Monday 9 December 2019
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What She Said! with Christine Bentley & Kate Wheeler

New Theatrical Movies Few and Far Between, True Detective Season 3 at Last, Streaming Takes Over and Some Very Cool VODs

Stan & Ollie starring Steve Coogan and John Reilly as the durable Hollywood comedy team of Laurel and Hardy expands its berth this week. This beautifully acted two hander about the final chapter of the professional lives, on tour in northern England, is gentle and poignant as it becomes clear that they won’t work together again, not due to personality clashes but to advancing age and changing tastes in entertainment. We learn what devoted friends they were who never exchanged angry words but treated one another with respect and love and how they weathered being considered “dated”. This was the fifties and they’d been at it since the 30’s and so it was time to face facts. I hope this delightful film from Jon S. Baird renews interest in Laurel & Hardy’s sizeable contribution to comedy.

Mahershala Ali’s career jumps ahead in leaps and bounds with that astonishing body of work, truckloads of awards, diverse roles and at the heart of it all, pure blazing talent. Now Ali’s taking on one of the most elegant and intelligent series on television, in True Detective Season 3 its first new season in four years.  He’s Wayne Hays a uniquely gifted detective / savant in the Deep South, seen at three different times in his career around the disappearance of a brother and sister in 1980. Then to 1990 as he keeps working the case over in his mind and shocking new information emerges, finally as an old man in the early stages of dementia, being interviewed for a television retrospective on the unsolved crime.  (Canada’s Sarah Gadon plays the reporter) Ali is a fierce actor who dominates the show and the screen, leaving his partner, played by Stephen Dorff to read his mind and jump in, as smart as he is in his own right. The eight-part series runs at a slow burn; you can’t look away or stop listening for a moment, every space, even a silent space, is loaded with information and mood. From a spirit laden community centre to a woodland pedophile campsite to the dark interior of Hays’ mind, it’s a brooding gem. Directed by Nic Pizzolatto on Crave/HBO.

You may have seen the ads – bold name thonged models pushing their hair back and blowing kisses at the camera, lying on a beach and frolicking like Trump wasn’t in the White House. The campaign was meant to entice young rich kids to a private luxury island concert called Fyre, co presented by Ja Rule and Manhattan events big shot Bill McFarland.  They trumpeted “a branded jet experience”, individual luxury villas, gourmet meals and total privacy on an island once owned by narcoterrorist Pablo Escobar. The promotion was aimed at creating FOMO amongst millennials to ensure a sell out and sell out it did. A Jenner got $250 k for posting a single social shot and they came in droves.  Problem, though – no island, no food, no villas, no headliner musicians, no sleep, no luxury. Instead an empty housing development covered in an inch or two of sand, a cheese sandwich, insufficient water, unsanitary conditions and nothing to do. The kids turned into brutes doing whatever they could to eat, a real-life Lord of the Flies. The failure of Fyre is spelled out in painful detail in this doc that feels like a thriller. The organisers face a $100 M lawsuit and some are in prison.  They knew they didn’t know what they were doing. Fyre’s got it all, the fall of the arrogant, the schooling of the FOMO crowd, an FBI investigation, extreme cognitive dissonance and tonnes of schadenfreude. Chris Smith does a stellar job writing and directing for Vice on Netflix.

Meanwhile Hulu launched Fyre Fraud this week, its version of the Caribbean train wreck, from directors Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason.  I have not seen it as I am up to here with Bill McFarland.

Let’s talk Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix. I got sucked into the tiny Japanese cleaner’s strict, clear surfaces zeitgeist and folded my entire wardrobe and all my linens in the KonMari way. I feel good, maybe it “sparked joy”, I can see my stuff at a glance and wotthehell, it works.  Things are neat, previously hidden spaces have emerged and it was all so simple and surprisingly quick.  Here’s my twist on the Queen of Emptying canon – I didn’t throw out a single thing.  And books, don’t get me started, I’m not throwing out my books to achieve a Zen like environment, sorry.  Its fun to learn that thrift shops have filled up since the show debuted New Years Day, so I’m planning a thrift run.

Grace and Frankie launches its fifth season as Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin find themselves navigating the world of ageing, living single, annoying grown children, fluid housing arrangements and creaky joints.  Their husbands left them for each other but they all remain, well, frenemies, so the definition of family changes but friendship remains solid.  And guess what? The kids sold their home. Without telling them. Good thing is they have each other, nerves of steel and wicked humour. And they don’t go down with out a fight. Netflix. 

Noomi Rapace is impressive as a world class bodyguard in Netflix’ action thriller Close and proves she’s a helluva fighter. That’s her twirling in the air and shooting.  “Sam” is assigned to watch the lonely unstable heiress Zoe (Sophie Nélisse) closeted for security reasons within a fortress home outside Casablanca with no friends and no one who loves her.  They don’t initially gel, and Sam is dismissed when terrorists blast into the compound and attempt to kidnap Zoe. Sam grabs her and they run in what becomes an international high stakes chase of the nerve-shredding variety. Spectacular stunts, Sam’s strategic, preemptive and full on battle mindset is gripping, while Zoe blasts out of life in a bubble to proactivity and meaning. Directed, written and produced by Vicky Jewson.

The wistful comedy Adult Life Skills stars Jodie Whitaker, taking a break from her role as Doctor Who to play an adult with arrested development living in rural Yorkshire. She lives in her mother’s garden shed, makes witty, goofy videos with finger puppets and that’s’ about it.  Mother’s worried Anna’s a loser, who at age 30, certainly isn’t getting any degrees or changing the world.  She is emotionally paralysed, mourning the death of her beloved twin Billy who appears in visions from time to time to tell her she’s ok. A best friend, an awkward guy who likes her, concerned mum and grandmother and a cute little Western movie obsessed kid next door called Clint help her find her way out of her rut in this heartbreaking, hilarious and altogether refreshing comedy.  Written and directed by Rachel Tunnard.

Mandi Fletcher’s doggo comedy Patrick has quite the stellar pedigree. Jennifer Saunders stars alongside her daughter Beattie Edmondson with hotter than hot Ed Skrein. The dog’s cute too, and an accomplished thespian, but he’s a rascal. Sarah’s hoping to inherit a Fabergé brooch when her grandmother dies but instead gets Patrick, a rambunctious and adorable pug who cares little for convention and is spoiled beyond belief.  He must give up his tailor-made clothes and steak dinners but on the other hand he is free to live a doggo’s life including terrorising the deer at Windsor Park by the castle.  Sarah’s a schoolteacher and her mum plays a cookie – pushing colleague. Patrick’s antics get her kicked out of her flat forcing her to live on a river boat, but through him she meets a simpatico and tres handsome fella.  A sweet, funny and not too taxing film; Edmondson is, like her Ab Fab mother, a gifted physical comedienne and highly relatable. Good clean fun – a Disney UK production.  On VOD.

by @annebrodie

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