Film & TV Weekly Round-Up (15/8/14)

Right, so, that whole thing about me being back to normal. Maybe not so much. But I’ve been putting a lot of time into the twitter account so this blog has kind of been sliding down my list of priorities. But I still want to do it, that’s why I’m here. Apologies to anyone who might be listening… Honestly, I don’t think anyone is very bothered. You’d have to have readers to worry about disappointing people. :-/

So, let’s start with last Saturday. I watched ‘Where Eagles Dare’, and what a brilliant film it is. I’d always heard that it was great, but people told me that ‘The Butterfly Effect’ was great, so I’ve learnt not to trust people’s advice. But ‘Where Eagles Dare’ is smart and dramatic, and really quite gripping. My only issue with it is a). There are some bits that are a bit convoluted, you’re thinking ‘are you the guy?’, ‘is this…? What’s this going on right now?’. But those moments don’t last for long. And, b). After watching so many WWII films, where it is of vital importance that you speak German well or the Nazis will get you, it’s kind of annoying to watch Richard Burton walk through a checkpoint and call out to the German soldier in English. I mean, come on! I actually panicked, I thought ‘no, you’ve given yourself away!’. It was kind of annoying. There was a great female character in there, who was cool and self-reliant, but who had a really shocking forehead going on (high fringe & high eyebrows), which was distracting. Also, she was Burton’s love interest. Would it be so hard to have a woman in a WWII film that wasn’t someone’s love interest? I think I covered that in my dissertation. One of the entry points for women, into the WWII film, is by being a love interest. But I think that’s just ’cause the filmmakers aren’t trying hard enough to include them. Anyway, ‘Where Eagles Dare’! Great film!

On Sunday night I watched ‘The Thirteenth Tale’. A TV special apparently aired at Christmas, but I’ve been waiting for it this long, so I’m pretty sure it wasn’t on. Olivia Coleman was great in it, but that’s about all it did for me. It masqueraded as a ghostly mystery, but it wasn’t particularly ghostly or mysterious. Disappointing.

I’d Sky+’d the ‘Horrible Histories: Frightful First World War’ and ended up watching it a few days later. Which was a silly thing to do because it is fantastic. I’d never watched any ‘Horrible Histories’, except that I’d caught their last ever episode, so I had reasonable hopes. But it is even better than I could have imagined. Entertaining, funny, but poignant at the right points, it’s really something special. This thing is intended for kids, but the amount of information in it is truly jaw-dropping. Any kid who watches this is truly set for life. It basically contained all the WWI information I learnt at school, have watched in documentaries since, and have had related to me by strangers (one fact I’d only learnt from a WWI re-enactor the day before). It is pretty incredible, please go find it on iPlayer.

On Tuesday I went to see ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’. Now, here’s what I have to say about it. It was what I expected, but then something else as well. Falling in love with movies is much like falling in love with people. You can watch a film and you’ll get this burst of excitement and think it’s awesome, but eventually, over time, and after you’ve seen it on DVD, you’ll see its massive faults, and fall out with it. But sometimes you’ll see a film, and it’ll make you feel good, you won’t jump up and down about it, but you’re not bored either. You’re not sure why you feel this way, you’re certainly not just feeling okay about it, you like it very much. And you leave the cinema, and you still like it. You don’t know how to describe it to people, but you know you want to see it again. And, eventually, it will become a favourite film, then part of your psyche. That’s how I felt about ‘Finding Nemo’ & ‘Shaun Of The Dead’. And I know that’s how I’m going to feel about ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’.

I watched ‘Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones’ on Wednesday. I really like the ‘Paranormal Activity’ franchise, but now they’ve gone fully down the demon route it’s getting a bit boring. This film had some interesting moments, and it wasn’t badly made, it just didn’t really do anything for me. I hope they return to something simpler and more along the original story for the next film.

‘Dan’s Snow Battle Of The Somme’ was this feature documentary on one of the history channels. It wasn’t entertaining as such, or particularly gripping, which Dan’s shows usually are. But it was really interesting because it looked at films made of the Battle Of The Somme, which were shown in cinemas back in blighty, at the time. It’s really kind of cool seeing the humanity behind the war. We have these, sort of, false memories of WWI. We’ve been taught, at school, about the death and the mud, and that’s all we can think about. But these films really look at the men from a different angle, sees them as individuals. If you have a chance to see this documentary or even the original films themselves I’d say it was worth your time.

Saturday just gone, I watched ‘We Dive At Dawn’. Which is an illogical title, because submarines just dive when they need to, they don’t plan so far ahead I think. It was really quite a good WWII film. It was kind of slow and quiet, which submarine based films usually are, but it was intriguing. Not the greatest WWII film ever, but there was certainly something about it. John Mills was okay in it, but Eric Portman was really something special. In fact, he seemed a bit too serious and dramatic for the film. As though he were meant to be in a better film, but somehow ended up there instead.

On Sunday I watched ‘Beyond The Poseidon Adventure’. I knew it was going to be crap, but I’m a fan of the original so I thought I would give it a go. And it was, well, there was a good enough cast to keep you watching, but it was just all a bit silly. There were clichés, and OTT acting aplenty. Along with plotholes and badly acted deaths. Don’t watch it, it’s not even ‘so bad it’s good’, it’s just pointless.

On the weekend they put on the third series of ‘Touch Of Cloth’. If you haven’t seen it before it’s basically a cop spoof show written by Charlie Brooker (and a bunch of other people). The series’ are essentially two-parters. I wasn’t too sure after the second series that I would still like it. Sometimes the jokes just come too fast, and you find yourself wanting some sort of story to glue it all together. This series was better, and I had a good laugh, although I found it quite forgettable afterwards.

On Sunday I also watched ‘Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief’. I basically spent the whole film thinking I had, in fact, seen it before. I’m pretty sure I saw it in the cinema, either that or I’ve seen great sections of it while flicking channels. It’s a pretty good film. It’s got some great action sequences, and Logan Lerman is pretty damn watchable. Not the best film ever, but good for a bit of fun.

There’s been a lot of new TV on, over the past fortnight. Suzannah Lipscomb’s 2-parter ‘Henry & Anne: The Lovers That Changed The World’ was pretty great. Suzannah has a great affection for these figures, and she’s done some great shows about this period before. The programme really shed some light on Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn’s relationship, I found it quite intriguing, even entertaining. ‘Masters Of Sex’ started back. And since I haven’t been doing this blog long you won’t know that I love ‘Masters Of Sex’ about as much as I love ‘Hannibal’. This new series is taking its time to get going. But I think that’s just part of narrative, the characters are a bit all over the place at the moment, I’m sure they’ll settle into something in a while. Then I can start gushing again. ‘The Last Leg’ is back on, which is great, because I love it. Such a fun and funny show. One of the few things I actually look forward to. Although ‘Last Week Tonight’ is officially my favourite comedy satire show at the moment. ‘The Great British Bake-Off’ is also back on. It’s strange how people stressing about baking can get to you. But I bake enough to know how it can get when you’re under pressure. I’m supporting Martha but I think Louis and Richard are probably the best.

I’m off now, to do more tweetdeck programming for @FilmTVPost. Promise (I promise myself) to do a weekly post next time. Otherwise I’ll end up with a very long list of things to cover the week after, and it’s not much fun when you’re covering quantity not quality.

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