When it’s long form TV?
Ask me what the best new films I’ve seen recently are and nothing I’ve seen in the cinema or on DVD comes to mind.
What comes to mind are the knowing and affectionate Stranger Things and the weird, stylish and wonderful Fargo season 2 with its incredible soundtrack on Netflix, the glorious slow-burn and aching melancholy of season 2 of Better Call Saul, my five-season binge of Veep (All hail, Julia-Louis Dreyfus!) and season 5 of Girls, in which Hannah, Shosh, Jessa and Marnie all grew up.
These series had one thing in common – and it coincided with what was missing from films. They were all surprising, original, daring and, in spite of all the (brilliant) swearing in Veep (Jonah’s jaw-dropping “I’m eating so much … I’m …. …” line deserves an award of some kind) and the violence in Fargo (cleavers, shotguns, screwdrivers, machetes…the lot), made you care deeply about their beautifully played characters.
Where were the great performances this year? Kirsten Dunst and Bokeen Woodbine in Fargo, Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn in Better Call Saul, Andrew Rannells in Girls, Dreyfus of course, and Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things, which also did what the cinema is too stupid to do when it rescued Winona Ryder.
At the cinema, meanwhile, we had re-heated superheroezzzz, redundant Jason Bourne, the falls-flat-on-its-face Hail Caesar!, the ludicrous (and not in a good way) The Hateful Eight and other stuff I can’t even remember.
What am I looking forward to?
Well, I have The Get Down lined up on Netflix and I still have to find time for The Knick and David Simon’s Show Me a Hero.
All of which, ironically enough, keeps me busy and sane when not co-editing The Routledge Companion to World Cinema.