Thought the title of this post might catch your attention, but it is not a ploy, am seriously writing about these subjects. I am currently watching Wallender, the Ken Branagh version. Now I have watched the Swedish series of the Mankell books and thought they were excellent. Kurt was melancholy yes, he had a bleak outlook on life yes, but he also seemed to have a sense of humour which is conspicuously lacking in this series. Last week Wallander had moved into a house with his lover and her son and the first thing they found was a dead body in the garden. Presumably turned up for the housewarming. Fairly clear by the end of the episode that the relationship was doomed. It seems they had been seeing each for some time and the break up came about pretty sharpish, but one assumes that when they had seen each before it was for dinner, the odd visit and outings and the full force of his misery had not been pointed in her direction. She twigged pretty quick that the Nordic gloom 24/7 was not for her and at the start of this week's eppy he is Alone Again.
Started off promisingly as in comes the actor who was Sarah Lund's partner in The Killing, the TV producer in Borgen (cannot spell his name) and in the first five minutes we were driven along The Bridge. I can only assume this was deliberate to remind all us Scandinavian groupies that we were back in familiar territory. I know this story and found it rather dour to read and rather confusing so not quite sure how they will deal with it. Lots of long shots of Kurt wandering around looking portentous and gloomy, lots of grey and washed out green and I can already feel a desire to lie down with a stiff drink coming over me.
So while I sit here and try not to get too introspective and to take my mind off the fact that really Kenneth Branagh has no lips, I am writing about The Muppets and their latest movie which I watched this afternoon. Kathryn had sent it as a gift from Oz with instructions I was to watch it and then pass it onto Helen and then Patrick (my ex). We all love the Muppets and when the children were small and we lived in our tiny flat in London, we would all sit down together at 7pm every Friday night to watch the Muppet Show, to groan at Fozzy Bear's awful jokes, wait for Miss Piggy to yell YAAAAH and handbag somebody, watch Animal on the drums, laugh at the Swedish Cook, and join in the chorus at the end of the show. The guest stars who appeared on the show were HUGE and I mean huge names, I remember Julie Andrews appearing, Pierce Brosnan, Rudolf Nureyev, Tony Bennett - the list was endless. It seemed a badge of honour to say you had appeared with the Muppets, sure they did not get paid much for it.
There was something rather innocent and joyful about them. They were a family, a dysfunctional one perhaps, but they all supported each other and the cosy, backstage atmosphere was so warming and delightful that it was a joy to step into their lives each week. We all loved Kermit, but the Swedish Cook was a particular favourite of mine and always used to make me laugh. So I found it touching that Kathryn should send me the DVD and tell me to watch it and pass it on. She said she laughed and cried while in the cinema - she went on her own as she did not think anybody else would appreciate her feelings as she watched and I, too, sat here this afternoon with the same reaction. The Muppets are long disbanded, nobody is interested in them any more and they learn that their old theatre is due to be demolished by the Villain of the piece who has discovered an oil well beneath the theatre. They all get together again to put on a special show to raise money to save it - wonderful moment when they track down Miss Piggy who is now the editor of Vogue in Paris, complete with Anna Wintour hairdo.
The movie is very much an homage to the Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney Let's Put a Show on in the Barn genre, with lots of homespun philosophy and singing and dancing in the streets and, indeed, within such a routine up pops Mickey Rooney himself. It is all charming and delightful and sweet and when the show starts with that magical opening "It's time to start the music, It's time to light the lights" and all the Muppets come out and dance I felt nostalgia sweep over me and then something else - the remembrance of the family all being together, curled up in a huddle on the sofa, the girls in their pyjamas all clean and smelling of talcum powder after their bath, and that lovely feeling that all was right in the world.
I found myself laughing and clapping as all the characters performed their old routines. At the end feeling they had failed to raise the money to save their beloved theatre and leaving and finding the street full of cheering and applauding people waving banners We Love the Muppets and So Glad you are back, I am not ashamed to say that I had a huge lump in my throat and then tears trickling down my cheeks. For me the Muppets reminded me of happy times when the children were tiny, days that will never come again, though now of course I have Florence and another baby soon to cuddle, and I am so glad this film was made. It has proved hugely popular, I have yet to meet anybody who does not love the Muppets and have their own particular favourite and it is clear that everyone taking part was having a wonderful time and that the directors, the producers and all involved were loving every moment.
So many violent films are made these days, so much misery and unremitting bleakness and then along comes this one, so full of innocence, laughter and joy and it is totally and utterly heart warming. I loved every single minute.
And now back to our Ken, who is looking even more miserable this week if that is possible. He needs a Miss Piggy in his life....