I often feel like life is passing me by and I have no one else to blame for that but myself. It’s not as if things don’t happen and take place, but I often forget what I’ve done or watched or read of note and this year I’ve opted to keep a list of all the telly, films and books I read. I could keep a diary but I know I’d forget about it after a week so a continually updated list of ‘culture’ (bleurgh!) seems doable. My memories of TV shows can sometimes be a scene popping into my head but with no further details, and the end of the year can come and I can forget what shows I really enjoyed because months have passed, so this little project should go some way to alleviating those problems.
I’m not a film buff, indeed I used to be known at school as the person who had never seen any of the well known films (and yes I know, ‘never seen Star Wars’ is such a cliché). I probably go to the cinema once every two years in reality, so Netflix’s collection is all I have. I apologise for the awful quality of my writing – I’m certainly nor Mark Kermode.
In all honesty, I had my doubts about this film when I started it. It’s joyful and one of those films you could happily watch on a Sunday afternoon even though you’ve seen it a hundred times before. Muriel encapsulates the feeling that everyone has at some point in their lives – that everything’s okay for others and you’re some how this big exception. In reality of course your next success is just around the corner but at the time you can rarely see it. The film doesn’t try to be something it’s not – it’s not a romcom, it’s not sickly sweet, it’s not some big blockbuster with a huge budget, but it is human which I think makes it special. Very much in the same vein of Bridget Jones, of course.
- I had no idea Toni Collette was in the title role – she looks so different.
- Bonus points for having an attractive blonde swimmer, even if he is a dick to Muriel
- I will be endlessly dropping “Oh Muriel, you’re terrrribleeeee” into conversation from now on
- The scene at the holiday resort where they mime to Abba complete with dance is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen
- And on that note, the gospel version of Dancing Queen is my new jam and will 100% be the music used at my probably-never-going-to-happen-but-you-never-know wedding.
Behind The Candelabra
This could so easily have been terrible. Really truly terrible, but was actually incredibly well delivered. I watched it three weeks ago though so can’t remember what my initial opinion of it was so this review ends here.
In The Loop
I loved The Thick Of It, as I think everyone who ever watched it did too, so I was looking forward to this. Everyone other than the indefinable Malcom Tucker is merely playing a version of their character under a different guise, which I think is understandable as you don’t want any other back stories getting in the way of the film. It’s got killer lines, as you’d imagine, and benefits from both having tight editing but also moments where scenes are allowed to play out properly which was sometimes lacking from the telly show.
So here we go then, my biennial cinema visit and I actually ended up seeing this in London because it wasn’t showing anywhere near me (the nearest multiplexes are 20-40 miles away and concentrate on blockbusters, and if they do show smaller more artsy films they’ll be on for one weekend then disappear). I have the concentration of a… ooh, shiny… so surprised myself by being able to sit through this whole film and barely fidgeting once. The characters were greatly portrayed and I’d recommend it to anybody. It could have fallen into so many tried, homophobic traps but it was refreshing in its presentation of it and the large acceptance on an individual level.
The second Audrey Hepburn film I’ve seen after watching Breakfast At Tiffany’s* on New Years Eve. It partly caught my eye while browsing Netflix because while at the cinema watching Carol a trailer for the new film about writer Dalton Trumbo and his Hollywood blacklisting appeared, so thought I’d give it a go. Another heartening film, which takes no effort to watch. Definitely one for the ‘hungover’ list. Points of note:
- the bearded photographer looked very familiar and I couldn’t place why, but have now decided he looks like Tim Key.
- the Italian barber is incredibly attractive
- Audrey Hepburn’s eyebrows are a force of nature
- I was very surprised to discover there was no gif of the taxi driver on the internet, so I made one of his fabulous eye-roll-shade-throwing-sigh
*the real showstopper performance of course being from the cat and not Audrey.
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride – it’s seem very fashionable to hate Sherlock and pick it apart, much like it was to hate Coldplay in 2006 but I feel it is often understandable in Sherlock’s case, as it’s wasn’t as AMAZEEEEEE as everyone (Tumblr) claims it to be anyway. Sure, it’s great but not AMAZEEEEEE. A bizarre episode.
The Newsroom: Season 1 – I started watching this a few years but have dived back into it again. My concentration span is often dreadful, and if you let your mind wander for even twenty seconds you miss something crucial during this show. Every line is there for a reason. I’m also glad I have a base level knowledge of American politics from my A-levels because otherwise I wouldn’t have a clue what was going on most of the time.
30 Rock: Season 6 and Season 7 – I’ve been watching 30 Rock since mid-2015, pausing between seasons but opted to view S6 and 7 as one. Some people judge S6 harshly, and others think S4-5 are dreadful but I don’t think that 30 Rock ever truly dropped the ball. Sure, some episodes are weaker than others but overall its quality of one liners and throwaway comments in every show was outstanding. I’m both gutted I’ll never be able to watch it afresh again but also quite keen to start over from the beginning because there are no doubt great lines I missed.
Making A Murderer – a bit of an iceberg effect on this one, in the same way everyone already knew the story arc of the film Titanic and how it would end, everyone watched it anyway. I watched the first episode of this, read a few articles and would be able to get through a conversation about it. Did I watch anymore of it? No, because ten hours of documentary when I already know where it’s leading isn’t enticing to me. I loved Serial and probably would have loved this had it been released week by week, but out of everything I had on my watch list this was at the bottom of the pile.
Deutschland 83 – The Cold War! Spies! Communism! Gay characters! I had my doubts when this started. It was perfectly pleasant but just seemed a bit shoddy around the edges; a great idea delivered poorly, if you will. The pop music soundtrack, particularly in the first few episodes, seemed forced and the strength of suspense and drama seemed weak. It is no way near the best foreign drama I’ve ever seen and I felt like it was appealing to those who had never watched foreign TV before, and that’s fine and the more the merrier but all those claiming on Twitter that “it’s amazing” or the “best thing ever” just clearly haven’t seen any other foreign drama – hello, The Bridge?! Episode 4 on Sunday was truly gripping however, a show that had been coasting along as a 6/10 truly came into its own
EastEnders – srsly Lacey Turner, what a pro.
The Tracey Ullman Show – being basically a foetus I had no real awareness of Tracey Ullman other than some vague notion she was partly responsible for the Simpsons. This is the first thing I’ve ever watched her do and I’ve been really enjoying it. Bonus points for having Samantha Spiro in it as well.
Spin – enjoying this far more than Deutschland 83, and the intrigue and drama in this is far more rewarding. Originally airing in 2012 over in France, it’s incredibly well timed here given recent events. Still had the classic French TV problem in the first episode however, as I couldn’t work out if people were being affectionate and kissing each other because they were screwing or because they were French. I also have real issues with Apple bringing out new iOS and iPhones in that it immediately dates a TV show when characters use them, as in Spin. I know that’s an issue with all technology but at least with Blackberrys they all looked the same.
War & Peace – I’m not usually one for period dramas and fancy costume but I’ve been gripped by this adaptation. Also features attractive boys looking dapper, so tick tick tick.
First Dates – brilliant as always.
Murdered By My Boyfriend – I hadn’t watched this the first time round but knew it had won a load of awards. When it appeared on iPlayer again I gave it a go and it is utterly heartbreaking. I did some googling to try and find out who phoned 999 at the end because it was never truly explained and found an article on the real case. The toddler daughter wandering in *four times* is such a harrowing detail.
Please Like Me: Series 1 – This is truly great and deserves to be far more well known than it is. Josh Thomas, a gay Australian comedian, stars as a version of himself in this sweet comedy where he explores his sexuality for the first time after breaking up with his girlfriend. The writing is both clever and witty, but the show also allows time for moments to occur too – there’s no rush to move on to the next thing, and scenes have as much time as they need. The comic timing is often perfect and I found myself laughing out loud on occasion, which as I’m sure you’ll know, rarely happens when you’re watching something alone (laughter is a social response, after all). I can understand that some people might find Josh Thomas’s character and sing song voice irritating but I love it and him, and find this ticks the box of being relatable. Mildly similar to Simon Amstell’s great and underloved sitcom Grandma’s House, if you’ve ever seen it. It’s surprisingly hard to track down and watch so give me a bell if you need a decent link.
Only Connect – this is the first series I’ve watched with any degree of regularity, and I’m just incredibly grateful that smug Gerard didn’t win.
Suits: Season 4 – every time I come round to watching a season of Suits I forget what happened last time, but manage to fall straight back in with ease which I think is tantamount to the show and the strength of its characters. Not too many that you feel swamped, but enough that you feel empathy for them. The comedy moments are still there of course as is the poor continuity of Donna’s hair between shots, but it’s Donna so I’m not complaining. Interestingly, the show’s ratings for S3+ are surprisingly poor in the US compared to S1 and S2, and it is now rarely in the Top 20 most watched shows on cable when it used to be consistently in the Top 5. Four episodes in at the time of writing.