Save Me. Sky Atlantic.


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This is brutal TV.

Set in Inner London (Detford?) it’s written by its star, Lennie James, wearing a rather helpful bright yellow puffer jacket throughout, which aids recognition in long shots.  Lennie James has a thirty year acting career but you can’t help thinking, as you immerse yourself in this torrid tale, that this is the part he was destined for.  It will certainly take him up a step or two in the acting firmament.

Credit also goes to a truly brilliant cast of misfits, ne’er-do-wells, cross dressers, alcoholics, hard men, paedophiles, small time crooks, drug dealers, students and hookers.

This is Shameless with a purpose and far fewer laughs.

It’s brutal from start to finish; both upsetting and riveting.

It concerns the abduction of Nellie’s (James) daughter, Jody, from a previous relationship.  He hasn’t seen since she was three but his is the number she calls at the timer of her disappearance.  This immediately makes him prime suspect with the police.

But Nellie’s no child abductor.  He’s too busy maintaining his mildly alcoholic lifestyle which involves his moving from one girlfriend to another (he has four) in his ‘manor’.  Dodging and diving he ‘makes a living’ and spends all his spare time in the local pub where all his ‘family’ hang out and where he brashly lords it.

His ex and the girl’s mum, played extremely convincingly by Suranne Jones, are brought back together in the search for the girl, as the police take on something of a ‘Three Billboards’ type of half-hearted investigation.  But Nellie’s having none of that.  He wages his own investigation that takes him into an underworld of paedophile rings under the cover of his pal Melon, a convicted paedophile, played sympathetically by Stephen Graham.  He pulls off a tough part really well.

It’s a harrowing watch and every character plays their part in making it a too hard to call police procedural with a big difference (no police).  The story avoids cliche and maintains credibility throughout.

It’s tough.  But it’s great. And the loose ending promises more quality in series two.

 

 

 

Good start to TV New Year


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I was late getting to it but Season three of Black Mirror is brilliant in parts.  The best part being the stunning closing episode which takes a sideswipe at hate crime. As innocent as people may think it is to dis the likes of  Katie Hopkins (clearly the target at the start of the show) online Charlie Brooker ingeniously turns this into something truly spectacular.

A police procedural starring the excellent Kelly MacDonald and Faye Marsay that has more ideas in its hour and a half than most box sets do

A Netflix must watch folks.

Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile. Separated at Birth.


This is outrageously great; both as a meeting of songwriting minds with its resultant musical output, but also as a video.

It’s genius.  “Hey guys, you look like each other.” let’s swap your voices and dress Kurt in all white and Courtney in all black then mirror all your moves in black and white in the countryside.”

“Dude, done!”

(I wonder if one’s shot in Oz and one in USA? That would seem to make sense as they never actually come together.)

Boom! what a fucking result.

Extraordinary.

(And there’s an album to come.  I canna wait for that.)

The OA: review


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Netflix has surpassed itself with the OA.  It’s a feast of creativity, originality and puzzlement.

Frankly it’s not the sort of show I’d expect to like, loaded to the hilt as it is with mysticism, other dimensions, expressive movement, spells, spiritualism and a central character (the Original Angel) that is as near to a full on hippy as we’ve seen on our screens in forty years.  It’s a fantasy show that’s grounded in reality and borrows in style from Cronenberg and Jonathon Demme.

Part mystery, part meaning of existence it centres on the story of OA who starts out life as a blind Russian girl, daughter of an oligarch who has a near death experience at the age of six when her bus full of junior oligarchs is attacked on a bridge by a terrorist group.  All but her die and for safety she is shipped to America where she is adopted by an ageing couple who, on doctors orders, heavily sedate her for the next 15 years to treat the possible impact of schizophrenia.

On her 21st birthday she goes to meet her father (one of many premonitions) at the foot of the Statue of Liberty but instead meets Hap.  The man who is to become the central feature of her life for the next seven years.

I will stop with the storyline here as the rest will just become spoilers.

What emerges is a hugely complex plot that is impressively gripping and impossible to second guess.  Ten more characters perform as a brilliant ensemble as the story plays out.

It’s odd how Netfilx works, isn’t it?

There are no ads.  Indeed for this there were not even any trailers.

And because there is no ‘schedule’ the episodes can be as long or as short as they need to be which is very refreshing and makes them essentially unairable on traditional television.  One episode is around 65 minutes long, and one only 31, with a variety in between.

The OA is spectacular viewing.  Right up there with Stranger Things as the revelation of 2016 on ‘TV’.  It’s not for everyone but I’d imagine it is for most.

The ending has divided opinion but I for one thought it was good and after a bit of post showing research it’s entirely relevant and actually closes off a huge number of loose ends.

Enjoy.  Wish I could see it again without knowing its meaning.

One last thing.  the Title.  The OA.  It probably means Original Angel but I wonder if it could also derive from Oral Administration (of drugs) or could it be an inverse of Alpha and Omega? As in Jesus Christ proclaiming, as God, that he is the Alpha and the Omega (meaning the beginning and the end of existence).  Just a thought.