Netflix shows it can rival BBC with new show by Downton Abbey creator

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A typical underdog story, then? Not quite. Suter and his happy-go-lucky pal Jimmy Love (James Harkness) are Scottish ring-ins. Team boss and mill owner James Walsh (Craig Parkinson) is paying them in scandalous breach of the competition’s amateur ethic. The self-made Walsh means well, saying of his low-paid workers and their families: “The game feeds the soul when they have nothing else that does it in their lives.” Might he bung them a bit of a pay rise to keep their spirits up as well? No – he has to keep cutting their wages at the direction of the business guild to which he’s bound. So everything’s a-roil from the start, and when classes collide the toffs give no quarter. That much is clear from the bruising football scenes, which depict a game bearing scarce resemblance to the modern one.

The English Game is more about the plight of Victorian women.

The English Game is more about the plight of Victorian women.

When Kinnaird’s wife, Margaret (Charlotte Hope), expresses concern that her husband will come home with a broken leg one day, one of his chums quips: “If he does, it will not be his own.” It’s Margaret who’s really the viewer’s proxy, seeing the toffs’ bastardry for what it is and, on a trip up north, becoming bitterly cognisant of the plight of Victorian women in general. But Fellowes and his team of writers don’t labour the social stuff. The characters are invested with plenty of personality, personal issues, and potential for growth and disaster. The costume and production design is immersive, it’s all quite gorgeously shot, and the whole stands alongside The Crown in showing that Netflix can get this stuff done every bit as well as the BBC.

Dina
iWonder

Dina is Love on the Spectrum on steroids.

Dina is Love on the Spectrum on steroids.

It’s Love on the Spectrum on steroids as this unflinchingly intimate documentary follows eccentric 49-year-old Philadelphia woman Dina Buno and fiancé Scott Levin in the weeks leading up to their wedding. Both Dina, who has been married before, and the much less experienced Scott are on the autism spectrum, and they are both endearingly solicitous, blunt-speaking and literal. Filmmakers Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles mostly let the couple’s routines and journeys paint their own emotionally dappled picture.

Stacey Dooley Investigates: Russia’s War on Women
Stan*

Stan’s latest batch of Stacey Dooley documentaries includes one on doomsday preppers, but her journey into Russia’s extraordinary everyday misogyny is perhaps more interesting.

From Russia without love: Stacey Dooley filming Russia's War on Women.

From Russia without love: Stacey Dooley filming Russia’s War on Women.

The impetus for the British journalist’s trip is the passing of legislation that essentially decriminalises domestic violence that doesn’t result in hospitalisation. Dooley’s interviews with victims, perpetrators, women’s advocates and advocates of violence reveal the shocking entrenchment of violence against women as a “Russian value”, and the corresponding dearth of resources and refuges for women.

Rebooted
youtube.com/user/timtimfed

Rebooted is a marvellous 12.5 minutes.

Rebooted is a marvellous 12.5 minutes.

This lovingly crafted, award-winning Australian short is a moving tribute to the work of visual effects legends like Ray Harryhausen – and to all the old-school movie monsters who have found themselves on the celluloid scrapheap. Director Michael Shanks (Wizards of Aus) has created a charming blend of stop-motion and live action involving a wonderfully expressive skeleton whose acting glory days are far behind him. One last insult on the futile audition circuit might push him and his out-of-work drinking buddies to drastic action. Twelve-and-a-half marvellous minutes.

Bloom
Stan*, from Thursday, April 9

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Glen Dolman’s wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy returns in fine form, bringing back most of those we loved so much in the first season – Bryan Brown, Jackie Weaver and Phoebe Tonkin to name a few. But the world of Bloom is about to get dangerously larger.

It’s not exactly common knowledge that the strange, solitary berries growing on a handful of plants scattered around the small country town of Mullan work as an elixir of youth – but it’s no longer a secret. Outsiders have come sniffing around, including biotech type Anne (Jacqueline McKenzie), who arrives in town with an unusual family arrangement; and priest-with-a-past John (Black Sails‘ Toby Schmitz).

Once again there’s a very dark side to the intoxicating possibility of being able to do things all over again, but there are some real delights for the viewer. Bella Heathcote (The Man in the High Castle) delivers a performance that’s by turns hilarious and deeply poignant as a Mullan old-timer given a new lease on life. Gary Sweet puts a cherry on the icing. A must-see once again.

Castlevania
Netflix

It might look like Japanese anime and it’s based on a Japanese video-game series, but this exceedingly gory animated horror series is a Western enterprise, developed and written by celebrated British comic-book writer Warren Ellis. In 15th-century Wallachia, Vlad Tepes (aka Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula) has given up impaling folks, but when a local bishop burns his missus as a witch, Vlad looses the very terrors of hell upon the populace. A hero, or something resembling one, must arise. Thoroughly watchable.

*Stan is owned by this masthead.

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