Books & Entertainment

BOOKS & ENTERTAINMENT

This is a new section (Jan 2021) providing recommendations from local residents on books, films and TV series - now with a February update

BOOKS

  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. A missionary family, the Prices, moved in 1959 with their four daughters from the U.S. state of Georgia to the village of Kilanga in the Belgian Congo. Each chapter is told in the first person by one of the daughters in turn.
  • Thrillers by Lee Child and his hero Jack Reacher or legal dramas by John Grisham, both of whom write good page-turners
  • Dissolution by CJ Sansom. A series of 7 large books written by this Sussex author set in the reign of Henry VIII. Shardlake is a commissionaire for Lord Cromwell and is asked to go to a monastery to investigate the murder of the last commissionaire who was there.
  • I am an Island by Tasmin Calidas.. True story . The author recounts her move from London to a Croft in Scotland.
  • WOLF HALL recommended by Cyndy Kennett is the first of a trilogy by Booker prize winner Hilary Mantel with a more sympathetic approach to Cromwell and well researched descriptions of Tudor life both in court and for ordinary people
  • WINTER IN MADRID by CJ Sansom . Fairly gripping spy/escape storyline interwoven with much background on the Spanish civil war and its aftermath.
  • THIS TENDER LAND by William Kent Kreuger . Four young orphans who travel the Mississippi river in a canoe during the Great Depression looking for a land to call their own
  • A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY by John Carey. . John Carey tells the stories behind the world's greatest poems, from the oldest surviving one written nearly four thousand years ago to those being written today
  • SHADOWPLAY by Joseph O'Connor . Historical novel telling the tale of Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, and Bram Stoker business manager of the Lyceum and author of Dracula
  • OLD FILTH by Jane Gardam.  Old Filth (Failed in London Try Hong Kong) the story of Sir Edward Feathers, a successful lawyer and then judge, now retired.
  • THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR by Shari Lapena  "If you enjoyed Gone Girl you'll like this book which keeps you guessing right up to the very end with many twists in the plot" says James.
  • LAIDLAW by William McIlvanney.  Laidlaw is the first novel of a series of crime books set in Glasgow
  • ENGLISH PASTORAL by James Rebanks.  is a follow up to his acclaimed The Shepherds Life. His most recent book is a polemic on the destructive effects of supermarket driven values on farming today.
  • MR WILDER AND ME by Jonathan Coe.  A charming fable about a young woman's encounter with the great film director Billy Wilder (Some Like it Hot/The Apartment etc) at the twilight of his career.

RADIO/MUSIC/ONLINE

  • On BBC Sounds https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. A tale of a boy on his journey through the countryside who meets a cake obsessed mole, a world weary fox and a wise horse that is told through the conversations of these four unlikely companions. Originally broadcast on Radio 4 this is a useful website containing on demand programmes from BBC radio including Barack Obama reading from his book A Promised Land
  • FOLK ON FOOT FESTIVAL OF LOVE - Valentine's Day Sunday February 14th - six hour online Festival featuring 28 of the UK's finest folk artists singing original, traditional and cover versions of love songs. Raising funds for musicians who can't tour during lockdown. More details at www.folkonfoot.com/festival.Linked by Matthew Bannister from his home in Amberley.

FILMS + SERIES

Schitts Creek - Netflix. This Canadian series follows the formerly wealthy Rose family's trials and tribulations. After Rose's business manager embezzles the family business, the family loses their fortune and relocates to Schitt's Creek, a small town they once purchased as a joke. "Watch a couple of episodes a night and cheer yourself up" say the Wrights!

  • The Nun's Story (1959) BBC iPlayer for 28 days starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter Finch.
  • Call My Agent on Netflix. A French sitcom with subtitles set in a Paris Talent Agency had a 2-page spread in the recent Sunday Times Culture supplement
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix. Set in 1946, the plot follows a London-based writer who exchanges letters with a resident on the island of Guernsey, which had been under German occupation during World War II.
  • The Split BBC iPlayer. A leading divorce lawyer Hannah (Nicola Walker) finds business is personal when she leaves family firm for a rival
  • Unorthodox Netflix. Inspired by Deborah Feldman's autobiography. Esty is living unhappily in an arranged marriage in an ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community. She runs away to Berlin discovering life outside her community
  • Virgin River Netflix. Searching for a fresh start a nurse practitioner moves from L.A to a remote Californian town and is surprised by what and who she finds.
  • The Fall BBC iPlayer + Amazon Prime. Gillian Anderson stars as DSI Stella Gibson who is leading a case to catch a serial killer in Belfast
  • The Queens Gambit. Netflix The story of a young chess champion. A beautifully visual 7 part series
  • Puzzle. Netflix. A gentle story of a women's obsession with jigsaw puzzles
  • Okja. Netflix. Genetically engineered giant pigs are bred for the food market. Colourful and thought provoking
  • THE KOMINSKY METHOD on Netflix ., with Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin about an ageing acting coach and his agent
  • MARRIAGE STORY on Netflix. A gentle and simple story of a couple's divorce
  • THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 on Netflix. A true story of the trial after what should have been a peaceful demonstration turned into a riot.
  • THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS. BBC iPlayer until end of Feb. The tale of an unlikely friendship between Bruno the son of a Nazi commandant, and Shmuel a Jewish boyheld captive in a concentration camp.
  • THE DIG on Netflix. Based on the discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasure of a Saxon burial ship
  • THE WHITE TIGER Netflix. From the Booker Prize winning book by author Aravind Adiga. Set in India
  • THE BRIDGE OF SPIES. Netflix "Another super performance by Mark Rylance and Tom Hanks"
  • LIFE OF A MOUNTAIN - A YEAR ON HELVELLYN BBC iPlayer
  • Glorious photography on this wonderful Lake District peak showcasing it in all its majesty throughout the year. Encounters with people who love and value the Fells and their effect on their lives.
  • THE SOCIAL DILEMMA Netflix. it exposes the effects addictive social platforms have on relationships, self esteem and the spread of misinformation.
  • TEDDY PRENDERGRASS: IF YOU DON'T KNOW ME. Amazon Prime and Sky Arts., "the story of the lead singer of Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and has great music all the way through and a very inspiring film"

FILM RECOMMENDATIONS by Sandy Guthrie

In the podcast for Chichester Cinema at New Park, we have been making recommendations for films you can stream at home as there are no films to be shown at the cinema at the moment. My latest suggestions included a double bill. That'll Be the Day (1973) is the tale of a restless young man in the late 1950s who drops out. The lead is David Essex as Jim MacLaine, and his mentor is Mike, played by Ringo Starr. The feel for the period is good, and the music of the times was painstakingly assembled. Keith Moon and Billy Fury appear in it too. It can be rented from Amazon, Google Play and YouTube for £2.49, or Apple TV and the Sky Store for £3.49.

The second part of the double bill is the sequel from 1974, Stardust, which follows Jim (Essex again) as he tries to make it in the music business of the '60s and early '70s. The character of Mike reappears as his road manager but apparently Ringo felt it was a little too close to home, and so this time Mike is played by Adam Faith. The music is great, with Keith Moon again and Dave Edmunds as a member of the band as well as the film's musical director.

It wasn't easy finding Stardust to watch. It is not the 2007 film of the same name and not the new David Bowie biopic out soon. I couldn't find it on Apple, and it took me a while to find it on YouTube where you can rent it for £1.99. I eventually tracked it down there by searching for David Essex.

I remember seeing a very melodramatic Robert Mitchum film when I was a teenager, I guess. It is a sign of how long ago I watched it as I didn't know it was in colour. This film is Second Chance (1953), currently on the BBC iPlayer, with Mitchum as a prize-fighter drifting from fight to fight in Mexico, and Linda Darnell as a gangster's moll trying to put her past behind her, while heavy Jack Palance is on her trail. Don't worry about the plot, which is rather overblown, the incidental music is completely over the top, and I loved every overcooked mouthful.For more recommendations, and film clips, the podcast for Chichester Cinema at New Park can be found at www.chichestercinema.org. A quick way to find out which platform you can stream a film from is to go to www.justwatch.com. It's not perfect but pretty good. 

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Once again in the podcast for Chichester Cinema at New Park, we have been making recommendations for films you can stream at home.

My first choice is only short, but it is spectacular and a must see for cinephiles and jazz lovers, if you ask me. Available for free on YouTube Jammin' the Blues is 10 minutes of pure joy. Made in 1944, it captures a jam session with Lester Young, Sweets Edison, Barney Kessel, Jo Jones, Illinois Jacquet and others playing three numbers.

The music is fantastic, but it is also the look of the film that makes it stand out. The stark black and white contrasts are startlingly beautiful and cigarette smoke never looked so good. The cinematographer was Robert Burks, who later was director of photography on Vertigo and North by Northwest, among many other classic films.

I can't recommend this more highly. The best quality version on YouTube is the one labelled "Jammin' The Blues (1944) | Lester Young Oscar Nominated Short".

The latest Tom Hanks film is Greyhound and as far as I can see it is only on Apple TV+. With a screenplay by Hanks, it is set in the Atlantic during the Second World War, with Hanks commanding a ship escorting a convoy to Britain through a pack of U-boats.

Based on a CS Forrester novel The Good Shepherd, it is a kind of naval procedural, with minimal backstory and while it offers no real surprises, it does what it does well, is gripping and you do feel the tension of being on the bridge during the crossing, and most of the film is on that bridge. While reminiscent of all those 1950s war films, that is no bad thing, and the special effects are better than those old black and white dramas.

For more recommendations, and film clips, the podcast for Chichester Cinema at New Park can be found at www.chichestercinema.org. A quick way to find out which platform you can stream a film from is to go to www.justwatch.com. It's not perfect but pretty good.