Thursday, 17 September 2015

Seen and heard: August 2015

Blackwell Epiphany - final adventure game in the Blackwell sequence. A strong and fitting end, though unlike some other players I didn't cry or come close to it at the denouement. Deserving of its classic status, and a case study of what can be achieved with a relatively simple game engine and some very good writing.

David Mitchell, Thinking About It Only Makes it Worse - fun collection of essays from his Observer column, with witty and genuinely perceptive angles on politics, popular culture, and life in general.

Partners in Crime - or Tommy and Tuppence, as I think most people are calling it. Very agreeable BBC drama series featuring Agatha Christie's husband-and-wife amateur detectives, with David Walliams and Jessica Rayne presenting just the right hint of camp. Particularly nice to see the character Uncle Tony, who is something hush-hush in the secret service, played by James Fleet from The Vicar of Dibley. If running the secret service is what Hugo Horton did when he grew up, it could explain a thing or two.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.- new film. We had low expectations, given the poor reviews, but found it surprisingly acceptable. Henry Cavill wears a suit well and delivers the appropriate charm for Napoleon Solo, and though Arnie Hammer is an entirely different Illya Kuryakin from David McCallum (he's much taller for one thing, and more angry) the banter between the two of the is top class, and so is the sixties cool (Italian fashion houses, motor racing, yachts on the Mediterranean). Hugh Grant is supremely avuncular as Mr Waverley, contrasting with the oppressive parents of their own pre-U.N.C.L.E. secret services, paving the way for a franchise which I for one would be very happy to see. One of the ideas for re-booting the James Bond franchise, before Daniel Craig gave it a shot of adrenaline, was to return Bond to his historical roots, re-setting him in the Cold War of the '50s and '60s. Well, U.N.C.L.E. has got there first.

Danny and the Human Zoo - BBC TV drama by and loosely based on the early life of Lenny Henry, taking a few liberties with the biographical facts to tell what I guess was the emotional truth of his story: about what he had to do to fit in, first as a kid bullied at school (impressions – the same ones that all the impressionists did, but as he said, “in colour”) and then an aspiring young entertainer (joining the Black and White Minstrel Show), from which he had to break away from to find his own voice as a comedian and now a fine actor.

Alina Ibragimova Plays Bach – a pair of BBC promenade concerts. Some of the most sensational music ever written for the violin, stunningly played by a small woman alone on the vast stage of the Albert Hall. So intense, we could only listen to one at a time. However did she manage three in a concert, with the remaining three a few days later?

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