30 Coins: Take The Money & Run With It
The third lockdown is by far the worst. No sun, nowhere to go, no novelty in being home this time. I don’t know about you but there are only so many hours I can work or do chores or walk around the immediate neighbourhood without wanting to machine gun somebody.
Usually King’s Cross is entertaining even when it’s raining and there’s nothing much happening (the guy who bellows about JAY-zus, the woman who cries whenever someone passes and then immediately goes back to chatting on her phone) but now everyone has gone and everything is shut. Except the Turkish kebab shop, obviously, which, like the Windmill in Soho, never closed.
As a stranger to real-time TV I tried dipping in and found it not to my tastes, so it was back to digging out world cinema from obscure streaming sites. And lo and behold, here was the holy grail. My favourite Spanish director, Alex de la Iglesias, has made the jump (I hope not permanently) to TV with ’30 Monedas’, eight 55 minute episodes of utter jaw-dropping madness.
The premise; the old chestnut about Christ’s arrangement with Judas, a betrayal planned in order to found a religion. This has resulted in a schism creating clerics and anti-clerics, the church and its counter-shadow locked in a war for dominance. The McGuffin is a single coin – the last piece of Judas’s silver. The other 29 are in possession of the anti-clerics while the 30th has ended up in a small Spanish town, where it’s being passed between a boxing priest, a vet and an abattoir owner married to the mayor.
Random sequences – a cow giving birth to a child, a shootout in a Swiss bank, an escape in Syria, a room that only exists in a mirror – start to dovetail as the world congregation of anti-clerics prepares to meet in the town, which is now walled off by invisible forces. There’s a strong theosophical bent to all this, with wise men guided by a holy fool toward an apocalypse that’s both practical and logical.
There’s also a fabulously cheesy B-movie sensibility to the characters even as they defy convention; the mayor is an epic himbo, strapping and useless. His stunning vet girlfriend is kit-off and kick-ass. The boxing priest gets an episode to himself, de-aged to thirty years earlier. The abattoir owning wife has terrifying eyes and will, you sense, evolve into some kind of antichrist.
The climactic satanic congregation-cum-cocktail party is truly grotesque (sheep-heads and flies feature heavily) and bodes well for a second season, hopefully with the same director, because ’30 Coins’ plays out like a long movie, epic in visual energy and scope. And it’s great to have a wimp-hero who stops the action periodically to fuss about the way he orders his café con leche!