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Not as jam-packed as July thanks to the summer holidays, August at the BFI still has a lot to offer. The Harold Pinter season continues on from last month, but there’s also two ‘Missing Believed Wiped’ sessions, celebrations of puppeteers Ivor Wood and Ray Harryhausen and previews of the forthcoming Bodyguard and Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry, complete with Q&As with cast and crew.
That’s after this week’s weekly play, Langrishe Go Down. Originally conceived for the cinema, and based on a novel by Aidan Higgins, this is a classic Harold Pinter work about passion, politics and class: in particular it shows his preoccupation with time and memory. Set on a run-down Irish estate, and cutting between the late and early 1930s, it charts a summer-long affair between a gentrified country girl and an exploitative Bavarian student. The cast is superb and the atmosphere distinctly Chekhovian.
No, I’ve not watched it. Yes, I have just copied and pasted that from the BFI guide. But I’m sure it’s great.
Season one of Marvel’s Luke Cage was the first sign that not all of Netflix’s superhero shows were going to be top-notch. Season one of Marvel’s Daredevil was something of a classic, in terms of both ultraviolence and as an investigation of the morality of vigilanteism. Meanwhile, season 1 of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was an unexpected deconstruction of the entire superhero genre and power.
However, Luke Cage was a bit meh. Perhaps it was too faithful to its 70s source material. Perhaps it was too much of an homage to blaxploitation movies. Perhaps it spent too long on its musical interludes. Perhaps it spent too little time on plotting, given how fractured the storyline was across the season. Perhaps it was too concerned with political arguments, with Cage the composite epitome of every black cultural stereotype being asked to solve the insoluble question of how a modern black man should act with honour – despite being bulletproof. Whatever the cause, it wasn’t as bad as season two of Daredevil or The Defenders, but it wasn’t great.
Given that there’d been no change in showrunner between seasons, I wasn’t expecting much of this second season of the show. Yet, actually, despite a somewhat downbeat ending, it’s the season I’ve enjoyed most since that first season of Jessica Jones. Apart from Iron Fist of course – screw you, haters.
Season two of Luke Cage is a far jauntier, far more fun, far less self-conscious affair than the first season. Most of the same elements are there, but they fit together a lot better, everything’s more polished and it doesn’t feel quite so isolated from the larger Marvel universe.
Events continue more or less where season one left off, although this is clearly a post-Defenders story. Luke is, of course, out of prison and now everyone knows he’s a bulletproof superhero, making him the star of Harlem. Rappers are writing songs about him, he’s getting invited to show off his might against the NFL, Nike want to sponsor him – Luke Cage is big.
Meanwhile, Mariah (Alfre Woodward) is as big within the criminal underworld, thanks in part to the help of her lover-lieutenant ‘Shades’ (Theo Rossi). However, a new man is in New York from Jamaica calling himself ‘Bushmaster’ (Mustafa Shakir) and he has eyes on Harlem for himself. However, not only is his mission more personal than it first appears, he’s as strong and as bulletproof as Luke Cage. Is there room in town for the two of them?
Fortunately, Luke’s got help from the initially one-armed Misty Knight (Simone Missick), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and, of course, the Immortal Iron Fist (Finn Jones). Screw you, haters.
Spoilery talk after the jump.
© 2019 Rob Buckley