Archive for the ‘feel good’ Category

Mr Selfridge (2013)

In feel good, new, period drama, Rant, Review, romantic, series on 14/01/2013 at 7:06 pm

ITV attempted to create lots of flurry around its latest grand period production in an attempt to recreate the rather more accidental success of Downton Abbey. Mr Selfridge however, is destined to fail due to some spectacularly horrendous acting by protagonist Jeremy Piven as Harry Selfridge, tedious dialogue and an utterly predictable plot.

The drama tells the story of how Harry Selfridge was a visionary noveau capitalist in his time and how his ideas flourished despite being radical and unconventional. Interesting in itself, were it not that the BBC did exactly the same thing (minus the real name) in The Paradise. Even the main characters and how they fit in the story are a crafty copy: Mr Selfridge has exactly the same ideas, doubts and charisma as John Moray in The Paradise, only being more annoying due to the empty dialogue and bad acting. There is the ‘simple’ shop girl with unlikely talents and the same character traits. There’s the story of a wife and a new charming outsider. It’s mostly fluff and flirtation, but no mystery or any sort of magic.

The London setting is lovely though, and the rest of the cast is very capable (a.o. Zoë Tapper, Samuel West, Pippa Haywood) , making Mr Selfridge just about watchable – but nothing more.


Downton Abbey (2010-2012-)

In feel good, Giggles, period drama, Review, romantic, series, war on 06/11/2012 at 9:33 pm

The upstairs/downstairs of Downton Abbey has become so immensely popular at home and abroad that it hardly needs any more praise. And I’m not quite sure I’m giving it any.

In the first two seasons I wasn’t sure it was more than a well acted and scripted period soap. It was all a bit obvious: rich aristocratic family tries to come to terms with changing times. Class barriers are carefully prodded, tradition is not always chief and women are doing things they wouldn’t before. There was a tiresome seemingly never ending non-romance upstairs, and some tastier entanglements downstairs. Oh, and there was a war on, the Great one.

Clearly, I was amused, but not impressed, or moved really. When ITV’s Downton returned for a third season in 2012, I with the rest of the nation, watched it on Sunday evenings because it’s exactly the sort of thing you want to see on a Sunday evening. I’m not sure what changed exactly, much of the supposed intrigue was still a bit formulaic, and the characters have been so stubbornly steadfast throughout that they almost become caricatures of themselves, and yet, every episode was great entertainment. And yes, I did cry a couple of times this season. It’s a warm blanket sort of entertainment, one that puts you at ease with everything.

Its appeal probably lies exactly in terribly strong characters that behave a certain way, like good comedy heroes do, too. Granny Grantham does make me laugh a lot and she is an vibrant source of fabulous quotes. That, its careful tension with the changing surroundings and a truly superb cast probably make it pardonable that it’s a wee bit soapy while sold as drama. What do you think?

Scenes of a Sexual Nature (2006)

In feel good, film, Giggles, LGTB, Recommendation, romantic on 28/10/2012 at 4:32 pm

Not a fan of romantic comedy dramas? Nah, nor am I. Make an exception this time.
Scenes of a Sexual Nature is a warm summer afternoon on London’s beautiful Hampstead Heath, capturing brief moments in seven couples’ lives. The scenes are odd, all funny and generally unexpected and surprising. It’s very well written daily life with all the extremes of the ordinary we take for granted. Things stranger than fiction, made into good comedy.

On top of all this praise, it’s all the more fun to watch because the cast is well starry and you’re likely to come across one or two of your favourite British actors making some sort of an idiot out of themselves. Take your pick: Tom Hardy, Gina McKee, Catherine Tate, Hugh Bonneville, Eileen Atkins, Sophie Okonedo and oh yes, Ewan McGregor.

More small independent films like this please.

Lost Christmas (2011)

In feel good, film, Giggles, new, out of this world, Recommendation, Review, supernatural on 29/12/2011 at 1:09 am

This is a very charming little Christmas film you simply must see. Not only because it is small and charming; it also stars one of my all time favourite people: Eddie Izzard.

Izzard’s character has lost all recollection of his life and identity, but he gained something of a superpower: he gets visions of things lost to people when he touches them. He meets a thieving little boy called Goose (Larry Mills) who lost his dog and he embarks on an adventure that seems to unite people and repair relationships. Meanwhile, Anthony (Izzard) hasn’t a clue if that’s his actual name and still needs to solve his own mystery.

The plot is clever and the story is very entertaining, mainly thanks to the young and talented Mills and a perfect display of underacting by Izzard, which creates good suspense. I wouldn’t wait till next year to watch it.

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 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.




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.


Casanova (2005)

In Amazing, based on novel, BBC, feel good, hilarious, period drama, Recommendation, romantic, series on 21/09/2011 at 7:50 pm

David Tennant charms and flirts your pants off on in this 3-part BBC miniseries. At last, Casanova is full of cheek and naughtiness and is only tragic where it serves the story’s purpose. It’s a proper bit of fiction in the sense that this series isn’t forcedly trying to make legend took like fact. Instead, it’s focused entirely on the charming and talented cast.

Peter O’Toole is the old Casanova who makes the young and curious girls he’s telling his life story to blush. His younger self, Tennant, befriends Henriette (Laura Fraser), a girl perhaps even cheekier than himself. Their adoration for each other can never become more than that because she must marry Grimani (Rupert Penry-Jones), thus Casanova’s adventures continue.

BBC’s Casanova is a delicious and feisty watch. Have fun.

Here’s a clip for lack of a proper trailer. The first minute or two will give you enough of an impression.

Happy Go Lucky (2008)

In Amazing, feel good, film, Recommendation on 17/09/2011 at 3:45 pm

This is without a doubt one of my favourite Mike Leigh films. Sally Hawkins seems to be put on this Earth to play Poppy, and indeed won a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for it. Poppy is a happy go lucky, slightly quirky North London primary school teacher. Her unbridled optimism is contagious to most, and deadly frightening to some others, her driving instructor (Eddy Marsan) in particular. Poppy effortlessly opens your eyes to a world that hardly any of us dare to see – something director Mike Leigh seems to achieve in all his films. But mostly, Poppy’s story is very charming and funny. This film is a kick up the behinds for the nasty and unreasonably cynical in this world.



Toast (2010)

In BBC, feel good, film, period drama, Recommendation on 27/08/2011 at 3:52 pm

Toast is the only thing Nigel’s mum makes well. All other edibles come from tins as she’s a disastrous cook with a fresh food phobia. Nigel loves his mum all the same, but goes through his early years yearning for proper food  and an eagerness to learn how to cook.

This very well made coming-of-age story, based on real childhood memories (I won’t say whose, it’s more fun that way), slaps the viewer around a bit, making you happy one moment and intensely sad the next. They did an amazing job at finding two young actors to play the ten-year-old boy and the sixteen-year-old boy so well, hardly noticing the change of cast even though Nigel has a very outspoken character. Also, Helena Bonham Carter does a wonderful viscous slag of a stepmother.

I’ll say no more about this wonderful film. Enjoy it, and don’t watch on an empty stomach!

(trailer contains spoilers)