Film Review - The Duke


A charming true story

In 1961 a Newcastle man called Kempston Bunton stole the famous Goya painting of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London as a means to fund thousands of free television licences for pensioners only later he was forced to return it and stood trial for the crime. If that true story seems slight this 2020 film is anything but with a script that plays as a social commentary of the time as a well as a portrait of a man who battles against injustices using unconventional means.



Top of the Pops 30 April 1987


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Steve Wright: “Yes yes!! Good evening and welcome to another!! Exciting! Enthralling!! Top of the Pops!! With me and 'im!!” Peter Powell: “Thank you! And for openers... The Jesus and Mary Chain! Brilliant song! April Skies!”

[19] The Jesus & Mary Chain: April Skies. The Jesus and Mary Chain are having a who-can-pretend-to-look-least-bothered-about-being-onstage contest. There's the drummer, flailing vaguely at his drum kit, one handed in the background. The guitarist wearing dark glasses who looks at the floor. And the other guitarist who stands very still and also looks at the floor. Meanwhile, lead singer Jim Read keeps fiddling with his microphone. He drags the stand around. He pops the microphone off the stand. He puts the microphone on the floor. He wanders round the stage. He turns around, spots the microphone on the floor, and seems surprised how it got there.

Later he picks the stand up by the base and starts waving it around in a very unsafe way. Then, apparently bored he drops the stand on the floor where it forms a potential trip hazard. Obviously worried about this he picks it up again and then very slowly waves it around his head like Highlander. Just leave the damn thing along Jim. If you stopped fiddling with it you might do a better job of miming to your own song.



Midsomer Murders- Strangler's Wood


Class season two episode works a treat

When the body of a girl who has been strangled with a tie is found in Ravens Wood near the village of Midsomer Worthy it evokes memories of three similar murders that took place nine years ago. Has the same killer started again and, if so, why did they stop? Anthony Horowitz shows the early promise that would later bring us Foyle’s War and Alex Rider amongst others and this episode is very much a precursor to his economic style. There isn’t a moment that’s out of place, a line of dialogue that isn’t significant and the clues are laid out for us to work out as we go along. At precisely the same moment as Barnaby does viewers will work out who the killer is.



Top of the Pops 23 April 1987


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Gary Davies: “Hi. Good evening. Now, not only are we live tonight, we also have six live bands in the studio. We start off with the number eight record this week, here's Five Star.”

 [8] Five Star: The Slightest Touch. The Top of the Pops partyometer has been cranked up to seven for the live show this week. Pom-poms and plastic hats for some. Balloons and streamers for the rest. Confetti to be thrown in Gary Davies' face forever. And fixed, excited grins for all. Michael Hurll is mixing Smilex with the studio smoke. I've mentioned before that these days I download Top of the Pops from the Palace of Righteous Justice (https://mega.nz/folder/h0snQACa#uiNNqosfbdrfzODHsE1clw/folder/kpVhQAqJ) where the majority of the episodes are digital copies of the BBC masters, for some reason. This episode is especially interesting because it's a recording of a live edition and it starts 30 seconds before the episode gets on air, We see a countdown clock and then someone whispers, “it's all gone quiet.” It's probably Gary Davies. “Thirty seconds,” shouts a more distant voice, let's pretend it's Floor Manager Iain McLean. “Wooo,” adds Gary Davies, which provokes a few cheers from the audience. “Could have done with a big wooo, then,” is Gary's follow up which gets a much more spirited response just before the opening titles start to roll.



Film Review: Jurassic World- Dominion


Overlong but enjoyable conclusion to the Jurassic Era

Like many, I’ll never forget that moment in the original Jurassic Park when we catch our first sight of `real` dinosaurs. As a child I had been disappointed on discovering there was no footage of these amazing creatures and I dragged my parents to every conceivable replica whether in museums or theme parks and avidly watched every stop motion dinosaur film makers attempted. Yet what I really wanted was to see them in their majesty. Then in 1993 I did. For generations of people who had childhood memories of wishing they could see dinosaurs it was a wonderful reward and one of the best cinematic moments I will ever see. Nearly thirty years on we’ve seen so many dinosaurs and sundry other digitally generated images that simple wonder has been replaced with an ever ambitious demand to be impressed. We don’t even get surprised by them any more. Now we have what is billed as the final Jurassic film, the sixth offering from a franchise that can now only follow those who copied its visual genius. Can Jurassic World- Dominion come anywhere near to those thrills we experienced in 1993?



Cobra Kai Season 3


Differently paced third season has some incredulous plots but remains a delight to watch

The climax of season two was so visually and dramatically shocking that it set a benchmark for subsequent seasons. Series in this position can sometimes struggle to match the excellence of what has gone before so Cobra Kai’s third season dials back to effectively reset the show.  Behind the scenes there was also a change with Netflix taking over after the first two seasons had been produced by YouTube. Would these changes make a difference? If this sometimes makes the third outing seem a little less focussed and a notch down on the excitement of last time, the series remains in great shape, as lively and fluid as before. The writers manage to skilfully ease matters out of a potential cul de sac in a variety of ways and move forward. Worth remembering too that the series is billed as a comedy drama so perhaps not to be take too seriously. 



TV Review: Big Boys


Autobiographical comedy drama is sweet, biting and clever all at once!

Comedian Jack Rooke’s new six - part series is not exactly what you might expect. With a title like Big Boys and a story about going to University you might expect The Inbetweeners when they got a bit older but it’s something rather different. Yes, there’s lewd humour and references, plenty of substances imbibed, drunk or otherwise experienced and what those old video warnings quaintly described as “sexual swear words”. However they are the backdrop to a story about family and friendship, a story full of big hearted emotions couched behind the brazen exterior of young people’s outward behaviour. Adapted from his book these are all real life experiences presumably given an extra comedic edge and you’ll be laughing and probably by episode six crying as well, maybe even both together!


Film Review: Top Gun - Maverick


Exhilarating sequel will take your breath away!

Despite being an iconic film Top Gun does not immediately spring to mind as needing a sequel and it’s taken over thirty - five years to get here. The standard Hollywood narrative would be an older, bitter, washed out Maverick called back for one vital mission. Can he battle his personal demons and get himself together to achieve it? Thankfully this is not that film. Instead, Top Gun - Maverick is as thrilling and satisfying a movie as it’s predecessor, maybe even more so. While It acknowledges that history and plays with it -especially visually- in the end it sets its own hugely enjoyable path. Call backs to the first film are well done without going overboard, I probably didn’t even spot them all because you don’t necessarily need them but its satisfying to have them anyhow.

He's flying towards the SPOILERS past the break...