It’s been a great 10 days of visiting with my two sons and daughter-in-law. Between excursions it’s been all Olympics, all the time on our living room TV. My boys have wicked senses of humour and they have delighted in finding non-traditional Olympics coverage (worst crashes and wipeouts in all sports) as counterprogramming to NBC’s worshipful coverage of the Olympics from the perspective of an exclusive concentration on American athletes.
We did make it out to see the opening weekend of the latest Marvel superhero series, Black Panther, and I finally caught up with the Disney Pixar Best Animated Feature nominee, Coco. More on both and some regular viewing recommendations follow.
Remember, that the Oscars will air on Sunday Mar. 4 on ABC with Jimmy Kimmel hosting. If you are scurrying to catch the 9 nominated films for Best Picture, the following article may be of some interest:
On the Big Screen
Black Panther What an interesting experience it was to go on opening weekend to see this comic book adaptation. My husband broke his vow of never watching super hero movies to see this film in the company of my son. We have a family tradition of seeing tent pole movies together (Star Wars, Deadpool, John Wick,etc), so we continued our tradition. It was lovely to see so many families attending this one. We saw it at Naples’ premiere luxury cinema, the Mercato. I have never seen so many African Americans in Naples. The film celebrates African roots and presents a mythical African kingdom that is a success story because it was never colonized and exploited by any imperial nation. There’s a parallel universe in Wakanda, a country that guards its natural resource, the mineral Vibranium, from the rest of the world. This is an origin story of Black Panther and I enjoyed it immensely. Pure energy on the screen and wonderful performances from an almost entirely black ensemble cast featuring Chadwick Boseman (42, Avengers), Forrest Whittaker (The Last King of Scotland), Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do Wth It), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station, Creed), Lupita Nyongo ( 12 Years A Slave), etc. Sterling K. Brown (This is Us, American Crime Story: OJ Simpson) deserves a special shout out for his role as N’Jobu. The guy is so talented he can play a street thug wannabe as well as he plays a hopeless nerd, or prosecutor Christopher Darden. Andy Serkis and Martin Freedman are the two white supporting actors whom you will recognize from their previous work in the Lord of the Rings movies among many others.
Coco While Black Panther celebrates African roots, Coco from Disney Pixar nominated for Best Animated Feature Oscar, is a loving look at Mexican culture. Overwhelmingly family centred, this lovely and charming film tells the story of a little boy in love with music who longs to connect with the great great grandfather who is a Mexican singing legend. On the Day of the Dead, he is magically transported to the land of the dead where he finds out the true story of his ancestry. Prepare to be charmed. Great tunes from the team that also provided the songs for Frozen, Ratatouille, etc.
Geostorm My younger son has a sentimental fascination with disaster films. I will think of this as the Sharknado of space. For some reason Gerard Butler has become the go-to star of many disaster films (Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen, etc). Set to a large degree on a space station that is throwing the world’s climate into chaos, there are scenes in this one that are laugh-out-loud hilarious as multiple tornadoes, tsunamis, ice storms, etc. consume the great cities of the world. I’m not sure it’s entirely healthy for audiences to laugh at such great destruction but it sure has become a thing. My son’s evil cackle will haunt me forever!
The Path The harrowing and haunting look at life inside a cult that is aiming for respectability continues.
Mary Kills People A very intriguing look at a doctor who takes on the job of assisting terminally ill people with suicide.
Babylon Berlin I can’t believe I watched the whole thing! All 16 episodes! This is the most expensive series ever made for German TV. You will be transported back to Weimar Germany in 1929. It’s the Germany of the decadent and debauched Cabaret era, Trotskyites versus Leninists, plots to revive the monarchy under Kaiser Wilhelm, etc. All of this is being investigated by a mysterious police inspector with a nasty drug addiction and PTSD from his WW1 experiences. Get ready for a wild ride!
The Cloverfield Paradox Again, we have an odd family tradition of watching the Cloverfield movies together, so our sons forced us to watch this Netflix original. Oh my, we’re on a space station (again) that is trying to test an alternate energy source to save a dying world, when they accidentally enter a parallel universe. Great ensemble cast featuring Daniel Bruhl, David Oyelowo, Chris O’Dowd, etc. There is much controversy about how this film was suddenly released on Netflix and not in theatres as originally planned. Conspiracy theories abound, including tacked on scenes and endings, when the producers feared the film was unreleasable. Judge for yourself! It does seem to be a pastiche of the Alien films, the Cloverfield films, any movie that is based on a space station, etc.
For more info on new shows that are debuting and old ones that are returning to Peak TV via Netflix and Amazon (that I haven’t had time to catch up with), here’s a helpful article from the NYTimes:
Broadcast Networks and Premium Cable
Homeland The intrigue has begun. The president is nuts and Carrie’s bipolar disorder is showing!
The Chi Still haven’t caught up with last week’s episode. If you liked The Wire, you might want to catch up with this one.
Counterpart This series is a great espionage/parallel universe show starting the great character actor JK Simmons in a dual role.
Divorce I am finding this series about the recess and after effects of divorce much more delightful now that Thomas Hayden Church has a new squeeze and Sarah Jessica Parker is jealous.
Here and Now OK, I did snooze most of the way through last week’s premiere, but I will give it another go because of the cast (Tim Robbins) and creator (Alan Ball). So far, it’s no Six Feet Under or True Blood.
Nashville Ahhh. Juliette’s gone completely bonkers and is finding herself in a cult in Bolivia!
CBS All Access
Star Trek: Discovery (My children slyly refer to this series as STD and of course, we had to watch the final episode of Season 1 together). Ooh, the parallel universe and Klingon stories came to an end and there will be a new captain next year. Can’t wait!
The Assassination of Gianni Versace So grim, I haven’t caught up with last week’s episode yet.
Victoria Victoria and Albert, longing for an escape from their devoted servants, watch dogs, etc., deliberately get themselves lost in the wilds of the Scottish highlands near Blair Atholl, and they discover the delights of a simple life they have never experienced. The young lovers steal a few moments away from their privileged lives and learn to cook for themselves and even darn socks. A very touching episode where even some of their servants and coterie have an escape from the restricted lives they normally lead. The undeniable chemistry between the two courtiers, Drummond and Paget is finally given life, and they have some private romantic time, unaware that Wilhelmina Coke observes their passion.
The Alienist This show has turned into a bit of a snooze fest, but I am hanging in to see how the story ends.
There really are no words to describe the sadness and anger that people are experiencing in the wake of the latest school shooting in Ft Lauderdale. When 17 children are murdered there, two years after the Orlando nightclub shootings where 56 people died, there are still, unbelievably, gun lobbyists in Florida advocating for continued generous access to guns. Here in the “gunshine state”, stand your ground laws still stand. It is easier for an 18-year-old to obtain an automatic military grade weapon than it is to obtain a handgun. The prevailing wisdom here says that if the murder of 20 children in Sandy Hook, Connecticut didn’t change the gun control debate then adding this week’s toll is unlikely to signal a change. This time, the classmates of the fallen have begun to make their voices heard to demand stricter controls. Time will tell whether the many legislators whose campaigns are determined and financed by the NRA gun lobby will be brave enough to take on the challenge of defying their funders. What a sad state this country is in. People have come to accept the collateral damage from murdered children to be the price that must be paid for the right to bear arms. I can’t believe that anyone really thinks that the founding fathers would have supported the rights of mentally ill teenagers to murder their classmates with lethal automatic weapons.
Despite the grim reality of recent events, the sun still continues to shine here. We deliver our son to the airport this morning and then will get our house ready for visitors from Scotland and Canada who arrive on Tuesday to drink in a little Florida sunshine, play a little golf and enjoy the delights of Naples.
To everyone, make every moment count, wherever you are. Cherish your loved ones. Hugs to my friends who are dealing with health challenges.