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Archive for the ‘Giggles’ Category

The Wipers Times (2013)

In BBC, film, Giggles, period drama, political, Recommendation, Review on 18/09/2013 at 10:34 am

Inappropriate jokes can save lives, metaphorically and sometimes literally.

The Wipers Times was a satirical paper printed in the Belgian town Ypres (pronounced wipers, obviously) by British soldiers in the trenches during the Great War. When Fred Roberts (Ben Chaplin) and his 24th division stumble upon an old printing press, starting their own paper is an outlandish idea – but then, not much is making sense any more anyway. None of them are writers or journalists, but they are more than a bit clever with words, and oh do they make them sing.

There’s nothing at all funny about the endless, desperate, muddy and bloody Great War, and that’s why the distractions of the Wipers Times were vital. Ian Hislop, editor of today’s favourite satirical rag Private Eye, and Nick Newman did an amazing job writing this for the BBC, and all the cast, but especially Ben Chaplin and Julian Rhind-Tutt, were incredibly human and lovely to watch despite the misery taking place around them.

The Wipers Times is an entertaining, very funny, heartwarming, educational and well balanced bit of historical drama.

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Skyfall (2012)

In Amazing, Crime, film, Giggles, Recommendation, Review, Spy on 22/11/2012 at 8:14 pm

However raving the reviews and my Twitter feed have been over Skyfall, the last thing I expected was to be blown away by a Bond film. I’d given up on them a long time ago and my memory of them involves images of mostly, cheesy sex scenes. It’s safe to say that Bond just wasn’t my kinda spy.

So, surprise surprise: Skyfall is amazing! All the truly stunning fast paced action scenes aside, this film is actually very well written. The characters are great, the dialogue is witty and the story is about more than baddies and shagging for a change. Bond and M’s relationship is pivotal in Skyfall, and they both refreshingly become real people because of it. And it was about bloody time M (Dame Judi Dench, of course) played a big part in a Bond film. Better late then never.

Daniel Craig is easily my favourite Bond, not because I like him that much as an actor, but perhaps because he’s not as slick as the others. In Skyfall he’s not the most likeable of figures, and he’s obviously somewhat damaged, leaving room for the viewer to make him a real person with worries and things like that. Perhaps the greatest addition to the Bond saga is the new Q, in the shape of the talented and pleasantly captivating Ben Wishaw.  I hope they hang on to him for a bit. Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory is another nice surprise.

Skyfall’s villain Silva (Javier Bardem) is a beautiful character, and I’d expect nothing less from Bardem. He’s subtle, sly, sympathetic, charming and absolutely ruthless. But he isn’t ruthless without reason, that would make a very dull baddie. He’s been wronged, and as a viewer you can’t help but be a tiny bit on his side, sometimes.

Another big star in Skyfall is, quite deservedly, London. After a glorious summer thanks to the London 2012 Olympics and everybody’s love for the metropolis having been wildly rekindled, it’s as if much of Skyfall being set in London is meant to be, and oh, how they’ve made the city shine. The cherry on top being the befitting theme song by London’s very own Adele, of course.

Skyfall is a better Bond film than any other I’ve seen. But it’s still a Bond film, meaning it’s outrageously over-the-top in its heroics and action sequences. There’s only one way I believe you can get away with this without making a complete twat film in my view, and that’s with a giant sense of humour. And that’s just what they did. Mr director Sam Mendes: well done.

The trailer is a bit shit. Sorry.

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.

Dorian Gray (2009)

In Amazing, based on novel, Classic Story, Crime, film, Giggles, Horror, period drama, Recommendation, Review, romantic, supernatural on 30/12/2011 at 9:19 pm

This amazingly seductive production is quite a tribute to The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), that classic bit of praiseworthy cultural heritage from the hand and genius mind of Oscar Wilde.

Ben Barnes is a convincing Dorian: naive in the beginning, arrogant and attractive in the middle and a tormented wolf in sheep’s clothes towards the ending. Colin Firth, as to be expected, is a nothing less than excellent Lord Henry Wotton in this horrific tale about eternal youth, about the glorification of youth and its effect on 19th century London society.

While most films that attempt to tell classic stories like this tend to emphasise only the least interesting bits (the general plot), this one somehow made enough room for the good stuff to shine through (the meaning of the general plot) without being annoyingly explanatory. Plus it is a real treat for the eyes. Not only because Dorian is (necessarily) pretty – all of it is: London, the gentry and their attire, the dark blue skies and… some special effects that do give this surreal tale just that extra bit of oomph.

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.

Lilies (2007)

In Amazing, BBC, Giggles, period drama, Recommendation, Review, series, war on 02/11/2011 at 12:25 am

A gripping, moving, original and witty telling of the lives of three Catholic Liverpool sisters, Iris, May and Ruby, as they grapple their way through the first year after the Great War on the brink of poverty. Their ‘Dadda’ was widowed early and has a hilarious temper, their brother is being haunted for supposedly having been a coward. Ruby is an avid swimmer and she is cross with the boys coming back from the front for taking away her beloved job delivering the post.

This short BBC series (8 episodes) was much acclaimed but soon forgotten, which I think is a shame. After all, it isn’t often that a period drama is cheeky but not trashy, while it seeks out surprising topics taking unpredictable turns as well as deals with the pressing matters of the time (the rise of feminism, class divisions, inequality etc).

Especially recommended if you were disappointed by the latest series of Downton Abbey, which turned into a soap for lack of depth.

Here’s the first ten minutes of  Episode One.

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.

 

 

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.

 

Merlin (2008 -)

In BBC, feel good, Giggles, period drama, Recommendation, Review, series, supernatural on 01/07/2011 at 6:39 pm

It is, I believe, almost impossible not to like this series. Anyone who ever loved a good fairytale is bound to gobble up this delicious children’s series with delight, and it happens to be equally entertaining for grown-ups.

The young wizard Merlin (Colin Morgan) is young prince Arthur’s (Bradley James) servant at the time his authoritarian and magic-despising father Uther (Anthony Head, one of Britain’s greatly undervalued actors) rules Camelot. Arthur is terribly arrogant and treats his servant like dirt most of the time and Merlin secretly saves his master’s behind time after time. Magic is forbidden, so he must tread oh-so carefully. Meanwhile, there are dragons, witches and ancient secrets to be dealt with.
As the series is based on a much loved and million times over interpreted myth – as opposed to historical fact- the retelling is loose. I like that Merlin and Arthur are the same age, even though the legends dictate otherwise. Also, Gwen (Angel Coulby) being a black servant surely makes for good drama.

Season 4 hits the living rooms on Saturday 8 October at 8pm (GMT) on BBC One.