Entertainment highlights from the last month, as chosen by the fanatics at Red Bee.
BEST BOOK: BROKEN GREEK BY PETE PAPHIDES
For anyone born in an era when pressing play and record on a tape recorder pressed up against a transistor radio was the best way of capturing the music you loved from the top 40, this is the book for you. A stunning memoir of an immigrant childhood punctuated with every piece of pop music worth a sentence, written by Guardian, BBC and Time Out journalist Pete Paphides. Read it alongside the Spotify playlist, specially created of every song in the book, to be thrown back to an era when Abba’s Dancing Queen jostled alongside The Sex Pistols in a ten-year old’s affections.
BEST TV DRAMA (1): UNORTHODOX
Based loosely on Deborah Feldman’s experiences leaving her Hasidic Jewish community, Unorthodox follows Esty, a young Jewish woman who flees her recently arranged marriage and ultra-orthodox Williamsburg community for Berlin. It is Netflix’s latest triumph, but for different reasons than we’ve come to expect. Unlike sprawling dramas and docu-series that have begun to require genuine thought and commitment before embarking on the journey, the mini-series is only four episodes long, and what a powerful decision that was. It is over before you know it, and the suddenness leaves you feeling emotionally exposed but deeply reflective. In lieu of all-star ensemble casts, Shira Haas manages to make it feel like a one-woman show. She is utterly captivating: graceful, expressive and human, and a truly memorable female lead. And, it’s also the first Netflix series to be primarily in Yiddish. Unfortunately, writer Anna Winger has poured cold water over the idea of a series two, so if you’re lucky enough to have not yet watched it, do so. And savour it.
BEST TV DRAMA (2): QUIZ
This month we’ve also been captivated by Quiz, the Steven Frears-directed three-parter on ITV. Part-heist story, part-courtroom drama, it stars Matthew MacFadyen as the infamous Major Charles Ingram and Sian Clifford as his wife Diana and gives us all the behind-the-scenes detail of the fascinating Who Wants To Be A Millionaire coughing scandal. With Michael Sheen on hilarious Tarrant-accurate form, and Helen McCrory as a formidable defence lawyer, it reveals that there is so much more to the story we all think we know. With such a top-notch cast, and highly polished production values, it feels more in keeping with the calibre of a late-night BBC Two drama (one of our team controversially described it as ‘the best thing on ITV since Broadchurch’). Still available on ITV Hub, so go and see if you agree.
BEST ALBUM: FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS BY FIONA APPLE
From the opening track, Fiona Apple’s new album makes you feel as if you’re being attacked by the the sounds and rhythms. They sometimes make you uncomfortable, as you’ve probably not heard percussion like this before, but they’re rhythmic, insistent, repetitive and draw you in. The lyrics and tone are defiant, upfront, confident and at times angry. It makes it quite a liberating listen when you’re locked in, particularly the title track with its chorus “Fetch the bolt cutters, I’ve been in here too long”.
BEST DOCUMENTARY: THE IMAGINEERING STORY
Classic films like Winnie-The-Pooh, The Lion King and Toy Story have a nostalgic place in many of our hearts, so you can picture our joy in discovering this gem. A stunning and beautifully-crafted docu-series, The Imagineering Story chronicles the humble beginnings of Disney, the emergence of its theme parks, and how the company strives to push the boundaries of R&D and fantastical set design creations. After watching this tale of life behind the scenes as an ‘imagineer’, you’ll be inspired by, and in awe of, all the various artists and tech whizzes who make dreams a reality. With the timely UK release of the streaming service Disney+, it’s a perfect excuse to transform your living room into a home cinema, bring the family together and transport yourself to the most magical place on Earth.
Stay tuned for more next month