It was a whirlwind two weeks in Scotland and Iceland. I spent time with my charming host and hostess in their beautiful home in the village of Burntisland, on the north shore of the Firth of Forth overlooking Edinburgh, Scotland. We travelled around the Kingdom of Fife and toured the Eastern Coastal route of Scotland (including Anstruther and St. Andrews) passing through historic towns and the picturesque fishing villages of the East Neuk; we stayed in a holiday cottage on the North Atlantic coast of Scotland in the village of Findhorn in Moray on the south side of the Moray Firth. From Findhorn, we took day trips to Cawdor Castle, Brodie Castle, Scone Palace, etc. It was like living in a fairy tale! We then spent 5 days touring Iceland from our hotel in Reykjavik. We saw the Northern Lights, went on a day trip that included hiking around geysers and waterfalls and then a 1 hour snowmobile journey around a glacier. The last day was spent relaxing at the Blue Lagoon, a hot springs resort which has become a bit Vegas-like as it is completely besieged by young Americans having bachelor and bachelorette parties. Hilarious!
As for TV and movies, I did watch some shows on Netflix and caught a few things on the plane’s in flight entertainment series, and I have been furiously catching up on some of the shows I have missed over the past few weeks, so here are several recommendations:
On the Big Screen
Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to the original 1982 film. Elegiacally slow (164 minutes long), pretentious, and tedious, yet filled with incredible images of a dystopian future. If you can keep your eyes open (full disclosure, I did sleep through much of Villeneuve’s previous sci-fi film Arrival), you may marvel at this tale of replicants, their creators and their hunters. Ryan Gosling is a little robotic, Harrison Ford is awfully old, but the young actresses who play the various replicants are wondrous (Mackenzie Davis as Marietta, Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, Ana de Armas as Joi). Sean Young makes a few appearances in flashbacks as Rachel, Robin Wright is fierce as Gosling’s police boss, Lennie James plays his usual unhinged self as Mister Cotton.
LaLaLand is now available through streaming and on-demand, and as my Scottish friend Catherine had missed it, I had the great pleasure of re-watching it with her. Lush and romantic, it was hilarious to see Ryan Gosling open up the premiere of SNL with a very self-deprecating series of LaLaLand references.
Star Trek Discovery is available through CBS all access and through streaming. This is a wonderfully energetic prequel to the original series. Jason Isaacs is the new commander and as I adore him, I couldn’t be happier. Great ensemble cast including Sonequa Martin-Green from The Walking Dead.
Dr. Foster If you haven’t watched this BBC thriller yet, go and catch up with Season 1, as Season 2 is now available. A tale of obsession and revenge, once you start watching, clear your calendar, as this is highly addictive and binge worthy.
GAGA: Five foot two is an original documentary about Lady Gaga made for Netflix. Very revealing.
Love in a Cold Climate is a wonderful 2001 British adaptation of two Nancy Mitford novels. I caught up with this on British Netflix. Delightful!
The Wee Man is a 2013 British crime film about the life of Glasgow criminal Paul Ferris. I needed this for background research on my Scottish trip and caught up with it on British Netflix.
Here’s a great list of suggestions for movies you may have missed on the big screen that are now available on Netflix:
Iceland Air In flight entertainment system
Planet Earth: Season 2 I have now watched the whole season and am amazed at how good this nature series is. Incredible photography of scenes from nature that enthral with their intimate views of all forms of wildlife including both flora and fauna.
Midnight Sun This Scandinavian Noir series is a Swedish/French co-production for Canal Plus TV. I loved the first 5 episodes of this 8 episode miniseries. From the team that created The Bridge, this thriller is set in a small mining village in Northern Sweden and tells the story of a series of savage murders that are investigated by a team of Swedish and French investigators. Fabulous! Sadly, if I hadn’t gotten hooked on Planet Earth, I might have been able to finish all 8 episodes. Still trying to track them down.
Berlin Station has returned for its second season. Wonderful espionage series, which almost takes the place of Homeland, if you are feeling the lack of a good series about spy craft. Great cast which includes Ashley Judd, Richard Jenkins, Rhys Ifans, Richard Armitage and the great German actor Thomas Kretschmann.
Get Shorty is a wonderfully wry noir comedy about criminals who decide to make films in LA. Great performances from an ensemble cast that is led by Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano.
Tin Star is an 11 hour miniseries currently airing in the UK, but made for Amazon Prime in the US. Don’t bother! Totally ludicrous as Tim Roth stars as a lawman brought to be the new sheriff in a mountain town in Alberta, Canada from the UK. Outlandishly stereotypical characters and ridiculous plot. Be afraid, very afraid of wasting your time with this one.
A Child in Time I was able to catch this very touching miniseries starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the father of a disappeared toddler. Very sad.
Ray Donovan continues its current season with its out of chronology plotting. The whole Donovan family is on display with all its complications and flaws.
Episodes is a delightfully clever sitcom which concludes its 5 season run this year. A husband and wife sitcom writing team leave the UK for greener pastures in LA. Great performances from an ensemble cast that includes Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig as the two leads, backed by Matt LeBlanc, John Pankow and many others. Enjoy!
Jack Whitehall: Travels with my father is a delightful 6 episode miniseries about the 5-week tour of South East Asia that Whitehall (a 28-year-old British comedian) takes with his impossibly stuffy father. Very sweet!
Alias Grace is the second Margaret Atwood adaptation to come to TV this year. Alas, as it is filled with British accents and costumes, I have found myself snoozing through it, despite my will to watch it.
Designated Survivor is a somewhat flawed attempt to create a political thriller for Kiefer Sutherland to follow-up his role of a lifetime in 24. Inept, inane, but insanely watchable in its awfulness.
Modern Family had a hilarious season debut with a family boat trip gone comically awry. I had given up watching this one because of a surfeit of other shows filling my PVR, but I was very amused by this season opener. Those kids are getting awfully grown-up!
This is Us is an NBC series I had resisted watching last year (even though everyone I know loved it), but I succumbed to societal pressure and have caught up with the first two episodes of season 2. Hmmm… awfully sentimental and maudlin, but I have to see what the fuss is all about.
South Park continues to be incredibly timely and savagely funny. The episode about DNA ancestry profiling and the controversy around the proposed abolition of Columbus Day was pretty hilarious.
Saturday Night Live is NBC’s mainstay comedy show. Ryan Gosling hosted the first show of the season, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) hosted the second show. Very funny in fits and starts.
Real Time with Bill Maher is HBO’s Friday night entry in the political comedy arena. Good political discussions with interview guests and a panel.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is on Sunday nights on HBO. Devilishly clever political commentary from a British perspective.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is CBS’s nightly political chat show. Colbert has been consistently hammering the Trump administration with his jokes.
Jimmy Kimmel Live! is ABC’s late night chat show. Kimmel has received kudos for his outspoken commentary on Health Care and Gun Control.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is on Wednesday evenings on Comedy. She is savage in her political commentary.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah is on Mon-Thurs evenings on Comedy. Noah (who is South African) brings a truly international perspective to his insights regarding current events.
Jim Jeffries the Aussie comic is on Tuesday evenings on Comedy. Outrageous!
I have missed the first two episodes of Season 3 of Poldark but have recorded them in Thornbury and long to watch them. Lush and romantic!!
W (in Canada, STARZ in US)
Outlander has aired the first 5 episodes of Season 3. Ahhh… so lush and romantic as Jamie and Claire struggle to reunite.
We were amazed at the beautiful sunny weather we had in Iceland and Scotland, but we couldn’t believe the gorgeous weather we came back to in Ontario. Summer in October! We have now unpacked from our trip and are starting to plan for our drive down to Florida later this month. We are making arrangements to have the Hurricane Irma damage repaired and are anxious to see our place and do whatever cleanup is still required. Until we head down on our very long drive, we will enjoy every minute of this beautiful Fall weather.