Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974)★★★★★
Wonderfully timeless television, helped by a classic story and the screenplay being written by John le Carré himself. Like the books, you spend at least half the show utterly perplexed, but its secrets slowly unravel, and hammer home the banal futility of the spying game and the slow decline of the British Empire. It's hard to imagine being able to follow the plot watching via broadcast TV, but also thrilling, leaving the viewer filling in blanks based on merest hints. Alex Guinness is brilliant as George Smiley, his sheen of pure British manners leaving everyone terrified in its wake.
Not a great film, but a good one, and a great if devastating story. Distressing to be reminded how such abusive behaviour was, and is still, tolerated and tacitly condoned by the powers-that-be, and how rarely it is punished.
Another entertaining period piece - more beautiful houses, landscapes, and fashion. The colour schemes inside the mansions are stunning, and all the casting is on point - though, strangely, maybe not Anya Taylor-Joy who is a little too socialite modern (for my head canon version of Emma anyway). The folk music soundtrack is a treat and a refreshing change from the chamber-music standard, with co-star Johnny Flynn writing and performing the beautiful closer, Queen Bee.
The Dig (2021)★★★★☆
Gorgeously shot, the landscapes and sky are stunning. Has a lovely slow pace, and Corey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes are terrific. Unearthing such history must have been incredible, and the film does a nice job namechecking the Tutankhamun discovery to highlight the parallels to Sutton Hoo. Even the dirt is beautiful.
Knives Out (2019)★★★
Cluedo featuring a murderously dislikable family. Very lightweight, but quite fun trying to unravel the mystery before Daniel Craig's (appallingly accented) PI can.
The Vast of Night (2020)★★★★
Low budget and gorgeous. Sierra McCormick and Jake Horowitz are two great leads unfolding a slow tale of bodysnatchers in 1950s Texas. The radio and phone switchboard hardware is beautiful.
Uncut Gems (2019)★★★★
Chaotic high-tension ride following an unravelling jewel hustler. Adam Sandler is brilliant, and the low-level stress is maintained throughout as it ratchets to the climax.
The Boys (S1 - 2019)★★★☆
Very self-aware, post-post-modern-superhero satire. Worth it for Antony Starr's Homelander (aka selfish Superman) alone, assuming you can survive Karl Urban's shockingly-bad cockney accent.
Very silly but very entertaining romantic comedy. Everyone and everything is beautiful, and the ballroom scenes are up there with the best of BBC Pride & Predjudice. Not sure I'd bother with a second series however - once is (probably) enough.