Saturday 25 January 2020

New on netflix: Jamie brings cinema to a television near you

The Siege of Jadotville (2016)Available now

Jamie Dornan as Pat Quinlan in Jadotville
Jamie Dornan as Pat Quinlan in Jadotville
Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood
Ab Fab: Joanna Lumley
Donal Lynch

Donal Lynch

On a stage in Paris last spring Netflix CEO Reed Hastings envisaged a future where the same content is legally available at the same time in the cinema or on your laptap. That moment comes a little closer with this offering, which is also currently running in cinemas. Of course you were already sold on this when you heard "Jamie Dornan in a soldier's uniform" but The Siege of Jadotville has much more to recommend it.

It's the debut feature from music video stalwart, Richie Smyth, based on the 2005 book by former Irish soldier Declan Power and adapted by Kevin Brodbin. It's based on a scarcely credible true story, as the UN sends a company of untested Irish soldiers into the wilds of the Congo region of Katanga and all hell breaks loose. Dornan plays Commandant Pat Quinlan who is forced to rise to the challenge without any experience in actual battle. This film goes some way toward rehabilitating the reputation of Quinlan and his colleagues, whose heroism for too long went unnoticed.

Haters Back Off 8 episodes, from Friday

Colleen Ballinger is sort of like the Florence Foster Jenkins of Generation Snowflake. She has built a YouTube empire on getting a rise out of people. Her signature character, a self-regarding wannabe singer called Miranda Sings, has been irritating people since 2008 with her long diatribes and tuneless versions of pop songs. Like Florence she's so bad she's good and like Florence the self-belief is bottomless. And now Ballinger's creation has started to transition to other platforms. The deliberately unhelpful book Self-Help, supposedly written by Miranda, was a bestseller in 2015. A television series seemed like it was only a matter of time and here we are. This first season delves back into Miranda's beginnings. The supporting cast includes Steve Little from Eastbound & Down as Miranda's uncle Jim, and Angela Kinsey of The Office as her fretful mother.


Available from Saturday, 6 episodes

Occasionally Australia throws up a TV series that is impossible to resist. Of course many of us were raised on their soaps and, in adulthood, succumbed to Summer Heights High (easily the best comedy series of the last 10 years). Well now the Aussies are doing zombies. In the opening moments, village policeman James Hayes (Patrick Brammall) arrives at the local graveyard to discover a number of naked people staggering around covered in dirt. He hands them over to the local doctor who finds them all to be well nourished and in good health but confused - James can relate to their confusion because one of the people is his wife - who has been dead for two years. Gradually the undead reveal themselves - from a variety of periods in the town's history - and picking apart their individual stories is what sustains this series as it goes on.

Boyhood (2014)

Available now

Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood

Quentin Crisp once said that the problem with modern movies was that they had become as boring as real life. The self-described "stately homo" felt that film makers had forgotten that their role was meant to be keepers of the dreams. One shudders to think, then, what he would have made of this - which was one of the sensations at the box office and the Oscars last year. Its rambling narrative of growing up seems to happen at the same torturous pace as actual growing up, which makes sense when you realise that the makers just filmed the same group of child actors as they got older. The mistakes made by the bedraggled mother of the family (Patricia Arquette) happen with a depressing repetition that would be par for the course in real life but would seldom be seen in a script because make believe characters need arcs. In the end, though, this all turns out to be a masterful stroke. While everything about Boyhood is done well, the real genius was clearly casting the little boy, Ellar Coltrane, who through some extraordinary stroke of luck (they could hardly have predicted this) turned into a thoughtful-yet-awkward young man, perfect for later scenes.

Not quite as good as everyone says, but still pretty brilliant.

Catch up now

Emily Hourican

The Fall

RTE Player, until October 17, season three, episode one

It was a long wait, but The Fall season three is now powering ahead on RTE1, and on Player. Watch out — spoilers ahead for anyone still playing catch-up with seasons one and two. The season two finale saw Paul Spector (played with chilling effect by Jamie Dornan, whose good looks make him a very disturbing kind of serial killer) lying bleeding on the ground, an apparent gonner, while Stella Gibson (a perfectly poised Gillian Anderson) stands over him. Enter series three and her determination to save his life seems almost counter-intuitive, except that justice requires him alive. The problem is that, with Spector, while there’s life, there is the desire to kill. There is also the ability to manipulate other people into doing his evil deeds for him. Written by Allan Cubitt, The Fall is television drama at its best.

Joanna Lumley’s Japan

UTV Player, episode 1 ends tonight, episodes 1-3

That icon of graciousness, Joanna Lumley (left) has proved herself an entertaining and enthusiastic travel guide — all glamorous dazzle and fascinating details delivered in husky tones — with trips along the Nile and on the Trans-Siberian Express. Here, she makes her way to Japan, taking in various spots of interest along the way. There’s Sapporo, where she arrives in time for the annual snow festival — cue Lumley in gorgeous furs, hugging an ice sculpture and chatting to monkeys — Kyoto, where it’s all cherry blossom and Geishas — and a selection of Buddhist temples, where Lumley sits in contemplation surrounded by candles. But she does not shirk modern Japan — staying in the world’s first robot hotel — or the harder stories either, like Lumley talking to a man who stayed in Fukushima, site of the devastated nuclear power plant, instead of fleeing, in order to look after the factory pets. Watching this is like a kind of Travels With My Extraordinary Aunt.


Abbey Talks

These are run by the Abbey Theatre, as kind of companion pieces to some of the plays, offering a chance to explore and investigate further.

Recent examples include award-winning writer Carmel Winters talking to Lisa Farrelly about "love and other catastrophes" in her riotous dark comedy, The Remains of Maisie Duggan, which premiered at the Abbey last September.

Then there are short interviews with members of the cast of Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme - Jonny Holden, Donal Gallery and Iarla McGowan - discussing their approach to character, research and the weight of commemoration. A kind of audio theatre-in-the-round, with perspectives on the many different aspects of bringing something to the stage.

The Ensemblist

Described as the This American Life of theatre podcasts, The Ensemblist is hosted by actor and director Mo Brady, and actress and dancer Nikka Graff Lanzarone (right), both veterans of many Broadway shows, with correspondingly many views, stories and contacts, and a great deal of entertaining attitude. Each episode, they are joined by other theatre types, often of the unsung variety - stage managers, debutants, musicians - for what is a fascinating, insider look at the high-pressure experience of being a Broadway performer, from first rehearsal through to performing eight shows a week and beyond. There are episodes dedicated to auditions, to relationships among performers and coping with stress. No need to be a theatre buff for this one.

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