On Screens: Trusting Vince to break a bad trend and deliver the goods

The Avengers is the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever seen. Apparently I’ve got to watch 80-odd hours of footage just so I can appreciate it. I’d rather spend the time playing blind man’s buff with Fred and Rosemary West.

Now, that opening line might sound like something an 11-year-old would write on the school intranet to piss off 45 percent of his classmates (any self-respecting woman can see that Marvel doesn’t have room for women, only girls belatedly, and where, pray, are the gay and non-binary characters – don’t tell me the Hulk qualifies because he fluctuates between him and it), but that is the issue: I am still 11 years old.

Back then, when TV tended to switch off at 00:30 sharp, I used to stay up late watching reruns of the cool, cheeky, ever so camp 1960s British TV series The Avengers. But then the travesty that was the 1998 movie adaptation bludgeoned long rusty nails through its heart to ensure future generations would never watch them, however much they might admire Diana Rigg in Game of Thrones.

Not only did they completely miss the point of the original in their hunger to ride the wave of TV series adapted as movies, but they had the nerve to give a derisory audio role to the legendary Patrick MacNee, the main character in the original, and find room for Shaun Ryder, a musician who had long forgotten how to play himself. His only other film role to date is as Mad Dog in Rise of the Footsoldier 3.

Gilligan has the gonads
Taking a classic TV series and making a film – either as a reboot (like Dad’s Army or Starsky and Hutch) or prequel or continuation (like Entourage or Downton Abbey) – is perilous to put it mildly.

Let’s face it, David Brent: On the Road (which Ricky Gervais wrote with no input from Stephen Merchant) has soured the memory of the deliberately short 14-episode series that elevated its creators to deity-like status.

So when I learned that Vince Gilligan, the creator and writer of Breaking Bad, had decided to continue the Jesse Pinkman story in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (from Oct 11 on Netflix) – a character who we last saw exploding with joy as he smashed through the gates of his captors’ liquid meth lab – I was filled with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

Despite being given some starring roles, the actor Aaron Paul hasn’t exactly been knocking it out of the park of late (loved him at the end of Black Mirror episode ‘USS Callister’) while his co-star Bryan Cranston has been going from strength to strength. Perhaps killing off Walt enabled him to finally move on, although lately the clamour for him to return for a cameo in Better Called Saul has been palpable.

And of course, that superb series is evidence that Gilligan won’t let us down.
Great Scott! Stone me!

Also on the Pinkman comeback trail this month are a number of actors we haven’t seen since the 1990s – or at least in anything good. For starters, both Eddy Murphy and Wesley Snypes are in Dolemite is My Name (from Oct 25 on Netflix), the true story of the godfather of Blaxploitation films.

Sharon Stone turns up in The Laundromat (from Oct 18 on Netflix), a money-laundering tale that manages to be darkly humorous despite being based on a true story. Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas co-star.

And whatever happened to the once promising Scottish actor Dougray Scott. Well, he’s landed a plumb role in Batwoman (68 on Metacritic, from Oct 8 on HBO Nordic). Confusingly, the main character’s surname is Kane not Wayne.
But in fact, the biggest comeback of the month will probably belong to the music of Judy Garland, with Renée Zellweger tipped to win a second Oscar for her performance as the tragic star in Judy (66; Oct 24). Let’s just hope they don’t make a biopic of Bette Midler anytime soon.

Glowing like Bennifer again
Jennifer Lopez is tipped to give Zellweger a run for her money with her appearance in Hustlers (79; Oct 24), the story of a woman who finds herself stripping again to make ends meet during the financial crisis, and eventually resorts to drugging her clients and stealing from them.

The Vanishing (Not Released Worldwide; Oct 9) certainly stole its title, and maybe a bit more, as this story of three Scottish lighthouse keepers who find a box full of gold has a Shallow Grave vibe to it. One of them is played by Peter Mullan, a villain in the former, and this time the unwelcome interlopers are all played by Danes – cast by the director Kristoffer Nyholm (Forbrydelsen) you would assume.

Also at cinemas in October are two sequels – Zombieland: Double Tap (NRW; Oct 24), which has managed to entice Emma Stone despite her success since the first one, and Maleficient: Mistress of Evil (NRW; Oct 17) in which no acting is required from Angelina Jolie beyond envisaging Brad holding that Oscar next February – while Jamie Bell brings his best white skinhead face to Skin (62; Oct 17), playing a character who would kill his grandmother to avoid watching Jamaican music documentary Inna de Yard: The Soul of Jamaica (76; Oct 24).

Completing the Netflix movie line-up, meanwhile, we have four thrillers: Children of the Corn homage In the Tall Grass (46; Oct 4) in which creepy kids are joined by an endless field; The Lady Vanishes rip-off Fractured (Oct 11), in which Sam Worthington’s family go AWOL in A&E; Eli (Oct 18) in which a kid isolated by a skin disease wishes he wasn’t trapped with the doctors from hell; and Rattlesnake (Oct 25), in which a woman must kill someone by midnight to repay the weirdo who saved her snake-bitten daughter’s life.

Changed a lot since Kojak
Over in TV land, there are plenty of returning series to look forward to. Netflix welcomes back Riverdale (S4; Oct 10) and The Kominsky Method (S2; Oct 25); while HBO Nordic is counting down the days until The Walking Dead (S9; Oct 7), Supergirl (S5; Oct 8), All American (S2; Oct 8), Legacies (S2; Oct 11), The Secret Life of Couples (S2; Oct 14), Light as a Feather (S2; Oct 20), Castle Rock (S2; Oct 24) and Silicon Valley (S6; Oct 28).

Among the new series, Paul Rudd is going Mr Multiplicity in Living with Yourself (Netflix; Oct 18); mumblecore boarding school romcom Looking for Alaska (HBO Nordic; Oct 19) looks a little underwhelming; fans of the comic and film are salivating at the prospect of Watchmen (HBO Nordic; Oct 21) on which little expense has been spared; comedian Kathryn Hahn stars as a mother liberated by her son’s departure to college in the promising looking Mrs Fletcher (HBO Nordic; Oct 25); Richard Gere took his first TV role since Kojak in 1976 to take the lead in acclaimed UK miniseries MotherFatherSon (C More; Oct 8) as a media mogul, but complained it was too knackering to make eight movies back to back; and three young men lose a valued pal in A Million Little Things (C More; Oct 23), but do we really care about somebody who has so little screen time?

That, after all, is why we care so much about Jesse and whooped when he was ‘breaking’ free. Please don’t leave us on a bad note.

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