Tag Archives: People

SCREENWASH – BBC DRAMA REVIEWS

SCREENWASH – BBC DRAMA REVIEWS

Over the past few months I’ve focussed my extra-curricular viewing on BBC produced dramas via the BBC channels and catch-up on Netflix. The British Broadcasting Corporation, being the public-service-tax-payer-funded-beast that it is has a commitment to produce quality programming for national viewing and also overseas sales too. I then got to thinking; why not check out where some of my £12.12 per month money goes. So, here are some bitesize reviews of recent BBC dramas with marks out of the usual eleven.

**CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS**

THE CHILD IN TIME (2017)

Based on Ian McEwan’s prize-winning novel this was an interesting drama which worked in many respects but did not quite connect in others. Benedict Cumberbatch and Kelly McDonald are parents whose child goes missing while out shopping. The drama and grief of this was very well evoked but the supporting story of a publisher’s regression and mental collapse did not quite thematically meld for me. No doubt McEwan’s original source is a master work and I enjoyed many of the emotional moments provided by the excellent acting. (Mark: 8 out of 11)

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DOCTOR FOSTER – SEASON 1 (2015) + SEASON 2 (2017)

Suranne Jones is absolutely stunning in this domestic drama written by Mike Bartlett. She acts her heart and soul out as the eponymous GP, who in the face of her husband’s suspected infidelity, attempts to find both the truth and maintain her family unit and sanity. It’s a brilliantly written TV series which creates great drama from the “whodunnit” aspect of the potential spousal treachery. Plus, in addition to the Hitchcockian elements Dr Foster herself is very unpredictable in her actions; making for some nail-biting scenes. Bertie Carvel also excels as the charismatic husband and the second season, while not reaching the emotional heights of the first, and feeling more contrived, had some decent dramatic twists too.

(Season 1 – Mark: 9.5 out of 11)
(Season 2 – Mark: 8 out of 11)

LONDON SPY (2015)

The always-impactful actor Ben Whishaw is superbly supported by thespian giants Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling in this obtuse spy thriller. Playing a troubled warehouse worker called Danny, Whishaw falls for the enigmatic genius, Alex (Edward Holcroft); and is thrown into a murky and murderous world of spymasters and upper-class family feuds. Beautifully acted and designed the story moved too slowly for me. Over five episodes the slow-bleed plot of character despair, double-crosses and cover-ups did not sustain the suspense and tension throughout.  (Mark: 7.5 out of 11)

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THE SECRET OF CRICKLEY HALL (2012)

Suranne Jones (again!) leads the acting line in an earlier post-Coronation Street role. She portrays a mother who, along with her family, seeks the solace of the countryside after their young child has gone missing. However, the house they reside in is haunted by ghosts from the past and as the family attempt to overcome their grief, evil spirits threaten their present. The contemporary narrative works well with the wartime scenes in a decent haunted house scenario that was adapted from the book by horror legend James Herbert; also featuring an early role for Maisie Williams. (Mark: 7.5 out of 11)

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SMALL ISLAND (2009)

Notable for its excellent ensemble cast and featuring before-they-were-famous roles for: Ruth Wilson, David Oyelowo, Naomi Harris, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ashley Walters, this excellent drama focussed on the war and post-war lives of several disparate characters whose lives become intertwined by fate. Based on Andrea Levy’s novel it is especially rich in regard to the diasporic characterizations and experiences of Jamaican immigrants in war-torn England. The writing is solid and there’s some fine acting and emotional moments to keep one enthralled and I enjoyed how the stories dovetailed dramatically at the end. (Mark: 8 out of 11)

TOP OF THE LAKE (2013)

Hey, what if Jane Campion wrote and directed a cop drama? Well, the answer is Top of the Lake!  This is a slow-burn, who-why-how-dunnit with a superb cast, beautiful New Zealand vistas and eccentric, dark characters. Some may find it too slow and artsy, while certain decisions by the characters and plot turns were intriguingly weird. However, Elizabeth Moss excels as the burnt-out cop (is there any other kind?) searching for a missing pregnant teenager, while Peter Mullan is suitably vicious as the rural patriarch; and Holly Hunter is fantastic too as the leader of a women’s commune. Overall, Campion’s barbed world-view satirizes humanity and cop show clichés in a compelling crime drama. (Mark: 8.5 out of 11)

TOP OF THE LAKE 2: CHINA GIRL (2017)

Screened earlier this year on the BBC, the follow-up finds Elizabeth Moss, now back in Sydney, tracking down the killer of an Asian prostitute while battling illegal adoption rings and all manner of sexist-pig-men. Like the original it pulls you in with its richly drawn characters and brilliant cast all committing to the lurid and quirky plotlines. Moss is always reliable and does the brooding, melancholic and troubled cop perfectly, while Nicole Kidman is brilliant as the middle-class academic out of her depth with the emotions of her adopted daughter. The sinister beta-male-nemesis Puss portrayed by David Dencik was a great rendition of spurious masculinity while it was great to see Gwendoline Christie out of her Game of Thrones armour, as a naïve rookie cop assisting Moss’ detective. (Mark: 8.5 out of 11)

TRUST ME (2017)

Jodie “New Doctor Who” Whittaker leads the cast as a downtrodden nurse and single-mum struggling with an NHS cover-up over poor service delivery. Faced with the sack she decides to engage in a cover-up herself by taking on the identity of a Doctor; and then the real drama kicks in. Whittaker is very empathetic and natural, while the suspense was very thrilling at times as her character gets deeper and deeper into the mire. Overall, it was a very tense and fun medical drama which made some very good social points in regards to a Doctors’ life and the NHS in general. Ultimately, it made me appreciate what the NHS does for us but also want to avoid getting ill in the future too!

(Mark: 8.5 out of 11)

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WAR AND PEACE (2016)

Well, the BBC certainly pushed the budget boat out on this one with a who’s who of new and experienced acting talent including: Jim Broadbent, Paul Dano, Lily James, Tuppence Middleton, Aneurin Barnard, Adrian Edmondson, Jessie Buckley, Tom Burke, Rebecca Front, Greta Scacchi, Brian Cox, Stephen Rea, Gillian Anderson and many more. Adapting Tolstoy’s gigantic and classic doorstop novel must have been some feat and it is indeed and sumptuous and incredible production. As a drama it drew me in with its’ stories of over-privileged Russian lives set during the Napoleonic wars as they live, love, cheat, duel, war and die. Yet, while I did not feel too much empathy for the characters, the acting, design and directing is a joy to behold and I garnered a certain hypnotic pleasure bathing in the high quality of the whole shebang. (Mark: 8 out of 11)

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10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU – #6 MODERN LIFE

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU – #6 – MODERN LIFE

I recently wrote a little personal review on stuff I love about life which can be found here. BUT then I thought ah, why not continue my Ten Things I Hate About. . . series which to date includes reasons why I hate: Zach Snyder’s Man Of Steel, the Cinema, Found Footage films, Politics and Movie Hair!? Therefore, I thought why not write about things in LIFE I hate too!

Here I’m just saying that this is for fun and not a cry for help, as my life is pretty good I have a job, a roof-over-my-head, good family and I have my health. Compared to those in war-torn countries and those hit by horrific tsunamis and hurricanes I CANNOT COMPLAIN!!  Still, there’s no harm in having a little bit of a moan now and then. So, here are ten things that really get on my nerves most days whilst living and breathing on Earth.

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#1 – ONLINE HATERS OR TROLLS!

Why are people so over-the-top with their reactions online I ask myself? Maybe they are channelling their life disappointments or existential anger by way of dissociative behaviour. Criticizing things is one thing but venturing into petty online spite could be a way of distancing themselves from the pain of life or just a means to attack others in an offensive way. Moreover, sport, politics, novels, schools, pop videos and even cakes give rise to the most ridiculous hate-filled crap online. Even worse is that many people are cowards and use anonymity too. Why can’t we all just get along?

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#2 – GU: GLASS POTS

This is a bit of a niche pet-hate! But I once shared a flat with a very decent person but they kept, every day, purchasing GU Pot desserts. They would eat them, clean the glass pots and place them in the cupboard. Soon we were infested with GU Pots!  I thought maybe he was to recycle them at the glass bank but he left the tenancy and I was the one who had to get rid of these damned pesky pots. I’d given up smoking so couldn’t even use them as an ashtray!

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#3 – PEOPLE WHO DON’T INDICATE WHEN DRIVING

Come on drivers please let me know which way you’re going?!?  It’s the lever on the steering wheel; just flick it and THEN I KNOW!!  Also, if you’re changing lanes don’t just lurch left or right without warning you bastards!!  Please use the indicator!!  I’m a bit anal when it comes to this but just have a bit of decency please?  Oh, and while you’re at it stop driving so close to my back bumper! THAT’S HOW CRASHES OCCUR YOU MUPPETS!

#4 – ADULTS ON SCOOTERS

What is it with this most recent of irritating phenomena!? If it isn’t bad enough pedestrians having to battle regular traffic and hate-filled cyclists failing to stop at red lights while riding on pavements; we now have morons over the age of 18 riding kid’s scooters too. It may get you from A to Z in an environmentally safe fashion but you are dangerous and look like a dick! Just stop it please!


#5 – PEOPLE WHO SAY, “YOU KNOW WHAT I’M LIKE!

I do this all the time and it is bloody annoying. For example, I am very pedantic and annoy people with this – especially my wife. But when I do it I often utter the above words: “Well, you know what I’m like – it’s what I’m like!” No, it doesn’t work as a catchall defence mechanism so must be rejected. You wouldn’t get jury’s in court finding you innocent of murder because it’s “what I’m like!” Just don’t do it to start off with!

 

#6 – PROFESSIONAL CRITICS

Everyone’s a critic!  Everyone has an opinion or a view and the Internet has caused a mass proliferation and gaping spew of words and views and brain-thoughts in extremis. I am just part of that continued global globule of opinionated ephemera which litters the clouds or servers or wherever the hell it is online. However, I do it for fun and to stop me thinking about death. If you earn a living as a critic then you are Satan! Would I do it for a living, well, yes I would but I’d rather create than dictate. I’d rather be the failed artist trying than the trying failed artist.


#7 – WHITE MIDDLE-CLASS KIDS WHO TRY AND RAP!!

Again, it’s a freedom of choice to dress to behave the way you choose, however, the absorption of urban culture by middle-class white kids to me is very grating. I’m not saying don’t appreciate the music, style and fashion styles but dreadlocks, urban-speak and bad rapping should not be tolerated. Most annoying is appropriating other people’s look or behaviour when much has been borne out from a certain social standing. But most of all it’s the terrible rapping. Look at this c**t from M. Night Shymalan’s The Visit (2015)!


#8 – OVER-INFLATED PRICES PAID FOR ART!

Picture the scene: a starving child in Africa passively stares at a camera while a fly irritates their big sad eyes, and they do not know when their next meal is coming from. Meanwhile, in a New York auction house a painting by Cezanne or Gauguin or Picasso is selling for over $200 million dollars! What the f**k is wrong with the world?!  I’m not saying these paintings aren’t great art it’s just that there is NO WAY that amount of money should be paid for a painting when there is starvation, disease, and poverty in the world. It’s just an indictment of the sickness of humanity that we place such value on what effectively amounts to canvas and paint placed in a particular manner by some dead guy. It’s utter madness!!

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#9 – PEOPLE WHO DON’T LET YOU GET OFF THE TRAIN FIRST!

Honestly, it’s bad enough being crammed like sardines in a space not fit for cattle going to market. However, when you try and get off a stacked tube and the passengers on the platform block your way then you can seriously lose your cool. There should be a bigger space and line to allow more room to get off. I mean: what’s the hurry though?  We’re just too much in a hurry I guess to have some empathy and feelings for others’. Damned shame!

#10 – TALKING AT THE MOVIES!

I mean why are you talking during a movie?  There’s a FILM on!!  People who chat during the film SHOULD BE banned forever! In fact a law should be introduced that there’s NO talking from the trailers onwards.  If you do you are forcibly removed from the screening room.  I go to the cinema to escape reality; YOU or YOUR MATE’S voice-words are reality so SHUT THE HELL UP!  If you want to have a conversation piss-off to a pub or a shop or a busy road and PLAY IN THE TRAFFIC. Anywhere but the cinema!

 

 

 

TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU #4 – THE CINEMA – BY PAUL LAIGHT

TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU #4 – THE CINEMA – BY PAUL LAIGHT

Following on from my rants about movie hair, “found footage” films and Zack Snyder the fourth entry in this series is about (drum roll please. . . ) what I hate at the CINEMA! Indeed, as this blog will testify I love the cinema and I LOVE FILMS!!  As often affirmed I am not a religious person yet the cinema is the closest I get to a place of worship for me. However, there are some things I HATE about the cinema-going experience, so, I thought it would be fun to have a rant about it. I mean it’s easy disrespecting things you DON’T like such as: politicians, minor celebrities, cancer, self-service checkout machines, war, Piers Morgan and death! But how about having a go at something I DO like. So, here goes!  Ten things I hate about the cinema. Enjoy!

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#1 – PEOPLE

People generally piss me off at the cinema. I am a reasonably thoughtful person but when I go to the cinema I become a very selfish. I basically start to hate people. Especially if they are: in the way, talking, in the queue, in the toilet and breathing. I recall when I was a student, I loved going to the cinema for the first screening of the day because there was hardly anyone about.  One of my greatest memories is when I saw The Shadow (1994) starring Alec Baldwin.  THERE WAS NO ONE IN THE SCREENING at ALL!!  That was my idea of heaven. Not a great film but a wonderful cinema memory.

 

#2 – TALKING

People who chat during the film SHOULD BE banned forever! In fact a law should be introduced that there’s NO talking from the trailers onwards.  If you do you are forcibly removed from the screening room.  I go to the cinema to escape reality; YOU or YOUR MATE’S voice-words are reality so SHUT THE FUCK UP!  If you want to have a conversation piss-off to a pub or a shop or a busy road and PLAY IN THE TRAFFIC. Anywhere but the cinema I am in!

#3 – PHONES

Dear People, who use their phones at the cinema: see above! You ARE CUNTS!

#4 – CONFECTIONERY

ALL CONFECTIONERY SHOULD BE BANNED WHEN THE FILM STARTS. The rustling and crisping and slurping is TOO annoying for words. What is it with the cinema and NOT eating beforehand!?  Eat BEFORE!  I guess there’s some Freudian reason for stuffing over-priced popcorn, sugar and crisps into your gobs in the dark.  If it’s an action-based film it’s not so bad as the sound of the film will drown it out. But in a drama which is character and dialogue based then the opening and rustling of packets drives me mad; especially when the people TRY TO BE QUIET!  By trying to be quiet in a dead silent environment only heightens the noise you mug!

#5 – COST

While we’re on the subject of food, let’s face it: the price of popcorn is ridiculous. At present inflation is at an all-time low but NOT for cinema food. For what you get POPCORN is more expensive than COCAINE! And cocaine’s probably better for you. The price of food and drink at the cinema makes motorway service station prices look like Poundland.  Also, I’ve seen a growing trend of so-called shopping ‘tasters’ at the ice cream stand. These cheapskates should be shot!! If you don’t know what the taste of cold-processed-sugared-crap is by now then just die!  IT TASTES OF CHEMICALS and SUGAR!

 #6 – PUNCTUALITY

GET TO THE FILM ON FUCKING TIME! I’ve made it on time! I am comfortable and have to get up, or have my view blocked, because you’re late. You shouldn’t be allowed in; especially if the film has started!  There’s no excuse people – NO EXCUSE!

#7 – TRAILERS!

More and more trailers are just a summary of the WHOLE film! This is lazy! An example of a terrible trailer was a film called Fast Girls (2012) which essentially gave the WHOLE PLOT away in chronological order. Even Oscar winners Spotlight (2015) and Argo (2012) chose key dialogue scenes which span out the spine of the film and left nothing to the experience. I also lament the loss of the Voiceover Guy. I loved that guy; he really raised the sense of suspense or horror. To me a trailer should suggest and create intrigue rather give away the story or even mislead the audience. Indeed, the trailer for Sweeney Todd (2007) had NO musical numbers in it even though IT WAS A MUSICAL!  Now HERE’S A PROPER TRAILER!

#8 – HEGEMONY

I like a decent blockbuster but the hegemonic domination of the multiplexes means smaller films don’t often get a chance. I used to love repertory cinemas such as the Scala in King’s Cross (which is now a nightclub and live music venue) but alas these cinemas are a dying breed. We do have Prince Charles which is great but even some independents are NOT truly independent like the PICTUREHOUSE chain, as they are owned by Cineworld. I’m probably just being nostalgic for a non-capitalist dream but it just irks me when a Marvel or Disney film is released on ALL the screens at the same time and smaller films vanish rapidly; lost in the huge capitalist machine that is greed.

#9 – ADVERTISING

Slowly but surely a film programme is getting longer and longer!!   Showtime is advertised at 7.00pm but the film doesn’t start until fucking midnight. I’ve paid NOT to see adverts! To me it should be THREE adverts and THREE trailers and that’s it!!  Plus the adverts get shown AFTER the TRAILERS too – THERE’S NO ESCAPE!  I accept adverts, like politics, are a necessary evil in society but they’re STILL EVIL!  If I pay £13 for a cinema ticket I’ve paid for the privilege of NOT being eye-punched to death by advertising.  The amount of advertising actually makes me nostalgic for Pearl & Dean. Oh, for the good old days!

#10 – NOT THE CINEMA!

Basically, I know people are broke and the cinema is expensive but if you watch a BIG BLOCKBUSTER film on an illegal download – THEN YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT!! I realise Hollywood isn’t going broke anytime soon and you’re probably NOT funding terrorism but you are disrespecting the cinema – so GO TO THE CINEMA!!  Just don’t do any of the above THINGS I’ve listed above, and as long as you don’t go when I go, then go watch a movie where it’s meant to be seen! Not on an Iphone or a Tablet but at THE CINEMA!  OBEY!