It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. This past week had a couple of glorious hiking and golfing days, as well as a day of complete gloom and drizzle. I happened to notice that Netflix had new episodes of You available and was promptly sucked in for a full day of viewing yesterday as the rain poured down upon Thornbury. Insanely enjoyable! Here are some other viewing suggestions for you:
On the Big Screen
No Time to Die (2 h 43 m) James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology. I loved this film. We saw it in a VIP theatre with socially distanced seating and required masking. Was it worth risking your life to see? It hit all the high notes of a great Bond flick: great music, great action sequences, terrific leading ladies (ana de Armas will steal your heart as a rookie CIA agent), great opening credits, insanely ridiculous ending in the villain’s lair where none of the bad guys can shoot straight. Perhaps the only weak point is the very underplayed role of the villain by Rami Malek. He is sinisterly soft-spoken with a very slight Egyptian accent that my husband had trouble understanding. I, however, thought he was perfect. Here’s a trailer for the film to perk your interest:
Ridley Road (Made for BBC, 4 episodes) When Vivien Epstein follows her lover into danger and he is caught between life and death, Vivien finds herself going undercover with the fascists, not only for him but for the sake of her country. A bit corny and maudlin, it is based on real life run-ins between neo-Nazis and Jews in London’s East End during the ’60’s. I enjoyed it tremendously, as it’s a period of history that hasn’t been dramatized very much.
I’m Your Man (in German with English subtitles, 90 m) In order to obtain research funds for her studies, a scientist accepts an offer to participate in an extraordinary experiment; for three weeks she is to live with a humanoid robot, created to make her happy. From the director of Unorthodox, starring an extraordinary Dan Stevens who actually speaks excellent German in this and who makes for one dreamy robot. Funny and surprising!
Dopesick (Made for Hulu, 8 episodes) The series takes viewers to the epicenter of America’s struggle with opioid addiction (specifically Oxycontin), from the boardrooms of Purdue Pharma, to a distressed Virginia mining community, to the hallways of the DEA. Heartbreaking story of yet more despair from America’s permanent underclass (Hillbilly Elegy, Mare of Easttown, American Rust, etc.) Michael Keaton and Peter Sarsgaard star. Based on the book by Beth Macy, but you may also enjoy the book Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe. The doc series from HBO Crime of the Century also covered the Sackler family’s story and this season’s Goliath deals with a fictionalized version of a similar story.
Kin (8 episodes) Kin tells the story of a fictional Dublin family embroiled in gangland war and speaks to the enduring unbreakable bonds of blood and family. Stars Charlie Cox and Aidan Gillen.
Heels (8 episodes) Two brothers and rivals – one a villain, or “heel”, in the ring; the other a hero, or “face,” – war over their late father’s wrestling promotion, vying for national attention in small-town Georgia. There is more than a passing resemblance to Friday Night Lights in the vibe of this show which paints a picture of small-town life in a struggling community. I am really enjoying this
The Morning Show (Season 2, 10 episodes) Controversy and betrayal strike TMS as a new year approaches. Alex faces a difficult decision. Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Billy Crudup and the rest of the gang are back for more behind the scenes intrigue at UBA. I have to say, that in this case, real life has been far more compelling than this unnecessary dramatization of the Matt Lauer (et al) “Me too” movement stories. This series really does remind me of Aaron Sorkin’s dramas, and I’m not an awfully big fan of his trademark “walk and talk” scenes.
Foundation (10 episodes) A complex saga of humans scattered on planets throughout the galaxy all living under the rule of the Galactic Empire. Stars Jared Harris, Lee Pace. I finally watched the first episode and don’t know if I will go back as I found it a little tedious for my tastes (and that was with numerous explosions and intrigue).
Family Law (10 episodes) Uh oh. It’s Canadian and despite beautiful scenery in Vancouver, this one-hour drama follows a group of flawed family members who reluctantly work together at their father’s law firm in downtown Vancouver. Awful and cliched. Hated it. If you’re a Victor Garber fan (and who isn’t) prepare for disappointment as he sleepwalks through his role as the patriarch. I am continuing to hate watch this hoping it will improve.
Succession (Season 3 Premiere Today, 9 episodes) Following his bombshell presser, a righteous Kendall scrambles to find a base of operations, while Logan’s team searches for safe harbor. The most dysfunctional dynasty in America fights to find a successor to their evil leader, Logan Roy (very Rupert Murdochesque). wickedly entertaining with a wonderful cast that includes, Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen, Alan Rck, Alexander Skarsgard, Sarah Snook, Jeremy Strong, et al.
American Rust (9 episodes) A compelling family drama that will explore the tattered American dream through life in a declining town in southwest Pennsylvania. Stars Jeff Daniels, Maura Tierney, Mark Pellegrino, Dallas Roberts. Having now watched the first two episodes, it is much less engaging than Mare of Eastown, and lacks a really compelling central mystery, as its about the cover-up of a crime, more than solving the crime itself.
Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (Season 2, 10 episodes) She’s back for a new season! With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NYC. Delightful!! If you are just discovering Awkwafina you should seek out some of her films including The Farewell, Crazy Rich Asians and today’s box office smash, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Dr. Death (8 episodes) As patients entering the operating room of Dr. Christopher Duntsch for routine spinal surgeries start leaving permanently aimed or dead, two fellow surgeons and a young District Attorney set out to stop hm. Stars Joshua Jackson, Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin and Grace Gummer. Based on a true story.
The Sinner (Season 4, 6 episodes) Ambrose visits the town of Clark Harbor for a getaway and finds himself at the centre of a tragedy. Bill Pullman stars as the morose Harry Ambrose who is tormented by memories from his 40 year career as a homicide detective.
Halifax: Retribution (from Australia, 7 episodes) A sniper is on the loose, as forensic psychiatrist Jane Halifax comes back to the rescue to find the sniper before it’s too late. Rebecca Gibney stars (Wanted) and Anthony LaPaglia plays her boss. Entertaining procedural.
Call the Midwife (Season 10, 7 episodes) Chronicles the lives of a group of midwives living in East London in the late-1950’s to late-1960’s. Incredibly touching and heart-rending. Get out your hankies!
Grantchester (Season 6, 8 episodes) A Cambridgeshire clergyman finds himself investigating a series of mysterious wrongdoings in his small village of Grantchester. We’ve had a cast change from James Norton (impossibly dishy) to Tom Brittney (moderately dishy) as the troubled vicar. Robson Green is the stalwart police officer who teams up with the vicar.
La Brea (5 episodes) A massive sinkhole mysteriously opens up in Los Angeles, separating part of a family in an unexplainable primeval world, alongside a disparate group of strangers. Suspend your disbelief with this one and you will be in for a wild ride that is part Lost and part Jurassic Park. I am hate watching this one and enjoying it tremendously!! Great art direction and CGI for the sinkhole part. The prehistoric creatures they encounter in upside-down world will make you howl with laughter.
Ordinary Joe (7 episodes) Centers on Joe Kimbreau as he makes a pivotal, life-changing decision at his college graduation and follows him on three parallel timelines: as a police officer as a music star, and as a nurse. Another high concept show that you just have to suspend your disbelief to enjoy. James Wolk stars as all three Joes.
New Amsterdam (Season 4, 6 episodes) Max and Sharpe wake up to a new, more personal dynamic that could change the future of New Amsterdam. The melodrama continues in this absurd but sometimes entertaining medical series.
The Good Doctor (Season 5, 4 episodes) See above for New Amsterdam. Now Shaun and Lea are engaged to be married and the melodrama continues in this absurd but sometimes entertaining medical series.
Pick of the Week
You (Season 3, 10 episodes) This show has now eclipsed Squid Game amongst Netflix’s popular offerings!! Now married with a young baby, Love and Joe try to forge a normal life in the affluent San Francisco suburb of Madre Linda, but old habits die hard. Very black humour here as two psychopaths try to be normal.
Five Bedrooms (Season 2, 8 episodes) The house sharing gang is back in Melbourne and they’ve found a new house. Poor Kat runs into her ex-husband which may have unforeseen consequences. Great ensemble comedy. If you liked Offspring, this may be right up your alley.
Guilty Pleasure Viewing
I can’t help myself: The Rookie has returned on ABC, and I keep trying to declare it dead to me because of its absurd plots; all three varieties of FBI (original, Most Wanted and now International) are on CBS; I record Jeopardy every night and had the very sad experience watching Matt Amodio fall to a new and insufferable champion, Jonathan Fisher, an actor from Coral Gables. Florida; I turn to The View (which I record daily) hoping that fisticuffs will break out amongst the panelists who almost always agree with each other these days; every Sunday morning after I write this blog I reward myself with CBS Sunday Morning for its wonderful human interest stories and celebrity profiles.
Today our patio furniture is being put in the garage, the pool has been closed and we are still struggling with whether we fly to Florida as originally planned, or take advantage of the Nov. 8 border reopening and drive our car down 13 days later than we had anticipated. I know that’s a pretty nice dilemma to have to face. Our son arrives today to help with the furniture moving so we are really looking forward to spending some time with him before we leave. As I mentioned, I am really going to miss my daily visits with Jeopardy champ, Matt Amodio, however, his 15 minutes of fame will live on forever through You Tube.
Here are some reminders of what a lovely young man he is: