Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment (11th to 17th February, 2023)

Welcome to Culture Vulture. Highlights this week include Dispatches: Strippers, Spies and Russian Money, Mussolini: The First Fascist and Better, the new ITV crime series.

Saturday 11th of February 2023

Three Days In June: The Story Of The D-Day Forecast 9.35pm PBS America

This documentary film focuses on the important role that meteorologists played in the planning and execution of the D-Day invasion during World War II.

The film is a fascinating look at the history of meteorology and its impact on one of the most significant events of the 20th century. The film features expert interviews and archival footage, painting a comprehensive picture of the science and the people behind the weather forecast for D-Day.

One of the strengths of the film is its ability to convey the incredible amount of work and planning that went into the D-Day invasion, and how critical the weather forecast was to its success. The film also highlights the bravery of the meteorologists who made the forecasts and the sacrifices they made in the pursuit of accurate weather data.

Three Days In June is a well-made and informative documentary that will appeal to fans of history, science, and meteorology. The film is engaging, educational, and thought-provoking, and will provide viewers with a deeper understanding of the importance of accurate weather forecasting and the impact it can have on the outcome of historical events.

Sunday 12th of February 2023

Dispatches: Strippers, Spies and Russian Money 10pm C4

The remarkable tale of Russia’s covert attempts to undermine British democracy and politics through the infusion of vast amounts of funds into the Conservative Party prior to the invasion of Ukraine.

A Hidden Life C4 1.05am (2019 Film)

A Hidden Life is a 2019 historical drama film directed by Terrence Malick. The film is based on the true story of Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian farmer who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II and was subsequently executed for his refusal.

The film is a beautiful and haunting meditation on the nature of faith, morality, and resistance. The cinematography is stunning, capturing the stunning landscapes of the Austrian Alps and the everyday beauty of life on a farm. The film also features strong performances from its cast, particularly August Diehl as Franz and Valerie Pachner as his wife Franziska.

Malick’s signature visual style is on full display here, with long, lyrical shots of nature and intense close-ups of the actors’ faces. The film’s dialogue is minimal, relying instead on voiceover and the gorgeous score to convey the characters’ thoughts and emotions. This approach allows for a deeper exploration of the themes at play in the story, and makes for a truly immersive viewing experience.

Despite its meditative pace and lack of conventional plot, A Hidden Life is a powerful and deeply moving film that stays with you long after you’ve left the theatre. It’s a testament to the strength of the human spirit and a reminder of the importance of standing up for what is right, even in the face of great adversity. If you’re a fan of historical dramas, or simply appreciate thoughtful and visually stunning filmmaking, A Hidden Life is definitely worth checking out.

Monday 13th of February 2023

The Blue Dahlia (1946 Film) Film4 2.50pm

The Blue Dahlia is a 1946 film noir directed by George Marshall. The film stars Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, and William Bendix and tells the story of a former war veteran who finds himself embroiled in a dangerous and complicated mystery.

The Blue Dahlia is a classic film noir, with all the elements that fans of the genre have come to love – a dark and moody atmosphere, a complex and twisting plot, and sharp, hard-boiled dialogue. Ladd and Lake have great on-screen chemistry, bringing their respective characters to life with subtlety and nuance. Bendix also delivers a standout performance as a gruff and comedic detective.

The film’s direction is tight and efficient, keeping the audience engaged from start to finish. The cinematography is also noteworthy, with moody lighting and stylish camera angles that create a sense of unease and tension. The film’s musical score is also noteworthy, with a haunting theme that perfectly captures the film’s dark and suspenseful mood.

The Blue Dahlia is a true classic of the film noir genre, and a must-see for fans of classic Hollywood cinema. It’s a well-crafted and entertaining mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Better (one of five) BBC One, 9pm

This new series, featuring Leila Farzad as a corrupt detective inspector in Leeds who’s in league with a notorious gangster, immediately grabs your attention and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The standout feature of the show is the electric chemistry between Farzad as the cunning DI Lou Slack and Andrew Buchan as the dangerously charismatic crime boss, Col McHugh.

The first episode immerses you in this dark and illicit world, captivating you with Slack’s delicate balancing act between being a feared investigator at work and a puppet to Col in her personal life. But when her beloved son falls ill with bacterial meningitis, her priorities begin to change. The writing is strong, with solid performances throughout, but it’s the dynamic tension between Farzad and Buchan that drives the show forward, hinting at a likely downward spiral. The full series will be available on iPlayer from Monday.

Tuesday 14th February 2023

Mussolini: The First Fascist (one of two) 8.20pm PBS America

This comprehensive two-part series delves into the rise of Fascism in Italy and traces the journey of Benito Mussolini from being a dictatorial ruler to his eventual execution, with his body displayed in a Milan square for public ridicule. The documentary offers a thorough examination of the leader who aided Hitler, ultimately leading Italy to financial collapse. The series concludes on Wednesday, February 15th.

Tagged: We’re Watching You 9pm BBC Three

With the aim of punishing offenders without adding to the overburdened prison system, the government has poured £180 million into electronic tagging. This three-part series follows four individuals who are required to wear tags: including 21-year-old John from Rhyl, who must wear a tag that detects alcohol in his sweat and alerts the authorities, and a teenager named Jaion who is fitted with a GPS tracker that limits his movement within certain boroughs of London.

Inside Our Autistic Minds 9pm BBC2

Wildlife expert Chris Packham meets other autistic people from across the UK and helps them create short films to reveal to their family and friends what’s really going on inside their minds.

Storyville: The Spy In Your Mobile BBC4 10pm

An exposé by Storyville that delves into the treacherous spyware known as Pegasus, marketed to nations globally by Israeli firm NSO Group, and utilized against journalists, activists, and even the loved ones of Saudi Arabian dissent Jamal Khashoggi, including his wife and fiancée.

Dark Waters (2019 Film) BBC2

This film tells the story of a corporate defense attorney named Robert Bilott (played by Mark Ruffalo) who takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company DuPont. The case uncovers a decades-long history of DuPont’s release of toxic chemicals into the environment, putting the health of local communities at risk.

The film is well-acted, with Mark Ruffalo delivering a powerful performance as Robert Bilott. The supporting cast also does a great job of bringing to life the story of the real-life people affected by the chemical contamination. The film is well-researched and provides an in-depth look at the legal battle between Bilott and DuPont, as well as the impact of the toxic chemicals on local communities.

Dark Waters is not just a legal drama, but also a cautionary tale about the dangers of corporate greed and the consequences of neglecting the environment. The film’s message is especially relevant in today’s world, where many corporations prioritize profits over the well-being of people and the environment.

A Counter Culture review of this film is available.

The Duke of Burgundy (2014 Film) Film4 1.50am

The Duke of Burgundy is a 2014 film directed by Peter Strickland. It’s a romantic drama set in a mysterious, dreamlike world where two women, Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Evelyn (Chiara D’Anna), engage in a BDSM relationship.

The film is a masterful exploration of power dynamics, desire, and the complexities of human relationships. Strickland’s direction is visually stunning, with a lush and dreamy aesthetic that adds to the film’s atmosphere. The film’s cinematography, music, and sound design are all impeccable, drawing the audience into this strange and beguiling world.

The film’s performances are also noteworthy. Knudsen and D’Anna have excellent chemistry, conveying the intensity of their love and their emotional struggles with nuance and restraint. The film’s portrayal of BDSM is mature, sensitive, and respectful, treating the subject matter with the seriousness it deserves.

The Duke of Burgundy is a film that will reward patient viewers who are willing to let themselves get lost in its dreamlike atmosphere. It’s a thought-provoking and emotionally rich film that is sure to linger in the mind long after the credits have rolled.

Wednesday 15th of February 2023

Just One Thing: Clean Your Teeth 9.30am BBC RADIO 4

At Culture Vulture, we’re big fans of Just One Thing. Each programme looks one thing that you can do to improve your health and wellbeing. Michael Mosley reveals surprisingly simple top tips.

Did you know that maintaining good dental hygiene can not only prevent tooth decay and improve your overall oral health, but also have positive impacts on other parts of your body? Research shows that a healthy mouth can help lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even dementia.

To shed light on this topic, Michael Mosley sits down with Dr. Sim Singhrao from the University of Central Lancashire School of Dentistry to learn how bacteria in the mouth can travel to other parts of the body, including the brain. Additionally, our volunteer Lowri takes the challenge of incorporating daily brushing and interdental cleaning into her routine to see if it’s a feasible habit for her lifestyle.

Thursday 16th of February 2023

The Great Stink of 1858 (one of two) 9on Channel 5

Exploring how in 1858 a summer heatwave turned the gallons of raw sewage dumped in the river Thames into a noxious cesspool of filth with a stench that overwhelmed London. Concludes Friday.

Friday 17th of February 2023

Kinky Boots (2005 Film) 11.10pm 5Star

Kinky Boots is a 2005 musical film directed by Julian Jarrold. The film stars Joel Edgerton and Chiwetel Ejiofor and is based on the true story of a struggling shoe factory in Northampton, England that begins producing boots for drag queens.

The film is a charming and heart-warming celebration of diversity, friendship, and the power of following one’s dreams. Edgerton and Ejiofor both give strong performances, with Edgerton delivering a heartfelt and nuanced portrayal of a man struggling to save his family’s business, and Ejiofor bringing energy and charisma to his role as a drag queen in need of new footwear.

The film’s musical numbers are also a highlight, with catchy and upbeat songs that perfectly capture the film’s upbeat and optimistic spirit. The film’s cinematography is also noteworthy, capturing the beauty of the English countryside and the colourful and dynamic world of the drag queen community.

Kinky Boots is a feel-good movie that will put a smile on your face and a tap in your step. It’s a film that celebrates the power of individuality and the importance of embracing diversity and friendship.

Selections by Patrick Harrington


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