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Red Hot

What: A Very English Scandal

Where: Zee5

Who: It’s the same mini-series that won Ben Whishaw the Best Supporting Actor trophy at the Golden Globes. Hugh Grant too had a nomination, in the Best Actor category. Directed by Stephen Frears (The Queen) and written by Russell Davies (Doctor Who), it stars Grant as Jeremy Thorpe, the oddball 1960s leader of Britain’s Liberal Party who had a very physical affair with the much younger stable boy Norman Scott (Whishaw) before marrying a couple of women. In a time and country where homosexuality was a crime, Thorpe goes on to be accused of conspiracy to murder his male ex-lover.

Why: It’s all of three episodes, each an hour long, but in those three hours, A Very English Scandal packs an absolute wallop. As an absurd dark comedy, as a tragic social commentary, as an unbelievable true story. The brevity works brilliantly because the events themselves are so hilarious and yet deeply affecting. Yet what emerges is how the closeted upper class used and abused the dreamy working class with embarrassing elan.

Grant is the real revelation here. Having completely submerged into our subconscious as the king of rom coms with his ever-awkward British charm, he takes up the difficult challenge here of being a portrait of loneliness and yet be funny throughout with his speech and actions. Whishaw is expectedly terrific as the frail and fragile Scott, who enjoys and exploits the attention that comes his way after the affair becomes public.

Just Dropped

What: What We Do in the Shadows

Where: Hotstar Premium

Who: If you love the original eponymous film – and there are many, many out there who do – you’ve been waiting for this for a long, long time. Maybe not as long as the three vampires sharing a residence on Staten Island. Created by the same duo who had made the 2014 film, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, the TV series not only hops from New Zealand to New York, it also changes its main characters even though the format of the mock documentary on vampires remains the same.

The three male flatmates in the original (Waititi himself played one of them) are changed to two men and one woman here to spice things up a little more – there’s Nandor (Kayvan Novak), hailing from the Ottoman Empire, Laszlo the English nobleman vampire (Matt Berry) and the latter’s girlfriend Nadja (Natasia Demetriou). There’s also a human “familiar” who’s been serving Nandor for 10 years in the hope of being turned into a vampire. And there’s the whole new character of Colin (Mark Proksch) who has the rare power of draining humans and vampires of their energy by his boring conversations!

Why: Only the first episode, simply called “Pilot”, is out and it’s reason enough to recommend What We Do in the Shadows. It’s not only got the vibe of the original film but also a few new tricks up its sleeve, which will dictate the plot in the subsequent episodes. Like the big vampire boss Baron Afanas, who looks like a White Walker and wants Nandor, Laszlo and Nadja to take over the world. Or at least Staten Island.

The taking-the-audience-into-confidence confessional interviews to the camera, a format championed by The Office, beautifully punctuate the weird ways of the vampire world. It’s hilarious to see vampires walking around in real locations and flying off at will as bats or swooping down from trees for a quick bloody snack. All the horror elements are actually written and played as funny interludes rather than scary set pieces. It’s unlike anything you have seen on TV before and will leave you asking for more.

Did You Know

Even as Us releases in the theatres, Jordan Peele’s breakthrough horror film Get Out is now streaming on Netflix.

2017’s The Mountain Between Us, starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba, is now streaming on Hotstar Premium.

Quentin Tarantino’s reimagined Nazi historical, Inglourious Basterds, is now streaming on Netflix.

Ingmar Bergman’s 1976 film Face to Face, starring Liv Ullmann, is now streaming on Mubi.

All the three Back to the Future films are now streaming on Netflix.

 

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