This is the latest original show from Netflix. Well when I say original I mean desperate to be the new Breaking Bad. With more than a little Justified thrown in for good measure.
Don’t let that put you off though — they are hardly bad influences and the cast led by Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are really very good. The writing, while occasionally a bit cliche ridden, also avoids the obvious outcomes on more than one occasion and the whole thing looks fantastic.
After the travesty that was Friends from College Netflix are back in my good books. Well worth a watch.
Last Chance U
I have never watched the Super Bowl or any full match of American ‘Football’ but I am endlessly fascinated with the culture and business of the game and particularly how it effects education in the US. Season one of this Netflix documentary was a real eye opener even with everything I’ve seen and read before and I’m not surprised it was a hit but I am surprised the school let the film makers back for season two!
The head coach, Buddy Stephens, still comes across as an appalling human being. Arrogant, self centred and bullying he seems to think his efforts not to swear have changed him into a better man. Brittany Wagner, the long suffering but caring academic counsellor for the players is still there trying to help but seems particularly battle weary this time around and to be honest few of the players featured really seem like they deserve her efforts. This group of players are significantly more flawed, self centred and, well, irritating than season one. They are also clearly even more talented.
It doesn’t feel as authentic as last time but it is still compelling viewing.
Top of the Lake
I’ve been so impressed with her performance in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ I decided to watch this series from a few years ago that also starred Zoe Bartlett (oops — I mean Elisabeth Moss.)
I really think the trailers and coverage of this show mis-sold it the first time around. I was left with the impression it was some quirky tale of hippy retreats in the New Zealand wilderness with a background story featuring a missing girl. When in fact it is an incredible, dark hard boiled detective story with some quirky asides. Moss is brilliant in it as are all the younger actors and again it looks amazing. It took me a while to realise that it is Queenstown and that I’ve actually been there.
Now I’m wondering whether to try, again, to watch Mad Men to continue the Moss marathon (and am really looking forward to watching the second season of Top of the Lake — which I must have sub-consciously realised was incoming but only really twigged this morning reading an interview with Jane Campion in the Observer!)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
This film was a total surprise to me. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a Tim Burton movie and everything about this screamed that it was going to be another two hour long mess of self indulgent moments. However the lack of Depp or Boham-Carter and the addition of Eva Green with Jane Goldman writing convinced me to give it a go.
I’m really glad I did. It is basically the best X-Men movie ever made — with ‘peculiars’ equaling ‘mutants’ and Miss Peregrine playing Professor X. It is still clearly a Burton movie but many of his excesses are kept in check and there is actually some story-telling and there are some amazing show pieces.
The current run of comics from DC based on the Hanna-Barbera cartoons are a mixed bag (at best). There have been some pretty odd interpretations (Wacky Races springs to mind) and some unnecessary updates (the real Scooby Doo where are you!) but the Flintstones manages to take risks, update things and be both respectful, modern, clever and fun. Plus the art is amazing.
Fred as a veteran with PTSD, charismatic, populist leaders creating chaos, religious intolerance — you name it, this book covers it. The amazing thing is it never stops being the Flintstones.
I know it is an odd choice but honestly read it. You won’t regret it.
Dizzee Rascal: Raskit
After years of topping up his bank accounts with pop hits Dizzee has decided to remind people he really shouldn’t be written off by the Grime hardcore.
This album is far from perfect (it comes across a bit bitter at times) but what it proves, if there was any doubt, is that he can really rap. I love the resurgence of British rap via Grime but when on form Dizzee tramples all over most of them when it comes to lyrics and delivery.