This week we resorted to watching the wonderful comedy Hot Fuzz, which ranks as one of my top five favourite films. But then I’m odd like that.
The small town setting, the characters and the cracking script are just the antidote for lockdown blues (but a word of warning, please don’t watch it if you’re offended by swearing and over-the-top violence used for comedic effect.)
We also tuned into some stinky films on Netflix and wished we hadn’t bothered. Thank goodness the brilliant Unforgotten is returning to our terrestrial television screens next Monday. Can’t wait.
Here’s my round-up of telly viewing, from ITV, the BBC and Netflix.
The Serpent, BBC iPlayer
This crime drama is based on the true story of a serial killer who preyed on backpackers on Asia’s hippy trail in the 1970s. The eight-part serial captures the coldness of the protagonist and the authorities’ indifference to his crimes. The script makes the most of pitting The Serpent against the chain-smoking Dutch diplomat whose painstaking work finally brought him to justice, creating a tension that perhaps might not have surfaced had the story been told in a purely linear fashion. We were hooked.
What’s to like: the 70s fashions, the dramatic tension, the exotic locations.
What’s not to like: the flashback narrative, the worry that the real-life killer is pleased everyone is now talking about him, the brutal horror of his crimes.
Us, BBC iPlayer
Author David Nicholls’ story of a mismatched couple whose marriage is falling apart. This sad yet funny drama sees fruit fly expert Douglas (played by Tom Hollander) and his art facilitator wife, Connie (Saskia Reeves), on a final fling, a ‘Grand Tour’ of Europe, with their teenage son in tow, headphones on his head and hormones raging. This four-part serial was also scripted by Nicholls, the author of One Day and screenwriter for the recent film version of Far From The Madding Crowd. A great script, as you’d expect, and a thoughtful, sensitive telling of a doomed relationship but with laughs and great set-piece scenes thrown in.
What’s to like: lovely locations, great script and acting squeezing out the comedy and pathos of family dynamics, evocative recreation of Douglas and Connie when they first met.
What’s not to like: the inevitable sadness to come, the reminder that teenagers aren’t interested in history.
What Happened to Monday, Netflix
This science fiction action film is set in a dystopian yet not-too-distant, overpopulated future when families are limited to one child each. Siblings are rounded up, ostensibly to be put to sleep and woken when things get better. The Monday of the title is the first of seven identical sisters (all played by Noomi Rapace) who are named after the days of the week and kept hidden in a top-floor apartment by their grandfather (Willem Dafoe). The girls are smart and learn to live their lives by going out only on their allocated day of the week, pretending to be the same person. But the story becomes silly, with lots of look-away violence, and there are enough plot holes to sink a movie. By the end of it, we really didn’t know what day of the week it was.
Things to like: the plausibility of the premise, a female lead outwitting the world, the baddie played by a chilling Glenn Close.
Things not to like: Glenn Close’s face, gory violence, hammy script.