I’ve not done much writing in the past couple of months. I mentioned late last year that I was adjusting to working from home (full time) and spending 7-8hrs glued to my desk. Having said that November to January are usually slower reviewing months for me anyway because of the plethora of non-fiction books released at Christmas. It seems every man and their mother wants to buy memoirs, books about sport or cookbooks. None of which interest me at all.
Instead I’ve continued watching inordinate amounts of streaming services so thought I’d offer up a run-down of what I’ve been watching.
The Father (Amazon Prime)
I knew of this movie, of course and was aware it’d garnered several Oscars, BAFTAs and Screen Actors Guild awards in 2021.
I avoided reading and watching stuff about dementia when my father was alive. I still don’t… unless it’s humorous or done well and very much loved a 2014 book called Elizabeth is Missing featuring a woman with dementia. The novel was written from her point of view so we completely understood what she was going through.
I hadn’t realised this movie does the same thing. In the shorts I assumed it to be some sort of thriller in which an elderly man was being duped by nefarious types. But it unfolds from his point of view, so we’re in the midst of his jumbled thinking and his confusion. I suspect it offers an excellent portrayal of that sense of timelessness (or lack of meaning of time) for dementia patients. Of course it’s desperately sad; Anthony Hopkins gives a wonderfully understated yet tormented performance; and Olivia Colman is – as always – excellent as ‘the daughter’.
Speaking of mothers and daughters – which I wasn’t of course, but close enough… I watched this movie, based on the Elena Ferrante novel. Colman is wonderful as the middle-aged woman reflecting back on her daughters’ childhoods and her early years as a mother. I’m not a huge fan of Dakota Johnson but she plays her arch and indifferent character well here.
The whole movie is a little misleading however. Or at least its title is. I won’t say too much about it, but it’s a mother who is (was) lost, not a daughter. There were huge plot holes and I enjoyed this less than I expected. Colman is again wonderful but her character acted out in ways that seemed incongruous / made no sense. I’m not sure if the book’s the same, but I gather – for those who found the ending confusing – the book ends differently (though equally nebulously).
I’m not a huge Ben Affleck fan – though recently saw him in The Accountant (also on Netflix) and LOVED it – but loved his role here. Again based on a book, it’s a story about family and friendships, about expectations and making one’s way in the world. I went into this a smidge reticent but was very very glad I watched this quintessential coming of age film and appreciated the shades of grey it offered its characters.
The pacing of this Korean series was a bit off for me. It lacked some realism / feasibility (not surprising for science fiction I realise) but that aside, it was a timely reminder of the diminishing resources of the world in which we live. It’s set in the future (obvs) when water is currency and very limited. And – though they don’t know what they’re getting into – the Korean government sends a team to a deserted space station to try to find a solution that will sustain the earth’s population in the future.
I hate Ricky Gervais. I cannot explain why. Whether it’s the characters he’s played or something else, I’ve no idea. I watched season one of this with some reluctance and it took me a while to get into it. But I did.
I enjoyed season three but missed some of the regulars from the first two seasons. I did a minimal amount of research (checked the trivia section on IMDb) and couldn’t find any reason they didn’t appear so wondered if it was Covid-related. Or other commitments. Of course I did still come away from the entire show wondering how healthy (or not) it is / was for someone to be constantly replaying their old life over in their head. I’m not suggesting he delete all of his home movies, but… *shrugs*. I think I’d certainly be worried if my mother did nothing but reminisce about her former life with my father.
I suspect there’s more (The Accountant – as mentioned above and Parasite – which I disliked A LOT, the entirety of The Good Place etc), but this is far longer than I meant it to be, so….
Have you seen any of these? Any other suggestions?