A week in film – 2016, week 47

This is a sad day. The blog took a back seat to real life and, for the first time, I’m posting my Sunday post on a Monday. This isn’t something I ever really wanted to do (it was VERY important to me that I kept to a schedule), but it was something I needed to do this week – so I hope you’ll forgive the lateness.

I can start by talking about the vast quantity of Gilmore Girls I’ve watched this week, pretty much in eager anticipation of A Year In The Life arriving on Netflix this coming weekend. Gilmore Girls, even when it’s at its bleakest – and I’m talking about the dark times of late series five/early series six where they are very much two separate Gilmores – it’s still tinged with something comforting. Basically, I watched a bunch when I was sad and stressing out, and it helped. The dialogue’s excellent, the characters are well drawn, and there’s something so relaxing about a show which is still of a good quality which isn’t heavily reliant on plot. Dipping back into series four – when Rory’s at college, and thankfully just before Dean comes back – is as good a place as any to start, and it’s so nice to have it back.

Then there’s ’20 Hours in America’, the greatest two-parter in The West Wing history. Apart from ‘In The Shadow of Two Gunmen’, maybe. The odyssey of Josh, Donna and Toby from Indiana to Washington, D.C. – on almost every mode of transport imaginable – is so entertaining, so amusing, that it’s unforgettable. Then the episodes leap from hilarious to heart-wrenching, with one of President Bartlet’s finest speeches coming at the end of the second episode. The fact that this leap isn’t overwhelming is a testament to the power of the writing – which is commonplace for a show like The West Wing. Seriously, if you haven’t watched it, just do.

Then there’s this week’s episode of The Flash, which is my favourite of the series so far (I know we’re only three episodes in, but that’s besides the point). A pretty fun introduction of a new meta for the show, who can create portals from mirrors – the only downside of this is that The Mirror Man is a terrible villain name – and otherwise a whole bunch of relationship stuff: Barry and Iris, Wally and Jesse, Joe and that super cool DA who hasn’t been in the show enough. I like The Flash the most when it’s dealing with its characters, and each of them work really nicely in the pseudo-rom-com format that the show tries to adopt sometimes. It was fun and, apart from the slight progression of the Caitlin storyline, doesn’t seem to have any real bearing on the wider plot of the show. Which, oddly, seems more enjoyable.

The main thing I have to discuss, though, is Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. The return of the universe of Harry Potter to the big screen – and J.K. Rowling’s screenplay debut – is a cinematic event I’ve been waiting for for what seems like ages. Still, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed by it. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a serious degree of entertainment to be had in seeing a group of adult wizards pretty freely able to exercise their powers, especially in the 1920s setting. It’s this capacity to world-build which is the reason why I liked the original films so much – however I feel about them, adaptation-wise, the art direction is perfect: and the same can be said of Fantastic Beasts. This doesn’t change the fact, though, that I was slightly underwhelmed by the story itself. There are several plot threads which don’t seem to merge properly, building towards a finale that gets a few emotional hits in but doesn’t quite stick the landing. I liked it, but I wasn’t wowed by it – and I was so willing to be wowed. I’m still interested in seeing it again, but I’m not running out to see it again.

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