You know you're middle-aged when you start feeling nostalgic for TV shows from your youth. That's the excuse I'm using, anyway, because today I went to the cinema to see The Muppets Movie.
Of course, when you're my age you can't just turn up to a kids' movie without taking a kid, so I convinced a friend of mine, who has a four-year-old daughter, to come along just so I didn't look too weird going by myself.
It turned out to be a fun film, with lots of ironic moments, 80s nostalgia (Tab anyone?), wonderful and unexpected cameo appearances (Clinton's campaign strategist James Carville, for instance) and some terrifically subversive tunes penned by Bret McKenzie, he of Flight of the Conchords fame.
If I'm honest, it was the songs that made the film and I'm delighted to see that Man or Muppet has actually been nominated for an Oscar. Be great if it won it.
I finally got around to watching Revolutionary Road tonight (my sister gave me the DVD ages ago) and let's just say it was superb in as much as it can be superb watching two people arguing at high volume for 115 minutes. Is all of Richard Yates' stuff so depressing?
Two weeks ago I'd never even heard of Mad Men. Then I saw Series 2 being advertised on BBC4 and read a lot of rave reviews about it. So, I went out and bought the DVD boxed set of Series 1 (£12.95 on Amazon) and have spent the past two weekends completely absorbed by it.
It's one of those slow-moving drama series that focuses on character rather than narrative drive, but it is so beautifully done and so damn intriguing that I got addicted within two episodes, and whenever I wasn't watching it I was thinking about it.
It's set in an advertising agency in Manhattan in 1960 and perfectly encapsulates an era in which men were men, women were made to stay at home and have babies, and pretty much everyone smoked cigarettes. Honestly, there's so much smoking in each episode if you were to play a drinking game every time someone lit up, you'd be drunk within 10 minutes.
True to the era in which it is set, there's plenty of racism, homophobia and sexism. And because we're watching it almost 50 years later when attitudes have quite clearly moved on, half the joy is spotting these little historical clichés and laughing at them. Here's a great video on YouTube which demonstrates what I'm talking about:
Now, having missed three episodes of Series 2 on BBC4, it's too late to watch this on TV. I'm just going to have to hold out for the boxed set... I'm not sure I can wait.
Is it just me, or is this advertisement slightly disturbing? I find the level of violence in it quite shocking. It certainly wouldn't make me rush out and buy a Golf car. If anything, it makes me want to complain to the Advertising Standards Authority, especially as I have seen it screened long before the 9pm watershed.
I stumbled upon this Emmy award-winning TV show this afternoon while I was "surfing" YouTube. It's an American production in which various actors are put under the microscope by interviewer James Lipton in front of a live audience of acting students. The interviews are illuminating and fascinating, getting at the nub of what it is that makes people perform for others. And, at the very end, the students are allowed to ask questions, which is often the best bit.
Here's links to some of the ones I've enjoyed -- note, that most are six-parters and I've only embedded the first part:
Frost/Nixon dramatises a series of televised interviews by "talk show host" David Frost and former American president Richard Nixon in 1977.
I'm slightly too young to remember everything about Nixon's presidency, but having gone to journalism school I'm well versed in the Watergate scandal, which ultimately led to his downfall. And I have seen bits and pieces of the real Frost/Nixon interviews. So, I was interested in seeing the film, which we did last night.
It's very good and maintained my interest throughout, not the least because it was interesting to see the current doddery old Sir David Frost as a young, funky womaniser with a sailing-by-the-seat-of-his-pants attitude to work! But what I found most intriguing was the hard work Frost's team undertook to prepare the questions and all the stuff that went on in the background before the interviews even got off the ground. I also liked the fact that this film treats the audience as intelligent: there are no explanations about any of the events or the people involved, you're simply plunged into the middle of it and expected to either know what's going on or be smart enough to figure it out for yourself.
The film has been nominated for five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director (Ron Howard), Best Actor in a Leading Role
(Frank Langella, who plays Nixon), Best Adapted Screenplay (Patrick Morgan), and Best Film