As a dedicated cinephile, I have to say that the recent postponing of highly anticipated films is starting to grate slightly. That is not to say that only utter rot is being released, but it is plain to all that recent releases have been considerably below par, and high calibre cinema is now to be found on viewing platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV for example. Will the day return when our pulses race slightly as the lights go down in a large room full of people, and the odour of popcorn and stale carpets fills the air? Sadly, only time will tell.
Until then I have found myself turning, (as many viewers have I am sure) towards television series with production standards that equal any film company. Netflix alone for example has doubled their budget of five hundred million dollars to one billion dollars to be spent on UK productions alone this year. Not to be sniffed at!
For those of you, like me, missing quality cinema, we can at least, for now, be satisfied with exceedingly high-quality television. Which brings me to me my latest binge-fest; ‘Lupin’. One of the saddest things about an English Literature education in England is that, in my mind, you tend to miss out on so much wonderful work that for some reason is not deemed as worthy as Shakespeare or Dickens. We are taught very little about masters from other countries. Had I known about the wonderful series of books regarding the Gentleman Thief ‘Lupin’ created by Maurice Leblanc at the turn of the twentieth century, I would have devoured them quicker than all the mince pies that passed through our doors this festive season I can tell you.
Fortunately, modern-day production companies are scouring the past and dragging it feet first into the twenty-first century. ‘Lupin’ is a five-part series currently on Netflix, concerning the trials and tribulations of an African immigrant, Assanne Diop, who is set upon avenging his father’s framed guilt and suicide over a stolen necklace some twenty-five years prior. His obsession with the fictional Gentleman Thief ‘Lupin’ has consumed his life and set him on a path of what could almost be described as a modern-day Robin Hood. The incredible Omar Sy, (who stole the show in the film “Intouchables” in two thousand and eleven), is superbly cast as the charismatic Assanne, intent on revenge. Now ladies, hard to imagine I know, but if one could conjure up an even sexier Idris Elba, speaking French, you could be easily forgiven for overlooking the edgy editing, fast-flowing storylines and razor-sharp twists and turns that make ‘Lupin’ a veritable thrill to watch.
My gorgeous gerbil Geri Halliwell and I sat transfixed this weekend as the memorising Assanne gets himself into, and out of, some of the trickiest situations caught on screen in a long time. It starts with the theft of a real-life necklace once owned by Marie Antoinette, in a heart-stopping sequence in the Louvre, and the plot just gets thicker and more complex as he tries to find out exactly why his father was framed for the original theft of the said necklace all those years ago, sadly ending in him hanging himself in a prison cell. Assanne forever sure of his father’s innocence, spies the sale of the necklace which disappeared for decades, coming up for auction, and using his charisma, mastery of thievery and subterfuge, steals the necklace in spectacular fashion, as he tries to ascertain the truth behind his father’s fate.
Twists and turns aplenty meant that Geri and I were hooked from the beginning. She worked her way through three family packs of pumpkin seeds, while I attempted to work my way through the most delicious chocolate cake. We managed to save just enough for the finale, which without spoiling anything, has a cliffhanger the style of which I have not seen in a long time. I imagine season two is being filmed as I type. I doubt either of us will get any sleep tonight.
I know Netflix etc can often be overwhelming, so much choice is not always a good thing. Seeing me at a buffet would be a case in point. But I digress, ‘Lupin’ is a joy to behold, I relished every moment, and hope that any of you who decide to give it a whirl after reading this will feel the same. Now, off to find the original books, all twenty-four of them before the next season starts. Wish me luck!