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Author Topic: Time reviews  (Read 1309 times)

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Time reviews
« on: June 01, 2021, 08:07:02 AM »
Time review: This gripping, gruelling portrait of life in prison is essential viewing
Sean Bean and Stephen Graham lead a brilliant cast in a three-part series from Jimmy McGovern
When Mark Cobden enters prison in the first moments of Jimmy McGovern’s new drama, he soon learns that the question “What are you doing?” has another meaning. His fellow inmates aren’t asking him what he’s up to (it’s not like there’s much to do, anyway). They want to find out the length of his sentence, how much time he’s doing - and in discovering that, to get the measure of what kind of man he is, whether he is a threat, an ally, or someone to push around.

A former teacher consumed by guilt over his crime, Mark (a melancholy Sean Bean) falls into that latter category (“Do one, granddad,” one prisoner hisses back when Mark tries to remonstrate with him like he’s negotiating with a Year Nine who hasn’t done their homework). It seems he couldn’t be worse equipped for life inside, where sugar and boiling water aren’t just component parts for a nice cup of tea (you may want to avert your eyes during the most viscerally unpleasant scene involving a kettle since Line of Duty’s rogue prison guards roughed up Lindsay Denton), officers burst into cells wearing riot gear, and most of the inmates should, as one character points out, be in psychiatric care, not jail.

His personal support officer is Eric McNally, played by Stephen Graham, a scrupulous, decent guard with an unblemished record; he couldn’t be further from an Orange Is The New Black-style villain, getting off on abuses of power. When an inmate seeks to exploit a family secret, though, he finds himself forced to choose between his principles and the safety of those closest to him.

Mark and his fellow prisoners move through a world drained of colour: this institution seems to exist almost entirely in greyscale, punctuated only by dashes of light blue (the washed-out shade of the striped shirts worn for family visits) and burgundy (the colour of their work scrubs). One inmate receives “a black and white photocopy of a colouring in” from his young daughter - the original gets destroyed, in case it’s laced with spice.

It’s bleak stuff, and there’s a sense of grim, almost tragic inevitability to many of the stories that unfurl over the course of three episodes, especially Eric’s (made all the more wrenching by Graham’s measured performance). Yet amid all this grey, moments of unbearable sadness sometimes make way for glimmers of redemption. These flashes of hope in the gloom, along with the carefully handled, humanising glimpses into the back stories of a handful of other inmates, make this classic McGovern. There’s a certain didacticism to it, of course, but it never gets in the way of a powerful narrative.

 It’s the second time that Bean and Graham have worked together, having previously starred alongside one another in an episode of McGovern’s 2010 anthology series Accused, and their scenes together are powerfully understated. This is much more than a two-hander, though, and it’d be remiss to overlook the quietly heartbreaking performances of the supporting cast, from Hannah Walters, married to Graham in real life, as Eric’s wife Sonia, to Jack McMullen as Mark’s young cellmate Daniel, whose lengthy sentence stretches out hopelessly in front of him, to the reliably brilliant Siobhan Finneran as the prison’s chaplin.

Their work, in tandem with McGovern’s devastating story-telling and striking direction from Lewis Arnold (who previously worked on shows such as Des and the third series of Broadchurch), ensures that these three hour-long episodes are difficult but essential viewing. It’s both deeply damning and touchingly hopeful, at once a searing indictment of a system where for the most part, as one of Mark’s cellmates puts it, “you come in bad and you go out worse” and a testament to our capacity to change.

Time is on BBC One on June 6 at 9pm. The full series will be available on BBC iPlayer after episode one has aired.

Time—a tense and claustrophobic prison drama
The BBC is making a big deal of this new three-part prison drama—and not just because of its big name actors.

Sean Bean is Mark Cobden, a teacher who finds himself in prison, consumed by guilt and out of his depth.

His story intertwines with prison guard Eric McNally, played by Stephen Graham, who is forced into a dangerous situation after a threat from a prisoner.

Bean and Graham contribute a lot to the series’ strength. Bean is more Roy Cropper than Ned Stark here—but is utterly convincing as a quiet man who just wants to keep his head down. Graham’s role is more familiar for him, but he does look and speak like a prison guard.

More than that, the claustrophobic, noisy, stressful atmosphere of prison is pervasive. Close camera angles, constant background noise, but quiet, understated yet shocking violence in the foreground.

If there’s a message—delivered in some at times blunt exposition—it’s that crowding vulnerable and troubled people into prison is a dangerous idea.

Often this still seems to rest on the idea that the prisoners are the real danger.

But it is an absorbing and troubling drama.

« Last Edit: June 01, 2021, 08:51:03 AM by patch »

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Re: Time reviews
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2021, 12:03:44 PM »
Time review – Is the BBC's Stephen Graham prison drama worth a watch?
Time episodes 1-3 were made available for review.

Stick Stephen Graham in anything (heck just hold up a camera to him doing his weekly shop) and we'd watch on in awe.

The man never fails to treat each and every frame like an acting masterclass – as previously seen in Channel 4's haunting drama The Virtues as well as Shane Meadows' superb movie-turned-anthology This Is England.

And BBC One's Time, by Jimmy McGovern, is no different.

Starring opposite Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Snowpiercer), the two lead characters are on opposite sides of the law and, as such, are tracing completely different paths. And yet, as more pieces of each of their stories start to unfold, it becomes clear that their individual struggles cross over in more ways than you might expect.

 Graham takes on the role of Eric McNally, an experienced and dedicated prison officer who values the safety and wellbeing of those in his charge. Think Gandalf or Ted Hastings (season five excluded); whenever McNally arrives on screen, there's a sudden sense that everything is going to be okay.

Bean plays Mark Cobden, a former schoolteacher and first-time offender who is haunted by what placed him behind bars. Under the watchful eye of McNally, Cobden is navigating a terrifying new world with a whole set of unwritten rules.

It is through his often-naive eyes that the audience too is engulfed by the unforgiving and relentless daily grind of being a prison inmate. Like Cobden, viewers cannot escape or look away (unless, of course, it gets too much and they reach for the remote) which adds to the claustrophobic feeling that builds across the series.

Set against the backdrop of a men's prison in Liverpool, Time is a visceral and brutally violent depiction of life on the inside. What seems to begin as a character study and exploration into the minds of these two central men, soon transcends into a commentary on the painful injustice of the system that they are both a part of.

If you are expecting a Line of Duty-like, high-octane drama that's packed with big set pieces and unpredictable (if not a little ridiculous) plot twists, then Time might not be for you. Although a fictional story, it's very much grounded in realism.

Without giving away any specific plot points (because, spoilers!) Time also intricately explores themes of male mental health and internalised toxic masculinity – although some scenes should almost certainly carry a content warning, if they should even be shown at all.

Despite its heaviness, the three-part series does not feel like a slog to watch – and that is mostly down to its emotive writing, which builds rapport with its audience, and the talent of the two leading actors themselves. Neither Graham or Bean steal the limelight from the other, each an equal and complimenting part to every scene that they share.

Time is worth watching for their performances alone, but you'll find it impossible not to also have some moral and ethical takeaways too. All-in-all, it's a frustrating watch – but that seems to be entirely the point.

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Re: Time reviews
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2021, 09:49:20 AM »
Sean Bean is arresting as a prison inmate in gripping BBC drama Time

Right from the disorienting start of Jimmy McGovern’s intense three-parter, protagonist Mark Cobden and the viewer are thrown into a frightening, unpredictable world. Trembling in the back of a prison van, Mark, a quiet, unassuming teacher, is on the way to begin his sentence at (fictional) HMP Craigmore, already unsettled by the seething menace all around him. He’s taken, bewildered, through all the rituals of induction, including “pants down and squat”, and spends his first night alone, before being taken to cell 39, shared with another prisoner. Mark has a lot to learn, for starters that he must address prison officers as “Boss”, and when someone says “What are you doing?” the correct answer isn’t “Having a cuppa” or “Nothing”, but “Four years”.

Gentle Mark (Sean Bean) is an easy target for the bullies, his claim that “I killed someone” merely eliciting barks of incredulous laughter. But his first problem is highly strung Bernard (Aneurin Barnard) who thinks Mark may be a spy sent from above. “Shtum from now on!” his wild-eyed cellmate insists, then breaks his own rule with a paranoid rant about the prison system. However disconnected from reality Bernard seems, somewhere within his fulminations we can detect a trace of McGovern’s own reforming zeal. It comes out more strongly later on when officer Eric McNally (Stephen Graham) bursts out: “They should all be in mental hospitals, not in this nick, but there’s no room for them

   As grey day succeeds grey day, a numbing repetition of ambling around, lying on bunks or queueing for the same daily choice of “chicken or cheese?”, it seems as though this is to be a strictly realistic depiction of the plotless limbo of prison. Mark is a timid soul (Bean playing excellently against type) who flees from confrontation until he realises that in prison there is no place to flee. The prison chaplain, Sister Marie-Louise (Siobhan Finneran), becomes an ally, her response to a disbelief in God being a cheery “You don’t know what you’re missing!” Considering that his stony face only alters by tiny degrees, Graham brings a vivid humanity to the screw who is as secretly kind as he is hard-boiled. Director Lewis Arnold piles on the claustrophobic menace, crowding the frame until it feels as if the violence could spill out of the screen.

From being two men quietly negotiating their corner of hell on different terms, Mark and McNally are abruptly pushed beyond their limits into parallel narratives of coercion and duress. The governing themes — no easy dividing line between good and evil, all are fallible, there but for the grace of God go I — may be clichés, but they combine to make a drama to grip your vitals.

« Last Edit: June 04, 2021, 09:52:52 AM by patch »

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Re: Time reviews
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2021, 01:07:35 PM »
Time, BBC One review ★★★★★
You can tell within seconds of Time – Jimmy McGovern’s new three-parter – that the timid schoolteacher Mark (Sean Bean) doesn’t belong in prison.

When he rides in a prisoner transport vehicle (like a jail on wheels), the other convicts scream and shout. Mark stays silent and afraid. After taking residence in HMP Craigmore, he shrinks and flinches from violent bullies who steal his sandwiches and his phone calls. He has a near-pacifistic demeanour, which barely benefits in this depressing, grey-and-white container. Its terrifying testosterone seeps through the bland walls and heavy doors.

But unlike Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, which Time rarely but inevitably imitates, Mark admits to his crime. He did it, that’s for sure, and he’s been sentenced to four years. And yet, despite the punishment suiting the offence, Mark still doesn’t belong there. It’s a riveting, upsetting paradox.

A concurrently armoured and fragile Stephen Graham (The Virtues, The Irishman) also stars, playing the lead police officer Eric. The series follows both him and Mark in parallel, crossing only occasionally.

Eric is caught in an impossible situation. A few inmates under his charge, through a corruptive set of circumstances, find out his son is locked up in another prison. That hold on Eric – organised by the shady, croaky and frightening prisoner Jackson (Brian McCardie, who played Tommy Hunter in Line of Duty) – is a bit elaborate, but provides a gruelling insight into the politics of prison life.

McGovern provides no easy answers to the dense, ethical questions he brings up. For a time, the series shows that prison shapes these criminals into worse people. The stories of Mark’s cell-mates confirm this. It is telling when, in one scene, Eric describes that half his prisoners deserve to be in mental institutions but ‘there’s no room for em’.

On the other side, Mark has a desperate need to atone without the chance of forgiveness. He is being punished, after all, and his guilt is excruciating. Bean's hard and weathered performance is a genuine marvel, and you immediately forget his credits in Hollywood.

McGovern’s point, it seems, is that these arguments aren’t clear-cut; they’re horrendously messy and often chaotic. Mark is constantly at risk of betraying his morality to survive and Eric, a caring and considerate officer, is threatened into forsaking his own principles to protect his son.

The series also drifts into the personal stories of the other prisoners, the reasons ranging from gambling issues to simply 'saving face'. They reveal these motivations either to families of the victims or to school kids, the latter set up by the ineffably nice prison chaplain Marie-Louise (Siobhan Finneran).

Although these intense examinations avoid the more antagonistic convicts, they’re extremely sympathetic vignettes of men who went the wrong way. You feel for every one of them, despite the sometimes horrific reasons for their imprisonment.

These quandaries exist in a place so oppressive and brutal and restricted that you feel the hurt of time lost. Similar to Shawshank, that sense of time starts as a slow hurdle before hundreds of days pile on top of each other. Time is certainly bleak, but doesn’t linger too long in the trauma of it all. The series is even morbidly addictive in its deep questions and detailed character work. McGovern has made another winner.

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Re: Time reviews
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2021, 06:36:17 AM »
Time review: BBC One prison drama is brutal, must-watch television
The bleak three-part series is a must-see, both as a lesson on the British prison system, and a masterclass in acting.
At a recent press event, actor Stephen Graham described his hard-hitting new series, BBC One prison drama Time, as “difficult to watch”. He went on to theorise that the reason the three-parter is such difficult viewing is because it makes the audience think: about the British penal system; about the justice system; and about how many inmates should be in mental health units, not prisons.

All of this is true, but the series would not be nearly as brutal viewing if it wasn’t for the two visceral central performances: from Graham himself, and Sean Bean.

Creator Jimmy McGovern recently revealed that Time was written with Sean Bean and Stephen Graham in mind. “They’ve got faces you’d die for, you know?” he said. “Full of life; full of compassion and humanity. I think if you’re going to write about a prison, that’s the kind of thing you need, isn’t it? Compassion, humanity, experience – all in the lines of those faces.”

Under the gaze of director Lewis Arnold (Des), every line, every flicker of emotion on those two famous faces is pushed to the fore. We follow their characters closely, as each man takes on his own personal battles, their respective lives and struggles intersecting.

Bean plays Mark, a former teacher who faces four years in prison. He’s soft-spoken, and when he arrives, we discover he’s much older than the other new inmates in his cohort. One even dubs him “grandad,” his tone verging on cruel.

The bleak visuals of the series are intentional: the disused prison where Time was filmed was specially painted grey, to make the location feel more “miserable”. ‘Hopeless’ is also an accurate description.

Mark is woefully ill-equipped for the harsh realities of prison life. He acts as a stand-in for the viewer during the first episode’s more shocking moments, including a harrowing scene involving a boiled kettle and packet of sugar.

This is a contrast to Stephen Graham’s character Eric, a prison guard who has seen it all before. Eric, who is also a personal support officer to Mark, isn’t a bully or villain – in fact none of the guards we meet in episode one are. Eric is a decent, family man, but his principles are challenged over the course of the series when he crosses paths with one of the prison’s most dangerous inmates.

Graham is given ample time to showcase his acting skills over the course of the series, but this first episode belongs to Bean. Mark’s quiet terror during his first few days in prison is painful to watch, as are the ways other, hardened inmates take advantage of his gentle nature. The playground bullying he endures – his lunch stolen, his precious calls home interrupted – strips him of his dignity, hour by hour.

Stephen Graham is right when he calls the series “difficult to watch,” but it’s also a must-see, both as a lesson on the British prison system, and a masterclass in acting

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Re: Time reviews
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2021, 12:46:38 AM »
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews the weekend's TV: Prison drama that turns tough guy Sean Bean into Mr Softie
Sean Bean’s face is so lined, it looks like a child has drawn eyes on an inky thumbprint. He’s more wrinkly than a tramp’s boot that’s been left under a sunlamp, and twice as tough.

Compared with Sean, action hero Jack Reacher is as soft and snooty as Jacob Rees-Mogg. So it’s hard to understand why other inmates, in the prison drama Time (BBC1), take one look and decide he’s a pushover.

He’s Sharpe, he’s Boromir in Lord Of The Rings, he’s Ned Stark from Game Of Thrones for heaven’s sake. He doesn’t get these roles because he’s the diffident type.

Even Sean Bean playing a timid teacher called Mark, in jail for the first time in his life after a drunken car accident, looks like he’s carved from weathered granite and boiled in vinegar.

But bullying Johnno (James Nelson-Joyce) swans into Mark’s cell and nicks his sugar. Then he barges him out of the queue for the payphones, and punches him on the nose.

Mark trudges sheepishly away. A fellow inmate warns him that he should have punched back: ‘Your life won’t be worth living now.’

You’d expect a bloke who has spent his life in classrooms to be more confident about dealing with bullies. And for all his swagger, Johnno looks like he’s made from twigs. Sean could knock him over with a sneeze.

The distractions of casting aside, Time is a visceral and violently scary drama. Writer Jimmy McGovern’s script conveys how dehumanising the experience of prison is, from the moment the first iron door slams.

‘Are you suicidal?’ asks one prison officer in the dull voice of somebody asking for a shoe size. ‘Have you ever suffered depression?’ inquires another and, when Mark starts to say something about his youth, she snaps: ‘Yes or no?’

Stephen Graham cuts a menacing figure as Mr McNally, a Scouse version of Mr Mackay from Porridge — short temper, narrow eyes, not noted for his forgiving nature.

He expects inmates to call him ‘Boss’ and seems to hanker for the American prisons of movies like Cool Hand Luke. Boss McNally would like to carry a shotgun and send his convicts out to work on chain gangs.

But he’s being bullied, too: the prisoners have heard McNally’s own son is serving a sentence in another jail. If the Boss doesn’t start doing people favours, Junior might come to harm.

Loaded with scenes of self-harm and vicious assaults, Time has echoes of the Ray Winstone 1979 classic, Scum.

Time review – Sean Bean and Stephen Graham astound in enraging prison drama
The performances of Bean and Graham are, even though we have come to expect brilliance from them both, astonishing. So, too, are those from everyone in smaller roles, none of which is underwritten or sketchy, and who thicken the drama into something more profoundly moving and enraging at every turn. Time well spent.

Time review: An avant-garde experiment in what prison with Sean Bean would be like
As far as is discernible from the first episode, the plot of Time, Jimmy McGovern’s new prison drama, goes something like this: Mark Cobden (Sean Bean) is off to jail. He ran someone over when he was drunk. His estranged wife doesn’t want to let his son talk to him. We don’t yet know why. On the other side of the prison divide, Eric McNally (Stephen Graham) is a decent screw, civil with his charges but cursed with a temper. He also has a son, himself in prison, which makes him a blackmail target for well-connected gangsters.

Story-wise, that’s your lot. In other respects, Time seems to be an avant-garde experiment in replicating what it would be like to do time with Sean Bean. As one of his earlier characters might have said, one does not simply walk into the slammer. In the opening minutes, we see the lapsed catholic Cobden progress through all the holy stations of the prison-drama. There’s Sean in the noisy van, Sean in the first-night holding cell, Sean crouching to have his bum checked, Sean in his new tracksuit, moping into his cell, Sean having his lunch nicked, Sean sitting in the exercise ground, Sean navigating his psychopath self-harming cellmate Bernard (Aneurin Barnard) and the yobs across the hallway. He’s a gentle soul, Cobden, a teacher on the outside, a model of stoicism inside, but he’s going to have to learn to handle himself. Sean is basically your dad in prison, except your mum still wants to sleep with him.
To be fair to her, being locked up with Sean is not without its consolations. The granite-grey palette in which everything is saturated suits his craggy face. The part is less expansive than those he sometimes takes on, giving him chance to brood and mull. Cobden is a glacier rather than a box of fireworks. Guilt weighs heavily on him as he shuffles around his new home.

Time is a hard to watch prison-based drama from the BBC but it’s worth every minute
Each performance is incredibly powerful and, even though the programme is fictional, it is very much grounded in realism. Time is a necessary lesson on the British prison system and a masterclass in acting.
Bean and Graham work so beautifully together and really bring the story to life. You can instantly tell McGovern had them in mind as he was writing the piece.

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Time, BBC1, evaluation: Sean Bean and Stephen Graham are painful in this heartbreaking, fearless jail dramatization

Time, BBC1, review: Sean Bean and Stephen Graham are harrowing in this heartbreaking, fearless prison drama

« Last Edit: June 07, 2021, 03:16:54 AM by patch »

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Re: Time reviews
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2021, 01:11:40 AM »
Time: Sean Bean, Stephen Graham combine for a shocking, compelling prison drama
I have two words of advice for anything contemplating diving into the BBC’s latest prison drama: steel yourself.

Time (which begins screening on Prime at 9.30pm, tonight, Saturday, with episodes available on demand on Sky Go the same evening) assails you from the opening scene and doesn’t let up until the credits roll.

Thank goodness it’s only a three-parter, because the assault on the senses might not be sustainable.

But we’re not talking mere shock value here, this is a brilliantly executed look at two men on either side of the cell door of the prison system. One that welcomes back a beloved screenwriter – Cracker, Moving On, Hillsborough’s Jimmy McGovern – to prime time and showcases the talents of two of Britain’s most under-rated actors in Sean Bean and Stephen Graham.

It wouldn’t all quite be so powerful though, if it wasn’t for former Lord of the Rings’ star Bean and ubiquitous “everyman” Graham (The Irishman, Boardwalk Empire). These aren’t histrionic turns, just nuanced, sensitive and compelling performances that draw the audience into their characters’ lives and troubles.

Stunning, at times breathtaking and rage-inducing drama, you might need a cup of tea and a lie down after watching Time, but you’ll also already be counting the hours until the next episode drops.

Time begins screening on Prime at 9.30pm on Saturdays from June 12. Each episode will also be available to stream on Sky Go the same evening.

Jimmy McGovern's new prison drama Time is full of captivating performances
Sean Bean and Stephen Graham are utterly sensational in portraying two men trapped inside.
I can’t say that I’ve ever been the number one fan of the screenwriter Jimmy McGovern. I loved Robbie Coltrane in Cracker, of course, and I liked The Lakes, starring John Simm as a badly behaved kitchen porter (or at any rate, I was completely startled by The Lakes, which seemed very naughty indeed to anyone who spent their childhood holidays by Ullswater, all those buttocks bobbing up and down in poor old Patterdale). But after that, the shows seemed to grow ever more sentimental and preachy. And there were so many of them! Somewhere along the way, the factories and the terraced houses, the Catholic priests and the shop stewards, all began to blur. In life, redemption is a magnificent thing. Forgiveness! I want a lot more of that. But on telly, an excess of it makes your teeth ache, as if you’ve been eating too many sweets.

Imagine my surprise, then, when just as the first episode of his new series, Time (6 June, 9pm), was about to end, I found ­myself wondering if I should watch the second before bed. Imagine, too, my further amazement as, that very same night, I immediately lined up the third (all three are on iPlayer). What was happening to me?

It wasn’t even as if I was enjoying myself. I cried through most of the last ­episode, quietly at first, and then uncontrollably (though not, I fear, cathartically). In this drama, McGovern labours a somewhat basic point, which is that prison mostly doesn’t work (or not in this country). But my God, the way he does it. Very little ­happens and yet, everything does, the worlds of its two ­principal characters turning and turning again, in ways that are unfathomable to both of them, even as they’ve only themselves to blame.

Not that McGovern can take all the credit. I can’t think that Sean Bean and Stephen Graham have ever been better, each of them deploying only the tiniest muscles in their faces in the cause of stabbing the audience in the heart. Bean is Mark, a former school teacher, who is beginning a sentence for manslaughter, having killed a man while drunk behind the wheel. Graham is Eric, a prison officer of 30 years’ standing who works on Mark’s wing.

Picture a set of scales (I’m quite sure McGovern did, as he wrote). When the ­series starts, the two of them are ­unevenly balanced, one a criminal and the other squeaky clean. But things are about to change. While Mark is determined to atone for what he has done, Eric is about to dip his toe in the murk into which he has hitherto only peered from the sidelines. His son, it turns out, is serving a prison sentence ­elsewhere, word of which has got out among the lags. If he wants his boy to be safe, he’s going to have to start bringing in stuff (drugs, knives) for the men in his charge.

Time is wonderfully attentive to detail. It feels well-researched. Snooker balls inserted into a sock become a cosh. Sugar and boiling water is the punishment meted out to snitches. A man who cuts himself, or bangs his head against the wall until it cracks, is extracted from his cell by screws who use plastic riot shields to press him into a corner, like coffee in a cafetiere.

So many petty rules and regulations, and yet, everywhere, such chaos. The noise – the absolute din – is constant and ­overwhelming. Allies are bought, not made. Enmities, on the other hand, are formed in a split second: a single glance can do it.

In the midst of all this, and the performances of so many good actors (Siobhan Finneran as a Catholic nun, Aneurin Barnard as Mark’s disturbed cell mate), Bean is utterly sensational: a still, trembling point who embodies not only fear, shame, utter bewilderment and (for a while) loss of self, but also stoicism, kindness and, yes, remorse.

Contrition is a hard thing to make felt, even in real life. That an actor can impress it on us, his sincerity almost warm to touch, seems to me to be a truly remarkable thing. I had not expected it of him, nor of this script, and now I am a penitent, too. I come, in my sackcloth and my ashes, to bear witness to a Sunday night miracle.

'Exhausted and blown away by brilliance of BBC's Time with Sean Bean and Stephen Graham'
Rarely does a TV drama have such an impact that I sit shell-shocked , silently sobbing on the sofa long after the final credits have rolled.

I watched the entire three hours of BBC1’s gritty prison series Time in one hit, and it left me exhausted, emotional and blown away by the sheer brilliance of it.

For one thing, there’s Sean Bean’s craggy face, which I could stare at all day. He’s one of those actors who doesn’t even need to speak to get your attention.

Then, of course, there’s Stephen Graham – another heavy hitter who ­commands every scene.

In the Jimmy McGovern drama, Bean plays Mark Cobden, a drunk-driver sent to jail for four years after knocking over and killing a cyclist.

Graham is prison guard Eric McNally, who has his own problems protecting his son David, an inmate in another jail.

From the moment Mark, an ordinary man and former teacher, arrived at HMP Craigmore, the scenes were shocking
and uncomfortable, but felt tragically, devastatingly authentic.

Prison is a place where violence can erupt at any moment, where most people are mad, bad or just downright miserable. No one is left unscathed.

An inmate chucked boiling water over someone they’d branded a grass, and laced it with salt and sugar “to make it stick”.

Bullies spotted Mark’s vulnerability and stole his food and cut off his precious phone calls to home.

It makes you wonder: What would you do? How would you survive?

Mark’s cellmate (an excellent Aneurin Barnard) was wide-eyed and overwhelmed with mental health problems.

He shouldn’t have been there.

And in a neat plot device, an outreach group for troubled kids ­enabled us to hear more tragic stories from prisoners full of regret about pasts

A thought-provoking comment on the prison system, with focus on one man’s guilt and desperation to atone, and a good-hearted guard dragged down by a ruthless system he can’t beat.

It was nothing but grim, to be honest, but powerful performances from every cast member made it one of the most ­absorbing shows I’ve seen in ages – from Siobhan Finneran as the kind Catholic chaplain, to Sue Johnston as Mark’s ­bewildered mum, and Brian McCardie as a quietly terrifying prison kingpin.

A brutal series about remorse, guilt and survival with nightmarish flashbacks and harrowing confrontations.

But there were also odd moments of friendship and humanity, just enough to keep us hopeful.

Go and lock yourself away for three hours and watch it immediately. It will be time well spent.

« Last Edit: June 12, 2021, 09:57:46 AM by patch »

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Re: Time reviews
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2021, 05:06:51 AM »
‘There’s nothing here I did not see inside’ – a former HMP inmate on Time
Jimmy McGovern’s hard-hitting drama is a brutally honest portrayal of a failed public service and gets everything right about prison life – minus the tedium
Time is a compelling, honest portrayal of a failed public service; a service that fails those it incarcerates, as well as the public who pay for it and suffer the consequences of that failure, not least in the obscenely high reoffending rates. McGovern has, again, lived up to his reputation.

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Re: Time reviews
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2021, 01:25:56 AM »
Time review: Sean Bean and Stephen Graham in extraordinary prison drama
Spanning only three episodes, this British miniseries starring Sean Bean is gritty, nuanced and powerful.
“I would love to, but I don’t have the time.” Judging by that all-too-common refrain, time is the one commodity everyone wished they had more of.

Unless, of course, you’re in prison. Then time is all you have, the elastic perception of it stretching for eons as you try to stay sane and stay alive, really putting emphasis on the “serving” part of serving time.

Starring the powerhouse pair of Sean Bean and Stephen Graham and written by Jimmy McGovern, Time is a probing three-episode British miniseries set in a prison in northern England. Gritty, nuanced and understated, it’s a series that encapsulates show and not tell.

It may be harrowing at times, it may even be hard to watch, but Time trades in flashy filmmaking techniques for an immersive storytelling experience that varies between dramatic moments and mundane, banal scenes.

It adds up to a cohesive whole, a TV show that captures the lives of those within an imperfect system of justice, where there is brutality but also decency.

 We meet Mark Cobden (Bean) as he’s transferred to prison to start his four-year sentence for killing a man while drink-driving. On the outside, Mark was a schoolteacher and his soft hands are immediately commented on.

The fact everyone he meets on that first day asks if it’s his first time in prison condemns the cycle of recidivism that inmates are trapped in. Another incident in which one of Mark’s cellmates partake in illegal drugs and comments that it’s something he never did before incarceration is equally damning.

Guilt-ridden for his crime, Mark is haunted by images of his victim but finds purpose in aiding the prison chaplain Marie-Louise (Siobhan Finneran).

A lesser series would’ve charted out Mark’s redemptive arc, but Time does the harder work of asking the question if atonement is even possible. That a series centred on crime and punishment dives deep into that thorny idea is another indicator of its thoughtfulness.

Graham’s character is Eric, a senior prison officer. But he’s not the other side of the equation because in many ways, he’s on the same side. Eric is good at his job. He enforces the rules but he’s fair, and he certainly doesn’t have the sadistic streak that so many archetypal TV officers do.

Eric jeopardises his career and his principles when an inmate approaches him with an impossible proposition. This isn’t set up as a great moral dilemma but rather a very human choice.

Time doesn’t judge the people within the system, whether they’re on the inmate side or the staff side. There are supporting characters including other inmates played by Jack McMullen, Aneurin Barnard and Kevin Harvey.

They don’t have a lot of screentime but they’re all distinct. It’s the sort of deft world-building and nimble writing that’s comparable to The Wire’s David Simon.

Time presents these characters and their choices as almost ordinary. That’s the power of this extraordinary series, to challenge us about our own choices, about how we spend our time.

The first episode of Time is streaming on Foxtel Now* and Fetch with new episodes broadcast on BBC First on Sundays at 8.30pm

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Re: Time reviews
« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2021, 01:23:59 AM »
Streaming reviews: Sean Bean and Stephen Graham shine bright in bleak English crime drama Time
PRISONS have always made for intriguing drama. Wentworth, Prison Break, Orange Is The New Black, the list goes on.

Partly it's because jail represents a kind of hell on earth, but also we all naturally imagine how we'd survive in such a brutal environment. English crime drama, Time, explores the latter.

Actors Sean Bean and Stephen Graham could turn a Home & Away script into compelling television. So it's little surprise they both deliver brilliant performances.

Bean, best known for playing physically-imposing roles in Lord Of The Rings and Game Of Thrones, exposes his vulnerable side as a 50-something teacher Mark Cobden, who is incarcerated in a northern England prison.

Guilt-ridden and unaccustomed to the harsh realities of prison life, the polite and meek Cobden soon finds himself at the mercy of the more sinister inmates.

Bean plays the role in a wonderfully under-stated manner, allowing his wrinkled forehead and jowls to convey the sadness and fear he's experiencing in the frightfully foreign situation that involves a cell mate self-harming and later overdosing.

Meanwhile, Graham (Snatch, This Is England) plays jail warden Eric McNally, who faces the task of protecting Cobden, while also juggling to shield his own family and maintain his principles.

Fresh off his mesmerising performance as a tortured alcoholic in the series, The Virtues, Graham again delivers.

Liverpool-bred screenwriter Jimmy McGovern has perfectly captured the bleakness and fear of prison life and the dangerous culture at its heart.

It once seemed impossible that Bean could surpass his performance as the noble, yet tragically flawed, Ned Stark in season one of Game Of Thrones, but Mark Cobden could be the finest role of his career.