Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: June 2016

I hadn't planned to do a TV review this month but here's a quick round-up of what I've been watching (apart from football of course!) Between Euro 2016 and the imminent Tour de France, there's been an underlying French theme this summer. So I'm kicking off my summer telly round-up with something Gallic, accessible and fun.  "LA FAMILLE BELIER" was one of France's most popular movies of recent years, and it made a major star out of its young female lead Louane Emera.  So when I found out it was on Amazon Prime then I just had to check it out.

It's heartwarming, feelgood and funny, and it was just perfect Sunday afternoon viewing.  Louane plays Paula, the hearing daughter of deaf parents, who discovers that she had a great singing voice. There are also some side plots of a political campaign, but the main plot revolved around Paula's dilemma about whether or not she should leave her family behind to study at a music school in Paris. Louane is a natural in this role and is a genuine star.

If you've ever watched American films or TV shows you'll be familiar with the fraternities and sororities which exist in universities.  But just what goes on in a fraternity? "FRAT BOYS: INSIDE AMERICA'S FRATERNITIES" (BBC2) revealed just what you have to do to get into "the brotherhood" - the vicious rituals ('hazing') endured by the 'pledges' have resulted in a number of deaths or serious injuries.  And then there is the brothers' perceived right to commit sexual violence against female students.  One of the most disturbing aspects of this is the universities' reluctance to take action, preferring to sweep it all under the carpet, with the fear of losing funding, much of which comes from ex-fraternity members.

I can't understand why anyone would want to be part of "Greek life" in a fraterity or sorority, but it's a fast-track to America's high society and the top jobs, just like the UK public school system.  Judging by this excellent documentary, there are certainly parallels between fraternity behaviour and the brothers' future within America's elite, where it's all about the survival of the fittest, the rejection of the weak, and having the right to do whatever you like - and to hell with the consequences.

Incredibly, "THE HOTEL INSPECTOR" (Channel 5) has now been running for 11 years and is on its 12th series.  By now, it offers nothing new, but you get the feeling it could go on for ever.  As long as there are bad hotels, there's scope for troubleshooter Alex Polizzi to walk in with her suggestions to put things right.  I still enjoy watching this though - I like programmes about hotels and usually play along with this, picking out the bad decor and working out what could be improved.

I watched "OSCAR PISTORIUS: THE INTERVIEW" (ITV) out of uncomfortable curiosity. Pistorius was once a hero to many - myself included - until he brutally murdered his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013 and has continued to this day to deny that he deliberately killed her.  It was impossible not to cringe when Pistorius burst into tears at various points, sought redemption and when he spoke about 'what Reeva would have wanted', well that was just sickening. Understandably, the Steenkamp family did not wish to take part in this programme.  I can't really understand why Mark Williams-Thomas did this interview.  If it was to make us feel sorry for Pistorius, then it didn't work.  60 minutes of lies and crocodile tears.

Now it's time to polish up the rose-tinted glasses for a bit of nostalgia.  Can it really be 20 years since the European Football Championships took place in England?  "EURO 96: THE SUMMER FOOTBALL CAME HOME" (ITV4) focused on England's efforts to win the tournament, only to lose to Germany on penalties in the semi-final.  Not only did Germany win the tournament, but they then adopted the "Three Lions" song!

(On a side note, two years later, mum and I were on holiday in Blackpool during the 1998 World Cup and were residing in a hotel right next to a pub which blasted out "Three Lions" day and night all through the holiday, Guantanamo Bay musical torture-style!  As a result, we couldn't listen to that song for a number of years afterwards.  Which reminds me, I must do a post some time about football songs.)

So here we are at the end of June, and there are still some outstanding posts to be published, including my Eurovision reviews, the end of my Madrid holiday posts, and some thoughts on our trip to Wales.  I promise that these will definitely be posted in the coming weeks....!

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