A week in film – 2016, week 5

It’s the end of January – always a good thing – and that means that there’s been a month’s worth of these posts for 2016. While a couple of old habits (i.e. watching too many Marvel properties; forgetting to watch anything when I’m away) may die hard, I have definitely seen at least some new things. I mean, even the episodes of Marvel TV shows I’m watching are new to me. That’s progress.

It’s Marvel TV shows plural now because, praise be, Agent Carter is back. Not quite so delayed from the States as it was for its first series (eight episodes that I’ve probably watched about four times each), I wasn’t feeling the lack until Peggy stepped back onto the screen…and I realised how much I’d missed it. It’s basically impossible for me to be objective about Agent Carter, but I do think it’s smart and witty in its own right, and this was a solid opening episode. I was a little sceptical about switching the location from New York to L.A. but it doesn’t seem to have had too severe an impact yet – and the setting provided an excuse for what may be one of my favourite Peggy/Jarvis scenes yet (‘they eat avocados…with everything’). Seriously, every time those two are on screen together being posh and bickering an already-glowing show shines so much brighter. The plot (which I do largely regard as secondary to those characters, who only have to talk about anything to make me happy) was pretty decent too, flashing between New York and a nice mystery about a frozen lake and body in an L.A. summer. It’s also kicked off a conspiracy arc, of which I am usually a fan. Oh, I’m so glad Agent Carter is back.

In one of the few times where American scheduling and British TV channels do UK fans a favour, just because Agent Carter‘s on doesn’t mean Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is off the air. We’re miles behind the US (and I VOWED I would not spoil things for at least a part of this year), so we’re on about episode three of the third series of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. right now and I’m still enjoying it. In fact, I’m not even sure I’m comfortable calling it ‘garbage’ any more. This is the show that, in a moment of comedy I wouldn’t have seen coming, subtitled drunk English characters. AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m not sure I’ve been giving it enough credit. While I might be a little tired of the Inhumans stuff (which doesn’t bode particularly well for the film), there are some pretty fun pairings getting some screen time at the moment. Mac/Daisy. Hunter/May. I’m actually finding Coulson and Rosalind quite enjoyable, which I didn’t see coming. OBVIOUSLY I am talking about my faves, who continue to break my heart every week. I’m even enjoying Hunter’s Ward mission at the moment (the show was basically a much less existential Fight Club for a while this week), because right now it means that Ward isn’t around to be annoying.

These aren’t the only Disney properties I’ve been watching this week – my new film was The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I’ve never been a world expert in Disney (we watched The Lion King and Aladdin when we were younger and that was it), so I’ve managed to go twenty-two years without seeing this, the creepiest Disney film ever made. The ever-helpful Wikipedia sums it up pretty well, stating that ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame has many themes, including infanticide, lust, damnation, and sin. […] [It] was the first—and only—Disney animated feature to have a major focus on traditional religious faith; pre-Reformation Catholicism’. So not your average kid’s film, then. I have NO IDEA why anyone, in 1996 or in any time at all, would have thought, ‘hey, you know what would be an amazing Disney film? This bleak 940-page novel by Victor Hugo’. And it’s so dark. It might not end with everyone dying (and I momentarily thought it was going to, as the book does), but it’s still pretty grim and, again, I cannot overstate how much I am confounded by the notion that anyone made this into an animation for kids at all. But apparently kids didn’t tune into all the adult stuff, so it was just the grown-ups being traumatised. I would read so many books about the making of this film. I need to know how it exists.

Otherwise, though, it’s pretty much been business as usual. I can’t remember which episodes I’ve watched but there’s definitely been some series five The West Wing at some point in the week. I’ve also really fancied watching Sherlock – specifically ‘The Reichenbach Fall’, but there’s no way I’m going into that cold – again since that Christmas special, so I watched ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’ and remembered a) how good it was and b) how many times I’d seen it. Yeah, it’s typical Sherlock, a bit flashy and a bit pretentious, but it does work really well. Also, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Technically the first time I’ve watched it this year! Probably not the last! What did I say about old habits?

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