As we enter our second month of lockdown, isolation or social distancing – your current status will depend on where you’re living or if you’ve travelled recently, but you know how you are – here’s this month’s round-up of TV, film, books and podcast suggestions, plus some extra links of things worth a look.
A Note on TV
Season 3 of Killing Eve will start screening this month on the BBC iPlayer platform. The catch-up platform also has seasons 1 and 2 of the catch and mouse spy dramedy. The show follows MI5 office Eve who is hunting the hired gun Villanelle, who manages to stay just a few steps ahead of her. In Australia, it’s a mixed bag when it comes to watching the series. Stan has season 1, while the ABC’s iView has season 2 and will also have season 3 when it debuts in the UK and the US this month on BBC America. Seasons 1 and 2 are also available on YouTube, GooglePlay and Apple’s iTunes also has both seasons.
Better Call Saul
If you’re following Better Call Saul, then there’s more to be excited about this month with the release of the latest season of the Breaking Bad prequel. We’ve been edging ever closer to the events of the teacher-turned-druglord drama and this new season of the show about lawyer-gone-bad Saul Goodman promises appearances from some main players. And if you’re a fan of the series, you might like this hot take on why Saul is better TV than Bad.
An Ordinary Woman
Billed as the female version Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Marina Lavrova An Ordinary Woman lives in Moscow and works as a florist, but behind the veil of normalcy is another life. The ordinary woman runs a prostitution network through WhatsApp on her phone, but things start to get dangerous when one of your employees turns up dead.
This Netflix crime series is set in an interrogation room and takes viewers on a fascinating ride watching police try to break down suspects thought to have committed a violent crime. There are four different series – UK, France, Germany and Spain – with three episodes apiece. Crime seems to be ever popular and the genre keeps being spun in different takes and this one is gripping with its singular focus on the police interrogation phase.
A Note on Film
Ladies in Black
Department stores have long had a certain mystique. Brimming with possibilities – longed-for dresses or designer bags – they’re a world unto themselves. Ladies In Black is an Australian film directed by long-time director Bruce Beresford about several women working in a fictional department store in 1950s Sydney. Each woman faces their own path of life, from the conventional to the aspirational. It’s a small story, but one of those that peaks into a long-gone era, and tells us a lot about that the post-war period and the rumblings of change before the great upheaval that was coming with the 60s. The Broad and Mr Broad say the stage show during the Festival of Sydney several years ago and enjoyed looking back at the era of her mother’s generation as a young woman. This review in The Herald sums it up perfectly. Find it on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play Store and iTunes
This month, the Broad has watched a few other films worth a quick mention if you’re looking for more inspiration. Adam Driver shines in a subdued way in the Jim Jarmusch film Paterson, about a bus driver would-be poet and his contemplative approach to everyday life. Reminded the Broad and Mr Broad of quirky 90s film that seem long gone. Cate Blanchet is (still) magnificent as Elizabeth and this film it’s still a triumph re-watching her embody the renowned English monarch. If you can forgive Australian film Palm Beach (Amazon Prime) for its self-indulgence, it’s an easy ensemble piece which captures the beauty of Sydney’s glorious northern beaches. The film understands the mid-life and later dilemmas and crises it depicts, but disappointingly lacks any original answers and instead relies on conventional resolutions to existential second-phase-of-life questions.
A Note on Books to Read
Actress is Irish author Anne Enright’s latest novel and tells the story of Katherine O’Dell by her daughter Norah, her life on the stage across continents and her relationships in her life, and the dark secret she uncovers. The novel examines the corrosive effects of celebrity, the mother-daughter bond and escaping bad love.
Do The 1% Rule?
There’s a lot of focus on percentages in recent years. The 1% with the bulk of the money and power, and the 99% who makeup the bulk of the people, but without the vast reserves of money and the institutional and political power that comes with it. This book by academic Dr Lindy Edwards examines the situation in Australia and asks if the powerful minority rule? Edwards is a former economic advisor in the Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and a former journalist, so she has seen how power works up close. The book examines several examples of public policy – supermarkets, telecommunications, mining tax and media reform – being diminished and subverted by corporate interests.
A Note on a New Podcast
What happens when a comedian has her heart broken? She goes out and makes a podcast. In this short eight-episode series, Overwhelmed & Dying, Judith Lucy talks to a host of different people about the things she’s feeling right now – breakups, ageing, intimacy and relationships.
A Note on Things To Read
Livestream your arts
The Guardian now has a livestream schedule with a collection of music, art, literature and events from Australia and around the world, which is all coming to a monitor near you.
Reading in the time of COVID
What do novelists read to occupy their minds and imagination during a pandemic, whether to escape or just distract? That is the question answered by a number of writers including Hilary Mantel, Kazuo Ishiguro, Colm Tóibín and Tayari Jones. And just one more COVID-related link, this one from the BBC Futures site ponders what life might look like post-pandemic.
Competent women need not apply
Will the US ever see a woman as President? While we might have enjoyed the fictional POTUS Selena Meyer in Veep, played with the perfect note by Julia Louis-Dreyfus; in reality, it seems a lifetime away. Whether it’s old men, men who have trouble with true stories about their past, men who exhibit all the signs of narcissism, men who cheat on their wives, it’s still easier for any of those flawed and somewhat dangerous individuals to become US president than a woman. Why? There are many reasons and this article from The Atlantic argues that Elizabeth Warren failed in her big to be nominated to run for POTUS because she didn’t qualify her success and was ultimately punished for her ambition. Read it and see if you agree.
Only men need apply
Not so long ago, it wasn’t easy for women to reach manager level in the workforce and when they did, they were officially paid less than men. This inspiring story from The Canberra Times about Skaidrite Darius, a Latvian immigrant to Australian who spent 30 years at the ANU and became an assistant supervisor in accounts and oversaw the introduction of data processing and computer admin at the university. What makes the story so important is she did it while having to be classed as a male and known as Mr S. Darius on her employment records. Why? Because the system couldn’t record a woman in the supervisor’s position.
The Assange Primer
From CityHub comes this informative piece on what you need to know about Julian Assange, who’s languishing in an English jail while he fights extradition to the US on espionage charges. There’s an Australian parliamentary group, with MPs across the political spectrum, to support Assange and lobby to get him released. And there’s a renewed call to move him out of prison with the threat of COVID-19 and his frail health, including a lung condition.