What to Watch in August
August 1, 2023


National Fishing Month – Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing – Starring Bob Mortimer, Paul Whitehouse – BBC Iplayer – 4 Series

Following serious heart problems, comedians Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse decide to travel the British Isles to fish as best they can, joined often by Ted the dog and on occasion by some celebrity friends. Each episode sees them in a new location up and down the country, with Whitehouse – the more experienced of the two fishermen – taking the reins whilst Mortimer takes care of the cooking. Now, I know so far it doesn’t sound like much of a hoot, but most of the programme is spent with the two of them sitting on a riverbank, talking and joking and reminiscing. It’s very feel-good, as television goes, and on occasion Bob Mortimer will come up with a good recipe or two (when he’s not falling over, that is). Frankly, there’s very little to say about the programme, as it’s quite laid-back and gentle and it’s the sort of thing that’s much better to watch than read about. So, to make use of the space I’ve got left here, I’ve written a fish-based limerick. There was a young angler from Cambridge, who lost his lake due to drainage. He filled it back up, cup by cup, with water he bought down in Weybridge.

International Cat Day (8th) – Cats – Starring Judi Dench, Idris Elba, James Corden – Prime Video – 2019 – 1h 50min – Dir. Tom Hooper – PG

2019’s Cats is to the art of cinema what a wagonful of horse corpses is to Ascot, and is the worst thing to happen to cats (the animal) since my mate Derek the Cat Stabber was released from Guantanamo. Starring such dignified titans of the industry like Dame Judi Dench and Sir Ian McKellen, as well as people who would be more at home behind the counter of a butchers’ like Ray Winston and James Corden, Cats is a furry fever-dream that feels like the people making it are desperate for the audience to shoot them. Watching this film gives the impression that everyone behind it really did try their best to make it worthwhile, that the director thought it was a slightly good idea at worst and that the actors assumed this film would make for excellent Oscar-bait. Instead, watching Cats is more like watching a swarm of insects fly head-first into a deep-fat-fryer. You might rightly ask, then, why would I watch this film if it’s so rubbish? If you have no interest in the unusual, then I’d say you’d be right and shouldn’t go near the film. If, however, you’re the sort of person who likes the wagonful of horse corpses when you go to Ascot (that’s what we call a callback, ladies and gentlemen), then this hairball in the throat of cinema might be of interest to you.

Victory in Japan Day (15th) – Oppenheimer – Starring Cilian Murphy, Florence Pugh, Emma Blunt – 2023 – 3h – Dir. Christopher Nolan – 15

As of August 2023, this film is still in cinemas, and I would highly recommend you attend in person to experience the full three hours the way it was intended. It’s an incredibly serious film, tackling the process of the creation of the atomic bomb by the Americans in the latter days of the Second World War, before they eventually drop those bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The film takes a cold approach to the events, showing not the lives of the victims but rather the removed and dispassionate attitudes of the people who caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands. Some have complained that the film focuses on the men who built the bomb rather than on the ones it killed, but that distance and cold nature is the whole point of the film, to show how when a problem is half a world away it’s so much easier to clear your conscience of it. It could easily be compared to how we in the West view problems like the Russian war in Ukraine or conflict in the Middle-East. It’s an incredibly serious film, for obvious reasons, so there isn’t really any sort of joke to make about it. I’ll try, though. What do you call it when the father of the atomic bomb cleans the floor? Moppenheimer. And if he jumps? Hoppenheimer. And when he comes back down again? Droppenheimer. It turns out there are at least three jokes to make, in that case.

National Petroleum Day (27th) – There Will Be Blood – Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano – Netflix – 2007 – 2h 38min – Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson – 15