Antonioni's Trilogy
"Walking Like Agag"; Ngaio Marsh; Death of a Peer (Surfeit of Lampreys)

The Crown 3

It's good. Olivia Colman as Elizabeth is superb, just as you would expect if you know her work. There is another actor from Broadchurch present, playing a very different role; I'll let that be a surprise. Helena Bonham-Carter is really a little too glamorously beautiful as Margaret, but of course her acting is first-rate. 

This season takes the story into roughly the mid-1970s. It's a little frustrating, never knowing how much of the story is gossip and hearsay and how much is certainly true. I assume that all public appearances and speeches and so forth are accurate, and that private conversations are invented, but that leaves a big middle area that could be roughly accurate or wildly wrong--portraits of relationships and so forth. I suppose the filmmakers didn't go too far out on any limbs, though I figure they probably turned up the elements that lend themselves to a soap-opera-ish treatment.

Here's the trailer:

I really must find out the name of the music that's playing at the end of the last episode (not heard in the trailer). 

I sort of dread series 4, which will have to wade into the Charles-Diana misery.


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I kept looking at that guy and thinking, "Who is that, who is that?" But then, in the 21st century, we have no need to wonder for long.

Who I am looking forward to is Margaret Thatcher.


You mean that guy in the image from the trailer? The character or the actor? Actually I don't have any idea who the actor is. If I were going to discuss the show at length I would express some misgivings about that performance. I hope it errs on the unflattering side.

I will not be at all surprised if it's a hatchet job on Thatcher. It seems to be as much an article of faith for sophisticated Brits to hate her as for sophisticated Americans to hate Reagan.

No, I mean the one from Broadchurch.

It's strange to think that when the next part comes, Queen Elizabeth will look like Delores Umbridge.


I thought Olivia Colman was going to be the next one as well. Or do you mean next after that?

A really, really famous role can be a great hardship for an actor.

Gillian Anderson is playing Margaret Thatcher. Can't see her making Thatcher very likeable.

Ugh. I didn't know that. You're right.

So earlier comment should be "I will be surprised if it's not a hatchet job on Thatcher."

OH, I see. She's in 5 and 6. I guess I never imagined there would be 5 and 6.

"hatchet job" ;-)


I've got one episode of Chernobyl left. It's excellent, but a hard watch at times.

I sort of feel like I can live without that one. It's a pretty horrendous scandal, I know. And it's funny that so many people think the way to avoid such things is to give more power to the government.

I watched just a bit of the first episode of Chernobyl, but it was way too grim for me. Then I read an interesting piece in the New Yorker about it: "What HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ Got Right, and What It Got Terribly Wrong"; couple of quotes:

"Resignation was the defining condition of Soviet life. But resignation is a depressing and untelegenic spectacle. So the creators of 'Chernobyl' imagine confrontation where confrontation was unthinkable—and, in doing so, they cross the line from conjuring a fiction to creating a lie." ...

"It was the system, made up primarily of pliant men and women, that cut its own corners, ignored its own precautions, and ultimately blew up its own nuclear reactor for no good reason except that this was how things were done."

I can't read that article without "signing up", so I can't tell what the writer's getting at. On a very superficial level it works as a sort of cross between a s/f movie and a LeCarre novel, but it runs a lot deeper, obviously. As I told some friends, it's gripping, infuriating, and very moving in turns, not to mention splendidly written and acted. I guess you could describe parts of it as "grim," but I didn't come away from it with that sense overall.

By the way, we're getting A Hidden Life here starting this coming weekend, at a theater not far from where I work. I may try to see it Sunday afternoon while everyone else is watching the Steeler game. :)

I’m hoping to see it this weekend. It probably won’t be here for long so I don’t want to put it off. I can be more relaxed about the new Star Wars. :-)

Another new Star Wars? Sheesh, what are they up to now, twenty-five???

Rob G,

Sorry you couldn't get into that article; I still have a couple of freebies left for the month. Anyway, one of the author's points is that the series fails "to accurately portray Soviet relationships of power," and so "often veers between caricature and folly. ... There are a lot of people throughout the series who appear to act out of fear of being shot. This is inaccurate: summary executions, or even delayed executions on orders of a single apparatchik, were not a feature of Soviet life after the nineteen-thirties. By and large, Soviet people did what they were told without being threatened with guns or any punishment. ...

"Similarly repetitive and ridiculous are the many scenes of heroic scientists confronting intransigent bureaucrats by explicitly criticizing the Soviet system of decision-making. In Episode 3, for example, Legasov asks, rhetorically, 'Forgive me—maybe I’ve just spent too much time in my lab, or maybe I’m just stupid. Is this really the way it all works? An uninformed, arbitrary decision that will cost who knows how many lives that is made by some apparatchik, some career Party man?' Yes, of course this is the way it works, and, no, he hasn’t been in his lab so long that he didn’t realize that this is how it works. The fact of the matter is, if he didn’t know how it worked, he would never have had a lab."

And there's this re the Emily Watson character, a scientist who "appears to embody every possible Hollywood fantasy."

"...The problem is not just that Khomyuk is a fiction; it’s that the kind of expert knowledge she represents is a fiction. The Soviet system of propaganda and censorship existed not so much for the purpose of spreading a particular message as for the purpose of making learning impossible, replacing facts with mush, and handing the faceless state a monopoly on defining an ever-shifting reality."

Actually, Rob, I think this is, technically, only the 9th true Star Wars installments. And it reportedly pretty much ends the original story line. But there have been several spinoffs and there will probably be more.

"... for the purpose of spreading a particular message as for the purpose of making learning impossible, replacing facts with mush, and handing the faceless state a monopoly on defining an ever-shifting reality."

Funny, I was thinking a little earlier about how the people who started squalling about 1984 when Trump was elected didn't understand the book.

Speaking of tv shows (if these made-for-streaming things should be called that): I watched the first two series of Amazon's Goliath, which stars Billy Bob Thornton. They were good, not great but worth watching. The third series just came out and I've seen several episodes. They decided to go very David Lynch-ish, at least in style. It's not clear yet whether any of the possibly supernatural things really are.

I can't make out what that guy's getting at. Did he find the series not tough enough on the Soviet Union? Too tough? Tough in the wrong places? I'm somewhat confused.

re: Star Wars, yes, I was taking into consideration the various spinoffs. I don't watch them so I'm really not sure which ones are part of the main story line and which ones are spinoffs. I just know there's a whole heap of 'em!

My local grandsons are very into it, so I have to keep up. Sort of.

Disney is currently running a series called The Mandalorian which is a spinoff. I was at the grandboys' house the other day when they were watching an episode. It was amusingly like a space opera version of a Clint Eastwood western. The title character is a mysterious nameless loner whose voice literally sounds like Eastwood's.

If I understand the article Marianne is quoting, the guy is saying that the writers falsified the social-political realities of Soviet life in order to set up more dramatic situations and confrontations.

'And there's this re the Emily Watson character, a scientist who "appears to embody every possible Hollywood fantasy."'

I guess that means she's super-competent and upright. :-)

"the writers falsified the social-political realities of Soviet life in order to set up more dramatic situations and confrontations."

I guess that's possible, although the writer and director were drawing from a well-known book about Chernobyl, and also seem to have done a lot of research on their own.

The Watson character is fictional -- she represents in one person all of the scientists who bucked the system to help get to the truth. In that sense she is a little bigger than life, but I didn't find her unbelievable. Basically, she plays Legasov's (the main scientist character) conscience.

I watched a few episodes of the first season of the Crown And I thought it was what we call a Diane-ification of the history. I stopped after the episode where the queen gets angry because princess Margaret I think it is is getting more applause when she gets at an airport. This is something Diana accused Charles of. Americans cant believe I stopped watching just for that!

I heatd on The Argument podcast Poss Douhat recommending The Terror.



I'm guessing that "Diana-fication" of history means emphasis on personal conflict, jealousies, rivalries, and so forth. If so it most certainly does that.

I haven't heard of The Terror.

"The Watson character is fictional -- she represents in one person all of the scientists who bucked the system to help get to the truth."

From what Marianne has posted--I haven't read the article either--it seems like the New Yorker writer is saying that nobody bucked the system, that everyone was captive to it.

That seems odd. The whole point of the thing was that the State was trying to place the blame entirely on operator error, rather than admitting that there was also a major design flaw, which the Soviet government didn't want to become known. I'm sure the series oversimplified things for narrative purposes, but I don't really see how that basic plot element could be that far off-base.

I don't have any idea, of course. That's just what it seemed to me that the writer was saying.

One of the logical weaknesses of that sci-fi series Dark is that it treats a nuclear power plant in a sort of superstitious way, invoking Chernobyl frequently, and suggesting that it has awesome cosmic powers.

Mac do you think the Mandalorian is worth subscribing to Disney for? You can imagine all the podcasters I listen to are excited about it - Podhoretz, Jonah Goldberg etc

Not at all, judging by that one episode I saw, which is the 6th in the series. Apparently the episodes are somewhat standalone as stories, so I was able to follow the plot, more or less, and it was a very standard one: unlikely band of hired guns paid to pull off a daring mission. Maybe there's more to the series as a whole, but I would not recommend it to anyone over age 12 who isn't a Star Wars fanatic.

I found it slightly interesting that the main characters are from the cantina scene in the very first movie. Doesn't look like the writers are doing anything very interesting with them though.

That said, I may watch it myself, just so I can discuss it intelligently with the fans. One of the first things they did last time they spent the night here was to log our Roku into their mother's Disney account.

Oh the things I have watched to be able to communicate with my family.


Yeah. Fortunately I don't hate Star Wars. There have been some things that I hated.

Once I watched as many episodes as I could stand of some Masterpiece Theater production my sister was raving about, and then when I told her I had watched it, she didn't remember it.

Heh. Well, that is life, isn't it?

My sister frequently asks me for recommendations on movies, books, etc., but I don't think she's ever read or watched anything I've suggested. Prophet not without honor and all that.

Maybe she's using you to weed out the stuff she's not interested in. :-)

Yep -- "Go thou and do the opposite."

I just finished watching The Mandalorian. I hadn't planned to, but my wife asked if we could watch "the baby Yoda show" and there was a 7-day free trial for Disney+, so we watched it.

Mac, I can't say I disagree with your assessment, but it took me back 39 years to my inner 12-year-old. To damn with faint praise, it was the best Star Wars since the Empire Strikes Back. It's a comic book, but so is everything else these days, and I thought this was better than most.

That's funny, I started watching it this afternoon. I see I mentioned earlier that I might watch it just to be able to talk about it with my grandsons. Well, I decided to. The one we saw the other day was episode 6. Today I went back to episode 1 and watched about half of it while I ate my lunch. I was entertained. It won't be a chore to watch the rest. I can't quite believe they made the guy sound and act so much like Eastwood though.

I am shocked and embarrassed that I missed the Eastwood thing! Duh.

They went all in with the Star Wars nostalgia, but what really worked for me was the Rocky nostalgia. Having Carl Weathers in it made the show for me (though maybe they were going for Predator nostalgia - ugh)

And I missed all that. Never saw a Rocky or Predator movie.

I can't say I would recommend any Predator movie. Or any Rocky movie after the first (though I liked II and III is maybe my favorite against my better judgement). But I would definitely recommend Rocky.

I sort of feel like I've seen it, as it's been so much a part of pop culture since 197-whatever.

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