What Abe Watched Last Month, Vol. #2

So, this is terribly tardy. I introduced What Abe Watched Last Month last month, and said I’d post these on the first of each month. Frankly, I’m a bit embarrassed that — at time of writing — it’s March 13th.

But I can explain.

There’s been a few different reasons for this:

  1. A short play I’ve written has been commissioned for a festival (hurrah!) at Hammersmith Lyric next month (tickets here) which links with the latter of 1 (see above).
  2. Really, I should write about each film shortly after watching it, rather than at the end of the month, so it doesn’t feel like I’m staring at a mountain’s peak from the nadir.
  3. I should have just never agreed to do this.
  4. Okay, I’m okay with doing this, but I should have never agreed to deliver this on the first day of each month. Alas, we learn from our mistakes and this is a working progress. From here onwards, I update my commitment to allow me more leeway; first week of the month.
  5. 34 people viewed the first one, and that bruises the ego, friends. My least read post ever, on anything, guys.
    Bruises.
  6. Oh and actually — this is probably the main reason and I can’t believe I’m mentioning it last — LOL. Because I was watching a really good film on Netflix but didn’t finish it… And I didn’t want to post until I’ve finished. At time of writing, I still haven’t finished it :(

I’ve accepted now, though, that this is niche. Most people don’t give enough of a toss about what some random writer from the South East London watched last month, and I’m okay with that. My wounds have been severely licked, and I am happy to serve the 34 of you once again.

We go again.

What Abe watched Last Month, Vol. 2: February ‘17

Film

I think this is everybody’s favourite character from ‘Split’.

I’m not really into horror. In the last decade, I think I’ve watched one other horror film. I’ve definitely only watched one in cinema. But, James McAvoy is in this and it’s described as a ‘psychological thriller-horror’ which — having seen it — is pretty accurate. If you’ve not heard already, James McAvoy plays a man with 23 different personalities, due to his Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Split — for the most part (basically, before it became OTT horror) — is captivating, and I found myself constantly wondering which of the 23 personalities we’d have dealing with the three abducted girls.

McAvoy’s performance is without a doubt the lynchpin to this film and — for those of you who did enjoy this — I’d implore you to watch Filth (2013) where he plays a policeman with Borderline Personality Disorder (so, just the two personalities that time ‘round). I’m absolutely certain it was that role that secured him the leading role in Split. Watch!

Like many, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this film’s release. Produced in 2014… What took so long? When there’s a long gap between a film’s completion and it’s distribution, the reason is usually because it’s just not that great. Still, with trustworthy Netflix grabbing the rights, surely this wouldn’t be the case… Right?

Wrong.

I was really disappointed in the John Boyega-led drama and — if I’m honest — I think Netflix backing this film was off the furore that currently surrounds Boyega (whose performance was good, should I add), as oppopsed to the film’s merit. Avoid.

My uncle always recommends great films, especially indie/foreign ones, and this was one he recommended back December 2015… Yet I’ve only just watched it.

The Argentian film (honouree of a Best Foreign Picture BAFTA) consists of six ‘segments’ (read as: ‘short films’) that look at the extremities of human behaviour when distressed, or what the desire of revenge can cause within us. The film had me in an absolute riot of laughter, and I think ‘wild’ is actually a timid description for how extreme some of the segments got. The humour is so brilliant, and it was impressive how each film felt so unique in how they explored the same themes. Watch; Film Rec of the Month!

In case you were unaware, Taraji P. Henson is — and has been — bae for a long while now so I was always going to watch this. But like many seemingly credible films with a black cast, I always try to make the extra effort and the time to go and see them in cinema (added bonus if I can see them on opening weekend; the greatest impact/indication to the powers that be). So busy I was, however, that it got to a point where I feared I’d miss in cinema. Thankfully that was not the case.

At the heart of this true story are highly intelligent, taken for granted black women who are working at NASA, with one of them joining the team tasked with getting the United States into out of space as the first coloured woman in the team (that’s a bit of a mouthful, ain’t it?).

I feel like everything that can be said about Hidden Figures has been said. I’ve seen endless superlatives about the importance of this film to especially inspire black women, who so often do not see themselves championed in mainstream media. What more can I add, other than resounding agreement? It’s a really good film. It’s not corny. There is both nuance and subtlety in the issues it addresses, but also cause for sorrow, knowing that these stories aren’t all too long ago, but also realising how far we still have to go when you take into account the issues we still face today. Nonetheless, every step is a step nonetheless. Watch!

I used this image instead of the film poster because the latter makes it look way too Romcommy. It’s not (not that I have an issue with Romcoms; I love them).

Mark Duplass seldoms does any wrong for me, applicable to him as an actor (the first film I recall seeing him in; Your Sister’s Sister), writer (prematurely cancelled TV series Togetherness), director (the brilliant Jeff Who Lives at Home) or producer (Safety Not Guaranteed, what a brilliantly quirky film). In all those films, he’s also had a second role. In the case of Blue Jay, he all but directed it. He is a star in his own rights, in the subgenre Mumblecore, a style of indie filmmaking that is typically characterised by low budgets, naturalistic performances and (often fantastic) dialogue, and a focus on personal relationships over plot in the lives of what I guess we’d call mostly millennial, and those going through quarter-life crises.

This film is actually the reason why this blog took so long and, I’m ashamed to say… I’ve still not finished it. But I’ve watched enough to cast judgement (and will be finishing it). Shot in black and white (much like one of my favourite mumblecore films, Frances Ha), two high school lovers bump into each other in their hometown and end up spending a day together catching up and reminiscing.

I love chance encounters so it was always going to be right up my street… Watch!

Television

I said I’ve been busy, haven’t I? I didn’t watch anything new in February, sorry guys. But I am still watching the following series (behind on most of them), would still recommend them (and you can check the last #WAWLM for a more detailed assessment of them):

  • New Girl (still funny)
  • Modern Family (again, still funny. New favourite character is baby Joe)
  • The Big Bang Theory (Did you hear they’re doing a spin-off series on a young Sheldon?!)
  • Suits (Who continue to fight back the occasional blips they have)
  • Scandal (Not sure how I feel about how the current series’ frequent time-jumps)
  • Homeland (End of episode 4 of the current season has completely gripped me for the rest of the season)

Going to cheat a little; here though. I have one new drama I’ve began to watch, but in March. However, I know by the time I get a chance to write my next post, it’ll be off iPlayer.

I’ve watched two out of three of the episodes in this BBC mini-series (the final episode airs tonight) that follows a pregnant architect that feels that her maternity cover — a mother who is returning to working life after taking ten years out to raise her child — has a hidden agenda. There’s also some interesting exploration of the (potential psychotic) effects of pregnancy and the post-natal. If you want a good watch that requires a minimal commitment (3 hours and it’s done), then I’d say Watch!

Update (16/03/2017): So, I watched the final episode of this yesterday. It was pants. Ruined the work of the prior two episodes. I take back my recommendation. Avoid.

I’VE JUST REMEMBERED I TRIED TO WATCH THIS. Gonna keep it brief, heard loads about it, love Tom Hardy ergo, no-brainer. Couldn’t finish the first episode, found it so boring. So disinterested. Hence forgetting that I tried to watch it. Avoid.

Documentary

None this month, no time (broken record), soz. I do intend to watch Oscar-winning OJ: Made in America (all seven and a half hours of this three part documentary). I watched 20 mins of episode three whilst a friend was watching on the weekend. Of what I saw, it’s incredible.

Theatre

Everything I saw since I last posted (#HashtagLightie, New Nigerians, Good Dog) are, unfortunately, no longer in theatre. All were fantastic and — should they return — I urge you to go and see them.

This month I plan to see:

Motown the Musical, Shaftesbury Theatre

Escape the Scaffold, Theatre503

Not much time for anything else at the moment because, writing deadlines are raping my life at present. On that topic; I’ve got a short play on in April as part of the Young Harts Writing Festival — come see it!

At time of publishing, I don’t know which night my play will be but, once I do, I’ll update this post.

Lastly, to wrap up, some thoughts I’m having; I’ve decided — going forward — I’m actually going to watch once a month (on top of my usual viewings):

  • One documentary
  • One film that I’ve not seen but should have (maybe one day I’ll write a post about all the films I’ve not seen, to incite outrage and hatred towards me).
  • A British series/mini-series (only if there’s something worth watching)

So yeah, we’re gonna see how that goes but considering I previously committed to delivering this on the first of each month, and this is being published on March 14th…

Don’t hold your breath init.

Abe x

If you enjoy reading my blogs, I’d recommend you come and see one of my films or plays. They’re even better than the blogs, or so I’ve been told. To find out when next my writing will be on show, join the Creative Blue Balls mailing list, and follow us on Twitter/like us on Facebook.

You can follow me on Twitter, too: @abeislegend

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Abraham Adeyemi

Abe is the founder of Creative Blue Balls and a writer of, but not limited to: screen, stage and copy. He refuses to suffer with creative blue balls in silence.