Highlights from the last month, as chosen by the entertainment enthusiasts at Red Bee.
BEST MOVIE ALBUM: AMPERLAND, NY
For musicians everywhere, not being able to tour is causing frustration and angst. However, indie/country/rock fusion band Pinegrove saw it as an opportunity to create something longer lasting. Featuring songs from over 10 years of albums, Amperland, NY is a continuous movie of performances from within their own home. The film is beautifully crafted both in terms of filmmaking and musicianship. It is a treat to watch, and you can also find the full setlist as an album on all streaming platforms.
BEST DOCUMENTARY: FRAMING BRITNEY SPEARS
The New York Times' eagerly-anticipated Britney documentary is poignant timing. The anniversary of Caroline Flack’s death, Meghan Markle’s ongoing battles with the media, plus Covid, have renewed the conversation on mental health. It’s all the more sobering to glimpse into the lonely, restrictive world of Britney, who was clearly struggling. From the tender age of 12 Britney has been in the spotlight, from The Mickey Mouse Club, being crowned ‘Princess of Pop’, to sell-out Las Vegas residences, all while dealing with intense, brutal and soul-destroying media scrutiny, invasive paparazzi and misogynist criticism from all angles. The NYT’s investigation charts her rise and very public breakdown, focusing on her relationship with her father Jamie Spears, the #FreeBritney movement and the conservatorship Spears has been under since 2008. It’s so sad. Hopefully it’s a call to action to end the cruelty of celebrity culture and strive to be kind.
BEST BOOK: THE PUSH, BY ASHLEY AUDRAIN
This outstanding debut novel is centred around a married woman, Blythe, as she navigates first-time pregnancy and motherhood. The legacy left by her own neglectful mother and grandmother is woven around Blythe as she wrestles with the complex, negative feelings she has towards her daughter. We then see her sense of validation as she goes on to have a baby boy with whom she connects instantly and who she loves deeply. We live every second of pain and joy of the journey alongside Blythe, not knowing if we can really trust what she’s thinking and feeling, just as she is unsure if she can trust herself or the family around her. It’s a tragic, dark, tense, unsettling and completely fascinating, gripping read.
BEST FILM: THE FATHER
Florian Zeller’s extraordinarily powerful film about a parent’s journey into dementia has rightly already scooped major acting prizes for Anthony Hopkins. He is spellbinding in this. Devastating in the quiet, still moments, moving and pathetic in the raging and confusion. The cleverness of the screenplay’s construction in throwing the audience into his world of uncertainty is a masterstroke. We are never sure what is real, imagined, confused or a memory. Olivia Colman gives a perfect counter-balance performance as his daughter but this is Hopkins’ film, and unquestionably his finest.
BEST SERIES: SOULMATES
Single, depressed and want to find your soulmate? Just take the test. Fast-forward 15 years and a scientific breakthrough discovery of ‘soul particle’ means you can determine your ultimate romantic match. This compelling new sci-fi anthology series featuring Sarah Snook (Succession), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Misfits), and Darren Boyd (this excellent Hyundai campaign), delves into myriad philosophical relationship conundrums: Would you wait forever to meet your perfect soulmate? Might you still be curious, even if happily married? It’s a fascinating interrogation of society’s obsession with data, algorithms, optimisation and whether tech can really solve the quest to find that magic spark.
Stay tuned for more next month