I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: What happens in Russia…

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

Horrible rulers? Court intrigue? Perfectly cast historical satire? Huzzah, indeed: last week, Matt blogged about the first season of The Great, written by Tony McNamara of The Favourite fame. The Great, a darkly funny mostly-comedy, may not be quite as scalpel-sharp as Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2018 film, but it’s still well worth checking out – though perhaps not in the company of children, unless you want them to ask interesting questions about sex, death and history.

The ruling crass: The Great (2020)

At a first glance, the historical (though perhaps don’t take that adjective too literally) comedy-drama The Great looks suspiciously like a TV spinoff of Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2018 The Favourite – which isn’t too surprising, since both were (co-)written by the Australian playwright Tony McNamara. Both Lanthimos’ film and the series are bleak, black farces about incompetent, neurotic rulers, the people at their mercy, and central female characters that attempt to change things by manipulating the people in power. Both are irreverent, blatantly sexual to the point of crudeness, and ruthless, depicting the deadly ridiculousness of hereditary rule, and the corrupting effects of power.

The G

Seeing how there isn’t much that’s even remotely comparable to the works of Yorgos Lanthimos on TV – or anywhere, really, other than in Lanthimos’ films -, it’s definitely unique and not a little thrilling to find something like The Great on TV. However, it doesn’t entirely do The Great a favour to watch it through that particular lens, because while it is undoubtedly entertaining as pitch-black historical comedy, it doesn’t have the same kind of sharp, icy edge that The Favourite has. It is only when looking at what the series does differently that it truly comes into its own.

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From the School of Subtle Manipulation

There is a wounded stranger in the music room of Mrs Farnsworth’s seminary, a Union soldier from Ireland, a deserter with a leg wound, a man, not exactly young, but handsome. What to do? He is a Yankee, they are all from the South, so shall they hand him over to the Confederate troops nearby, or should they do the Christian thing and dress his wounds first? Mrs Farnsworth herself, the head teacher Mrs Morrow and the five pupils all feel an undercurrent of fear because that deserter might bring the War to their school, a war they watch every evening through a telescope from the upper balcony of their mansion, and they see the black plumes of smoke just beyond the treeline. Sometimes the boom of cannon-fire can be heard. That’s the situation at the beginning of Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled. It’s a must-see, because who tells stories about groups of girls or women better than Coppola? The movie is set in Virginia in 1864, but it resembles Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides (1999) in more ways than one. Continue reading