This week’s column stretches our imaginations a bit and is about one new cable series and two films. The cable series is from Netflix, and is a police detective drama set in Wales. It was a three season production that ran from 2013-2016, taped in both Welsh and English. It’s called “The Hinterland,” and after you watch it you’ll see what I mean. Wales can look as desolate as Scotland in winters on the coast.
Wales is a tiny region of the United Kingdom down in the southwest corner of England, and the language they speak sounds as foreign as Greek. It was a Celtic language, also called Cumbric English. As recently as the end of the last century, Welsh was still spoken by half its population, as well as English. But recent census polling points to only a 20 percent use today. There’s a British comedy running on PBS/Saturday nights called “The Indian Doctor,” about a National Health Service Indian doctor and his wife, and their attempts to fit in. They talk about speaking Welsh in that, too.
“The Hinterland” (called “Y Gwyllm” which is ‘The Dusk’ in Welsh, stars Richard Harrington as Detective Chief Inspector Tom Mathias. Mali Harries is Detective Inspector Mared Rhys. The first season opens the morning after Mathias has just moved in. There is a brutal killing and he’s expected to hit the ground running. He doesn’t disappoint. There are three seasons available on Netflix.
The film I found interesting was French with subtitles, “Le Chant du Loup,” “The Wolf’s Call,” about submarine warfare. I didn’t even know the French had submarines. This was a 2019 film written and directed by Antonin Baudry, with a cast of familiar faces, but no familiar names. The lead, Francois Civil, plays the young sonar expert called “the golden ear.” His ability to identify sounds of everything from sperm whales to multiple ships and submarines turns out to be critical after a rogue submarine is discovered, thought to be a de-commissioned Russian sub that has apparently been sold to an Arab state on the black market. It is central to that state’s attempt to start a nuclear war.
A French critic reviewing Baudry’s film pointed out that Baudry was attempting to paint the French military as a bit more muscular, given that the director is a former high profile diplomat.
I had wanted to review “Morning Glory,” with Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford, but remembered I had reviewed it when it was released in 2010. So I began watching another comedy, “The Big Wedding,” and it looked even more familiar (dang Netflix). And this one was reviewed in 2013. So I looked up my review and noticed I wouldn’t change anything the second time around.
“The Big Wedding” has the feel of a screenplay written by a committee, a committee toiling under orders to make sure every scene contains something obscenely funny. There are laughs in this, but they strain credulity and taste. Probably the film’s best feature is that it’s only 89 minutes long.
Directed by screenwriter Justin Zackham (“The Bucket List”), “The Big Wedding” sports an A-list cast including Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace and Amanda Seyfried. And I’m always curious about how something so slight manages to attract such heavyweights. Duh, money. That and time. It only required a house on a lake and a restaurant and probably took two weeks to shoot.
I’m guessing it’s doing a big business streaming on Netflix these days. By the way. I think the local theater has quit showing films during the week. Checking the schedule, I see that they are only giving show times for Friday through Sunday.
See you at the movies.