Labour Day Weekend and Summer (and summer TV) Comes to an End

I had a very busy wonderful week with lots of golf, hikes, dinners with friends and two longtime friends who came to stay with me in Thornbury where we saw three days of films at the Meaford International Film Festival as well as attending local markets, walking the Beaver River and the shore of Georgian Bay and spending a daily allotment of time in and around my backyard pool in the hottest, muggiest weather I experienced this summer. (Whew, that was an exhaustingly long run-on sentence!)

Festival Films
The first film we saw at the festival was Red Army a documentary about the Red Army hockey team that was an unbeatable force during the Cold War. The film is thought provoking as it centres on Slava Fetisov, the galvanizing force of the Russian team who has a larger than life personality. The film follows his journey from Soviet team player to NHL star to Russian Minister of Sports under Putin and beyond. Coincidentally, I have been reading the biography of Vladimir Putin called The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin by Masha Gessen. A man of mystery who was forged by his KGB career, Putin is revealed as an incredibly ruthless man without a soul who is known for his pilfering, pettiness and poison.  The film manages to track the demise of the Soviet Union as it follows the story of the Russian team and Russian players are allowed to leave to join the NHL during Perestroika (the reform movement initiated by Gorbachev during the 1980’s) while the Russian government extracts a major percentage from their lucrative contracts as the price of their freedom.

The second festival film was A Brilliant Young Mind about a teen age math prodigy in Britain who attempts to join the UK Math Olympiad Team. Great performances from Asa Butterfield, Sally Hawkins, Eddie Marsan and Rafe Spall. A wonderful touching human story of a triumph over tragedy, first love, and the mystery of genius.

The last film was by far the most original. Speed Sisters tells the story of the Palestinian women’s sports car racing team. With marginal training facilities, lack of societal support and against all odds, this team of diverse ayoung women are able to achieve a type of freedom and independence that is not usually found by women in the Arab world. It also manages to put a human face on the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Thought provoking and exhilarating it’s a truly original film that deserves to find an audience  and has yet to find distribution.
In General Release
I also managed to see a newly released film last week called Mistress America. Directed by Noah Baumbach and starring his wife Greta Gerwig, the film explores the coming of age of an 18 year old aspiring writer and college student who is inspired by her future stepsister, a madcap 30 year old who is trying to find her way in NYC. Funny and sad, the film shows how difficult it is for 30 somethings to pursue their dreams. Very talky and a little slow paced, this film will not appeal to those who find Miss Gerwig less than scintillating.
Available on the Internet
A friend asked me a while back if I had ever watched Friday Night Dinner.This 20 minute (no commercials) Britcom is available for streaming. Starring Tamsin Greig (famous for Episodes) as a Jewish mother in London who serves Friday night dinner without fail to her family consisting of an absent minded eccentric husband who strangely never wears a shirt as he is always too hot, and her two twenty something sons. They are regularly visited by an extremely annoying neighbour, her mother, the boys’ girlfriends, etc. Very, very funny. I watched all three seasons, each season consisting of 6 episodes, in rapid succession. I loved it!

On Netflix

The BBC miniseries Dancing on the Edge debuted on Netflix recently and I finally watched the first 5 of 6 episodes. It’s about a black jazz band in London in the 1930’s. It stars Matthew Goode, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Goodman, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Head, etc. Great cast and a fascinating story as the band deals with a tragedy that threatens to destroy its future.

Season Finales – Major Spoiler Alerts!
Defiance blasted the Lawkeeper into outer space.
The Last Ship blasted the submarine to Smithereens.
Tyrant saw what is likely the last of Jamal as Barry considers the long term possibilities of Abudin.
Falling Skies had Noah Wylie blast the enemy aliens right off the earth and all was well again.
Murder in the First saw the young mass murderer found guilty.
The Whispers saw a season of unbelievable hokum come to an end. I actually can’t remember how the season finale ended but somehow the alien re activated all the children he has once possessed. Pointless!

Regular series I managed to catch

Zoo stumbles along with more species going bonkers.

Graceland floats towards its series finale with Briggs looking more and more suspicious.

Not Caught up yet!
Still haven’t managed to catch up with my regular shows like Mr. Robot, Fear the Walking Dead, The Strain, Ray Donovan, I am Cait, Married, etc. it’s been a very busy week and I didn’t actually get to watch much TV. Too much time spent lying by and in the pool having cool beverages with friends. Kind of a wonderful end to a great summer spent mostly in Thornbury!  Happy Labour Day everyone!!

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