Sci-Fi and Brit Wit

If you’re a science fiction fan, you probably know about Amazon Prime’s “The Expanse” — the best SF show on television ever. But you may not have heard of “Dark,” a German show running on Netflix.

Complete in three seasons, “Dark” is a time-travel story so full of plot twists you’ll need a map, or at least a family tree. Fortunately, each episode rewards multiple viewings. The acting is good, the directing great, and the casting and makeup work are astonishing.

Don’t want to commit to a series right now? Check out “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” the film Taika Waititi made in between “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” It’s more like the former than the latter: a small, sweet, New Zealandish movie. 

Personally, I have little patience for films that wear their hearts on their sleeves, and 10 minutes in I was thinking, “OK, so the young boy is going to forge a bond with the crusty old man yadda yadda yadda.” But dang if I wasn’t misting up at the end all the same. And don’t worry, the laughs outweigh the touchy-feely stuff.

Switching gears now, those of us who enjoy British humor but don’t subscribe to Acorn or BritBox can find plenty to enjoy on, believe it or not, YouTube. My personal favorite is a genre that’s very popular in Britain and nonexistent in this country: the panel show.

A panel show looks like a quiz show: Groups of celebrities, mostly comedians, are asked questions by a host. But the point isn’t getting the answer; the point is being funny.  And they can be insanely hilarious … although I probably should mention that none of the comics are censored.

The two best panel shows available on YouTube are “The Big Fat Quiz of the Year” (or “Decade)” and “QI” — which, if you need help remembering it, stands for “quite interesting.” 

“QI” is more about little-known facts of history and science and such, while “Big Fat Quiz” features questions about pop culture. And yes, there are a lot of questions — and a few jokes — that you won’t get because you don’t live in the UK. But there will be enough laughs to keep you sailing through … especially if you look for episodes featuring Noel Fielding, Richard Ayoade (teamed together, if possible), Aishling Bee, David Mitchell, Holly Walsh or Sarah Millican.

If you want a straight-up quiz show with civilian contestants, try the amusingly pompous “Mastermind,” which has roughly “Jeopardy!”-level questions, or the insanely difficult but awesomely clever “Only Connect.” Many episodes of both can be found on YouTube, too.

Latest News

The Creators: An interview with filmmaker Keith Boynton

Keith Boynton, left, with Aitor Mendilibar, right, the cinematographer who shot “The Haunted Forest” as well as “The Scottish Play” and “The Winter House.” In the background of is Vinny Castellini, first assistant director.

Submitted

Keith Boynton is a filmmaker who grew up in Salisbury, Connecticut. He attended Salisbury Central School, Town Hill School, and Hotchkiss. He has made numerous feature films including Seven Lovers, The Scottish Play, The Winter House, and is just wrapping up a new film, The Haunted Forest, which is a horror/slasher movie. Boynton has made numerous music videos for the band Darlingside, and for Alison Krauss. He is a poet, a playwright, and comic book art collector.

JA: This series of stories The Creators focuses on artists, their inspiration, and their creative process. Keith, what was the seed that got you started?

Keep ReadingShow less
Millerton director is an Oscar nominee

Arlo Washington in a film still from the Oscar-nominated short "The Barber of Little Rock."

Story Syndicate

John Hoffman, a Millerton resident, has been nominated for his film “The Barber of Little Rock,” which he co-directed with Christine Turner, in the Best Documentary Short Film category at the upcoming 96th Academy Awards.

Distributed by The New Yorker and produced by Story Syndicate Production in association with 59th & Prairie, Better World Projects, and Peralta Pictures, “The Barber of Little Rock” explores the efforts of Arkansas local hero Arlo Washington, who opened a barbershop at 19 years old and, with a mission to close the racial inequality gap in his community, went on to found the Washington Barber College as well as People Trust Community Federal Credit Union. Washington’s goal is aiding his primarily Black neighborhood, which has historically been underserved by more prominent banking institutions.

Keep ReadingShow less
Gone With The Winsted: 
The Civil War in The Litchfield Hills

President Lincoln by William Marsh, 1860.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1861, following the election of Abraham Lincoln to the United States presidency on a platform to prohibit the legal slavery of African Americans, seven southern states seceded from the country, and the American Civil War began.

While no battles were fought on the soil of Connecticut, Peter C. Vermilyea has gone to lengths to detail the political climate of Northern communities and military recruitment efforts in the early years of the conflict in a new book from The History Press, “Litchfield County and The Civil War.” Vermilyea, a history teacher at Housatonic Valley Regional High School and the author of “Wicked Litchfield County” and “Hidden History of Litchfield County,” will appear at the David M. Hunt Library in Falls Village for a discussion Saturday, March 2, at 2 p.m.

Keep ReadingShow less