Nurse Jackie

The Americans have pulled another TV rabbit out of the hat.  This time originally commissioned by “Showtime”.

Edie Falco (in her first major appearance since Carmela Soprano) lights the screen up with fire in this tremendous series, directed so far (perhaps always) by another of my favourites, Steve Buscemi.

If you’ve missed the first five episodes catch up on the iplayer or on SKY Anytime where the series to date has taken residence for the next week or so.

It is utterly electrifying.

It’s a comedy drama set in an NYC General Hospital where the consultants/Doctors are overpaid demigods (or so they reckon) and the nurses are there to do all the work.

Falco is addicted to pain relieving drugs (which she is illegally supplied by her lover, the hospital pharmacist who she services every day at noon).

Meanwhile she lives a secret home life with her bar-tending hubby and two daughters, one who draws skies with no sun – she is ridiculously paranoid for a 9 year old.

It’s all, of course, in the writing (you said it again.  Ed) as I’ve said before.  But it’s true and this is written sublimely giving Falco free reign to deliver one-liners, moments of pathos, passion, hysteria and sheer vilness.  Surely there cannot have been a better written female TV part since, erm, Carmela Soprano.

But Falco makes this a masterclass as she holds the screen.  She must be in at least 95% of the action with her outstanding ensemble cast behind her to act as willing stooges.  My favourite is Zoey Barkow, Nurse Jackie’s poor put upon (but actually secretly loved) intern.

It is quite simply, the best and I’m intrigued to see how it develops.  Series two has already been commissioned.  Doh.  So it’s here for a bit yet.

Enjoy.  I’m off to watch Glee!

Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

First of all, a wee taster of one of Dury’s best and most underrated songs…

I was a regular Ian Dury record buyer in my late teens but wouldn’t say I was in his thrall.  Nevertheless I was intrigued enough to go and see this biopic featuring Andy Serkis (Golum in Lord of The Rings) as the great man himself.

His performance was top drawer and did make you feel you were in the room with the chief Blockhead himself.  But this is more than a music homage.  This is a reasonably complex life story told with more than a smattering of real film skills.  It opens a bit frenetically with a hotch-potch of animation, flashbacks, montage and “stuff” that’s the director’s (Mat Whitecross – not one I know) trying to tell the back story quick as a flash.  Whilst it works in story-telling terms it feels like it’s trying too hard and it takes 20 minutes for the film to find its feet as Dury metamorphosises from Kilburn and The High Roads into Ian Dury and The Blockheads.

Thereafter, the film is far more assured, but strangely unmoving on the whole, despite the fact that there are a lot of episodes that could have jerked a tear or two.  Little is made of his chart success. other than the typical excesses that stardom inevitably brings in its wake; rather, the film is much more interested in his complicated love life and (abysmal) family life which lays true the aphorism that what goes around comes around.  Actually, it’s better for that.

In particular the relationship with Dury and his son, Baxter (played brilliantly by Son of Rambow star Bill Milner) is the main thread of the movie.  Initially retiscent, Baxter becomes increasingly influenced by his rebellious father and follows suit.  Again, like Dad, in response to the bullying and humiliation he faced at school.

The finale is really good and pulls together a lot of strands including the Spartacus references that cropped up earlier in the action.  I won’t spoil it by telling you how though.and really

The movie tries a little too hard; it’s a touch too stylised for my liking, but it zips along quickly despite its fairly lengthy 115 minute running time.

Overall, I’d recommend it; if for no other reason than to wonder at Andy Serkis.

7 out of 10.