Jury Duty Blues…

I wrote this blog while sitting in the Court House on University Ave. waiting to be called for jury duty, so if I seem a bit blue in the writing of this, I was feeling incarcerated in a huge room of very unhappy people.  However, they released us about 2 pm, and I fled happily to the subway and scampered home feeling suddenly as free as a bird.

If we had been allowed to take pictures, I would have inserted a picture of our 300 strong jury pool. That is, 300 of the most bored, irritated people I have ever seen. And we were only on the first day of 5 days of mandatory attendance. They were processing the poor souls who  requested exemptions for the first three hours we were there. As this is my third summons this year (I was successful in obtaining 2 previous deferrals over the last year) I buckled down to serve my time here thereby earning an exemption for the next three years. We can now leave for Florida in one week as planned! No trials of the century for me, thank goodness.

Now, as for some viewing recommendations:

On the Big Screen

Viceroy’s House stars Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson (The Fall, X Files) as Lord and Lady Mountbatten presiding over the partition and granting of independence to India. Superb! Period costumes and British accents. I was in heaven!

Netflix

Mindhunter is an 11 part miniseries that debuted this past weekend. Starring Jonathan Groff (Jesse from Glee), as a founding member of the Behavioural Science Unit of the FBI, this totally engaging series charts the rise of criminal profiling in a fascinating way. We watched the whole thing in one wknd. Fabulous!

Dynasty is back and now available on Netflix. Somehow less fabulous (I guess I do miss those shoulder pads), and updated for our times, Stephen Carrington is now totally out of the closet, Sammy Jo (formerly played by Heather Locklear) is now a gay man, Cristal is now Latina, etc. First episode has already featured a cat fight, yet somehow, I doubt I will stay with this one.

Riverdale is also now available on both the CW and Netflix. I love this dark take on Archie Andrews and his high school crew. More sex and murder than there was in the very wholesome comics. This is a savage social satire with witty writing and the aforesaid sex and murders.

Jack Whitehall: Travels with my father is a delightful miniseries about a stand up comedian travelling with his stuffy father around Southeast Asia for 5 weeks.

 

Streaming

This is Us continues to unravel this tale of family. I still find it maudlin, but I will watch season 2 until I find out what all the fuss is about.

Berlin Station has returned for Season 2 on Epix and can also be seen on Superchannel in Canada. Still brooding and murky!

Streaming/CBS All Access

Star Trek: Discovery has been rebooted as a prequel and I love watching Jason Isaacs as the latest captain. Great ensemble cast featuring Sonequa Martin-Green from The Walking Dead.

HBO

Ray Donovan wound up its most recent season last night. This was a challenging season as it dealt with Abby’s death and the impact on the family. Even darker than the preceding seasons.

Last Week tonight with John Oliver aired a new show last night. His major target was Equifax and I did find it tedious.

ABC

Designated Survivor (Wednesdays at 10) is incredibly silly and inane, but I can’t look away. It’s one of the few series that paints its leading character as a truly good man played by Kiefer Sutherland.

NBC

Saturday Night Live (Saturday nights at 11:30) with host Kumail Nanjani was terrific this past weekend. Nanjani was great in every sketch and his monologue on racism was very funny. Alec Baldwin opened the show as Trump. I don’t think he’s nearly as funny as The President Show‘s Anthony Atamaniuk.

The Brave is a new show that has been airing on NBC on Monday nights at 10.  It’s one of the many shows this year that is unabashedly patriotic and features special forces operatives executing different missions each week.  Full disclosure:  it features Mike Vogel who previously starred in the ludicrous Under the Dome and he’s awfully easy on the eyes!  I have enjoyed the first 3 episodes of this show, so we shall see if it continues to hold my attention.

CBS

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert starts repeats this week.

Comedy Channel

The President Show has shifted its time slot on the schedule and now airs at 10 pm on Wed.

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee should have a new show on Wednesday night at 10:30.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah has new shows Mon – Thurs at 11.

Jim Jeffries has new show Tuesday at 10:30.

People of Earth is a very funny show about survivors of Alien Abductions who join a support group on Tues at 10.

PBS

Poldark continues its romantic epic saga of 18th Century Cornwall on Sunday nights at 9 pm.

Closing Words

The news is full of Harvey Weinstein sexual assault charges. Apparently, someone is trying to revive sexual assault charges against Mr. Trump. Should be an interesting week. The trees are glorious and the forecast this week is for increasingly warm weather, so enjoy this lovely autumn wherever you are.

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Back from hiatus…

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.

 

Streaming

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.

 

 

Netflix

 

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:

https://www.nytimes.com/watching/lists/best-movies-on-netflix-indie?mwrsm=Email

 

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.

Superchannel

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.

Amazon Prime

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.

BBC

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.

 

HBO

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!

 

CBC

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.

 

ABC

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!

NBC

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.

 

Comic Relief

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!

 

PBS

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.

 

Parting Words

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.

 

 

 

Last week before hiatus…

Well, Irma came and went last week, and at this date, we are aware that our pool cage has been blown to smithereens and the screening will need to be replaced but the structure is intact. Very thoughtful friends are headed down next week to check on our place.  It has been a busy past week as I hosted several longtime friends in Thornbury for 3 days of R&R and then attended our last 3 screenings at TIFF.  This week I have a large group of my special fitness girlfriends coming to the area for 2 1/2 days of hiking on local trails and they will depart just in time for me to catch my flight to Scotland on Friday.  George and I are off to Scotland for 1 week.  He will golf as part of a group of 12 touring the top courses there, while I am going to visit with a dear friend who lives just outside Edinborough.  We will do a little touring, especially in the Aberdeen area, the Northern Lights capital of Europe.  George and I will then depart for Iceland where we have 5 days of touring scheduled.  Last stop for the Northern Lights.  We return on Oct. 5, so I am taking a little break from TV and Movie watching and will try to catch some of the new shows before I write again later in October. In the meantime, here are some suggestions for viewing:

The Emmy Awards Broadcast

 

The Emmy Awards air at 8 pm tonight. Westworld and SNL lead the nominations with 22 each.  Stephen Colbert hosts, so it should be great fun!

TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival)

Kodachrome was our first screening. A perfectly sweet but predictable father/son road trip movie.  Lovely ensemble cast features Ed Harris, Jason Sudeikis and Elizabeth Olsen star.
Journey’s End is a gruelling WWI tale of the horrors of trench warfare and the human toll that was taken during this completely futile war of attrition.  Great cast features Sam Claflin, Paul Bethany and Asa Butterfield.
Good Favour is a puzzling parable set in a religious community in Central Europe.  This magical realism film is based on the appearance of a teenage stranger who gradually reveals his motives and what seem to be magical powers.
Professor Marston and The Wonder Women is a true story of William Moulton Marston, the polyamorous relationship between his wife and mistress, the creation of the beloved comic book character “Wonder Woman”, and the controversy the comic generated in its earlier years.  This film is quite delightful in its portrayal of Marston’s relationship with his wife and lover.  Very broad minded!

 

Streaming

The Big Sick is a delightful romantic comedy that I recently rewatched with a group of lady friends.  If you have watched Silicon Valley, you may have already fallen in love with Kumail Nanjiani.  This film is based on Nanjani’s own life and his rocky romance with his real life girlfriend Emily and his involvement with her parents when Emily suddenly develops a life threatening medical condition.  Prepare to fall in love with this charming film. Ray Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond)and Holly Hunter are wonderful as Emily’s parents.

Get Shorty is a 10 episode miniseries, currently airing on Epix in the US.   I have binged on the first six episodes of this terrific series which I have been able to stream. It will debut on Superchannel in Canada on Sept 20. Likeable Irish actor Chris O’Dowd leads a great cast in this tv adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel about a hit man who becomes a movie producer in Hollywood. Ray Romano has now refashioned his career and has come a long way from his Everybody Loves Raymond character as he plays Rick, a washed up movie producer who is forced to produce a film as a money laundering technique for a crime family. The 1995 film which featured an all star cast with John Travolta, Gene Hackman, etc. was clever, but this extended version of the story is incredibly engaging.

Younger, a delightful comedy series about a 46 year-old single mom forced to lie about her age (passing as a social media expert millennial) to get a job, aired its season finale in the US this past week but will debut the 4th season premiere later this year on Much.

 

TVPremieres and Returns

People of Earth, a delightful sitcom about a support group for alien abductees will return for its second season premiere on Sept 19 on Comedy at 10 pm.
Animal Kingdom, a gritty crime series starring Ellen Barkin, returns for its second season premiere on Sept 20 on Bravo at 10 pm.

The Deuce, a gritty series about the NYC history of pornography, premiered last Sunday on HBO and airs Sundays at 9.

Outlander, the most romantic show on television, premiered last Sunday on W and airs Sundays at 9 pm.

Jim Jeffries, an outrageous Australian political comedian,  returns with new shows on Sept 19 at 10:30 on Comedy.

 

My usual favourites

Endeavour, an Inspector Morse prequel, has its season finale tonight on our local PBS station;  I watched it last week in a different time zone, and also caught the local PBS fundraiser, Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy from Great Performances.  This is a wonderful special that explores the unique role of Jewish composers, lyricists, songwriters on Broadway and film musicals. It’s a 90 minute documentary that is well worth watching.

Ray Donovan, a series about Hollywood fixer, airs  Sunday nights on HBO at 9 pm.

Episodes, a delightful story about behind the scenes Hollywood, airs Sunday nights on HBO at 10 pm.

The Sinner,  a murder mystery starring Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman,  airs Monday nights on Showcase at 10 pm.

 

Comic Relief

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is back with new shows on CBS at 11:35 Mon-Fri this week; The Daily Show with Trevor Noah continues with new shows on Comedy at 11:00 Mon-Thurs; Full Frontal with Samantha Bee has new shows on Wed. night at 10:30 on Comedy; Real Time with Bill Maher has new shows on HBO on Fri at 10 pm.

Closing Words

It has been a gorgeous week and weekend.  Fingers crossed that this amazing Indian Summer (probably a totally politically incorrect expression these days) weather continues into the fall.  Enjoy the beautiful colours and incredible temperatures.  I will return mid-October with some stories and pictures from Scotland and Iceland.

 

 

 

Irma Arrives in Florida

Well, I guess there is a downside to owning a vacation home in paradise.  We are very grateful that our place in Naples is just a vacation retreat for us.  Unlike the millions of Florida residents who are facing the reality of losing their homes and livelihoods, we have other options.  We are considering whether we should adjust our plans for the next few weeks and head down to check on our property once the storm has passed.  More on that later…  In the meantime, if you’re not compulsively watching CNN for storm news, you might want to check out some viewing options:

TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival)

Kodachrome was our first film this past week.  A romantic comedy starring Jason Sudeikis, Ed Harris and Elizabeth Olsen.  A very sweet film about a father/son road trip.  I felt I had seen many films which covered this territory in more original and engaging ways, especially Nebraska (from 2013 starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte).  However, this film is Canadian (filmed entirely in Toronto, directed by a Canadian filmmaker and featuring some great Canadian actors in supporting roles like Bruce Greenwood, Wendy Crewson and even Sebastian Pigott – formerly of Lambton Kingsway School), so I was happy to see it even though it was a bit predictable and lame.
Upcoming films for us include Journey’s End (British WWI film starring Sam Claflin, Paul Bethany, Asa Butterfield, Toby Jones, etc.); Good Favour (international co-production from an Irish director set in a Christian community in Central Europe); Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (starring Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, JJ Field), the film tells the life story of Dr. William Marston, Harvard psychologist and inventor, and the relationship between his wife and his lover, who became her lover after his death, that inspired the iconic super heroine, Wonder Woman.

Netflix

Little Evil is an intermittently funny parody of The Omen starring Adam Scott, Evangeline Lilly, Sally Field, etc.).  Gary, who has just married Samantha, the woman of his dreams, discovers that her six-year-old son may be the Antichrist.

Narcos returns for its third season. Pablo Escobar is gone and we have moved from Medellin to the Cali cartel as our intrepid DEA agent, Javier Pena, continues the US War on Drugs.  This third series is just as mesmerizing as the first. Pedro Pascal is amazingly charismatic as the driven agent awash in a sea of corruption.  You will root for the cartel security man, Jorge Salcedo (played by Matias Varela), who is a decent man struggling to get his life back.

Handsome:  A Netflix Mystery Movie stars Jeff Garlin, Natasha Lyonne.  Beware of this one.  So much potential, yet so awful. A peculiar comedy mystery hybrid.  Be afraid, very afraid of this painfully off kilter film.

The Mist You should also be afraid of this 10 episode time waster from the Stephen King novel about an eerie mist that rolls into a small town. Frances Conroy, who was so heroically wonderful in  Six Feet Under, is unabashedly awful in this one.  Look away!!!

Season Premieres

Outlander (9 pm on W) returns tonight for its third season.  Ahh, the romance that endures across the centuries continues. Jamie’s past provides his only hope of survival following the Battle of Culloden; a pregnant Claire attempts to adjust to life in 1940’s Boston.

People of Earth  (Sept 19 Season 2 premiere on Comedy). If you haven’t caught up with Season 1 yet, you are in for a treat.  This delightfully wry comedy is about  a support group for oddballs who think they have been abducted by aliens. Hilarious!!

The Deuce (9 pm tonight on HBO) This series is directed by James Franco and is from the writing/producing team that created The Wire. A look at life in NYC during the 1970’s and ’80’s when porn and prostitution were rampant in Manhattan, it stars James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

The New TV Season Preview

Keep this list handy:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/50-new-fall-tv-shows-worth-watching-will-and-grace-lady-gaga-twin-james-francos-and-more?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning

 

Regular Viewing

Ray Donovan (9 pm tonight on TMN) continues to follow the Donovan family on their journey following Abby’s death.  The dark underbelly of LA is the territory of fixer Ray Donovan, who covers up the crimes of the rich and famous.

Episodes (10 pm tonight on TMN) is a hilarious behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood and TV production, which follows the journey of British sit com writers who are birds out of water in LaLaLand.

Preacher (9 pm Monday on AMC) has its Season 2 finale.  The Trio prepare for a new life, as Jesse questions the path ahead; Tulip uncovers a dangerous secret; Cassidy grapples with a difficult truth.

The Sinner (10 pm Monday on Showcase) continues to investigate the mystery of why Cora suddenly murdered a stranger on the beach; with Ambrose’s help, Cora struggles to recover missing memories, which lead Ambrose to a new suspect.

Suits (9 pm Wednesday on Bravo) Mike and Harvey’s power move is countered, putting their backs up against the ropes. Rachel fears her father’s judgment is clouded by the past. Louis aids Alex when his client comes under fire.

Versailles This sumptuous series seems to have paused its second season after the first 7 episodes on TMN.  Catch up if you can with past episodes on demand.  Absolutely mesmerizing spectacle.

Comic Relief

Real Time with Bill Maher had a new show this past Friday which can be caught on demand; The Daily Show (Mon-Thurs on Comedy at 11 pm )with Trevor Noah has new shows; The Late Show (Mon-Fri at 11:30 on CBS) with Stephen Colbert has new shows; fingers crossed that Samantha Bee (Wed on Comedy at 10:30), Jeffrey Jones (Tuesday on Comedy at 10:30) and The President Show (Thursday on Comedy at 11:30) also have new shows.  We all need to laugh this week!

Closing Words

Although we have been thinking that climate change, rising sea levels, etc. would all be problems that our grandchildren would have to live with, this current onslaught of consecutive hurricanes has shown that the future is now.  The concept that waterfront property is actually desirable may be a thing of the past.  An entire state (population 20 million; in the largest mass evacuation in US history, 7 million have been ordered to evacuate) is in a state of emergency.  Millions of people face catastrophic damage to their property and have fled to higher, dryer ground. The aftermath of this storm and the ensuing clean-up will take a very long time.  Several Caribbean islands have already been decimated.  More than thoughts and prayers will be required to help the victims of this disaster.  Please be prepared to help in any way you can.

The local Thornbury forecast for this week is apparently beautiful. We are off to a community dinner for local charities being held in a local orchard this evening.  I am having a houseful of longtime lady friends come and stay with me for three days of sisterhood and laughter.  We will head back to TIFF later this week to watch our last films.  Count your blessings and enjoy each day. Carpe diem!  You never know what each day will bring.

 

 

Labour Day is here…

The leaves are changing.  We have had very cool evenings around the fire pit.  The children have been visiting and we have enjoyed some wonderful family evenings.  This past week was all about the Meaford International Film Festival (MIFF) and the coming week heralds the beginning of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).  Soon, the new fall TV series will debut!  In the meantime, here are some suggestions:

On the Big Screen

Maudie (MIFF) is a wonderful biopic about Maude Lewis, the Nova Scotia folk artist.  Starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, this touching movie will both inspire and cause you to weep at the hardships this very disabled woman faces in her unquenchable desire to create her very original art.

The Teacher (MIFF) is a thought provoking film about a manipulative teacher during the Communist era in Czechoslovakia.  A very interesting character study of people trying to survive in a system rife with institutionalized corruption.

The New Fall TV Series

Here are some articles to help you make your choices:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/50-new-fall-tv-shows-worth-watching-will-and-grace-lady-gaga-twin-james-francos-and-more?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a57227/new-tv-shows-fall-2017/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=082917

 

Streaming

Animal Kingdom (Streaming) is a terrific crime series starring Ellen Barkin as the matriarch of a Southern California family of ne’er do wells.  If you haven’t caught Season 1 yet, you can catch up on Netflix.

Younger (Streaming) is a delightful series (now in Season 4) that originates on TVLand and will be seen later this season on E! in Canada; a gorgeous 41 year old single mom pretends to be 26 in order to get a job in publishing.

Snatched (Streaming) is a very silly but intermittently entertaining comedy starring Amy Schumer and an almost unrecognizable Goldie Hawn (way too much Botox and filler).  This movie is about a mother/daughter duo who are kidnapped while on holiday in Ecuador.  It did make me laugh.

Ben Hur (Streaming) is a totally unnecessary remake of the original 1959 classic with Charlton Heston.   It stars Jack Huston and Toby Kebbell.  There is much more back story in this one, and much more religion. Also, much more CGI in this one.

Rough Night (Streaming) is a very well cast comedy about a bachelorette party gone terribly awry.  Scarlett Johansson, not generally known for her comedic skills, Kate McKinnon (mesmerizing as a wild Aussie, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Jillian Bell and in disarming cameos as sex crazed swingers Ty Burrell and Demi Moore. Fitfully funny, this genre film owes a lot to many other movies (The Hangover, Very Bad Things, and numerous others).

On Broadcast TV

The Sinner  (Showcase on Mondays) is an intriguing series starring Jessica Biel about a young mom who inexplicably stabs a man to death while on a day at the beach with her family.  Bill Pullman is the detective who tries to solve the mystery.

Ray Donovan (HBO on Sundays) continues the story of a Hollywood fixer from a family of Boston Irish ne’er do wells.

Suits (Bravo on Wednesdays) just had its 100th episode.  Thank god, the pro bono case is finally over.  So painful….

Versailles (TMN on demand) is the second season of a gloriously entertaining look at Louis IV and the court of Versailles.  Much debauchery!

Line of Duty (Superchannel on demand) is a marvellously intriguing 6 episode miniseries in its 4th season of an internal affairs department investigation.

Graves (Superchannel on demand) is a satire about a former president who seeks redemption.  Great cast starring Nick Nolte as the now addled president and Sela Ward as his controlling wife.

Preacher (AMC on Mondays) continues the story of a preacher, his girlfriend, and a vampire who join forces in the search for God.

 

Netflix

The Mist is a remake of the Stephen King story about a mysterious mist.  Previously a feature film, this is now a series.  I may not binge on this one, given that I have only watched a fairly underwhelming first episode.

Comic Relief

Colbert is still on hiatus this week, as are Samantha Bee, Trevor Noah, John Oliver.  There appears to be a new Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO on Fridays) and a new The President Show (Comedy on Thursdays).

Final Words

We have three weeks to go before we head off on our Scotland/Iceland trip.  In the meantime, I have two groups of lady friends coming to stay in Thornbury, and this week we begin our TIFF screenings.  Enjoy this beautiful fall weather no matter what your plans are.

 

 

 

Summer is racing to an end…

It has been a somewhat unusual summer with many rainy days, a few very hot days, and now very cool mornings and evenings that are more usual in the Fall.  We had a great week that included a bit of golf, a bit of moviegoing, a friend’s concert and some weekend company.  I had a chance to catch up on some Netflix shows and watched a few broadcast shows that I had recorded and never watched. Here are some recommendations for the week to come:

On the Big Screen

Dunkirk is a human sized epic about one of WWII’s darkest and most inspiring episodes.  The rescue of 400,000 Allied troops stranded on a Normandy beach after a strategic retreat is both inspiring and agonizing.  By focusing on a few central characters played by some familiar British faces (Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy) and several fresh faced unknowns (OK, the kid from One Direction, Harry Styles isn’t exactly unknown and he’s completely convincing as a young soldier), The story helps the audience to identify on a human level with the central characters and we come to care about their survival.  There’s a refreshing lack of CGI (computer generated imagery) and a real emphasis on character that completely engages the audience and even though we know how this story is going to end, there is tremendous suspense.  I loved it.

Esquire ran a great column on the 10 Best Comedy films of the year so far (and goodness knows, we need comedy right now):

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/g3548/best-comedy-movies-of-2017/?src=nl&mag=esq&list=nl_enl_news&date=082617

Netflix

I have been watching a British series called White Gold.  Very funny social satire based in the 1980’s about the travails of a group of Double Glazing  windows salesmen.  Kind of a British take on Tin Men (the 1987 movie about aluminum siding salesmen starring Danny DeVito and Richard Dreyfuss).

Glitch is an Australian series that has been renewed for a second season. The plot is about the return of several dead people to life in a small Australian town.  A major pharmaceutical company seems to be involved and there is a mysterious doctor who has been carrying out experiments for the big pharma company.  Fascinating characters and an intriguing plot line.  I bingewatched this one.  Can’t wait for the second season.

Streaming

Animal Kingdom is racing towards the conclusion of its second season.  This series will air on Bravo in the Fall, but you can catch the first season on Netflix if you haven’t caught up with it yet.

Younger is still fabulously funny as our heroine is caught between confessing to her dream man (and boss) that she is in her 40’s and not her 20’s, while she edits a tell all book written by her boss’s ex-wife.  A true delight.

HBO

Game of Thrones has its 7th season finale tonight.  There will be dragons!

Superchannel

Line of Duty is a British cop show about an Internal Affairs department now in its 4th season. I have been binging on the 6 episode season and it’s terrific!

Bravo

Suits is in its 7th season. The repetition and circularity of its plot lines is starting to drive me mad, but Entertainment Weekly gives this week’s episode (the 100th for the series) a rave review as Harvey and Mike join forces to defeat a foe.

AMC

Preacher The madness continues as the current face of God appears to be a developmentally delayed adult who looks a lot like Jesus.  This series defies description, but I am hooked anyway. It stars Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga (two Brits who are convincingly playing Southerners).

PBS

Endeavour, about the young Inspector Morse, is a delightfully nostalgic series as the young police officer tries to climb through the ranks.  Oxford provides a beautiful background for murder and mayhem.  Why do small British towns feature so much crime?

Father Brown (portly cleric solving crimes in a small British town) has had several lame episodes this season, but for those needing a bit of comfort in these troubling times, I highly recommend it as napping background.

In Print

I am totally enjoying my Toronto Book Group’s September choice, The Marriage Bureau: The True Story of How Two Matchmakers Arranged Love in Wartime London, by Penrose Halson.  It combines my love of all things British, with a nostalgic time period.  Fabulous!

Audible.com

We are currently listening to Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir narrated by the very Scottish actor Alan Cumming.  Cumming is currently the host of Masterpiece Mystery on PBS. He was a regular on The Good Wife, playing Eli, a conniving lawyer and he was a huge success on Broadway as the MC in a Cabaret revival. His elfin presence is often as a very publicly out gay man and his autobiography is touching and engaging as he tries to come to terms with his upbringing.

Here are some of the other books we have been listening to:

Al Franken, Giant of the Senate (please run for President, Al). He is a wonderful narrator of his own memoir.  His self-deprecating humour is a great counter-balance to his journey from comic writer and performer to US Senator.

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man’s Fight for Justice by Bill Browder (Message: Don’t ever trust the Russians!) This is a thrilling book that reads just as suspensefully as the finest espionage fiction.)

The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin (for Truman Capote fans and those interested in the beautiful women married to successful men who were his patrons in the 1960’s. So Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (first of a trilogy of comic novels and soon to be a major motion picture) about Asian Americans and Singaporeans.

A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel by Amor Towles (fascinating fiction chronicling 50 years in Moscow beginning in 1921)

A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston ably narrated by Bryan Cranston. Fascinatingly well told autobiography of this very talented actor.

Nevertheless: A Memoir by Alec Baldwin.  Baldwin narrates this autobiography and it painted an angry portrait of a wildly outsized ego for me.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah.  A charming autobiography about a talented young man who overcomes a harrowing childhood to achieve incredible success.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi an Abraham Verghese. This incredibly touching memoir will make you weep as a talented young doctor describes his own journey with cancer.  Stunning.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson.  I am a Larson fan (Isaac’s Storm, The Devil in the White City, The Garden of Beasts, etc.), but I confess this one was a bit tedious for me.

Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin.  Steve Martin is an incredibly talented comic, art expert, artist, musician, etc.  Did I mention he’s a talented writer as well?

We’ve also listened to CD’s of Martin Short’s memoir I must Say: My Life as a Humble Comedy Legend and Billy Crystal’s memoir: Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell are my keys. Both memoirs are a total joy to listen to.

Comic Relief

I am still clinging to late night comedy as a way to deal with the insanity of the Trumpocalypse, so Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher and John Oliver have been mainstays.  Honourable mention to Aussie newcomer Jim Jeffreys (Comedy Channel Tues at 10:30) and The President Show (Thursdays at 11:30 on Comedy). For those of you who caught last week’s Weekend Update Summer Edition (Thursdays at 9 on NBC), Alec Baldwin hosted as Trump.  His performance, I believe, is incredibly superficial compared to Anthony Atamaniuk on The President Show.  Atamaniuk’s Trump is nuanced and layered.  His 1/2 hour timeslot enables him to show Trump as alternatively childlike, bullying, bipolar, vain, and tone deaf.  He is hilarious and the writers have great fun assembling an entourage that has included the Mooch, Steve Bannon, the long suffering Mike Pence, et al.  The most mind boggling part of the show is usually Trump’s interview of an actual person, whether it be Deepak Chopra, or a host of political activists and journalists.  I have found this show to be a delightful surprise, so give it a look, if you have a PVR and can record it and watch it at your leisure, as I know 11:30 is a bit late for many of my friends.

Zen

CBS Sunday Morning continues to sooth, and I have found PBS’s Nova series to be fabulous viewing, especially this past week’s show featuring the solar eclipse. Frontline (also PBS) is incredibly informative on a weekly basis.  I have been thoroughly enjoying the new CBC National News with its lineup of anchors. Any time I want to see world news stories, Vice News (on HBO) and BBC News (on PBS) offer a different perspective on many stories that are not covered by US TV news.

Climate Change Worries

Hurricane Harvey has been a huge story this past weekend.  For those of us who spend time in US coastal areas, the idea of rising sea levels and catastrophic weather systems is terribly troubling.  Hopefully, the Trumpian lack of support for the Paris Accords and the systematic dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency, will not hasten the oncoming weather apocalypse.  There seems to be a war on science in this administration that should be sounding alarm bells at every level.

Closing Thoughts

Despite all the troubling trends above, I fully intend to enjoy the week ahead.  The Toronto International Film Festival is fast approaching and we get to select our films this week.  My last week of organized team golf is happening this week in Toronto, and the Meaford International Film Festival begins this Thursday!!  We will be seeing 3 films in 3 days, so it is very manageable.  It is a gloriously sunny day today in Thornbury and our bikes are tuned up and ready for action.  Enjoy your week, whatever you have planned.

 

 

 

 

 

Back from hiatus!!

We have had an action packed last two weeks.  We attended a wonderful wedding in Cape Breton, stayed with a dear friend in New Brunswick, spent a few days with our very special friends in Cape Cod and then rounded out the visit with a visit to our Boston based friends who run a great liquor store in their neighbourhood.  We stayed at a quirky B&B in Spencer, Massachusetts run by a retired opera singer and the former caterer for the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. We’ve had company for the last two weekends in Thornbury which both featured wonderful dinners.  We got to meet two sets of new neighbours on our block and this past weekend we hosted George’s Florida golfing group and enjoyed some particularly fine veal and superb wine.

Needless to say, not a lot of TV has been watched in the mean time, but here are a few recommendations:

On the big screen

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is a memoir that has been a favourite of book groups for several years.  Now a motion picture, it is still a terrific exploration of a harrowing childhood, Woody Harrelson gives his most remarkable performance yet as an alcoholic father of at the Walls family.  He portrays a delusional dreamer who plans to live in an unattainable glass castle while failing to provide the necessities of life for his three children.  The resilience of his children is inspiring testimony to the indomitability of the human spirit.

Netflix

Atypical – I binged on the first season of this wonderful show that stars Jennifer Jason Leigh.  It’s about an autistic 18-year-old boy who is navigating his way through his senior year of high school.  It’s touching, funny and addictive.  Enjoy!

The Defenders is a Marvel comics based series that brings together the characters Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist.  I am slightly ashamed to confess how much I enjoyed this utterly mindless martial arts show.  I especially love Matt Murdoch’s Daredevil (played by the extremely appealing Charlie Cox) way more than I should!

Superchannel

Line of Duty  This BBC series is on its fourth season. I binged on the first 4 episodes of this season about an internal affairs department that investigates police corruption.  Wonderfully addictive.

 

YouTube

The President Show star Anthony Atamanuik did an interview with Seth Meyers that gave great insight into his hilarious portrayal of Trump. You can catch the interview on YouTube.If you haven’t been watching this show (Thursdays at 11:30 following The Daily Show on Comedy Channel), you should give it a look.

Streaming

Animal Kingdom originates on TNT in the US and the second season will be seen later this season on Bravo.  A searing look at a California crime family led by a terrifying Ellen Barkin.  If you haven’t seen season 1 yet, it is available on Netflix.

Bravo

Suits is in its 7th season.  I admit I have grown tired of the Mike and Rachel storyline, Lewis Litt’s endless manic episodes, etc.  Could this be the last season as Rachel (Megan Markle) may be leaving the show to marry her true life prince (Prince Harry)?

HBO

Game of Thrones really has been thrilling this season.  The dragons have been called into service and tonight Jon Snow’s magnificent seven go after a Whitewalker.  Not to be missed.

W

Nashville is fabulously entertaining in its corny rivalries and love stories.  The music is always great as well.

AMC

Preacher is a genuinely bat-shit crazy series about the search for God.  Indescribable!

PBS

I binge watched last weekend’s 3-episode Black Work, a gritty British crime miniseries.
New episodes premiere tonight of Season 4 of Endeavour, about the young Inspector Morse.
Father Brown continues its nostalgic charm offensive about the crime solving capers of a portly British vicar in small town 1950’s Britain.

Comic Relief

I have compiled a list of my favourite depression avoidance mechanism shows in light of the Trumpocalypse, Korea, Charlottesville, Barcelona, etc.:

Baroness Von Sketch (Tuesdays on CBC)
Stephen Colbert The Late Show (Mon – Fri on CBS)
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Mon – Thurs on Comedy)
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee(Wed on Comedy)
The President Show (Thursdays at 11:30 on Comedy)
Real Time with Bill Maher (Fridays on HBO)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Sundays on HBO)

Zen Moments

CBS Sunday Morning is my therapeutic way of spending most Sunday mornings exalting in all things pop culture.

Current Affairs

CNN

I don’t usually comment on news programming but over the past two weeks, I have not been able to believe my eyes and ears.  The Charlottesville, Va coverage and Trumpocalypse continuing events (Bannon’s resignation, Mueller’s inquiry, etc.) have been must-watch TV.  CNN‘s sister network HBO produces VICE TV and their Charlottesville episode (Aug. 14) is breathtaking in its analysis of a far right movement. This past week I particularly enjoyed the work of several of its anchormen who tried to interpret the events of the day including Trump and his response to the Charlottesville events. They include:  Fareed Zakaria, Jake Tapper, Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper, and Andrew Cuomo.  They have all worked extraordinarily hard to explain and enlighten their viewers regarding the recent events of Charlottesville and its aftermath.  This morning’s Fareed Zakaria GPS is particularly informative regarding the differences between Germany’s reckoning with its past versus the US approach to slavery and the Civil War.

Radio

NPR and CBC were both mainstays for us as we drove many kilometres on our recent road trip.  Their level-headed analysis of current events served as a counter-balance to the hysteria of the 24-hour news networks.

Audible.com

We listened to a number of books on tape during our trip including the following:

Al Franken: A Giant of the Senate  We loved this wry and witty autobiography by the very clever Franken.  Fingers crossed that he becomes President one day.

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice by Bill Browder.  This is a harrowing account of a finance genius’s terrifying fight for justice in Russia and how it made him an unlikely international human rights leader and Vladimir Putin’s number-one enemy.

The Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. This self-help book is written by a superstar blogger who cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be positive all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

Not My Father’s Son: A Family Memoir by Alan Cumming.  We adore Cumming from The Good Wife and are about to start this autobiography of the very outspoken Scottish actor.

IN Print

House of Spies by Daniel Silva. I inhaled this book, as is the usual case with a Silva espionage novel. There is cause for celebration among lovers of spy fiction as Daniel Craig has just announced he will do another James Bond film. As is the case with many of his novels, we are primarily in the Middle East, Russian oligarchs abound, and there is a joint effort by intelligence agencies to hunt down an international terrorist mastermind.

The Marriage Bureau True Stories of 1940’s London Match-Makers by Penrose Halson.  I have just started this charming anthology as it is my Toronto book group’s September choice.

Closing Words

Our summer weather continues today with a blue sky and a suspicious absence of rain.  I attended our annual Thornbury antique show this morning and am looking forward to being able to eat dinner outside this evening from the porch of our golf club which has a glorious view of Georgian Bay.  Gather ye rosebuds while ye may!!  Go out there and seize the day while we have this beautiful summer weather.

 

 

 

About to go on hiatus…

This post will be short and sweet! My son Jon is visiting us in Thornbury this weekend and we leave for our Cape Breton/Cape Cod trip in a couple of days. I won’t be watching much TV over the next 10 days or so, but here are a few recommendations in the mean time:

On the Big Screen

Atomic Blonde is a fast paced action flick starring Charlize Theron and James McEvoy. I found it pointless and repetitive. Charlize does look amazing though. If you want something completely mindless for the summer, this is your movie.

Streaming

Gifted is a lovely, yet completely predictable movie about a little girl being raised by her handsome hunk uncle Chris Evans (aka Captain America). Great rainy afternoon flick.

A Cure for Wellness is a very dark look at a mysterious Swiss rehab clinic. Stars Jason Isaacs as the clinic director and was actually too dark for me to persevere with.

Younger, Animal Kingdom, The Bureau were all series favourites this week. I binged on The Bureau‘s French espionage suspense through two 10-episode seasons. Season 3 is just now airing on Sundance Now in the US and I yearn for it.

Netflix

Ozark is an addictive look at what happens when a financial advisor decides to launder money for a Mexican drug cartel. Stars Jason Bateman and Laura Linnea as a couple on the run.

Here’s a great article from the NYTimes on romantic comedies you can catch on Netflix:

https://www.nytimes.com/watching/lists/best-indie-rom-coms-netflix

 

Amazon

The Last Tycoon with Matt Bomer and Lily Collins debuted this week on Amazon. Beautiful depiction of the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930’s, but essentially vacuous. None of the characters engaged me and I may not persevere beyond the first episode. Here’s the NY Times review:

 

HBO

Room 104 (anthology suspense) made its debut on Friday. Twilight Zone revisited!  You may not sleep well afterwards.

Game of Thrones  (Sundays) has been going gangbusters in its first episodes of this penultimate season. There will be dragons!

PBS

Grantchester and Remember Me continue on Sunday nights. Father Brown serves up corny mysteries (why do so many people in charming villages die so horribly?) on Thursday nights. British bliss!

CBS

Extraordinary awfulness continues with summer series ZOO (Thursdays)  and Salvation (Wednesdays). I am now able to look away! Yay!

NBC

Midnight, Texas (Mondays)  is a summer fantasy series adapted from the Charmaine Harris novels. It makes you appreciate just how special True Blood was. There is nothing magical about this very lame fantasy series.

AMC

Preacher (Mondays) is crazy but extraordinary in the power of its images.

Loaded (Mondays) is a British Silicon Valley type show that drags in its 60 minute length with charmless characters and a total lack of humour.

FX

The Strain (Sundays) continues its wacky weird vampire apocalypse tale.

ABC

Somewhere Between (Tuesdays) is a just plain awful tale of time travel. So lame, it’s painful.

W

Nashville (Thursday) is so bad it’s good. You may want to throttle most of the main characters, but somehow it’s addictive.

CBC

Baroness Von Sketch (Tuesday) is awfully funny and the soccer series 21 Thunder debuts Monday night.

 

Reading Material

We’re listening to the Truman Capote inspired novel The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin.  Such a sad faux memoir of a bygone era when artists had glamorous patrons.  I have dived into Daniel Silva’s House of Spies.  This is the most recent of Silva’s 20 espionage novels.  A terrorist incident in London has spurred a multi-agency effort to catch the criminal mastermind behind this latest outrage.  Silva is a terrific writer who delivers great background, fully drawn characters and plots that are torn from today’s headlines.  Get ready to immerse yourself in the murky world of international spy craft.

Humour and Zen

This past week of the Trumpnado has been full of surprises!  From Spicy’s resignation, to Scaramucci’s appointment, to Reince Priebus’s resignation, to John Kelly’s appointment, etc.,  I didn’t think anything could possibly top Trump’s horrific address to the Boy Scout Jamboree last week, but he has succeeded in being the centre of a vortex of incredible tweets and rants this past week.  He has provided fodder for all the political satirists including, Colbert, Noah, Bee, Meyers and The President Show.  The President Show (Comedy Thurs. at 11:30) introduced Mario Cantone as Anthony Scaramucci.  Inspired!!!! He was born to play this role!!!  Needless to say, I have had to fall back on  my British shows and my CBS Sunday Morning show to provide solace and soothing during this very difficult time.

 

Closing Thoughts

We are finally having a gorgeous summer weekend.  All of our meals have been eaten outdoors! Our pool is open for business and it’s actually too warm to soak in the hot tub.  The Thornbury pier is overflowing with children taking their ritual leaps into Georgian Bay and the local ice-cream parlour is thronged with young families taking their children out for a summer treat.  The restaurant patios are packed and the summer Jazz Concerts in the Park are full of appreciative listeners.  We leave for a road trip this week that includes a wedding in Cape Breton, a stay with friends in Rothesay, NB, a trip to see friends in Cape Cod and a visit with our Florida neighbours in the Boston area.  Enjoy the week wherever you are.  My next post will likely be on August 13.

Streaming up a storm!

It has been a very busy week. I hosted a coffee party for our Georgian Bay Club Thursday morning lady golfers and I hosted a 75th birthday dinner for a dear friend and neighbour. I attended a local art show yesterday and bought a piece of art for our Toronto condo. A local artist also completed a project for our Thornbury front hall.
You can see both paintings here:

IMG_0238

IMG_0239

 

On the Big Screen

We didn’t make it to any of the summer movies this past week, but Dunkirk and War for the Planet of the Apes are both on our must see list this summer.

Streaming

Animal Kingdom (this series originates on TNT in the US) is hurtling through its second season of mayhem. Ellen Barkin is terrifying as a murderous matriarch who runs her crime family with an iron fist in idyllic Southern California.
Younger (this series originates on TVLand in the US) is now in its third season and continues the story of a 41-year-old (played by Broadway star Sutton Foster) pretending to be 26 in a publishing world that is ruled by millennials.
The Zookeeper’s Wife is a very sweet true life tale of the efforts of a Polish couple to save Jews while they struggle to run the crumbling Warsaw Zoo. Touching in a Schindler’s List kind of way, this couple was honoured by Israel as Righteous Gentiles for their work in saving hundreds of Jews from the death camps.
Colossal is a very peculiar little sci fi film starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. They play two individuals who share a strange kinship with monsters that are rampaging through Seoul, Korea. Indescribable!!
The Bureau (this series originates on IFC in the US) is a French espionage series that is set in Paris, where the directorate for the French secret service is located . Fraught with suspense, this series is more le Carre than Bond. In fact, in one scene, the hero takes a beating rather than pulling out his martial arts skills so that his cover as a French teacher won’t be blown. You will learn a lot about spycraft watching this very understated but compelling series. If you are a Dan Silva fan, you will enjoy the settings of intrigue in Iran and Syria and the involvement of the US and Russian spy agencies. I just binged on the 10-episode first season and have begun watching season 2.

Coming soon

The second season of the hilarious sitcom People of Earth premieres on TBS July 24 so will be available for streaming in Canada after that.

 

CBC

I keep tuning in to Baroness Von Sketch (Tuesdays) and am looking forward to the July 31 debut of 21 Thunder with Colm Feore.

NBC

Midnight, Texas (debuts July 24). From Charlaine Harris of True Blood fame.  Monsters abound!

ABC

Somewhere Between  (debuts July 24). Uh oh. Time travel is involved, one of my least favourite genres:  A serial killer strikes close to home for a news producer, who gets to go back in time one week prior to the string of murders.  A woman tries to change fate (that never ends well) and stop a killer.  Good luck with this summer series!

HBO

Game of Thrones debuted for its penultimate season last week. Looks like this season belongs to the women vying to sit on the Iron Throne.
This Drug May Kill You is a heartbreaking and eye opening documentary about the opioid crisis and the toll it is taking on families in the US. Watch it on demand.

AMC

Preacher (Mondays) gets crazier and crazier.
Loaded (Mondays) is a very odd British series about a group of techies who sell their video game for millions. Kind of a British Silicon Valley.

CBS

Salvation (Wednesdays) I think I have given up on this one. Too much romance, not enough scenes of the asteroid approaching earth. I swear it’s killing my brain cells.

W

Nashville (Thursdays) has descended into pure corn.  Juliette has returned to her evil manipulative ways.  Scarlett is once again a walking nervous breakdown.

 

Showcase

Suits (Wednesdays) Why can’t I just quit this one?  Harvey, Mike, Donna, Rachel, sometimes Jessica, and last, but most annoying, Lewis.  Geez, on last week’s episode the fact that Mike posed as a lawyer with no legal training finally came into play during a weirdly unengaging pro bono case against an insurance company.  The agony continues!

PBS

Sunday nights PBS rules with British series Grantchester and Remember Me.  Pure bliss.

 

Comic Relief

There have been new episodes of The Late Show (nightly on CBS) with Stephen Colbert (this past week featured his Russian adventure), The Daily Show (Mon-Fri on Comedy) with Trevor Noah, Full Frontal (Wednesday on Comedy) with Samantha Bee, Jim Jeffries (Tuesdays on Comedy)  and The President Show (Thursdays on Comedy). These shows keep me sane.

Zen Moments on TV

My absolute favourite is CBS Sunday Morning which I am about to indulge in.  I also love Fareed Zakaria on CNN, and all of PBS’s public affairs programming, especially Frontline and NOVA.  Tonight Vice on HBO does a special episode:  an examination of US foreign policy and how post-Cold War alliances have shifted which features conversations with diplomats, politicians and scholars.

The Week Ahead

Looking forward to a week that includes visits with family, golf, mahjong and perhaps a summer movie.  My son David is coming to stay next weekend for the Elvis Festival, so I look forward to hosting him.  So far today, the rain is holding off, so enjoy this beautiful summer weather, no matter what your plans entail.

Summer Delights…

It’s been a truly wonderful week.  I saw two movies in actual movie theatres, one play at Shaw and got to golf a couple of times with some lovely ladies.  The deluge of summer rain has resulted in my garden in Thornbury looking the best it ever has.  We had some wonderful dinners with friends, one eaten at the local restaurant that overlooks the town marina, and ending with a campfire under the stars.  TV has been somewhat limited, but here are a few recommendations:

Live Theatre

Me and My Girl was the big musical at Shaw this year. What a delight! Great singing and dancing in a show that makes fun of the British class system and is a bit of a send up of Pygmalion. Terrific performances from the leads and supporting players. Some great songs that will send you out humming the tunes. A totally entertaining and uplifting experience.

Netflix

Witnesses  is an 8-episode French crime series about a serial killer who stages his bodies frozen.  Very dark and intriguing.
Okja is a Korean fantasy film (and a very controversial screening at Cannes) about a genetically modified giant pig with Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano and Jake Gyllenhall as the name actors.  This film really belongs to the young Korean actress who plays Mija, the little girl who raises Okja the giant pig.  Totally unique and original and delightfully sardonic.  Watch for Steven Yeun (Glenn from The Walking Dead) as an ecowarrier.
Gypsy is a very strange 10-episode series about a psychotherapist (played by Naomi Watts) who gets way too involved in the lives of her patients.

The Keepers is a 7-episode documentary series about the unsolved murder of a nun and the horrific secrets and pain that linger nearly five decades after her death.

Streaming

New episodes of Animal Kingdom and Younger are available! Find them if you can, before these series air on Canadian TV later this year.

 

On the big screen

The Big Sick is an endearing romantic comedy about a real life relationship between the star Kumail Nanjiani and his real-life wife Emily. I adored this movie. Nanjiani is a regular on Silicon Valley where everything he says and does makes me giggle.
My Cousin Rachel is a new adaptation of the Daphne Dumaurier classic suspense novel. Sam Claflin and Rachel Weiss are perfectly cast as the two leads. British accents and period costumes = bliss.  The story doesn’t make a lot of sense and many films have dealt with poisoning and gas lighting since this story was written in 1951, so one almost has a deja vu experience watching it because it all seems so familiar.  However, even though this film is flawed, for me, this beautifully filmed trip back to 1890’s England is still a very enchanted experience.

Broadcast TV

CBS

Salvation – where is the asteroid!!! All I saw were lame romances! This show is extremely silly, and if they don’t start showing some CGI shots of the approaching asteroid, I will be tuning out very soon.

Zoo – I still can’t look away, but I did delete the last episode after watching about 15 painful moments of cheese.

Showcase

Suits is premiering new episodes! Do I still care about Mike and Rachel, Harvey, Donna and the egregious Lewis? I think not. I hope that Rachel (Meghan Markle) and Prince Harry make their wedding plans soon so that her character can be put out of her misery.

HBO

Game of Thrones returns this Sunday! There will be dragons!

AMC

Preacher continues its rapid-fire craziness. Turns out Tulip is married to a New Orleans crimelord. Who knew?

FX

The Strain returns for its 4th season premiere on Sunday night. This vampire apocalypse series is seriously nutty.  Turns out the Nazis were vampires!

CBC

Omar Khadr: Out of the Shadows This documentary gives you a picture of the human being that has been the source of so much angry focus this past week or so.  It may defuse some of the outrage that has been expressed regarding the $10.5 million settlement the Canadian government recently awarded him.  (More likely that angry Canadians will call for further defunding of the CBC). Very thought provoking.

Peter Mansbridge replacement project My vote goes to Wendy Mesley who has been soldiering on as an anchor very valiantly.  God knows the woman has paid her dues!

21 Thunder is a new series debuting next week on July 28.  It stars Colm Feore!  Even though it is about soccer, I will give it a chance, because Feore is a national treasure, despite the weaselly bad guy parts he usually plays in US based TV series.

PBS

My Sunday night  of British bliss continues with My Mother and Other Strangers, Grantchester, and debuting tonight Remember Me. Starring Michael Palin, Mark Addy and Julia Sawalha, this 3-episode miniseries tells the story of a man who moves into residential care who then becomes the sole witness to a violent death.

NBC

Midnight,Texas is a new supernatural based series (based on the novels of Charlaine Harris whose work was most famously turned into the series True Blood) that will have its debut on July 25. Psychic Manfred Bernardo moves to the small town of Midnight, Texas and meets his new neighbours. Among the inhabitants: a witch, an angel, a mysterious assassin, a local pawn shop owner and a reverend who may or may not be a werewolf. Can’t wait, but then I am a total sucker for this sort of thing.  Here’s the trailer:

W

Nashville continues its corny melodrama.  Despite the impulse to want to slap most of the main characters silly, I keep being drawn back to this increasingly lame show.

Comic Relief

Colbert (CBS) and Noah (Comedy) are both back with new episodes.  Samantha Bee is on Comedy on Wednesday at 10:30; The Jim Jeffries Show is on Tues at 10:30 (Comedy); The President Show is on Thursday at 10:30; Baroness Von Sketch airs on CBC Tuesdays at 9:30.

Closing thoughts

The week ahead promises some golf and Mahjong;  some gatherings with friends, and of course, lots of viewing possibilities.  I’m way behind on catching up on all sorts of shows I’ve been meaning to check out on Netflix. Today we’re attending a farewell party for some of our Thornbury neighbours who are moving to their next home in Meaford for their next chapter of retired life; there’s also a Jazz in the Park concert here in Thornbury that we will be attending if the weather stays dry.  Safe travels for everyone who may be headed off on holidays.  Enjoy the week, whatever it may hold for you.