Our bags are packed…

It’s been another lovely week in Paradise.  I managed to play 3 rounds of golf and had my  best score ever on 9 holes, a 52, which means I may actually in my lifetime break the magic number of 50! Those who know me well, know that I actually prefer not to keep score at all, but maybe there’s something to it after all. We had some lovely dinners out with friends and I attended fitness classes every day. It has been a great winter here and although we will be very glad to catch up with family and friends back home and along our drive home, we have thoroughly enjoyed our time down here.  We will be sharing an Easter dinner with friends this evening and then waking dark and early tomorrow morning for our drive up the East coast. We will head for our friends in Cape Cod and Boston for a visit along the way. I doubt that I will have much screen time in the coming  week, but here are some suggestions for you anyway:

Live on Stage

Ben Crawford with the Naples Philharmonic at Artis Naples. Crawford has been starring on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera for the last year, making him Broadway’s 15th Phantom in its very long run.  He did a wonderful job on Broadway hits with some pop tunes thrown in, including the Michael Buble arrangement of Cry Me a River and Billy Joel’s Lullaby and was magnificent in a full Broadway version of showstopping from Carousel, Oklahoma, Company, South Pacific, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and many more. A very entertaining evening out.

Streaming

Manhunt (3X45 minute episodes) From Britain, starring Martin Clunes and Katie Lyons. In this typical police procedural, London Metropolitan police detective Colin Sutton tracks down a serial killer.  A very entertaining way to spend an evening.
Colette (1 h 51 min) True story of French author Colette, who is pushed by her husband to write novels under his name.  Upon their success, she fights to make her talents known, challenging gender norms. Starring Keira Knightley, Fiona Shaw and Dominic West. Given that this story is taking place around the turn of the century, this woman was way ahead of her times! If you love period pieces, you will love its depiction of Belle Epoque Paris.

Amazon

Origins (Origines in France, Season 1: 6 episodes) Margot Laurent, a professional genealogist in the Tours area, is a living paradox.  While her profession involves revealing the ancestry of her clients, she herself has no knowledge of her own origins, having been abandoned as a child. Here, she teams up with a cop to uncover the origins of various crimes. A gentle policier series from France.  Completely charming, for a murder mystery with no blood and gore, gratuitous sex or foul language. Great for a sleepy rainy afternoon in an Agatha Christie or Father Brown kind of way.

FX

Better Things (Season 3, 12 episodes) Pamela Adlon stars as an LA actress raining three daughters as a single mom. I love this show!

What we do in the Shadows (10 episodes) a wryly humorous look into the daily lives of 4 vampires who’ve caved together for over 100 years in Staten Island.

Fosse/Verdon (8 episodes) An inside look at the romantic and creative partnership between choreographer/director Bob Fosse, and Gwen Verdon, one of the greatest Broadway dancers of all time.  Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams are wonderful as the two leads.  Loving it!!

Netflix

Although I tried to watch Someone Great, I found it way too millennial for me and gave up about 10 minutes in. I also started Lady J. from France and starring Celine de France, but found it to be way too slow, even though the costumes and sets were fabulous. I have now watched so many thrillers on Netflix that I am starting to get a little thriller fatigue, however, here’s an article from John Doyle in the Globe on new series you may enjoy:

PBS

Les Miserables (6 episodes) Starring Dominc West as Jean Valjean. OK, I’m one episode down, with only 5 more to go. God, life was harsh in France in the 19th Century!
Unforgotten (24 episodes) Starring Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar.  London detectives investigate crimes from the past; unraveling secrets left buried for years. Another rainy afternoon show.

HBO

Game of Thrones (Season 8, 6 episodes) The last season with Dragons aplenty. Enjoy while it lasts.
Veep (Season 7, 7 episodes) She’s running for President again!! Julia Louis-Dreyfus leads a great ensemble cast in this very funny satire of American politics and culture.
Barry (Season 2, 8 episodes) You should be watching Bill Hader as a hit man with a love of theatre.

AMC/BBC America

Killing Eve (Season 2, 8 episodes) Starring Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer and Fiona Shaw. Cat and mouse game where we’re never exactly sure who’s the cat and who’s the mouse.

Cinemax

Warrior (Season 1, 8 episodes) Totally kooky kung fu show set in San Francisco in the late 1800’s. Great fight sequences!

Moment of Zen

I’m about to join CBS Sunday Morning in progress for its very informing and enlightening segments. Make sure to stay tuned for the very last segment on Nature.

Closing Words

As we wend our way home listening to Audible.com and various podcasts, I hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead.  Enjoy the fine spring weather wherever you are!

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Final week in Paradise…

Well, all good things must come to an end.  We are just heading into our last week here in Naples.  The past week has been full of dinners with friends, a trip to our local movie theatre on a rainy day, an outdoor concert at our club, a walk around our local bird watching trail at Eagle Lakes and lots of relaxing and binge watching.  While George is glued to  the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, it’s time for me to catch up with shows I’ve been meaning to watch.  Here are some suggestions for you:

Live at our Golf Course

Rocket Man Last night two hundred Treviso Bay members and guests set down lawn chairs in front of our Club House to hear a Scottish Elton John Impersonator, Rus Anderson (Elton John’s official body double), deliver the entertainer’s greatest hits.  It was incredibly hot and humid, but we thoroughly enjoyed his performance and the crowd managed to get to their feet and boogie the night away. A wonderful opportunity to mix and mingle with our neighbours under a perfect starlit sky.

On the Big Screen

Dumbo (1 h 52 min) A young elephant, whose oversized ears enable him to fly, helps save a struggling circus, but when the circus plans a new venture, Dumbo and his friends discover dark secrets beneath its shiny veneer.  Directed by Tim Burton and starring Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Eva Green. This was my rainy day movie treat.  I thoroughly enjoyed this corny, sentimental return to my childhood.  Tears were shed.

New and Returning Series Alert

HBO

Game of Thrones (8 seasons) Tonight, the final season of this momentous series will begin. The Great War has come, the Wall has fallen and the Night King’s army of the dead marches towards Westeros.  The end is here, but who will take the Iron Throne?  Eight seasons of intrigue will come to an end.  Oooh, Kit Harrington, I will miss you so.
Here’s what the NYTimes had to say:

PBS

Les Miserables (6 episodes) Television adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic novel which follows Jean Valjean as he evades capture by the unyielding Inspector Javert.  Set against a backdrop of post-Napoleonic France as unrest begins to grip the city of Paris once more.  Stars Dominic West, David Oyelomo, Olivia Colman,and Lily Collins.
Here’s what the NYTimes had to say:

Netflix

A Land Imagined

Here’s what the NYTimes had to say about this new film from Singapore:

A Land Imagined (1 h 35 min) This sophomore feature from the Singaporean filmmaker Siew Hua Yeo won the top prize at last year’s Locarno International Film Festival, a Swiss festival with a long history of supporting Asian cinema. The film, a thriller, concerns the disappearance of a worker at construction site in Singapore. While it initially centers on the detective investigating the case (Peter Yu), it soon shifts its focus away from that noirish setup to follow the worker, Wang (Xiaoyi Liu), an insomniac immigrant from China, in the lead-up to his disappearance.

Our Planet (8 episodes) Documentary series focusing on the breadth of the diversity of habitats around the world, from the remote Arctic wilderness and mysterious deep oceans to the vast landscapes of Africa and diverse jungles of South America. This show is totally addictive and features breathtaking photography!
Huge in France (8 episodes) Gad is a hugely famous comedian…In France.  Gad Elmaleh plays himself as a fish out of water who comes to L.A. to heal his broken relationship with his 15-year-old son. I loved this devilish satire on L.A. culture.

FX

Fosse/Verdon (8 episodes) An inside look at the romantic and creative partnership between influential choreographer/director, Bob Fosse,and Gwen Verdon, one of the greatest Broadway dancers of all time. I loved it! Both Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams are wonderful as the two leads.
The Girl on the Train (2016, 1 h 52 min) I had enjoyed the novel, but missed watching the film when it was in theatres.  Emily Blunt is terribly sad and drunk throughout, but that’s still not enough of a reason to suffer through this murky mystery.  Two hours of my life I will never get back.

Amazon Prime

Spiral (Engrenages in French, Season 6, all 12 episodes watched!) I had watched the first 5 seasons of this series some time ago on Netflix and now the new episodes are on Amazon. The series follows criminal investigations in Paris from the different points of view of those involved.  Addictive!

Cinemax

Warrior (11 episodes) Set during the Tong Wars in the late 1800s, Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy immigrating from China to San Francisco, ends up becoming a hatchet man for the most powerful tong in Chinatown.  Addictive!  Pure adrenalin.

Usual Fare I am following

AMC

The Walking Dead

HBO

Barry (Season 2, 8 episodes)Bill Hader is magnificent in this as a most winning assassin who is trying to put his past life behind him.

Veep (Season 7, 7 episodes)  Julia Louis-Dreyfus heads up a wonderful cast who skewer the West Wing in ways that will make you laugh out loud.

FX

Better Things (Season 3, 12 episodes)  An actress raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent. I love this series which stars Pamela Adlon.
What we do in the Shadows (10 episodes) A wryly humorous look into the daily lives of four vampires who’ve lived together for over 100 years in Staten Island.

CBS

FBI

NBC

Chicago Fire
The Enemy Within (12 episodes) FBI agent Will Keaton enlists the most notorious traitor in American history to help catch a spy.  Stars Jennifer Carpenter and Morris Chestnut.  Loved the pilot episode!
New Amsterdam

ABC

Whiskey Cavalier (13 episodes) An FBI agent ad his new partner a CIA operative embark on missions to save the world, but have to put up with each other first.  Stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohen.  I loved the pilot episode!
The Rookie

Showtime

Billions

STARZ

American Gods (this will be my last mention as I have officially given up on this totally batshit crazy show)

Now Apocalypse

TBS

The Last O.G. (Season 2, 10 episodes) An ex-con is shocked to see just how much the world has changed when he is released fro prison for good behaviour after a 15-year stint and returns to his newly gentrified Brooklyn neighbourhood.  Stars Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish.

The CW

Riverdale

Fox

The Orville
Gotham
The Resident

PBS

Call the Midwife  (Season 8, 8 episodes)  This beloved series will make you cry with its touching depictions of nurses caring selflessly for a very disadvantaged population in East London in the 1960’s.

Comic Relief

Still loving Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and John Oliver, and Saturday Night Live (last night’s show features Canadian Emma Stone as host and the incredibly entertaining Korean boy band BTS as the musical guests).  Jim Jeffries has returned from hiatus and is now featuring a lengthy pre-filmed video as part of the show.

 

Zen Moment

As I write this Sunday morning, I am usually informed and inspired by CBS Sunday Morning. Along with 60 Minutes, CBS’s other flagship newsmagazine show, I always feel like a better informed person after watching an episode. Sadly this morning, CBS has chosen to show some big golf tournament instead so I will have to look elsewhere for my inspiration.

 

Closing Words

As we start to concentrate on packing,  and finishing the food in our fridge and cupboards, we are looking ahead to the trip back home.  This week we will continue our regular activities and will spend as much time as possible enjoying the beautiful weather here.  Have a wonderful week wherever you are.

For those of you travelling, I wish you a smooth trip home.  For everyone else, enjoy the spring weather wherever you are.

 

 

 

 

Friends Starting to Leave…

It’s been a bittersweet week as we have been saying goodbye to many friends who have started their trips home.  We got to play golf and socialize with 50 or so fellow members of the Georgian Bay Club who gathered here in Naples for our annual Southern Tour round of golf.  We’ve enjoyed some wonderful dinners at our golf club and a lovely Mexican themed party (with piñatas!) at a neighbour’s home.  I did a beach walk on Marco Island with some lady friends and am looking forward to a week of fitness and golf.  Here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Netflix

ReMastered: The Miami Showband Massacre (documentary) In 1974, while on the way home from a gig, the apolitical rock group, The Miami Showband, fell into the crosshairs of a protestant unionist paramilitary group that planted explosives on their bus when it was stopped at a fake checkpoint.  Here’s an article from John Doyle about the film:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/article-devastating-netflix-doc-explains-why-the-irish-border-issue-matters/

Versailles (Season 3, 10 Episodes) Philippe returns to Versailles with his prisoner, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold, who resumes his secret affair with the queen. A truce is called and a lavish banquet is held for him but Madame de Montespan is excluded and takes her revenge by discrediting the king’s pious companion, Francoise de Maintenon.  To win over the suffering populace, Louis installs street lighting and sewerage, bringing on side ex-soldier Guillaume as shoemaker to the court.

Amazon Prime

Hanna (8 episodes) TV remake of 2011 film. Here’s an article from John Doyle on the series:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/article-amazons-hanna-is-all-empowerment-icon-and-commodity/

Streaming

Cold War (1 h 29 min) In the 1950’s, a music director falls in love with a singer and tries to persuade her to flee communist Poland for France.  This was Poland’s Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film this year. Touching and completely original, I showed this film to my Film Club who were all intrigued by its very unusual storytelling.  A very organic musical that follows the ups and downs of a doomed romance.
The Twilight Zone (10 episodes) An updated version of the classic TV series featuring various tales of science fiction, horror and mystery. Executive produced and narrated by Jordan Peele.
The Good Fight (Season 3, 10 episodes) Diane is still battling it out at majority black law firm Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart.

New and Returning Show Alert

BBC America

Killing Eve (Season 2, 8 episodes) Eve is reeling from her act of violence against Villanelle and doesn’t know whether she is alive or dead.  A paranoid and severely injured Villanelle manages to get herself to the hospital for treatment,. Carolyn approaches Eve with an opportunity.

Cinemax

Warrior (11 episodes) Set during the Tong Wars in the late 1800’s, Ah Sahm, a martial arts prodigy travels from China to San Francisco,  and ends up becoming a hatchet man for the most powerful tong in Chinatown.  Pure adrenalin!! Based on Bruce Lee’s concept.

CBS

The Code (13 episodes) A look at the professional and personal lives of some of the military’s brightest legal minds in the courtroom, where each attorney is trained as a prosecutor, a defence lawyer, an investigator – and a Marine. Look for this one to be formulaic as it airs on CBS.  Kind of a follow-up to JAG, I suspect.

FX

Fosse/Verdon (8 episodes) An inside look at the romantic and creative partnership between influential choreographer/director, Bob Fosse, and Gwen Verdon, one of the greatest Broadway dancers of all time.  Stars Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams.

HBO

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (documentary, 1 h 59 min) The story of Theranos, a multi-billion dollar tech company, its founder Elizabeth Holmes, the youngest self-made billionaire, and the massive fraud that collapsed the company.  Haunting and disturbing portrait of a sociopath.

PBS

Unforgotten (Season 3, 6 episodes) When the body of a teenage girl who went missing at the turn of the millennium is found at a building site off the M1 motorway, four men are placed under the spotlight and their relationships are tested to the limit.  Cold case series staring Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar.

Showtime

The Chi (Season 2, 10 episodes) Life on the South Side of Chicago.

Usual Fare I am following

AMC

The Walking Dead

HBO

Barry (Season 2, 8 episodes)Bill Hader is magnificent in this as a most winning assassin who is trying to put his past life behind him.

Veep (Season 7, 7 episodes)  Julia Louis-Dreyfus heads up a wonderful cast who skewer the West Wing in ways that will make you laugh out loud.

Comedy Central

The Other Two (now available on demand as season finale has aired)

FX

Better Things (Season 3, 12 episodes)  An actress raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent. I love this series which stars Pamela Adlon.
You’re the Worst (now available on demand as series finale aired last week)
What we do in the Shadows (10 episodes) A wryly humorous look into the daily lives of four vampires who’ve lived together for over 100 years in Staten Island.

CBS

FBI

NBC

Chicago Fire
The Enemy Within (12 episodes) FBI agent Will Keaton enlists the most notorious traitor in American history to help catch a spy.  Stars Jennifer Carpenter and Morris Chestnut.  Loved the pilot episode!
New Amsterdam

ABC

Whiskey Cavalier (13 episodes) An FBI agent ad his new partner a CIA operative embark on missions to save the world, but have to put up with each other first.  Stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohen.  I loved the pilot episode!
The Rookie

Showtime

Billions

STARZ

American Gods

Now Apocalypse

TBS

The Last O.G. (Season 2, 10 episodes) An ex-con is shocked to see just how much the world has changed when he is released fro prison for good behaviour after a 15-year stint and returns to his newly gentrified Brooklyn neighbourhood.  Stars Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish.

The CW

Riverdale

Fox

The Orville
Gotham
The Resident

PBS

Call the Midwife  (Season 8, 8 episodes)  This beloved series will make you cry with its touching depictions of nurses caring selflessly for a very disadvantaged population in East London in the 1960’s.

 

Mrs. Wilson (3 episodes) A grieving widow discovers that her seemingly ideal husband lived many secret lives. Starring Ruth Wilson and Iain Glen.  I can’t wait for this one!  Ruth Wilson (The Affair) plays her own grandmother in this true story.  Bonus:  British period drama!!

Comic Relief

Still loving Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and John Oliver, and Saturday Night Live (last night’s show features Canadian Sandra Oh as host).  Jim Jeffries has returned from hiatus and is now featuring a lengthy pre-filmed video as part of the show.

 

Zen Moment

As I write this Sunday morning, I am informed and inspired by CBS Sunday Morning. Along with 60 Minutes, CBS’s other flagship newsmagazine show, I always feel like a better informed person after watching an episode.

 

Closing Words

As we start to concentrate on packing,  and finishing the food in our fridge and cupboards, we are looking ahead to the trip back home.  This week we will continue our regular activities and will spend as much time as possible enjoying the beautiful weather here.  Have a wonderful week wherever you are.

Jon’s 6th visit to Naples…

Our son Jon’s 6th visit to Naples included the following activities: dining out at the Dolphin Tiki Bar on Marco Island; the Food Trucks on Bayshore; Terrazza at the Ritz Carlton; Jane’s on Third; Cosmos Pizza on the Naples Beach; Sushi Thai on Fifth; and Tacos and Tequila at the Pavilion. Touristy activities included walking the Fakahatchee Strand Boardwalk and walking the Naples Beach, Fifth Ave and Third Street. Shopping marathons took place at our local Marshall’s and Costco. Much basketball was watched by Jon and George during March Madness and now the Final Four. While I did a little golfing and fitness, the guys enjoyed pickle ball, tennis and bike riding.  I think he most enjoyed relaxing moments in the pool, hot tub and after dinner drinks at our fire pit. Aside from gorging ourselves, we caught up with some movies via streaming and Netflix:

Amazon Prime

Hanna (8 episodes) In equal part high-concept thriller and coming-of-age drama, Hanna follows the journey of an extraordinary young girl raised in the forest, as she evades the relentless pursuit of an off-book CIA agent and tries to unearth the truth behind who she is.  I can’t believe I watched the whole series while the guys were watching basketball.  If you’ve seen the 2011 movie starring Saoirse Ronan, you may wonder why they remade it.  If you haven’t seen the original, you may enjoy this thriller at face value.  So-so for a by the numbers series about the development of a female assassin.

Netflix

The Mule (1 h 56 min)  Starring and directed by Clint Eastwood. A 90-year-old horticulturist and Korean War veteran turns drug mule for a Mexican cartel.  I enjoyed this film much more than I anticipated.  Eastwood is very likeable as a man earning redemption for a footloose life.

Streaming

Bumblebee (1 h 54 min) Starring Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena.  On the run in the year of 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town.  Charlie, on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers the Transformer Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken by the Decepticons.  This movie was actually pretty entertaining and Hailee Seinfeld is wonderful in it.
Stan and Ollie (1 h 38 min)  Starring Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly. Laurel and Hardy, the world’s most famous comedy duo, attempt to reignite their film careers as they embark on what becomes their swan song – a gruelling theatre tour of post-war Britain.  Amazing performances by the two leads.  This is a bittersweet tale of a legendary comedy duo who continue to perform after their era has ended. Very sad.

Netflix Recommendations

Friends are always asking me what is good on Netflix, and I usually get completely flummoxed trying to answer because there is just so much content, so here’s Esquire’s list of great films to watch:

Alert:  New and Returning programs to watch

Here’s a preview of what’s available tonight:

Usual Fare I am following

AMC

The Walking Dead

Cinemax

Strike Back

HBO

Here’s a little more detail on the two shows described in the Globe article that make their returns tonight:

Barry (Season 2, 8 episodes) Barry tries to convince Sally and the rest of the class to go ahead with a performance, despite the absence of teacher Gene; Noho Hank and Cristobal’s new partnership faces growing pains; Fuches learns that replacement hit men don’t come easy. Bill Hader is magnificent in this as a most winning assassin who is trying to put his past life behind him.

Veep (Season 7, 7 episodes) Selina evaluates her past and present campaigns; Jonah’s personal life sparks interest among the press; Amy makes an important decision.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus heads up a wonderful cast who skewer the West Wing in ways that will make you laugh out loud.

Comedy Central

The Other Two

FX

Better Things (Season 3, 12 episodes)  An actress raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent. I love this series which stars Pamela Adlon.
You’re the Worst

CBS

FBI

NBC

Chicago Fire
The Enemy Within (12 episodes) FBI agent Will Keaton enlists the most notorious traitor in American history to help catch a spy.  Stars Jennifer Carpenter and Morris Chestnut.  Loved the pilot episode!
New Amsterdam

ABC

Whiskey Cavalier (13 episodes) An FBI agent ad his new partner a CIA operative embark on missions to save the world, but have to put up with each other first.  Stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohen.  I loved the pilot episode!
The Rookie
The Good Doctor

The CW

Riverdale

Fox

The Orville
Gotham
The Resident

Pop

Flack

PBS

Call the Midwife  (Season 8, 8 episodes)  As two new nuns join Nonnatus House, a shocking case exposes the seedier side of Poplar while a complicated birth tests Trixie and Phyllis.  This beloved series will make you cry with its touching depictions of nurses caring selflessly for a very disadvantaged population in East London in the 1960’s.

 

Mrs. Wilson (3 episodes) A grieving widow discovers that her seemingly ideal husband lived many secret lives. Starring Ruth Wilson and Iain Glen.  I can’t wait for this one!  Ruth Wilson (The Affair) plays her own grandmother in this true story.  Bonus:  British period drama!!

Comic Relief

Still loving Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and John Oliver, and Saturday Night Live (last night’s show features Canadian Sandra Oh as host).  Jim Jeffries has returned from hiatus and is now featuring a lengthy pre-filmed video as part of the show.

 

Zen Moment

I am looking forward to my oasis of calm when I sit down to watch CBS Sunday Morning later today.  This venerable series never fails to inspire and inform. Today’s segments include one on the restauranteur Dan Giusti, The U.S. Virgin Islands, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bill Hader on Barry, Biomimicry, Detroit artist Richard Phillips, revival of The Twilight Zone, A Gentleman in Moscow, the Moon landing, nature moment in Indonesia. Ahh……

Closing Words

Our son is flying back to Toronto later today and we’ve had a wonderful week just relaxing with him.  This week we will be participating in a golf tournament in North Naples with our Georgian Bay Club friends.  George’s regular Treviso Bay golf group is celebrating the end of the season with a dinner that includes spouses at our club house.  I hope to get back to my regular fitness activities and my regular ladies day golf schedule. Time is flying by here and many friends are getting ready to return to their homes in the north. For those of you travelling, I wish you a smooth trip home.  For everyone else, enjoy the spring weather wherever you are.

 

Final stretch of company!

I had the pleasure of hosting three longtime girlfriends last week. We enjoyed
Everglades Wonder Garden, a Book Talk about Jackie Kennedy’s childminder and lunch at our golf club; farewell drinks for one of our very special members who is leaving Naples; many lunches out at Bistro La Baguette, Coconut Jack’s, and The Dock; dinner at 21 Spices; a trip to the City Docks, and sunset pizza and cockails on the Naples beach. I was indulged by my friends as they watched my favourite Audrey Hepburn movie with me. Shopping experiences included Brigadoon,The Best of Everything, Steinmart, Anthony’s, Tuesday Morning (featuring the world’s best selection of dinner napkins). I didn’t watch much TV while my friends were here, but here are some recommendations for you.

On the Big Screen

Us (2019, 1 h 56 min) Starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke and Elisabeth Moss. A family’s serenity turns to chaos when a group of doppelgängers begins to terrorize them. Great performances, but many plot holes.  Lupita Nyong’o is spectacular in this and there are great performances from the child actors. Winston Duke as the husband has some very funny moments. Especially entertaining for horror fans!

New Program Alerts

The Fix (Debuted March 18; ABC, 10 episodes) Produced by Marcia Clarke (prosecutor in the OJ Simpson case).  An LA prosecutor moves to Washington after losing a high-profile double murder case, but when the killer strikes again, she returns to seek justice under her own terms.  Stars Robin Tunney, Adewale Akinnuoye, Adam Rayner.
What We Do in the Shadows (Debuts March 27FX, 10 episodes) A look into the daily (or rather, nightly) lives of four vampires who’ve lived together for over 100 years in Staten Island.  Spun off from the hilarious film of the same name.  If you love vampires, you are likely to enjoy this delightful parody.
Fosse/Verdon (Debuts April 9; FX, 8 episodes) An inside look at the romantic and creative partnership between influential choreographer/director Bob Fosse, and Gwen Verdon, one of the greatest Broadway dancers of all time. Stars Sam Rockwell, Michelle Williams

Netflix

The Polka King (Netflix Original: 2017, 1 h 35 min) True story about local Pennsylvania polka legend Jan Lewan who develops a plan to get rich that shocks his fans and lands him in jail. Stars Jack Black, Jenny Slate and Jason Schwartzman. When my husband asked for an an explanation of why we had watched this film, my answer was thus:  When entertaining friends, it is awfully hard to find a film that no one has seen yet and is comic enough to keep us awake into the evening. I still can’t believe that everyone was good natured enough to last all the way through this very silly comedy. Jack Black has the time of his life playing the lead role.

Streaming

The Good Fight (Season 3, 5 episodes) A storm is brewing at Reddick, Boseman and Lockhart when revelations of past indiscretions involving a partner come to light.  Right when she thought the world couldn’t get any crazier an incident at home pushes Diane to her breaking point.  Meanwhile, Lucca is brought a new opportunity while Marissa teaches Maia to toughen up.  Not sure about Christine Baranski’s new haircut.  She used to be so darned elegant!!
Two for the Road (1967, 1 h 51 min) This lushly romantic film follows a couple travelling in the south of France who non-sequentially spin down the highways of infidelity in their troubled 10-year marriage.  Starring Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney. A beautiful musical score by Henry Mancini.  One of my favourite films and definitely my favourite Audrey Hepburn film.

Amazon Prime

Tin Star (Season 2, 10 episodes) Ex undercover UK cop turned police chief of a small town in the Canadian Rockies does what he must to defend his family from those in power whether it’s the oilmen, the preachers or the gangsters. Stars Tim Roth and Genevieve O’Reilly.  Season 2 goes on a little long and seems to borrow heavily from Witness and Banshee in its depiction of small town Mennonite life.
East West 101 (2007, Season 1, 6 episodes) Great series about a Muslim detective in Australia. Could it be more timely?

Showtime

Billions (Season 4, 12 episodes) Returned last Sunday.  Season 4 began with Axe and Chuck closing ranks, determined to destroy Taylor.  No longer US Attorney, Chuck struggles to regain power.  Taylor does what it takes to keep their new company afloat.

Starz

Now Apocalypse (10 episodes) While on quests to pursue love, sex and fame with his friends in LA, Ulysses’ premonitory dreams make him question the possible presence of a dark and monstrous conspiracy.  Loved this hilarious and original show.  Warning: very adult; lots of sex and nudity. This is a very gay positive show, so don’t watch if you can’t handle that.

American Gods (Season 2, 8 episodes) This batshit crazy show about American gods waging war on Old gods is very hard to describe. Ian McShane is the star as Mr. Wednesday (Odin). Crazy!

Usual Fare I am following

AMC

The Walking Dead

Cinemax

Strike Back

Comedy Central

Corporate
The Other Two

FX

Better Things (Season 3, 12 episodes)  An actress raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent. I love this series which stars Pamela Adlon.
You’re the Worst

CBS

FBI

NBC

Chicago Fire
The Enemy Within (12 episodes) FBI agent Will Keaton enlists the most notorious traitor in American history to help catch a spy.  Stars Jennifer Carpenter and Morris Chestnut.  Loved the pilot episode!
New Amsterdam

ABC

Whiskey Cavalier (13 episodes) An FBI agent ad his new partner a CIA operative embark on missions to save the world, but have to put up with each other first.  Stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohen.  I loved the pilot episode!
The Rookie
The Good Doctor

The CW

Riverdale

Fox

The Orville
Gotham
The Resident

Pop

Flack

Showtime

SMILF
Shameless

TBS

Miracle Workers

Comic Relief

Still loving Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and John Oliver.  Jim Jeffries has returned from hiatus and his first show this week featured a terrific segment on nationalist movements around the world, including New Zealand and his native Australia.

Here’s the clip about white nationalists:

Many YouTube worthy moments from Randy Rainbow (check out his hilarious musical videos), Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon.

Here’s a treat for the uninitiated from Randy Rainbow:

Closing Words

Our son Jonathan arrived for a week of March Madness basketball viewing with his father as well as dinners out and treks around Naples. We’ve already been to Nordstrom Rack, the Silverspot Theatre at Mercato, and Tacos and Tequila for dinner. Tomorrow is our annual street party and I am headed to the Botanical Gardens to see the glass sculpture display first thing in the morning. The weather here continues to be lovely.  Hoping everyone is getting a break from miserable weather as spring has officially arrived. Have a great week wherever you are!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

Naples loves St. Paddy!  Great parade yesterday throughout Olde Naples.  There were many marching bands and floats and terrific pride in Irish heritage on display.  We treated ourselves to brunch after at the wonderful La Colmar bakery and cafe on Tamiami where we had delicious quiche and salad.  We met good friends for drinks at the Ritz and dinner after at The Turtle Club on Vanderbilt Beach.  A very beautiful evening! I am awaiting the arrival of my longtime girlfriends from Toronto who are going to keep me company while George is away in Orlando on his annual golf trip.  We are going to have a few excursions to see flamingos, Lake Okeechobee, etc.  When we have time, there will be TV and movie watching, to be sure.  Here are a few recommendations for you:

New Shows Coming this month

An article in Indiewire lists 19 new shows debuting in March:

https://www.indiewire.com/2019/03/new-shows-march-2019-tv-premieres-amazon-hbo-hulu-1202047614/

An article in USA Today lists 10 new shows debuting in March:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/tv/2019/03/11/spring-tv-preview-10-series-watch-besides-game-thrones-catch-22-twilight-zone-fosse-verdon-act/3090417002/

Streaming

Tell Me a Story (11 episodes) Set in modern day NYC, beloved fairy tales interweave into a subversive tale of love, loss, greed, revenge and murder.  A great binge watch! Stars James Wolk, Billy Magnussen, Kim Cattrall.  Enjoy!
The Good Fight (Season 3) A storm is brewing at Reddick, Boseman and Lockhart when revelations of past indiscretions involving a partner come to light.  Right when she thought the world couldn’t get any crazier an incident at home pushes Diane to her breaking point.  Meanwhile, Lucca is brought a new opportunity while Marissa teaches Maia to toughen up.  Not sure about Christine Baranski’s new haircut.  She used to be so darned elegant!!

Showtime

Billions (Season 4) Returns tonight!  Season 4 begins with Axe closing ranks, determined to destroy Taylor.  No longer US Attorney Chuck struggles to regain power.  Taylor does what it takes to keep their new company afloat.

Starz

Now Apocalypse (10 episodes) While on quests to pursue love, sex and fame with his friends in LA, Ulysses’ premonitory dreams make him question the possible presence of a dark and monstrous conspiracy.  Loved this hilarious and original show.  Warning: very adult; lots of sex and nudity. This is a very gay positive show, so don’t watch if you can’t handle that.

American Gods (Season 2) This batshit crazy show about American gods waging war on Old Gods is very hard to describe. Ian McShane is the star as Mr. Wednesday (Odin). Crazy!

Amazon Prime

White Dragon (8 episodes; also known as Strangers) Jonah Mulray is a professor whose world comes crashing down when his wife is killed in a car crash in Hong Kong.  Though his wife lived and worked there for six months, Jonah’s fear of flying has stopped in from ever visiting.  Now forced to abandon his sheltered life, he must venture across the world to identify her body.  However, once he arrives, he finds out a shocking truth and is drawn deeper in a web of conspiracy in a foreign and unfamiliar place.  John Simm, Emilia Fox, Dervla Kiran star.  I did binge on this one, but it is full of plot holes and nonsensical storylines.  If you love British mysteries, this one may satisfy your need.

Usual Fare I am following

AMC

The Walking Dead

Cinemax

Strike Back

Comedy Central

Corporate
The Other Two

FX

Better Things (Season 3, 12 episodes)  An actress raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent. I love this series which stars Pamela Adlon.
You’re the Worst

CBS

FBI

NBC

Chicago Fire
The Enemy Within (12 episodes) FBI agent Will Keaton enlists the most notorious traitor in American history to help catch a spy.  Stars Jennifer Carpenter and Morris Chestnut.  Loved the pilot episode!
New Amsterdam

ABC

Whiskey Cavalier (13 episodes) An FBI agent ad his new partner a CIA operative embark on missions to save the world, but have to put up with each other first.  Stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohen.  I loved the pilot episode!
The Rookie
The Good Doctor

The CW

Riverdale

Fox

The Orville
Gotham
The Resident
The Passage (now available on demand)

PBS

Victoria (now available on demand)

Pop

Flack

Showtime

SMILF
Shameless

TBS

Miracle Workers

TNT

I am the Night (now available on demand)

Comic Relief

Still loving Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and John Oliver.  Many YouTube worthy moments from Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon.

Closing Words

The coming week will be full of lots of food, conversation, laughter and tears.  Our Playgroup Girls (we originated as a neighbourhood mothers’ group) lost one of our own to cancer just before Christmas and we are getting together to celebrate our friendships that have endured for almost 40 years.  We feel very fortunate to still be part of each others’ lives.  Fingers crossed that my dear friends get to enjoy some beautiful Florida sunshine after a very cold winter. Enjoy your week wherever you are!

 

 

 


 

So much to watch…

Well it has been another wonderful week of Florida sunshine.  I had a great week full of visits from friends from home, 3 trips up to Bonita Beach to see friends, and a very special boat tour through the Everglades to show off our part of SW Florida where we were entertained by graceful dolphins dancing in the boat’s wake. There really wasn’t a lot of time for watching TV, but here are some recommendations, nevertheless:

New Shows Coming This Season to the specialty channels

What to watch this week from Deadline.com

The Show To Watch This Week: ‘American Gods’, ‘After Life’, ‘Punk’ & ‘Now Apocalypse’ Reviewed

Streaming

Can You Ever Forgive Me (1 h 46 min) I enjoyed watching this true story with my film club.  It’s about biographer Lee Israel who committed many acts of literary forgery before she was caught.  Melissa McCarthy gives a fearless performance that earned her an Oscar nomination for the lead role; Richard E. Grant is her partner in crime and he also was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.  Touching and funny, you will be amazed at how powerful an actress McCarthy has proven to be.  It’s a film that stays with you as it paints a portrait of a very lonely, self destructive woman trying to survive in a world that doesn’t seem to have a space for her.
Tell Me a Story (10 episodes; produced for CBS All Access) Set in modern day New York, beloved fairy tales interweave into a subversive tale of love, loss, greed, revenge, and murder. I am part way bingeing through this one.  Great cast includes James Wolk, Billy Magnussen, Kim Cattrall, Paul Wesley and many others. Surprisingly full of very adult scenes of sexuality and nudity, as well as a fair degree of political discussion, this series comes from Kevin Williamson who has written for Scream, The Vampire Diaries, The Following, Dawson’s Creek and many others.  Probably not for everybody.
Star Trek: Discovery
Cardinal

Netflix

Documentary Now (3 seasons, 21 episodes; originally produced for IFC) Documentary Now parodies the current obsession with documentaries.  Each episode pays tribute to the doc format.  Hosted by Helen Mirren and starring a huge cast of actors led by Fred Armisen and Bill Hader. This is an extremely clever and hilarious series that has something for everyone as their parodies run from Grey Gardens to Nanook of the North and far beyond that.
After Life (6 episodes) After Tony’s wife dies of cancer, his nice-guy persona is altered into an impulsive, devil-may-care attitude taking his old world by storm.  Starring Ricky Gervais and Ashley Jensen. I binge-watched all 6 episodes in one afternoon.  Drily funny and extremely touching.  Get out your handkerchiefs as I both laughed and cried through this one.  I am not normally a huge fan of Ricky Gervais, but he is magnificent in this.

HBO

Leaving Neverland (documentary, 4 hrs) At the height of his stardom Michael Jackson began long-running relationships with two boys, aged 7 and 10, and their families.  Now in their 30’s and 40’s, they tell their story.  Told in two parts, this doc shows the effects of the alleged abuse on both families.  Incredibly powerful, you will look at Michael Jackson and listen to his music differently. I watched the whole thing and found the level of detail in both boys accounts to be very convincing.  Very disturbing viewing. You can now watch it on demand.

On the Networks

The Enemy Within (NBC) and Whiskey Cavalier (ABC) I enjoyed both these new programs and found the article below that compares them very entertaining:
I describe both these shows in more detail below.

Usual Fare I am following

AMC

The Walking Dead

Cinemax

Strike Back

Comedy Central

Corporate
The Other Two

FX

Better Things (Season 3, 12 episodes)  An actress raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent. I love this series which stars Pamela Adlon.
You’re the Worst

CBS

FBI

NBC

Chicago Fire
The Enemy Within (12 episodes) FBI agent Will Keaton enlists the most notorious traitor in American history to help catch a spy.  Stars Jennifer Carpenter and Morris Chestnut.  Loved the pilot episode!
New Amsterdam

ABC

Whiskey Cavalier (13 episodes) An FBI agent ad his new partner a CIA operative embark on missions to save the world, but have to put up with each other first.  Stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohen.  I loved the pilot episode!
The Rookie
The Good Doctor

The CW

Riverdale

Fox

The Orville
Gotham
The Resident
The Passage

PBS

Victoria

Pop

Flack

Showtime

SMILF
Shameless

TBS

Miracle Workers

TNT

I am the Night

Comic Relief

Still loving Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and John Oliver.  Many YouTube worthy moments from Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon.

 

Closing Words

It’s going to be a great week here as our season starts to wind down.  We are participating in a Breast Cancer Tournament at our golf course as well as the usual bocce, fitness, coffee party, etc. We have many friends coming to visit at the end of the week as George’s gang descends from the north for his annual Florida golf trip and I have longtime girlfriends coming from Toronto while he is away. Enjoy your week, wherever you are.

 


 

The new programs keep coming….

I honestly can’t keep up with all the new programming coming out this season, but I will try to keep you informed as new shows make their appearance.  Here’s  a great article on new shows coming out:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/article-a-bumper-crop-of-spring-tv-the-shortlist/

On the Live Stage

An Intimate Evening with David Foster (Artis Naples)

What a great entertainer this successful composer, arranger, producer is! He made great use of video in sneaking in performances by Kenny G, Josh Groban, Andrea Boccelli, and Michael Buble, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand, etc.  In addition, this performance with the Naples Philharmonic featured 3 young singers in the mode of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Andrea Boccelli. Each young performer was sensational.  As Foster is a judge on Asia’s Got Talent, he invited audience members to sing with the band.  I was surprised to see the young lady sitting beside me stand up and deliver Can’t Help Loving that Man of Mine. Not the best performance, but a real bonus for me!!

Artis-Naples Art Display

As the Baker Museum is still undergoing repairs, the Fashioning Art from Paper show of Isabelle de Borchgrave is currently on display in 4 areas of the arts centre. This exhibition of historical costumes exquisitely crafted in paper will amaze you with its artistry.

Amazon

Fearless (6 episodes from British network ITV) Stars Helen McCrory, Robin Weight, Michael Gambon.  Emma Banville, a human rights lawyer known for defending lost causes, sets out to prove the innocence of Kevin Russell, who was convicted for the murder of a school girl 14 years earlier.  I watched all 6 episodes in 1 day. I was intrigued!!  MI6, NSA, and the CIA are all involved in the cover up of this mystery.
The Widow (8 episodes from British network ITV) Stars Kate Beckinsale, Alex Kingston, and Charles Dance. A woman’s search to uncover the mysterious disappearance of her husband leads her to the Congo where she’s forced to seek the truth about what happened to the man she loved.  Reviews have stressed that this is a white saviour story about Africa but if you can look beyond this factor, it’s a pretty intriguing story.  I watched all 8 episodes over a 2 day period.  A few plot holes, but entertaining, nevertheless.

Netflix

Paddleton (1 h 29 min) Stars Ray Romano and Mark Duplass. An unlikely friendship between two misfit neighbours becomes an unexpectedly emotional journey when the younger an is diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Touching and sweet, this little film will also make you laugh.
Period. End of Sentence. (26 min.; winner of Oscar for Documentary Short) Indian women fight the stigma surrounding menstruation and begin manufacturing sanitary pads.  You will cheer for these women!!
Northern Rescue (10 episodes) The family drama Northern Rescue stars William Baldwin and Kathleen Robertson.  After the death of his wife Sarah, John West packs up his three children and moves from their hectic urban life to his small northern town to take command of the local search-and-rescue service.  Filmed in Parry Sound, Ontario!!  Many Canadian actors abound in this CBC/Netflix production. Beautiful Georgian Bay scenery.

Usual Fare I am following

Streaming

Star Trek: Discovery
Cardinal

HBO

Leaving Neverland (4 h, airing tonight and Monday) At the height of his stardom, Michael Jackson began long-running relationships with two boys, aged 7 and 10, and their families.  Now in their 30’s, they tell their story and how they came to terms with it years later.  HBO is now facing a $100 million lawsuit from the Michael Jackson family.

AMC

The Walking Dead

Cinemax

Strike Back

Comedy Central

Corporate
The Other Two

FX

Better Things (Season 3, 12 episodes)  An actress raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent. I love this series which stars Pamela Adlon.
You’re the Worst

CBS

FBI

NBC

Chicago Fire
The Enemy Within (12 episodes) FBI agent Will Keaton enlists the most notorious traitor in American history to help catch a spy.  Stars Jennifer Carpenter and Morris Chestnut.  Loved the pilot episode!
New Amsterdam

ABC

Whiskey Cavalier (13 episodes) An FBI agent ad his new partner a CIA operative embark on missions to save the world, but have to put up with each other first.  Stars Scott Foley and Lauren Cohen.  I loved the pilot episode!
The Rookie
The Good Doctor

CNN

Saudi Arabia: Kingdom of Secrets (60 m.; airs tonight) Looking forward to this one!

The CW

Riverdale

Fox

The Orville
Gotham
The Resident
The Passage

PBS

Victoria

Pop

Flack

Showtime

SMILF
Shameless

TBS

Miracle Workers

TNT

I am the Night

Comic Relief

Still loving Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and John Oliver.  Many YouTube worthy moments from Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon.

 

Closing Words

While our friends and family in the north are dealing with brutal cold and storms, it has continued to be pretty wonderful weather here.  Golf, beach walks, bocce, book club, movie club, coffee gatherings, and the beginning of saying farewell to friends who will be leaving to return home through March and April.  Today we are off to play golf with dear friends in Bonita Springs. Have a wonderful week wherever you are!!


Oscars Edition: My Picks

Well for many of our friends and neighbours, Super Bowl is the high point of their party schedule.  For me, it’s definitely the Oscars.  I look forward to watching with my friends and often hate-watching the show for the fashions, speeches, production numbers, etc.  It has been a great year for movies and I look forward to the show this year to see how the nominations will turn out and how the show itself is conducted given that there will be no central host.

The Academy has tried to respond to changing times by streamlining the awards and presenting technical categories off camera (rejected); they have tried to recognize popular films with a special category (rejected).  The show often runs 4 hours and they are desperately trying to rein it in to a 3 hour running time by limiting thank you speeches to 90 seconds and playing off recipients with music when their time expires.

The show reached its nadir in 2017 when it ended in an Oscar mixup, first LaLaLand and then Moonlight were both declared winners and LaLaLand had to hand over it’s Best Film Award.  This year, perhaps pointedly, neither LaLaLand‘s director (Damien Chazelle) nor Moonlight‘s director (Barry Jenkins) received directing nominations for their films First Man and If Beale Street Could Talk. An unfortunate snub for both talented directors.

Netflix has emerged as a new source of nominated films which get both theatrical and Netflix distribution.  The recognition that Roma (an original Netflix production) has received is incredibly significant.

Anyhow, here are my hopes for who should (but not necessarily will) win:

Best Picture

My favourite:  Green Book, a film I would recommend unreservedly for its positive message and delightful execution.

Critical Darling:  Roma, a film I watched twice, once almost completely asleep, and the second time with a group of 20 women watching me like a hawk, ensuring that I stayed awake throughout. This is truly an art film, touching and subtle, but extraordinarily slow-paced with unforgettable images.

Director

My Favourite:  Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War (Poland).  I loved this surprising and original musical film.  If you liked Once or LaLaLand, you will love this movie from Poland.

Critical Darling: Alfonso Cuaron for Roma.  Cuaron’s love letter to his upbringing in Mexico.

Lead Actress

My favourite:  Glenn Close in The Wife.  I don’t think any other actress could have played this role as convincingly.  Her face is capable of depicting emotions with great subtlety.  She is mesmerizing in this.

Critical Darling:  Glenn Close

Supporting Actress

My favourite:  Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk.  She carries this movie with her powerful role as a mother.

Critical Darling:  Regina King

Lead Actor

My favourite:  Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody.  I loved him as Freddie Mercury despite his overly huge prosthetic teeth.

Critical Darling:  Christian Bale for Vice.  He’s amazing in a deeply flawed film.

Supporting Actor

My favourite:  Mahershala Ali for Green Book.  His tormented character (a closeted gay musician) is incredibly moving.

Critical Darling:  Mahershala Ali

All other categories from Costume Design to Visual Effects are beyond my capabilities to confidently call.

I was very busy this week trying to watch programs I had missed in my time in California, but here are some of the programs I also got to watch:

Streaming

At Eternity’s Gate (1 h 51 min) Willem Dafoe stars as Vincent van Gogh during the time he lived in Arles and Auvers-sur-Oise, France toward the end of his life. Dafoe is nominated for the role of a lifetime.  He is completely convincing as the tormented artist.  Rupert Friend plays brother Theo and is incredibly warm and loving in the role.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (1 h 48 min) I did watch this unbearably terrible film on the flight back from California and I was transfixed to the tiny screen unable to turn away from the searing images of Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard humiliating themselves by singing and dancing their way through this movie.  Cher makes an appearance at the end that is hauntingingly reminiscent of Doris Day’s late career screen appearances which appear to have been shot through filters covered with saran wrap and vaseline.  Her unwrinkled appearance will stay with you no matter how hard you may try to unsee her.
Ben is Back (1 h 43 min) A drug addicted teenage boy shows up unexpectedly at his family’s home on Christmas Eve. Lucas Hedges and Julia Roberts star in this moving film about how a family deals with addiction.  Powerful performances from both stars.

Netflix

The Umbrella Academy (10 episodes) A disbanded group of superheroes reunite after their adoptive father, who trained them to save the world, dies.  I watched the first episode because so many Canadian actors are in this, but ultimately have decided it is too young adult for me.  You know, superheroes!  Great to see Ellen Page and Colm Feore in good roles for them.

Newish shows you may want to catch up with on demand

The Other Two (on Comedy Central) a hilarious show about the two struggling siblings of an internet singing sensation.
Miracle Workers (on TBS) stars Steve Buscemi and Daniel Radcliffe as God and an angel in a very dysfunctional heaven.
I am the Night (on TNT) is a mystery miniseries loosely connected to the Black Dahlia murder. Stars the very blue-eyed Chris Pine as a down and out private investigator in LA in the 1950’s.
The Passage (on Fox) is a riveting show based on Justin Cronin’s novel that chronicles a secret government program that develops vampires and spins completely out of control.
SMILF (on Showtime) tells the story of a single mother in Boston.  Far ranging and groundbreaking.  Watch for Connie Britton as her unbearably smug and selfish boss.
Flack (on Pop) stars Anna Paquin as an unscrupulous Public Relations flack in London.
Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access) and The Orville (Fox) I love both these shows.  Star Trek takes itself far too seriously, but its parody,The Orville, totally pokes cheeky fun at all the Star Trek tropes.
Better Things (returns to FX this week) stars Pamela Adlon as an actress who raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent. Adlon is the writer and creator of this wry and delightful comedy series.
Proven Innocent (debuts this week on Fox) and stars Canadian actress Rachelle Lefevre as part of a legal team that takes on cases involving wrongful convictions.

Moment of Zen

I am now enjoying CBS Sunday Morning‘s Oscar show.  This venerable series takes a look at Hollywood and tonight’s show focuses on the Oscars.  Enjoy its memorable and inspiring segments that take you from the casting process, through portraits of George Chakiris and Angie Dickinson to their regular commentators’ picks for the Oscars.

Comic Relief

Still enjoying all my favourites: Bill Maher, Steven Colbert, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee and YouTube highlights from James Corden and Seth Meyers.  They make the daily news palatable for me.  A spoonful of comedy makes the current events go down in the most delightful way.

Closing Words

Florida is enjoying wonderful weather this season.  Opportunities for lying in and around our pool have abounded.  I don’t want to say too much because I understand that it has been an unusually brutal winter in the North.  I am looking forward to having a great gang of neighbours over this evening to watch the Oscars and enjoy delicious cocktails which inspired us when we were in California recently.  Hugs to all of you and enjoy the awards tonight, wherever you are.

 

 

 

 

 

Back from LaLaLand

Live on Stage

Jimmy Kimmel (ABC, nightly Mon-Fri at 11:30)  We got an insider’s view of the show from  Backstage in the Green Room.  Hipsters abounded here as people from the hinterlands mingle with LA locals and partake of free refreshments while the show is being taped.  I hardly watched the show on the monitors as the actual crowd was so entertaining.  For the final musical segment, performed by Grammy winner Leon Bridges, the backstage crowd is ushered into the actual theatre to form an audience for the live band. Great fun!

CBS

Grammy Awards (available on demand, aired Feb. 10) We had the great pleasure of watching the Grammy  Awards with our niece and nephew (who’s in the record business). Great performances and only 9 awards presented during the almost 4 hour telecast. Oscars: are you listening?

Streaming

The Wife (1 h 39 min)  A wife questions her life choices as she travels to Stockholm with her husband, where he is slated to receive the Nobel Prize for literature.  Stars Glenn Close who is nominated for the Best Actress Oscar. I watched this film with my movie club and we had a great discussion afterwards.  A very thoughtful film about a long and difficult marriage.  Great performances from a stellar cast that includes Jonathan Pryce and Max Irons. Annie Starke (Close’s daughter) plays her character as a young woman.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (1 h 57 min) Young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomqvist find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials.  Claire Foy stars as Salander. It is amazing that Foy takes on a character so different from her role a Elizabeth II in The Crown. In the absence of a current Bond movie, this film might fill your need for an action flick. Otherwise, it’s a pretty routine action film.

Cold War (1 h 29 min, in Polish with English subtitles)  How to describe this amazing film?  A musical romance.  In the 1950’s, a music director falls in love with a singer and tries to persuade her to flee communist Poland for France.  Intriguing and mesmerizing.  Totally original film.  The closest film I can think of is LaLaLand which seems downright pedestrian in comparison with this unique Polish film. This is the Polish Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film.
Widows (2 hr 9 min) Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities, take fate into their own hands, and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.  I am not a fan of this film as I do not care for heist films.  Viola Davis is one very angry black woman and Liam Neeson is her husband.  Deeply flawed film.  If you are dying to see a crime flick with lots of car crashes and explosions, this is the one for you!
Star Trek: Discovery 
Berlin Station
Cardinal

Amazon Prime

Daddy’s Home 2 (1 h 40 min)  Execrable!!! Having finally gotten used to each other’s existence, Brad and Dusty must now deal with their intrusive fathers during the holidays.  Stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson, John Lithgow and Linda Cardellini.  OMG, we tried to find something light to watch which no one had seen and this was our disastrous choice.  Watch at your own risk!!
Catastrophe

Comedy Central

The Other Two
Corporate

Cinemax

Strike Back

ABC

The Rookie
The Good Doctor

CBS

FBI

NBC

New Amsterdam
Chicago Fire

TBS

Miracle Workers (new series, 7 episodes) A comedy set in the officers of Heaven Inc.  When God plans to destroy the Earth, two low-level angels must convince their boss to save humanity.  They bet him they can pull off their most impossible miracle yet:  help two humans fall in love.  Starring Steve Buscemi and Daniel Radcliffe.

TNT

I am the Night

FOX

The Passage
The Resident
Gotham
The Orville

THE CW

Arrow
Riverdale

Showtime

Shameless
SMILF
Counterpart

PBS

MARGARET: The Rebel Princess (Documentary 2 episodes) how the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, for better or worse, fully embraced the great social changes of the 1960’s and 70’s, which reshaped both England’s social norms and the way people saw the royal family.
Victoria on Masterpiece

HBO

Breslin & Hamill: Deadline Artists (Documentary, 1 h 48 min) The story of NYC journalists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill. This doc has had great reviews as it proposes that a former news cycle is repeating itself now.
True Detective

FX

You’re the Worst

Comic Relief

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver returns from hiatus tonight at 11; Real Time with Bill Maher has returned on Fridays at 10; Colbert, Noah, and Samantha Bee all make me laugh at the news.

Closing Words

The Academy Awards air on Feb. 24.  Get your last minute viewing in!  Download a ballot from ABC and get ready to vote!!  I have much viewing left to do:  I will be watching At Eternity’s Gate (last days of Van Gogh starring Oscar nominee, Willem Dafoe). Aside from that I will be catching up on lots of shows that I recorded while we were away.  By the way, our weather in LA wasn’t the greatest (cold and damp just like the Rogers and Hart song The Lady is a Tramp) and we actually had flash flooding in Palm Springs while we were there.  Nevertheless, we had some very special visiting time, including a very memorable Valentine’s Dinner with our friends.  Hugs to all of you who may be a little cold and tired of winter.  To everyone else, enjoy your week wherever you are!!