What I’ve been watching in January

La La Land

1Although I’ll happily acknowledge its faults, I was still taken in by La La Land, like so many others. I was almost put off in the first scene by some dizzying and relentless camerawork which actually made me feel a bit queasy. Thankfully, things calmed down and, although the whirling long shots returned on occasion, I was able to sit back and enjoy the songs.

I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for days – I love all the songs and the beautiful instrumental themes, made all the more impressive by the fact Ryan Gosling learnt jazz piano for the film. He and Emma Stone are wonderful together, yet again, and though the story can be rather bittersweet it is a totally joyful ride. I’d happily watch this again very soon.

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What I’ve been watching in June/July

Orange Is The New Black – Season 4

oitnb-season4I wrote about this show when it first debuted in 2013. Since then, we have been on a rollercoaster of a journey with the inmates of Litchfield, resulting now in the prison being privatised and seeing an influx of new criminals.

This in turn means racial tensions soon increase, creating some quite unsettling moments. There are also the usual fascinating flashbacks, including an incredibly shocking one showing how Suzanne (aka Crazy Eyes) ended up in prison, and a battle to get one inmate out of unwarranted solitary confinement.

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What I’ve been watching in April/May…

TV

11.22.63

I’ve been a Stephen King fan for many years, but I haven’t actually read this book yet (there’s a copy from the Waterloo book market in a pile next to my bed). I unusually decided it would be fine to go ahead and watch the TV show first, mostly because I’d heard good things coming over from America and also because of the involvement of James Franco, JJ Abrams and King himself.

The show follows Franco as he goes back in time through an anomalous time portal to try and save JFK from assassination and hopefully change the world for the better. I’m happy to say I found it totally gripping and addictive, unbelievably tense in places, and also incredibly well acted. I loved it so much that now I really want to read the book just so I can live through that intense plot again.

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Thoughts on Making A Murderer – retrial needed regardless of guilt

Since Making A Murderer was released on Netflix in December 2015, there have been countless takes online, dozens of conspiracy theories and just recently it’s felt like there’s been new information every day.

For what it’s worth, I’m adding my voice to this online noise to discuss the irrelevance of Avery’s guilt and innocence at this stage.

For those who have been under a rock for two months, Making A Murderer follows Steven Avery, who was wrongfully convicted for 18 years for a sexual assault and attempted murder, and taken into custody again just two years later on suspicion of the murder of photographer Teresa Halbech. That arrest took place shortly after several detectives were deposed in a civil case in which Avery was asking for a good deal of compensation.

The filmmakers have been accused by prosecutor Ken Kratz, among others, of only presenting evidence which looked good for the defence, or omitting forensic evidence such as Avery’s DNA on the bonnet of Teresa’s car.

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Master of None – Aziz Ansari’s thoughtful showpiece

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Aziz Ansari performing in London in November 2014

Aziz Ansari is best known for the charismatic, well-dressed, hyperactive Tom Haverford in the wonderful Parks and Recreation. His stand-up is also well worth checking out, and new Netflix series Master of None, with acting, directing, producing and creator credits for Ansari, completes the trifecta of his personal brand.

Each Ansari character is basically a hyper-version of his stand-up self. His bug eyes often pop with excitement, he chatters often non-stop and he likes to get a bit silly.

But the beauty of Master of None is that while it finds time for its star’s trademark silliness, it also tackles some serious topics with real thoughtfulness in a fashion rarely seen in most half-hour TV comedies.

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FriendsFest – recreating the magic of TV in Shoreditch

12036590_10207544004548654_4922536199449509953_nWho doesn’t love Friends? Its appeal has lasted long after its final episode aired 11 years ago thanks to endless TV repeats – it will indeed be there for you.

To continue the legacy of this wonderful and hilarious show, Comedy Central held a pop-up event in a Shoreditch warehouse for five days in September and I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get tickets before they sold out in just 13 minutes.

Joining on the back of the queue in Brick Lane that Saturday afternoon, I was worried that it would either take absolutely forever to get in, or that they’d get everyone in but it would be totally crammed. Happily, the queue moved quickly and once inside it didn’t feel too cramped, instead with just enough areas for people to spread out comfortably around different sets and exhibits.

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Late London: Sherlock’s City

2014-11-21 19.10.56On Friday (November 21), Frazer and I set off across the city to the Museum of London for a night-time Sherlock event. Neither of us had ever been to something like this before but were tempted after a two for one offer on the Londonist site meant we’d get in for just £6 so, recognising a shared Sherlock interest – stories, TV series and films – we went along and it was a great evening.

We started off by exploring the memory maze installation, which demonstrated the science behind memory, which is obviously exploited much more by Sherlock Holmes than most of us lowly humans. It was interactive, as we could write down our recollections on three Sherlock or London related prompts and put them in an appropriate area of the brain, as constructed by a colour-coded test tube maze. I enjoyed being nosy and seeing what everyone else had put!

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