Play Hard

Culture – what we’re watching and reading this November

Written by High Life North
Published 06.11.2020

By Christopher Kingston

It’s been a strange year for the entertainment industry with Covid 19 hitting us all very hard and as we head into November things shows no sign of improving. But don’t worry, we still have loads of great movies, TV and books to recommend –  from horror movies to Christmas and also epic dramas like the return of The Crown and His Dark Materials. Whatever your tastes, we’ve got you sorted.    

His House – Netflix – 30 Oct 

We follow traumatised refugees Boi (Sope Driisu) and Rial (Wummi Mosaku) from war-torn South Sudan who have made it to the UK. While their claim for asylum is being seen to, the couple are placed in a grim house on a bleak and unwelcoming estate and it appears they are not the only inhabitants of their new home. Look out for Matt Smith (Dr Who) who plays their social worker. 

Come Away – 13th November – on-demand 

If horror is not your thing, then why not try this one. Angelina Jolie (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) and David Oyelowo ( A United Kingdom) play Rose and Jack Littleton who fall on hard times when their eldest son dies. Peter and Alice played by newcomers Jordan A. Nash and Keira Chansa must save their parents from despair until they are forced to choose between home and imagination, setting the stage for their journeys into Wonderland and Neverland. Perfect if you love the stories of Alice In Wonderland and Peter Pan.     

Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square – 22nd November  – Netflix 

A Christmas Carol gets the Dolly Parton treatment, as she plays an angel in her upcoming holiday musical. Perfect to get you in the mood for Christmas. This is another modern retelling of the story of Scrooge and has 14 brand new songs written by Dolly herself – it promises to be a good old fashioned holiday flick. Landlord Regina Fuller played by Mamma Mia star Christine Baranski is a modern-day Scrooge and has no warmth in her heart for the people of Fullerville, planning to evict them all on Christmas Eve. Can angel (Dolly Parton) shepherd her back to the good side through a musical journey? If you love a good Christmas movie in the same vein of It’s a Wonderful Life, then you will love this.     

The Christmas Chronicles 2 – 25th November – Netflix 

We’re going back to the North Pole for another Christmas adventure in this sequel to the 2018 feel-good family movie from Netflix Kate Pierce is now a cynical teenager and after being unexpectedly reunited with Santa Claus played by Kurt Russel and Mrs Claus played by (Goldie Hawn), together they must save Christmas itself when a mysterious troublemaker threatens to cancel Christmas.      

Black Beauty – Disney+ -27th November

An update and reimaging of the classic novel by Anna Sewell. Black Beauty voiced by Kate Winslet is born free in the American West when she is captured and taken away from her family. When she encounters Jo a young girl (Mackenzie Foy ) who is also grieving the loss of her own parents, both of their lives are forever changed. Some fans of the original books and film may be annoyed with the relocation from the UK to America or even the gender swap of the characters but there is no denying that Disney has a hit on their hands once again. 

The Mandalorian – Season 2 – 30th Oct Disney + 

If you like Star Wars then you will love Season 2 of this spin-off series that launched on Disney +  way back in March when lockdown was upon us. Set five years after The Return of the Jedi and the fall of the empire. We follow a lone Bounty Hunter played by Game of Thrones star Pedro Pascal who is on a quest to reunite The Child aka Baby Yoda with his own kind. Expect plenty of gunfights and an iconic appearance from an ex -Jedi. Look out for Rosario Dawson (Sin City) who is rumoured to be playing a fan favourite character with 8 episodes released every week. This is certainly one to watch.      

Truth Seekers – 30th October – Amazon Prime 

A supernatural comedy series that reunites Nick Frost with Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The Worlds End fame. Gus (Frost) is a lonely broadband engineer who in his spare time moonlights as a paranormal investigator hunting around the UK for Ghosts. After taking on a new partner Elton (Samson Kayo) together they search for all things spooky and supernatural. Simon Pegg has a small role in this one as Gus’ boss who may be up to no good. Think of The X Files with jokes.   

The Crown Season 4 – Netflix 

“The stuff of which fairy tales are made” is just one of the taglines in this Netflix drama The Crown is about the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II who is played in this series by Olivia Coleman (The Favourite).  Series 4 is set between 1977 to 1990 and sees the introduction of Lady Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin) and  Prime minister Margret Thatcher (Gillian Anderson) and will also introduce Prince William and Prince Harry to the show. The series depicts events including the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and The Falklands War among others.

His Dark Materials Series 2 – 8th November on iPlayer and 15th November BBC One 

Based on Philp Pullman’s epic trilogy of fantasy novels and adapted from the second book in the series The Subtle Knife. Set in a parallel world similar to ours where everyone has a daemon, an animal which is a physical representation of their soul. As we pick up from the last series explorer Lord Asriel (James McAvoy) has opened up a bridge to a new world and his daughter Lyra played by Dafne Keen (Logan) follows him through. Together with a new companion Will Parry(Amir Wilson), they explore a strange new world. Also, look out for Fleabag stars Andrew Scott as Colonel John Parry an explorer and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the voice of his daemon.           

Small Axe – 15th November BBC One / iPlayer  20th November – Amazon Prime 

The Oscar-winning director of “12-years a Slave” Steve McQueen heads to the small screen for his latest project. An anthology of hour-long stories set in London’s West Indian community in the 1960s to the 1980s about the experience of Black people in Britain. Starring some of the UK top black actors such as Michael Ward (Top Boy),  John Boyega (Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker) and Letitia Wright (Black Panther) this is much watch viewing.  

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.

A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.

Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is funny and tender, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships, family, memory, and how we live now

Hungry By Grace Dent   

From Frazzles to Foie Gras: a memoir of wanting more.

From an early age, Grace Dent was hungry. As a little girl growing up in Currock, Carlisle, she yearned to be something bigger, to go somewhere better.

Hungry traces Grace’s story from growing up eating beige food to becoming one of the much-loved voices on the British food scene. It’s also everyone’s story – from treats with your Nan, to cheese and pineapple hedgehogs, to the exquisite joy of cheaply-made apple crumble with custard. It’s the high-point of a chip butty covered in vinegar and too much salt in the school canteen, on an otherwise grey day of double-Maths and cross country running. It’s the real story of how we have all lived, laughed, and eaten over the past 40 years.
Warm, funny and joyous, Hungry is also about love and loss, the central role that food plays in all our lives, and how a Cadbury’s Fruit ‘n’ Nut in a hospital vending machine can brighten the toughest situation.

Love and Other Thought Experiments by Sophie Ward 

Rachel and Eliza are planning their future together. One night in bed Rachel wakes up terrified and tells Eliza that an ant has crawled into her eye and is stuck there. Rachel is certain; Eliza, a scientist, is sceptical. Suddenly their entire relationship is called into question. What follows is a uniquely imaginative sequence of interlinked stories ranging across time, place and perspective to form a sparkling philosophical tale of love, lost and found across the universe.

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton 

From the bestselling author of Sister.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege.

Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather, desperate for news.

In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare 

Meet Adunni, a teenage girl born into a rural Nigerian village. Aged fourteen, she is a commodity, a wife, a servant.

She is also smart, funny, curious, with a spirit and joy infectious to those around her.

And despite her situation going from bad to worse, she has a plan to escape: she will find her ‘louding voice’ and get her education so that she can speak up for herself – and all the girls who came before her.

As she turns enemies into friends and superiors into aides, Adunni will take you with her on a heart-breaking but inspiring journey from a small village to the wealthy enclaves of Lagos, and show you that no matter the situation, there is always some joy to be found.

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