This month’s round-up of TV, film, books, podcasts and more to keep you entertained and informed in March.
A Note on TV
The Twelve is a Belgian drama about a jury who must decide if school headmistress Fri Palmers is guilty of two separate murders, one 20 years ago of her best friends, and the other of her own pre-school age daughter, following her custody battle with recently separated husband. The 10-part series, available on SBS On Demand, is gripping and takes viewers on an intimate journey into the lives of the jury and weaves in and out of the murder trial. It will leave you guessing right up until the end.
The Twelve, SBS On Demand
Apple Tree Yard
If you like complex legal dramas, then have a look at Apple Tree Yard, the British four-part series featuring Emily Watson adapted from the novel of the same name. Watson plays an accomplished scientist who falls under the spell of an attractive associate and makes a series of questionable decisions with dire consequences. It’s an engaging examination of the way taking seemingly calculated risks can have much graver, unintended consequences.
Apple Tree Yard, Google Play, YouTube, Stan
The Broad and Mr Broad are always watching the Le Carre adaptation, The Little Drummer Girl, a six-part series also on SBS On Demand in Australia as well as YouTube and GooglePlay if you’re living elsewhere. It’s a complex, tightly woven story set in the 1970s about international espionage. Ms and Mr Broad have found it a little confusing at times and the characters a tad remote, but still give it a Broad recommendation. And a final suggestion is Broadchurch (no relation), the three-series drama with an ensemble cast that includes Olivia Coleman, David Tennant and Jodie Whitaker. It’s a gripping who-dun-it in the first series that becomes a trial procedural in the second series. Find it on YouTube, GooglePlay and SBS On Demand.
A Note on Film
Two films to mention this month as it’s been a month heavy on TV, as you may gather from reading the suggestions above. First up is Red Joan, the drama featuring Judy Dench in the lead role playing an elerdly woman living in London who is arrested in 2010 for conspiring with the KGB to share classified scientific information during the Second World War. It’s based on the true story of Melita Norwood, a scientific researcher unmasked as a Soviet spy, although the film’s plot deviates from the real-life events to some extent.
Red Joan, YouTube, GooglePlay, Amazon Prime
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore
Despite the lengthy title, this film is something of a gem. Written and directed by Macon Blair, and featuring Melanie Lynsky, as a nurse who seeks revenge after being burgled, with a hand from neighbour, Elijah Wood who plays a very non-Froddo Baggins disturbed, somewhat deranged character. They set out to find the thieves and in doing so find plenty of trouble and a whole lot of nasty types. The film veers between darkly comedic, noir, violent almost farce that makes a point about the working poor, lower suburban bleak outlook on modern life and how to meaning and happiness within, or despite, reasons not to.
I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, Netflix
A Note on Books
Have you ever visited the British museum and marvelled at all of the incredible objects from around the world. Now stop and ponder how they may have found their way into one of the world’s most famous museum. Britain’s history as a colonial power and seafaring nation is a complicated one. As an Australian, the Broad can personally vouch for this. In this new book, Who Owns History? Elgin’s Loot and the Case for Returning Plundered Treasure, renowned barrister and human rights advocate Geoffrey Robertson considers the question of what to do about the looted antiquities that fill these museums. The Greek Parthenon, known as the Elgin Marbles, is one of the most prominent contested objects in the British museum, which it continues to refuse to return. Cultural heritage belongs to the people and justice requires that objects are returned, argues Robertson in this thought provoking and timely book. This interview with Geoffrey Robertson by Philip Adams on Late Night Live will give you an introduction to his arguments about why restitution of these objects is necessary.
The Thinking Woman by novelist Julienne van Loon is part-memoir and part-philosophical examination of the lived experience of life and how it’s shaped by many forces. Contemplating her own experience of life, informed by her upbringing and unspoken expectations, van Loon, taps six different philosophers and writers, including Rosi Braidotti, Siri Hustvedt and Julia, to consider their notions of love, play, fear, work, wonder and friendship, reflected through her own life.
“I wanted to prompt and provoke my own readers to look at what happens when we apply philosophy to our own everyday lives,” van Loon writes in her introduction. “It can lead to a radical change of attitude to things we have come to accept.”
How hard is it to live alone? For some people, it’s a freedom to be themselves without needing another person in their close orbit, while for others it’s something of a torment to not have company. It can also be both in any given day or week. In her memoir She I Dare Not Name, author Donna Ward reflects on living a life with more solitude than anticipated and what it’s like to live in a world built in the shape of couples and families.
Last on the list for this month is Rachel Cusk’s novel Arlington Park, billed as a darkly funny look into suburbia and modern relationships. This is Cusk’s tenth novel and the memoirist and author, who has taken on motherhood, fate, satire and the not-insignificant-problem of existence itself, has attracted legions of fans and detractors with her fiction and non-fiction writing.
A Note On a New Podcast
Ester Perel’s hit podcast, Where Should We Begin, sharing couples in counselling took us into the usually hidden world of couples sharing their most intimate concerns. This new one How’s Work? is on Spotify and examines the forces that shape workplace connections, conflict and dynamics through one-time therapy sessions with people in their roles as workers. And this excellent blog by Ester Perel tells us why eroticism is good for us and how we can find things which those things which enliven our receptiveness to our own eroticism.
A Few Notes on Articles and an Exhibition
Signing off this week, with a few things to bring to your attention. It’s International Women’s Day on today 8th March and to make the occasion here’s a good article about why women need to refuse requests to speak, or do anything for that matter, for free to mark the day. It might be a problem of privilege, but nonetheless, it’s a reminder that women’s hidden and unpaid work can exists in all quarters and needs to be called out – and declined, politely or otherwise.
This article from The Guardian argues that the role of ‘muse’ diminishes women by male directors who don’t give proper credit and power to the highly creative women who inspire male artists. Remember it for the next time you hear the phrase ‘she was just [insert male artist’s] muse and his inspiration’ who fails to give the woman full agency for her creative input and role in the creative process.
Domestic violence is a problem the world over and in Australia there’s been a renewed focus on the causes and lack of suitable support mechanisms for protecting women and their children after a recent hideous example. This excellent article by David Leser recounts why he wrote a book in a bid to understand misogyny and the historical causes of these crimes against women.
Finally, this piece from The New York Times says women over 50 are finally more visible on screen and that there are plenty of reasons to feel positive about films from mainstream to arthouse.
Now ‘hot’ may not be your benchmark for how women should be judged, and in one’s 50s it can take an entirely different meaning, being in the stage of menopause and all. But in this tongue-in-cheek opinion piece in The Guardian writer Cally Beaton says she feels hot in her 50s, not just with flushes, because she’s finally comfortable in her own skin and has the new self-esteem to prove it.
Last up is a mention of an upcoming exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra of artworks women-identifying artists that examines and reflects on the themes of sex, pleasure and desire.