Just to show – it does go in ” if you are interested .
Thanks to Katie Maclean for this round up of what was on , what we shared , what we should watch before next time
What’s on? – December 2015
December. As the weather gets colder and the days darker, we all seem to have a bigger urge to sit in front of the telly with a cup of something warm and just watch something. To watch something engaging and thought provoking, something a bit different to our own usual “go to’s”. During the chilly and colourless winter months, we all want something that is, above all, entertaining.
At our Culture Club meeting at the end of the first week of December, we had a good chat about what’s been on all of our “to watch” lists.
First to start the ball rolling, Garth mentioned he had been wanting to watch a documentary about the artist Andy Warhol. Warhol was a pop artist, similar to Britain’s own David Hockney and coined the phrase ’15 minutes of fame’ when talking about one of his exhibitions in Stockholm, Sweden. We all agreed that we had only thought about Andy Warhol and his paintings in the passing, usually during second year art or when we see one his extremely famous Campbell soup paintings. Perhaps look into Warhol and his abstract, kitschy, New York City life if you are interested in the man behind the famous Marilyn Monroe portrait.
Another contemporary figure during this time in New York City was the writer Truman Capote, who wrote the novels Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood. A film about him to go on your watch list is definitely ‘Infamous’ where the English actor Toby Jones plays Capote. Jones is also currently staring in the BBC One drama Capital, which you can find on BBC iPlayer.
Garth also mentioned the British-Swiss children’s programme ‘Pingu’. This comedy employs stop motion animation, which is definitely popular coming up to Christmas with films like Wallace & Grommit and Chicken Run featured in the TV guide annually during the festive period.
Next up was Ruth who said she had been watching the Victorian drama Peaky Blinders on Netflix. The series is about gangsters in Birmingham (based on a real gang) and the actor Tom Hardy makes an appearance in series two. Hardy has just played both of the infamous Kray twins in the movie Legend which is in the cinema right now, also about crime in London and the relationship between the two brothers. Welsh actor Taron Egerton from the recent spy film Kingsman is in a supporting role in this movie too.
STV’s current series Jekyll and Hyde is based on the Victorian novel of the same name and is also set in London, although during the 1930s. It is available at 7 on a Sunday and previous episodes are available on STV Player.
The 2002 mini-series Tipping the Velvet tells a story of a lesbian love story during the Victorian era. This led to some chat about gay/lesbian sex scenes becoming the norm in society now and the similarly raunchy How to Get Away with Murder. This programme is available on Netflix and stars Viola Davis who you may know from the movie The Help. Nathan also mentioned a film focused on a gay character, which was the late Robin Williams’ last movie Boulevard where he plays a man who falls in love with a prostitute.
The Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance staring the fabulous Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard similarly follows a gay relationship. You will all definitely know him from the movie musical Mama Mia or the superhero action film Thor and possibly from things such as the new BBC detective drama River (a British attempt at a Skandi) and the Dutch director Lars von Treir’s film Nymphomaniac. One of his sons features in his movie Melancholia alongside Kristen Dunst and another in the great Netflix original Hemlock Grove – an interesting spin on the vampire/werewolf genre that has been done to death in the past few years). They are a massive Swedish family.
Next the Cirque de Soleil – very drama, had captivated one of us. The Canadian company is extremely cutthroat. The Making of Cirque De Soleil shows how unashamedly ruthless the company is and details how they settle for nothing less than perfect and train for hours upon hours on end to make their performances the absolute pinnacle of entertainment and skill. A show mentioned was ‘Metamorphoses’, originally a novel by Franz Kafka about a salesman who is transformed into a massive bug in his bedroom.
Erin said that she had been watching Pretty Little Liars – an American show available on Netflix that is aimed more towards teenaged girls (in the same vein as Gossip Girl and Scandal). We all agreed that Pretty Little Liars had become ‘Hollywood-ised’ over the seasons, much like Glee and Ugly Betty, and now the storyline, costumes, and relationships become too overly farfetched when you get past the first couple of seasons. Wearing ridiculously big high heels to school is a ‘Hollywoodism’ like coming out of swim practise with dry hair and a face full of makeup.
So why do shows, especially American ones, become too fake? We all agreed that is was a general societal problem. When we see an imperfection, however slight or even ‘realistic’, we still notice it straight away and its sticks out to us. Things that are overlooked in everyday life (like a spot) can be garishly obvious on our TV screens. It’s not something that we do on purpose, but as humans we all thought that our subconscious’ picked these things up when we watch films or television. We also thought that it was because these shows are very Americanised, meaning that American culture (think Toddlers & Tiaras or Dance Moms) is so highly competitive and scrutinises even children in a big way. These types of TV shows highlight this culture’s need to constantly strive for unrealistic perfection in everything (even the ‘teenagers’ on PLL and the little girls in pageants).
Brookside was really the start of big Soaps with massive big plots (murders, rapes, affairs) and it really shocked viewers when it first aired – now compared to the storylines of Eastenders, Hollyoaks, and Coronation Street etc. Brookside is tame! This is called a ‘kitchen sink’ drama because everything dramatic happened when the family was gathered around the table. Some of the most famous scenes in history happen when characters are gathered around the dinner table (two examples are the banquet scene in Macbeth when the ghost of Banquo appears to haunt Macbeth and the birthday supper scene in A Streetcar Named Desire, when Stanley presents Blanche with a one way ticket back to her hometown). Another example of kitchen sink drama is the play Don’t Look Back in Anger by John Osborne, which inspired the song by the band Oasis.
Peter Kay has had new comedies on BBC that are definitely worth checking out – From the Cradle to the Grave (written by Danny Baker) and Peter Kay’s Car Share. Other comedies we mentioned were QI, Mock the Week, The Thick of It, Still Game, and The Limmy Show and we all agreed that comedian Kevin Bridges was hilarious (he is already being called the next Billy Connelly). A bit of debate about Russell Howard and Frankie Boyle – Russell Howard tries to be very political and Frankie Boyle tries to be very controversial and offensive (some people thought that they were both trying too hard in both these fields).
Lucy told us that she had watched the animated fantasy film The Little Prince with Paul Rudd and Rachel McAdams and loved it. The film is based on the French novel of the same name and she said that the visuals of the film/creative aesthetic was absolutely stunning. Two other great animated and visually impressive movies are The Iron Giant (sci-fi) and Song of the Sea (fantasy).
Giorgio had recently been to see the gangster film Black Mass staring Johnny Depp in the cinema and recommended it to all of us. Another Johnny Depp film worth seeing is What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, which also features a very young Leonardo DiCaprio – prefame. Other great gangster films are Once Upon a Time in America and Goodfellas (directed by Martin Scorsese) – both starring Robert De Niro. Martin Scorsese is popular in the gangster/crime genre (Wolf of Wall Street is a recent example!). Someone also suggested the television series The Killing was great for someone interested in the crime genre.
We had a big chat about Tom Hanks and his seriously impressive filmography. He has acted in the films Captain Phillips (Danish Version – Kapringen), Castaway, Philadelphia, Saving Mr. Banks, Green Mile and Saving Private Ryan to name a few that we brainstormed. His most recent film is Bridge of Spies, a thriller about the American government and the CIA.
Government/Political dramas have been very popular recently. One example is the series Homeland, starring Claire Danes as a CIA officer who falls in love with a terrorist. Others are Suits and House of Cards, both available on Netflix.
Anna Karenina is another film on our to watch lists. Starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, and Aaron Johnson (from Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging), it is based on the famous novel of the same name by Russian writer Leo Tolstoy and is an epic romance film.
Films about the sea were popular at this session, and the films The Abyss (directed by James Cameron), Men of Honor (about the first Black diver in the American Navy), The Big Blue (about free diving which is diving which scuba gear – they have to hold they breaths and need serious lungs of steel!), and Pressure (about men trapped in a pod on the ocean floor) were all mentioned.
As the what’s on part of the session drew to a close we all gathered closely to get the names of any films we were interested in. When someone asked for good foreign film/television recommendations, The Bridge (Skandi), The Lunchbox (Indian), The Loves of Others (German) and Lilyhammer (Norwegian) were all suggested.
The movie Perfect Mothers or Adore starring Naomi Watts was recommended and it is about two mothers who fall in love with one another’s sons.
All in all, lots to keep you cultured over Christmas time! There is a big variety of TV and film that has been mentioned so why not try something new or something that you would never usually watch? A new genre or language? Pretty Little Liars, why not watch Black Mass or another gangster/crime film? Or, anyone who is put off watching a foreign film, perhaps try River to give you a taste of a Skandi without the confusing subtitles and then you may find yourself wanting more!