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What to binge-watch this weekend

Jinoy Jose P | Updated on November 22, 2019 Published on November 22, 2019

We’ve picked some interesting crime stories along with an interesting royal drama for you to binge-watch

You can go a long way with a smile, they say. And a lot more with a gun, add criminals and crime cinema writers. If you are a fan of crime stories, police procedurals or murder mysteries you’d nod in agreement. Yes, criminals go a very long way, especially in web series, with a gun, a knife and a myriad of similar instruments only to be caught at the end of it all, and if they are tried that’s fodder for another courtroom drama series. Either way, the viewer is the winner. She gets to watch, binge-watch, rather, all the dark elements of the world from the cosy, safe environs of her living room, only to remind herself at the end of all the marathon TV sessions that life’s not that bad for her. On that cue, this is catharsis at its best.

So, this week we’ve picked some interesting crime stories along with an interesting royal drama for you to binge-watch, and here’s the list, and we start with the royal drama.

The Crown, Season 3, 10 episodes, Netflix

In all likelihood, you’d have watched the first two seasons of this well-made historical series based on the life and reign of Queen Elizabeth II, created by Peter Morgan. For starters, the series is kind of an extension of Morgan’s 2006 film The Queen and his play The Audience (2013). The Season 1 tracked Elizabeth's marriage to Philip in 1947, and similar epochal events that followed. The second season ended in 1964, with the birth of Prince Edward. Now the new season tracks years between 1964 and 1977, which include Margaret Thatcher's premiership. The most interesting addition or change in the third season is that of Oscar winner Olivia Colman as the Queen. The role was played by Claire Foy in the first two seasons of the show. Full disclosure: I’m a big fan of Ms Colman (Broadchurch, The Night Manager and many more) and it has been a delight watching her as Queen Elizabeth. Highly recommended for your weekend. Stay patient till the end of the last episode, which will leave you with some strong emotions. And if you have loved Colman a lot, as I did, let me break your heart with this piece of news that Imelda Staunton will replace her as the Queen in the concluding editions of The Crown. Well, that will take some years more.

 

The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco, eight episodes, Netflix

Like The Crown, the women in The Bletchley Circle are also strong, intelligent and negotiate turbulent events. This television drama series is inspired by the British mini-series of the same name, which has seven episodes in two seasons (2012 and 2014). I’d recommend you watch the UK miniseries first, before you start on this. Both the shows have incredible performances by a bunch of fine actors, Rachael Stirling, Julie Graham, Anna Maxwell Martin, Sophie Rundle and Hattie Morahan. Set in the 1950s, the story follows a group of women who worked as code-breakers during World War II and use their good ol’ skills to solve crimes later when their services are no longer required for the military. In the new series, they reach San Francisco to solve a few gruesome and mysterious murders. This is not a dark show as such. Instead, there is a lot of fun, wit and wisdom.

 

Criminal: UK, France, Germany and Spain, 12 episodes, Netflix

Between 2013 and 2017, Scottish actor David Tennant paired with The Crown’s Colman to play the role of a troubled detective in the painfully complex police procedural-plus-courtroom drama Broadchurch, earning accolades for his brilliant acting. Tennant repeats the performance in Criminal: UK as the accused Dr Edgar Fallon. This 2019 British police procedural anthology series is created by George Kay and Jim Field Smith and features, apart from Tennant, Hayley Atwell, Clare-Hope Ashitey and Youssef Kerkour. The anthology has a total of 12 episodes, with three episodes each set in four countries -- France, Germany, Spain and the UK. The stories are complex, gripping and enchantingly confusing, thanks to performances from Tennant and colleagues and Kay’s fine writing. The film-making is impeccable and I’d rate the editing and BGM top-class.

 

Widows, nearly 2 hrs, Hotstar

To cut a long story short, this is just another heist film. But calling Widows so would be a gross understatement as this meticulously made film, based on the 1983 British TV series of the same name, is much more than that. Directed by Steve McQueen and written by Gone Girl fame Gillian Flynn and McQueen, the film tells the story of four women in Chicago who try to steal $5 million from the home of a local politician. Why do they do that? To pay back a criminal from whom their husbands had stolen $2 million in a fatal getaway attempt. An ensemble cast (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and, yes! Liam Neeson) makes it one of the most interesting, performance-packed films you’d be watching this year. Flynn and McQueen’s screenplay lifts the film to levels where it ceases to be a crime drama and starts asking disturbingly pertinent questions about gender, family relations, crime, patriarchy and beyond. The 2018 film’s mise-en-scène (how things are placed in a frame) is also remarkable and can be a film student’s delight.

 

Too Old to Die Young, 10 episodes, Amazon Prime

This is arguably one of the best crime shows on Prime Video. The plot-line is simple: One tragic night, a Los Angeles County Sheriff's life turns upside down following a tragic event and he is forced to confront a deadly pack of soldiers, assassins and strange vigilantes. And pretty soon he loses all his senses, especially when his past comes back haunting him. Miles Teller of Fantastic Four has done a good job as deputy Martin Jones and the series -- created by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn who made films such as Only God Forgives and is known for hypnotic sets, tense plots and punchy lines -- can be one of the best supernatural noir series of 2019. There is a lot of sex, violence, gore, fights, chases and everything else that can keep you hooked to the screen for a weekend and beyond. Have a riot.

 

 

Published on November 22, 2019
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