What To Watch Wednesday #4

I don’t usually do a theme to one of these posts, but the last day of the summer holidays felt like it warranted a theme. So, this week’s edition is feelgood films – six (I know, giving you a bonus one this week!) films that are chicken soup for the soul. For all you teachers out there, good luck with the new academic year…

Here’s What To Watch Wednesday #1, #2 and #3.

The Way, Way Back (2013: Disney+ & Amazon Prime: 104 mins)

It’s always been 14 year-old Duncan (Liam James) and his mum, Pam (Toni Collette), against the world, but her overbearing new boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carell), is having none of that. Trent takes the pair, along with his daughter, to stay at his summer home to trial at being a family, where a chance encounter with water theme park manager Owen (Sam Rockwell) may just be the thing to help Duncan find his place in the world. The incredible ensemble is rounded out by Alison Janney, Maya Rudolph, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash – the pair making their debut as co-writers and co-directors.

If you like this, you might like: Kings of Summer (2013), Hearts Beat Loud (2018)

Instant Family (2018: ALL4: 119 mins)

Inspired by the real adoption experiences of writer-director Sean Anders, a married couple Pete (Mark Whalberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) decide to foster three siblings – Lizzy (Isabela Merced), Juan (Gustavo Escobar) and Lita (Julianna Gamiz). A real surprise when it came out, a film as full of laughs as it is heart.

If you like this, you might like: Blockers (2018), Game Night (2018)

What We Do In The Shadows (2014: BBC iPlayer & Amazon Prime: 86 mins)

If you’ve not seen this already, or the spin-off show now in it’s fourth season, ‘Where the bloody hell have you been?’ It’s fine though, we can get that fixed now – and in less than 90 minutes too! A mockumentary following four flatmates who live in Wellington, New Zealand. Viago (Taika Waitit), Vladislav (Jermaine Clement), Deacon (Jonathon Brugh), and Petyr (Ben Fransham) also happen to be vampires. Saying any more would be a spoiler, suffice to say what follows is very, very funny.

If you like this, you might like: Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016), This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

Good Vibrations (2012: Disney+ & MUBI & Britbox: 111 mins)

Based on a true story, Belfast punk impresario Terri Hooley (Richard Dormer) becomes the unlikely leader of a motley band of kids and punks, who join him in his mission to bring his city back to life. If you’re a fan of Teenage Kicks by the Undertones, you’re going to want to see this. Jodie Whittaker plays his long-suffering wife with Adrian Dunbar, Liam Cunningham and Dylan Moran also playing supporting roles. Packed full of riotous heart and soul, there’s a sequence here that never fails to make me flood with happy tears.

If you like this, you might like: Ali & Ava (2022), Sing Street(2016)

Pride (2014: Disney+ & Amazon Prime & Netflix: 120 mins)

In 1984, gay activist Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) realised that the brutal attention of the police had shifted from the gay community and onto the miners’ strikes. Striking to prevent colliery closures that would destroy small communities throughout the United Kingdom, they faced an onslaught both in press and in person that was all-to-familiar to Mark and his friends. This was the start of beautiful friendship – two marginalised groups finding each other- and thus ‘Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners’ (LGSM) was formed. Not only is the most joyful film in existence, listen up for its cast – George MacKay, Andrew Scott, Joe Gilgun, Freddie Fox, Dominic West, Paddy Considine, Jessie Cave, Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy. It’s just so bloody lovely.

 If you like this, you might like: Kinky Boots (2005), Rocketman (2019)

Romcomdram of the week: The Lunchbox (2013: Disney+: 104 mins)

An unlikely mistake by a tiffin carrier service results in Ila’s (Nimrat Kaur) tiffin, that was made for her husband, being delivered to Irrfan (Saajan Fernandes). An unusual correspondence soon develops between the two. A tale of love, loss and longing – simply beautiful.

What-To-Watch Wednesday

My weekly recommendations are back, baby! Just like my Stream On feature from last year (all 19 editions available here), every Wednesday I’ll put up some suggestions of TV & Films you may be missing on your various streaming services.

The Newsreader (BBC iPlayer: 6 X 50 mins)

Set in Melbourne in 1986, The Newsreader follows a daily news team through their trials & tribulations – both professional and personal. The sets & costumes are so evocative, the storylines so well rendered but it’s the cast that are standout. Anna Torv (Fringe, Mindhunter) plays the station figurehead, a ‘difficult’ woman who wants to cover real news. Sam Reid (The Limehouse Golem and the upcoming tv adaption of Interview With the Vampire) is the up-and-comer desperate to break through. Covering the AIDS crisis, Chernobyl, Halley’s Comet and the Challenger space shuttle explosion – The Newsreader is a compelling drama series grounded in reality.

What this if you like: The Newsroom (2012), Please Like Me (2013)

The Resort (Sky/Now: currently airing season 1, 4 x 30 mins aired already, 4 left of season 1)

A bitterly frustrated couple go on vacation to celebrate their ten-year anniversary. Neither Emma (Cristin Milioti – Palm Springs, HIMYM) or Noah (William Jackson Harper – The Good Place, Love Life season two) seem able to acknowledge to each other just how unhappy they are. When Emma falls off a quad bike during a day trip, she finds an abandoned  and extremely outdated mobile phone. Intrigued by the mystery, she discovers it belongs to Sam (Skyler Gisondo – Booksmart, The Righteous Gemstones) who disappeared from the resort fifteen years prior. Emma & Noah decide to solve the case together which may just force them to answer some far bigger questions along the way. Part comedy, part love story, part thriller and part sci-fi tinge – this is exactly what you might expect from the writer of the wonderful Palm Springs.

What this if you like: The White Lotus (2021-), Palm Springs (2020)

Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 (Netflix: 3 x 45 mins)

The 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair was a coming together of likeminded souls, spirits joined in a search for peace, harmony, and good vibes. To commemorate its 30 year anniversary, the organisers decided to throw Woodstock ’99 in an act of celebration. As you probably guess from the title, it didn’t go well. Each of the three episodes focuses chronologically on a separate day of the festival – Friday, Saturday and Sunday – whilst also intercutting the now with some past decisions that emphasises the hubris and obviousness to the awfulness to come. This one really needs to be seen and talked about, particularly when it comes to accountability of mob mentality and the pervasive nature of sexual assault at music festivals.

What this if you like: Fyre (2019), Keep Sweet: Pray & Obey (2022)

Instant Hotel (Netflix: 15 x 45 mins)

This Australian series may just be the greatest example of perfect reality tv. Using all the formats and formulas you know and love, this show manages to be the pinnacle of how it’s done. Five couples tour the country visiting each other’s ‘Instant Hotels’ (think Air BnBs). As you’d expect, there’s personality clashes galore and all manner of surprises along the way. Chuck in the various glamourous, and not so glamourous settings, you’re in for a treat.

What this if you like: Selling Sunset (2019-), Four In A Bed (2010-)

The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020: Netflix: 108 mins)

Lucy (Geraldine Viswanathan – Blockers, Miracle Workers) is devastated after her boyfriend breaks up with her. But when she meets Nick (Dacre Montgomery – Stranger Things, Elvis), a hotelier, she decides to create a gallery where people can leave memorabilia from their past relationships. Funny, charming and a total joy.