A week in film – 2016, week 41

This week has been a complete jumble, and that definitely makes for a much more interesting writing experience. There’ve been a couple of random episodes of The West Wing, because obviously, and it continues to be the greatest show ever made. I’ve also now seen my first episode of Archer, which admittedly was on in the background while I was busy doing other things, but still made me laugh pretty hard. The main TV event, though, has to be Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the delirously ludicrous musical comedy about a high-powered New York lawyer who has a nervous breakdown and moves to a small California town (basically) for a guy she used to go out with when she was sixteen. It is somehow one of the most intense comedies I have ever seen – protagonist Rebecca is really compelling, but I do ultimately just want someone to help her – but the supporting characters are all fun so far, and the songs are catchy as all hell (‘The Sexy Getting Ready Song’ made me laugh so hard, as well as being a song I’ve been humming ever since). I like it a lot, and as it’s one of the most bonkers things I have ever seen, I’ve just got to carry on with it to see where else it could possibly go.

As for this week’s Bake Off – after the initial shock of realising that there are only three episodes left of the series, it was a pretty enjoyable week. Dessert week meant cheesecake and melt-in-the-middle puddings as snacks, and a series of complex and frankly impractical challenges (why does dessert week always happen to fall during a heatwave?). For starters, the technical I can’t remember the name of – a meringue, praline and cream sandwich – looked amazing, but I’ve never seen one before and probably never will again. Still, it is fairly impossible to ever not enjoy an episode of Bake Off, and while I’m disappointed about who went, I do concede that it was the right decision. The next week, though, is Tudor Week – a theme even more obscure than last year’s tribute to the Victorians. Jury’s still out on whether that’ll work or not.

In films, an excessive and unplanned spending spree in HMV led to rewatching Love and Friendship, the amazing Jane Austen adaptation from earlier this year. I love that film, so much. It’s snarky and hilarious, with Kate Beckinsale’s Lady Susan one of the most compelling antiheroes of recent years. Lady Susan, a widow and an incomporable flirt, is trying to get her mild daughter married off while she has some fun of her own. It’s still one of the best screen renderings of Austen I have ever seen – a reflection of her harsh wit, rather than the saccharine romance for which she became known. I love Austen, and I love this film. The DVD was a good buy.

As for new releases, Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a majestic(al) treat – an often sad but unbelievably enjoyable, and generally deliriously funny, story of a young boy who is fostered by a couple in rural New Zealand. After a tragedy, Ricky and Hec (played by an amazingly gruff Sam Neill) end up on the run from child services through the bush, with the angry Hec and self-proclaimed thirteen year-old gangster Ricky forging an unlikely friendship. As you’d expect from the writer and director of mad and brilliant vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows, a lot of the humour comes from utterly bizarre (and genius) moments – an astonishingly bad eulogy, an incongrous dance sequence, a debate between Ricky and Paula from Child Services about which one of them would be the Terminator (“You’d be Sarah Connor. And from the first one – before she could do chin-ups”). But then a lot of it comes from character too – Ricky himself is brilliant, as is Hec, and the supporting cast is wonderful. And, as I’ve already said, it’s not without its moments of genuine grief and heart, which makes the comedy funnier by comparison and the sadness more powerful. Basically, if you can get out there and see it, you ABSOLUTELY should. (Also, on an entirely different note, I had the pleasure of this being the first film I’ve ever seen at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square, which I’ve wanted to go to for AGES. It was totally worth the wait.)

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