A silly history show, a bittersweet film about family and love and two seasons of rich people, scamming and mystery there should be something for everyone here in my March picks.
Philomena Clunk and her “Norman Gunstonesque” style of interrogation on serious subject matters had me laughing as much at her questioning as the sense of bewilderment it engenders in the very serious academics she interviews. If you don’t know who Norman Gunston is; what are you doing reading Starts at 60? And Goggle it.
British comedian Diane Morgan stars as Philomena Cunk in the five-episode series.
She interviews very real-life academics asking ridiculous questions like were any primitive cave paintings made into films? The academics appearing are impressive with Professors, the director of the UK National Space agency, and historians among her guests. They answer her questions with mostly straight faces and information. Art is included in her discovery of all things and her interpretation and explanation of the painting of the last supper had me in stitches, “ look how big Jesus is “.
Ms Cunk has a feminist bent, “in the 20th century scientists discovered something incredible that a woman could do anything a man could do, without the need to talk about it”.
Very offbeat and different. If you enjoyed Norman Gunston interviewing bewildered visiting icons in the 70s you may enjoy Cunk on Earth on Netflix.
An older Australian movie made in 2008 with the amazing Toni Collette playing the mother of adolescent Thomas ( Rhys Wakefield ) and his profoundly autistic brother Charlie (Luke Ford). Black Balloon won 6 Australian Film Institute awards and was directed by Elissa Down and written by Elissa Down and Jimmy the Exploder.
Thomas just wants to fit in but balancing his sibling responsibilities for his brother Charlie can make that a challenge. Those responsibilities increase when a heavily pregnant Mum requires bedrest and eventually, time in the hospital. Nonverbal Charlie likes to abscond and communicates using signs. He also loves his monkey hat. This is a bittersweet film with insights into daily reality for many families. The neighbour scene, when concerned about the constant yelling and fighting a neighbour calls authorities highlights the need for less judgement and more understanding.
Erik Thompson and Gemma Ward play Dad and friend Jackie adds to this talented cast.
The White Lotus is a social satire following various employees and guests at an exclusive White Lotus Resort. It’s so heavily layered that I think I might need to rewatch it to pick up on all the nuances I missed the first time around. Season One is set at the White Lotus Hawaii while Sicily is the destination for the second season. Over their one-week stay complex truths are gradually revealed of seemingly picture-perfect travellers and employees.
The White Lotus is written and directed by Mike White and stars the enigmatic Jennifer Coolidge as Tonya, a complex character who appears in both seasons, although probably not in Season 3. John Gries and F. Murray Abraham are among a huge cast with lots of wonderful guest appearances.
The actual venue used in season 2 is an operating hotel in Sicily and in case you may want to stay there, you will need about A$4000 a night according to some friends who are planning to honeymoon in Sicily later this year. They have booked alternate accommodation.
As Alyx Gorman wrote for The Guardian, “What is more enjoyable than watching miserable rich people backstab, scheme and get scammed? Watching miserable rich people backstab, scheme and get scammed at a stunning resort you’d never be able to afford to see any other way, of course.” Gorman also makes sound fabulous recommendations for Australia as a venue for Season 3 including; The Kimberley, Tasmania, Great Barrier Reef and even Melbourne. I hope Mike White reads The Guardian.
There are 13 episodes in each season and you can watch Season 2 without having to have watched season 1 but sequentially is best. If you find yourself so engrossed in finding out what happens that you binge you may find that you want to rewatch it too. Aptly, I watched it on Binge.