Emmy awards tonight…

Last night we celebrated Oktoberfest with some friends (6 of us socially distanced) and ended the evening around our fire pit with s’mores and hot beverages. Tonight the Emmy awards air on ABC hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and I’m including a link of what to watch for as they are a Covid era awards show so there will be lots of Zoom appearances by presenters and winners. Here are some more recommendations for you:

ABC

*Emmy Awards Airs tonight at 8 pm on ABC.

What to Watch For at the 2020 Emmy Awards
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/20/arts/television/emmy-awards-preview.html?referringSource=articleShare

Amazon Prime

The Boys (Season 2, 8 episodes) This wild ride of a show takes place in a world where a corrupt organization promotes a group of superheroes who are created by a lab drug. The most subversive look at superheroes you will ever see. Darkly funny and violent. Probably not for everyone.

Apple TV Plus

Ted Lasso (12 episodes) Follows US American football coach Ted Lasso as he heads to the UK to manage a struggling London soccer team in the top flight of English football.  Stars Jason Sudeikis as the unfailingly optimistic and very endearing lead character in this charming fish out of water story.

Netflix

Offspring (from Australia, 86 episodes) The story of the impossible loves of 30-something obstetrician Nina Proudman and her fabulously messy family. Warning: I resisted watching this very charming show until last week and ended up watching the first 15 episodes almost without a break. It is extremely addictive and will end up taking over your life (unless you have a shred of self-discipline). I love this show!

PS I’m up to Season 5, Episode 10 as of this writing. So life affirming with no gratuitous violence, unbearable suspense, horrific monsters, etc. OK, there are some annoying characters (I find Billie insufferable), however, they are balanced out by more likeable characters.

Criminal: UK ( Season 2, 4 episodes) A cat-and-mouse drama, which focuses on the intense mental conflict between detectives and suspects. The stories take place within the confines of a police interview suite. Suspenseful in a way that will require your complete concentration. A show that has to be watched and listened to very carefully. Put down that phone or iPad!

The Devil All the Time (2 h 18 m) Stars Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Haley Bennett, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, Mia Wasikowska, Eliza Scanlen, Jason Clarke, Douglas Hodge. Sinister characters converge around a young man devoted to protecting those he loves in a postwar backwoods town in West Virginia teeming with corruption and brutality. Hmmm… unrelentingly violent and full of vile characters. All 2 hrs and 18 m of it. A slow burn to nowhere… I watched it for the amazing cast. Mostly Brits and Australians doing passable Southern accents. I’m still shaking my head over this one.

Streaming

Down with Love (1 h 41 m) In 1962 New York City, love blossoms between a playboy journalist and a feminist advice author. This film was released in 2003 and stars Ewan McGregor, Renee Zellweger, David Hyde Pierce, Sarah Paulson, Rachel Dratch, and Tony Randall (sadly he died the following year at 84). It is an affectionate spoof of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson films where very chaste love is depicted in a technicolor swirl of gorgeous period fashions. It has a bit of an edge to it as it takes place just prior to the women’s movement and makes some very ironic comments on the battle of the sexes. I watched it as Bill Maher had McGregor on his show last week and mentioned that he and his mother were big fans of the film. Very cute, but perhaps overly long for a spoof.

HBO/Crave

Lovecraft Country (10 episodes) A young African-American travels across the US in the 1950’s in search of his missing father. Stars Courtney B. Vance and Michael Kenneth Williams. Amazing special effects and totally batshit crazy!

Raised by Wolves (10 episodes) Androids are tasked with raising human children on a mysterious planet. Loving this mysterious world!

*Why Women Kill (11 episodes) an anthology series the follows three women in different decades all living in the same house, as they deal with infidelity and betrayals in their marriages. Stars Lucy Liu, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jack Davenport, Reid Scott, Alicia Coppola. Very cute series in the mode of Dangerous Housewives from the creative team led by Marc Cherry.

HGTV

Okay, I’m just going to confess that sometimes, when I just have a 1/2 hour or so to fill, I tune into one of the following shows on HGTV.  I find them fascinating and relaxing!  I often fast forward through the woes of home renovations for the real estate segments and the final reveal. Can’t wait for the season returns of Home Town and Love it or List it (used to be Toronto, but is now in the Carolinas). Some other favourites include:

Love it or List It Vancouver

House Hunters International

Comedians on Couches watching House Hunters

Flip or Flop

Good Bones

Masters of Flip

CBS

CBS Sunday Morning This gentle newsmagazine has been airing every Sunday morning for over 40 years.  Informative and inspiring, it is my weekly Zen moment.

Comic Relief

Many of the late night comics (Colbert, Noah, Kimmel, Samantha Bee, John Oliver) are back from holidays. I have been keeping up with Seth Meyers on YouTube. Bill Maher has returned to Friday nights and has just had his first two episodes with a socially distanced studio audience. Next week more of the hosts will be back in their studios.

Closing Words

We are preparing to have an afternoon fireside chat with some friends whom we haven’t seen since Covid began. The week will bring a combination of golf, hiking and some visiting with friends having a mini vacation in the area. George and his partner are in the final Men’s Matchplay competition at our golf club, so hopefully, there will be some celebrating to be done. In the meantime, have a wonderful week wherever you are and enjoy the following life affirming video:

The new shows keep coming!

This is a frantic time of year for me as new shows emerge on every possible outlet. I’m going to indicate a new show with an asterisk. My younger son has been staying in Thornbury with us for most of August and now the first week of September before he heads back to TO to continues working from home. We have been living pretty quietly for the last 6 months or so, but last week we actually ate in a restaurant in our Toronto condo complex and the other chilly night we sat indoors in a restaurant in Meaford. We attended the first live music concert that has been held in the area since the pandemic began. Life slowly begins to feel a little more normal. Here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Live on Stage

Last night the Marsh Street Centre presented a concert by Flamenco guitarist Robert Michaels and his band. I had no idea that this virtuoso performer even existed. He sang and played and was joined by a solo flamenco dancer and backed up by an amazing percussionist and bass player. What a wonderful way to welcome live music back into our lives! if you get a chance to see him, please do. It was a terrific evening in our little community.

Amazon Prime

*The Boys (Season 2, 8 episodes) This wild ride of a show takes place in a world where a corrupt organization promotes a group of superheroes who are created by a lab drug. The most subversive look at superheroes you will ever see. Darkly funny and violent. Probably not for everyone.

Train to Busan (from Korea, with English subtitles, 1 h 58 m) While a zombie virus breaks out in South Korea, passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan. A thrill ride of a movie! You may have a little trouble sleeping after this one. Sequel Peninsula is about to be released!

Apple TV Plus

Ted Lasso (12 episodes) Follows US American Football coach Ted Lasso as he heads to the UK to manage a struggling London soccer team in the top flight of English football.  Stars Jason Sudeikis as the unfailingly optimistic and very endearing lead character in this charming fish out of water story.


CBC Gem

Chewing Gum (12 episodes) The life of Tracey and the mishaps of her neighbourhood, friends and family, and of course, her boyfriend. Stars Michaela Coel (of I May Destroy You on HBO). Blackly humorous tale of a young woman in East London.

Netflix

I’m thinking of Ending Things (2 h 14 m) Full of misgivings, a young woman travels with her new boyfriend to his parents’ secluded farm. Upon arriving, she comes to question everything she thought she knew about him, and herself. This is based on a novel, which apparently was very well received, but I challenge you to watch this very confusing dreamlike elegy of a movie all the way through. Personally, I mourn the loss of two hours that I will never get back. The great cast includes Jesse Plemons, Jessie Buckley, Toni Collette, David Thewlis.


White Lines (10 episodes) A woman tries to solve the mysterious death of her brother, a famous DJ who disappeared from Ibiza many years ago. Very soapy melodrama, but it does feature the delectable Juan Diego Botto, the Argentinean actor who starred in Good Behaviour with Michelle Dockery. I lasted about 2 episodes into this one.

Offspring (from Australia, 86 episodes) The story of the impossible loves of 30-something obstetrician Nina Proudman and her fabulously messy family. Warning: I resisted watching this very charming show until last week and ended up watching the first 15 episodes almost without a break. It is extremely addictive and will end up taking over your life (unless you have a shred of self-discipline). I love this show!

HBO/Crave

Lovecraft Country (10 episodes) A young African-American travels across the US in the 1950’s in search of his missing father. Stars Courtney B. Vance and Michael Kenneth Williams. Amazing special effects and totally batshit crazy!

Raised by Wolves (10 episodes) Androids are tasked with raising human children on a mysterious planet. Loving this mysterious world so far after watching the first 4 episodes.

Through Black Spruce (1 h 51 m) The disappearance of a young Cree woman in Toronto traumatizes her Northern Ontario family, and sends her twin sister on a journey south to find her. Very Canadian, and features performances by Graham Greene and Tantoo Cardinal, two of our most outstanding indigenous actors. Slow moving, but watchable, it is a meditation on the missing and murdered indigenous women of Canada.

I May Destroy You (12 episodes) The question of sexual consent in contemporary life and how, in the new landscape of dating and relationships, we make the distinction between liberation and exploitation. It took my a long time to stop disapproving of this young woman’s (played by Michaela Coel of the very funny Chewing Gum) outrageous and reckless behaviour. Kind of a Euphoria for adults.

Blinded by the Light (1 h 58 m) In England in 1987, a teenager from an Asian family learns to live his life, understand his family and find his own voice through the music of American rock star Bruce Springsteen. Full disclosure: I have never been a huge Springsteen fan and this movie didn’t convert me. Kind of cliche portrayal of a Pakistani family in 1980’s England when “Paki-bashing” was a huge thing under Margaret Thatcher. Sweet but unoriginal.

*Les Miserables (not the musical!! 1 h 44 m) A cop from the provinces moves to Paris to join the Anti-Crime Brigade of Montfermeil, discovering an underworld where the tensions between the different groups mark the rhythm. I have been trying to find this well reviewed little film for ages and it has now shown up on Crave. Very excited to watch this!

We Hunt Together (6 episodes) A gripping twist on a classic cat-and-mouse story, this British drama series explores the intoxication of sexual attraction and the dangerous power of emotional manipulation as two conflicted detectives track down a pair of deadly killers. Eve Myles stars.

*The Third Day (6 episodes) A man and a woman make separate journeys to a mysterious island off the British coast. Emily Watson, Paddy Considine, Jude Law star.

*We Are Who We Are (8 episodes) Two American teenagers come of age while living on an American military base in Italy. Stars Chloe Sevigny.
*Coastal Elites (90 m) Five characters make confessions under quarantine that touch on their lives during the 2020 pandemic and living in a world of deeply divided politics. Stars Kaitlyn Dever, Dan Levy, Bette Midler, Sarah Paulson, Issa Rae. Apparently, this show is a great example of “preaching to the choir”.

Streaming

Mulan (1 h 55 m) A young Chinese maiden disguises herself as a male warrior in order to save her father. Stars Li Gong, Jet Li, Jason Scott Lee, Tsi Ma, Rosalind Chao. I loved this beautiful film with gorgeous action sequences, a little “crouching tiger, sleeping dragon” choreographed fight scenes, and most of all a stirring story of female empowerment. Not the musical animated version you may remember with affection.

W

*Why Women Kill (11 episodes) an anthology series the follows three women in different decades all living in the same house, as they deal with infidelity and betrayals in their marriages. Stars Lucy Liu, Ginnifer Goodwin, Jack Davenport, Reid Scott, Alicia Coppola. Very cute series in the mode of Dangerous Housewives from the writing team of Marc Cherry.

HGTV

Okay, I’m just going to confess that sometimes, when I just have a 1/2 hour or so to fill, I tune into one of the following shows on HGTV.  I find them fascinating and relaxing!  I often fast forward through the woes of home renovations for the real estate segments and the final reveal. Can’t wait for the season return tonight of Home Town and Love it or List it (used to be Toronto, but is now in the Carolinas). Some other favourites include:

Love it or List It Vancouver

House Hunters International

Comedians on Couches watching House Hunters

Flip or Flop

Good Bones

Masters of Flip

CBS

CBS Sunday Morning This gentle newsmagazine has been airing every Sunday morning for over 40 years.  Informative and inspiring, it is my weekly Zen moment.

Comic Relief

Many of the late night comics (Colbert, Noah, Kimmel, Samantha Bee, John Oliver) are back from holidays. I have been keeping up with Seth Meyers on YouTube. Bill Maher has returned to Friday nights and has just had his first episode with a socially distanced studio audiences and a laugh track. Next week more of the hosts will be back in their studios.

Closing Words

Heading into a very fall-like week. Looking forward to some visits with longtime friends. Still golfing! Here is a very moving video for you to enjoy:

Labour Day weekend is here…

Uh oh… WordPress (the application for this blog) has finally introduced a whole new edition and I am being forced to figure it out. I am a very slow learner when it comes to figuring tech stuff out, so you will understand if this post looks very different from its predecessors. It’s been a lovely weekend with the weather a little cooler than it has been. Our children have been up with us over the long weekend and it has been a joy to spend time with them. Here are some viewing recommendations for you:

On the Big Screen

26 Movies That Were Meant To Be Seen On The Big Screen — Plain And Simple
Maybe next year :

Read in BuzzFeed: https://apple.news/AVQJ6ZRdBQQeY_wNBBCnVAQ

Amazon Prime

Child 44 (2 h 17 m) A disgraced member of the Russian military police investigates a series of child murders during the Stalin-era Soviet Union. Stars Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman. This is one murky murder mystery. All the actors have great fun with their Russian accents as the story recounts a claustrophobically paranoid Soviet state where the character played by Tom Hardy tries to track down a serial child killer. What a waste of talent.

Apple TV Plus

Ted Lasso (12 episodes) Follows US American Football coach Ted Lasso as he heads to the UK to manage a struggling London soccer team in the top flight of English football.  Stars Jason Sudeikis as the unfailingly optimistic and very endearing lead character in this charming fish out of water story.

HBO/Crave

We Hunt Together (6 episodes) A gripping twist on a classic cat-and-mouse story, this British drama series explores the intoxication of sexual attraction and the dangerous power of emotional manipulation as two conflicted detectives track down a pair of deadly killers. Eve Myles stars.

Lovecraft Country (10 episodes) A young African-American travels across the US in the 1950’s in search of his missing father. Stars Courtney B. Vamnce and Michael Kenneth Williams. Amazing special effects and totally batshit crazy!

Raised by Wolves (10 episodes) Androids are tasked with raising human children on a mysterious planet. Loving this mysterious world so far after watching the first 3 episodes.

Crypto (1 h 45 m) Demoted back to his hometown, a young Wall Street banker is drawn into investigating a tangled web of corruption and fraud in Upstate New work, affecting both his personal life and business career. I really tried to follow this film as I know nothing about bitcoin and crypto currency, but I found its lead character completely devoid of charm and I was horrified to see the name stars so criminally underused (Kurt Russell, Luke Hemsworth, Alexis Bledel, Jill Hennessy, Vincent Kartheiser). Another colossal waste of talent.

Bad Times at the El Royale (2 h 21 m) Early 1970’s. Four strangers check in at the El Royale Hotel. The hotel is deserted, staffed by a single desk clerk. Some of the new guests’ reasons for being there are less than innocent and some are not who they appear to be. Starring Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth. I loved this very strange movie which moved in a constantly surprising arc. Chris Hemsworth gives a great performance as a Charlie Manson style cult leader and the film is actually stolen by a young actor named Lewis Pullman who plays the desk clerk.

Streaming

Bill and Ted Face the Music (1 h 31 m) Once told they’d save the universe during a time-traveling adventure, 2 would-be rockers from San Dimas, California find themselves as middle-age dads still trying to crank out a hit song and fulfill their destiny. Stars Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. I tried to love this very silly film but found that I couldn’t suspend disbelief. Keanu’s mysteriously unlined face has become a doppelgänger for the British actor Bill Nighy.

Sputnik (1 h 53 m) The lone survivor of an enigmatic spaceship incident hasn’t returned back home alone. Hiding inside his body is a dangerous creature. This Soviet era spin on the Alien theme is surprisingly engrossing and suspenseful. I loved this little film.

Netflix

Feel the Beat (1 h 49 m) After failing to find success on Broadway, April returns to her hometown and reluctantly is recruited to train a misfit group of young dancers for a big competition. I enjoyed this little family film which is full of the usual tropes of Bad News Bears team building and redemption.

Young Wallander (6 episodes) This series follows recently graduated police officer Kurt Wallander as he investigates his first case. As in the PBS series that starred Kenneth Branagh, most of the leads are played by British actors who speak in very British tones while the series is set in Malmo, Sweden. A bit odd, but I found the story interesting.

HGTV

Okay, I’m just going to confess that sometimes, when I just have a 1/2 hour or so to fill, I tune into one of the following shows on HGTV.  I find them fascinating and relaxing!  I often fast forward through the woes of home renovations for the real estate segments and the final reveal. Can’t wait for the season return of Home Town and Love it or List it (used to be Toronto, but is now in the Carolinas). Some other favourites include:

Love it or List It Vancouver

House Hunters International

Comedians on Couches watching House Hunters

Flip or Flop

Good Bones

Masters of Flip

CBS

CBS Sunday Morning This gentle newsmagazine has been airing every Sunday morning for over 40 years.  Informative and inspiring, it is my weekly Zen moment.

Comic Relief

Almost all the late night comics (Colbert, Noah, Kimmel, Samantha Bee, John Oliver) will be back from holidays. I have been keeping up with Seth Meyers on YouTube. Bill Maher has returned to Friday nights and has been doing a pretty decent job with his fake studio audiences and a laugh track. Next week most of the hosts will be back in their studios.

New Season of Shows coming to TV

Here Are 20 Shows to Watch This Fall
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/04/arts/television/what-to-watch-tv-shows.html?referringSource=articleShare

Closing Words

Summer is absolutely speeding by with cooler days and nights. We are headed back to Toronto this week for some appointments so I look forward to seeing some golf buddies at the Lambton golf course. Enjoy your week wherever you are.

Here’s an inspiring video featuring two freakishly talented child singers from China:

https://youtu.be/pZwNzQhjcHE


Summer is coming to an end…

It’s been a relatively quiet week.  George has been playing golf like a madman as he gets ready for his next matchplay round at our club leaving me to my own devices which have involved a couple of delightful ladies’ lunches and some walks and cocktails with neighbours.  This weekend we had a socially distanced visit with some longtime friends from the Beaver Valley whom we hadn’t seen in many months and today we are having some friends for a visit from Muskoka where they have been spending their summer.  One of our sons arrives tomorrow to spend the rest of his summer with us and next week our other son and his wife and dogs will be here for Labour Day weekend.  We’ve had some unusually coolish and wet weather and it feels like Fall is just round the corner.  Here are some viewing suggestions for you:

On the Big Screen

My boys went running off this weekend to see Tenet (the latest Christopher Nolan opus) in an actual theatre!!! While I am not racing off to see this one (I hate mind bending time travel films which make you question the very basis of reality) , but here’s a great summary of what will be coming to the big screen this Fall as actual cinemas begin to open with social distancing:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/article-inside-the-topsy-turvy-state-of-canadian-moviegoing/

Streaming

Janet King (from Australia, 3 seasons, 24 episodes) I can’t believe I watched the whole thing!!! The series is built around a Senior Prosecutor who returns from maternity leave to confront a high-profile murder, and a conspiracy which will have shocking ramifications throughout the judicial system.  I couldn’t look away from this one which has a pretty nuanced portrait of a gay woman at its heart.  Great ensemble cast. Now I love all things Australian!
She Dies Tomorrow (1 h 26 m) Amy thinks she’s dying tomorrow… and it’s contagious. OK, full confession: I don’t think we lasted more than 15 minutes into this one as the feeling of dread became overwhelming.

PBS

Vera (10 seasons, 40 episodes) Our local PBS affiliate shows this venerable British crime series most Saturday nights. Brenda Blethyn stars as a Newcastle based detective with a folksy style who endearingly addresses almost everyone as “pet”.  She’s a female Columbo who always gets her perpetrator.

HBO/Crave

Lovecraft Country(10 episodes) A young African-American travels across the US in the 1950’s in search of his missing father. Stars Courtney B. Vamnce and Michael Kenneth Williams. Amazing special effects and totally batshit crazy!
*Love Fraud (documentary, *debuts tonight, 4 episodes) This documentary-series follows the search for Richard Scott Smith, who used the internet and his dubious charms to prey upon women looking for love.  The story unravels in real tie as Smith’s victims band together to seek sweet revenge. Here’s what the NY Times had to say about it:
We Hunt Together (6 episodes) A gripping twist on a classic cat-and-mouse story, this British drama series explores the intoxication of sexual attraction and the dangerous power of emotional manipulation as two conflicted detectives track down a pair of deadly killers. Eve Myles stars.
The Vow (documentary series, 9 episodes) A look at the experiences of the members of NXIVM, an organization and sex cult who made headlines for being charged with sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy.  Dark, very dark.  I only lasted about 1/2 an hour into this one as I found it overwhelmingly bleak.

HGTV

Okay, I’m just going to confess that sometimes, when I just have a 1/2 hour or so to fill, I tune into one of the following shows on HGTV.  I find them fascinating and relaxing!  I often fast forward through the woes of home renovations for the real estate segments and the final reveal. Can’t wait for the season return of Home Town and Love it or List it (used to be Toronto, but is now in the Carolinas).
Love it or List It Vancouver
House Hunters International
Comedians on Couches watching House Hunters
Flip or Flop
Good Bones
Masters of Flip

Amazon Prime

Murder City (2 seasons, 10 episodes) British police drama that revolves around two mismatched detectives who scour London solving complex cases. Some friends recommended this series to me but I found it a little goofy for my tastes and only hung in for two episodes.
Chemical Hearts (1 h 33 m) A high school transfer student finds a new passion when she begins to work on the school’s newspaper. Stars Lili Reinhart and Austin Abrams. I loved this very sweet little film about first loves.

Apple TV Plus

Ted Lasso (12 episodes) Follows US American Football coach Ted Lasso as he heads to the UK to manage a struggling London soccer team in the top flight of English football.  Stars Jason Sudeikis as the unfailingly optimistic and very endearing lead character in this charming fish out of water story.

Netflix

The Sleepover (1 h 40 m) This family film is a wacky comedy that follows the story of two siblings who discover that their seemingly normal mom is a former thief in witness protection who has been forced to pull one last job.  They team up to rescue her over the course of an action-packed night.  I watched this one for character actor Ken Marino who always makes me laugh, but I only lasted about 30 minutes into it as it is basically a Home Alone rip off, but perhaps the perfect film for family viewing when looking for something that children can enjoy.

CBS

CBS Sunday Morning This gentle newsmagazine has been airing every Sunday morning for over 40 years.  Informative and inspiring, it is my weekly Zen moment.

Comic Relief

Almost all the late night comics (Colbert, Noah, Kimmel, Samantha Bee, John Oliver)  are back from holidays. I have been keeping up with Seth Meyers on YouTube. Bill Maher has returned to Friday nights and has been doing a pretty decent job with his fake studio audiences and a laugh track. Next week most of the hosts will be back in their studios.

Closing Words

It’s mostly about golf this week as I have somehow managed to schedule myself for 3 games and George advances to the last stage of his men’s competition.  Enjoy the week wherever you are. Here’s an inspiring and beautiful video for you:

Atlas of Beauty

What a summer…

It has been a glorious summer featuring lots of al fresco dining, especially when seeing friends.  I had the great pleasure this past week of welcoming some long time friends to Thornbury including some dear friends I met in Florida, gathering with most of my regular lunch group, golfing, etc.  As I had lots of people around, I probably didn’t log as much screen time as usual, and instead lazed around our pool.  I did get in an outing to Owen Sound to see the fabulous little Tom Thomson Gallery which is dedicated to the work of artist Tom Thomson who predated the Group of Seven painters when he died prematurely and mysteriously in a “canoe accident” at the age of 39.  The mystery of his death is still inspiring books and films as he has become a legend of Canadian landscape art. I had meant to go to the gallery many times over our 19 year stint in this area and an art lover friend finally got me there.  What a pleasure to meet the lovely gallery director and be shown around their exhibits.  Please try and visit this gallery when you can.  So Canadian!!!  In the meantime, here are some recommendations for you:

Streaming

The Farewell (1h 40m) I introduced some lady friends to this wonderful movie from director Lulu Wang which I have now seen 3 times.  It was unjustly overlooked at last year’s Oscars after winning numerous awards on the festival circuit.  A Chinese family discovers their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decides to keep her in the dark, scheduling a wedding as a ruse so that they can gather before she dies.  A break out role for comedienne Awkwafina (see my note below on her sitcom available on demand on HBO/Crave).
Made in Italy (1h 34m) A bohemian artist travels from London to Italy with his estranged son to sell the house he inherited from his late wife.  Stars Liam Neeson and Micheal Richardson (his actual son from his marriage to Natasha Richardson).  There are parallels to Neeson’s own life when Natasha Richardson died suddenly after a ski accident leaving him to raise their children as a single dad.  This is a very gentle comedy (that criminally wastes the wonderful Lindsay Duncan in a minor role) that will remind you of Under the Tuscan Sun, A Year in Provence and any other film about restoring a decaying villa in Europe. Sweet but trite and contrived.
Yellowstone (3 seasons, 30 episodes) Truly, the most beautifully cinematic Western series I have ever seen on TV.  Gorgeous musical score as well. Stars Kevin Costner and is directed by Taylor Sheridan and 6 others.
The Luminaries (6 episodes) I finally finished the last episode of this grim, dark and confusing epic about the gold rush days in New Zealand. Beautiful scenery though!

Apple TV Plus

Boys State (Documentary, 1 h 49 m) A thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up. A heartbreaking true tale about an American Legion leadership program. Watch for the mini-Roger Stone character who is willing to use dirty tricks to win at any cost. A latino boy from   Houston will steal your heart as the underdog who campaigns on a program of integrity for the position of Governor. Real parallels to recent political history in the US.
Little Voice (9 episodes) I finished this touching little series about a young singer/songwriter trying to make it in the music business in NYC.  All music by Sarah Bareilles who actually has a cameo in the last episode.

Netflix

Warrior (From Denmark with English subtitles, 6 episodes) People need to stop calling films and series by this title as it is getting very confusing checking credits.  I really wanted to love this series as it is Danish and it has a Sons of Anarchy vibe.  However, I just found it too grim and dark to continue with as a former Afghanistan army officer goes undercover with a biker gang in Copenhagen.  The lead actor is utterly lacking in charisma.
The Lost Husband (1 h 49 m) People need to stop remaking films with this storyline:  Trying to put her life back together after the death of her husband, Libby and her children move to her estranged aunt’s goat farm in central Texas.  The farm hand is played by Josh Duhamel and Libby is played by Leslie Bibb who looks very much like Jennifer Garner. Romance ensues. Nora Dunn is wasted in this as the estranged aunt and Sharon Lawrence plays Libby’s self-centred mom. Very Harlequin, Lifetime or Hallmark. Pretty scenes of the countryside.
For an article that recaps the best comedies available on Netflix right now for those of you wanting a pleasant distraction from Covid:

CBS

CBS Sunday Morning This gentle newsmagazine has been airing every Sunday morning for over 40 years.  Informative and inspiring, it is my weekly Zen moment.

HBO/Crave

Awkwafina is Nora from Queens (11 episodes) With help from her dad and grandmother, Nora Lum navigates young adulthood in Flushing, NY. Awkwafina plays the hipster slacker Nora and BD Wong plays the dad in this.  Hilarious!
We Hunt Together (6 episodes) A gripping twist on a classic cat-and-mouse story, this British drama series explores the intoxication of sexual attraction and the dangerous power of emotional manipulation as two conflicted detectives track down a pair of deadly killers. Eve Myles stars.
Lovecraft Country  (10 episodes) A young African-American travels across the US in the 1950’s in search of his missing father. Stars Courtney B. Vamnce and Michael Kenneth Williams.

HGTV

Okay, I’m just going to confess that sometimes, when I just have a 1/2 hour or so to fill, I tune into one of the following shows on HGTV.  I find them fascinating and relaxing!  I often fast forward through the woes of home renovations for the real estate segments and the final reveal. Can’t wait for the season return of Home Town and Love it or List it (used to be Toronto, but is now in the Carolinas).
Love it or List It Vancouver
House Hunters International
Comedians on Couches watching House Hunters
Flip or Flop

PBS

Endeavour  (31 episodes) Set in the 1960’s, the show follows Endeavour Morse in his early years as a police constable. Working alongside his senior partner DI Fred Thursday, Morse engages in a number of investigations around Oxford.

Vision

Mum (18 episodes) I just happened upon this very gentle and subtle British comedy series about a widow who attempts to rebuild her life while surrounded by her sometimes problematic family and friends.  An astonishing cast is led by Lesley Manville and Peter Mullan.

Comic Relief

Almost all the late night comics (Colbert, Noah, Kimmel, Samantha Bee, John Oliver)  are back from holidays except Jimmy Fallon who has had Trump’s follies all to himself. I have been keeping up with Seth Meyers on YouTube. Bill Maher has returned to Friday nights and has been doing a pretty decent job with his fake studio audiences and a laugh track. Sarah Cooper (the TicToc sensation who lip synches Trump expertly) has been all over TV, including addressing the Democrat Convention.  Next week most of the hosts will be back in their studios.

Closing Words

We are attending a fundraiser today for Theatre Collingwood which has been forced by Covid to close its doors this past season and for much of next season as well,  so we are off to the Georgian Hills Vineyard for a lovely Sunday afternoon. This week we are back into normal routines with golf and friends.  Our boys are coming this week so we will have the additional pleasure of their company. Have a wonderful week wherever you are and please enjoy this hilarious video:

 

 

 

Yet another week in Paradise…

Our son Jon has been visiting us for the month of August and when he hasn’t been working from home, or catching up with televised sporting events and online gaming with friends, he has joined us for several nights of star watching during this past week of Perseid meteor showers. We started off down at the beach looking up at the sky from the least light polluted area of Thornbury and then gravitated to our own backyard where we lay for hours on flattened chaise lounges where we could look straight up into the night sky. Spectacular!
This early morning we were treated to another spectacular light show with a thunderstorm that seemed to rest right above our house for several hours. We’ve had Florida friends come and visit for the last couple of days and we enjoyed the soft opening of a local restaurant 1/2 block away from our house overlooking the harbour last night.
This week a few longtime girlfriends are staying with me while George goes off on a long planned golf trip that was originally scheduled for Wisconsin but is now happening around Southern Ontario as they visit three courses and stay at a farm in the Beaver Valley. Here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Apple TV Plus

Little Voice (9 episodes) I am still following this touching series about a young singer/songwriter trying to make it in the music business in NYC.  All music by Sarah Bareilles.
Two new shows debut on Apple this weekend:
* Ted Lasso (11 episodes) Follows US American Football coach Ted Lasso heading to the UK to manage a struggling London soccer team in the top flight of English football. Stars Jason Sudeikis.
* Boys State (1 h 49 m) A thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.

CBC Gem

Catwalk: Tales from the Catshow Circuit (Documentary, 1 h 15 m) Meet the fascinating felines and the people who pamper them in this whimsical look at the ins and outs of Canada’s competitive cat show circuit. For the cat lovers out there!

CBS

CBS Sunday Morning This gentle newsmagazine has been airing every Sunday morning for over 40 years.  Informative and inspiring, it is my weekly Zen moment.

HBO/Crave

We Hunt Together (6 episodes) A gripping twist on a classic cat-and-mouse story, this British drama series explores the intoxication of sexual attraction and the dangerous power of emotional manipulation as two conflicted detectives track down a pair of deadly killers. Eve Myles stars.
*Lovecraft Country (Premieres tonight, 10 episodes) a young African-American travels across the US in the 1950’s in search of his missing father. Stars Courtney B. Vamnce and Michael Kenneth Williams.

Streaming

Fleabag (12 episodes) I rewatched the first three episodes with a friend who hadn’t seen it and she was very entertained.  A daringly raunchy comedy series adapted from the award-winning play about a young woman trying to cope with life in London while coming to terms with a recent tragedy. Stars Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sian Clifford, Olivia Colman, Bill Paterson, Brett Gelman, Andrew Scott.
Howard (Documentary, 1 h 30 m) A touching biography of Howard Ashman who partnered with Alan Menken to compose the music for Little Shop of Horrors, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.  He died far too young at 40 from AIDS.
Yellowstone (3 seasons, 30 episodes) Truly, the most beautifully cinematic Western series I have ever seen on TV.  Gorgeous musical score as well. Stars Kevin Costner and is directed by Taylor Sheridan and 6 others.
Mr & Mrs Murder (From Australia, 13 episodes) This delightful comedy/mystery series follows the adventures of married couple Nicola and Charlie Buchanan, who run an industrial cleaning business while solving the most baffling murder mysteries.
Above Suspicion (1 h 44 m) The true story that led to the first conviction for murder of an FBI agent. Stars Emilia Clarke, Jack Huston and Johnny Knoxville. A very dark noir tale indeed.

Netflix

Rita (From Denmark, 40 episodes) I was delighted to watch the 5th season return of this wonderful series.  Following the life of a very outspoken and rebellious woman, Rita is a school teacher who is competent in the classroom, but seems to need a teacher of her own, when it comes to her personal life. Love it, love it, love it.
Pick of the Litter (Documentary, 1 h 20 m) The film follows a litter of puppies from the moment they’re born and begin their quest to become Guide Dogs for the Blind, the ultimate canine career. Get out your hankies!

HGTV

Okay, I’m just going to confess that sometimes, when I just have a 1/2 hour or so to fill, I tune into one of the following shows on HGTV.  I find them fascinating and relaxing!  I often fast forward through the woes of home renovations for the real estate segments and the final reveal. Can’t wait for the season return of Home Town and Love it or List it (used to be Toronto, but is now in the Carolinas).
Love it or List It Vancouver
House Hunters International
Flip or Flop

PBS

Endeavour  (31 episodes) Set in the 1960’s, the show follows Endeavour Morse in his early years as a police constable. Working alongside his senior partner DI Fred Thursday, Morse engages in a number of investigations around Oxford.

Vision

Mum (18 episodes) I just happened upon this very gentle and subtle British comedy series about a widow who attempts to rebuild her life while surrounded by her sometimes problematic family and friends.  An astonishing cast is led by Lesley Manville and Peter Mullan.

Comic Relief

Almost all the late night comics (Colbert, Noah, Kimmel, Bee)  are back from holidays except Jimmy Fallon who has had Trump’s follies all to himself. I have been keeping up with Seth Meyers on YouTube. Bill Maher has returned to Friday nights and has been doing a pretty decent job with his fake studio audiences and a laugh track.

Closing Words

The week ahead is full of golf and good friends. I am looking forward to an outing to Owen Sound to visit the Tom Thomson gallery there. I hope we can anticipate another week of beautiful weather. Enjoy the week wherever you are!
Some suggested videos for your viewing pleasure:

So much screen time…

I have to admit, that when I looked back on my week’s viewing this morning, I was struck by the sheer quantity.  Note to self:  I must be more productive in other areas like housework, cooking and gardening. I think the pandemic has allowed me to be more slothful than ever, spending copious amounts of time on my couch reading and surfing.  Given that the weather has been beautiful, I need to put a little more oomph into my outdoor activities.  Although I did play golf 3 times last week, I have been luxuriating in a golf cart and not getting in those elusive 10,000 steps that my friends are so conscientious about. Anyhow, here are some viewing recommendations for you.

Streaming

The Rental (1 h 28 m) Two couples rent a vacation home for what should be a celebratory weekend get-away.  Stars Dan Stevens and Alison Brie.  Full disclosure: I will watch anything with Dan Stevens in it as I am still following Matthew Crawley and love seeing him play American (which he does very convincingly).  As far as this little thriller goes, I can’t understand why they keep making the same film over and over again.
Relic (1 h 29 m) A daughter, mother and grandmother are haunted by a manifestation of dementia that consumes their family’s home.  Stars Emily Mortimer.  Again, although this is supposed to be a meditation about dementia, it really is just another haunted house movie where I kept shouting to the characters, “Don’t go in there!”
Bancroft (7 episodes) A dark thriller surrounding Elizabeth Bancroft, a senior detective with explosive secrets.  Sarah Parish stars as the psychopathic cop here.  Great suspense seeing her commit crimes with impunity.
The Luminaries (6 episodes) I’m still following this grim, dark and confusing epic about the gold rush days in New Zealand.
Summerland (1 h 39 m) During WWII, an Englishwoman opens her heart to an evacuee after initially resolving to be rid of him in this moving journey of womanhood, love and friendship.  Stars Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Penelope Wilton, Tom Courtenay.  I loved this very sweet film.
In My Skin (From Wales, 5 episodes) Darkly comic coming-of-age story that follows 16 year old Bethan as she deals with the anxieties and insecurities of teenage life, along with the stark reality of a home life that is far removed from what she projects to her friends. Very moving and powerful.
Out in the Dark (From Israel with English subtitles, 1 h 36 m) A drama centered on the love affair between two men on opposite sides of the Mid-East conflict: Palestinian student Nimer and Roy, an Israeli lawyer. Michael Aloni, star of Shtisel, stars, need I say more?
Hitmen (6 episodes) Fran and Jamie are best friends and business partners – they just happen to kill people for a living.  Having stumbled into a career in contract killing, the misfit duo are definitely not your typical killers for hire.
I Used to go Here (1 h 20 m) Following the launch of her new novel, 35-year-old writer Kate is invited to speak at her alma matter by her former professor. After accepting the invitation, Kate finds herself deeply enmeshed in the lives of a group of college students.  Stars Jemaine Clement and Gillian Jacobs. A little slow for a comedy set in academia.
Rock n’ Roll Gins for Hire: The Story of the Sidemen (Documentary: 1 h 30m) A behind the scenes look at the sidemen (and sidewomen) who support musicians like The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Prince, Billy Joel and many others. Originally made for the BBC and shown recently on PBS, I think this will really appeal to those with a strong interest in the music business, but perhaps gives a little too much background on these background figures. Not as totally captivating as I had hoped it would be.

Netflix

Immigration Nation (Documentary, 6 episodes) A documentary looking inside the world of immigration enforcement under the Trump administration.  Filled with searing images of desperate immigrants forced to flee for their lives from their home countries who are not wanted in the US and are treated with no mercy when they attempt to enter.  Terribly sad and very powerful.
World’s Most Wanted (Documentary, 5 episodes) Heinous criminals have avoi8ded capture despite massive rewards and global investigations.  This docuseries profiles five of the world’s most wanted. A little slow and plodding for a very exciting topic.
The Rain (from Denmark with English subtitles, 20 episodes) After a brutal virus wipes out most of the population two young siblings embark o a perilous search for safety. Season 2 debuted recently and I’m not sure if I will stay with the whole post-apocalyptic series.
Lost Girls (Based on a true story, 1 h 35 m) When Mari Gilbert’s daughter disappears, police inaction drives her own investigation into the gated Long Island community where Shannan was last seen. Her search brings attention to over a dozen murdered sex workers. Stars Amy Ryan, Thomas McKenzie, Gabriel Byrne.  Terrific film features great performances.
Work It (1 h 33 m) When Quinn Ackerman’s admission to the college of her dreams depends on her performance at a dance competition, she forms a ragtag group of dancers to take on the best squad in school…now she just needs to learn how to dance.  Stars Liza Koshy and Sabrina Carpenter.  A delightful film in the style of Bring it On.  The most enjoyable film I have watched in ages.
Tiny Creatures (Documentary, 8 episodes) Little animals embark on big adventures across the US in a dramatic nature series that explores their hidden worlds and epic survival stories.  You will never look at squirrels, mice, rats, etc. the same way again!! I love this show.

HBO/Crave

It’s Only the End of the World (in French with English subtitles, 1 h 37 m but strangely seems much longer) Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) a terminally ill writer, returns home after a long absence to tell his family that he is dying.  Directed by wunderkind Xavier Dolan.  A very easy film to sleep through, despite performances from Marion Cotillar, Lea Seydoux, Vincent Cassel and Nathalie Baye.  Nothing happens!!!
Atomic Homefront (Documentary, 1 h 40 m) A terrifying look at the corruption that’s destroying our nation and our planet.  This should shake every American citizen.  Citizens of an American city fight back against corruption and greed and try to save their own lives as they try to deal with nuclear waste in their backyards, cellars and drinking water.
An American Pickle (1 h 28 m) An immigrant worker at a pickle factory is accidentally preserved for 100 years and wakes up in modern day Brooklyn. Stars Seth Rogen and Sarah Snook.  Supremely silly but often enjoyable comedy.
P-Valley (10 episodes) Follows the lives of strip club dancers working down in the Dirty Delta. Whoaah!  Much nudity and profanity here.  You may need to enable the closed captioning!!
Showbiz Kids (Documentary, 1 h 35 m) A documentary about the highs and lows of children in show business, featuring interviews and examinations of the lives and careers of the most famous former child actors in the world.  Features Evan Rachel Wood, Will Wheaton, Milla Jovovich, Henry Thomas and many others. Do not put your children on the stage!!!

Apple TV Plus

Little Voice (9 episodes) I am still following this touching series about a young singer/songwriter trying to make it in the music business in NYC.  All music by Sarah Bareilles.

PBS

*Endeavour (Returns to Masterpiece Mystery tonight for Season 7, 3 episodes) Set in the 1960’s, the show follows Endeavour Morse in his early years as a police constable. Working alongside his senior partner DI Fred Thursday, Morse engages in a number of investigations around Oxford.

Comic Relief

Almost all the late night comics (Colbert, Noah, Kimmel, Bee)  have been on holidays except Jimmy Fallon who has had Trump’s follies all to himself. I have been keeping up with Seth Meyers on YouTube. Bill Maher has returned to Friday nights and has been doing a pretty job with his fake studio audiences and a laugh track to keep us amused.

Closing Words

The week to come features some golf and some hanging out with my son who is spending most of August with us in Thornbury.  My Toronto fitness group is doing a Zoom chat on the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (it will be my third book discussion on this great piece of non-fiction). We have some Florida friends coming to spend time in the area and we will be doing a little touring with them. The weather looks like a mix of spectacular and rainy.  Have a wonderful week wherever you are!!

Here are a few videos for you to watch:

INSPIRATIONAL LIFE LESSONS FROM MOTHER NATURE   

 

Rain at last…

It’s been a gorgeous summer with endless blue skies and balmy temperatures.  This weekend we have had the first rainy day in a very long time.  Looking forward to a guilt-free indoors day with lots of screen time and catching up on indoor tasks. Here are some recommendations for you:

Amazon

Datsche (1 h 34 m) A naive New Yorker retreats to his dead grandfather’s summer cottage, a datsche in Germany, but instead of peace he finds Adam, a refugee in hiding. I loved this very sweet film about acceptance.
The Pale Tourist (2 episodes) In The Pale Tourist, Jim Gafigan boldly goes where no stand-up comedian has gone before: everywhere.  The two hour-long specials were filmed as part of Gaffigan’s The Pale Tourist worldwide tour, in which he traveled the world -in each country meeting people, eating the food, and learning a bit about the history.  He would then transform those experiences into a stand-up set of all-new material and perform it for locals and expatriates, before heading on to another destination and doing it all over again.  If you like Jim Gaffigan’s very wholesome humour, you will love this!

Netflix

For those in search of the best thrillers on Netflix, here’s a list from Esquire:

https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/g25642304/best-thrillers-on-netflix/

Mucho Mucho Amor (Documentary, 1 h 36 m) Every day for decades, Walter Mercado – the iconic, gender non-conforming astrologer – mesmerized 120 million Latino viewers with his extravagance and positivity.  What a fascinating character! How amazing that the usually homophobic Latino community embraced this very Liberace-like performer.
Cursed (10 episodes) I can’t believe I watched the whole thing!!  A teenage sorceress named Nimue encounters a young Arthur on her quest to find a powerful and ancient sword.  Great escapist fare for lovers of myth and fantasy.  Yet another acting Skarsgard brother (Gustaf) plays Merlin in this.  Katherine Langford, Devon Terrell, Peter Mullan, Clive Russell star.
Down to Earth with Zac Efron (8 episodes) In this travel show, actor Zac Efron journeys around the world with wellness expert Darin Olien in search of healthy, sustainable ways to live.  I am loving this series and have so far visited Iceland, France and Costa Rica.  Ole!!
Alpha (1 h 36 m) In the prehistoric past a young man struggles to return home after being separated from his tribe during a buffalo hunt.  He finds a similarly lost wolf companion and starts a friendship that would change humanity.  Kodi Smit-McPhee and Johannes Haukur Johannesson star.  Loved this beautiful little film which was shot in Iceland, Canada and CGI.

Crave/HBO

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2 h 2 m) On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.  Stars Noemie Merlant and Valeria Golino.  What a sumptuous feast of beautiful images.  The whole film appears to be a series of portraits.  Gorgeous!
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (1 h 33 m) An African-American woman becomes an unwitting pioneer for medical breakthroughs when her cells are used to create the the first immortal human cell line in th4e early 1950’s.  A very condensed version of the book by Rebecca Skloot, which my fitness book club is reading right now.  Read the book and don’t bother with this little film which does feature an over the top performance by Oprah Winfrey.
Real Time with Bill Maher (since 2003, 1 h)   It’s back with a great lineup on this past Friday’s show that included Kerry Washington, Jim Carrey, Bari Weis and Thomas Chatterton.  Maher mixes political commentary with humour as he soldiers on without a live audience from his backyard.
Perry Mason (8 episodes)  In booming 1932 Los Angeles, a down-and-out defense attorney takes on the case of a lifetime. Stars Matthew Rhys, Tatiana Maslany, Lily Taylor. I do feel that HBO has finally crossed way over the noir boundary and has created one of the darkest most nihilistic series I have ever seen on TV. Not your grandparents’ Perry Mason.

Streaming

Yellowstone  (3 seasons, 30 episodes) Truly, the most beautifully cinematic Western series I have ever seen on TV.  Gorgeous musical score as well. Stars Kevin Costner and is directed by Taylor Sheridan and 6 others.
Slow West (1 h 24 m) A young Scottish man travels across America in pursuit of the woman he loves, attracting the attention of an outlaw who is willing to serve as a guide.  Stars Kodi Smith-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn. Perhaps the quirkiest Western ever!
Striking Out (10 episodes) When Tara discovers her fiancé and fellow solicitor Eric has been cheating with a colleague, she leaves him and their prestigious law firm to set up her own practice specializing in family and divorce law.  Working alongside her new team, including mentor and friend Vincent and tech guru and private detective Meg, Tara’s cases will put her in direct conflict with influential families and the legal and political establishment as well as challenging her own personal morals.  So beautifully Irish and set in Dublin.  Loving it!!
The Luminaries (6 episodes) Adventure mystery set in the midst of New Zealand’s 1860’s gold rush period it has all the stuff that makes a good drama:  Murder, love and revenge, as men and women travel the world making their fortunes.  Stars Eve Hewson, Eva Green, Himesh Patel and Marton Csokas.  I loved the Booker Prize winning book by Eleanor Catton when I read it in 2013. Still only on the first episode, but looking forward to losing myself in this historical series.

 

Comic Relief

Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and  John Oliver,  have all returned to work, thank goodness. Something to lighten the daily grind of Covid-19 doomsaying, Black Lives Matter/defund police rhetoric, destruction of monuments video coverage, etc.  I find their attempts to comment comically (and now without an actual live audience) on daily events to be fascinating. Still tuning in on YouTube for James Corden’s, Seth Meyer’s and Conan O’Brian’s commentary.

Closing Words

Our son Jon has joined us in Thornbury for the month of August as our cable TV package here includes returning sports programs that the unplugged generation cannot see.  He and George are enjoying endless hours of NBA, NHL, golf, etc.  Yesterday’s outing to Barrie was focussed on finding the perfect exercise bike for George and the most comfortable computer/gaming chair for Jon. Oh, also a trip to Costco for me! This week our Mahjong group will attempt to play online on our iPads as we embrace technology.  Lots of golf for me and some Zooming with my high school friends, my Toronto neighbourhood group, and my fitness group.  Looking forward to an outdoor exercise class in the Beaver Valley with my longtime Toronto instructor and a hike in the Pretty River area of the Bruce Trail.

Enjoy your week, wherever you are!!

Here are some inspirational and amusing videos for you:

Another day in Paradise…

A very nice man at our golf club greeted me the other day by saying how perfect the weather was and that everything was great except for the Plague! I celebrated this year’s Thornbury Lobsterfest last night in my backyard with a small socially distanced group of friends. It was a beautiful clear night for admiring the stars from around our firepit. Earlier in the week we took in the Vincent Van Gogh immersive exhibit at 1 Yonge St in Toronto. Beautiful images and a gorgeous soundtrack surround you in a magical setting. I highly recommend that all Van Gogh lovers try to see this travelling show.
Here are some viewing recommendations for your week:

Streaming

Yellowstone (3 seasons, 30 episodes) Truly, the most beautifully cinematic Western series I have ever seen on TV.  Gorgeous musical score as well. Stars Kevin Costner and is directed by Taylor Sheridan and 6 others.
Rewind (Documentary, 1 h 26 m) Digging through the vast collection of his father’s home videos, a young man reconstructs the unthinkable story of his boyhood and exposes vile abuse passed through generations. This will make you think differently about sexual abuse cases and the impact that the abuse has on children.
Another Mother’s Son (1 h 43 m) Stars Jenny Seagrove and John Hannah.Based on the true story of Louisa Gould, the drama is set during WWII on the Nazi-occupied island of Jersey.  Lou took in an escaped Russian POW and hid him over the war’s course.  The tension mounts as it becomes clear that Churchill will not risk an assault to recapture the British soil, and the island-community spirit begins to fray under the pressures of hunger, occupation and divided loyalty.  Against this backdrop, Lou fights to preserve her family’s sense of humanity and to protect the Russian boy as if he was her own.  Moving and powerful.
Brave New World (9 episodes) TV adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s book set in dystopian future.  Stars Alden Ehrenreich, Jessica Brown Findlay, Harry Lloyd, Nina Sosanya, Joseph Morgan.  I will never get those 9 hours of my life back!  Very dark and very similar to Westworld in its menacing revolt of the clones undercurrents.  You have been warned about this first effort from the new NBC Peacock streaming service.
The Grizzlies (1 h 42 m)  The best Canadian film I have ever seen and its based on a true story!! In a small Arctic town struggling with the highest suicide rate in North America, a group of Inuit students’ lives are transformed when they are introduced to the sport of lacrosse. I have now watched this film 4 times including once with my Florida movie club and now with my Thornbury Mahjong ladies.  I can’t recommend it highly enough for its beautiful images of the north and for its inspiring tale of a sport that empowers and motivates a community. It will make you laugh and cry.  Great performances from a mostly non-professional cast.

Superchannel

Funny Face (1 h 43 m) An impromptu fashion shoot at a book store brings about a new fashion model discovery in the shop clerk.  Audrey Hepburn is at her most luminous and she is matched with Fred Astaire as her co-star.  This 1957 musical features the music of George and Ira Gershwin.  The fashion shoots were filmed by Richard Avedon and the film is absolutely gorgeous in vivid color featuring beautiful clothing and fabulous fashion montages.  Save this one for a rainy day and enjoy!

Apple TV Plus

Little Voice (9 episodes) A love letter to the diverse musicality of New York, it explores the universal journey of finding your authentic voice in your early 20s. The music is all written by Sarah Bareilles.  Brittany O’Grady stars as the struggling singer-songwriter who tirelessly composes songs in a makeshift recording studio. Very endearing.

Netflix

Cursed (10 episodes) A teenage sorceress named Nimue encounters a young Arthur on her quest to find a powerful and ancient sword.  Stars Katherine Langford, Devon Terrell, Gustaf Skarsgard (yes, there is yet another Swedish Skarsgard brother who is also an actor).  If you long for mythic fantasy in a far away past, this is your escapism series.

Recommendations for other shows worth watching on Netflix:

HBO/Crave

Perry Mason (8 episodes)  In booming 1932 Los Angeles, a down-and-out defense attorney takes on the case of a lifetime. Stars Matthew Rhys, Tatiana Maslany, Lily Taylor.

I do feel that HBO has finally crossed way over the noir boundary and has created one of the darkest most nihilistic series I have ever seen on TV. Not your grandparents’ Perry Mason. In the most recent episode, Perry finally became a lawyer!!

PBS

Grantchester (5 seasons, 31 episodes) A Cambridgeshire clergyman finds himself investigating a series of mysterious wrongdoing in his small village of Grantchester.  A dishy vicar with a knack for solving crimes!!  Why are the idyllic villages of England so crime ridden?

 

Comic Relief

Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and tonight, John Oliver have all returned to work, thank goodness. Something to lighten the daily grind of Covid-19 doomsaying, Black Lives Matter/defund police rhetoric, destruction of monuments video coverage, etc.  I find their attempts to comment comically (and now without an actual live audience) on daily events to be fascinating. Still tuning in on YouTube for James Corden’s, Seth Meyer’s and Conan O’Brian’s commentary.

Moment of Zen

Watch the David Attenborough video below.

Closing Words

The week to come will feature some golf and some time with friends. Can’t wait until our boys come next weekend for the August Long Weekend.  In the meantime, have a wonderful week wherever you are! Try to stay cool and be kind to one another.

And now for some videos you might like to share:

 

 

Back in TO for a few days…

I’m sitting in our condo enjoying the AC and our view from the 23rd floor of Lake Ontario.  We came in for a few days of seeing friends, golfing at our club here and appointments (most importantly with my hairdresser of almost 40 years and I am blonde again!).  We are also going to take in the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition downtown which has had great reviews. Here are some viewing recommendations for you:

Streaming

Palm Springs (1 h 31 m) When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honour Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves or each other in a Groundhog Day type of scenario. Stars Andy Samberg, J.K. Simmons, Peter Gallagher. Very whimsical if you are comfortable with the highly conceptual time in an endlessly repeating  time loop kind of setting.
First Cow (2 h 2 m) A skilled cook has travelled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant who is also seeking his fortune.  Soon the two collaborate on a successful business. A very touching meditation on friendship. Stars John Magaro and Orion Lee.
Ramy (2 seasons, 21 episodes) In New Jersey, Ramy, son of Egyptian immigrants, begins a spiritual journey, divided between his Muslim community, God, and his friends who see endless possibilities. Stars Ramy Youssef, Hiam Abbass and (in season 2) Mahershala Ali. I loved this very thoughtful journey of a young man through the worlds of work, family, sex, friendship and spirituality. Ramy’s aimlessness and questionable decisions have a “car crash” aspect to them.  Each episode is very different and has a depth far beyond the typical sitcom.  It is a truly original show with great characters and surprising twists and turns. I loved it. Can’t wait for Season 3.
The Salisbury Poisonings (3 episodes) A true life drama about the Novichok nerve agent poisoning crisis in Salisbury, England in 2018.  Somewhat reminiscent of Chernobyl in its examination of a potential disaster. Stars Rafe Spall, Anne-Marie Duff, Darren Boyd, Mark Addy. I found this to be a powerful examination of a situation that could have been a widespread public health disaster had it not been so thoroughly investigated. I was riveted.
Yellowstone (3 seasons, 30 episodes) Truly, the most beautifully cinematic Western series I have ever seen on TV.  Gorgeous musical score as well. Stars Kevin Costner and is directed by Taylor Sheridan and 6 others.
Dirty John (Season 2, 8 episodes) The true story of Betty Broderick, who shot and killed her ex-husband and his new wife after being driven to the point of madness.  He left her after she supported him through college degrees in Law and Medicine. Incredibly sad true story of a woman driven to the point of madness by a gaslighting cad of a husband.

Crave/HBO

Perry Mason (8 episodes)  In booming 1932 Los Angeles, a down-and-out defense attorney takes on the case of a lifetime. Stars Matthew Rhys, Tatiana Maslany, Lily Taylor.
I do feel that HBO has finally crossed way over the noir boundary and has created one of the darkest most nihilistic series I have ever seen on TV. Not your grandparents’ Perry Mason.

Amazon Prime

Informer (6 episodes) A young East London man is coerced by a counter terrorism officer to work undercover for him.  Stars Paddy Considine, Nathan Rizwan, Bel Powley.  A powerful look at a very marginalized Muslim community in London, modern day policing, and of course, the pursuit of potential terrorists.  I was throughly engrossed in this drama and thought that the star Nathan Rizwan was terrific as the central character.

Comic Relief

Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee and tonight, John Oliver have all returned to work, thank goodness. Something to lighten the daily grind of Covid-19 doomsaying, Black Lives Matter/defund police rhetoric, destruction of monuments video coverage, etc.  I find their attempts to comment comically (and now without an actual live audience) on daily events to be fascinating. Still tuning in on YouTube for James Corden’s, Seth Meyer’s and Conan O’Brian’s commentary.

Moment of Zen

Just watching CBS Sunday Morning and admiring their examination of the life of John Lewis.  His long career as a civil rights activist (when civil disobedience didn’t necessarily include rioting in the streets) is a wonder to behold.  Looking forward to the comic commentary of Jim Gaffigan, surely one of the most wholesome comics on today’s scene. Other segments include a virtual choir with 17,572 singers; Louis Gossett Jr; hard currency as one Washington city prints its own money on wood; portraits of medical heroes; the art of Kim Novak; and finally, a trip to the Everglades in Florida.

Closing Words

Looking forward to a mixed week of golfing and renewing friendships in Toronto. This week, our Thornbury Mahjong group is going to vary our lunchtime socially distanced gathering to include a discussion of one of my favourite Canadian films, The Grizzlies.  Now available on the free CBC Gem app, this terrific film tells the true story of a small Arctic town struggling with the highest suicide rate in North America and how a group of Inuit students’ lives are transformed when they are introduced to the sport of lacrosse.  I showed this film to my Naples Movie Club and they were moved to laughter and tears. Watch it if you can! Also available to stream through iTunes.  Have a wonderful week wherever you are.  Leaving you with a forwarded email that actually made me laugh until I cried:

Medical Secretaries in Scotland

These are sentences were reportedly typed by medical secretaries in NHS Greater Glasgow:

1.        The patient has no previous history of suicides.

2.        Patient has left her white blood cells at another hospital.

3.        Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

4.        She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

5.        Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

6.        On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it disappeared.

7.        The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

8.        The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

9.        Discharge status:- Alive, but without my permission.

10.      Healthy appearing decrepit 69-year old male, mentally alert, but forgetful.

11.      Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

12.      She is numb from her toes down.

13.      While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.

14.      The skin was moist and dry.

15.      Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.

16.      Patient was alert and unresponsive.

17.      Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.

18.      She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until she got a divorce.

19.      I saw your patient today, who is still under our care for physical therapy.

20.      Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

21       Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

22.      The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

23.      Skin: somewhat pale, but present.

24.      The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.

25.      Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.

26.      Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities

27.      When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.

28.      The patient was in his usual state of good health until his airplane ran out of fuel and crashed.

29.      Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.

30.      She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December.

31.      Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Smyth, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.

32.      The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.

33.      By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped, and he was feeling better.