The Virtues: Channel 4.


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This is Stephen Graham, Channel 4, Shane Meadows and just British TV overall at its very best.  The Russians and the Poles can make movies this depressing but the Brits excel at it.

Occassionaly.

And this is one of those occasions.

I thought Stephen Graham was decent in Line of Duty, but that was a mere warm-up outing for this career-defining hour of TV.  He is simply breathtaking.

The second act, in which he gets smashed to drown the sorrows of the loss of his son who has emigrated with his new ‘dad’ to Australia, is indescribably brilliant.

Doing a drunk is tricky.  (Even Gillian Anderson struggled in All About Eve) but this captures it astonishingly, in no small part because of the direction of Shane Meadows and genre-bending camera work.

It was deeply disturbing TV from start to finish with a constant barrage of depression. But that’s what makes Meadows such a unique talent.  What lies ahead one can only guess but you can be sure of one thing.  It ain’t gonna be comedy.

Wonderful, wonderful TV.  Thanks guys.

Important TV that should be part of the school curriculum


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An outstanding performance by Maisie Williams as teenager Casey (I don’t know her from Game of Thrones but if she’s as good on that as she is here it must be  worth watching) is at the heart of this brilliant one off C4 drama.

She singlehandedly carries a one hour drama about cyber bullying drawn from real world examples.

It dramatically personifies the impact of trolling in teenage circles and turns Maisie’s own trolling on its head through the use of a hacker who communicates directly with her in her bedroom and plays the role of a modern St Peter at the pearly gates holding a mirror up to her misdemeanours.

The film has many twists and turns and can never be predicted. It’s a tough role for a young actor to carry off but she succeeds with flying colours.

The lessons are clear and powerful. That’s why it should be shown in social education classes to demonstrate the extremes that trolling can get to.

Why David Cameron Should fear the next generation.


Dinner at 11.

OK this is something of a contrivance, but check out the wonderful David Cameron-despising Grace at 27:42..

A bunch of 11 year olds were selected from thousands to a dinner party and to talk about, well whatever they liked.

Love, marriage, (Superglue strong parental relationships), politics, education and bullying.

It’s often hilarious, sometimes charming.  And, yes, a little contrived.

The kids come from a variety of backgrounds with a range of views and experiences.  But all are remarkably articulate.

The real star of the show and the reason you should watch it is Grace (aged 10 and three quarters) who uses the platform to share her views on David Cameron.

This is it in all its glory.

 

Black Mirror, 15 million merits


I reviewed episode one of Black Mirror with some gusto last week, so I was surprised to read AA Gill’s absolute trashing of it in the Sunday Times.

Personally I think AA Gill just needs to get a penis envy extraction.

He did, however, make the memorable observation that the plot was as flaccid as a prostate ward; so not all bad.  Anyway AA, you can stick your review close to your very own presumably normal sized prostate because it rocked.  And so, onto week two, which he will no doubt have hated as much as week one (of three).

Again I loved it.

In this, a dystopian world (Aldous Huxleyesque) written by Charlie Brooker and his wife Konnie Huq, is the setting for a brilliant satire on X Factor/Britain’s Got Talent in which the pretty girl from Downton Abbey (never seen it) becomes the object of affection of a male drone.

He selflessly gives up his worldly goods (15 million merits) to enter her into a nightmare future vision of X Factor only to see her wow the judges for her looks, not her voice and become a porn star on a sister channel.

It’s wickedly funny without being laugh out loud and is yet another step on Charlie Brooker’s career ladder of greatness.

 

 

Teens and tiaras


Actually. She was Ok.

Jeana and I watched this absurd celebration of Britain’s upper classes wherein two toff bitches taught a bunch of mostly toff, but some merely bewildered snobs, how to get married to rich, landed wanks.

It was pure magic.

The toff bitches (Jennie and Patricia) were the best double act since Morecombe and Wise.  Trouble is, they were deadly serious.

Someone was actually called Araminta.  Araminta?  Arabloodyminta!  What sort of a name is that?

There were more double barrels than the Olympic shooting qualifiers.

Twat after twat moment cascaded from our screens; arsehole after arsehole.  But mainly Pat and Jen. (They must be quietly seething that Mater and pater didn’t name them Arabella and Helena, so they could hold their heads higher amongst their so distinguished prodigies.)

It was a potpourri of upper class absurdity.

Sweetly, one of them was shy.  Shy?  She was totally overwhelmed by the pressure of having to be an international symbol of toffness and didn’t want to do it.

We met the Queen of Macedonia.  An ugly English ex-debutante.  The king sensibly declined.

We might as well have met the queen of fucking la la land.

Not only did the programme position the upper classes as tossers (in extremis) but the poor wee lassies who were being set up as debutante toff whores were actually aware of it and somewhat defensive.

I almost felt sorry for the poor rich bitches.

Red Riding


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I love David Peace.

There.  I’ve said it.

He is, in my experience, the best writer in Britain, out of a very good lot.

I enjoyed 1974 to the point of gushingness.  And when Jeana said she wanted “A right good, proper crime book to read that wasn’t a load of old shite.” recently I recommended it.

She loved it – perhaps even more than I did.

And now it’s a Channel 4 TV movie.

Me?  I thought it was exceptional, although it strayed from the book’s plot quite considerably.  Most fundamentally in that it made Dunford’s character mainly sympathetic when, in the book, he’s just a twat.  It’s a classic example of a (near) brilliant adaptation of a brilliant book that falls short of the book but finds enough quality to make it brilliant nevertheless.

The acting, cinematography (let’s face it, it WAS a movie) and soundtrack (beautifully understated and not period at all) were all A list.  Some of it actually took your breath away.  It has BAFTA written all over it.  But, and it’s only a but, to us readers, it fell away really badly, plot-wise, compared to the book in the final act.  In fact, Jeana dismissed it, and I agree with her because it turned a grizzly, uncompromising book into a cop-out conclusion.  I was disappointed in that, but it wasn’t enough to spoil the overall effect.

By the bloody way, they were heavy bloody smokers in Yorkshire in the 70’s or what?  Fook me.  It made “the man who wasn’t there” look restrained.  In fact, I’m away to wash my clothes.

As an aside I do want to bring your attention to Peace’s masterpiece, if I haven’t already.  The Damned Utd starring Martin Sheen is soon to hit our screens.

In my opinion it’s likely to be a classic example of a movie that won’t be as good as the book because it can’t be.

We’ll see though.

Fook me though.  I hope I’m wrong likers.

James Benamore – Secret Millionaire


James Benamore. £136k light of his £77 million fortune.

James Benamore. £136k light of his £77 million fortune.

The 30 year old MD of The Richmond Group, James Benamore, was the latest millionaire to grace the screens of this wonderful programme.

Into its third series I can’t help thinking that some of the potential beneficiaries are pitching to the producers which loses some of its spontaneity.

Nevertheless, the sheer emotion that the programme generates can be overwhelming.

He was a good guy, was James Benamore.  An ex-wild child he went to Mosside in Manchester and found real and realistic charities to support.  A very likeable and genuine man.

Good on ya Jamesey.

The Power of Dreams


10 minutes ago Honda aired the first ever, modern day, live TV ad on Channel 4.

It was brave. It was creative. It was kinda flawed, but in a good way.

A bunch of skydivers jumped out of two planes and joined up in formation to, letter by letter, spell out H, O, N, D , A.

The cynics will snipe. I thought it was great though.

Why?

Because it was all, ALL, about risk. Only risk-taking clients get risk-taking ads. Only risk-taking ads make you famous.

Risk-taking is difficult but as Honda says “Difficult is worth doing.”  It was.

Honda is famous and gets all the great ads, as a client, that it deserves.

That’s why it is the UK’s best client.

I salute you Honda.

The shame is that the ad said check it out at Honda.co.uk. I did. It ain’t there. Or at least it ain’t very easy to find. Doh.

The secret Millionaire


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It is difficult to imagine how C4 could make two series of this poignant and (although at times a little staged) naturalistic documentary series. And yet they did. Perhaps the fact that it is not a BBC production has saved it, because its magic ingredient is surprise.

Tabloid treatment would kill it.

This is TV at its best and I have failed to last an episode without shedding copious tears. It really is very moving documentary and I recommend it unreservedly.