Just finished the incredible tv show Normal People. It manages the rare feat of being as good as the superb source material of the book, while still being its own beautiful work of art. Incredible central performances by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, beautifully filmed and directed by Lenny Abrahamson and Hettie McDonald, and impeccable nuanced writing. It’s unlike anything I have seen before and, to me, it is an absolute masterpiece and will stick with me for a very long time. Available on Hulu, BBC and RTE for anyone who wishes to see it.
Creatives often get asked where their ideas come from and the answer is somewhere between magic and intent. I think a huge part of it is about what you read/hear/watch. Here is the first of a series of occasional posts that chart what I have been digging on the film, tv, podcast and book front, for anyone who is interested. Keen to hear any recommendations from you about what I should check out next:
- Dolemite is My Name – Funny, odd, fascinating film on Netflix with Eddie Murphy about the infamous entertainer and filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore. Absolutely brilliant central performance from Eddie Murphy himself, and a scene stealing performance from Wesley Snipes.
- Knives Out – Brilliant, twisty, comic and entertaining whodunnit by Rian Johnson (one of my favourite writer/directors) with so many terrific performances including Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Ana De Armas, and a hilarious over-the-top lead performance from Daniel Craig, who is hamming it up and having a ball!
- The Movies That Made Us – Lightweight but entertaining documentary series on Netflix about some of the most iconic movies of yesteryear – Home Alone, Die Hard, Dirty Dancing and Ghostbusters. All really interesting and made me want to go back and watch all of them again
- The Good Place – Watched all of the back episodes up to the masterful finale of this blindingly clever, funny show. Brilliant writing, great acting (esp. Ted Danson and D’Arcy Carden)
- Silicon Valley – I’ve been watching this hilarious show since it started. At times uneven, but often genuinely laugh-out-loud. Like all good shows when they come to an end I felt a little bummed, but ultimately with a smile on my face. Kumail Nanjiani is one of the funniest people alive – fact.
- Scriptnotes – Really interesting podcast hosted by Hollywood screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin where they discuss the art of writing for the screen, storytelling, as well as tackle some hot topics in the film industry. Feels like you’re listening in on a really private conversation with really interesting experts.
- The Rewatchables – I’ve been on a real kick listening to loads of back episodes of this show, where a bunch of writers from The Ringer get together to break down the most rewatchable movies of all time. Can be a bit too “dudes in a dorm quoting movie lines” on occasion, but consistently has really fun conversations. They have an interesting structure where they hand out quite funny award categories such as “Most rewatchable scene” ; “Casting what ifs” ; “Unintentional comedy” ; “Half assed internet research about the movie” ; “Would this movie be better with Danny Trejo in it”. Has grown in popularity to the point where they now get big Hollywood players on the show to discuss (Safdie Brothers, Quentin Tarantino)
- The Big Blowdown by George Pelecanos – I set myself a target to read 20 books in 2020, and wanted to try as many different genres as possible that I wouldnt normally read. I just started this crime novel by Pelecanos, as I was familiar with his work on the tv show The Wire and had heard good things about him as a novelist. A few chapters in and I’m loving it – hard boiled, gritty and hugely evocative writing.
- Normal People – Finished this book by Irish author Sally Rooney recently and it is still reverberating. Simple, insightful, intelligent writing about the many waves of a complicated relationship between two young people. Sounds like nothing but I found it to be really profound. For what its worth, Barack Obama named it as one if his books of the year.