Lester meets Lorne (Martin Freeman & Billy Bob Thornton)
I had mixed feelings when it was first announced that the movie Fargo was to be turned into a ten-part TV series.
On the one hand, I was pleased that one of my all-time favourite films was being given a new lease of life via the small screen but, at the same time, I was worried the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece would somehow be tarnished in the process.
I was intrigued to see how this self-contained story would be adapted. Was it going to be a sequel or was it going to be the same story told in greater depth? As it turns out, it is neither of these.
Noah Hawley’s take on this “homespun murder story” begins with the bogus ‘This Is A True Story’ caption and it is quickly apparent that this is a respectful homage to the original, faithfully recreating the look and mood of the movie without sticking slavishly to the plot. Continue reading
In previous posts I have praised Mark Cousins’ epic ‘Story of Film’ – both the book and the Channel 4 TV series.
Cousins has an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema and the gift of articulating his enthusiasm for movies.
This talent is also evident in interviews he conducted for the BBC Scotland between 1999 and 2001 in a series called Scene By Scene.
The idea, which originated at the Edinburgh Film Festival through an interview with Sean Connery, was a simple one. Top directors and actors were shown clips from films they had made or appeared in and talk about the background to them.
Cousins is from Ulster and his Irish accent is often confused for Scots. From comments on various forums, it’s obvious that his speaking voice irritates the hell out of many. Personally, I find the sing-song quality charming but whatever you may think about how he talks, it’s hard to criticise him for the passion and preparation he puts into his work.
Television is so full of shallow chat shows or banal documentaries that tell you nothing, that it’s a pleasure to find someone who doesn’t insult or patronise the audience. Continue reading
Mark Cousins after a few late nights, (Photograph: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Mark Cousins may look he’s been dragged through a hedge backwards in his publicity photos but he is a gentle soul with a lot of wisdom to impart.
I enjoyed an interview in the Guardian about his new movie that has been premiered at Cannes and can’t wait to see A Story Of Children And Film.
This sounds like it follows in the same vein as the wonderful Story Of Film series he made for Channel 4, ie. lilting voiceover and a refreshingly global perspective on the magic of movies.
He explains how children can be more transparent and truthful than adults : “They are not ashamed of bawling or crying just because they want something – and switching it off and turning at once to laughter. They don’t feel they have to disguise the nakedness of those emotions. It’s not just that we mask and they don’t – they are faster in their feelings, I think.”
THE WALDO MOMENT by Charlie Brooker
(Season 2 Episode 3 of The Black Mirror – Channel 4 Television)
Waldo – the future face of politics?
Waldo is an animated bear. His colour, like his jokes are blue. He appears on a late night satirical ‘youth’ TV show where he specialises in exposing the pomposity and/or ignorance of public figures.
If this sounds a bit Brass Eye to you, then it will come as no surprise to learn that it is based on an idea by Brooker and Chris Morris while working on the sit-com Nathan Barley.
Waldo is voiced by Jamie Salter (Daniel Rigby) a failed comedian whose personal life has hit rock bottom. The venom he pours into the character strikes a chord with the public. As a publicity stunt, Waldo stands as a candidate in a by-election in a safe Tory seat. Waldo’s rants go viral on You Tube and the possibly of him (‘it’) winning a seat in parliament becomes a real possibility. Continue reading
Can this really be the end?
So, Utopia is no more, at least for the time being.
The DVD release (out on 11th March) labels the Channel 4 drama as Series 1 so there is almost certainly more to come.
Part of me thinks that there is nothing more to say but as I’m already suffering from withdrawal symptoms I would certainly be tuning in enthusiastically.
With many of the main characters dead, maimed or gravely ill the whole mind fuck trip will need to be reinvented anew. Call me an eternal optimist but I hope that, if there is a follow-up, it is done for reasons other than merely to cash in on its success. Continue reading