It’s been a strange old week, what with losing our beloved dog and all and everyone still caught up in this bloody pandemic.
I was all set to forget real life and watch another episode of Unforgotten on Monday night, only to find it had been bumped by the Haz and Megs interview with Oprah Winfrey.
I’m not going to review that much-hyped and talked about event. I didn’t watch it nor did I want to. The upside to it being on television was that we managed to cram in two more episodes of the second series of After Life by switching over to Netflix. We’re loving this show.
Here’s my trio of telly viewing:
Miss World 1970: Beauty Queens and Bedlam (BBC)
This documentary charted the disruption of the annual beauty pageant by a group of committed feminists in a co-ordinated attack with flour bombs, leaflets and water pistols in the Royal Albert Hall. It was a fascinating insight into the politics and cultural climate of the time, including protests by the anti-apartheid movement and an explosive incursion by The Angry Brigade. I don’t know about you, but Miss World was required family viewing in our household. As a child, I saw it as glamorous. For days after the competition, we’d re-enact the show in the primary school playground, the assertive ones pretending to be the likes of Miss Sweden or Miss UK (who always seemed to win), and me being Miss Yugoslavia (who one year tripped over her long dress). But it was clear from the documentary that even then the competition was becoming an anachronism. I found myself cheering for the feminists for pulling off such a brilliant stunt in an age free of social media and mobile phones to gee up the troops. But at the same time, the outcome of the competition was also a triumph.
What’s to like: the candid interviews from people on all sides, the guts and determination of the eventual winner and her runner-up, the simple animation linking the key events as the plan unfolds.
What’s not to like: the reminder of the sexist attitudes of the time (exemplified by guest compere Bob Hope) and the overt racism in the UK, both of which are still a stain on daily life to this day.
Behind Her Eyes (Netflix)
We are partway through this psychological thriller which is set in London and focuses on the relationship between a hardworking single mum and her therapist boss and his wife. It’s a weird one this, and very gripping, with lots of twists and turns and it’s really difficult to work out what’s going to happen next. Compulsive viewing.
What’s to like: the realisation that a working class, high-rise flat, can be made a beautiful home, great acting, particularly from Simona Brown, who plays the protagonist, and her little boy (Tyler Howitt).
What’s not to like: I’m finding Tom Bateman rather creepy as the boss. Equally, Eve Hewson as his wife is similarly weird. But it all adds to the suspense, so what’s not to like?
One Night in Miami (Amazon)
Four black icons – boxer Cassius Clay (before he became Mohammed Ali), activist Malcolm X, singer songwriter Sam Cooke and American football legend Jim Brown – get together in a motel room the evening Clay won Heavyweight Championship of the World in 1964. They couldn’t celebrate at Miami Beach because of racist Jim Crow laws. Apparently, the meeting between these friends really took place but who knows what was said behind closed doors. Directed by Regina King, this film delves into the characters and motivation of four black men who made such an impact on the lives of others. So many of the issues resonate today and it is fascinating to hear the characters’ differing views and experiences and the feeling that, in the words of Sam Cooke, a change is gonna come.
What’s to like: excellent ensemble cast, the evocation of the charged atmosphere in the US in the 1960s, the music.
What’s not to like: Heavy on conversation, not much action and feels like a stage play adapted for the big screen.