Glamour, excitement and intrigue

Plots thicken on ‘The Writer,’ ‘The Night Manager,’ ‘Girls’ and ‘House of Cards.’

‘The Night Manager’ TV review (photo credit: PR)
‘The Night Manager’ TV review
(photo credit: PR)
At the recently concluded Berlinale, the 66th Berlin International Film Festival, television had an honored place alongside movies, which is now the case at almost all international festivals In a section called Berlinale Special, episodes of several new series were screened at theaters all over the city, among them The Writer, a series currently showing on Israel’s Channel 2 (and is available for free on the website It stars Yousef “Joe” Sweid as an Israeli Arab screenwriter and is based on the life of the series’ creator, Sayed Kashua.
But the hottest ticket in the television category was the world premiere of the first two episodes of the new six-part BBC series The Night Manager, which will be shown in Israel, although the schedule has not yet been announced. Based on a 1993 John le Carré novel, which has been revised and updated to reflect current events, it tells the story of Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston), a conscientious, self-effacing luxury hotel manager who has a certain familiarity with the world of espionage that he keeps a secret.
The result, which is extraordinarily lavish and beautifully photographed, could be described as James Bond meets Homeland.
It opens in Cairo during the antigovernment uprising in 2011. Pine is drawn into the conflict when one of the guests at the hotel, Sophie Alekan (Aure Atika, who starred in Avi Nesher’s 2004 film Turn Left at the End of the World), the mistress of a shady Egyptian billionaire, presents him with a sheaf of documents. These show that a beloved UK business mogul, Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), known for his philanthropy and efforts to help refugees around the world, is arming the Mubarak government on a huge scale.
Although, like most memorable heroes, Pine doesn’t want to become involved at first, he passes the documents to a friend at the British Embassy. This draws him into a world of intrigue that spans several countries, as he meets Roper and his entourage again in a hotel nestled in the Swiss Alps and later in Spain The series’ stars, among them Hiddleston, Laurie, Olivia Colman (who plays a down-to-earth, pregnant British intelligence officer who brings to mind Frances McDormand’s dogged police detective in the movie Fargo) and Elizabeth Debicki (playing Roper’s trophy wife and who was Jordan Baker in Baz Luhrmann’s version of The Great Gatsby and looked stunning in a glittering red gown), walked the red carpet before the premiere in tuxedos and evening gowns. Also on hand were the director of the series, Oscar-winning Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (In a Better World) and Le Carré himself, who looked so handsome and energetic I thought for a moment he was one of the actors. After the screening, he, Bier and the cast answered questions from the audience.
The first two episodes got me hooked, and I look forward to seeing the rest of the series, which just premiered in the UK, when it is shown here.
The fifth season of Girls just started running on YES Oh on Wednesday nights at 10:30 p.m.
and on YES VOD, following an announcement that the show’s sixth season would be its last.
Marnie (Allison Williams) is getting married to her singing partner, Desi (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), and naturally she has become the Bridezilla from hell. It doesn’t help matters that her bridesmaids are Hannah (series creator Lena Dunham), Jessa (Jemima Kirke) and Shosh (Zosia Mamet), who has come back from her new job in Japan with pink hair. If the series annoys you, this episode will not change your mind about it; but for fans, it’s a great season opener.
Now that the US presidential primary season is finally under way, it’s the perfect time to watch malevolent master politician Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), his Lady Macbeth-like wife, Claire (Robin Wright), and all their minions in the fourth season of House of Cards. The entire season will be available starting March 5 on HOT Xtra VOD, and then will run on HOT Plus starting March 6, from Sunday to Thursday at 10:30 p.m.