I Believe The Future (Television Thoughts: Years and Years, BBC One/HBO)

yyI have been meaning to watch ‘Years and Years’ for a while now, even before it aired on HBO. Firstly because of Russell Tovey, and second because its creator, Rusell T Davies, also did ‘Queer As Folk’ years ago, so I thought this would have substantial queer content (it has) But then I read this article from The Guardian warning me that this is the worst time to start watching the series. When this global pandemic started, I had seen numerous people saying that what we are experiencing now was covered in this show, so I was more than curious to start watching.

So the verdict? Well, don’t follow The Guardian. The series is not scary in a horror kind of way, but it will suck you in and make you think about what is happening in the world. It is also an addictive soapy series, and once you start watching, you will be hooked. It is about the Lyons family, and while the series starts in 2019, it goes up to 2032 and we see what happens to the world along those years (and years)  Russell Tovey indeed is a charmer here, as the gay brother, and I admit I was drawn to his storyline the most. We see him at the beginning of the series married, but falls in love with an illegal alien from Eastern Europe, and we see them get together, be taken apart because of British Immigration laws, and then we see him try to get Viktor back tot he UK, with disastrous results (I dare you not to cry at their fate)

But Emma Thompson steals the series from everyone, playing Vivienne Rook, a politician quite unlike a figure we all can recognize: an oily snake salesman who promises everything but is only out for herself. The series lights up whenever she is on, and if there is a God she should win everything for the series.

Does it make the future scary? Perhaps it does, but you can see that while the world spins to a lot of change, it also spins to make everything go back, as is what is happening right now.  We just need to embrace and adapt.


And So This Is Christmas (Movie Thoughts: Last Christmas/Let It Snow)

last-christmas-italian-movie-posterI guess ready or not (I am so NOT) the Holidays are coming. I wrote about the first Holiday album this year for me yesterday, and now comes the Holiday movies.

The trailer for Paul Feig’s ‘Last Christmas’ seemed to be everywhere this fall. It felt like it was loaded with every movie I saw and there came a point I was so sick of it I didn’t want to see the movie. But who the hell am I kidding, you knew that I would be first in line to see this – it’s my kind of movie – rom com, holiday themed, George Michael. I mean, no wonder it followed me everywhere I went. And I wasn’t expecting this to be good – something about it felt cheesy to me. It’s part romantic comedy, part mystery, part jukebox musical, and while it’s not the most delightful thing in the world, I left the theater humming the song, and with a slight smile on my face.

And not because of Emilia Clarke. I had never seen Game of Thrones so I do not know who she is, but to me, she was the weak link of the film. Her character Kate is not the most sympathetic thing in the world, but Clarke has no charm to pull it off. I hated Kate from the beginning, and even towards the end when I shouldn’t, i still did. Thank God Kate was surrounded by some of the greats: Henry Golding has charms to the wazoo so the romance comes close to believable, and Emma Thompson is wonderful as her overbearing mother – so good, in fact that even if her character is meant to be disliked you root for her.

Now about the ‘twist.’ It wasn’t as surprising if you know the lyrics of the song, and of course, I didn’t think it would be that literal. And the last part of the film is solid feel good enough that I suspect most won’t mind. As far as London-themed Christmas movies go, this isn’t as good as ‘Love Actually,’ but come Christmas time, this would be a nice escape from whatever Yuletide hell you will be going through.

MV5BYmM0NzRiODEtMTIzNS00MTgwLWFjZDQtNjUxZjI0MDdjZWQ4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTMxODk2OTU@._V1_I guess, while I am here, I should also write about the Netflix film ‘Let It Snow,’ which is not exclusively a Holiday movie but more of a winter one. A lot of people have described the film as the ‘Love Actually’ for teens. While I wouldn’t necessarily totally agree with that statement, I found the film charming enough, as far as Netflix teen movies go. I liked Mitchell Hope’s puppy dog eyes and Matthew Noszka’s cute screen presence, but aside from that, this felt by-the-numbers. That’s fine, as I wasn’t expecting anything earth shattering anyway, and one could probably do worse watching something else if you are stuck in a snowstorm with just your television and Netflix subscription.

Can We Talk? (Film Thoughts: Late Night)

Late Night - PosterNisha Ganatra’s ‘Late Night’  is not the most original film in any year – it’s a retread of the ‘Devil Wears Prada’ formula – but it is a lot of fun and has charm to spare, and I instantly liked it. Written by Mindy Kaling, (I never warmed up to her until now) it showcases one of our great living legends – Emma Thompson – and she doesn’t have to do much to run away with the film.

Or at the very least, Thompson makes it look easy. Even though the character is really just a variation of Miranda Priestly, Thompson makes it sizzle, and she give it more depth than how it was written. She plays Kathryn Newbury, a late night talk show host whose program has gone stale. This is probably because her writing staff is comprised of all the same people – white males all straight except for a token gay. To change this, the show hires Molly (Kaling) and well, you can probably guess what happens next. But it doesn’t matter, because Thompson and Kaling spar off each other marvelously, and the quick pacing makes you ignore holes in the plot. It’s all formula, but it works because of that. and it’s a timely message, if a bit too heavy handed, especially towards the end. Still, it’s frothy summer fun, even if it is still cold in Los Angeles.

Bless The Beats and the Children (Movie Thoughts: The Children Act)

large_children-act-posterA friend of mine was telling me that his best friend’s ten year old son was in a skiing accident and is now in life support.  The parents now have to make a decision on whether to ‘pull the plug.’ That made me think. I think I have always been a practical person (I am a Virgo) and even though I believe in God and very spiritual, I myself would not have any problems making a decision like that if told that we are at the end of a road.

That also made me think of a movie I saw recently, Richard Eyre’s ‘The Children Act,’ which more or less touches the same issue. Fiona Maye is a judge, played by Emma Thompson, who has to rule on a case of a teenager who needs blood transfusion. But he and his parents are devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, and their religion forbids that. Before she rules on the case though, she visits the teenager in the hospital, and in his eyes, a special bond forms between them. But perhaps in her eyes as well? She is int he middle of a crumbling marriage, and perhaps she sees in him the answer to that. While the story about the case was interesting, I thought what happens after was even more riveting – we see the relationship between the two laid out, and we see both of them changing. And Thompson gives a fantastic internal performance. It’s her film, really, and she shows here why is one of the best living actresses, expressing emotions with a glance or a finger flutter. Fionn Whitehead plays Adam, and he is great as well (apparently he was in ‘Dunkirk,’ but i don’t remember which part he played) providing complexity as a troubled teen whose eyes were opened, only to be closed again. This movie is thought provoking, but it will also touch your heart.

Berlin Bombs (Movie Thoughts: Alone In Berlin)

Seul_dans_BerlinSometimes I ask myself, will we ever tire of movies about the second world war? But of course there are still a million stories to be told, and all of them will be fascinating. ‘Alone In Berlin’ is based on book from 1947, about a husband and wife whose son perishes on the front line. As a result, they become silent rebels against the regime. Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson play Anna and Otto Quangel and Gleeson plays the father with quiet rebellion as he is unable to express his frustration with verbal anger. He is magnificent in conveying that Thompson matches, although her role is in a small scale.

I wish the film was more bombastic but I have to admit I found parts of it boring, and the pace dragging. I can sense the film’s passion but is never fully realized on screen.