Newsletter / Don’t Look Up / Boiling Point

January is nearly over and I’m only just easing into it.

Like a Victorian gentleman emerging from a preposterous bathing contraption, I suppose I will eventually dip my toe into 2022. But I remain wary.

I’ve just written my latest newsletter, promoting all the various comedy things I’ve got planned over the next few weeks. This includes sketch shows in Bristol and Leicester, another attempt to win Comedy Virgins in Stockwell, and the return of Factually Inaccurate, with scarcely believable headliner Isy Suttie off the telly.

Come along!

Please subscribe to the newsletter if you haven’t already. It’s mainly reviews and plugs for shows, and as such the version of me who writes it is slightly more cheery than this, the Eeyore of WordPress still trapped inside the lockdown of the mind.

It is interesting how different aspects of one’s character emerge depending on what one is writing. For example, I find it impossible to do any correspondence with a company / public entity without dredging up the version of me who would still be writing green inked letters to the local newspaper, if the local newspaper still existed.

Postcards to friends are closer to the real me, unless I’m writing them to Geoff and addressing them specifically to his parents’ house, in which case a new set of rules come in. New as in different to other forms of writing, not new as in new: I have been writing postcards to Geoff’s parents house for a quarter of a century.

What else? I have seen precisely two (2) movies, one on the tellybox and one at the cinema. I lack the energy to give either a proper review, but both were interesting.

The first was the much-discussed Don’t Look Up, Netflix’s celebrity-infused climate change denial allegory. It begins as farce and ends as tragedy; this tonal shift is well handled, and despite the presence of distractingly over-famous Leo DiCaprio in the chief scientist role the film works well.

It has received criticism for being too broad, largely by exactly the liberal journalists this film delights in mocking. I would say these critics doth protest too much. In a post-Trump world, you can never out-parody the wealthy idiots driving us to destruction.

Meryl Streep steals the show as an unexpectedly subtle Palin-esque President, and the last fifteen minutes or so lingered in thought and in dream a lot longer than expected.

The second was also stressful, but in a completely different way.

Rather than contemplating the end of the world, we were trying to get to the end of the night, via a frenetic, one-shot, restaurant-set ninety minutes.

Boiling Point is not for the anxious. It follows the head chef of a trendy Dalston restaurant, convincingly played by Stephen Graham, as he battles a personal and professional life on the edge of collapse.

I found myself gripping the seat as the various ducks – both actual and metaphorical – are set up amid a busy, stressful, claustrophobic professional kitchen. We are not overloaded with characters, which means that those we see are given space to breathe even in such a confined space.

I particularly loved Vinette Robinson, whose performance as Graham’s number two was perfect, the competent and steely ying to her boss’ barely keeping it together yang.

And I also appreciated the economy in focusing on only a few of the customers: a smarmy celebrity chef, a racist bullying dullard, some instagram wankers, and a young man whose proposal to his girlfriend is definitely going to go extremely smoothly.

There were a couple of narrative choices that were a bit on the obvious side, but in a strange way I was grateful for this. I was so invested in the characters that it was actually a relief to be brought out of the believability bubble.

I would give both films four ish stars; definitely catch them if you have the subscriptions or cinemas available to do so.


  1. We always love getting postcards, James, if you ever feel the need to send them!

    When our girls were growing up, we got friends from all over the world to send us postcards. It was an excellent excuse to look things up with them: places, languages, cultures etc. and to provide them with both a broader vocabulary and a wider, more open view on the world.

    So, anytime you like for a postcard!

    • For my 40th I got everyone I knew to send me a postcard, as revenge for all the years I’d been sending them. When I have a slightly more permanent residence, I’ll be in touch!

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