Saturday, February 27, 2016

Things I watched in December and January

Some of these might have been in November as well- but here is the round up.  


Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2014)
I am a bit sad that Han and Leia's marriage became a casualty of the Star Wars story. This is all. I watched this twice with J, he loves the chases, and is a child of the original trilogy. I go along because I love the scope of things, but am bored by the inability to come up with an original story line. Might as well have gone and watched the very first ever- Star Wars: A New Hope. Though the new leads are great, and I like movies with female pilots/drivers/captains. 

In the Heart of the Sea (2014) 
Horribly boring. I don't know why anyone would try to make a movie about the writing of Moby Dick, when there isn't really much of a story there to tell- just make Moby Dick. I occasionally fall asleep at the movies, but never at the beginning. This movie sent me right off, with an incredibly slow start, though I have to say it never really picks up. The shots of the sea are beautiful, but that's the best thing about the movie. Most glaring misuse of opportunity that I have seen in a while.

Hasee to Phasee (2014)
Argh. Some bits were funny, but overall I found myself clenching my teeth, wishing the ridiculous mannerisms of the female lead would magically melt away. Siddharth whatsit is pleasant enough, but so boring that I've already forgotten his last name, and I have no intention of finding out.

Muriel's Wedding (1994)
I remember watching this as a child and loving it, not that I could have understood very well at the time. I love ABBA, and Toni Collete, and stories about women who do not have to marry to have their world complete.

DDLJ (1995)
I watched this one rainy morning, while doing chores. Has not aged well. Now that I am not a 10 year old, and am in a relationship with an actual human being, this movie seems more ridiculous than ever. Also I have lived in Switzerland- people do not just let Indian hitchhikers sleep in their barns, take kindly to women crawling on bar counters, or have shops open at 6 pm. That Ghar Aaja Pardesi song is still beautiful though.

Phoenix (2014)
This was playing at a theatre across town and I dragged J to it. This is about a woman coming to terms with the knowledge that her husband has done a terrible thing to her, working her way towards accepting his perfidy. I loved it. The music was excellent, as was the dialogue. There were long tense moments of silence, and the end was fantastic. It's not on Netflix, should anyone want to watch it. I suggest no breaks. 

Hannah Arendt (2012)
I am so happy I chanced upon this. I haven't seen too many movies where people have serious philosophical discussions, where talk of ethics doesn't devolve into parody. It was very very good. I know I watch too many Holocaust movies, but this was a most excellent one about the nature of evil, and how one might approach thinking about it. German, I think, and I like that they aren't afraid of long periods of silence.

Remembrance (2011)
Was really not that great, though Netflix had me believe otherwise. In this a Jewish woman manages to escape a concentration camp with her Polish revolutionary lover. They are separated soon after, and don't meet again until several decades have passed. I just don't have it in me to watch a movie about the power of love, I think. 

Ida (2014) 
So this is a black and white movie, set in Poland, where a girl who is about to become a nun discovers that she has Jewish heritage. Then she meets an aunt, who is a high-powered something or the other, and they go on a road trip. It was very good, very silent, and very lovely to watch. Very affirming in a way that Remembrance was not. 

Le Diner de Cons (1999)
Oh I don't even know. I'm sure this was funny at some point but it hasn't aged well for me, and this was the first time I was seeing it from beginning to end in one sitting, having seen bits and pieces before. Middle-aged cheating French men are my least favourite type, and I want to encounter less in in cinema, as in real life. 


Peaky Blinders
J and I watched this together. We powered through 3 seasons of Boardwalk Empire, to find that the other two cost $40 each or something (not doing that). This was our fix of Irish gangsters. The music was a bit jarring at the beginning, there is so much of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds that you can take, but they moved on to a very P.J Harvey heavy season. We loved the show, and I look forward to its return later this year.

Jessica Jones
Another thing J and I watched together, mostly because I made him, and he likes watching people being thrown against building, of which there is a lot. As J pointed out over and over- the dialogue was regrettable, except when David Tennant was delivering it. He is fantastic. Krysten Ritter was too, but her character got a bit tiresome. Also she looks so much like Michael Jackson that it was most distracting. I was happy to see familiar faces on the show, but also happy for it to end. Marvel characters appear to be written by 13 year old boys, and one might argue that this is better than 50 year old men, but that is neither here nor there. I found the discussions of heroism tiresome. I am just not the target audience for this kind of show. 

Top of the Lake
I am, however, the target audience for this kind of show. Very well written. And lovely camera work. Most predictable end, but that wasn't the point of it. I was happy to watch it and look forward to the next season. Elizabeth Moss carries the whole thing on her most capable shoulders. It is very dark though, and almost completely unrelieved by humour.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
I haven't seen enough Australian tv, and this is a lovely introduction. Phryne Fisher is a detective in Sydney in the late 20's. The show has a lovely eye for detail, and lots of interesting characters, including a Communist cab driver, an interfering aunt, a dapper police inspector, a bumbling junior policeman, and a delightfully bosomy right-hand woman. I cannot recommend this enough. If you have to watch one thing for joy this year- you can't go too wrong with this.

Appropriate Adult
This was my introduction to Emily Watson, and I have stalked her since. Like so many other excellent things this is an iTV miniseries. Dominic West plays a serial killer and Emily Watson plays the social worker assigned to his investigation. 

The Great British Baking Show
I have an unfortunate addiction to cooking shows like My Kitchen Rules, Masterchef (Australia and UK only please), and Top Chef. This one is great, full of stupid puns, and doesn't take itself too seriously. It's just a baking competition, not like and death with bellowing, as most American cooking contests would have it. 

Death Comes to Pemberley
Yes ok. Nothing spectacular. But lots of familiar faces. And Matthew Rhys. Who gives excellent smouldering stare. Also James Norton- whose beauty must be celebrated. 

is about a vicar who served in the 2nd World War, and his friendship with a detective, with whom he solves cases. He has an inexplicable attachment to a women who will not become his girlfriend, but who visits him often, is very proprietary. He has limited means, compassion for a closeted gay colleague of his, a stern housekeeper who delivers many sharp set-downs, and a sister with a black boyfriend. James Norton is most excellent. I found the show charming, and I look forward to the next season.

Happy Valley
Also has James Norton in it, but as a rapist and murderer. Someone joked on Twitter the other day that people pitched new shows to the BBC saying " Detective show, but here- insert name of small town".  Happy Valley is set in the Yorkshire Dales against the context of high drug use and trade in the area. Sarah Lancashire plays a police sergeant whose daughter committed suicide after being raped by the James Norton character. I had great fun watching this- would highly recommend.

Is set in the town of Broadchurch, where a young boy has been murdered. A homegrown detective, played by Olivia Coleman, has been passed over as lead investigator, and is forced to work with a surly senior detective from Scotland, played by David Tennant. The story is great, and the cast is very good. Arthur Darvill from Doctor Who shows up, and he is wonderful. I want him to be in everything. This show is very very good.

The Escape Artist
Is a miniseries in which David Tennant plays a defence lawyer dealing with a dangerous client. There's no way to describe it without spoilers. It is a short three part series, and less compelling than Broadchurch, but it is a different, series. He is very good, as always, and I would watch anything with him in it. 

The Politician's Wife
Emily Watson and David Tennant play a married pair of ambitious politicians in this three part drama. The writing was somewhat predictable, but it was well-made, and fun for a weekend afternoon. The series describes the corruption of a marriage, with the two playing spy vs spy for a good part of it.