Last weekend we found ourselves in our local Walmart looking for lightbulbs, and while there, I thought to check out the DVD section. In hope, as you do. And was delighted to find a clutch of Oscar-nominated DVDs at bargain prices.
We ended up buying Dunkirk, Lady Bird, Murder on the Orient Express and 3 Billboards, plus the second season of Da Vinci’s Demons, because, why not, we’d already watched season 1 a couple of years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed the Florentine romp.
This meant binge watching season 2 and watching Da Vinci strut his stuff. Ably aided by the same cast of characters from the first season. Only this time, we took a rather curious undocumented journey to the New World, and Machu Picchu, in search of the fabled Book of Leaves. And who’s to say whether or not Da Vinci ever found his merry way either across nearly all of South America, through the Amazon jungle, to Peru … or whether or not his tiny ship made it around the Cape and up the coast, and found Peru that way. We won’t trouble ourselves with these minor details when thoroughly immersed in this version of Da Vinci’s life and times.
After all, it is pure escapism. People with perfect teeth and perfect diction romping their way through 15c Italy. But I digress. Any nitpicking aside, we enjoyed the ten-part season and are so caught up in Da Vinci’s shenanigans, we’ve promptly ordered season 3.
That was the highlight of the week.
We followed up with Murder on the Orient Express, which wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great either. The performances, such as they were, left a lot to be desired; including Kenneth Branagh’s portrayal of Hercule Poirot. His accent wavering all across the European landscape, much like the fabled train did, till it derailed — a metaphor perhaps? The only actor who stood out from the pack was Willem Defoe, whose acting was credible enough.
Which brings me to last night, I decided to watch Lady Bird, but given the hype surround this one, I was left scratching my head at the end of the film wondering why. It wasn’t so much the performances themselves, which were, again, okay. It was the story which, I feel, fell flat. Other than two scenes between Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf—one in the car and one in the thrift shop—which nailed the mother daughter relationship, the rest was a rather dull coming of age story that lacked any sense of warmth or humour.
So out of all of this Da Vinci and his demons comes out on top. And despite (or maybe, because of) the language, nudity and graphic violence, Da Vinci is well-written, well-acted and true to it’s era and time.
Maestro, let it fly!