivion’ (another recent Tom Cruise film) I find the narrative suffers by keeping its prime focus on Cruise. He’s very watchable, but when you take away good supporting characters you take away the texture of the narrative, and you make it unreal. And if anything, you are supposed to make the audience believe what they’re seeing. It’s only by believing, that they’ll really experience the film, and hence have the chance to enjoy it.

‘Hannibal’. Oh, I love ‘Hannibal’. But you know that by now, so I’ll move on. It’s on Sky Living on Tuesday nights. Go watch it already!… But only if you have a strong stomach.

In other news, I gave up on ‘Penny Dreadful’. It was just going nowhere, and going there very, very slowly. Collabro won ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. Which I was very pleased about, even though I didn’t vote. It would have served me right if they hadn’t won. I hate the sentimental stories and half-assed singers that make it through to the final of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, but to be fair, the best people always win. ‘Celebrity Masterchef’ is back on. Which is great because it’s strangely fun to see people completely mess up their cooking, and the celebrity version seems to guarantee more of this. Lastly, they’re repeating a 2010 Dr. Michael Mosley show, ‘The Story of Science’, on BBC4 on Saturday nights, and it’s brilliant. If you love learning the origin stories of scientific discoveries (which I do) then you’ll love this.

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