Flowers Season 2 (Netflix)
Written & Directed by Will Sharpe
Flowers is such a difficult show to explain if you haven’t seen it. While watching the second season, I thought it’s like The Addams Family but grounded and about mental health. The tone and characters are realistically macabre, a tormented family of creative types whose communication has broken down so badly they just simply can’t communicate with each other any longer. Creator Will Sharpe has given us a second beautiful season that goes even more in-depth with the Flowers’ history and works to heal the damage.
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Written by Barry Hines
Directed by Mick Jackson
If you’ve spent any amount of time perusing YouTube for the 1970s/80s British Public Service Announcements, then you know they are some of the most horrific content produced for television. They are unflinchingly direct and severe in how they communicate warnings. It was that this sense of not holding information back that led to the BBC commissioning the filming of Threads. Mick Jackson had done a short film about Armageddon and the result of a nuclear war a couple of years earlier, but the BBC wanted a full-length feature to air on their network.
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The Personal History of David Copperfield (2020)
Written by Simon Blackwell & Armando Iannucci
Directed by Armando Iannucci
David Copperfield is a dense 600 page+ novel and adapting it to the screen is a daunting task. It has been adapted to television and film fourteen times ranging from ninety-minute movies to thirteen-part mini-series. When you take anything from page to screen, you must make cuts and take artistic liberties. The focus should be on preserving the themes and tone of the work, and if certain scenes have to go, that’s okay. British filmmaker Armando Iannucci manages to pull off this feat in two hours by reinventing the text and providing a thematic framework through bookends. The result is one of the most genuinely joyous celebrations of life’s complexities and coincidences that I have seen in a long time.
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Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Written by Emma Thompson
Directed by Ang Lee
I am not against Jane Austen, I just do not find her style of writing matches with my personal aesthetic and narrative tastes. That said, I really enjoyed the tone of this year’s Emma adaptation with all of the stylistic flourishes that the director brought. 1995’s Sense and Sensibility feels exceptionally flat in its presentation. I think Ang Lee is a pretty good filmmaker, not the best in the world, but he has made movies I’ve enjoyed or at least find interesting. The actors in this film aren’t bad at all, some fantastic performers, but I was never drawn in by the story they were telling. If this is a movie you love, then, by all means, love it, it may just not be for me.
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Little Joe (2019)
Written by Jessica Hausner & Géraldine Bajard
Directed by Jessica Hausner
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of the most recycled narrative tropes in cinema, and more often than not, those adaptations fall short. The original and the 1970s remake stand above the fray. Little Joe is a secret Body Snatchers picture, telling a very well thought-out variation on the official story. However, there’s so little to the script that its slow burn actually becomes a hindrance to the character development and tension that should be present in a picture like this. Technically and aesthetically, Little Joe has a lot going on that entices the audience, but ultimately it fails to deliver on the promise of these things.
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Jeeves & Wooster (ITV)
Season One, Original airdates: April 22 – May 13, 1990
Written by P.G. Wodehouse and Clive Exton
Directed by Robert Young
Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie were a very well-known comedy duo in the U.K. coming out of the late 1980s. They had a top-rated skit comedy series, A Bit of Fry & Laurie, while making appearances in Rowan Atkinson’s Black Adder show. When it came time to cast the iconic English valet and his buffoonish employer Fry & Laurie were hesitant to step into such significant roles. When it became apparent the show was going to be made whether they were in it or not, they took the parts believing they could do the original text justice.
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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)
Written & Directed by Tom Stoppard
In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are schoolmates of the title character as well as sycophants for King Claudius in his machinations to eliminate his nephew as a problem. They ultimately agree to take Hamlet to England after he murders Polonius, unaware that Claudius’ letter to the monarchy calls for Hamlet to be killed. Hamlet discovers the letter and rewrites it so that upon arrival, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are the ones hung. It can be argued that these two supporting characters navigate the narrative in complete ignorance as to the greater agendas at work in Castle Elsinore. They just sort of bumble about and then die.
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Extra Ordinary (2020)
Written and Directed by Enda Loughman & Mike Ahern
The Conjuring meets Edgar Wright would be one of the best ways to describe this hilarious horror-comedy. Wright has such a distinct visual style, and it’s clear these filmmakers are great fans of his, putting those little touches without becoming a knock off. There is still enough of a distinct comedic voice that it differentiates itself but remains firmly in the same subgenre where these two types of films meet. There are some missteps along the way and some underused cast members, but overall it’s a refreshing break from the typical comedic pablum seen in theaters most weekends.
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Written by Garret Shanely
Directed by Lorcan Finnegan
The concept behind Vivarium is deeply intriguing. A young couple (Imogen Poots & Jesse Eisenberg), just beginning their lives together, steps into a realty office just for a laugh. They are met by a strange realtor who is extremely aggressive in an alien polite way to get them to leave the office and visit Yonder, a picture-perfect suburb. His pitch for the house is peppered with questions about the couple’s current status and as time passes he loses the warmth once presented. Then the realtor is gone and the couple finds themselves unable to find the exit to return to their lives. They become trapped in Yonder. One morning a box appears outside the house. Inside is a baby and a message “Raise the child and be released”.
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Miracleman: The Red King Syndrome
Reprints Miracleman #5-10
Written by Alan Moore
Art by Alan Davis and Chuck Beckham
In 2012, researchers at the University of Cambridge did a survey of the British people about their beliefs in conspiracy theories. It was found that 60% of Britons believe at least one conspiracy theory. Some of those theories accepted by residents of the U.K. include the government hiding the exact immigration numbers in the country, a plot to make Muslims the political majority in the kingdom, and most telling, that while they are told their country is a democracy, everything is run by a power elite. (The Guardian UK). These theories about the actual workings of the world have percolated in Western cultures for centuries, but it was the 1980s and 90s where they came to full fruition, able to guide the momentum of elections and referendums. In this second volume of Miracleman, Alan Moore fleshes out a conspiracy related to the rulers of the world that speaks to some more significant metaphysical points.
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