Sophie Hyde’s “Good luck, Leo Grande” (2022)

Emma Thompson as an aging [former?] teacher seeking a new launch to her life.

Intimate courageous film on fear and loneliness. Well shot, lit and does indeed remind us of Covid isolation. But this is not about Covid. This is about the invisible women who are not that old, whose children are off and independent, who feel they lost something in the rush of the last 30 odd years.

Strong, powerful and does not pretend to be positioned in a timeless era. It is in the here and now with mobile phones going off at the least appropriate moments.

A big recommend from me. Go watch it!


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L’Indivision by Mélanie Delloye (2021) 

Family drama. Pretty cathartic.

The story is set inside a large house with its own lonely inhabitant – elderly gentleman, father of the family. His children want to convince him to sell the house. He opposes.

As the plot unravels, we learn the family secrets and reasoning behind particular characters.

Well written and acted, with claustrophobic camera eye.

Watch it if you are into enclosed drama set out on the people’s faces.

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“The Morning Show” (TV Series/Apple TV)

What I anticipated was not at all what I received.
I was expecting a feel-good series on the backstage of a morning show (something more like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip back in the day). I hugely underestimated this in advance.

The pilot was not an earthquake rather leaving me curious as to what will the pulse be later on.

Mark Duplass as an executive producer, Billy Crudup in an incredibly well played supporting role, and both stars – Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon form an ensemble cast that gives a powerful statement from the very start.

This is not some feel-good TV series about n’importe quoi. It is a strong voice in midst of the #metoo movement with bold statements coming from male opressors/predators in surprising attempts at victimising themselves and how women learn to stand against that by controlling the narrative.

The Morning Show sucked me in and I am so grateful to the show producers and creators that they have had the courage to make it.

It is incredibly well written and fantastically executed; the dialogues are to the point and it is a cathartic experience all in all. A strong recommend!

Season 2 is coming soon.

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“The Mire” (Rojst) by Jan Holoubek / Netflix

Two seasons – the first one is set in 1980’s, the second one in 1997 / more or less 12 years after the first season’s finale ends.
The story is set in an unspecified little town in Western Poland with troubled history.

Andrzej Seweryn plays an experienced journalist on his way out – we learn from the very beginning he has a plan to go West – to West Berlin, in those times the refuge of normalcy behind the Iron Curtain. Conveniently, there is an eager young replacement sent from Kraków.
It is a classic old:young juxtaposition and master:pupil relationship. The script is written in accordance with all the classic rules, the actors are well cast, the stories unfold slowly with each episode drawing us in.

This series has a number of strong suits: one of them is the casting of supporting roles, another a detailed depiction of communist Poland daily reality – similarly to Mad Men, the authors managed to recreate a place in time with almost no mistakes (*there is one minor thing related to what children wear at school, if you went to Polish school in the 1980’s, you will know).

Characters are subtle and distinctive at the same time, the editor-in-chief is like a warm beloved grandpa, until you cross him and then you are in trouble. The night clubs are so sticky and filled with cigarette smoke, you can almost touch it and smell it. It is the underworld of corrupt police (in the 1980’s it was a politicised milicja – derivative of military and police – a communist thing), honest prostitutes and helpful local businessmen.
The crimes are dark, the truth is even darker and the town is surrounded by a mysterious swamp that hides a lot.

Although it did not get a lot of stars at imdb, it is a strong recommend from my side.

Andrzej Seweryn acts seamlessly becoming the character of the savvy puppet master who knows way more than he reveals, till the last second. The suspense is not eating you, you just have to watch it all at once.

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“The One I Love” by Charlie McDowell (2014)

Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss are a young couple on the crossroads who attend a therapy. Their shrink advises them a retreat in a house at an unspecified location.

They reluctantly agree and part for a short trip to a beautiful faraway location where they deal with each other, each other’s expectations and fears.

What they go through and the way things go, is the most significant strength of this feature film.

It makes one think for a long time afterwards on what exactly happened there.

Smooth acting, improvised dialogues provide an artsy experience that is less literal and more emotional than one would expect.

A recommend.

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“Normal People” – BBC TV series by Lenny Abrahamson / Hettie Macdonald (2020)

Based on a novel recommended by (among others) Barack Obama. The novel is written by Sally Rooney.

Set in Ireland – the story follows an on-off relationship of a young couple. They know one another from school, then both (separately) move to Dublin to study at Trinity.

It is a love story of an impossible kind. Feast for the eyes. Little bits of nudity and a fair amount of passion. Relationships with peers, parents, siblings and the outside world.

Told in very few words. The camera eye is often a third actor – e.g. during one and the same conversation of the two over a cup of coffee sitting at opposite sides – Marianne is shot from a distance, while Connell gets a very close camera angle. This distance changes as the conversation shifts. Crafty!

Melancholic, as Ireland landscape provides the background for tumultuous events. There is cold Sweden and hot Italy too.


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“Love & Anarchy” (2020) by Lisa Langseth – Swedish TV series

Light, pretty, smart. Shot in beautiful Stockholm, with its classy designs and architecture.

Sofie and Max meet at a workplace and develop a particular bond which leads them through harmless craziness together. To a point, when it is no longer harmless and begins to become harmful.

Rich in relationships on multiple level. Clashes of old v. young, old habits v. modernity, analogue v. digital, parents v. children, partners in business, partners at home.

Pleasant experience and beautiful to watch – with realistic personalities and faces and surprising twists.

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“Saturday Night Fever” (1977) by John Badham

This film has not aged well. Despite it being made in the golden era of Hollywood. The daily problems of 20-somethings do not correspond well to today’s experiences.

One could argue that it is a fair social study of late 1970’s in New York among the children of 2nd or 3rd generation of immigrants from Old Europe.

I love dancing and I do see the appeal of the main story. So I understand how it became a success back in its time.

But now? No thanks. I am allergic to disco music, so probably that is why it has been a difficult watch.

Maybe I am wrong, maybe it is a universal picture of troubled youth. I just don’t dig it.

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Filed under Catching Up, Cult Classics

“Spotlight” (2015) by Tom McCarthy

A fascinating experience. This film is much easier to watch than I had anticipated. It is well paced and somehow lacks intense scenes which is a big advantage given the incredibly difficult topic.

Long (over two hours), slow and yet not one scene is unnecessary. Edited and skilfully focusing on all the details, historic places and events.

Michael Keaton, who is no longer Batman or Birdman. He is a middle aged American journalist with mannerisms and a sort of hidden charisma.

John Slattery (Mad Men’s own Roger Sterling), Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) – in calm roles of people who work hard in professional journalism.

Deservedly Best Picture Winner in 2016 – with Oscar bagged.

It is a rare example of an ensemble cast where every character is in fact a leading role. Good homework on the realistic settings, costumes and ambience.

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“The Post” (2017) by Steven Spielberg

Remember “All the President’s Men” from 1976 with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman? Well – this is its prequel.

A phenomenal depiction of personal struggle of Mrs. Katherine Graham (Meryl Streep) who decides to follow on The New York Times’ publishing of the Pentagon papers after the NYT has been banned from writing on the topic by the court.

Despite possible implications related to the IPO of The Post (The Washington Post), the owner and publisher of the title decides to fight for the freedom of speech, publishes the articles and then joins the New York Times in the Supreme Court fighting for the First Amendment / freedom of the press rights.

President Nixon is quoted several times (from real life tapes) digging one deeper hole after another which eventually leads to Watergate – shown in “All the Presidents’ Men”.

Beautifully shot, costumes, machinery, real breath of the times and the suspense held to the extent needed – without pushing it too far, which could easily be achieved.

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