Review: The Sapphires

The delightful film The Sapphires is based on a real group of Aboriginal women from Australia who performed soul music in Viet Nam in 1968 for the troops there. Continue reading “Review: The Sapphires”

Advertisements

Recommended: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is an Australian series that just appeared on Netflix and Amazon. Season 1 is available on Netflix, season 2 is currently airing in Australia.

Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher
Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries takes place in 1928 Melbourne. Essie Davis is Phryne Fisher, a feminist and free spirit who becomes a detective. The music, the sets, and the costumes are delightful, as are Phryne (pronounced fry-nee) and the people around her. Phryne is bold and clever and a couple of steps ahead of the police in solving crimes.

Other major characters are Nathan Page as Detective Robinson, Ashleigh Cummings as Phryne’s maid Dot. (That’s her in the photo at the top.) Tammy Macintosh is Phryne’s doctor friend (a woman doctor in 1928!). A couple of characters who run general detecting type errands and drive Phryne around are played by Travis McMahon and Anthony Sharpe.

The series airs in Australia on ABC-TV. It’s on Facebook.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Images ©ABC-TV Australia

Recommended: Last Tango in Halifax

Last Tango in Halifax is a 2012 British series which started on PBS last night. There are only 6 episodes in season 1, so get organized fast to watch this one. Last Tango in Halifax is all kinds of love stories, chiefly one between Celia and Alan, played by Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi.

Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi
Anne Reid and Derek Jacobi

Here’s the basic setup. Celia and Alan were in love as teens. Through a series of mishaps, they failed to get together. Each married someone else. Fifty years later these two tech savvy elders find each other on Facebook and get together, with plenty of twists and surprises along the way. Reid and Jacobi are absolutely lovely together. It’s so wonderful to see a love story between people in this age group. I suspect that dwelling in the first bloom of love is going to make these two elders act as foolish as teenagers before this story is told.

Sarah Lancashire plays Celia’s daughter, Caroline. In the opening scenes we see her take back her philandering husband (Tony Gardner). She doesn’t show much enthusiasm for his return, and neither do their two sons, but back he is. Later, we realize she’s been filling in the time during his absence with a female teacher in the school where she’s headmistress. The teacher, Kate, played by Nina Sosanya, is dumped without ceremony because, “John is back.” The indications in the opening episode are that John’s stay back at home may be limited, and Caroline may not be fully finished with Kate. So, another kind of love story.

Alan’s daughter, Gillian, is played by Nicola Walker. When we first meet her she’s worrying over her son’s devotion to his Uncle and their penchant for dangerous motorcycle sports. There’s a lot of backstory involved in the relationship with the uncle and her late husband’s death that Gillian has to face with her son in the first episode. Gillian works in a grocery store, and we learn via her sale of a package of cigarettes that she’s sexually involved with a younger bad boy character played by Sacha Dhawan. It isn’t clear from the first episode if this can be called another love story or is more about loneliness and sex.

In addition to the romantic love stories and second chances that sprinkle Last Tango in Halifax, family love and parent and child relationships are explored. All kinds of love stories. I don’t know about you, but I firmly believe that the only good stories are stories about love – what ever kind of love that might be.  It doesn’t matter if it’s romantic love, family love, friendship or even love for a pet. Maybe that’s why I recommended this series about love so enthusiastically.

PBS doesn’t put their videos on YouTube where it’s easy to pick them up to display here. But if you go to the PBS page for Last Tango in Halifax you can watch a couple of videos from episode one. Once the season is over, all the episodes will be available on pbs.org/tango.

All images ©BBC.

Recommended: Borgen – Updated

Borgen is an award winning Danish political drama. It has 3 seasons. You can see this 2010 series in the US on DVDs from Amazon or by streaming on iTunes or YouTube (a slightly cheaper option). This is one of the best TV series I’ve ever seen.

Continue reading “Recommended: Borgen – Updated”

Recommended: Broadchurch

Broadchurch is a small town on the coast of England. Broadchurch, a new series on BBC America, takes its name from that location. A young boy is murdered there at the opening of this excellent police drama.

Episode 1 aired last Wednesday, but you can watch it before episode 2 on this coming Wednesday. Stay tuned to find out where.

David Tennant in Broadchurch
David Tennant in Broadchurch

Two police officers investigate the murder. David Tennant from Doctor Who plays DI Hardy. Olivia Coleman is DS Ellie Miller. Their first interaction is unfriendly, since DI Hardy is new in town and new on the job. Ellie Miller, a long-time Broadchurch officer, thought the DI job was going to be hers.

Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan play the murdered boy’s parents. Broadchurch is a small community where everyone knows everyone else. At least they seem to. There are secrets. The death of the boy impacts everyone in the community. DS Ellie Miller and her son Tom were close to the family of the murdered boy. In episode 1 we begin to see some of the ripples within the community as the town tries to deal with the event and the search for a suspect intensifies.

When news of the murder is leaked on Twitter, a media circus comes to town which adds to the ensemble of characters and to the drama going on in the homes of the community members.

I was immediately hooked on the drama, the characters, and their many secrets. The relationships between the police officers, the townspeople and the journalists is compelling.

Season 1 contained 8 episodes, which were well received in the UK. A second season is scheduled, even though reports are that we learn the identity of the murderer at the end of episode 8.

If you missed the premier, BBC America has made the whole episode available on YouTube. You can also see the entire episode on BBC America. Episode 2 will air on Wednesday.

I recommend you watch the premier of this excellent police drama and check your local listings for the time you can catch the rest of the episodes on BBC America.

All images ©BBC America.