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Sunday 22 July 2018
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What She Said! with Christine Bentley & Kate Wheeler

Love, War, Politics, Trump – It’s Still 2018, plus a Star Wars Marathon Easter Weekend!

A stellar A-list English cast leads the delightful coming-of-age comedy Finding Your Feet that’s opening in select cities on the 13th. And by coming of age I mean reverse ageing and regaining youth. Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall and Joanna Lumley look for life beyond stereotypical “retirement” – two sisters reunite after decades not speaking to one another, one a spoiled aristocrat tossed aside by her husband, the other a free spirited hippie house boater looking for fun and sex.  They find connection – and men- at a local dance class and finally get in gear. But it ain’t easy – a lover drops dead in bed, a trip to Italy comes with complications but through it all, they might just make it. It’s feel-good fun with familiar faces, wicked wit, droll delivery and lots of side eye.  Lumley looks amazing in shoulder length grey hair, Ab Fab fans and she’s still hilarious!

Saul Dibb’s disturbing Journey’s End WWI drama based on R.C. Sherriff’s novel is a tough slog, but worthy on many levels as history, performance and emotion.  Its spring 1918 and English recruits are at Quentin, France, ready to serve their required six days of the month at the front. They’re stationed a mere sixty yards from the Germans, in trenches that are rotted, freezing cold and filthy. They’re soon spent and anxiously awaiting attack.  Paul Bettany plays the Chief Officer whose efforts to inspire the men are fronts for his own despair. Sam Claflin’s second in command is disintegrating, drinking and making mistakes. The cramped stinking trenches, awful food, unsprung tension, and classism, snobbery and fear create the perfect storm for mental collapse. Men are shaking, terrified, crying, screaming, terrified, something we rarely see in film.  It’s painful to watch. A note of hope in Asa Butterfield as a courageous teen with a deep desire to fight for King and country.   Journey’s End is hard to watch, but considering our ancestors may have been in these hellholes or in others in another war, it’s an emotional atonement and memorium.

The victims of The China Hustle don’t show up until the harrowing end chapter in this shocking expose of financial frauds by international cabals.  An elderly couple lost all their investments, a family man whose investments all he had watched them turn to ash. This is the true measure of an evil fraud against the regular Joe investor, against ordinary trusting people.  China looked like the only safe bet to Wall Street following the crash of ’08 and that’s where international financiers went to start fresh. They found ways around US regulations to finalize deals created with Chinese businesses that later proved to have overestimated their value times 40 in some cases or simply didn’t exist. The Chinese way of business paved the way; few government restrictions, zero punishment for fraud was the framework, but it took American investors being ok with that and selling risk to their customers. Jed Rothstein’s documentary sees through the eyes of a whistle blower determined to expose and prosecute the perpetrators who is still on the case and all these years later and no further ahead.  Admitted fraudsters, to a man, cited some defence for their actions and behaviour, including one presidential candidate from the 2000’s who has an on-camera meltdown. Executive producers include Mark Cuban, Alex Gibney and Todd Wagner, the team from Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. In theatres and on iTunes.

A documentary came out last fall that’s worth watching given recent revelations about the Trump Campaign’s use of Cambridge Analytica to fraudulently win him the presidency. Trumping Democracy on Amazon and Vimeofrom French filmmaker Thomas Huchon puts a spotlight on reclusive, ultra-conservative billionaire Robert Mercer his personal agenda to throw the country to the hard right.  He needed a candidate to carry out his plan.  Mercer originated the use of data analytics and algorithms decades ago, and now uses them sway voters via targeted ads / messages / fake news on their social feeds. We learn how data is collected, how the algorithms work, and how they got Trump into the White House despite being 2.8 M votes behind Hillary Clinton. Mercer is connected to Nigel Farage in the UK and helped push through Brexit the same way.  Twitter and Facebook provide the platforms. Facebook has a Dark Post entity for fake news creators.  If you “like” things, state a preference or take tests like What Cheese are You? then analytics companies already have your number.  Huchon suggests that data mining is the main tool of global nationalist agendas.

The Child in Time from Benedict Cumberbatch’ SunnyMarch production company is a psychological thriller about a children’s author whose two year old daughter goes missing.  Kate is shopping with her father (Cumberbatch) who turns away for seconds and finds she’s gone.  Kelly McDonald plays his broken hearted wife who openly blames him for Kate’s disappearance and leaves him. A crazy subplot about him being asked to watch his best friend who has resigned from Cabinet to live in the woods seems out left field, but it does provide distraction from his pain and obsession with finding his girl. Three years later and he still imagines he sees Kate around every corner; he enters a school to follow a little girl he thinks is she. Meanwhile his friend in the woods has regressed psychologically to childhood and claims he’s lost his daughter. Strange but I don’t think we’ve ever seen Benedict Cumberbatch sob uncontrollably in a movie before. PBS Masterpiece April 1 at 9 pm.

Here’s a timely grouping of comedy artists. Oscar winner Jordan Peele executive produces multiple Emmy nominee Tracy Morgan and multi award winning Tiffany Haddish in the TBS comedy The Last O.G.  that premieres Tuesday night.  It’s Morgan’s return to television and he’s in great comedic shape in this broadly funny fish-out-of-water story. He’s Tray who’s just come home to Brooklyn after fifteen years in the clink and he cannot believe what he sees, from selfie sticks to gentrification. To add to his turmoil his girlfriends is now married to a white man and raising two kids he didn’t know he fathered. Sounds serious, but trust me, Morgan can wring out a lot of laughs!

Sundance is now streaming Innocent a clever six-part British murder mystery that has me in crime solving overdrive. Did a seemingly ordinary family man murder his wife? Seven years after being imprisoned, he’s released on a technicality and acquitted. The community is outraged and shuns him. He’s barred from seeing his children who live with his late wife’s relatives, befriended only by his wary brother. He’s violently obsessed with getting back what is his. His children are terrified of him, perhaps by what their relatives who desperately want to keep them, have told them. What’s so great is that on paper, it seems he’s done it, but his character is either innocent and unhinged or an extremely crafty customer. Lee Ingleby is extraordinary in this nuanced role. He’s the young fella from George Gently, Luther and Harry Potter.

Acorn TV celebrates women this month, and as a matter of fact, every month. The streaming fountain of British television has always featured strong women in an enormous variety of roles. They’re smart, strong, measured (mostly) keen to solve mysteries and bring justice to their communities, create nurturing environments to care for the sick in heart and soul or make us laugh. They’re funny, effusive, dour and severe, painstaking and romantic, social, anti-social like the rest of us.

There’s Dawn French starring in the chef soap drama series Delicious, Brenda Blethyn as the shrewd, boozy Chief inspector Vera Stanhope, Amanda Redman as the courageous head of The Good Karma Hospital in a teeming Indian city, the wonderfully funny Ashley Jenson in Agatha Raisin, Elaine Cassidy as a top police investigator inAcceptable Risk, and the mighty Marta Dusseldorp in the epic Australian series A Place to Call Home and as a brilliant lawyer in Janet King. And then we have Kim Cattrall in Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution. Nuff said. Go to www.acorn.tv

Let the Force be with you this Easter Weekend, March 30 – April 1 as Showcase presents the entire Star Wars oeuvre, a marathon that starts at the beginning, waaaay back in 1977 . . .

. . . to today and the Canadian broadcast premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

After a phenomenally successful broadcast run in 189 countries, Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace has landed on Netflix! Sarah Gadon is extraordinary as Grace, a servant girl in early Toronto who finds work in a farmhouse in the Richmond Hill area. A seismic event occurs and she is imprisoned for the murder of her employers. A psychologist studies her case at Kingston Penitentiary but can he reach the truth? Because she’s not saying. The Canadian classic comes to life and retains its edge.

Canadian thespian legends Fiona Reid and Bruce Gray join Kate Ross and Luke Humphrey in a winning Facebook web series Chateau Laurier. Back at the turn of the last century, a mother and daughter wait in the lobby of the plush and historic Ottawa hotel. Mrs. Bracebridge orders her daughter to sit up straight and cross her ankles “like a lady”. She is about to meet the man she is to marry, as arranged by her mother. Mrs. B falls asleep and Hattie runs off for an adventure that takes her to the staff are in the basement where she meets a handsome bellboy. And then … The series was shot in a single day. It manages to break the rules, charm and leave us wanting more.

CHATEAU LAURIER – Season 1 – Episode 1

CHATEAU LAURIER – Episode 1Web SeriesExclusively Free on Facebook

Posted by Chateau Laurier – The Web Series on Tuesday, March 13, 2018

by @annebrodie
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