Pick of the Week #1

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.

Tv: Pandemonium 

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.

Me Before You

A serviceable and relatively sincere weepie

Let’s start this with an admission. I am a crier. I have cried and will cry at everything and anything. An article on human kindness – I weep. An audition on a relatively television program – I sob. A particularly emotive song – I howl. Considering the nature of this film and what I had heard of the book I had the tissues at the ready. Literally I had taken a tissue out of the packet and tucked it into a jumper sleeve for easy access. Come the roll of the credits and the tissue had remained unused. I didn’t cry. This is not necessarily a criticism of the film – there were plenty of noses being blown and gentle sobbing echoed around the screen. Yet not a peep from me. Whether that is because I’m all cried out from recent weeks or whether the film didn’t have the emotional depth needed? Well, read on and see…

Two years ago William Traynor (Sam Claflin) was hit by a motorbike – leaving him paralysed from the neck-down. Will was once a man about town, living and hustling in London. The type of man all men envied and all women wanted. Now he is stuck back in his small-town home with his parents Camilla (Janet McTeer) and Steven (Charles Dance). Concerned by his desperately low spirits she decides to hire a carer/companion who can brighten up his lonely   existence.  Enter Louisa Clark (Emilia Clarke) who has just lost her job at the local cafe. Aged 26 she has never left her small town home, a place which she either loves too much or is too scared to leave. Her family rely on her as she brings in the only income so this job is perfect for her! Except she has zero experience as a carer. Having always been outshone by her younger sister, single mother Katrina (Jenna Coleman), or patronised by her long-term boyfriend Patrick (Matthew Lewis), Louisa is a woman not living life to its fullest. Maybe Will, a man who can no longer enjoy life, is the perfect person to help her live hers?

Having not read the book I cannot comment on the success of the transition of book to screen, although Twitter would suggest it is faithful. The story itself is relatively predictable, with little surprise, though this is not necessarily a bad thing as the story itself is told rather well. The pacing is solid with the growing bond between Louisa and Will is believable.The supporting cast are impeccably stereotypical and two-dimensional. Roll call for romantic tragedy archetypes – we have present: jealous and moody boyfriend who ‘doesn’t understand or appreciate’ how amazing his girlfriend is. Overly concerned mother and withdrawn father. Know-it-all younger sibling full of great advice. Friendly Australian nurse who steals most of the scenes he is in… (Side note: how can I get my own Nathan, Stephen Peacocke..?) 

The main cast themselves are solid. Claflin does well with his role as a man who feels he has little reason to live. He provides his character with just enough spark to hint at the man Will once was. His bond with Clarke’s character is well-established and there is plenty of charisma between them. It’s Clarke’s performance that particularly stands out, with her facial expressions providing an earnest authenticity to her character. Although her character is essentially a 2016 small-town England Manic Pixie Dream Girl (her ‘quirky’ clothes and shoes used to denote her character as opposed to providing her with any genuine character traits) she is remarkably likeable. Her eyebrow acting is, as my secondary school students would say, on point – managing to show so much with them knitted in concern.

There’s enough here to watch and enjoy with a glass of wine. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but if you’re a fan of such films as  The Fault In Our Stars or Me, Earl and the Dying Girl then you’ll enjoy this.

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