Monday 31 January 2022

Defending Cinephilia 2021 (2) - Janice Tong's thoughts On Reflecting the Past, aka, In the Interest of Love Alone

WKW‘s sumptuous In the Mood for Love with the
gorgeous Maggie Cheung and debonair Tony Leung
(Click on any photo for a slideshow)

Perhaps there isn’t any need in a world gone mad, where egos reign and ‘f’ is not only for fake, but has come to denote the ‘f’s that triumph over everything else; the ideal inclusiveness of the politically correct has finally evolved to a state where nothing is in fact tolerated. It seems to me that love or reflection requires a kind of quietude that is not of this world; and thus difficult to find.

The oppressive ubiquitousness of the year of 2021 meant (for this moonlighting writer at least) that her finished novel on reflection and love was met with silence, (rather than sterile rejection emails); and even with the stoic pushing-through of manuscript refinement, she could not help but feel abandoned, disheartened and reflectively so; but then quite simply, life goes on. 


The only sanctuary sought in this quickening and madding year was to be within the folds of those filmmakers, artists and writers, who, in different epochs and geographies, had the heart to hold a small candle out to love and contemplation. Despite everything, to joyously chase elusiveness, to be bathed in lyrical interludes, to lift not douse, to dream and look at the sky. And in thus reaching, fill this shadowed world with a luminescence, and extend an invitation to our own ghostly selves to fly up to the heavens. Cinema…you have yet again lifted me from a Sisyphean life. 


Film Festivals saved my life


The end sequence of Days of Being Wild is the beginning of something

It began beautifully in January, with a Wong Kar-wai retrospective: Love & Neon as part of the Sydney Film Festival, which screened in cinemas across Sydney, including the Art Gallery of NSW, where I attended three of his films, and each time, to a full house. It was good to see many newbies to WKW’s cinema show up and then falling in love with his films, as I did, all over again. The many guises of Hong Kong, my childhood home, brought back much reflection of the current state of play of this beloved city, and Wong’s interleaved stories coupled with Christopher Doyle’s cinematographic lightness shone a light on the city and its people. It spoke of the thrill of seeking that certain something, invisible to the eye - the space of friction which opens up between encounters, and the fragile hearts that sparked these flames - filled me with a kind of nostalgic love for my hometown. My somewhat personal essay Love and Distance : The Art of Wong Kar-wai is a hymn to this lost love. But alas, at the end of this festival, I find myself chasing the elusive DVD of the original cut of Wong’s Ashes of Time, I possess a VHS copy of said film, but not a VHS player. I can’t imagine new generations of WKW fans only being able to watch the Redux version of the film. There is a cinephile who has done a shot-by-shot comparison of the two versions, but for me, there is only ever one version. As luck would have it, for those new to WKW’s cinema, SBS on demand has Days of Being Wild as part of its streaming selection. I managed to always find time, just 3 mins is all, to rewatch the last segment of this film to ease me into a state of nostalgia - and it never fails.


The Leopard - glorious, enchanting. Burt Lancaster as the Prince of Salina,
here dancing with the radiant Claudia Cardinale

The return of the French Film Festival,  Italian Film Festival, as well as the Sydney Film Festival brought much joy (and relief, if truth be told). As did the Cinema Reborn’s festival season, which showed (amongst its ten carefully curated films) a newly and gloriously restored print of Visconti’s masterwork The Leopard. You can find the Cinema Reborn catalogue here. This is my fourth time viewing the film and second time on the big screen after a gap of some fifteen years or more. I would argue that it doesn’t matter if you have the best high quality 4K TV around; some films are cinematic and demands to be watched in the theatre: with its larger-than-life vision that submerges you in its golden light. And for that attraction alone, it is worth donning a mask and risk sitting in a unsocially distanced way. The tonal palette and the travelling eye in the opening shot - a family in prayer, sheltered in a stately house half veiled by the billowing curtains is meant to be projected in a darkened cinema. It to me speaks of Plato’s cave and this image gives me pause to think that the lives we live are in fact on a projection screen, rather than the puppetry in front of this walled universe. I don’t need to repeat the famous line oft quoted from this film to realise its significance today…it’s a shame that this illusion only lasted 3 hours and 25 mins.

July Tales - Hanne Mathisen Haga in the  
segment Hanne et la Fête Nationale

My home film festival continued to hold a fascination for N and I, we have watched a total of 194 films this year, 16 films less than last year (see Diary photo at foot!). With thanks to the curators over at Mubi, we were able to immerse ourselves in directors we have not seen before, such as Guillaume Brac, whose works July Tales (2017) and A World Without Women (2011) bore more than a trace of Rohmer, whose work I dearly love. Brac’s films has this very loose way of story-telling, weaving relationships between men and women in a lilting manner, at once coquettish and wryly funny. 

The wonderful Patrick Jouane in the seldom
seen Guy Gilles film Wall Engravings

Another French director, Guy Gilles held our minds captive. The manner in which relationships have an intellectual heart as well as a poetic one continue to hold sway in that very French way: a fascination that oscillates between sensuality and memory. I have not come across his films until last year, and for such a prolific director, I wonder why it is so difficult to find his films (I can’t find any on DVD with English subtitles). So it’s a nice treat for us that Mubi is currently showing three of his early films; Love at Sea(1964), Wall Engravings(1968) and Earth Light (1970).


Constance Rousseau is remarkable in
Mia Hansen-Løve’s debut All is Forgiven

There are quite a number of films I saw that were outstanding last year, especially Mia Hansen-Løve’s debut All is Forgiven(2007), where her absorbing story ebbs and breaths through characters that wound in and out of timelines and each other’s lives. You’re invested in the characters from the first frame; Constance Rousseauis lovely and fresh in this film, her eyes have this way of quivering that mesmerises you. I loved seeing her flourish in later films: Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Daguerrotype(2016), and Brac’s A World Without Women(2011). 


Other films like Albert Serra’s The Death of Louis XIV (2016) held me entranced the whole way through. I must admit that I didn’t take to Honour of the Knights (2006) when it first came out; but have since had a change of heart, mainly after watching his reworking of Casanova in Story of My Life(2013). This film made me think of Ferrara’s The Addiction(1995), a film that I still hold in high regard. I remember giving a reading of the film through the lens of Bataille at the University of Sydney many years ago when the film first came out, and how I was shocked to see that the film shocked many first year film students (who obviously have not seen Ferrara’s work nor heard of Bataille before). 


Abel Ferrara‘s The Addiction. A great role for Lili Taylor

Perhaps one of the most poetic and beautiful films I had the good fortune to see last year was Il FuturoThe Future (2013) by Chilean filmmaker, Alicia Scherson, currently showing on MubiManuela Martelli and Rutger Hauer (below) are wonderfully paired, they have a magnetic on-screen chemistry. There is something raw yet promising, beautiful yet harrowing in this film. It speaks to love and loneliness, longing and godlessness so alluringly that you forget yourself when you’re watching this film. It’s a rather loose adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s Little Lumpen Novella (I think it’s more of a distant wave rather than an reworking), but it’s not necessary to know this nor to have read the book to fall for this film. 


Il Futuro - Love and contemplation - the things of life


Are there such things as ‘new films’ anymore?


Continuing this column from my 2020 ‘defending cinephilia’ piece partly because I’m a dedicated list maker. However, having said that, I tend to avoid providing a top 10 list films for the year. Why? Well, films are personal and intimate experiences. Whilst it is always fun to contemplate the year-end lists that come out, and I used to follow Film Comment’s list religiously (but feel the publication has lost its spark somewhat after the departure of Gavin Smith, but that’s beside the point), the fact is, I truly believe it’s impossible to form a filmic canon; or perhaps I just prefer a kind of sprawling wilderness.


The music, the clothes, the hair, the Abbey Road
sessions -fly on the wall documentary

So, here’s a short list of new films which spoke to me. These films all came out either in 2020 or 2021 and I viewed them either in the cinema, or streamed or on DVD last year. They are listed in no particular order:


Malmkrog(2020), Romania, dir Cristi Puiu

The Beatles: Get Back(2021), United Kingdom, dir Peter Jackson

The Hand of God (2021), Italy, and United States, dir Paolo Sorrentino

Je Suis Karl (2021), Germany and Czech Republic, dir Christian Schwochow

Hidden(2020), France and Iran, dir Jafar Panahi

Love Affairs(2020), France, dir Emmanuel Mouret

Sigmund Freud, A Jew Without God(2020), France, dir David Teboul

And Tomorrow the Entire World(2020), Germany and France, dir Julia von Heinz


Small screen’s a charm


This year, once again, a single series stood out amongst all others, the German/Danish production Beneath the SurfaceTod von Freunden (2021) took my breath away. It’s not my usual crime drama, or the ‘mystery’ of a missing person dressed up as a family drama. Instead, in a casual glance, you may regard the character-cum-titular-episodes to be standard fare. But its Rashomon-like narratives, with each episode unfolding from that person’s point of view but brings you further into the present each time, is beautifully rendered; heartbreakingly so too. This series sings with artistry, and leaves you longing for young love, adventures, the bond of friendship, despite the deceit of past loves and lives. It’s currently showing on SBS on Demand.

Zzzzzzzz The Sleepers cells

If you’re looking for something not American, here are some other television series to glue yourself to: 


The Investigation(2020) Danish, Swedish - based on real events, good strong crime drama and with one of my fave actors, Søren Malling.

Love & Anarchy (2020) Swedish - venturing outside my usual crime drama into comedy, light and delightful, a look inside a publishing house with Ida Engvoll (she was great in The Team).

The Promise(2020) French - brooding 6 episode detective drama, with Olivier Marchal from The Crimson Rivers.

Call My Agent!(2015-2020) France - all star cast, hilarious and brilliant.

The Sleepers(2019) Czech Republic - 4 part spy drama worthy of the best in that genre.

When the Dust Settles(2020) Denmark - be warned…this is brilliant, raw, sad and beautiful.



Standing up to the test of time - Nostalgia of the films we know by heart


How does one survive in a climate that is so often unpredictable and overstimulated, duplicitous and hostile: a gradual build-up and finally an acceptance of slow dread that has presided throughout the 24 month long year - where one day rolls into the next, and working from home was no longer a gimmick but a constant state of being in front of the screen. 


The screen of choice that transforms me from a work automaton to one with a beating heart is but five or six steps away from each other. And the resuscitation required is sometimes of the familiar rather than the new. 


Are there coincidences in life or is love our only destiny?
Irene Jacob, Three Colours Red

It’s hard to define the kind of joy or elation when one is rewatching films. Sharing a small selection of what I’ve rewatched last year: L'avventura(1960), Last Year at Marienbad(1961), Three Colours Red (1994),Wings of Desire(1987), 400 Blows(1959), Fallen Angels(1995), Grand Illusion (1937), A Room With a View(1985), Heartbeat Detector (2007). 



What is this thing called…?


Ah, love. “The Love that moves the sun and other stars.” I have but found hidden within the folds of light: a universe of enduring, fickle, passionate desires worthy of the gods. Thank you, cinema. You have saved me, again, for another year.


The Film Critics Circle of Australia announces its award winners for 2021


High Ground

Tuesday 1 February 2022




The Film Critics Circle of Australia is pleased to announce the nominations and winners for the films of 2021. 


Due to circumstances, especially the difficulties raised by the Covid pandemic, the FCCA was unable to hold an event for the films of 2021. However, in line with the organisation’s aims to celebrate the excellence in Australian cinema, all Australian films released were viewed and voted on. The voting was extremely tight in the final rounds resulting in a dual award in the Best Director category.


Nominations and winners listed in alphabetical order:


Best Film

High Ground

Producers: David Jowsey, Maggie Miles, Witiyana Marika, Greer Simpkin, Stephen Maxwell Johnson


Producers: Nick Batzias, Virginia Whitwell, Justin Kurzel, Shaun Grant

The Dry

Producers: Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson, Steve Hutensky, Rob Connolly, Eric Bana


Best Director

Robert Connolly, The Dry

Stephen Maxwell Johnson, High Ground

Justin Kurzel, Nitram


Best Screenplay

Chris Anastassiades, High Ground

Robert Connolly & Harry Cripps, The Dry

Shaun Grant, Nitram


Best Cinematography

Sam Chiplin, Penguin Bloom

Andrew Commis, High Ground

Stefan Duscio, The Dry


Best Actor

Eric Bana, The Dry

Caleb Landry Jones, Nitram

Jacob Junior Nayinggul, High Ground


Best Actress

Judy Davis, Nitram

Noni Hazlehurst, June Again

Naomi Watts, Penguin Bloom


Best Actress- Supporting Role

Essie Davis, Nitram

Claudia Karvan, June Again

Miranda Tapsell, The Dry


Best Actor Supporting Role

Anthony LaPaglia, Nitram

Sean Mununggurr, High Ground

Stephen Hunter, Ruby’s Choice


Any queries should be address to the Awards Manager Adrienne Mckibbins at

Saturday 29 January 2022

On Blu-ray - David Hare rejoices at the rebirth of LOVE AFFAIR (Leo McCarey, USA, 1939)

Charles Boyer

The images above and below are from Leo McCarey's glorious and long lost 1939 Love Affair.

New 4K scan and restoration to Blu-ray from Lobster Films and MoMA.
While the release of this "lost" film, is extremely welcome, you shouldn't be expecting to see an image quality at the level of the best Warner Archive work under George Feltenstein and the MPI team there.
The new Lobster is clean, delicious and detailed enough to finally make out what's happening on the screen. The history of the film elements is typical but always interesting. Basically when Fox picked up the rights to remake it (virtually shot for shot) in 1957 as An Affair to Remember, they trashed the original RKO o-neg and prime elements which they inherited from the property deal and with RKO now legally deceased. Subsequently one could only see Love Affair in battered, faded 16mm prints of varying degrees of awfulness from TV syndication prints and worse. 

My own copy came from a Channel 7 midday movie screening taken from a 16mm kept in someone's garage. I haven't looked at it since I dubbed my VHS to DVD-R twenty plus years ago. 

Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer

The restorers here took on an all too similar situation to Sony/Columbia with it's recent restoration of Cukor's 1938 Holiday which Criterion released last year. Once again there Grover Crisp's team had a duplicate nitrate neg and various 35mm safety positives including a fine grain (a good quality reference but not projectable positive print variously known as a "lavender") from which the technicians can rework a new interpositive or something close. 

Sony delivered the results after 4K scanning with the decision to let through virtually un-mangled as much grain as possible from the new 4K master. It's a grain level that was not uncommon in the history of movies but nowadays it's a difficult sell to modern audience used to digital cleanup.
With Love Affair, Lobster and MoMA were faced with the decision to either go with the grain or massage the image back. They took the latter decision which is both cheaper (much lower bitrate and grading costs) and understandable and the result is a very serviceable and pleasing disc image and audio, with very light grain but considerable softening through the grain removal. 

Happily the DVNR never creates waxiness. It's up to you whether you like this or would have preferred a much grainier and still less than perfect first generation positive distribution print quality. Given the circumstances these days around sackings, studio Archival reductions, cost cutting and worse, I think Lobster has taken a sensible path. If money were no object, this might have come out of the works looking "better". As it is Love Affair looks "Good" and often "very good". And most importantly it gets the title back into the public eye, for which I salute the film, Lobster and MoMA without reservation.

Friday 28 January 2022

"I’d worry if I had control…" - Tom Ryan in conversation with Robert Altman at the time of the release of A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION (USA, 2006) (pt1)

Robert Altman (1925 – 2006) was one of America’s great filmmakers. Like many of his contemporaries, including Sydney Pollack, John Frankenheimer, and Sidney Lumet, he spent many of his early years as a director working in television – on series such as Alfred Hitchcock PresentsM Squad, Hawaiian Eye, SugarfootTroubleshooters, Maverick, Bronco, U.S. Marshal, Combat, and even an episode of Peter Gunn, most of them the kind of TV I grew up on.

His first feature was The Delinquents (1957, currently streaming on Stan), although (with George W. George) he made The James Dean Story, a documentary, in the same year. It wasn’t until Countdown (1967) that he became a fully-fledged feature director. What followed was That Cold Day in the Park (1969) and then a string of equally impressive features, including three masterpieces in the 1970s – McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), The Long Goodbye (1973), and Nashville (1975) – as well as The Player (1992), the shortlived TV series, Tanner on Tanner (2004), and his final film, A Prairie Home Companion (2006), whose title is borrowed from the radio show which humourist Garrison Keillor hosted on Minnesota Public Radio for more than 30 years.

There’s a sense throughout that film, which is based on a screenplay by Keillor, of time moving on: the show is about to end, the station manager (Tommy Lee Jones) having decided that it has outlived its usefulness, that it’s time to pull the plug. “I feel like an anthropologist visiting a primitive tribe squatting around a fire somewhere in the forest,” he tells Kevin Kline’s security manager as Keillor and his company go about their very entertaining business. 

Death is also lurking in the wings. A dark angel is on the move backstage. Played by Virginia Madsen as a femme fatale variation dressed all in white, she’s the best-looking Grim Reaper one is ever likely to encounter. But she’s an unwelcome visitor, about to enclose one of the older members of the cast in her lethal embrace. 

I spoke to Altman shortly before his death at the age of 81 on November 20, 2006, around the time of the film’s Australian release. ACMI was running a season of his films to coincide with that and I was assigned the welcome task of introducing the season with a phone interview with him. He was clearly unwell at the time, but he soldiered on with grace and good humour.


Garrison Keillor, Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan
A Prairie Home Companion

Tom Ryan: Garrison Keillor says of your collaboration that you didn’t want to take a large part in the general development of the writing. That the casting would be the focus of your attention. Was this your perception of the process of preparing A Prairie Home Companion?


Robert Altman: In a way, yes. We were putting on a show and Garrison wrote this storyline that dealt with the characters. But, basically, my job was to put on that show.


Is this the kind of approach that you’ve always taken?


Pretty much, yes. I’ve probably had more input into the writing of my other films, but not much more. And, here, all the music was presented to me and I said fine. All the numbers were presented to me and I said fine. And we did it.


How did you go about assembling the cast?


I asked them and, if I got some enthusiasm, then we’d take it in that direction. I’m not sure in what order the cast came together.


Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin
A Prairie Home Companion

What led you to put Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin together?


Well, I knew that Meryl Streep loved to sing and I thought I could get her by saying, “You’ll get to sing a lot.” That worked and she did.


Why her rather than somebody else who’s better known for her singing?


I don’t know. I think that nothing could be more interesting than Meryl doing that part, singing the way she does.


Are there any kinds of actors that you don’t like working with?


Well, I don’t know. What do you mean, “What kind of actors?”? Actors who are rude, I don’t like working with. I don’t tolerate that very well, but I rarely run into that.


You seem to have worked with just about everybody: the big stars in Hollywood, the character actors. And they all seem to have been extremely happy to have worked with you.


Well, I’m pleased by that, but I don’t know how I can comment on it.


Kevin Kline, Maya Rudolph
A Prairie Home Companion

Do you have plans to work with Kevin Kline again? 


Yes I do. Absolutely.


I’m pleased to hear that because when I saw the film I wondered to whom he was apologising when he fired a champagne cork off camera. I understand it was you who was hit?


It probably was.


And you left his apology in the film.


Well, sure. Because I liked it.

Keillor, Tomlin, Streep, Lohan


What was it that appealed to you about A Prairie Home Companion


My wife and I are big Keillor fans, so I was aware of him and loved his sense of humour. So when there was a suggestion that he wanted to make a picture and would I be interested in doing it with him, it was very attractive to me.


I understand though that he was actually pitching another screenplay to you rather than this one?


Well, yes. He has a radio series he does called Lake Wobegon, about a town and its people. I think he wanted to make a film of that, which would be a good idea. But as we got into it, I said, “Why don’t we just do your other radio show? This is what we’re talking about, doing research on all those things.” And that’s the way we decided to do it.


When you were looking for finance for the film, how did you pitch it?


Well, this one was put together pretty fast, pretty easy, and everybody seemed to come in at the same time. You know, it was very much “That’s a good idea, let’s do it”. And then we were doing it. I don’t even remember any particular angst during the period when I was worried about whether we’d get it made or not.


I understand there were some questions about insurance as well.


You mean on me?




Well, I can’t be insured because of my age. And so they insist on a stand-by director, somebody that would take over if I croaked.


And so it became Paul Thomas Anderson.


Yes. Stephen Frears did that for me on Gosford Park and Anderson did it for me on this picture. He was great. He was there all the time as a matter of fact.

Also his wife… partner… girlfriend… I don’t know… was pregnant and in the film. Maya Rudolph (above). So he had a double reason for being there.


Many books have been written about you, including Patrick McGilligan’s unauthorised biography in 1989, ‘Jumping Off the Cliff’. I know you’ve done numerous DVD commentaries, but have you ever considered writing your own memoirs to set the record straight?


Well, I don’t know what there is to be straight about. I know that book that McGilligan wrote was just atrocious. I don’t know what happened to him. He must have just sat down and got stoned and then went away and made it up because it was just… just silly.


Why not your own memoirs then?


Well, that’s hard work. But I’m thinkin’ I may do that. Not personal but just about the films.


Did you always want to be behind the camera, or was there a time when you had aspirations to be an actor?


Never, never an actor. 


Well, there was that bit part in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [1947].


There was. It’s true. I was an extra. And I got paid pretty good for that.


But that didn’t attract you to the profession in front of the camera?


Some people can do that and some people can’t. I can’t.

Tell me, when did the directing bug bite you?


I don’t know. I didn’t know I was bitten. Sounds like a mosquito. But I don’t know. I’ve always done the same thing.


I understand you used to write radio plays when you spent time overseas during WW2.


Yes, I did.


Was it around then that you got the idea that you might transform them into something different?


No, I was just in the mix with everybody else around that time who was aspiring to work in certain fields. I was very taken with radio. It really got me into the idea of drama. Norman Corwin was my idol. But radio had just become very artful, very good, when television came along and that was the end of it.


Editor's Note: This is the first part of an interview recorded by Tom Ryan with Robert Altman.  Previous posts in this series can be found if you click on the names Hanif Kureishi & Roger Michell Ken Loach Pt 1 Ken Loach Pt2  Colin Firth (Part One) Colin Firth (Part Two) Lawrence Kasdan (Part One)Lawrence Kasdan (Part Two) Costa-Gavras Jonathan Demme (Part One)  Jonathan Demme (Part Two) Click on the names to read the earlier pieces

Tuesday 25 January 2022

Streaming on Netflix - Rod Bishop catches up with progress on CHEER (Season 2, Greg Whiteley, USA, 2022)

 After the heavy heroics and emotional ecstasies of Season One, everything at Navarro College Cheerleading now goes to Hell. You can find my earlier thoughts IF YOU CLICK HERE and some follow-up reactions and comments IF YOU CLICK HERE

The first season was a Netflix hit and many of the Navarro team became celebrities at home and around the world. Jerry Harris, the one who rose the highest and showed the biggest heart of gold, even gets a call from Joe Biden who wants to spend a day with him.

As Season Two opens, everyone seems to have brand endorsements; TV talk show appearances; mobile phone cheerios to anyone (for a price) and some of the squad are racking up millions of followers on social media. 

As Covid takes off in the USA in 2020, there’s the incongruous sight of the cheer team tumbling and flying in masks. But their dedication and hard work persist. Then, with only days to go before the Daytona showdown in April with their closest rivals Trinity Valley College, sporting events around the country are cancelled. Viewers of Season One will know how crushing such a cancellation would be on this group of single-minded enthusiasts who literally live day-and-night for their sport.

Coach Monica Aldama takes a sabbatical and is off to appear on Dancing with the Stars. She is about to shoot the first episode in Los Angeles when a phone call changes both her world and the Navarro cheer squad. As if Covid and the Daytona cancellation weren’t enough, this call will further damage any chance that Cheer showrunner Greg Whiteley’s second series will reach anywhere near to the heights of Season One. 

Jerry Harris

Monica is told the twenty-one-year-old Jerry Harris, the breakout star from Season One, an all-round wonder boy, loved by all on the team and millions of viewers around the world along with celebrities, film stars and the President of the United States, has been arrested by the FBI, is in custody and charged with a range of sexual offenses against teenage boys. Harris admits there may have been up to 15 victims. He has been in jail ever since – 16 months – and still waits on a trial that may incarcerate him for 15 years.

Back at the Ranch, La’Darius Marshall, arguably the most important athlete on the team, has thrown his toys out of the crib. Heavily reliant on Monica’s emotional support – he thinks of her as his mum – La’Darius can’t stand his separation from Monica; can’t stand the temporary coach; and can’t stand that he wasn’t chosen to be the temporary coach himself. So, he quits, wages vicious social media attacks on Monica and starts spending his time fishing with some local ducks.

The Jerry Harris scandal has also taken its toll on recruitment and Navarro suspect they are losing talent to Trinity Valley. A sequence juxtaposing the recruits from both colleges as they go through their routines more than confirms this. 

And in the middle of this perfect storm, they again have to travel to Daytona for their annual show-down with Trinity Valley College.

Given the events beyond his control – and there are a lot of them – Whiteley’s second series is an engaging, if patchy, affair. He chooses to give almost equal time to Trinity Valley but is unable to make their students as interesting as Navarro’s. There are a couple of exceptions. Angel Rice is such an exceptional tumbler, you could probably watch an entire episode of her just doing that. And rookie Devonte Joseph is a real treat. Also an exceptional tumbler, he won’t smile during Trinity’s performance. He thinks it’s ‘gay’. Smiling and putting on an entertaining show is essential to the cheer competition and his coaches despair he might lose his place on “the mat”.

Although Jerry Harris isn’t mentioned again during the last four episodes, his spectre hangs on. Whiteley devotes an entire episode to the scandal, interviewing two of his victims (twins) and their mother. Harris was such a central part of the first season - his fiery optimism and wonderful, cheerful social empathy encapsulated everything that made discovering this world of competitive cheerleading exhilarating and rewarding.

His downfall now encapsulates the expunging of the Navarro dream.

 “Do you ever really know another person?” asks someone.

We all thought we knew Jerry Harris.