British born Theo James plays an American diplomat in Backstabbing for Beginners, a Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Ontario co-production directed by Per Fly and co-starring Ben Kingsley. A young man wants to fulfil his late father’s idealism in international politics by joining the UN. He is readily accepted, maybe too quickly, and is assigned to work for the Under Secretary overseeing the Oil-for-Food humanitarian programme of the 90’s. It was intended to aid the people of Iraq under Saddam Hussein but he uncovers widespread alleged kickbacks involving several governments, UN officials, major US and other corporations and was asked to look the other way. His predecessor was murdered but he presses on, hoping to sway officials to stop. The US invaded and killed Hussein, resulting in chaos and more profiteering. Kingsley plays his boss whose dignified front contrasts with his blue language, which seems odd for Muslim character and operates as black humour and a joke. This is no Oscar winner, but as far as illuminating what went on in the UN and how business and multiple governments grabbed cash literally from starving children is brutal. Based on Michael Soussan’s memoir.
Toronto’s international comedy superstar Russell Peters gives one of television’s most beloved comedy icons a little assistance in Netflix heartwarming new reality series A Little Help with Carol Burnett. Carol hosts imaginative toddlers who give advice and ideas to celebrity guests to help them fix their problems, and from the mouths of babes… you know how that goes. The series is a delight and packed with special guests including all fine targets for six year old pretend life coaches. Peters interviews the kids, spends quality time and learns a few things he can put to use. And he’s given a little help from of all people, the show’s producer Mark Cuban! These celebs show up for 6 year old help Taraji P. Henson, Brittany Snow, Wanda Sykes, Derek Hough, Billy Eichner, Lisa Kudrow, DJ Khaled, Tony Hale and Julie Bowen. Check out my interview with Peters as he dishes on kids and Carol!
I’m a little obsessed with AMC’s The Terror, the limited series on Sir John Franklin’s doomed expedition to find the North West Passage above Hudson’s Bay in 1845. Two ships, The HMS Terror and HMS Erebus left England to find a much hoped for trade route across the top of Canada to China. No spoilers here because this is history, but the entire crew died of among other things, tuberculosis, murder, lead poisoning from improperly tinned food or the water system, suicide, immolation, scurvy, hypothermia and freezing. Cannibalism is believed to have occurred. International crews have searched for the ships and artifacts since 1848. In 2016 a Parks Canada expedition found the ships in pristine condition just south of Prince William Island. David Kajganich ’s incredible imagined tale is completely mesmerising. Only three episodes left.
Marvel Studios’ box office smash-hit, Black Panther, is out into the world and grabbed the biggest opening in movie history with a colossal $900 M weekend. We can talk about it now and I’m just curious how people are taking the shocking ending. It’s a bit of a headscratcher as just six superheroes remain. Good news is the debate will rage on with the Digital Download May 8 and Blu-ray May 15. T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), a young African prince who takes on the mantle of King and Super Hero, Digitally in HD and 4K Ultra HD on May 8 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand on May 15. Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos immersive sound Feature commentary from director Ryan Coogler; deleted scenes; outtakes; and several making-of featurettes, which detail the Black Panther’s evolution, the women of Wakanda, the history of T’Challa’s proud nation, and the cosmic origin and technological applications of vibranium.
Time to make plans to watch the Royal Wedding May 19th!! It’s being broadcast, streamed and generally made available on multiple platforms including Britbox. You know you’ll be watching. Don’t be caught short!
by @annebrodie, BFCA BTJA AWFJ TFCA FIPRESCI