Hope you’re having a fab week and enjoying the beautiful weather! Welcome to volume twelve of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.
Anna (Jodie Whittaker) is comfortable enough living in her mom’s garden shed making funny videos all day, but as she approaches 30, the reminders of her lost twin and the pressure from her mum to finally grow up begin to weigh heavily on her. Kindly awkward Brendan (Brett Goldstein) and a troubled 8 year old Western obsessive may be the perfect people to help.
Written, directed and starring (Karen Gillan), this is an achingly personal film following Liusaidh (Gillian) as she tries to pick up the pieces after her best friend loses his life to suicide. Her life has become a string of drinking, fast fod and meaningless sexual encounters. Dale (Lee Pace) is the stranger she meets who seems to be in as much pain as she is. (T.W for sexual assault and suicide)
Inspired by writer-director (Cameron Crowe)’s own adolescence, a 1970s high-school boy (Patrick Fugit) is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band (with it’s warring stars Billy Crudup and Jason Lee) as he accompanies them on their concert tour. Kate Hudson is groupie extraordinaire Penny Lane and Philip Seymour Hoffman is Lester Bangs, William’s writing mentor – both who guide William through the adventure that is to come. Extraordinary.
Hope you’re having a fab week and enjoying the beautiful weather! Welcome to volume eleven (can you believe?!?) of Stream On, where I recommend 5 things you could watch on some of your favourite streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
A film of two parts. Part one – an attempt at a live stream zombie movie. Part two – just why it went so hilariously wrong. Persevere through the cringe of the half and you’ll be rewarded with comedy gold in the second. I’m grinning just thinking about it!
Originally a Channel 4 production, before moving to Netflix for it’s second and final season, the end result is 12 episodes of bittersweet comedic perfection. Partially autobiographical, Mae Martin is a comedy who starts dating George (Charlotte Ritchie), a woman who had only previously dated men. As they navigate George’s understanding her sense of self, Mae continue to be haunted by past traumas. Phil Burgers is wonderfully endearing as their flatmate. Lisa Kudrow and Adrian Lukis play Mae’s parents. A modern comedy classic.
A truly underappreciated adaptation of the iconic tv series, Dora (Isabela Merced) has to lead her friends on an adventure to rescue her explorer parents (Eva Longoria and Michael Peña). Funny and charming, perfect for all the family.
Now for something rather different, a true story following a corporate defence attorney (Mark Ruffalo) as he takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company that exposes a lengthy history of pollution. Haunting and powerful.
Did you get a chance to back into a cinema this week? If so, I hope it was as glorious an experience as it was for me – The Sound Of Metal was phenomenal, and Canary Wharf Everyman was as superb as remembered (how had it been over five months since I’d last been able to visit?!?) As usual, here’s five watching recommendations across various streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
There is something so invigorating about watching something that you’ve fallen in love with from the opening minutes. It’s even better when it ends up being one of the finest new sitcoms you’ve seen in years. We Are Lady Parts follows five young women who make up a London-based Muslim punk band, as seen through the eyes of geeky phd student Amina (Anjana Vasan). She, Saira (Sarah Kameela Impey), Bisma (Faith Omole), Momtaz (Lucie Shorthouse) and Noor (Aiysha Hart) are extraordinarily well constructed and performed characters. The show explores so many aspects of being a twenty-something woman, especially what it means to be a young Muslim woman in the 21st century – the pressures and expectations that can be faced. It’s so supremely laugh-out loud funny, which some superb cutaways. All six episodes are now on All4, if you wish to binge watch in a 3 hour chunk like I did. Alternatively (or additionally!) you watch one a week on Channel 4, Thursdays at 10pm.
Based on a Pokemon spinoff, it’s not essential to have watched or know anything about Pokemon beforehand. That’s because, fundamentally it’s a really great take on a noir-esque crime story littered with some very funny moments and dialogue. However, if you are a Pokemon fan – there’s an added degree of enjoyment to be had. Justice Smith travels into the city to organise the estate of his missing-presumed-dead detective father. In the process he stumbles across his dad’s pikachu partner, but Tim is startled to find that this Pikachu can talk (Ryan Reynolds) and is determined to find Tim’s dad at all costs.
Known in some quarters as ‘The Four Star Masterpiece, Molly’s Game), this is a based on a true story tale written and directed by Aaron Sorkin. Molly (Jessica Chastain) was destined to be an Olympic skier, whose life fell apart due to a career-ending injury. Circumstance results in her running the world’s most exclusive poker game and becoming a target for the FBI. Idris Elba is the lawyer who helps her, Kevin Costner steals the few scenes he’s in as Molly’s father and Michael Cera is Tobey Maguire.
X+Y (2014 – BBC iPlayer – 111 mins)
Nathan is a socially awkward teenage math prodigy (Asa Butterfield) finds new confidence and new friendships when he lands a spot on the British squad at the International Mathematics Olympiad. Rafe Spall is his guiding-light teacher and Sally Hawkins is Nathan’s concerned mother. A really beautiful and carefully done drama.
Based on a true story, Vera (Alicia Vikander) comes of age in World War One – seeing and experiencing first hand its devastating consequences. Her relationship with Roland (Kit Harington), continuously halted by the conflict, is beautifully handled – they have a lovely chemistry and rapport that makes for moving watching. A heartbreaking and profound period drama.
Residents of England, we’re almost there – in two days time cinemas reopen! In about 53 hours I will be back in my happy place, sitting in the dark in front of a big screen watching a film I’ve waited ages to see, in the best setting possible. However, I know there are lots of reason why others may feel more reluctant to return to the cinemas just yet. That’s why I’ll carry Stream On for a while longer, recommending five fab films across various streaming sites. Not enough for you here? Try the previous volumes – volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.
Regular visitors to this blog will know that the Romcom is my favourite movie genre. With a real resurgence of the genre in recent years, with Netflix in particular releasing some bangers (like this and that and this), my fellow desperate romantics and I have been eating well. This is a wonderful addition to the genre, with the hilarious Geraldine Viswanathan as Lucy – a gallery assistant who, after a brutal break-up, decides to start a gallery where people can leave trinkets from past relationships. Nick (Dacre Montgomery) is the oblivious cynic who finds himself roped into helping her. A total joy, using the conventions and tropes we all love to wonderful effect.
I recommend this one at every chance I get, witty and warm yet utterly scathing – I love it dearly! Based on the graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, Gemma Arterton plays the eponymous Tamara – a journalist who returns to her childhood home in the countryside as she puts it on sale. She may have changed, but her intrusive neighbours really haven’t… Dominic Cooper plays her rockstar lover, Luke Evans her childhood boyfriend, Roger Allam her pretentious writer father-figure, Tamsin Greig his underappreciated wife and Bill Camp her adoring new admirer. Utterly delightful.
Paddy Considine‘s writer-directorial debut, Joseph (Peter Mullan), a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction, earns a chance of redemption that appears in the form of Hannah (Olivia Colman), a Christian charity shop worker. Brutal British realism, with two extraordinary lead performances. Total must-see.
Bookending this volume with another romcom, journalist Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) reunites with his childhood crush, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), now one of the most influential women in the world. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter and sparks fly. Hilarious and romantic in equal measure. Also starring an immensely creepy Alexander Skarsgård.
Ladies, gentlemen and those of us who know better – there are 9 days till cinemas reopen in the UK. 9 DAYS till we can return to that dark palace where we can disappear into other worlds and universes. I, for one, cannot wait – so much so I just booked my ticket for a screening of Sound Of Metal on Monday 17th May. It’ll be a first watch, I’ve saved it so I can see it with the best soundscape possible. Here’s some more small screen suggestions to help you get through the final stretch… Not enough for you here? Try volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6…
Speaking of cinemas reopening, the other big, big screen release is this gem. Directed by Chloé Zhao, for which she won the 2020 Oscar for Best Director (the second woman in the awards 93-year history…) and Best Picture, a woman in her sixties (Frances McDormand) lives out her days travelling America whilst living in a van, having lost everything in the Great Recession of 2007/09. McDormand produced the film too, and won the Oscar for Best Actress – her performance really is extraordinary. Watch it now on Disney+ or wait for the big screen, either way you’re in for an epic watch.
Thanks to TikTok, I have discovered I was not alone in being a teenage girl who adored the tv series Horrible Histories for the comedy, the education and the men-folk. If you’ve not seen it, it’s all on Netflix if you wish to rectify matters. The central team have since gone on to make two fantastic other series, Yonderland (all 3 series on SkyGo) and Ghosts (all 2 series and counting on BBC iPlayer). And, in between all that fantastic telly – they even made a film! Bill explores what may have happened during William Shakespeare’s lost years upon arriving in London to hilarious effect.
Directed by the incredible Yorgos Lanthimos, we’re in early 18th-century England, where the status quo at the court is upset when a new servant (Emma Stone) arrives and endears herself to a frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). But leaves long-standing favourite Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) won’t give up her status without a fight… Just sublime.
It feels futile to really tell you why you should watch this one. Either you’ve seen it already and this is a reminder of its brilliance and how you should go rewatch it immediately. Or you’ve never seen it and you’ve realised from my tone here that you need to fix that immediately. Now go and STEP OFF!
I rarely recommend horror movies as I am a scaredy cat and avoid watching them as much as possible… But, I’m making an exception here when I spotted this one, it’s available on ALL4 for 16 days and it’s very worth a watch if you’re horror-inclined. A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators. It’s terrifying and I’ll never watch it again as nerves couldn’t handle it, but it is bloody brilliant.
This is the film and the eponymous role that won Bukky Bakray the 2021 EE Rising Star Award. Rarely, if ever, has an award been so deserved. Bakray is phenomenal as Rocks, a teen who should be thinking about her GCSEs but instead has to worry about keeping her and younger her brother (a scene-stealing D’angelou Osei Kissiedu) safe & well after their mother leaves them behind. It’s a heart wrenching story to follow – incredibly well directed by Sarah Gavron, written Theresa Ikoko & Claire Wilson and with some exceptional casting by Lucy Pardee. This is a love story to London, teen girls and friendship. Rocks is a total must-see.
Michèle Leblanc (Isabelle Huppert) is a powerhouse, a formidable businesswoman at the helm of a video games company. She gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her. What follows is a fantastically gripping psychological thriller, that needs to be seen to be believed. Wonderfully atmospheric and rather haunting.
I recently wrote a feature for MediaMagazine on Frances Ha about it’s depiction of female friendship, how rare it is to see it’s central platonic love stories treated with a depth usually reserved for romantic ones. The same statement is applicable to Animals, showing a friendship that burns brightly, chaotically and with underlying consequences. Laura (Holliday Grainger) and Tyler (Alia Shawkat) are life partners, sharing everything with each other. But, when Laura gets engaged to Jim (Fra Fee), it’s clear the enabling dependency between both women will be placed under great strain. Funny, filthy and bitterly real.
All of DCs output is tarnished with the same damning brush; while mostly warranted, this has to be (the only?) one of the exceptions. A newly fostered young boy in search of his mother instead finds unexpected powers – the ability to transform into a superhero (Zachary Levi) when he calls out the word ‘Shazam!’ Levi is charm personified as the Big-esque lead, fully believable as a child in a (super)man’s body. Sweet, funny and wonderfully heartfelt.
Speaking of heartfelt, with a very different topic and tone, Judi Dench plays the eponymous Philomena. Having become pregnant as an unmarried teen, she was sent away into the charge of nuns who separated her from her child shortly after his birth. Decades having passed, with no idea where her son ended up, Steve Coogan is the world-wearly political journalist who reluctantly agrees to help with the search. A wonderful true story, gently and carefully told, lead by two extraordinary lead performances.
I’ve decided I’m going to rebrand some of my regular features here. This one will replace TV Tuesdays. I’ve started a stint on our school radio station doing weekly recommendations, so I thought I’d share them here too. Here’s the back catalogue of TV Tuesdays: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 , #6 and #7.
Shown over the Festive period, and currently a one-off sitcom at only 29 minutes long, this is a bit of gem. It’s one of the few shows so far to have been filed, set in pandemic and is about the effect it has on families – told in a darkly comic way. We see the family on their October holiday – determined to have a family break even if won’t be as good as that trip-of-a-lifetime to the states they had planned. The editing, cutting between October and earlier in the year, is just so superb. Bitterly funny and with some winning lines from Alison Steadman.
Film: Wild Rose
There’s this tradition in British cinema for underdog stories – of those with unlikely talents in unlikely positions dreaming of more. This is up there with the best of them, with Glaswegian Rose (played by Jessie Buckley) dreaming of being a country singing sensation and a life beyond on the estate she lives on. Sad yet hopeful, and so feelgood.
Book: This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
As a unabashed and unashamed fan of the romcom, I end up reading a lot of them. This top tier, needs to be adapted into a tv series asap. Minnie ends up spending New Year’s Eve locked in a toilet cubicle, rescued hours into the New Year by Quinn. It turns out it’s not their first meeting, and it certainly won’t be their last. Hoping between povs and different time periods – this book beautifully balances very romantic romance with hysterical comedy.
Song: “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Sylvester
Released in 1978, in a time where there was so much turmoil in lots of communities across the world, this disco anthem incredible for how it’s a joyous celebration of love and life, finding hope and happiness within the dark times -which feels apt for these times we currently find ourselves in.
Welcome back. Lovely to see you again, even if the circumstances (what with Lockdown 3.0 and the world on fire) are decidedly less than desirable. As always, what follows are 7 film recommendations to help you with your picking what to watch.
It’s taken over 8 years and counting, but it feels like Dredd is finally getting some of the recognition it deserves. One of the most underseen comic book movies as well as being one of the finest of the genre. It’s a fantastic take on the 2000 AD comic strip Judge Dredd with Karl Urban (currently most recognisable for his leading role in Amazon’s The Boys) playing the eponymous law enforcer. It’s brutal (strong 18) with incredible special effects, a tau thriller of a narrative and packed full of dark humour.
I’ve slowly but surely been working my way through the Storyville series on BBC iPlayer. It’s a documentary strand that currently comprises 35 contemporary and challenging documentaries from different filmmakers gathered from across the globe. Some are familiar titles, otten with titles slightly edited, and some are unknown gems – like this one was for me. Loosely aware of the Pepe the Frog meme but knowing nothing about the context in which it was created or how it has since been horrifically warbed and used in terrifying ways, I went in totally blind with this one. Wow. Seeing this just days before the events in Washington this week added a horrific timeliness and an answer of sorts to the question ‘How did we get to this point?’
I started to really get into film when I was twelve. For the next few years I’d have these phases we’re I’d discover a genre/theme/actor and obsessively get into it. My discovery of Casablanca, somewhat oddly, happened in my Summer of Film Noir (yep, I was one cool kid…) If you’re yet to see it and have dismissed it as everyone always talks about it, hear me out. Give it a try this week. Why? It’s funnier than you might think, exquisitely filmed and has some sublime performances just across the board. There’s just how brave and ahead of its time it was, whilst being truly of it’s time too. This was filmed and released in 1942 – WW2 had been raging for years with no end in sight. Watch this and dare tell me it’s not audacious and revolutionary. And, I hate to carry on referring to current events but – I think we all need some hope this week.
This film celebrates its 20th anniversary this year – isn’t that MAD?!?! (Answer, yes. v.mad) After watching this fantastic documentary over the festive period, I was compelled to rewatch the film with fresh and informed eyes. It really does hold up (workplace sexual harassment aspects aside…). As I grow closer to Bridget’s age, having had far too many entanglements and experience that could be described as Bridget Jones moments, I appreciate all the more just how bold her character is – with Renée Zellweger capturing her and the single woman experience so beautifully. And I won’t get started on Colin Firth and Hugh Grant in this film. The former has ruined my romantic expectations for life and the latter would just ruin me.
And this week’s underappreciated romcom slot goes to… Ha! There’s really not much I can say about this film because you’ve either seen it already (and seeing it here now you know you want to rewatch it) or you haven’t seen it yet (and therefore I don’t want to spoil things by telling you too much about it as you should now go and watch it). A top-tier thriller by David Fincher, dark and wonderfully twisted.
I once saw this described as ‘Goodfellas but strippers’ – whilst I appreciate the sentiments, that buzzphrase sort of misses the point. Director and co-writer Lorene Scafaria has made a modern classic here, expertly and seemingly effortlessly utilizing the female gaze. The based-on-a-true-story about a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients is just magnificent.
Instant Family (2018 – 118 mins – Sky/NowTv and, from sunday, Netflix )
I reckon it’s a safe bet to say that you looked at the below still and formed a judgement about this film based on Mark Wahlberg and, to a much smaller extent because of her varied back catalogue, Rose Byrne. At least, that’s what I did. However, skip this one at your peril as you’ll be missing out. This is one of the finest and funniest family dramas in recent year, following a couple who find themselves in over their heads when they foster three children. Inspired by the personal experience of the film’s director, Sean Anders, this really is a feelgood delight.
It’s the last day of the year, and I’ve put off doing this list for long enough. Instead of doing a top ten films of the year, I’ve decided to do a bumper addition. 2020 brought few joys with it but quality books (as demonstrated here) and films were not in short supply. So, in no particular order, here’s my 20 films of the year. (Two disclaimers: These are of the films I’ve seen, there’s a few I just haven’t been able to fit in yet so there are a few blindspots. I’ve gone for UK release date – either in cinema or VOD where applicable.)
One sentence summary – 3 suggestions of tv shows you may have missed and will probably love. Are you not entertained? Give #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6 a try.
Twenties (2020- : 8 x 30 mins : BBC iPlayer)
Hattie (Jonica T. Gibbs), a queer African American woman, hangs out with her two straight best friends Marie (Christina Elmore) and Nia (Gabrielle Graham), as they all try to make their dreams come true. The end result is as show that is as funny as it is scathing, with some of the most honest portrayals of twenty-something relationships, friendships and careers that tv has ever seen. The representation within this show doesn’t get seen enough on tv, with a show as good as this we can but hope it’s the first of many.
Peter (Rufus Jones), his new partner Katy (Rebekah Staton) and her son John (Oaklee Pendergast) return home to Dorking from their first holiday together in France. Hiding in the boot of their car is Sami (Youssef Kerkour), a Syrian refugee. It is near-impossible to do this wonderful show justice – it’s so charming, compassionate and well-written. It’s feelgood without being saccharine, sentimental but honest and extremely well informed – unafraid to portray the labyrinthian bureaucracy of the UK immigration system. Staton is phenomenal as matriarch Katy, just as good as she was in the criminally underseen Raised by Wolves (which will have to be a future TV Tuesday pick). Kerkour is fantastic as Sami, countless moving moments come to mind – most involving his friendship with Aaron Neil‘s Raj. Sharp, refreshing and rather brilliant – you really won’t regret watching this one.
Sci-fi related dramas can be a bit of a hard-sell, thankfully this one is a sci-fi romantic comedy with a side of mystery thriller. A man (Robbie Amell) is able to choose his own afterlife after his untimely death by having his consciousness uploaded into a virtual world. As he gets used to his new life and befriends his ‘angel’, Nora (Andy Allo), questions about his death arise. The fact this show isn”t spoken about really is mind-boggling. It’s speculative exploration of virtual afterlife is incredibly imaginative and thought-provoking, the relationships and character development immensely well-plotted within some pacey storytelling. Witty and winning – this is one I’m definitely counting down the days till season 2 for.