Our firstborn, Thomas, came into the world in July, and, predictably, I have not been to the cinema since then. If I did go, I would probably fall asleep halfway through. But I’ve still seen some fine film and television this year. We signed up for Netflix to watch series 3 of House of Cards (good but not in my favourites list) and stayed with it for its convenience (the equivalent of a dozen paused DVDs at any time) and interesting range. It started with a well-chosen Australian selection, which I used as an education in some classics I’d missed; alas it hasn’t added many Australian titles since. I’ve reviewed a number of my favourite films, but none of the television series, so I’ll offer some comments on them.
- Fargo, season 2 (US/Canada, 2015; SBS) – each episode is a near-perfect short feature film. The crime trappings are just a mode of investigating existence. It’s intelligent, funny, absurd, sometimes brutal. And if you haven’t seen season 1, it stands on its own. But watch season 1.
- Black Mirror (Brit, 2011-2013; Netflix) – these short films are extrapolations of our current culture, a couple of years into the future, and offer the most extraordinary critique of our lives today. It’s science fiction at its best.
- Toast of London, season 1 (Brit, 2013; SBS) – I cannot convey how bizarre this show is as it follows Steven Toast, the world’s second finest high-winds actor, around his improbable career on stage and film. To give one taste: his arch-enemy exacts revenge on Toast by pretending to be a plastic surgeon and turning a friend of a friend into a Bruce Forsyth look-alike, just to annoy Toast. And you know what he finds funny? He’s not even very annoyed. This will be a cult hit for decades to come but season 2 is not as good.
- The Americans, season 2 (US, 2014; DVD) – this is a small masterpiece of the drama and thriller genres, as deep undercover Soviet agents live out their suburban lives in the US of the early 1980s.
- Utopia, season 2 (Australia, 2015; ABC) – this satire is so perceptive about how offices function and the groupthink / buzz-words / box ticking which drives too much decision-making in the public service and politics.
- Walkabout (Australia, 1971; Netflix)
- Wake in Fright (Australia, 1971; Netflix)
- Deep Water (Australia, 2012; ABC)
- Compliance (US, 2012; SBS)
- The Imitation Game (Brit, 2014; cinema)
- Far from the Madding Crowd (Brit, 2015; cinema)
- Wild (US, 2014; cinema)
- Foxcatcher (US, 2015; cinema)
Ha, perhaps I should do this too. Congrats on the birth – I think I missed that – July was completely RS for me (not to put too fine a point on it!). I totally understand the lack of sleep. We say Fargo Season 1 this year and loved it though, hmm, scary as. We also saw True Detective Series 1 which we loved too, but my real favourite was the full set of Friday Night Lights. Fabulous program. We started The Americans but lost interest I’m afraid. Saw quite a few good films this year, but of yours only two, The Imitation Game and Far from the Madding Crowd. Enjoyed them both though was a little disappointed in Far from the Madding Crowd. I’d recommend, when it comes to Netflix, Spotlight as one I saw last year and liked a lot.
Nathan Hobby said:
I didn’t really announce Tom’s arrival properly on my blogs! I was drafting a post, in the form of an ostensible letter to him about the state of the world he’d arrived in, and I found myself going on about Tony Abbott too much. Now my son’s already seen that problem off. I haven’t seen Friday Night Lights or Spotlight – must give them a go. I’m sentimental about Madding Crowd as I saw it only a few days before Tom was born, and when I got home I told my wife how much I liked the name, and she said she did too. But as a film it has its weaknesses (and strengths).
Haha, if your son can continue to see off embarrassing, poor leaders that would make a wonderful contribution to our world. I think that’s a wonderful reason for being sentimental about that film! Tom is a good no-nonsense name.
Your recommendation of Black Mirror took me back to Netflix, at least for a little while. It’s reminiscent of Jimmy McGovern’s “Accused”: so very, very good, but so very exhausting to watch. Small, thoughtful, ruminating, doses.
Nathan Hobby said:
You’re very right! We haven’t even finished all seven episodes after months – one to go. 🙂