By Anne Brodie
The 70’s Golden Age of Film
Let’s get into the Wayback Machine to sample iconoclastic films of the decade that changed everything. Politics, society, and art were evolving at a rapid rate and young pioneering filmmakers enjoyed support from an awakening, wealthy Hollywood and created an unparalleled body of work. Here’s a wee primer.
Terrence Malick’s early genius is evident in Badlands and Days of Heaven. He understood nature’s scope and our place in it and our animal nature. Human stories play out, mere ants seen from above in the scheme of things. He made four films then nothing for 25 years, now he can’t stop making them.
I love Michael Cimino’s 1980 epic Heaven’s Gate and I think I am alone in this. The three hour and 39-minute vanity project bankrupted a studio but offered an intense transcendental experience if you were willing to take it. It’s considered one of the biggest disasters in film history. Time to reconsider and watch.
Cimino’s earlier film The Deer Hunter about a tight-knit community in the days before its young males headed for war in Vietnam. The devastation and psychological toll of almighty America losing scarred the national identity for generations. At least it galvanized the anti-war movement. Meryl Streep, …. p stars, top screenplay, top film.
Francis Ford Coppola was perhaps the dominant force releasing the stunning masterworks Apocalypse Now
and The Conversation in the same decade.
Stanley Kubrick released A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon
while George Lucas brought us American Graffiti and Star Wars episodes.
And holding that seventies vibe, another great, Cate Blanchett, stars in FX on Hulu’s excellent new nine-parter Mrs. America, playing the “moral conservative” anti-feminist Washington influencer Phyllis Schlafly whose efforts shut down the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) made her one of the most reviled women in US history. She fought women’s liberation and abortion through scare tactics, suggesting women would be forced to work, look after themselves and fight alongside male soldiers, forcing a breakdown of American society. This in the time of the burgeoning women liberation movement. She calls her husband daddy, urges her sons to go to law school to fight women’s lib, and used her significant power to repress women regardless of their politics. Meanwhile Gloria Steinem and Bella Abzug launch the women’s and its “left-wing” platform as it works toward the ERA. Dahvia Waller’s passion project show us how the stage was set for the Republican party and its current modus operandi, even Roger Stone and Paul Manafort make appearances. An excellent supporting cast with Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug, Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm, Elizabeth Banks as Jill Ruckelshaus, and Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan. April 15 on FX on Hulu upholding FX’s reputation for excellent original series. Trump spoke at Schlafly’s funeral. Check out my interviews with Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne.
Killing Eve’s Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer, who play those co-dependent opposites in the high stakes world of espionage and assassins continue to mesmerise us in one of the most interesting female relationships explored on television. Eve Polastri (Oh), a former British intelligence investigator was shot by her prey, psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Comer) at the end of last season. S3 opens with a flashback to Moscow 1973 as Villanelle trains for the Olympics, having risen from the gutter to become a star athlete and murderer at 14. Flash forward to her lesbian wedding so rudely interrupted by an equally dangerous person from the past. Meanwhile, Eve suffers from heavy PTSD and works as a cook in a Chinese restaurant. She shrinks into herself, her condition worsened by the murder of a close friend. Wonder who did that? There’s nowhere this riveting show won’t go, an amazing ride as personas switch and bodies pile up and you hang on by your fingernails. April 12 on BBC Canada and AMC.
The Life Swap Adventure on BBC Canada I was fortunate enough to stumble across a British reality series that satisfied my need for surprise, adventure and travel in these stay-at-home times. The premise is that a Brit is packed off blindfolded to some foreign destination to swap lives with a person from that destination who will take their place at home in the UK. One week in a borrowed culture. The subjects have zero idea where they’re going. So many great moments; watching them remove eye masks to find they’ve been placed in unknown, far-flung city centres, farm fields, a jungle or desolate shores. Their unseen partners do the same in a British city, fishing village and suburb. They could be 6000 miles from home. Sure there’s learning, but the surprise never seems to leave delighted subjects; their joy at experiencing places they’d never contemplated is full and contagious.
Dean Craig’s Love. Wedding. Repeat. on Netflix reimagines romcoms in an unusual way, given what could happen if fate is fate when place cards are switched by rambunctious children at a wedding. Jack (Sam Claflin) is his sister’s (Eleanor May Tomlinson) sole family support and oversees her big day with frayed nerves, only to be worsened by a woman from the past (Olivia Nunn), the one he let get away. His angry ex (Fried Pinto) shows up with a jealous new beau, the bride’s casual sex partner just three weeks earlier comes uninvited and threatens to ruin the day while side characters cope with their own problems (like a kilt that’s giving its wearer itchy grief). The bride takes desperate measures to ensure no slips ups, but, well, slip away, folks! There’s snarky British sarcasm galore, it’s fun, silly, and a great time waster with the message that the tiniest change in the course of things can have massive repercussions. The luxe Roman settings is total eye candy.
BritBox releases Pointless its ridiculously popular game show in the UK and Europe to North America this week. Yes, Pointless! That’s the name and the object is to score as few points as possible. Contestants must guess the least popular poll answers to questions based on a wide variety of utterly random and obscure topics. Sharp hosts Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman provide entertaining and scholarly background to the most vexing queries and jolly along players who look petrified or just as dangerous, overconfident. And the special Pointless Celebrity are gems – one memorable eppy featuring Slim Jim Phantom and Glen Matlock. Pointless is regularly skewered in satire and has inspired five books, and this is its 23rd season. Twelve countries now produce their own versions. Smart, wild, random.
Missing Easter Services at church? BritBox to the rescue with Easter from Kings 2020 the annual British tradition in which the world-renowned choir from King’s College performs a special Easter concert, broadcast live from the historic and breathtaking campus chapel. Here’s a look at last year’s event.
The Mindfulness Movement, from producers Deepak Chopra and Jewel, releases today for sale or rent on VOD and available in multiple languages is a documentary on the art of peacefulness during a pandemic. Four principals, singer/songwriter Jewel, ABC news anchor and reporter Dan Harris, meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg and mindfulness/performance expert George Mumford share their recoveries through the practice. Jewel tells of surviving homelessness through mindfulness techniques and says it can “help reduce the pandemic’s silent symptoms of anxiety, fear and depression.” We learn ways and means of achieving peace including guided meditations. Chopra reminds people to take care of their “mental hygiene” to strengthen our immune systems. Mindfulness training is common in schools, Fortune 500 companies, police forces, prisons, network newsrooms, neuroscience labs, therapists, sports teams, veterans’ groups and the health care industry. Buy or rent here.
Pagan Peak, is a Nordic crime series veers into horror as investigators get closer to the truth when staged bodies are found in a remote mountain pass bordering Austria and Germany. Tensions between the police forces on both sides and the two lead detectives, played by Julia Jentsch and Nicholas Ozarker are high, trust issues at the heart of them. And as time goes on, we realise their instincts were right. What appear to be murderous Pagan rituals spark truths that impact the investigation and the teams’ safety. The “Red Time of Year” isn’t just a superstition. Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer provides the music. Super creepy, dramatic and engrossing, and worth bingeing. On Topic.
Its Personal with Amy Hoggart on Tru TV Under-qualified, over-confident Brit comedienne “helps” Americans overcome issues like anxiety, lack of humour, sadness etc.. with zero knowledge but plenty of sarky opinion. Hoggart brings in experts and ignores their advice but compensates with her own blunt commentary. Its Personal is crazy train time and not to be trusted with diagnoses and treatment, but it’s the kind of bizarre fun that seems so right now.
As part of AMC Network’s “We’re With You” campaign, Sundance Now offers five hit international series available to watch now for free. “We’re With You” is an ongoing, multi-network effort to entertain, inform and remind audiences that we are all indoors together. Sundance Now is extending it’s 30-day free trial to new subscribers with code SUNDANCENOW30.
Riviera Julia Stiles stars in Riviera, as an American art curator left reeling on the death of her billionaire husband (Anthony LaPaglia). Set in the gorgeous French Riviera, she attempts to get to the bottom of her husband’s untimely death and the cover of lies that obscures the facts.
The Restaurant is one of Sweden’s most popular TV series in its history. It centres on the T Löwander family that runs a high-end restaurant in Stockholm, from the end of WWII and through the decades to now.
Public Enemy Guy Béranger (Angelo Bison) is a child murderer at the end of his prison sentence. His release into the custody of the monks at Vielsart Abbey leads to an outcry from the nearby small village and to the rest of the country. A girl disappears on the outskirts of the abbey, and all bets are off.
THE BUREAU After six years of undercover work in Syria, French intelligence officer codename Malotru (Mathieu Kassovitz) returns home where he struggles to forget his undercover identity, train a young recruit, and investigate the disappearance of a colleague in Algeria.