Award Winning Fantasy with a Twist!

Some New and Old Passions

Miracle Workers was delayed, leaving the post-Christmas TV slump pretty barren. But in scrolling through the free offers, I stumbled across Les Petits Meurtres d’Agatha Christie. These are the Agatha Christie stories we’ve all read and know – only in French!

I’m not an expert on French film or TV, but I’ve never heard they were known for their humor. Food, wine, fashion – yes, sense of humor – no. Part of it’s the language. With so many syllables, they sound like they’re barking words out. Captions help, but words and phrases are very condensed, kind of like how Worcestershire is pronounced wursta-sher.

So I was amazed and amused by this show. The chief detective is a fortyish dapper, sexist know-it-all in an elegant suit who’s dogged by a 20-year old reporter in blue jeans on a moped, trying to break out of the advice column archives where she works. The banter between them is blunt, they call each other stupid and brute, then engage in completely over-the-top attempts to throw each other off the case. In the case of the Inspector, literally throwing the reporter in jail probably every other episode, screaming all the way. It’s very physical comedy and the two actors have great chemistry.

The show is set in the late 50’s, early 60s when women were just breaking back into the workforce, so the secretary is Marilyn Monroe-lookalike, complete from bleached hair to pencil skirt and heels. She’s the unexpected star of this show because her character has a very sweet nature and no-one wants to upset her. So the Inspector and reporter interrupt their fighting to assure her “No, I don’t mean that” and she chimes in with her airy-fairy voice, “Non, non, Commissaire, pas de prison!”

So highly recommend Les Petites Meurtres (found on MHz Choice on Roku) for a fun trip back to mid-century. I’m looking forward to the next installments which move into the 70s – disco!

Also out this month is the film version of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. The story is Terry Pratchett’s 28th Discworld novel, the first written for children, and awarded the 2001 Carnegie Medal. I deliberately didn’t go back and read it before seeing the movie as I wanted to see the movie in its own right.

The pace is noticeably slow, particularly compared to anything you might see on Nickelodeon. It reminded me a bit of the Wallace & Gromit animations, deceptively simple but with that very British wry, sometimes self-deprecating, satire.

What exactly the story is sending up is open to interpretation. There’s a lot of discussion and by implication, critique of stories vs. real-life on the part of Malicia, a character I don’t remember from the book at all. And there’s some last-minute tag-on about accepting yourself from the character of Dangerous Beans, who I remember from the book as someone reminiscent of Watership Down, not a caricature hippie who’s fried his brain cells.

That’s the problem with beloved books becoming movies – it’s hard to turn the former off even when you’re not current. But the kids sitting next to me in the theater got the complex story line. They could explain the rat king in detail to their mom, so apparently The Amazing Maurice ranks right up there with Sponge Bob. Cool beans!

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