Couch Pumpkin: Sofa Adventures
News and reviews for the big and small screens…where potatoes fear to tread.

Feb
06

Sigh.

Another month, another unfortunate break-up. It’s always me doing the dumping – ‘it’s not me, it’s you’ – but of course I have to wonder if it is me.

Am I just growing out of all my shows?

But then I remember the telly addict’s conundrum. Faced with a fabulous new show, we are caught between the devil (i.e. an axe happy executive) and the deep blue sea (from which a toothsome shark which surely emerge during the bloated 3rd/4th season). It is the latter which I am struggling with at the moment. When shows limp on longer than they should, the show-runner tends to panic. How to keep things fresh? Those damn nerds have figured out all my plotlines! Quick! Throw a pigeon in there or something! Or a rape storyline! People want WHO to be a couple? Pfft, delete all their scenes together. That character is so popular, it’s making me feel insecure! Kill him! KILL THEM ALL! Mooohahahahahaha

Anyway, you get the picture. Sadly, the latest casualty is the once-brilliant Being Human. See under the cut for details, plus some info on some of my other televisual exes (spoilers abound!)

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Jan
16

It’s been a while, fellow Pumpkins.

And what on earth have I been up to?

Working. Sleeping. Working some more. Sigh.

Anyway, as I rarely do anything on a Friday night (busy socialite that I am) I’ve made it something of a resolution to go to the cinema more often – alone, which has been oddly liberating so far. I’ve seen two of this year’s most talked about films: The Artist and Shame.

The Artist is, simply put, a delight. A pastiche of silent movies that somehow manages to be a homage, a comedy and a strangely moving love story at the same time, it knocks spots off many ‘modern’ blockbusters. It follows the story of a silent movie star (played with aplomb by Jean Dujardin) who finds his fortune changing as Hollywood turns to the talkies. Meanwhile, for the perky Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), the new style offers new opportunities…

Having very much enjoyed Paul Merton’s history of early Hollywood on the BBC earlier this year, and having recently seen Scorsese’s lush (but overwrought) tribute to early film, Hugo, I loved the period details in this film. Plus there is a super cute dog. A must-see.

Shame…well…what can I say? The critics are raving but this film really wasn’t for me. It follows Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a New York businessman living the dream life in the big city – except his sex addiction has reduced his life to an endless cycle of meaningless encounters. His sister (Carey Mulligan) disrupts his routine and threatens to bring his carefully ordered world crashing down.

Fassbender is a fine actor (and for those Fassy freaks out there you get to see everything, if you know what I mean) and his performance is skillful. But ultimately Brandon’s ‘journey’ left me cold. The long, drawn-out scenes bored me. The amount of flesh on show made me shut my eyes. Whilst some discomfort was no doubt the desired effect, I found the whole film toppling from ‘edgy’ straight into ‘self-indulgent’ – and don’t even get me started on Brandon’s ‘long dark night of the soul’. Don’t take your mother.

Recs for next Friday?

Jul
10

Okay, okay, it’s been a long time. Apologies.

Anyway, my mind has been on the subject of children’s tv lately, for a few reasons. So, in the first of a series on the topic, I wanted to point out a show which I suspect has had a massive impact on my tv (and even wider) taste.

The thing is, I’m a heroine junkie. Seriously. If your show features a sword, gun or magical dildo wielding heroine, I’m there. And it’s not just the overtly ‘strong’ women…lady struggling with social norms and finding her inner HBIC? Yes please. Rounded, complex, intelligent, HUMAN female characters – MY DRUG.

Some of my favourites include…

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Feb
12

Based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2005 novel of the same name, Never Let Me Go is a genre-defying drama that lingers on in the mind long after viewing. Quiet, understated and poignant, it is a beautifully made film that manages to tackle some weighty themes at the same time as packing an emotional punch.

It is also extremely difficult to talk about without revealing the main concept. Ishiguro himself (who I was lucky enough to see in a Q+A after the film) has no problem with this – he has always erred on the side of being upfront about the premise. However, just in case you want to avoid ‘spoilers’, I will warn you to look away now…

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Nov
11

Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the BFI’s preview of Misfits Series 2, held at the National Film Theatre.

l-r: Lauren Socha (Kelly), Robert Sheehan (Nathan), Jonathan Ross, Howard Overman (the creator)

I’ve written a little bit in the past about how much I liked Misfits when it first aired last year. Thankfully the Series 2 opener is just as darkly funny as the first episodes, with laughs-a-plenty between and even during its intense action sequences.

The episode finds our jumpsuited, teenage heroes back on community service and mourning the loss of Nathan. They’ve still got the extraordinary powers they gained during a freak storm, and the episode helpfully showcases each of them in case we need a reminder! When a troubled ‘storm-freak’ starts making trouble at the community centre, the Misfits must draw on their abilities and fight for their lives. Will Kelly’s mindreading, Simon’s invisibility, Alisha’s lust touch or Curtis’s time travel save the day? Of course Nathan’s power, revealed in a key twist at the end of the last series, also comes into play. And who is the mysterious masked figure stalking the gang?

The script remains razor sharp and the show’s most important asset – along with the talented cast. The direction is fantastic, using washed out tones to contrast with the bright orange of the team’s jumpsuits, and a soft-focus effect during many scenes which lends the show a surreal edge.

If you haven’t caught Misfits before, I highly recommend the show. This series opener recaps the main plot points of Series 1, so you shouldn’t feel too lost. It’s also very accessible – you don’t need to be a huge sci-fi fan to enjoy it, although if you are you’ll probably find a lot to like as well.

As a bonus, the cast are lovely! Lauren and Robert took part in the Q+A with Jonathan Ross, and gave some witty and fascinating answers to his questions. Lauren revealed that Kelly may be involved in some saucy action this series, possibly involving a very unusual partner…

Nathan and Antonia (Curtis and Alisha) took part in a short workshop following the preview, and answered even more of our queries. I asked them how they felt Misfits fits in with other youth programming, e.g. Skins – they explained (rather eloquently) that they feel Misfits is a grittier look at real teenagers. Well, real teenagers with super powers anyway! Refreshingly, Misfits also refrains from moralising. Its young protagonists are (delightfully) flawed – it is this that makes them so compelling to watch.

Misfits is on E4, Thursday 11th November, 10pm

 

Sep
30

A couple of exciting previews have come out recently, highlighting shows I’m interested in.

The BBC has a drama preview video which contains some brief shots of Outcasts. Alas they are so brief it’s hard to get anything from them – I made out a lot of desert! There are a couple of snippets of Hermione Norris and Ashley Walters as well (and Amy Manson running with a gun?). I’m also looking forward to Christopher and his Kind with the lovely Matt Smith, and who can resist David Tennant+ cute kids in Single Father?

In Game of Thrones news, HBO released three new videos! Best of the lot is this behind the scenes featurette, showing some awesome shots of Cersei, Tyrion, the kids and some interview footage with Sean Bean, GRRM and the producers:

Both shows look to be shaping up nicely…can’t wait to see them for real!

ETA: A still of Norris and Walters can be found at lifeofwylie!

Aug
31

Me and Orson Welles didn’t make a massive splash when it came out last year. Perhaps that was down to the marketing, which emphasised Zac Efron’s participation – surely aiming for his legion of High School Musical fans (mums and daughters alike).

Whilst the film does indeed offer a big helping of Zef and his cute face, it’s far from the glitz and glamour of his other big roles in Hairspray and 17 Again. Me and Orson Welles is a sweet,  low-key romance, which is as much about a boy falling in love with the theatre as it is with the two women (played by Claire Danes and Zoe Kazan) he meets along the way.

Efron plays Richard, a dreamy kid who spends his weekends hanging out in 1937 Manhattan. Here he stumbles upon (a pre-Kane) Orson Welles, who’s putting on a daring production of Julius Caesar and needs someone to play Lucius. Richard gets the job, and is thrown into the deep end with the charismatic, genius and yet highly unstable Welles in charge.

Efron does a fine job as Richard, managing to capture a youthful sense of confident ambition tempered with naivety. It is Christian McKay as Welles, however, who is the true star. His performance evokes the spirit of the man without becoming parody (and, weirdly,  having watched a whole batch of Welles clips and interviews on YouTube with my friend the other week, I was in a good position to judge it!).

Made on a shoe-string (including scenes shot in my former local park at Crystal Palace!) and featuring a supporting cast of mainly British actors (including the always brilliant Ben Chaplin), Me and Orson Welles is no star-studded Hollywood biopic. And yet, like Welles’ own production of Julius Caesar, it’s moving and entertaining because of, not despite, its simplicity. Definitely one to check out.

Jul
31

As a follow up to my recent Game of Thrones post, where I mentioned that I would love to see Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister, my wish seems to have been granted!

Woohoo!

I CANNOT WAIT!!!

Ahem.

Jul
28

Inception, the new film from Memento and Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan, is definitely flavour of the month…and extremely hard to review without spoilers! So, if you haven’t seen it yet,  I’ll just say I enjoyed it thoroughly and definitely give it my seal of approval. It’s a more cerebral take (hoho) on the summer blockbuster, with some excellent action set pieces and very tense moments. It’s not perfect, but certainly worth spending an evening watching, especially as it is one of the few original movies out there at the moment.

And now for the spoilery discussion…

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Jun
29

With thanks to Bamber News for the link to this video, featuring Outcasts Daniel Mays and Eric Mabius.

End of the year, hmm? I’m excited 😀

p.s. look for my Doctor Who series review…coming soon!