Sunday, 8 July 2012

You should watch... Twenty Twelve

Sick of the Olympics already? Trust me, watch Twenty Twelve and you'll fall in love with them all over again, even if it is for all the wrong reasons.

For those of you haven't seen it, Twenty Twelve is a satirical comedy looking at the London 2012 Games. It follows the group of people in charge of putting the Games together, who are mostly inept, always messing the simplest of things up in spectacular fashion, and really, really funny.

The cast is led by Hugh Bonneville, who plays Ian Fletcher, head of Olympic deliverance. Despite having a crazy ex-wife who always used to give him grief and has now just chucked him out, he would be able to get most things done, if only it wasn't for his team.

They include Graham Hitchens (played by Karl Theobald), whose attempt to come up with the Olympic Torch relay route looked like a two-year-old child had scribbled on a map of Britain; Kay Hope (Amelia Bullmore), the head of sustainability who spends more time annoyed at people mixing sustainability up with legacy to do any work; and Nick Jellett (Vincent Franklin), who plays a stereotypical dour northerner.

My personal favourite character is Siobhan Sharpe, played by Jessica Hynes. Siobhan is PR for the Olympic deliverance team, knows nothing, and spends a lot of time saying "yah" and "tell me about it". I love her. 

Siobhan's highlights include thinking Muslims are not people who follow Islam, but rather people who follow the religion of Muslimian, and, with her PR team, coming up with the slogan Jubilympics to describe the summer's two biggest celebrations. She is a genius.

The great thing about Twenty Twelve is that it takes real life Olympic news and then gives them a comic twist. So the episode about protests against having equestrian events in Greenwich Park was based on the views of real protestors, only the real protestors didn't leave a giant pile of steaming horse dung outside the offices of the London 2012 organisers. 

Twenty Twelve ran for a very short first series in 2010, and an even shorter second series earlier this year (I recommend you search YouTube for clips), but thankfully it's back ahead of the opening of the Olympic Games. The first episode back, called Catatrophisation, includes a focus on what will be done with the Olympic Stadium after the Games, a real-life problem facing Games' organisers; shows Graham getting into his usual scrapes; and has Siobhan and her team trying to come up with a sexy name for the Travel Advice Pack. Oh, and someone has been caught converting Olympic starting pistols to fire live rounds.

The Olympic Games may be coming round too fast for some people, but Twenty Twelve can't start soon enough for me. 

Twenty Twelve is on BBC2 on Tuesday, July 10 at 10pm.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Film review: The Five-Year Engagement starring Emily Blunt and Jason Segel

Here's what I was expecting when I went to see The Five-Year Engagement - a romantic comedy with a teensy bit of angst, maybe a little bit of swearing, and an easy-to-come-by happy ending.

Here's what I got when I went to see The Five-Year Engagement - a romantic comedy that ripped my heart out before proceeding to piece it back together, a lot of awkwardness, some really rude moments and a happy ending that everyone had to work for.

And guess what? I really enjoyed the surprise.

I'm a big fan of Emily Blunt, but I never realised just how funny she could be as an actress. It would have been so easy for Blunt, as lead character Violet, to have been overshadowed by Jason Segel's Tom, but Blunt held her own, and in fact was part of the funniest scene in the film, which didn't feature Segel at all and involved Blunt arguing with her sister, with both of them doing the voices of characters from Sesame Street the whole time.

Violet and Tom have just got engaged (hilarious proposal) and are planning their wedding when Violet gets a job offer of her dreams. The couple agree Violet will take the job and schlep off to Michigan, where Tom finds himself getting increasingly more miserable without a fulfilling job, and Violet finds herself thriving on success.

Cut to a few years later and Tom has let himself go a bit, and is now living like some kind of caveman (hunting his own meat, massive amounts of facial hair).

The pair get their act together slightly and decide to go ahead and get married. Unbeknownst to Tom, the catalyst is because Violet has been kissed by her boss. Tom almost doesn't find out, but in a heartwrenching scene he runs away after discovering the truth, does something he really regrets, and wakes up naked in a forest the next morning and has to have his toe amputated.

Tom and Violet's drifting apart is filled with comic moments, but it's hard to watch them go through the tough times, and when Tom was wondering through the forest I found my laughter turning into (unshed) tears as the moment turned from comic to tragic.

As a side plot to Tom and Violet are Tom's best friend Alex and Violet's sister Suzie, who stumble their way into a relationship and somehow manage to make it work, despite being completely unsuited to each other and yelling at each other most of the time they're on screen together. The other two romantic relationships on screen - Violet's dad and stepmum, and Tom's parents - are also far from smooth yet both couples make it work, and all three relationships act as a contrast, and something to aspire to in some ways, for Tom and Violet.

The relationships in The Five-Year Engagement aren't pretty ones - there are no slow motion kisses in the rain, no well-timed coincidental meetings. Instead, The Five-Year Engagement is a romantic comedy with a slightly realistic edge. It's still a film so it can't mirror real life completely, but I enjoyed the move-like happy ending even more because of the reality that preceeded it.


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