Adams5905

IMDb member since March 2007
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Reviews

Dark Money
(2019)

Too damn slow!..
I know this is a film series about an extremely painful subject, but the BBC still seem to think that slow and 'poignant ' silences will fill the lack of good dialogue... We're up to episode two, so two to go, but this is disappointing so far...

Naked Attraction
(2016)

Ridiculous
If somebody had proposed this show with a straight male presenter, this show would never have aired... It's only because the presenter is aggresively bisexual that she got the job, but this is still the equivalent of a presenter ogling the participants. This is a disgusting show, based solely on the viewing public's salacious appetite for pornography under another name... The prevalance of LGBGT contestants should tell you all you need to know... To be avoided at all costs, or it will be re-commissioned... I was forced to sit in the same room while this was aired, and it just made me laugh... C4 still looking to shock after 26 years... Just sad...

Back in Time for Tea
(2018)

Chuffing fantastic!..
Well, somebody at the BBC must have read my review of 'Back in Time for Dinner', and actually paid attention-what a breath of fresh air!.. A family where all members are actually enthused by the project, and not afraid to say so-they were even united in their dislike for tripe (I completely agree-I've been trying to make it appetizing for years-it's not the taste, it's the texture)... I'm particularly taken by the two daughters, Caitlin and Freya, who seem to be having a wonderful time, despite being the first 'casualties', and being sent South to find work in service, and rather surprised at the son, Harvey-who taught him such wonderful old-fashioned manners?.. I wish more younger viewers would watch and take note... His interchange with John Craven on the station platform was a revelation!.. He was so taken with it, I rather hope the producers gave him his bathing costume to keep... Not quite so much enthusiasm shown by the father, Jon (love those sideburns), but then he is a dour Northerner, and presently (3rd episode-1960s) facing a dangerous and dirty life as a coal-miner, so perhaps not quite so surprising, but the undoubted star of the show so far must be Lesley, now a full-time housewife, having finished down at t'mill, and then done her bit to aid the war effort and the subsequent boom in the British economy-she is so animated and motivated compared to her Southern counterpart, Rochelle-completely undaunted by anything, she just rolls up her sleeves and gets on with it-donkey-stoning her front steps, preparing mock roes, or tackling yet another bowl of washing-up, with only a cold tap-nothing is insurmountable, and yet there's no real grousing, apart from mild irritation that 'the swinging 60s' were 'passing me by'...

It helps that the format of the programme has changed (and that that under-preened, supercilious git Giles Coren has been replaced by the gorgeous Sara Cox), with a more informative narrative allowing the viewer to place things more accurately within a social and chronological context...

All in all, a big step in the right direction, a far more educative programme than its predecessor, but still immense fun-next week, the 1970s-watch this space, and I shall update, watch the programme and enjoy!..

(Add.) Well, it's all over-we sailed throught the power-cuts and three-day-weeks of the 1970s (and the horrendous clash of clothing and household decoration), and dipped our toes into the 1980s and 90s. Last night was the repeat showing of the final programme, a compendium of all the best (and worst) bits, and some not seen before. The Ellis' family home was restored to the modern day (Lesley got her kitchen back, and mightily relieved she was too), and we visited Rusholme to see how recent changes (it's no longer the 'Curry Mile') are still encouraging people to try something new.

So, in précis, I stand by my earlier comments. What made this programme so appealing was the family's bounding enthusiasm, their willingness to pull together to overcome adversity, and their relative willingness to make fools of themselves in front of the camera. This, together with the variety of treats that they were offered, made their (and therefore our) experience so much better than the previous family's. I hope the BBC recommissions this series, although I'm baffled as to where they would go from here... Farther North to Scotland perhaps, or maybe a look at immigrants lives over the past 100 years... As long as they keep the basics simple and well thought-out, it should be juat as enjoyable as this series has been over the past six weeks. I wish the Elllis family well, and hope that some of their experiences have stuck-I can see Jon investing in a Vauxhall Viva, and perhaps the children will all have learned to help out doing the chores, but overall, I think all five members will have learned to enjoy time in each others' company, thus tying the family unit tighter together, and that can't be a bad thing... Can it?..

A Walk in the Woods
(2015)

Forget this film-read the book instead!..
I have just finished watching this, and wish to record my critique of the film while it's still fresh in my mind. First, let me say how disappointed I was. Bill Bryson himself has purportedly stated on record that he was impressed at how the film captures the spirit of the book. I disagree wholeheartedly. As a huge fan of all his writings, this work is one of my favourites, and I have read it many times. The film completely misses the warm and engaging nature of the book. We are subjected to preachy lectures from Bryson (Robert Redford) at various stages of the film, which are a world apart from the concerns that Bryson expresses in his writings about the current state of preservation of flora & fauna in the book, and specifically how the National Parks Service have actually worked to the detriment of these. Other reviewers have spoken of the complete miscasting of Redford in the leading role, with which I agree, but I also think Nolte was miscast-I've always pictured Jon Lovitz in the role. Emma Thompson was woefully underused-if you've cast an actress of her talents, use them, or cast somebody less well-known in the role. The same could also be said of Mary Steenburgen. Huge chunks of the book are left out, which is perhaps to be expected when making a film, but it's puzzling why certain sections were chosen, and others left out. There are also parts of the film which are complete invention, such as the bears invading their camp, and the falling off the trail, and one section which has been lifted from one of Bryson's other works (The Lost Continent). Bill Bryson is a much accredited writer, whose works have drawn praise from all sectors of the professional world, so why did the screenwriters (Rick Kerb and Bill Holderman) think they could do a better job?.. Finally, the AT winds its way through some of the most breath-taking scenery in the Eastern USA, and yet the film does very little to illustrate this, and feels more like a student production in its editing and cinematography. At least in 'Wild' (2014), when Reese Witherspoon did a similar thing and walked the Pacific Crest Trail, albeit for very different reasons, the scenery was one of the stars of the film... Lovingly and beautifully filmed by Yves Bélanger under the direction ofJean-Marc Vallée-perhaps Canadians do it better, eh?.. The acting from the two leads is stilted and wooden-another sign of poor direction. So, in summing up, I've said it before, and I'll say it again... Forget the film, read the book instead-you'll enjoy it far more, and it'll make you want to read his other works (I own the complete collection). Unfortunately, Mr Redford, you've let yourself and all the rest of us down badly on this occasion.Yves Bélanger

Paddington
(2014)

An absolute mess!
In no way is this 'true to the original'. In fact, I have had to walk away and start again, how apoplectic am I!.. I own a complete set of the original works (including that late addition in 2007), and cannot believe this travesty is being marketed as 'original'-it's simply awful... Paddington bear was reared in an unpretentious North London suburb in post-war London-in thoise days, going 'up West' to see the Christmas lights was a treat. Why should elevenses with Mr Gruber feature in a modern world-why should Paddington's gentle jousting with Mr Curry figure at all?.. Why was this whole scenario not set in 1950's post-austerity London?.. The whole thing is a mess, and best avoided... I shall now make myself a flask of cocoa, some marmalade sandwiches, retire to the log burner with a collection of Paddington's best, and laugh myself silly... I know Michael Bond was involved with this production, but he should have run away-much better, for younger viewers, is the BBC series with Michael Horden... They captured the whole ethos of the original stories... This is just a mess.

Further Back in Time for Dinner
(2017)

Irritating beyond belief!..
Having missed the first episode (1900-1909) of this series the last time it was shown, I sat down this evening to watch and criticize, and shall amend my previous review as appropriate...

Firstly, I wondered whether the BBC had actually consulted any real social historians (Polly Russell doesn't count, as evinced by her inability to translate Brandon's Edwardian wage into today's money-if the family were living on the equivalent of £20,000 p.a., they would certainly not have counted as middle class-see below) prior to the setup-the family is consistently referred to (not least by themselves) as 'middle-class', with the husband earning £500 p.a. (approx. £40,000 today) 'in business (clerking in the City-incidentally, when I started working in the City, in the late 1980's, I regularly lunched in chophouses, my favourite-and the priciest-being 'Simpsons in the City', now re-named 'Simpsons Tavern', and still going strong on Cornhill-unfortunately, it is no longer a male-only environment))', yet they live in a small semi-detached house, and only employ a maid-of-all-works. They would certainly have been at the bottom end of the spectrum. If Brandon was employed as a banking clerk, or similar, he would not have employed a live-in maid, but a 'daily', and his wife would have done all the cooking (although not the washing up, nor the waiting-at-table), and if they were genuinely middle-class, they would have lived in a larger property, which would have required further staff. At one point in this episode, the family sat down to a midweek five-course meal, including tinned soup, wood-pigeon and mutton... This would simply not have happened in such a household as this...

Glossing over the atrocious accents and (mis)use of language, all five family members (and Debbie, the maid) appeared to be dressed beautifully, and this rather suited the two daughters, who looked most fetching without makeup, but none of the women (apart from Debbie) seem to have the slightest idea what to do with their hair-the mother (Rochelle) always looked like she'd been dragged backwards through a hedge-a lady of this period would never have dreamed of leaving the house in such disarray, nor discussing her misgivings over rationing with her local grocer (he was in 'trade', and consequently of lower social standing).

Father and son (who has the only remotely authentic accent, although his vocabulary was rotten, and he suffers from the modern misconception that 'can' and 'may' are interchangeable... 'Can I-?..', 'Yes, you can, but you may not') both seemed to embrace the experiment fully, and both convey the impression that they were rather enjoying themselves. Not so much interaction from the daughters, but the mother never stopped bleating and complaining-and this was before she lost her maid to the Women's Land Army, and had to take over cooking duties herself-her family would have starved-she had absolutely no idea what she was doing (paper bags catching fire in an oven-Good Lord, what a surprise!) Somebody elsewhere has speculated that this family lived on takeaway food beforehand...

On the whole, the costumes and props are good, Brandon, Fred, Rosalind and Miranda all look fine (in fact Brandon seemed rather taken with wearing a hat), although it's quite obvious the ladies had no idea how to move in long skirts, but again, their mother let them down-far too much makeup, and whatever she wears, she always looks like a bag lady...

I know that this is a lightweight entertainment, but they could have done so much more with it-table manners during the 'Last Hurrah' supper were disgraceful-did no-one think to tell them how to eat soup correctly, and not to talk with their mouths full?.. Rochelle was even incapable of pouring out a cup of tea without making a mess of it-and did nobody think to tell her that you never hold the tea strainer above the teacup, and pour from the pot one-handed?.. Extremely bad manners... These are basics, and the two presenters, Giles Coren (whom I find incredibly irritating-doesn't he ever shave?), and Polly Russell ought both to know better.

They also rather missed the target with the whole Suffragette thing-this was not a petty trifle to discuss over tea, with an amusingly named board game to follow, but rather a serious social movement-as hostess, if Rochelle decided to wear a sash (even if only indoors), she would have had far more opinionated views-remember, neither her husband, nor her son were present...

So to sum up, the only real saving grace in this dog's breakfast, was the maid-of-all works, Debbie, who has now left the project. Better dressed, and better presented than her employer, ineffably cheerful, despite the back-breaking work schedule, and long hours, she simply tackled all tasks presented to her with an infectious enthusiasm... I wish her well in her new post-WWI career, whatever that might be...

All in all, a rather inconsequential programme, which, with better research, and more commitment, could have been so much better...

Three Men in a Boat
(1956)

The Spirit was Willing...
Having read most of the other reviews, I do feel that most of the reviewers have missed the point. I seem to be the only person here who's actually read the book (and it's sequel, Three Men on the Bummel), and would suggest that, although the film doesn't follow the book to a 'T' (but then, what film adaptation ever does), it does capture the flavour of JKJ's work-in fact, the opening sequence, the lock sequence and the pineapple chunks sequence are taken almost word-for-word... The setting has been moved forward 30 years or so (the book was published in 1889), and some artistic licence has been taken, but it's all done in good fun-and might entice some people to actually read it... The costumes are fantastic, the girls are wonderful, and , all in all, I should suggest this is well worth a watch on a wet Sunday afternoon... BTW, was Jimmy Edwards born with that moustache?..

The Maze Runner
(2014)

Boring, predictable, formulaic, juvenile nonsense
This will probably be the shortest review I shall ever write... I can't think what made me watch this last night, but I know if I don't review it right now, it will fade completely from my memory (not a bad thing), as it has, quite simply, not a single thing to recommend it (it's not even so bad it's good)... I only hope I remember not to watch the next instalment (yes, as has been mentioned by other reviewers, this is the first in a trilogy-Hollywood's latest ploy in parting you from as much money as possible-subdividing stories that have simple plots that could be dealt with quickly and efficiently, into several movies that contain mainly filler, irrelevant subplots, and, especially in this case, pages of utterly inane and pointless dialogue)...

This is obviously taking advantage of the success of the 'Mockingjay' series, but has none of the quality of cast, spectacle, decent effects, nor dark, serious back-plot of those films... Bad as they were, they were all infinitely better than this...

Every actor was awful (where did they find them), even the usually reliable Patricia Clarkson, who makes a brief appearance at the end, and whom I re-saw recently in 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'-she should be ashamed of herself for 'phoning in her performance, but it at least illustrates the point that the blame for this travesty should lie squarely on the shoulders of the director, Wes Ball. Most of his work has been in TV, and I suggest he returns there, where he can do less damage... The SFX were so-so, some of them shown on such a dark screen it was difficult to make anything out... In an age of CGI, it's hard to make a mess of this aspect of film-making, and yet this crew succeeded...

But the 'plot', that's my main gripe-it just made no sense whatsoever-riddles with holes and illogicities-too many to list here-a group of boys, in an isolated community, would not simply turn to farming the land and following rules set down arbitrarily by one of their number-they would constantly squabble, argue and fight for supremacy and their own point of view-form gangs and alliances, question anybody's right to command, lie, steal and cheat-remember 'Lord of the Flies', or the feral tribe of children in 'Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome'?.. Or even, dare I mention it the Hunger Games themselves?.. They smacked of the truth-this is just a modern-day piece of PC propaganda (let's get along and love each other-only not in the physical sense, because...)-I know it was written for the teenage/young adult market, but it's just so out of kilter, it felt awkward-or did for some of the time, because I fell asleep for 20 mins., woke up, and realized I hadn't missed a single thing... Says it all.really...

So, rather than watch this steaming pile of ordure, or either of its sequels, turn off the TV and watch some paint drying instead-you'll find it more entertaining and less frustrating, and you can thank me later...

Wasn't so short after all...

White Gold
(2017)

Do you honestly think this is funny?..
Is this really what the BBC think is 'funny'?.. For a start it relies on multi-episode plots to keep us hanging on-well, that's a juvenile idea that went out with the ark, so no points there… I'll start with the good points-…… Oh, that's right, there are none… Two mediocre actors, Joe Thomas and James Buckley, who made their names and fortune in "The Inbetweeners" have been reunited , and seem to be re-playing their characters-same vocabulary, same body language, same facial expressions- and we are supposed to bow down and pray-well here's the bad news chaps-without Simon Bird, and Blake Harrison, you were, and still are-mediocre at best... Ed Wetswick is impressive, but the material he's working with is so paper-thin, and his character is so two-dimensional, even he struggles...

This is a silly story set in the 1980's (and therefore we're supposed to put up with a rake of ridiculous period gags) based loosely around a firm pressure-selling highly-commissioned double-glazing… Sounds like it could be promising?.. Well, it isn't. The humour relies almost exclusively on endless streams of expletives from all characters-it's about as funny as a slow colonoscopy (a new operation available on the NHS in the 1980's)… The characters dress wrongly, look wrong, and sound wrong-I know this was the decade that time forgot, but really… Although Damon Beesley is credited with the character creation and most of the writing, Joe Thomas is also credited as an occasional writer, and may have contributed even more. This would explain a lot, as he was only born in 1983 (the year in which this travesty is set), so his experience of that decade is all second-hand…

Everything is OTT, and seriously clichéd… This is bargain-basement cheap crap-BBC3 (and that's why they lost the franchise) showing on BBC2-having wasted an inordinate amount (yet again) of licence payers' money, I can only hope the BBC do not recommission a new series… One lives in hope…

I enjoyed the soundtrack though...

De behandeling
(2014)

Ils sont comment, les Flamands?..
I thought this was a stunning film. Harrowing, yet compelling, I remained riveted throughout. I thought the photography was wonderfully tight and claustrophobic, the acting superb, and I'm really glad they stuck to scripting it in Flemish. As a former long-term resident of Brussels, I can assure you that not only do most Belgians speak both French (Walloons) and Dutch (Flemish), but almost all have some English as well-in fact it's difficult to find a Bruxellois who doesn't speak English these days-although I know this was set in Antwerp-so they would have been perfectly justified in scripting it in English, but using Flemish (and didn't they switch wonderfully between Flemish and French-very real) gave it a wonderfully authentic feel.

There were some sketchy points-how does a cop throwing constant temper tantrums get to be such a senior officer?.. How did a blimp like Claeren get Robin up that tree while he was unconscious?.. Why did Steffi (Joff's mother) use her bra's underwire to dig through the floor instead of working on her handcuff's lock?.. There were some obvious deviations from correct police procedure, particularly forensic procedure… And finally, why did Danni, an even more senior (and therefore valuable) officer than Nick, join him on SaR, putting herself in extreme jeopardy?.. This would just never happen-yes, I know Tennison does it in Prime Suspect, but she's working in England, predominantly a gun-free zone. Danni works in Belgium, one of the most prolific small-arms trading countries in the world-it's always been easy to get hold of a gun there-and she's just too valuable… Never mind, put these nit-pickings to one side, and what you have is a fascinating forensic foray into a very disturbing 'grey' world that we all know is out there, yet are reluctant to admit to, let alone talk about… Not to be missed… It's a shame that most people will pass it by simply because it's a subtitled film-their loss… And just in case you're wondering, I don't speak Flemish, but French, so I had to follow the subtitles as well…

I did feel sorry for Tara though

King Charles III
(2017)

Finally-a return to form for the BBC
A bit of a curate's egg, this one… Some wonderful acting from an especially well selected cast, who had all obviously studied their respective characters carefully, as was evidenced by some particularly effective body language and posture, and, in some cases even looked rather uncannily like their personas-particularly worthy of mention were the wonderful late Tim Pigott-Smith (who will be sadly missed), in the eponymous lead, and, in a much lesser role, Margot Leicester as Camilla. I felt Charlotte Riley (Kate) was rather over-egging the pudding at times, presumably to illustrate her overarching ambition, but Richard Goulding, as Harry, was simply wonderful, and eerily familiar… I shall gloss over the plot, as it's difficult to criticize without giving too much away, but, although somewhat 'dumbed-down', as is today's fashion, it was probably the most cerebrally challenging new drama I've seen in quite some time-lots of food for thought, and 'what if's?'… Well filmed, although this wasn't really too difficult, as most of the shots were interior, and beautifully dressed, this was a good return to form for the beleaguered BBC, which begs the question-why bury it in the midweek schedule, on BBC2?..

I do have some criticisms, however-my perennial complaint about diction and vocabulary (with the exception of TP-S), a few foolish throw-away lines (the Duchess of Cornwall telling the Duchess of Cambridge that 'we don't have a constitution'-well, actually, we do, it's just not a written constitution), and some procedural errors: although Charles would be referred to 'His Majesty' by courtesy immediately upon the death of his mother, his son would need to be invested as the Prince of Wales, and would not, therefore, refer to himself as such until then, nor would he be addressed as 'His Royal Highness' until after his father had been crowned (you can see why they were simply credited as 'Charles' and 'William')-I thought the inclusion of a ghost was juvenile and preposterous-a silly device to allow the author (Mike Bartlett) to hammer home the characters' thoughts- but these are mere semantics… On the whole, it was a well thought-out and well written piece-perhaps a little clumsy and obvious in places, but most enjoyable nonetheless… If you missed it, I should recommend catching-up as soon as possible-don't be put off by the fact that it's written in blank verse-Shakespeare it ain't, believe me, and the rather peculiar mix of flowery prose and C21 slang is initially rather grating on the ear, but as the play progresses, you soon learn to ignore it. Enjoy it as it is, if only as this was T P-S's last performance…

Oh, and I thought Tamara Lawrance was simply delicious

Ash Wednesday
(2002)

Could have been half-decent...
I first watched this a number of years ago, stumbling in from the pub after a few too many, and I seem to recall rather enjoying it. As is often the case however, on re-viewing it a second time, stone cold sober, I've completely changed my mind…

First, let's talk about the good things. The photography was excellent, the direction was good, and the casting was inspired in some cases: Malachi McCourt (younger brother of Frank McCourt, of Angela's Ashes fame) as Whitey, and James Handy as the parish priest were both noteworthy, in relatively small parts, but that same casting was monumentally awful in the case of Elijah Wood… If ever an actor was born not to play his part, he is that man… This was even worse than his miscast in 'Green Street', which was so bad it was almost watchable… I thought Rosario Dawson was good in a diluted, under-used sort of way, and looked most delicious in heavy makeup (this is set in the early 80's, remember), and even the man himself, Edward Byrne was believable in places (BTW, note to others-always refer to him as 'Edward'-Ed Byrne is an Irish comedian, which when reviewing this film could get very confusing)… The only really obvious fault here was the woeful waste of Oliver Platt-if you can book talent like him, then you really should use him!..

I had no problem with the linearity of the plot-after all, the whole film takes place over less than 24 hours, so keeping it simple was probably the best thing to do-and if you watched shaking your head in disbelief at the asinine stupidity of some of the characters, watch 'State of Grace'-an infinitely better film, also set in the criminal underbelly of Hell's Kitchen, the consensus is that these are stupid people doing stupid things…

Now the bad bit-and it's simply so bad it lets down the whole film, taking it from what could have been a decent pot-boiler into a risible farce-it's the dialogue-Edward Byrne is credited as the only writer, and it soon becomes obvious that this is simply not his field. The whole film sounds like it's been written by a 12 year-old… I know these are supposed to be 'stupid Mick immigrants of different generations', but really-people (adult people) just don't talk like that!.. It's not the swearing (although God knows, there's enough of it), it's the complete lack of subtlety, double-entendres, jokes & banter-all the things that make up daily conversations… When it's missing, you really notice it… The only really believable conversations are those that Pat McNamara (the barman, Murph) has with his customers-and those may seem more realistic simply because they were ad-libbed… Michael Leydon Campbell as Jimmy Burke was funny, but his were just comments and interjections-no-one really engaged with him… The rest is just too awful for words (pun intended)… And this makes the thing difficult to watch-you'll end up shouting at the screen , losing your temper, and not enjoying the film… It's a shame, because it should have been such an easy thing to fix…

So, I'm afraid my advice is this… If you see 'Ash Wednesday' advertised in your listings, and you've never seen it-give it a go by all means, but don't say I didn't warn you-personally, I'll be watching 'State of Grace' or 'Road to Perdition' instead

Back in Time for Dinner
(2015)

Irritating beyond belief!..
Having missed the first episode (1900-1909) of this series the last time it was shown, I sat down this evening to watch and criticize, and shall amend my previous review as appropriate...

Firstly, I wondered whether the BBC had actually consulted any real social historians (Polly Russell doesn't count, as evinced by her inability to translate Brandon's Edwardian wage into today's money-if the family were living on the equivalent of £20,000 p.a., they would certainly not have counted as middle class-see below) prior to the setup-the family is consistently referred to (not least by themselves) as 'middle-class', with the husband earning £500 p.a. (approx. £40,000 today) 'in business (clerking in the City-incidentally, when I started working in the City, in the late 1980's, I regularly lunched in chophouses, my favourite-and the priciest-being 'Simpsons in the City', now re-named 'Simpsons Tavern', and still going strong on Cornhill-unfortunately, it is no longer a male-only environment))', yet they live in a small semi-detached house, and only employ a maid-of-all-works. They would certainly have been at the bottom end of the spectrum. If Brandon was employed as a banking clerk, or similar, he would not have employed a live-in maid, but a 'daily', and his wife would have done all the cooking (although not the washing up, nor the waiting-at-table), and if they were genuinely middle-class, they would have lived in a larger property, which would have required further staff. At one point in this episode, the family sat down to a midweek five-course meal, including tinned soup, wood-pigeon and mutton... This would simply not have happened in such a household as this...

Glossing over the atrocious accents and (mis)use of language, all five family members (and Debbie, the maid) appeared to be dressed beautifully, and this rather suited the two daughters, who looked most fetching without makeup, but none of the women (apart from Debbie) seem to have the slightest idea what to do with their hair-the mother (Rochelle) always looked like she'd been dragged backwards through a hedge-a lady of this period would never have dreamed of leaving the house in such disarray, nor discussing her misgivings over rationing with her local grocer (he was in 'trade', and consequently of lower social standing).

Father and son (who has the only remotely authentic accent, although his vocabulary was rotten, and he suffers from the modern misconception that 'can' and 'may' are interchangeable... 'Can I-?..', 'Yes, you can, but you may not') both seemed to embrace the experiment fully, and both convey the impression that they were rather enjoying themselves. Not so much interaction from the daughters, but the mother never stopped bleating and complaining-and this was before she lost her maid to the Women's Land Army, and had to take over cooking duties herself-her family would have starved-she had absolutely no idea what she was doing (paper bags catching fire in an oven-Good Lord, what a surprise!) Somebody elsewhere has speculated that this family lived on takeaway food beforehand...

On the whole, the costumes and props are good, Brandon, Fred, Rosalind and Miranda all look fine (in fact Brandon seemed rather taken with wearing a hat), although it's quite obvious the ladies had no idea how to move in long skirts, but again, their mother let them down-far too much makeup, and whatever she wears, she always looks like a bag lady...

I know that this is a lightweight entertainment, but they could have done so much more with it-table manners during the 'Last Hurrah' supper were disgraceful-did no-one think to tell them how to eat soup correctly, and not to talk with their mouths full?.. Rochelle was even incapable of pouring out a cup of tea without making a mess of it-and did nobody think to tell her that you never hold the tea strainer above the teacup, and pour from the pot one-handed?.. Extremely bad manners... These are basics, and the two presenters, Giles Coren (whom I find incredibly irritating-doesn't he ever shave?), and Polly Russell ought both to know better.

They also rather missed the target with the whole Suffragette thing-this was not a petty trifle to discuss over tea, with an amusingly named board game to follow, but rather a serious social movement-as hostess, if Rochelle decided to wear a sash (even if only indoors), she would have had far more opinionated views-remember, neither her husband, nor her son were present...

So to sum up, the only real saving grace in this dog's breakfast, was the maid-of-all works, Debbie, who has now left the project. Better dressed, and better presented than her employer, ineffably cheerful, despite the back-breaking work schedule, and long hours, she simply tackled all tasks presented to her with an infectious enthusiasm... I wish her well in her new post-WWI career, whatever that might be...

All in all, a rather inconsequential programme, which, with better research, and more commitment, could have been so much better...

Finding Neverland
(2004)

Real Magic...
How did this sneak under my radar?.. A wonderful film-ideally suited for a wet Sunday afternoon-warm and tender, but bitter-sweet, melancholic, and even bleak in places... A marvellous tour-de-force performance from Johnny Depp (he's never been better)-some might say he is a little young (the author/playwright was 44 years old when his play was first staged), but Barrie was an innocent, and always young-at-heart... Perhaps his trademark soup-strainer might have given Depp more gravitas... And with a wonderfully understated yet convincing Scottish accent as well (Hollywood, take note), Depp once again proves himself to be simply the best young leading man Hollywood has to offer-in fact, we're also treated to what I believe to be a prototype Jack Sparrow, as, although this was released after 'Pirates of the Caribbean', it was filmed before... He is ably supported by Kate Winslet, although I do think she could have worked harder on her diction, and a simply delicious turn from the delectable Julie Christie as the ogre-in-waiting, and the implied inspiration for the future Captain Hook.

Much like when reading the book that Barrie wrote after his play's success, 'Wendy and Peter' (and even it's woeful sequel, 'Peter Pan in Scarlet'), this is a work best enjoyed by suspending one's disbelief. The film is punctuated by imaginary vignettes, which would eventually coalesce into the play 'Peter Pan, or, The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up'. It's a fascinating re-thinking of exactly how Barrie's Chef d'Oeuvre came to be, albeit with some tactical artistic interpretation of dates and facts (there were no 25 orphans attending the premiere, but it still raised a lump to my throat). The four brothers (Freddie Highmore, Joe Prospero, Nick Roud and Luke Spill) all excel-their delivery can be stilted at times, but Highmore, particularly, is a revelation. Dustin Hoffman, effectively in a cameo role as Barrie's American backer, Charles Frohman, breezes through his performance in true veteran style, never breaking sweat, but I felt the ensemble cast was rather let down by Radha Mitchell, playing Mary Ansell, Barrie's wife-no engagement there at all... The supporting cast is sprinkled with familiar faces, all clearly enjoying themselves, the set-dressing, costumes and attention to detail all superb ...

So, altogether a magical film about a magical summer leading to the creation of a magical play (and book), which is still delighting audiences to this day. I was gladdened to read "with enormous gratitude to GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN" (who, of course, still own the rights), in the credits, and hope they benefited hugely from this film.

Settle down with your children and grandchildren, a soothing drink, and a fire in the grate-for children from five to 95... Enjoy!..

Apple Tree Yard
(2017)

Speed it up!..
It's difficult to comment and criticize specific issues without giving too much away-I shall edit and add additional material as the drama unfolds...

I'm rather a fan of slow-burners-I certainly prefer them to the usual juvenile offerings of whizz-bangs, pointless shouty-shouty arguments and endless car chases which seem to permeate everything these days, but I think the BBC have taken things rather to the extreme this time. Sunday night dramas are not really my cup of tea, but after hearing an interview on the wireless with both Emily Watson (who sadly seems to have fallen off the radar in recent years-I loved her in Gosford Park), and Ben Chaplin (a woefully underused actor IMHO), I thought 'why not?'..

Our story opens with Dr Yvonne Carmichael viewed through the window of a prison service transport (a goof, actually, but an understandable one-all windows in these vans have one-way, not two-way glass), staring at the Thames, and reminiscing and ruminating over the course of her life, and the events of the last nine months. Then a segue to her earlier interrogation by a Select Commons Committee (and we discover she's done this before) tells us she is a highly educated professional, and considered an expert in her field, which makes the story that subsequently unfolds all the more difficult to swallow. Yes, I agree with the basic premise that life doesn't end at 50, nor do a woman's sexual urges automatically switch off, but it's difficult to match this sudden outpouring of reckless passion with Watson's otherwise virtually deadpan performance-another character comments later in the episode that she looked like the cat that got the cream (I'm paraphrasing), but I could see no change in her demeanour, indeed, when she suspects her husband (another fine workmanlike performance from Mark Bonnar-shame we never get to see him on the big screen) of past infidelity, and challenges him on the subject, she might just as well have been discussing the shopping list. The only time she evinced any emotion (other than with The Stranger), was in relating the proposition put to her by one of her graduate students, and that was quickly stifled... This contributes to a complete lack of empathy and engagement with her character. Although we know virtually nothing about The Stranger (Ben Chapman), his is by far the more sympathetic role, admitting to his foibles, effortlessly charming, and as excited to embark on a new adventure as a small child...

I think the problem here is poor direction. I'm not familiar with Jessica Hobbs' work (see above), but she seems to be directing by the numbers here, and rather sketchily at that. We know that the two main characters are played by very able actors, and I've no doubt that the source material is top-notch, but in the modern tradition, this mini-series has been stretched to cover four hour-long episodes, by introducing too much 'filler', and lots of staring-into-the-middle-distance, which is supposed to convey deep, meaningful thinking (and fails), when it would have been far better to smarten up the pace, and reduce the running time.

I'm no prude, by any means, but I fail to see why modern dramas rely so heavily on salaciously suggestive detail (without actually revealing anything), and deliberately shocking language, while ignoring plot and character development. In this case, granted, it's intrinsic to the setup to keep details of The Stranger to a minimum, especially as the drama is told from Carmichael's POV, and we do learn something of Yvonne's home life (she's soon to become a grandmother), but cannot see the benefit of delivering such lines as 'you're ****ing a spook'-this from a professional expert addressed earlier as 'professor'-it might also be pointed out here that Carmichael's explanation of the known functions of, breakdown and distribution of human genetic material would not have passed muster in a GCSE examination-I know she was interpreting to a non-expert, but as a leading academic in her field, this just didn't work.

This first episode ended after a shockingly brutal attack (more evidence that this is definitely presented from the female perspective-by no means a bad thing), and, rather in the 'Saturday Morning Pictures' tradition, left us on a cliff-edge, ready for the next instalment. It is reasonably well-written, beautifully photographed (London never looked so grey, and yet so enticing at the same time), but it desperately needs to go up a gear, or risk losing its audience. Let's see what happens next week-watch this space...

Reasonable Doubt
(2014)

Lazy, full of holes, and unbelievable
Hmmm... I know it's only 81 Min's long, but it's really hard to keep your brain turned off for all that time when something this trite and just plain lazy is offered up. I shan't review the plot (such as it is-I got the impression it was scribbled down on a cigarette packet after a night of heavy drinking, and never redrafted afterwards), because it's already been exhaustively picked apart elsewhere.

What really struck me about this offering was the total lack of engagement and empathy for any of the characters. Mitch Brockden (Dominic Cooper) is characterless and colourless, a devoted family man who thinks nothing of jeopardizing that family's future and well-being by his rash actions, a career attorney and putative politician who risks all by such awful courtroom etiquette that he exposes himself to possible disbarment, and then gambles it all yet again with illegal, unauthorized independent action. Samuel L. Jackson (Clinton Davis) just wires in his performance by the numbers-he seems to have lost his quality control radar, and is now appearing in any old rubbish. The only other cast member worth mentioning is Gloria Reuben, as the leading Homicide Detective, but even her performance is nothing better than you'd see on any 60 minute detective show on network TV, and many of those are far better... The film is full of superfluous and overused clichés (how many more times are we going to see a protagonist try and use a cellphone that has no signal), and riddled with inconsistencies and 'plot holes' (see elsewhere). There also appear to be key scenes that have been either edited out, or deleted, leaving the viewer bemused.

All in all a classic illustration of how not to make a movie. Either pare the plot down slightly and use it in an hour-long TV show, or rewrite the whole thing THINKING about the plot, and making it at least remotely believable. Lazy, inconsistent, ill thought-out, badly cast, and completely unbelievable.

Morgana Robinson's the Agency
(2016)

Take this rubbish off the air at once!
Well, she's back (not that I was subjected to this torture the first time around), and, it would seem, worse than ever!.. Morgana Robinson's The Agency just finished (thank God) on BBC2. Another series of skits and sketches featuring characters mainly appealing to the flotsam and jetsam who consider the Sun or, more likely, the Daily Mail a cracking good read... Who commissions this drivel (I know who pays for it-we do)?.. I'd hoped with the demise of BBC3 that we'd seen the last of this sort of puerile rubbish, but unfortunately not-and once they've commissioned it, do these brain-dead idiots ever actually watch the finished product, as they expect their audience to do?.. She's supposed to be an impressionist, but neither sounds nor looks like any of the characters she assassinates-Danny Dyer, Adele, Mel & Sue, Joanna Lumley (absolute sacrilege), Miranda Hart and Cheryl Cole are only identifiable through the props, costumes, dialogue references and accents (not voices) used, and I only recognized Natalie Cassidy because her 'father' named her (she's just Adele with a different wig)... There were a slew of other characters that were a complete mystery to me, although I think she may still be doing her Fearne Cotton impression-which says it all really-she's not moved on in six years... Others have called her 'supremely talented' and 'one of the best mimics today', well all I can say is you must all be blind and deaf-as a comic actress she may have some potential (emphasis on the some), she did raise some wry smiles in Vic & Bob's 'House of Fools', but as an impersonator, I could do better myself... She's also credited as a writer on this show, which classically illustrates her utter lack of talent (Vic and Bob can write, hence my earlier comment), but also reveals, rather worryingly, a complete lack of supervisory control at the production company-it's not as if she's a well-established megastar with a diva complex to match, so why was she (obviously) allowed editorial control?.. Take her off air at once and bring back somebody who can actually do the job-even Catherine Tate is better than this brand of stool-water...

Are You Being Served?
(2016)

The creature from the black lagoon rises again!..
I was never a great fan of the original series, finding it puerile, crass, and just plain silly. I fail to understand what the BBC are trying to achieve here-if one is a fan of the original, one would watch the original-this is never going to grab a new audience's attention, because it's simply too awful for words... Matthew Horne proves (once again) that he just cannot act, and that Gavin and Stacey was a fluke, Jason Watkins as Mr Humphries does such an awful impression that any first-former could do better, Niky Wardley (Miss Brahms) isn't nearly pretty nor slutty enough, Sherrie Hewson (Mrs Slocombe) needs to learn that one scowling expression does not a lexicon make... And so on... The only glimpses of salvation are John Challis as Captain Peacock, who at least has a vague idea of comic timing, ditto Roy Barraclough (Mr Grainger) and Arthur Smith as Mr Harman (not surprising, given his pedigree)... Justin Edwards needs to learn that simply putting on a bald wig won't turn him into Nicholas Smith, who was genuinely follicly challenged, not simply (not) wearing it for a bet...The 'new' member of staff, Mr Conway (Kayode Ewumi) seemed to realize his feeder lines were long past their best in 1988!.. And finally, when will commissioning editors learn that canned laughter has a dilatory effect on the audience at home-this really did die a death in 1988.. It sounds like what it is, a travesty of an attempt to revive a long-dead corpse of a comedy that should have been buried decades ago... It's revival is merely symptomatic of the ailment that dogs the BBC-desperate, and bereft of any new ideas, and a complete lack of confidence in showing the originals -unlike BBC2 which is quite happy, and earns good viewing figures by doing so... Dad's Army, Open All Hours (the original), and Porridge all see respectable numbers on their umpteenth re-run attempts... But the real victim here is 'new' comedy... The BBC proved that BBC3 couldn't survive, because its writers were so universally awful, and seems now determined to shoot its flagship channel in the foot by offering this drivel for prime-time viewing... This is part of the BBC's 'Landmark Comedy Sitcom' season (although Gawd knows why-this was super-dated when it originally aired, in 1972)-we next move on to 'Porridge'-Lawd knows what a mess they've made of that... How could it ever work without Ronnie Barker?..

Jadoo
(2013)

Bahut khubas!.. (mild spoilers)
What a wonderful, sweet little film!.. I think another reviewer on here has rather missed the point-and I completely disagree about the quality of acting-we all know what will eventually happen, but it shouldn't stop us enjoying the journey getting there... I shall gloss over the plot: two brothers fall out, split their mother's cookbook into two halves-starters and main courses-and open their own rival restaurants. The daughter/niece resolves to heal their 10-year rift upon her engagement, and get them both to her wedding... As much as anything else, this is pure food porn, with countless mouthwatering dishes passing before our eyes... There is a climax, a twist and a reveal, but all ends up right in the end... I was drawn in from the first minute after seeing the beautiful Amara Karan on screen-she stole the show, but there were plenty of good performances, mainly by the Asian actors, although Tom Mison held his own. A good film to watch on a wet Sunday afternoon, especially if you can rustle up some daal and naan to eat while watching-this film will make you hungry!.. Interestingly, the Holi footage looked authentic, and although having subtitles may put off some viewers, stick with it-how many non-Indians speak Hindi, and it all adds to the authenticity!.. A surprise guest appearance from Madhur Jaffrey (a true goddess of sub-continental cooking-I own at least a dozen of her books myself), and another by Hardeep Singh Kohli made it even more fun. For those of you over the pond, this may go some way to explaining why Indian culture, especially food, is so deeply rooted in Britain (there is an Indian restaurant on every high street, in every village in the UK). This film was mainly set in Leicester, which I have never visited, but is home to the largest 'Indian' population in the UK. It now hosts the largest Diwali (Hindu festival of lights) celebration outside India herself. It's population can trace their ancestry back to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, but also, Kenya (my home), Uganda, South Africa and the Caribbean. This was a wonderful 'feel-good' movie (not least because of the food, but then I've been addicted to Indian food since I was three years old), and probably a great film to watch with friends while sharing food (and drink-remember Hindus and Sikhs both enjoy a tipple), but I have two questions for the producers: firstly, why was there not more fuss made over winning the 'Kings of Curry' competition?.. And, far more importantly, why did we not get to see the wedding which we all knew was coming?.. I was most disappointed... A 'Bollywood'-style musical ending would have been the cherry on the Peda!.. Oh, and I should add, I'm heading off to Leicester as soon as I can!..

Update: I have still not made it to Leicester, but have attempted some of the recipes in this film (the chicken and asparagus is wonderful)... I'd forgotten how beautiful Amara Khan was, despite seeing her in "The Darjeeling Limited", and enjoyed seeing (again) the passion that cooking can evolve... I am about to start cooking this week's daal... It will last from tomorrow (Monday) until Friday, and this is one of the films that made me experiment until I got the recipe perfect... Oh, and if you were wondering, I am white English/German, and my wife is Irish/Italian-not a drop of "Indian" blood between us...

Julius Caesar
(2002)

Inaccurate and unforgivably boring!..
I've read (and completely agree with) a number of other reviews posted, and while I understand some of the 'glossings-over' and amalgamations of facts that are often done in the name of simplification and popularization, this movie was so historically inaccurate as to make it laughable. I can't really see anybody sitting down to watch a three-hour biopic who hadn't already at least a passing knowledge of the subject, so wonder what demographic the producers were aiming at-it was always obvious that at least some of the dozens of mistakes were going to be pointed out... Although I've read elsewhere people criticizing the critics themselves by saying 'it's only a movie, and not a history lesson'-I disagree-the Romans were inveterate diarists and cataloguers, which is why we know so much of what happened during this period-It's true history is written by the victor, but there are so many contemporary sources to mine for facts that I can only assume the producers just couldn't be bothered... But my main gripe is that somehow this managed to contrive to be boring... It's a fascinating period of history, as any schoolboy will tell you, and yet the first hour seemed to drag and drag... In a period when murder was commonly used as a political tool, when great and wealthy individuals were willing and able to raise private armies to further their own wealth as well as enriching the republic, when political subterfuge and machination were commonplace, the first hour of this biopic was dry as dust... Endless conversations without any attempt to enlighten the viewer by clarifying the political situation. Due to budgetary constraints, only a single battle was shown in any detail (Alesia), but even that was unimpressive, as the relative numbers of Romans and Gaulish Celts were never shown, unforgivable in an age of CGI... So all in all, I've given this 3/10 for effort. It was a real opportunity wasted-thousands of amateur historians might well have been disappointed with this dull-as-ditchwater composition. To those, I recommend Adrian Goldsworthy's Caesar: Life of a Colossus... You won't be able to put it down!..

Cider with Rosie
(2015)

Halcyon days...
A truly magical production, enjoyed all the more for not being encumbered with an all-star cast (although Samantha Morton was rather wonderful as the author's mother, Annie, and Timothy Spall rolled his 'r's in an authentic Gloucestershire accent, narrating with excerpts taken directly from the book as the author himself).

The film was dotted with cameos, perhaps most notably Annette Crosbie as Granny Trill, and there are lots of recognizable faces, but the whole cast performed their tasks in an understated and businesslike fashion-a large cast, as the film dips in and out of different periods of the author's early life in a seemingly random fashion, reminiscent of the book upon which it was based.

Quite how the production team managed to return Slad (the actual village where Lee grew up) to its pre-war look, I have no idea, but it worked beautifully, and the English countryside never looked more alluring. When Lee published Cider With Rosie in 1959, he acknowledged that this world had already passed us by forever, so to re-create it for a Sunday night TV drama was no mean feat...

The costumes were right, the language was right-even the slang, and there was just the right amount of magic dust sprinkled throughout the whole film...

Cider With Rosie used to be part of every English schoolboy's literary canon, but has recently fallen out of favour. I hope there were enough English Literature teachers watching who remember how good & enjoyable a work this is, and will start setting it again as a required text. I know this was part of a short season of BBC modern literary dramatizations, but I hope that in this case, the BBC might consider commissioning an adaptation of the sequel, 'As I Stepped Out One Midsummer's Morning', which has been woefully neglected over the years...

All in all, a marvellous production, not to be missed-it has, in one stroke, re-established my faith in BBC drama... For those of you yet to see it-I'm jealous!..

The Scandalous Lady W
(2015)

Absolutely rotten!..
Well, there's a hour-and-a-half of my life I shan't get back!.. Simply awful-wooden acting (standing stiffly and looking vacantly into the middle distance does not give you poise-it merely looks like you're suffering from haemorrhoids) stilted dialogue (and the wrong language used, at that-I don't think I heard a single use of 'shall', 'should' or 'I am', but rather 'will', 'would' and I'm. People just didn't speak this way-let alone the glottal stop used instead of a final 't'...)-It might have helped if Shaun Evans hadn't grunted every line through his nose, or did he just have very bad cold during the whole shoot?.. At least Cpt Leversuch (Alex Beckett) and Mr Wallace (Craig Parkinson) managed to speak properly-the rest of the cast could do with a course of elocution lessons...

Too much makeup, bad costumes (this was 1782, not 1982-I half-expected Adam Ant to crawl ito view)... I suppose the set design was up to scratch, but the outdoor shoots were awful-this was not how pre-Regency London looked at all...

There was a time, you know, when the BBC could do this sort of thing standing on its head-now... Meh... Hallie Rubenhold, who co-wrote the screenplay, and wrote the book upon which it was based, calls herself a historian?.. Polite Society simply didn't behave like this in public-in private, behind closed doors, perhaps, but face and honour were all (see Lady Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron, who conducted a scurrilous affair in public 30 years later)... Lord Rochester had been dead for over one hundred years when these events occurred...

I've saved the worst for last-who, in (we assume) their right mind imagined that Natalie Dormer was right for this part?.. In addition to looking wrong, and dressing wrongly (see above), she was utterly incapable of delivering her lines without either a languid drawl, or a simper-I'm not sure which was worse... She wasn't even capable of walking properly in costume (see the final scene)!..

Oh, and one final thing, BBC, please stop showing British judges banging gavels in court!.. It has never happened, nor will it ever!..

I think we should demand our licence-payers' money back...

The White Countess
(2005)

A neglected gem-not to be missed!..
A truly awe-inspiring and ultimately heart-warming masterpiece. Ralph Fiennes manages the awkward task of passing himself off as blind (I'm sure there were blind actors out there who objected to his casting, but as the principal lynchpin around whom the ensemble moves, the casting of a true A-list was crucial)-I can't comment on his accent, being from the old country, but it sounded fair and true to me-Natasha Richardson shone as the eponymous Countess, while still maintaining a shabby gentility. The casting of the Redgrave sisters was a real coup, although, for once, Olga Belinskya (Lynn Redgrave) was the more leading role, with Vera Belinskya (Vanessa Redgrave) relegated to the lesser part, albeit with some of the best lines and pithy aphorisms. Hiroyuki Sanada, as the somewhat mysterious, and always alluring Matsuda, was particularly effective, using his paucity of screen-time to exceptionally good effect-his relationship with Jackson was intriguing, fascinating, and most illustrative.

As to be expected with Merchant-Ivory, this was a lavish production, with wonderful attention to detail (witness Jackson's driver knocking the inside of the open car door to give his master a sound bearing, then placing his hand on the top of the doorframe, to prevent him from hitting his head-just one example, never commented on, but carefully thought-out). The sets were sumptuous, the effects were effulgent (creating a pre-war Shanghai cannot have been easy-and where did all those period trams come from?) the costumes copious, notwithstanding the need, sometimes, for faded fanfare (at one point, the Countess is threatened with losing her job if she doesn't turn up for work wearing a different dress, and is accused of looking 'shabby')... The language and use of languages (English, French-which all kulturny White Russians spoke as a matter of course-Russian, Mandarin, Japanese) might have been baffling, but it was thoughtfully weighted, and we were led by the hand through the politics of the day (I know little of this period-the increasing hostilities from 1932 between Japan and pre-PRC China, culminating in the Sino-Japanese war, but this film has done what it should, and made me want to discover more) the industry has neglected this era-the only other film I can think of is Empire of the Sun-but Ishiguro's script clearly explained the facts, without ever stooping to condescension...

Although there were plenty of SFX, particularly in the closing sequence, this was a subtle, gentle narration of a complicated and conclusively inspiring personal story of huge loss and subsequent gain by the main protagonists. It might seem to pall in places, but I like long films, and to edit it further would, I feel, make the drama seem rushed and cheapened. Do not, however, expect whizz-bangs and whoopee-it's just not that sort of film. Rather, enjoy two masters at the top of their game, showing their consummate skill in drawing a rich picture of days gone by-not to be missed!..

First Light
(2010)

"Must try harder"...
I wasn't really taken with this-we've seen it all before, done better elsewhere, when the vintage aircraft necessary to put the flying sequences together weren't quite so scarce (or valuable), and there was less reliance on SFX-the world has become a poorer place since the introduction of CGI. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what was missing from this production. The lead character, while not simply two-dimensional, gave nothing to quicken the blood. Even the 'scramble' scenes seemed slow and plodding, as though the actors were simply doing it by the numbers. Some of the action footage was unforgivably bad (as has been pointed out elsewhere, some of it was pinched from other films), and there was little in the way of back-story or characterization. The film wasn't improved by punctuation from the (fictional) lead character as an old man, analyzing his attitudes and feelings at the time... It was rather as though the cast felt as exhausted and bone-weary as the boys felt in 1941...All in all, I should say turn off the TV, and enjoy a good book like 'Sigh for a Merlin', or, re-watch one of the classics like "Battle of Britain" or even "633 Squadron", which convey that sense of urgency and derring-do far more convincingly-one last thing, another reviewer here has questioned whether the sound footage was really the real McCoy: I concur, a Merlin has a much denser, richer, raucous sound-these were obviously piston engines, possibly Merlin Is, but more likely Kestrels or Goshawks.

A Song for Jenny
(2015)

"Must try harder"...
To be honest, I struggled to get through this. I watched it almost out of a sense of duty, as I was a distant acquaintance of one of the victims of 7/7 (not Jenny Nicholson). The BBC usually handles this sort of thing rather well (they certainly assembled a decent cast), but not in this case. The whole thing was ponderous and ham-fisted, full of pregnant pauses and awkward silences (this is what passes for dramatic tension in our modern world). The lead character came out with portentous statements such as "these are my daughter's Stations of the Cross-I'm her mother-I shall be with her to the end", and "she didn't hate-nor must I", which hardly reconciled with her frustration with the authorities, and anger towards her daughter's murderer...

There was little in the way of character development, yet new additions were introduced all the time, leaving the audience to guess their relationship to the (not yet confirmed) deceased, and nothing to indicate the crisis of faith that the main character faced (she has since resigned her position as a C of E Parish Priest) in coming to terms with her dichotomy of conscience: her anger directed towards Mohammad Sidique Khan, the suicide bomber responsible for her daughter's death, and her duty of care and forgiveness as a priest.

The whole ensemble felt rushed, yet strangely drawn-out and impotent-it should have been explored in greater detail over a two-hour slot (after ten years, surely the BBC could have afforded to dedicate two hours on a Sunday night to the memory of these victims) instead of eighty minutes, and perhaps allocated some decent writers to the project-it felt like I was watching a screenplay written by pre-teens-they know they want to express the emotions of loss, anger, grief and resentment, but they don't really know how to it... I give it 6/10, with an exhortation to try harder next time!..

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