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Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Fades (2011 -?)

In BBC, Horror, new, Recommendation, Review, series, supernatural on 29/10/2011 at 4:14 pm

Of all of this past year’s new productions, this was the last one I expected to actually be any good. Another supernatural series, now about the undead and an unlikely teenage superhero-in-the-making – uh-huh, good luck. But BBC Three went along and well surprised me: it’s nothing short of very good!

The Fades are dead people who got stuck in this world for no reason. They cannot touch, but they do wither with time. Some people can see them and might have some other powers, they call themselves Angelics. Problems arise when one of the Fades finds a way to come back to life. I won’t tell you how, but trust me: it isn’t pretty.

Young Paul (Ian de Caestecker), an unpopular teenager who is terrorised by his stuck-up sister Anna (Lily Loveless – Skins), is haunted by apocalyptic dreams and he soon finds out that he can see the Fades – as well as do a great deal more. The supposed good guy, an Angelic called Neil (Johnny Harris), does a great job at being a questionable and fanatic human being throughout, and tries to convince Paul to leave his normal life behind and save the world. Another former Skins star, Joe Dempsie, does a superb monster-villain with a story as John, and the series would surely lack depth without the part of Angelic/Fade Sarah (Natalie Dormer).

The Fades is very well plotted, acted and also very tense and not to forget proper horrific. I almost would go as far as to say it is a horror series. It’s very enjoyable nonetheless and I urgently advise against eating anything while watching.

2012 won’t see a new series made due to BBC cutbacks – which is a damn shame.

The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

In Amazing, BBC, feel good, Giggles, hilarious, out of this world, Recommendation, series on 18/10/2011 at 7:21 pm

Someone went and made a film of this legendary, genius and hilarious Douglas Adams creation recently – and they really shouldn’t have. It’s nothing compared to the 1980s series, I tell you: nothing. Don’t even think about watching that.

We wouldn’t have an official Don’t-forget-your-towel Day without this priceless BBC television series though, and what’s more, it survived despite – or maybe because of – all the clumsy sci-fi props and special effects of the time.

For those of you who aren’t acquainted with the Hitchiker’s Guide: as all good (British) comedy it ruthlessly reflects the silliness of the human species in general, and then some. A countless amount of philosophical truths may be taken from this story, and besides, it will leave you a) desperately wanting a Babel fish and b) never again forgetting your towel.

 

 

The Ghost Squad (2005)

In Crime, Law, Recommendation, series on 18/10/2011 at 1:52 am

This is not about ghosts. This is a series about a secret police division combating police corruption.

Right, now that’s out of the way, I can ask you: Have you ever had a crime series reccommended to you not because of the good crime stories but because of the good acting?

How’s that for rare, eh?

The plotting is admittedly phenomenal in the first episode and then it gets a bit average, if still very engaging. BUT the whole thing revolves around bent-copper-catcher detective Amy Harris, played by Elaine Cassidy, who is frankly just a bit brilliant and an absolute pleasure to watch.

Here’s the first bit of the first (of seven) episodes – for lack of a decent trailer.

 

 

Pure (2002)

In Amazing, film, Recommendation, Review on 16/10/2011 at 8:13 pm

Kids and heroin in one film: not exactly the recipe of a feel-good flick. Yet, this modest production is very touching and very well balanced.

The 10 year old boy Paul (Harry Eden) is learning to make sense of his mother’s heroin addiction, and he befriends young waitress Louise (Keira Knightley) who likes taking the piss and also teaches him a bit more about the world. Paul is devoted to his mother (Molly Parker), who aside from her addiction is caring and sweet, but trapped by a nasty drug dealing pimp called Lenny. Paul is curious, very independent for his age and desperate to fix his little patch of the universe. It isn’t a pretty universe: it’s grey, tough poor and urbanised England.  Beauty is to be found in the simplest of things.

Knightley, who was only about sixteen when this film was made, and the young Harry Eden have a magical sort of chemistry between them which makes their friendship in this film so natural and engaging to watch. Besides, Eden does a simply brilliant job. I never get how some kids pull off being such tremendous actors so young. Also, it is quite refreshing to see a film about drugs that isn’t really about drugs, but about how people live their lives if drug addiction came to be in them.

The Boat that Rocked (2009)

In feel good, film, hilarious, Recommendation, Review on 13/10/2011 at 1:50 pm

A terribly fun ride on the radio-waves of the 1960s. It’s post-war England and the stuffy conservative government won’t have anything but classical music on the radio. So they get a boat and transmit outside of territorial waters: pirate radio is born (the film has been re-labelled Pirate Radio in the US, for some funky reason).

The pirate radio DJs grow as popular as the bands they play and as the antagonists, being the government, start to gain on them things get most entertaining. And there’s Bill Nighy being as hilariously unnatural a rock-dude imaginable, Rhys Ifans being a perfect natural and Philip Seymour Hoffman as the chief-pirate. Even though this film follows the strict comedy curve and is therefore utterly predictable, it doesn’t make it less enjoyable. It is the perfect example of a feel-good movie.

 

 

 

Notes on a Scandal (2006)

In Amazing, based on novel, film, Recommendation, Review on 10/10/2011 at 8:30 pm

Two of the greatest actresses alive today do their reputations credit and then some in this superb drama. Barbara Covett (Dame Judi Dench) is a seemingly normal, rather stern and somewhat lonely school teacher. When the young and beautiful Sheba Heart (Cate Blanchett) joins the teaching team, she has trouble with some of the more cheeky pupils. Covett comes to her rescue and the two hesitantly become friends, but things aren’t how they seem.

Rarely have I seen two parts, that rely entirely on stupendous acting to make them work, so utterly and compellingly convincing. The story (based on the Zoe Heller novel) smacks you about: being charmed by a character, then despising them and perhaps finally truly understanding them, however doubtful their conduct may have been. It’s simply an amazing work of art.

Notes on a Scandal was nominated for four Academy Awards and won eleven other awards, including two British Independent Film Awards for Best Actress (Judi Dench) and Best Screenplay (Patrick Marber).

 

The trailer contains some spoilers.

 

Camelot (2011-)

In Recommendation, Review, romantic, series, supernatural on 07/10/2011 at 9:04 pm

The BBC made Merlin, that great family adventure drama about the wizard Merlin and prince Arthur, and then just to confuse you, this lot went and made the same thing quite different and it’s called Camelot. This new series’ description should exclude the word ‘family’ as it contains generous portions of nudity (mostly Eva Green’s tits, which as we know from The Dreamers, isn’t a terrible thing at all). If you’ve ever watched series like Rome or The Tudors, you’ll get my drift.

As I said, Eva Green is in it as the young Arthur’s (Jamie Campbell Bower) evil step-sister Morgan, which already makes the cast well starry – but then the (refreshingly not so righteous but tortured) figure who is Merlin is played by Joseph Fiennes. This telling of the myths surrounding Camelot, Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere and the rest of the bunch is grim and desperate at times, yet highly entertaining, fast-paced and naturally full of intrigue, power-play, romance and magic. It’s expectedly plot-driven (it’s tense because you want to know what happens, not because of the subtle dialogue) but sticks to the rules of good drama well enough to appreciate it as a qualitative guilty pleasure.

Apologies for the disturbingly tacky voice-over on the trailer. That’s due to the US production company Starz who provided the bucket-loads of cash to make this thing.

Submarine (2010)

In based on novel, feel good, film, Giggles, new, Recommendation, Review on 02/10/2011 at 5:47 pm

This is a charming and funny film based on the recent Joe Dunthorne novel by the same name.  Although I’m very glad for the writer and the makers of this film that it was received so thunder-clappingly well, it did raise my expectations a tad too high. If I had known nothing at all about it I might have praised it more.

The young Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) narrates his coming-of-age tale set in 1970s Wales: a darkish humoristic story in which he struggles to keep his parents (Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor) together, trick a peculiar girl named Jordana (Yasmin Paige) into being his girlfriend and generally make sense of the world. Oliver Tate is intrinsically funny, perhaps because his reasoning is sometimes sensitive and then utterly autistic, depending on the circumstances. Submarine also manages to incorporate hilariously outrageous situations without exaggeratedly pushing them in your face – I’m referring mostly to Mum’s first sweetheart and Jordana’s general absurdness.

The cast is brilliant, but it is a bit of a shame that the only Welsh actor in here is Craig Roberts. The general verdict: Good and enjoyable, but I’m not jumping up and down on any tables with enthusiasm.