Entertainment corner

Here are some of the enjoyable or recommended films and programmes I've watched throughout the lockdown.

Here are some of the enjoyable or recommended films, plays and programmes I’ve watched throughout the lockdown. You might want to check some of them out too.

  1. Uncut Gems (with Adam Sandler) this has a wonderful opening scene which is quite trippy, with its blending of a Ethiopian-gem and a large intestine being investigated by a surgical camera. I enjoyed watching it, but it is so fast-paced and the camerawork is quite wearying, it could quickly tire some. Adam Sandler is good, but I would also want to punch him.
  2. Pain and Glory (Almodovar film, with Antonio Banderas and Penelope Cruz) I saw this at the cinema a year ago, but this time round it was devoid of all colour, as I was starting to get worried about the impending lockdown. I raved about this when I first saw it, but this time its melancholic tone made the film feel miniature in scale and impact. I’ll give it another try one day.
  3. Lucia di Lammemoor (Donizetti Opera) broadcast as part of the New York Met’s programme of screening classics in their back catalogue. For free. The Second Act is a joy to listen to with the flute solo.
  4. Zodiac (by David Fincher, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Junior) one of my favourite actors, Jake, with his doeful eyes. Ruffalo on form – when is he not? Downey Junior is cheesy but effective as an alcoholic journalist. This was one of the most enjoyable films, not least because I love anything macabre, especially when the backdrop is as grim as this.
  5. Snowden (by Oliver Stone) Another cutie, Joseph Gordon Levitt, stars. Him and Jake, the thinking man’s stars. Anyway, back to the point – this is worth watching. I was far more interested in Edward Snowden than alleged criminal, Assange.
  6. Midnight Express (written by Oliver Stone and directed by Alan Parker) with the tragic Brad Davis, who also appeared in 1982 film Querelle based on the Jean Genet novel. John Hurt also appears in the film that set back the Turkish tourist industry for decades. And Oliver Stone impresses with one of his first screenplays. Incidentally, worth watching for the Giorgio Moroder soundtrack – moody 1970s genius.
  7. Blue Jasmine (with Cate Blanchett in the lead role, by Woody Allen) I’d watched this before. One of Woody Allen’s better works in recent years. The final scene of Cate Blanchett wittering away on a city bench is the ultimate expression of post-2008 financial collapse chaos.
  8. Brooklyn (directed by John Crowley with Saoirse Ronan in the lead role and a lovely turn by Julie Walters as a woman running a Brooklyn boarding house) I so wanted the lead character to get with the Italian American. A lot of friends have informed since the book by Colm Toibin is even better, which I must check out.
  9. Unorthodox (mediocre 4-part miniseries, also set in Brooklyn) a different take on Brooklyn life, nearly 70 years on from the John Crowley film, but save the sexy Amit Rahav in one of the lead roles, miss this and instead download or stream Sebastian Lelio’s ‘Disobedience’ with Rachel Weisz, a much more nuanced take on escaping the constraints of Chasidic life.
  10. The Romanovs on Netflix one of the latest, curious and rather corny doc-dramas that has people from Newcastle speaking with Geordie voices as early 20th century Russians, notably Rasputin, who last time I checked, wasn’t from Gateshead.
  11. Jane Eyre from the National Theatre this was excellent, and such a riveting performance by the lead actress, Madeleine Worrall. I look forward to checking in the week after next when Tamsin Grieg will perform in their version of Twelfth Night.
  12. Brave New World I’m listening to the Audible version of this through Amazon, knowingly and cleverly narrated by Michael York of Cabaret (1972) fame. Cliched to listen to this now, but hey, why not?
  13. Chocolat (with Juliette Binoche and the ever-so-hot Johnny Depp, based on the Joanne Harris novel) just what I needed one cold Sunday night. How on earth, though, could Juliette Binoche’s character remain that slim with all that chocolate cake and hot chocolate she was consuming?
  14. Julia and Julia (with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams and the wonderful Stanley Tucci) save Merly Streep’s accent (I guess Julia Child did sound like that), this was a joy to watch. Possibly one of the best films, along with Chocolat, that I’ve ever watched in terms of one person’s love and indulgence of their favourite food. I Am Love by Luca Guadagnino is another such example that comes to mind. La Finestra di fronte (Facing Windows) – another Italian film – covers cake-eating in all its glory, and later, horror.
  15. Laundromat (again, with Meryl Streep) good ol’ Meryl, reliable as ever. She’s particularly good in this, a decent but slightly corny take on the Guardian’s big reveal on the Panama Papers. Could have been boring, but it’s very entertaining. I especially like the Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas double-act.
  16. Sully (by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks) I’m not usually a Tom Hanks fan, but I respect he’s a great actor. In the past, I wasn’t that keen on checking out Clint Eastwood films, but following on from the gripping Richard Jewell, I was keen to check this out. Good for a rainy day in lockdown (which funnily enough, makes it a winning formula right now).

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