It’s time for a double amount of monthly favourites!
An American In Paris (Musical Play)
An American In Paris may be the most successful musical play in London at the moment. I went to see it at the Dominion Theatre (which is a very beautiful venue by the way) and really enjoyed it. It is an adaptation of the 1951 eponymous movie, which recounts the story of Jerry Mulligan, an American veteran who stays in Paris to become a painter after World War II and falls in love with a girl who is already engaged to a friend of his (the friend is a French wannabe singer from a rich family). Directed by Christopher Wheeldon, this musical is quite stunning; the stage sets are absolutely amazing and change so quickly and smoothly throughout the play that you totally feel taken to the 1950’s Paris; the dancing parts are extremely impressive – a lot of collective dancing scenes looked like lively paintings but my favourite ones were the couple dancing scenes, which looked very beautiful and technical – and the story offers a lot of comic moments.
The Handmaiden (Movie)
The Handmaiden is Park Chan-Wook’s latest movie and, as expected, it is brilliant and disturbing. It is an adaptation of the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, whose story is transposed from Victorian England to 1930’s Korea under Japanese occupation. In this thriller/historical movie, a conman operating under the name of “Count Fujiwara” is planning to trick Japanese heiress Lady Hideko by marrying her and then having her committed to an asylum in order to inherit her money. He hires Sook-hee, a young pickpocket, to help him implement his plan. Sook-hee becomes Lady Hideko’s maid and start convincing her to marry pseudo-Count Fujiwara. But of course, things take a different turn.
This movie is masterfully build in three parts. Each part is narrated from a different point of view and give you a new set of information regarding scenes that you’ve already seen. Park Chan-Wook plays with your mind and it’s delightful. This movie is also beautifully shot and has an extremely harmonious soundtrack. It is a great movie but, beware, it has very long and explicit sex scenes.
Mad Men (TV Series)
Yes, I’m very late to the party. Yes, everyone has already watched Mad Men and loved it. But I wanted time to savour it, and it was awesome. In case you are late to the party like me, here’s a little summary of what it is about. Mad Men recounts the daily and office life of a bunch of employees from Sterling Cooper, one of Madison Avenue’s famous advertisement agencies in New York City, in the 1960’s. The series focuses a lot on Sterling Cooper’s creative director, Don Draper, and his family. It depicts in a very interesting way the advertising world from the 1960’s (it’s bold, crazy, sexy and sometimes funny but always quite accurately portrayed, and the series definitely doesn’t hide the misogyny or booze problems that affected the ad industry at that time) but also, more generally, the American society of this time. The characters are also top-notch. Peggy Olsen, played by the awesome Elisabeth Moss, is maybe one of the strongest female characters we’ve seen on TV over the last years (and definitely one of my favourite characters of all times)!
The Keepers (Documentary Series)
The Keepers is Netflix’s new true-crime documentary series, in 7 episodes. It was compared to Making A Murderer and I can definitely see some similarities between the two shows. However, The Keepers offers a much more finely-shaded and open-to-interpretation take on the affair it depicts. The Keepers focuses on two unsolved murders that took place in 1969 in the same area of Baltimore. Sister Cathy Cesnik was a nun and a well-loved English and drama teacher at Archbishop Keough High School. She was 26 when she’s murdered. Joyce Malecki was a 20-year old girl. Decades after the murders, the official investigations had gone nowhere but two of Cathy Cesnik’s former students (amazing Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub) decided to start their own investigation. The series shows them move heaven and hearth to collect information and find the truth… while the director, Ryan White, also leads his own investigation. The series links the murders to a huge sexual abuse scandal involving the Catholic Church and part of the Baltimore police task force. This heart-breaking series will make you very angry and won’t give you many answers, but it does show the difficulties of uncovering the truth when institutions don’t do their job and how terribly difficult this situation is for the victims’ families.
Chewing-Gum (TV Series)
Let’s finish on a much lighter touch with this British sitcom set in East London. Chewing-Gum focuses on a 24-year-old virgin, Tracey Gordon (played by Michaela Coel, who also writes the show) who has been brought up in a super strict catholic family and who discovers sex when she finally gets a boyfriend. Don’t expect much subtlety with this show. It’s deliberately silly. Michaela Coel shows a great degree of self-mockery, which is refreshing, and she also breaks all the taboos, in particular regarding sex. Her character asks herself the questions that all girls in real life have asked themselves and her sexual life is full of misadventures that seem very “real”. Also great if you’re looking for more diversity in the stuff you’re watching.
Anything you’ve recently discovered and liked?