Hidden Figures

I’ve been known to check my watch in the cinema. That is, if I can manage to see what time it is. I have to admit to having checked it during Hidden Figures too. I wanted to see – I hoped I’d find – that I had lots more film left. Ten minutes. Just ten minutes of a film I could have watched all night.

People are busy saying it’s not fun enough to do well in the Oscars. I suppose it depends on what you look for in a film, and the current climate is perhaps not ideal for black role models or intelligence, or even something as unsexy as the US space programme.

Hidden Figures

For me it’s the best I’ve seen since From the Earth to the Moon. I could easily watch it again. And that is why I worried we were not even going to get it on our local screen. A few days before the UK release it seemed we’d have to travel to see Hidden Figures, and I realised that perhaps we live in a small town more interested in sex and action movies, the more mindless the better.

But then, there it was. Only a few screenings, and the audience was like us, old and sedate and with few oversized trays of popcorn, multi-coloured sweets and fizzy drinks.

And what a story! What a great title! I didn’t know the three leading actresses from anything, and it was all the better for it. This way I wasn’t seeing a superstar pretending to be a maths genius. After Apollo 13 it seems we need an Ed Harris lookalike working for NASA, and I was happy with Kevin Costner. He could almost carry off being clever. Jim Parsons, however, is far too much Sheldon Cooper to work in this role as genius sidelined by clever black woman. I couldn’t get a grip on what he was meant to be like.

My companions who understand maths a bit better than I do, felt that while dumbed down, the maths was mostly OK.

Hidden Figures

I’d have loved this story if it had been mere fiction. I loved it a lot more for being mostly true, and to see the real three women at the end was marvellous. It was so good to know that they did well and were role models for many who came after them. And fantastic to see the real Katherine Johnson honoured by President Obama, and equally great to learn that she has had a long life with her second husband.

The film leaves me wanting to learn more.

Rogue or La La

We disgraced ourselves over Rogue One, the Resident IT Consultant and I. Don’t know whether he liked it, but neither of us understood what was going on. This is partly because neither of us are Star Wars fans. And when I saw the original back in the olden days, I didn’t get what it was about; nor even who was good or who was bad.

But it’s not important. We can’t all like the same things, and no one can be a fan of everything. This time we went with Daughter, who is a fan and who wanted company. Although we might not be asked – allowed – again.

If you don’t have to know who is fighting, or why, it was OK as an action film of sorts.

I had more or less decided against seeing La La land, for some reason. And then ‘everyone’ was going on about it and how wonderful it was and how they don’t even like musicals but they’d even bought the soundtrack afterwards.

Which would be why, when I really needed cheering up one day last week, we went to see it. Didn’t even consider any of the other films on, since a musical, praised by all, ought to be what I needed.

And OK, after that first song and dance thing on the motorway slip road (yes, they are probably called something else), I almost felt like applause would be the right response.

But after that, it was downhill all the way. It was boring. I didn’t like the characters, or the actors. The music did nothing for me, and the setting was not my kind of place at all. And the plot? I kept thinking that surely something sensible would happen to it soon?

It seems the Resident IT Consultant was slightly more tolerant than I was, but even so.

Comparing the two films, Rogue One wins comfortably.

NCIS – Keep Going

Wow. They really can do it if they try. Was this week’s NCIS a happy accident, or have they been listening? Or, perish the thought, had they kept a little something extra good up their sleeves in case the world needed cheering up?

I’ve been watching some old episodes this week, so feel quite confident in stating that Keep Going would have fitted in well in almost any of the older seasons. The middle ones. Some of the flashbacks coincidentally were from the episodes I watched. Weird.

Gibbs, Torres, Palmer and Ryan

So, first they actually wrote a good script. Then they directed it extremely well. They let Palmer be the main character, with Torres the only newbie there for him. And there was admirably little to be seen of Quinn. Gibbs behaved just as you’d expect him to, which means that he was back to old, normal Gibbs. The kind of Gibbs you don’t think about, because he just is.

Abby was given more time than of late, which is what we want. There was more life to McGee, and Ducky was Duckier than ever. Bishop was OK, and did I mention that Quinn didn’t get enough of an opportunity to annoy?

The vertigo was more than real. I almost fell off my armchair watching the street down below. Palmer was scared and not abnormally brave standing on that ledge, working hard to persuade the suicidal young man not to jump. He gave so much of himself. The flashbacks were clever, in that we both got to see snippets from the good old days of NCIS, but they also fitted in with the story, which isn’t always the case.

So it was feelgood on two fronts; story with wow factor, and revisiting the past. You could tell the end was coming, but it was no worse for being obvious.

(Photo © CBS)

So long, Granger

I’d like to think that Miguel Ferrer, who died yesterday, told NCIS: Los Angeles scriptwriters to stick a knife in him. If you know you’re ill and if you are still working, it’s such an obvious thing to do, killing your character in style.

I’m obviously speculating here, which is something I don’t approve of. We’re in a cliffhanger, waiting to see what will happen in LA, but Deputy Director Granger has clearly been unwell, and now he’s not just been arrested but stabbed. As Daughter pointed out, they already have him unconscious in a hospital bed.

Granger

Owen Granger was that kind of character I’ve come to realise I like. By that I mean they turn up and act bad and you hate them and want them gone, and then ever so slowly, they inch their way into the show they’re on and gain respect, and love. (Vance was another one we mistrusted deeply.)

And I wonder if he was brought in, in case Hetty was looking for retirement? In which case we have a Dallas situation, like when they retired the Ewing’s mother and then her replacement died and she herself came back, not as old or tired as had been made out.

Thinking about it now, I feel as if Granger has been – mostly – elsewhere for some time. They are talking about him, but he’s not actually there with the rest of the team. Like Daniela Ruah’s pregnancy, maybe this was planned long ago.

So, it remains to be seen what they do about Granger. I’m assuming they will kill him in the next episode. In which case he died with his boots on.

Miguel Ferrer can’t be replaced.

(Photo © CBS)

NCIS: Los Angeles – Hot Water

Well.

Who’d have thought?

I know I’ve been saying NCIS: Los Angeles has had the better writing for quite some time now, but Hot Water was really something. (Even the Resident IT Consultant noticed it was good.) It was a bit like Philip Pullman’s Tiger in the Well, where one by one the team is taken out and you’re not left with much.

Well, you’ve got the ladies, who unlike me are probably stronger than a washed out Twinings Earl Grey. And Beale. And they had their escape route down the hatch. Unless that was a red herring. But I don’t think it was.

OK, so all the alphabet agencies are either very evil [all of them] or they are surprisingly stupid to have been taken in by the mole. I mean, someone must be able to think! Yes?

I take great care not to leave my dead bodies where just anyone can find them, especially if trying to appear normal. So why would NCIS?

In a way not much happened. Yet. And now we have a two week wait before we are continued. It had better be worth it.

NCIS – Willoughby

So, they could have killed Quinn.

Instead they had to go and ‘write out’ someone else from the show. Was it the viewers not wanting anything muslim-friendly that did it? I had even been watching Willoughby thinking it wasn’t bad. For season fourteen, I mean. It had things to recommend it.

And the end; not even a ‘to be continued.’ Although it feels as if this is another bad guy who has to be chased through a few episodes before they get him.

Strangely enough, while missing this episode for over a week, for various reasons, I’d been thinking back to season three, the first episode, and how I cursed myself for arranging to host a dinner party that night. I recorded NCIS and then couldn’t sleep, so got up really early the next morning and more or less cried my way through it. Then watched it again, crying almost as much, and it wasn’t until I woke Daughter and watched it for the third time with her, that I was almost back to normal.

Whereas this time I didn’t mind the wait from the week before the week before Christmas. They need to bring some of that sense of expectation back. I believe NCIS can be rescued, despite DiNozzo’s departure. As long as someone does something about Quinn.

Red River Valley

It was an oblivious kind of torture. I never meant to plague my uncle, nearly driving him crazy. I was merely being seven years old. And oblivious to anything but the latest EP I had found in his home.

It didn’t belong to him. Obviously. No, this deliciously red-coloured EP must have been bought by Eldest Cousin, and once discovered by me as we visited over the Christmas holidays, I played it. All. The. Time.

Hence my poor uncle’s despair if he had to listen to it One. More. Time. I heard him, but I still played on. It was so good.

The best of the four tracks was Red River Valley. Except that’s not what it was called in Sweden where it went under the slightly outlandish title Vid foten av fjället, sung by Sven Gösta Jonsson. He was labelled The Rocking Sami, and he performed wearing traditional dress. And he was lovely! I was a fan for quite some time (he now comes across as more mediocre than I was aware of at the time).

And then one day, many years later, I discovered there was a version in English as well! Lots of them, really. My own personal favourite is by Roger Whittaker, but any version will do.