The second half of the Brits 2018

Okay so obviously I don’t just watch box sets. I do watch ‘other’ stuff… but don’t blog about it all (a Newsnight or Question Time blog would be pretty boring and depressing). However I caught the end of the Brits last night and thought I would put my opinions out there.

I turned on the tv just as posh comedian Jack Whitehall introduced Kendrick Lamar. What happened next was rather odd. There was a rapper on top of a clear box that contained a car. Then there was an intro… and then nothing… just Kendrick Lamar still… is he asleep? The camera shot changed… intro again… Kendrick still… it became apparent that something had gone wrong. There is nothing as entertaining as a live show gone wrong to get one’s attention. When it did get going a quote flashed up saying something like “this is satire” or something… and I thought it is definately something beginning with “s”. Most of the performance was muted by ITV and they smashed up the lamborghini… I mean most of the millenials watching this will struggle to afford a deposit for a house… looks a bit wasteful but whatever takes his fancy… although it was mostly just windscreen damage… an advert for Autoglass? I do love a bit of gone wrong live tv though. Remember Madonna’s cape? Jarvis Cocker mooning Michael Jackson?

Jack Whitehall was an entertaining host poking fun at the whole thing. Rita Ora’s stylist stuck her and her dancers in some white overalls making them look like forensic scientists. Then when she dueted with Liam Payne she had whipped off the overalls to reveal smalls that looked like my Gran’s underwear. She maintained a safe distance from him as Cheryl (whatever her name is now) was in the crowd.

Stormzy by name, Stormzy by nature, ended the show singing in the rain with a balaclava clad gospel choir behind him (I didn’t know the IRA had a gospel choir?). His album Gang Sign’s and Prayer sounds like an oxymoron but he was a great end to the show. His rap asked Prime Minister Theresa May for the money for the Grenfell Tower victims and he also took a swipe at the Daily Mail. His performance was energetic and he showed how he has made a Grime album the number one album in the UK.

All very entertaining to watch but I do feel a bit old watching it and being like, “who is that?”. I keep thinking Kendrick Lamar is related to a Kardashian for some reason? Maybe because his first name begins with a K. I can’t say I’ll buy any of his music… now that I haven’t heard it being performed on the Brits.

I saw a little of the after party program. These are always a bit boring to watch. You are always thinking… show us the real after party. It would be fun to watch some drunk celebrity shenanigans. As entertaining as car crash award ceremonies.

 

 

BBC’s Collateral Episode 1 & 2

Halfway through David Hare’s conspiracy drama and Law & Order this ain’t. More than a detective show, this to me, seems like some kind of social commentary. Whoever thought to cast hollywood actress Carey Mulligan in the lead role as Kip is just simply genius. She isn’t the first choice that would pop into my head as a female detective (and former Olympic pole vaulter… bit random that one… she also mentioned she was a teacher previously… obviously someone that likes a career change) but her oscar nominated hollywood heavyweight abilities are laid bare for us to see on the small screen. Billie Piper also is giving the best performance I have seen her give to date as the ex wife of an MP.

So basically a Syrian refugee Pizza delivery boy (Abdullah) is shot dead outside some posh flats after delivering pizza to Billie Piper (which she just threw in the corner… pizza delivery costs a fortune, I couldn’t help but think how wasteful! It actually made me want to order a pizza). Carey Mulligan is the detective investigating. Then the social commentary starts as all involved are interlinked in one way or another. We have immigation (Abdullah is a Syrian refugee living in a garage with his two sister’s… although later we learn he isn’t Syrian). LGBT (the girlfriend of the local female Priest witnesses the murder, she is also in the UK illegally). Drugs (the pizza restaurant is delivering more than just pizza). Politics (David Mars played by John Simm) is an opposition MP that covers the constituency where the murder takes place, he is also friends with the Priest and unwittingly signed the visa that allowed her illegal immigrant girlfriend to stay in the country. In the first episode he seemed to be dating a journalist who wrote him a letter about their relationship… which I thought a bit odd (they’d only been on a couple of dates), he is also the ex husband of Billie Piper’s character.

The themes continue. We know who the murderer is… #metoo… she is part of the military. She is being sexually harrassed by a colleague and suffering from PTSD. The relevance and state-of-the-nation references are constant. Carey Mulligan needing to make an appointment to interview Abdullah’s sisters who have been whisked off to a detention centre jokes it “is just in case she has a hidden panorama camera?”. She also makes jokes about the minimum wage and comments on how Abdullah and his sisters risked their lives to travel to the UK to “live in a garage”.

I found it refreshing to see how Carey Mulligan is clearly pregnant while playing this role, yet there is no mention of her pregnancy or her huffing and puffing due to pregnancy. While I was pregnant with my first son I worked at a huge government agency and I had one colleague signed off with stress, another signed off having a back operation and another signed off with a heart problem. I pretty much ran the whole contract on my own. A working pregnant woman is just a working woman, it is nice to see this on screen.

I am enjoying this so far. Well acted, intelligent and unpredictable, I look forward to the next two episodes.

Game of Thrones Series 1-7

Okay so I am quite late in getting into Game of Thrones (mostly because I don’t have Sky TV), but with the winter nights being so dark and long and being struck down with flu my husband and I decided to make the most of it by cuddling up on the sofa (on a seemingly appropriate fur throw) and had these past few weeks the binge of all binges. Each evening once the kids were asleep we would immerse ourselves in the world of Westoros and Essos. The Game of Thrones world is now so familiar to me as a fictional world it could be Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

I read once a while ago that Game of Thrones was like modern Shakespeare. The emergence of television series overtaking film for entertainment is that with these long television series you have the chance to spend more time telling a story. Great complex characters can exist as opposed to someone being either the villain or the hero. In Game of Thrones there are plenty of complex characters (excellently acted) and a vast world to explore. Based on the ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ novels by George R R Martin it is a medieval fantasy epic.

We finished the final episode of series 7 last night and I am sad that I now have to wait a full year to see the final series. Also there being only seven episodes in series 7 was slightly disappointing. One particular episode ‘Beyond the Wall’ where Jon Snow & co went on a mission to get a wight had a number of plot holes and seemed to move the story along rather quickly whereas more episodes and a less ridiculous timings in the plot may have been better, but with each episode costing literally millions I can understand why they decided to condense it, especially as the story comes to a climax filming wars etc is costly and logistically more challenging. However, I am still a fan and seeing the white walker dragon destroy the wall at the end of the series was pretty amazing and terrifying. Apparently series 8 will only have 6 episodes, but I hear they may be feature length. I really cannot wait to be emersed in the Game of Thrones world to see how they conclude the series. I’m going to avoid looking up too much about it online as I don’t want to come across any leaks or spoilers. I look forward to relaxing on my fur throw in 2019 now that “winter is here”.

 

McMafia episode 3 – 8 thoughts

I had high hopes for McMafia and I believe it did set out to do what it intended on doing… which is to illustrate to us, the viewer, how international crime syndicates work. I was so interested in this series initially that I even ordered the non fiction McMafia book that the series is based on, although I have yet to read it.

Spoiler alert…. it turned out that Alex Godman was not a good guy, but then how could he be? He needed to be just a little bit involved in order to show us this world. How it ended was with Alex Godman showing how the ‘old way’ of running an illegal business (the ‘Godfather’ way) of intimidation and violence was over and the new way was in business meeting rooms with criminal organisations appearing to be legitimate businesses. He came out on top, but there was a cost to his family and his relationship with his finance was clearly over.

The series had great international scope and I believe it did show this world but it may have held my attention more as a documentary than as a fictionalised story. James Norton as Alex Godman also was a bit too deadpan. I know we are not supposed to know his intentions until the end of the series and so that may explain his lack of conveyed emotion but his motivations are always unclear. Is he doing this simply to protect his family? This series may have stood out more in a time when there is less good stuff on TV. If it was this year’s alternative to The Night Manager then it didn’t stand out as good.

BBC’s Requiem… nice fringe but not scary

I usually avoid horror and decided not to watch this initially but then I thought I’d give it a go. It was okay… but that is because it actually wasn’t that scary. The best thing about it for me was the main character Matilda’s fringe and also her wardrobe… I found myself wondering where I could buy her coat. So aside the fact that it wasn’t a very scary horror I did stick with it for all six episodes and did find it compelling initially.

It begins with an older gentleman walking into his manor house and upon seeing the cellar door wide open he then decides to smash all the mirrors and then throw himself off the roof. Odd behaviour indeed. What was in the cellar? I think I almost felt that way recently when I realised I had mice living in my garage.

Then we meet the main character Matilda who aside from a striking haircut is also an up and coming cellist. Her life is then turned upside down when her Mum seemingly possessed by some other worldly demon (referenced by the creepy sounds and whispering edited in) slits her throat in front of her in a multi storey car park. Matilda then finds a box conveniently left on her mothers bed containing news clippings about a girl who went missing 23 years ago in Wales called Cerys. Matilda and her friend Hal decide to travel to Wales to find answers.

I used to live in Wales (I actually moved there from London) and it does amuse me how they do this whole ‘girl from big town goes to small town’ thing. It doesn’t do much to encourage us cityfolk to do a staycation. Along with the mist filled rolling valleys and cute welsh villages any charm or quaintness is destroyed by a rude bar maid (oblivious to the fact Wales’s economy needs tourism). In reality a bar maid or shop keeper in Wales would in reality be incredibly welcoming and talk your ear off.

Requiem had the recipe for horror with all the unsettling noises and strange going’s on with sheep bothering and haunted houses but some of it was just a bit too ridiculous and not particularly origional. The biggest plot hole for me was how the whole time I am thinking… if you think you are the missing child Cerys then why doesn’t anyone suggest a flippin’ DNA test! The final episode was deeply unsatisfying and a bit bonkers. At the end of it all I wished I hadn’t bothered.

Hard Hitting Hard Sun

The end of the world is nigh! 5 years to be precise. Sometime during 2017 storm Orphelia whipped up some saharan sand creating a red sun. I remember posting a picture of the eerie dusty orangeness on Instagram like many others and some even said “it looks like the end of the world”… the funny thing is with the current political climate (Trump and Kim Jong Un comparing nuclear button sizes) a lot of us just shrugged at that suggestion and thought “yeah… it probably is”.

The drama begins with former model Agyness Deyn being attacked by what turns out to be her mentally ill son (whom she must have had in her early teens). Her character is detective Elaine Renko. She has swapped the catwalk for the screen as a knuckle dusting, butt kicking detective who has been paired up with Detective Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess). She is secretly investigating Charlie for the murder of his former police partner. Charlie has issues of his own (as well as apparently murdering his former partner) he appears a happy family man but is having an affair with his dead ex partners wife. So already this is a bit messy… and confusing… and that is even without the fact they stumble across a government secret that the world is ending in five years.

They come across a flash drivefrom a murdered hacker with information about an impending apocalypse and then find themselves being chased by a bunch of spooks in a brilliant scene where they are cornered on a quiet residential street. They smash car windows with their retractable police batons (a great self defence tool… where can I get one?), setting off car alarms and loudly telling the residents within the homes their names and to call the police (brilliant idea… will have to remember that one if I find myself in a similar situation). Elaine Renko manages to get the ‘end of the world’ flash drive to the media in order to save their lives… for now… they only have five years remember? It’s all quite depressing in an action packed gritty kind of way.

Then the detective work starts. Basically the mainstream media running the story that there is only five years until the end of the world has led to all the crazy murdering weirdos to come out of the woodwork. Crazy and far fetched? Yes. It is all a bit ‘Luther’, and that would be because it is by Luther creator Neil Cross. I recall a while back watching on bbc iplayer a “the story so far” 30 minute mash up of Luther and it was so bonkers that I then just had to binge on the box set. Watching Idis Elba is well worth all the nightmares you get from a good Luther binge. Neil Cross has actually dreamt up the concept from a David Bowie song Five Years. So great idea and very compelling. Agyness Deyn is believably tough and gives a great performace in her first lead role. I also was impressed with the cockney accent that Irish comedian Aisling Bea has mastered in her role as Charlie’s mistress. This series will pack a hard punch, especially with it’s knuckle duster wearing detectives. The tazer, retractable batons and knuckle dusters are a good advertisment as to why the British police don’t need to be armed. Perhaps the Americans should see this? Although it’s pretty spooky… and crazy… now the murdering weirdos are out… anarchy will begin… oh err.

McMafia: series one episode two

Well… I didn’t have to wait long for episode two. I turned on the tv and there it was! This turned out to be a right globe trotting affair. Cairo, Prague, Mumbai, Moscow, Cayman Islands. I am sure many more locations will appear as the series goes on, we already visited Dubai and Tel Aviv in episode one. It’ll be funny if most is being filmed somewhere like Pinewood studios. Although aside from the diverse locations this series is more grit than glamour. The story opened up like the film Taken as we see a girl arrive in Cairo Airport following a scam job offer soon be snatched into human trafficking and by the end of the episode sold to Semiyon Kleiman. Following this girls experience is eye opening and uncomfortable to watch. The fictional Alex Godman has made the decision to take the investment from Semiyon Kleiman and so through doing so is showing us how big crime stretches across the globe like a multinational companies. Even if it is unbelievable how quickly Alex Godman has embraced this criminal world in the space of one episode James Norton gives a good performance and we are supposed to believe he is doing it to protect his family (and save his business).

So far this series is showing us a criminal underworld that is intriguing. It makes me want to read the McMafia book. Apparently the “dog show” scene was taken from the book. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction which makes me interested in reading the book and to keep on watching this series.  I’ll have to wait till Sunday now for episode three.