Category: Television


AFTERLIFE written, directed by and starring Ricky Gervais

(A Netflix Original, 2019)

Screen shot 2019-03-11 at 18.59.48Yesterday, I blogged about Gus Van Sant’s flawed attempt to deal with complicated issues of guilt and grief in ‘The Sea of Trees’.

In that movie, the death of the lead character’s wife drives the leading male into a narcissistic flirtation with suicide until he finds some vague spiritual redemption. This kind of cop-out is all too often the way these stories go.

God’s reputation for moving in mysterious ways allows scriptwriters to sidestep the less palatable, but all too probable, conclusion that when this mortal coil is cut there is no heaven or hell, no all-knowing deity. …. nothing.

These too infrequently voiced non-beliefs are squarely addressed in the unlikely form of a new comedy vehicle for Ricky Gervais. Since Gervais has been outspoken advocate of atheism, it is with a knowing sense of irony that he should choose to call his six part series on Netflix ‘Afterlife’. Continue reading

Advertisements

WIDOWS directed by Steve McQueen (UK,USA 2018)

widows_282018_movie_poster29There are many reasons why the best TV series are more rewarding and creative than most current movies and Steve McQueen’s latest feature film illustrates why.

There’s something deeply unsatisfying and frustrating about seeing a complex, multi-layered plot condensed into just over two hours. A story divided into one hour episodes can take its time building nuanced characters and the twists, when they come, they don’t feel forced or rushed.

‘Widows’ is based on Lynda La Plante’s ITV series broadcast in the UK in the early 1980s. La Plante had previously written the peerless ‘Prime Suspect’ starring Helen Mirren which proved that ball-breaking women make compelling protagonists. Continue reading

black-mirror-logoThese days I find most TV shows cringeworthy rather than bingeworthy. Black Mirror is the exception that proves the rule.

Charlie Brooker’s brilliant techie-themed tales of the unexpected continue to enthrall and entertain.

The six diverse new episodes in season 4 were released by Netflix on December 29th and I consumed them all eagerly in just a couple of days. Continue reading

THE STORY OF LOOKING by Mark Cousins (Canongate Books, 2017)

mark1As with his previous book – The Story Of Film (the tie-in with the brilliant Channel 4 series) , Mark Cousins acts as an articulate and able guide in the same way that E.H. Gombrich did for ‘The Story of Art’ in 1950.

Like Gombrich, the language is kept simple and jargon free in order to appeal to readers of all ages.

It’s easy to imagine Cousins carefully preparing each chapter in the same way as teachers put together lesson plans. He’ll have pack of slides to show and discuss in the classroom but he’ll be ready to shuffle these up to keep students on their toes and to relieve boredom.

There is clearly an educational purpose behind such an ambitious study but there also a desire to keep things as light, accessible and entertaining as possible. Continue reading

THE PLACE directed by Paolo Genovese (Italy, 2017)

theplaceAt the time of writing, The Place is the most popular movie in Italy outperfoming blockbusters like Thor Ragnarok and Justice League.

In terms of budget, plot and special effects it couldn’t be further from these Marvel spin-offs. The whole movie consists of dialogues in a single location, a bar in Rome which appears never to close or else allows customers to remain for 24 hours a day.

Instead of of rip-roaring action we are drawn into the set of stories that subtly overlap and gradually reveal common threads. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: