Some are born to bear the brunt of the biopic. Director Tom Hooper made a name for himself with the application of camera to history, and he did it well. The King’s Speech was solid work, and his turn to musicals with Les Misérables still offered the period piece iconography that had turned his work into something mesmerising and, crucially, entertaining. John Adams falls to the former, its mesmerising achievement here is capturing the story of the eponymous founding father. His rise to the presidency and inability to rise even higher. Detractions and deductions pave the road of Adams’ life, and with Paul Giamatti in the titular role, the core of this miniseries is complete. It is the perfect rendition of a life spent in government.
What a surprise it must have been when The Full Monty first released. Robert Carlyle said it was a gruelling shoot, some of the worst experiences of his working life. That’s quite a harsh commitment to make for a film that was meant to be straight-to-DVD. Still, bolstered by the success of a little film known as Trainspotting, this working-class dramedy burst onto the scene with sudden and cataclysmically rewarding impact. It is not often we get to see strong ensembles take apart the working-class worries, how desperate some people can be to reunite their families and put some cash in their back pocket. How far would you go? Far enough to go the full Monty? Probably not. But that is what director Peter Cattaneo offers here.
Origin stories are no stranger to the world of superhero adaptations. Comic book capers can nary exit the opening minutes of their narrative without murdering a plot device here or strapping a protagonist with a bit of devastating backstory there. At the end of it all, few are as frequently told as that of Batman. Batman Begins is no stranger to the story of Bruce Wayne, his aversion to winged beasts and living parents wheeled out in every iteration the big screen could possibly throw at audiences. As audiences, we find comfort in similar entertainment, and that, to some degree, is the appeal of superheroes. We are told the same story consistently, with a handful of variables found in-between. It is Christopher Nolan’s work with Batman Begins that massages both entertainment value and storytelling prominence, to varying degrees of success.
Seeing the unrivalled success that puppetry has within Team America: World Police, some wise producers decided this system had better be applied to the United Kingdom and its rich history. Thrusting a childish, fictional setting to the streets of London during wartime, Jackboots on Whitehall is an amalgamation of talented performers coming together to drizzle grey paste into the ears of any audience doomed to listen. The Battle of Britain is lost to the Nazi forces, and their invasion causes a ragtag bunch of characters to defend the homeland from horrid invaders, peculiarly voiced by Alan Cumming and Tom Wilkinson.