Watching and listening (mostly watching)

What have I been listening to and watching recently, you ask? Well, you might not have asked that, but I’m in the middle of about eight books at the moment, and haven’t finished any of them – so I have to write about something else for a moment or two.


This is a brilliant improvised podcast which looks at the UK after a referendum has narrowly decided that capital punishment should come back. It follows four members of the civil service who have to decide who the first person killed should be, and when – one of them is ardently pro-capital punishment, one is trying to destablise it from the inside, one is trying to prove her leadership skills, and the other is genially hapless. It’s hilarious. (NB you probably have to be anti-capital punishment and anti-Brexit to enjoy it – because yes, of course, it’s a thinly-veiled spoof of Brexit and Brexit negotiations.)

Loving Vincent

I saw this animated film at the new Curzon cinema in Oxford, which I love because it was legroom and seats that tilt back. Thankfully the film was also good – and astonishing. It is entirely made up of oil paintings – 65,000 of them, I think – mostly done in the style of Vincent van Gogh. It looks at his final days, as a distant friend tries to work out whether or not he was murdered. The story is a bit expositiony in places, but the spectacle of seeing the oil paintings form an animation is once-in-a-lifetime.

Phantom Thread

I love Lesley Manville so I wanted to see what earned her an Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actress. Well, she was fab but didn’t have much to do in this beautiful, finely-acted, and supremely dull film about a dressmaker. I really wanted to love it. And in the right mood, I might have done. But I have never seen such a slow, slow, slow film.

First Monday in May

I just watched a documentary about the Met Gala and the creating of the exhibition it accompanied – which, in turn, brought together the costume department and the Asian department of the Met. It was great – beautiful pieces, some lovely people, and Anna Wintour being her Anna Wintourest. Higher on art and lower on gossip than I’d imagined.

Meet the Patels

Geeta Patel filmed this documentary following her brother Ravi as he tries to find a wife – mostly at the behest of his parents. The filming is amateurish (she is a director, not a cinematographer) but the film is wonderful. It shows the difficult blend of cultures for an Indian family that moves to America (and Ravi as a first-generation American), but mostly it shows a really loving, beautifully depicted family.

6 thoughts on “Watching and listening (mostly watching)

  • February 5, 2018 at 1:11 am

    “Capital” sounds really intriguing and I’ve just downloaded all the episodes. Meet the Patels is in my Netflix list but I haven’t gotten around to it yet; I can’t resist a story (be it in print or on screen) about match-making and arranged marriages.

  • February 5, 2018 at 8:06 am

    The Vincent film sounds wonderful and clearly best seen n a large screen so I’m going off now in search of a couple ne,a near me which might show this.

  • February 6, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    Thanx for the reviews. I really want to see the Vincent film but not holding my breath down here in Penzance.

  • February 7, 2018 at 10:29 am

    I’m also intrigued by Vincent — I saw a trailer last year that was wonderful. Sadly, our choice of films in English is really limited here in Germany so I’m awaiting its arrival on DVD via Netflix. I’m sure it won’t be the same but will definitely watch it on the TV rather than in my bed on my laptop as I mostly do nowadays

    I was interested in Phantom Thread because I also love Lesley Manville but I’m disappointed to hear it’s boring. Fun fact: Lesley Manville was once married to Gary Oldman who’s the odds-on favorite to win Best Actor. I wonder if they’ll awkwardly run into each other backstage or at the nominee’s luncheon.

  • February 11, 2018 at 2:38 am

    Hahhaha, I’m unkindly pleased to hear that Phantom Thread wasn’t very good. I took against it for no reason I can really identify, and I want it to suffer and be sorry. DOWN WITH PHANTOM THREAD (seriously I have no idea why I’m so mad at this movie).

    • February 12, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      Haha! You are VINDICATED. (Though you should and must love Lesley Manville.)


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