Force-feeding melodrama to captive – or captured – audiences

Force-feeding melodrama to captive – or captured – audiences Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in By The Sea, a film directed by Angelina.

Arrah shure isn’t it a grand thing entirely that Lionsgate is after puttin’ Wild Mountain Thyme up for rental?  And shouldn’t we all be dancin’ jigs of delight as we root out our shillelaghs and cloth caps for the occasion.

It was originally slated for the cinemas. They’re citing Covid as the reason for the change of plan but methinks it was brought about by the negative backlash from the media. Make no mistake about it, this straight-to-video lark is an exercise in damage limitation.

How do they think they can foist such bilge on us? John Ford might have got away with it in 1951 with The Quiet Man but in an era that produced cerebral directors like Jim Sheridan and Neil Jordan and actors like Brendan Gleeson and Michael Fassbender are we really going to fall for such paddywhackery? What was Emily Blunt thinking?

I’ll be watching it from behind the sofa with a wet towel over my head to prevent any sudden attacks of dizziness.


Here Are the Young Men (VOD) is a disturbing portrayal of a group of teenagers who’ve fallen into a vortex of drink and drugs. Treasa O’Brien’s Town of Strangers (IFI@home) is an interesting documentary charting the lives of a group of foreign nationals living in Galway. The Winter’s Tale (Digital Download) is a contemporary re-working of the Shakespeare play of the same name.

Normally I’d watch Naomi Watts reading the phone book but her radar was on the blink with Gypsy (Netflix). It has her as a therapist desperately trying to inject some vim into her marriage. She gets so involved with her patients as to effectively become part of their worlds in a raft of pseudo-erotic vignettes.

It started with a bang like another Netflix offering, The Stranger, thereafter collapsing under the weight of some fuzzy Freudiana into an anti-climactic fug.


I found similarly pretentious elements with a lot of other recent mini-series, not only on Netflix but on “ordinary” TV too. Smother suffered from it, and so did The Drowning, Deadwater Fell and Cheat.  And the two “cougar” series, Gold Digger and Penance. How many hours did I waste watching identikit features like these that laid the tension on with a trowel?

The demand for behemoths is creating the supply. We’re stuck in our homes. The makers figure that if they suck us in with an explosive opening sequence we’ll be hooked. We’ll pencil them in for our subsequent viewing like higher grade soaps.

At the Sea (Netflix), in contrast, had me glued to the set. When it started I thought it was going to be just another autopsy of a dead marriage. The evocation of empty wealth with this couple (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie) put me in mind of what I imagined their real-life liaison must have been like  a lot of the time.

But this developed into a very interesting study of jealousy and depression brought on by childlessness.