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Triple bill of Oscar films yesterday

 

The Favourite

I was a bit weary about this because as someone who hated The Lobster I went into this with trepidation, especially when I saw some people describing this film with words like weird and odd. But whilst it is those things it's also really great too. It doesn't feel weird for weird sake, which is how I felt with The Lobster. The characters are bonkers, almost schizophrenic at times (especially with Queen Anne), particularly with their mannerisms and the way they speak and even though sometimes it feels like parody it works really well. I think anyone expecting a typical period piece about Queen Anne and her lesbian lovers will be very surprised when they see this. I thought the three central performances were all brilliant and I can see exactly why they are winning all the awards.

4/5

 

Green Book

This is probably my favourite of the Oscar nominations so far. It feels like such a simple story that's been told a millions times about an uneducated prejudiced white man sparking up a beautiful friendship with a POC and whilst on the surface it is just that, its the storytelling surrounding it all that I really enjoyed. It does feel soft in its depiction of racism, there's a few fights, a few instances of white people dismissing him entry to places and whilst this is enough to get you angry, its not that hard hitting. I guess it's not like we really needed to see anything truly horrible to see the backwards thinking back then. I just enjoyed going along with these two on their journey and how each man changed the other for the better. Was it as rosy in real life as the films makes out? Probably not, but there was enough tension and frustration between them at times to make it compelling. I also found it really funny too, a lot funnier than I was expecting it to be. In my head, before I watched it, I was expecting a real hard hitting drama about racism, so was quite surprised that it's not really that at all (I'd not seen any trailers or read any reviews on it). Both leads are fantastic too, but it's no more than I'd expect from these two heavy weights. I don't think I've ever seen a bad performance from either of them.

4/5

 

A Star is Born
I'll admit, this one had me least interested out of all the Oscar films. I'm not sure why I felt like that, maybe it's because on the surface it just felt like such a basic plot and set up. However I was presently surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I'd say behind Green Book it's my second favourite of the Oscar films. I think I'm still right in saying the plot was fairly basic but again, like Green Book I just enjoyed watching the story of Ally and Jack. The pacing feels a little off at times with things seeming to move at breakneck speed, but with a 2 hour run time I don't feel like anything was missed or that it didn't give the characters time to develop. I enjoyed the songs and the performances and to say that this is Lady Gaga's first lead role is astonishing, she absolutely knocks it out the park. I'm guessing playing the life of a superstar singer made it a little easier and that aspects of Allys life probably reflected her own. But even so she brings a real emotional punch to the part and has great chemistry with Cooper. Cooper plays the part of a man struggling with addiction and depression really well too. It's not just in his movement, it etched on his face and in his voice too, and it makes the conclusion of the film a real gut punch. Its also a great directorial debut for him too, he can be very proud of himself.

4/5

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I watched The Guilty last night which I thought was fantastic. Then I watched A Hard Day which I thought was dreadful! Did not like the jokey tone of it at all, and gave up after 45 mins. 

 

Really struggle to find stuff to watch that I enjoy.

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1 hour ago, kempstar said:

I watched The Guilty last night which I thought was fantastic. Then I watched A Hard Day which I thought was dreadful! Did not like the jokey tone of it at all, and gave up after 45 mins. 

 

Really struggle to find stuff to watch that I enjoy.

 

Oh man that makes me sad. 

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1 hour ago, kerraig UK said:

 

Oh man that makes me sad. 

 

Im sorry. I watched it solely on your recommendation. I only watched 45 mins or so, I will try and watch the rest later and hopefully my opinion might change.

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36 minutes ago, kempstar said:

 

Im sorry. I watched it solely on your recommendation. I only watched 45 mins or so, I will try and watch the rest later and hopefully my opinion might change.

 

Don't apologise. Film is a subjective medium. Do try to finish it though because the second half is great. But if you didn't like the coffin scene it's never gonna be your favourite film.

 

It is essentially a comedy though 

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"The history of the West has no moral justification. Which means the West can have no moral authority"

 

I am not your negro' is a powerhouse poem of whispered rage. 

 

James Baldwin bears witness to America's war with its own black sons and daughters. Covering his time spent with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Baldwin by admission is not a participant in the fight for black legitimacy but merely an observer. 

 

But what better eyes to see through. Every word, written in 1979 is weighted in prescience and validity. Every observation absolutely laser focussed and lethally astute. 

 

This isn't a heavy documentary to pain the heart, it is a fascinating meditation. Like an Adam Curtis doc it has a metronomic frequency that is almost hypnotic. 

 

Nominated for an Oscar, I'm still playing catch up on last year's brilliant offerings. This one is deeply affecting. 

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Seven (1995, Netflix)

A retiring detective (Morgan Freeman) takes on a headstrong young charge (Brad Pitt) for his final week. It’s a pretty miserable week...

 

I love everything about Seven. The credit sequence is sensationally put together, it’s exceptionally oppressive due most scenes taking place in torrential rain, while that ending still manages to pack an emotional punch that catches right in the gut.

 

Despite their cliched characters, both Freeman and Pitt do brilliant work fleshing out their broken heroes, while Geyneth Paltrow delivers the feels as a housewife trapoed in her new role. It’s Spacey though as serial killer John Doe that ends up leaving the biggest impression. He’s barely in the movie and yet every word he utters drips with malevolence, hate and rage. He’s a twisted, frightening creation that you can’t take your eyes off.

 

Expertly paced and with lots of good old fashioned detective work, Seven is a gripping thriller that still hasn’t lost its power to shock.

5/5

 

Escape Room (2018, Cinema)

A group of strangers are invited to take part in an escape room, only to discover that it... Oh my god, who fucking cares?

 

A shitty derivative movie with cliched stereotypes that desperately wants to be the next Saw franchise. It’s only saving grace is that it’s ever so slightly better than the naff Netflix movie.

1.5/5

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He Got Game

 

Jailbird dad is released on orders of the basketball-loving governor to help convince estranged sporting prodigy son sign for his alma mater

 

In spite of his face commanding the entire poster, there are large swathes of this Spike Lee movie where it is easy to forget Denzel Washington is in it. But then there’s not much orthodox about He Got Game.

 

It starts off like some bizarre mash up between Stir Crazy and Escape from New York with a softly-spoken con facing a long stretch being given a take it or leave it break from his cell to spend a week on the outiside doing the bidding of a couple of white suits. It doesn’t take a genius to predict  none of this will go well.

 

It then becomes a different movie, in which Denzel’s son, the number one all star basketball pick in the country, Jesus Shuttlesworth, is being chased, fucked, coerced, begged, emotionally blackmailed & bribed into taking one of countless offers to either pick a college, with the immense prestige that brings, or sign straight for the NBA, but as we later find disrespect his dead mother in the process who taught him education before all else.

 

The relaxed, conversational style of these scenes, which are blackly funny in that you feel not one single person is there for this guy save his kid sister, are spliced with interviews, news footage, vox pops and even some fantasy, which reminded me primarily of Friday Night Lights,, a movie I enjoyed enormously in spite of having no interest in sport, especially American sport.

 

Jesus - named after a player, not the son of god, seems largely incorruptible, turning down money or even meetings with prospective suitors or their sleazy agents, money from his childhood coach, while facing turmoil within his own extended family who are spending money he hasn’t earned yet. Everyone wants a piece.

 

Theres an entire movie there even without Denzel and his whacky prison movie antics, which makes it feel disjointed and ultimately kind of unsatisfying.

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The Guilty

(2018)

Dir: Gustav Muller

 

I watched this on the recommendation of this thread and because I do love an economical thriller. 

Unfortunately it didn't really work for me. Mainly due to going in with high expectations and partly because knowing it was a thriller I figured there was going to be some kind of twist, which led me very early on to working out all the major plot points in advance of them happening. leaving not much more to go on. 

I didn't like the B plot an the way it tried to shoe horn character depth in. Felt very tacked on. 

But it moved at a good pace considering its essentially a monologue, and the main guy is very good.

2/5

The one thing I would say, the response in here has got me intrigued. I think I could write and direct a more powerful and emotional thriller than this with the same set up and its something I could pull together quite quickly and easily with my resources. So this weekend I'm gonna start work on a script called 'Samaritan' based around a call centre and see if I can get anywhere with it. 

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16 hours ago, Dark Soldier said:

God damn its a slaughter

 

Watch November cos I wanna see if we match on that:

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6164502/

 

Ooh that sounds dead good.I will if you do A Hard Day

I've started work on my Samaritan idea creation by the way:

 

"On his first weekend shift as a Samaritan volunteer, Daniel Cook receives a call from a young lady who is contemplating suicide. While attempting to change her mind, Daniel overhears another voice on the call begging for help."

 

Working on it with a writer friend this weekend. 

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Desert Thunder (1999)

Hotshot fighter pilot is persuaded to put together a rag-tag team for a covert air strike on Iraqi superweapon. Least-talked of Badwin brother Daniel steps up and attempts to bring some weight to this straight-to-video actioner. You have to give some credit to the producers of this who clearly had enough budget for limited locations and lots of archive footage of fighter jets. One stand-out segment using most of the crop-duster-vs-choppers chase from Capricorn One, although it has to be said they shoehorned and blended it in pretty well. The film has a short running time of 82 minutes; when I got to the 70 minute mark and they still hadn't gone on the big mission I was thinking my copy was wonky,. Most of the film is the lead-up to what I'll state clearly was a rather underwhelming climax. Despite pumping up the music, the banter and the gung-ho-ness of it all it didn't get me going.

 

Seems Like Old Times (1980)

A man on the run after being forced to take part in a bank robbery seeks the aid of his lawyer ex-wife, unknown to her soon-to-be District Attorney husband. I remember seeing about 2 minutes of this many years ago and wondering what it was because even that short segment was funny. It has taken me this long to figure out what what film was. And I'm glad I finally found it. This Neil Simon-penned farce is sharp and funny with some excellent dialogue on the whole. Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Charles Grodin put in decent performances, although I found Chase's pratfalls a bit overdone. It may seems a bit old-hat even for 1980, and some may find the dialogue a bit forced, but I love this sort of writing where every line feels like it has been crafted. Not classic comedy but worth a watch.

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Happy Death Day

 

Jason Blum does Final Destination meets Groundhog Day

 

There’s a moment right at the end of this movie when one character says to the other “Wait - you’ve never seen Groundhog Day?” In some ways that illustrates the struggle this movie was always going to have generating any kind of surprise from its cinema-savvy audience. But then Blumhouse has shown time and again it knows how to crank out ultra low budget horror fare to massive profit and if you are going to steal, steal from the best.

 

So it’s not a horror. Not in any sense of the word, or by any definition of the genre. It’s not even a post modern reimagining of the calibre of Scream that would delight horror fans with its fresh take. It is, quite sensibly, a teen romance with time travel, a spunky heroine, and a finger on the pulse of how even stereotypes should be handled in the modern era.

 

Heroine Tree (I think, I haven’t looked it up) awakens in her underwear in a dorm room with a stinking hangover and a dorky guy embarrassingly trying to fill her in on the night before. Unwisely, as it’s not the first time, she thinks she can imagine it all even if she can’t remember and so begins that awful headachey shamble home In streaked makeup and last nights clothes.

 

Along the way a number of innocuous events are telegraphed meaning we know we will be seeing them again. And again. 

 

The day ends with her savage murder and awakening, once more, to an annoying ring tone (which is never explained ...) and the same dork.

 

I’ll be honest, I guessed the murderer instantly and kept faith through some predictable fakery which tries to throw you off the scent. It’s kind of like how I can’t enjoy video games anymore as I instinctively ignore the obvious path on first play purely because I’ve seen it all before.

 

If this makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy it, that’d be wrong - twist, I really liked it. In fact the only reason I watched it is the surprisingly positive buzz its sequel has been generating, which was tonight’s cinema choice but is so obviously a date movie that I now have to wait til the missus is better.

 

It works because of the Groundhog Day inspiration - have the right lead. Tree is great fun. She goes on a convincing journey from queen of resting bitch face to someone you genuinely root for. The stereotypes on campus get what’s coming to them and cliches become well rounded, something even Bill Murray’s entourage didn’t manage.

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Jurassic City (2015)

Some dinosaurs escape a lab and run about threatening people, really who cares. There are films that are so bad they're bad, and this one falls into that category like it had breeze blocks strapped to it. If I said you got a diverse group of petty criminals, and a child-murdering lifer, trapped in a prison with some dodgy CGI raptors you'd think you were in for some base-level fun at the very least. But they couldn't even get that right. Vernon Wells eventually tells us some bullshit about him wanting to be president so he released a load of dinosaurs but it's too late, I had drifted off ages before that. And to top it all, for no real reason, right near the end you learn the dinos have destroyed LA, you know, like they do. Plenty of other bad films worth a watch out there.

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The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972)

A government investigator tries to find out the truth behind the break-in at a top secret research facility. Decent conspiracy thriller with plenty of twists and turns. Like any decent thriller of this type, just when you think you have a handle on things they throw in a twist. Great use of locations, all very 70s and retro-modern. George Peppard plays the tenacious government agent trying to get to the bottom of things, and generally the acting gets the job done. It has the oppressive, paranoid feel of that fits the times. A worthy watch.

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4 hours ago, Commander Jameson said:

@Vimster, looks like you are going for a 70s conspiracy theme (did you see the thread on ResetEra?). Have you seen Colossus: The Forbin Project? It's more 70s techno-thriller but has similar themes about control.

Must be total coincidence. I do have that one ready to watch, actually. 

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Crackerjack (1994)

When terrorists lay siege to a remote mountain hotel, it's down to one cop to sort things out. Mid-90s straight-to-video action that starts off feeling like a pound shop Lethal Weapon but turns into something akin to Die Hard with a pinch of Cliffhanger. The remote mountain hotel setting is unique for this sort of flick, refreshing. Christopher Plummer hams it up brilliantly as the ex-Stasi baddie who just so happens to have been the guy who killed Jack Wild's (Thomas Ivan Griffith) wife and children - handy. One particular death involving a door and a knife had me laughing, very inventive. And the stakes ramp up to a suitably explosive ending. As with the other 90s lower-budget action films I've reviewed here recently, this is a solid watch for anyone who isn't demanding of top-tier production, writing, acting and direction. Just enjoy it.

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On 02/02/2019 at 12:02, strider said:

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019, Netflix)

After discovering the death of an unknown artist, ambitious agent Josephina (Zawe Ashton) takes his stored paintings and attracts the attention of her ruthless gallery owner Rhodora Haze (Renee Russo) and acclaimed critic Mort Vandewolt (Jake Gyllenhaal). However they eventually become to realise that the acclaimed pieces of work were being kept hidden for a reason...

 

After being bowled over by the excellent Night Crawler I was perhaps expecting a little too much from Velvet Buzzsaw. Shopped by Netflix as a horror movie, it's actually more in line with American Psycho (even the opening music sounds suspiciously familiar). It's essentially a satirical take on the art world and like American Psycho it's a world filled with empty, false truly unlikable people. Every single person is more than happy to kiss you on the cheek whilst stabbing you in the back at the first opportunity and it's something off a relief when the mysterious art of Vetril Dease finally starts killing them off.

 

Many of the deaths have already been spoiled somewhat by Netflix's trailer, so my advice there is to avoid watching that if you can. There are some cool moments, but many of them ending up being funnier than the director probably intended. There are a few nice menacing scenes and Gyllenhaal and Russo are exceptionally fun, but overall I was left feeling somewhat disappointed.

3/5

 

I cant remember where I read a preview and the Nightcrawler relation, but I had no idea it was supposed to be a horror. It wasn’t entirely working for me as a satire and I didn’t buy Jake in the lead role, a really ghastly set of affectations, all the more baffling with John Malkovich already in the cast. But I liked his incorruptible nature.

 

When the horror stuff started I went with it, until Toni Collette when I almost wet myself laughing. Everything after I saw in a new light - I honestly think the could be The Room for another generation. It’s staggeringly  poor. I’m only watching it through to see just how bad it gets.

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45 minutes ago, Vimster said:

Crackerjack (1994)

When terrorists lay siege to a remote mountain hotel, it's down to one cop to sort things out. Mid-90s straight-to-video action that starts off feeling like a pound shop Lethal Weapon but turns into something akin to Die Hard with a pinch of Cliffhanger. The remote mountain hotel setting is unique for this sort of flick, refreshing. Christopher Plummer hams it up brilliantly as the ex-Stasi baddie who just so happens to have been the guy who killed Jack Wild's (Thomas Ivan Griffith) wife and children - handy. One particular death involving a door and a knife had me laughing, very inventive. And the stakes ramp up to a suitably explosive ending. As with the other 90s lower-budget action films I've reviewed here recently, this is a solid watch for anyone who isn't demanding of top-tier production, writing, acting and direction. Just enjoy it.

 

Do they ever say Crackerjack so you can shout it? 

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School for Scoundrels (1960)

 

The college of Lifemanship will teach you how to go from zero to hero

 

One of my all time favourites from that amazing BBC2 post school series of 30s to 60s classics, there is still something undeniably creepy watching back how this wonderful comedy is basically based entirely round how to get a woman into bed under false pretences. 

 

Alistair Sim is the patron in charge of the Yeovil-based college, charging nice but dim punters a hefty fee to master the art of ‘one upmanship.’ It’s 1960 and the sexual revolution is yet to happen but this still feels like quite a daring tale, as the entirely male students learn how to belittle, cheat, cajole and coerce the unsuspecting to their advantage.

 

While its extremely funny and well cast it’s also very distracting to see an unrecognisably sparsly populated London. Not since 28 Days Later have I seen so few people on Embankment as in one of the earlier scenes where our zero literally bumps into the ‘girl’. What follows is painfully cringey as Terry Thomas goes through his entire rotter repertoire to make the lead make a fool of himself, such as paying for dinner for everyone and being scammed into buying a car.

 

It all sets up a gloriously satisfying third act when having mastered the game, the tables are turned and it’s Thomas who is run ragged. Watching these scenes, especially the return of the car, is just great. Sim pops up to encourage and monitor progress ‘in the field’ before carrying out the graduation ceremony, complete with mortar, before waving his student proudly off to do - well, as he says earlier, “whatever depends entirely what kind of gentleman you are.”

 

Sim is just magnificent. He has so much fun playing off the lead, it’s like watching a magician in very slow motion.

 

Very dodgy sexual politics aside, this is still a brilliant movie to watch. It doesn’t feel quite like anything else, certainly not an Ealing comedy which always belt along with the soundtrack almost like a primary character, this is content to have long stretches of near silence and pulled back widescreen shots to enhance the act of getting one up. Still love it.

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The Natural

 

Baseball drama about 'the best there ever was'

 

Major League, Field of Dreams and A League of their Own all owe a massive debt to this 1984 homage to America's favourite pastime, as does arguably The Simpsons' finest hour.

 

Roy Hobbs, played by Robert Redford, is a wide eyed, blond haired Iowa farmboy who smiles lots and plays catch with his dungaree-wearing salt of the earth father, until the latter dies (shades of Superman here) under a big tree which is later destroyed by a lightning bolt.

 

For reasons never explained, the orphaned youth then fashions a perfect bat from the wooden corpse, and goes off to make his name in the big leagues, leaving behind sweetheart Glenn Close with a promise to return for her.

 

On the way, he catches the eye of a sleazy sports writer & bests 'the greatest' hitter of the game at a corny state fair. He also meets a sultry mysterious dame, but once in New York things take basically the movie's only unexpected turn.

 

Nearly two decades later, Roy returns to the big city, this time a still unknown but now over the hill rookie, but as determined as ever to become the greatest.

 

Although made in 1984, and set in 1939, it could easily have been made that year. As undoubtedly influential as it was, providing all the major narrative beats for the movies mentioned above and satirised mercilessly in the softball match in which Homer also makes his own bat, it's astonishingly lacking in self awareness of quite how silly it is. In terms of casting ethnicity, it's also whiter than an episode of Frasier projected onto a polar bear.

 

Redford might look in turn like Indiana Jones or even his own wiseguy from The Sting, but he's actually playing the part that Ryan Gosling has now made his own. The 'mystery' surrounding him makes him almost supernaturally cagey, talking in questions, the man with no name, and honestly it's really fucking irritating. It's not even a good script, the dramatic moments are TV movie grade (the coach won't play him - for no reason! until he does, when - shock - he hits everything for months, then misses. Then hits again! Then misses).


By the time it gets to the finale, I was inadvertently thinking of that time when Billy the Fish came on as a substitute - "on crutches!" - and it somehow feels no less absurd.

 

The central mystery is never explained, which is equally infuriating. The main fun to be had then is piecing together all the moments The Simpsons stole in that epic episode, which I was amused to note also include the hypnotherapist.

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On 14/02/2019 at 17:46, kerraig UK said:

 

Ooh that sounds dead good.I will if you do A Hard Day

I've started work on my Samaritan idea creation by the way:

 

"On his first weekend shift as a Samaritan volunteer, Daniel Cook receives a call from a young lady who is contemplating suicide. While attempting to change her mind, Daniel overhears another voice on the call begging for help."

 

Working on it with a writer friend this weekend. 

 

 

Just be very careful. Sams listen non-judgementally, ie even though they want to help, they don't direct people. The way we approached conversations about people's thoughts of taking their own life was/is very circumspect and open. 

 

I know you were part of the conversation years ago, when I talked about my experience here, and it may be worth looking through that thread in case it helps.

 

Sorry if I sound a bit defensive, but Samaritans are utterly unique in this country for listening without alerting the authorities - we were told in no uncertain terms we must refuse entry to police asking to check records or divulge details of conversations. Creating a facsimile that people recognise as a Sams surrogate - but doesn't get the way we talk right - may get a false impression. 

 

Also, Inside no. 9 did one thing similar recently, so may be worth rewatching that to check you don't overlap too much. 

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2 minutes ago, Treble said:

 

 

Just be very careful. Sams listen non-judgementally, ie even though they want to help, they don't direct people. The way we approached conversations about people's thoughts of taking their own life was/is very circumspect and open. 

 

I know you were part of the conversation years ago, when I talked about my experience here, and it may be worth looking throughthat thread in case it helps. Sorry if I sound a bit defensive, but Samaritans are utterly unique in this country for listening without alerting the authorities - we were told in no uncertain terms we must refuse entry to police asking to check records or divulge details of conversations. 

 

Also, Inside no. 9 did one thing similar recently, so may be worth rewatching that to check you don't overlap too much. 

 

Yeah I remember the thread and my ex went through the training. I specifically like the non judgemental angle because it means wrestling with conscience, which makes the character more interesting. Might come to you to read when it's written

 

Didn't know about the inside no 9 ep so cheers for the tip off

 

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No worries man, and happy to help :)

 

Inside no. 9 episode: 
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4533012/

 

On-topic, I saw If Beale Street Could Talk on Sunday. Really good, very moving and beautifully shot & scored. It has some flaws (typical of any adaptation of a literary novel, really) but really worth seeing. I'll get some more impressions down when I'm next at a keyboard :)

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