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1 January 2019

The best of the New Statesman 2018: TV and film

Dreams of youth, and nightmares of war. 

By New Statesman

On the arts pages of the New Statesman this year, you’ll have found dreams of alien life and yellow submarines, and nightmares, of nuclear wars and the terrifying handshake from a bright orange man. Here’s a selection of the best writing on TV and film found in the magazine and website this year.

50 years on, Yellow Submarine tells the story of the Sixties

Yellow Submarine began life late in 1967 as not much more than a contractual obligation. The Beatles had little interest in the making of it, and they barely appear in the movie. But, the movie says far more about them and the decade that they helped to define than they could ever have predicted, writes D. J. Taylor.

Here come the bombs: the making of Threads

“I wanted to show the full horror. I felt that was absolutely my responsibility.”

In 1984, inspired by the leaked “Protect and Survive” films, a BBC team set out to create a relentlessly accurate vision of an atomic bomb landing on Sheffield. Jude Rogers on the nuclear war film that shocked a generation.

Why are film-makers obsessed with the story of doomed British sailor Donald Crowhurst?

Businessman and sailor Donald Crowhurst set out from Teignmouth, Devon, on 31 October 1968, as the last of nine competitors to enter the Sunday Times Golden Globe race for solo, non-stop circumnavigation. He never returned. Jonathan Coe looked at two new films which explored the mystery this year.

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Anxiety on Love Island: when reality TV stars have mental health problems

Appearing on high-profile reality TV shows can be great for your profile, but terrible for your own image of yourself, and with social media comes a barrage of abuse. So are we putting people at risk for the sake of entertainment, asks Anoosh Chakelian.

How Call the Midwife smuggled radical social issues into Britain’s living rooms

The stories of the midwives and nuns of Nonnatus House have topped the ratings chart since they were first broadcast in 2012, regularly attracting more than ten million viewers a week. To put that another way: one in six people in the United Kingdom watch the show. Erica Wagner wrote about why.

Paul Hollywood’s handshake is a horrifying display of masculine insecurity         

Over the years, Hollywood’s handshake has morphed from a random quirk barely worth comment into the holy grail of validation, a golden ticket to Bake Off greatness. And Anoosh Chakelian hates it.

“We write about everyone that pissed us off”: siblings Daisy and Charlie Cooper on their hit hometown comedy This Country

The brother-sister duo behind the revolutionary BBC comedy told Anna Leszkiewicz about their childhood feuds, “the Mr Perkins scandal” – and stalking Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen in Cirencester.

Living in the shadow of Breivik

In Paul Greengrass’s new film, the Anders Breivik trial becomes a metaphor for how today’s far-right is using and undermining the rule of law: Paul Mason on why 22 July could be the anti-fascist movie of our times.

Laughing in the dark

20 years ago “four northern lads” brought their blackly comic vision of small-town life to our screens: this year, they returned, to expose the shadowy heart of England. Kate Mossman meets The League of Gentlemen.

Death Wish and beyond

The typical movie vigilante shares traits with the Trump voter: a white, middle-aged, middle-class male who regards himself as endangered. Ryan Gilbey re-tells the bloody history of vigilante movies.

What The War of the Worlds means now

The myth is about to resurface yet again, in a BBC adaptation which the screenwriter Peter Harness describes as “a collision of sci-fi, period drama and horror”. But, finds Philip Ball, the Victorian anxieties that underlie HG Wells’s masterpiece have never gone away.

“There is a vividness in worlds coming to an end”: on Lady Bird’s aesthetic of memory

At a glance, the structure of Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age film is deeply traditional, covering a single academic year. But the way time rushes forward is a theme of the film, finds Anna Leszkiewicz.

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