The Breadwinner

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Went out of a sense of duty – what was life like for women under the Taliban?  But it was so much better than that.
The weakness of the “The Breadwinner” is the limitations of a child’s story.
But it looks great and its portrayal of oppression is frightening.
(r:82; e:3, s:4, t:5)

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Shebeen

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Another hit from the Nottingham Playhouse, and another Nottingham story.  Go see.
This time, the late fifties in St.Ann’s and Caribbean immigrants have developed their own shebeens – illegal drinking events in homes – where they get to enjoy their favourite music with their favourite drink and the profits stay within friends.
A proud, devoted young couple, who never lie to each other, who have strong respectful codas and precious possessions.  Fashions of the fifties and accents that I hear so often in The Meadows.
So many issues rehearsed in the preparation for another party, the party itself and in the aftermath, being strong on what theatre can be strongest at – conversation.
Most powerful issue – that of reactions to mixed race relationships.  (Bringing back memories of George and Jill).

A Very English Scandal

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A BBC tv series telling tales of Jeremy Thorpe and Norman Scott, and how Thorpe came to order the murder of Scott, but managed to escape conviction for it.
With a heavy dose of the oppression caused by Britain’s anti-homosexual law and practices added in.
The drama does confuse –
– clearly saying that Thorpe was wrong for arranging a murder, yet showing the suffering at the hands of Scott’s irregular requests for help that taunted his first wife (that might explain the irrational drive for his death);
– spelling out that Thorpe was getting off because people in power looked after each other, but also giving form to the judge’s most compelling criticism of 2 of the key prosecution witnesses – they did testify for money;
– suggesting that Thorpe have privately fallen for Scott cos of the propensity to be beaten up by others whilst on the pull, when at the outset it showed Thorpe finding Scott beautiful;
– explaining Scott suffered from mental illness, yet capable of persuading people to be very generous to him;
– its portrayal of Scott as a gay champion in court (“I was rude! I was queer! I was myself!”) is at odds with reports elsewhere – e.g. “Scott contended that homosexuality was an incurable disease, with which Thorpe had infected him“.
The first 2 and a half of the episodes fair whipped along, with a huge degree of laughter at some of the farcical elements, some implied strong sex scenes (Brookside’s first lesbian kiss now seems pretty pallid by comparison),  some genuinely touching scenes (Thorpe’s love for his first wife and the new baby) and some tragedy (Gwen Parry-Jones, a friend of Scott’s, drinking herself to death).
Some significant omissions –
– Harold Wilson thinking the South Africans were trying to frame Jeremy Thorpe;
– the gunman not being shown in the trial.
Biggest criticism has to be of the court section – more of the judge could have been shown to give more force to the biased nature of his summing up; less of the irrelevant journeys to and from gaol; using TV coverage to ram home the editorialising rather than court scenes to increase the drama.
Even with its mis-fires and omissions (inevitable I know), it will be one of the TV highlights of the year.
The story is fascinating and there’s a lot of documentaries available on youtube, albeit with a bit of self-righteous journalism.
What are the big lessons for today?
Well, not that nothing’s changed.  We’ve come a long way on equal opportunities.
For me –
– the shallowness of third party / individual Liberal party politics that was not to serve Britain well;
the jury being frustrated at not being able express concerns;
– that the court system is not accountable enough and that there are still things to work out to get to the truth and to justice more quickly and effectively.
TO BE WRITTEN UP PROPERLY.

Funny Cow

A commanding, slightly care-worn, glass-ceiling breaking comedienne holds attention as she performs a heart-felt, sometimes funny monologue, and the films breaks out to tell the tale of how her confidence and defiance led her to be herself and be a national star.
Such a good film.  Go see.
And yes, my rating system is broken again.
(r:9.8; e:5, s:5, p:5).
Nostalgia too.  I kept recognising the cars.  My Dad being a social club’s entertainments secretary.
And I kept thinking of Marti Cane – who I did not like – I guess for political reasons.  Turns out the film draws heavily on her life-story and struggle.  And playing Sun City apart, it’s quite a story.
Guardian review.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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The movie.  And again I’m awarding top marks.  For a romance.   Apparently I’m going soft.  The movie it seems is predictable and too long.  Chintzy.  World War twee. And worse – Guardian review – 2 out of 5. But I was never bored and never felt the movie tried to heighten the tension in a false way.  Clearly the structure of the source book gives the spaces for each of the characters’ stories to be told.
I wonder if the tension was heightened instead for me by not watching any reviews of the film, and the knowledge of the Jersey lad sent to a concentration camp cos the Nazis confiscated his motorbike so he borrowed one of theirs (he was to die of TB in Nottingham a few years later).  Perhaps I filled in for the film for fighting oppression, and took too much from the celebration of coming together to discuss art.
(r:9.6; e:5, s:5, t:5).