We made the big move last Monday and spent two nights in our new place before retreating to Thornbury to squeeze in a couple of golf games, mahjong, and some meals with special friends. We are now in the one-month countdown to leaving for Florida by Oct. 23. I am currently setting aside clothing that will make the trip down to Naples with us. Here’s a summary of my viewing recommendations:
On the Big Screen
Toronto International Film Festival
We took a 5 film package, and although we didn’t get any of our first choices we did love two of the films we saw:
The Exception stars Christopher Plummer, Lily James and Jai Courtney as people caught up in the whirlwinds of history during WWII. Plummer steals every scene he’s in and was an absolute charmer at the Q&A after the film. He stars as Kaiser Wilhelm who lives out the remainder of his life after WWII in exile in Holland.
Frantz is a German French co-production directed by the prolific French director Francois Ozon. This moody romantic mystery also takes place in the aftermath of WWI as a Frenchman travels to France to meet the family of a young German he had befriended before the war. The performances from the French and German cast members are mesmerizing and the film shifts seamlessly from flashbacks to present day, from black and white to colour, etc.
Loving is a true story about an interracial couple in 1958 Virginia who were arrested and imprisoned for miscegenation. Played by Ruth Negga and Joel Egerton, they are calm quiet conservative folk who end up moving out of the state to avoid further prosecution as they quietly go about living their lives until they launch an ACLU fight to change the laws that so cruelly punished them. The film is complex with subtle quiet performances, but it does move at a fairly slow pace. Nothing flashy about this one.
Una stars Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn as a young woman who pursues the man who sexually abused her as a child. The film has an intriguing premise, but it asks far more questions than it answers. It really doesn’t go anywhere in terms of plot and character, and ultimately fails to engage the audience beyond its initially interesting set-up.
The Secret Scripture manages to waste both Rooney Mara and Vanessa Redgrave in a muddled mess of a movie that tries to combine the genres of wartime romance, psychological intrigue and Catholic guilt-mongering. It often fails to make sense on the most essential level. It’s absolutely awful and full of the most ludicrous coincidences and plot twists. I am still amazed that this film was part of TIFF as it is simply just a terrible movie, one which I would have gladly walked out of long before its painful ending.
In the Theatres
The Light Between Oceans is a film starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander based on a novel by M.L. Stedman. Both my book groups read the novel, so I was anxious to see the film. I thought the adaptation was lovely and true to the tone of the novel, even though it abbreviated many plotlines. Set in Australia after WWI, it tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia who raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat to disastrous results. The film is beautiful to look at and Fassbender and Vikander make a convincing romantic couple (in real-life too, apparently!).
TV – the new shows begin
Designated Survivor (Wednesdays on ABC) stars Kiefer Sutherland as a low-level Cabinet member who becomes President of the US after a catastrophic attack kills everyone above him. I have to confess that I was a fan of 24 and have been very curious about seeing Sutherland in a very different role. It also stars the delightful Natasha McElhone as his wife, and Kal Penn as his speechwriter. Penn famously set aside his show biz career a few years ago to go and work for Obama in Washington, so it’s fascinating to see him return to TV in a role that seems to mirror his real life. This will be an interesting show to watch, to see if Sutherland can save the country each week in an entertaining way.
The Good Place (Thursdays on NBC) stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. I found this show to be absolutely delightful as it tell s the story of a young woman mistakenly sent to Heaven rather than Hell as she is clearly an awful person. The premise of the show appears to be about her learning to be a good person. Very funny and whimsical.
The Exorcist (Fridays on Fox) is a TV adaptation of the 1973 film. I was delighted to see Ben Daniels appear as Father Marcus, Geena Davis is the embattled mom, Alfonso Herrera is Father Tomas. There is a major plot twist in the pilot episode, but so far the series is taking its time in building up the fright factor.
Maigret (Thursdays on BBC Canada) stars Rowan Atkinson (aka Mr. Bean). I couldn’t resist seeing this series as Atkinson does have one of the funniest faces ever. I kept waiting for him to do something hilarious as the famous Parisian detective. Sadly, the production was entirely grim and funereal. I had a wonderful snooze through much of the pilot episode which did a lovely job evoking 1950’s Paris, even if the entire cast spoke with the accents of Surrey.
I watched all 6 episodes of Line of Duty (Season 3 on Superchannel). This British series follows the story of an Anti-Corruption Squad (like our Internal Affairs) as it follows a team that is trying to solve the incredibly complex mystery of a killing by a police officer that leads to the uncovering of a pedophile ring that involved very senior police and public officials. This series is very complex and intense and I had to watch it until the mystery was solved. The last episode did seem to go off the rails in terms of ludicrous action scenes, but on the whole, it’s incredibly engaging.
I have recorded several other new shows but haven’t had a chance to watch yet, so I have some catching up to do.
I have also not caught up with some of my favourite ongoing shows (Mr. Robot, to name one) and will do a little more summarizing next week when life should have returned to a normal pace. For one of my favourite programs, CBS Sunday Morning, today was the farewell tribute to Charles Osgoode, its host of 23 years who is retiring and being replaced by Jane Pauley. I love this Sunday morning institution, which starts my Sundays with a truly Zen moment. Great interviews, profiles and culture segments.
The week ahead includes a return to routine for me as I rejoin my fitness classes, head to a screening of Bridget Jones’ Baby, and generally try to adapt to condo living.
And now, back to preparing the Thornbury house for winter and packing for Florida!!