Well, we’ve been in our condo for a week now and are gradually adjusting to underground garages with pillars that jump out at you from nowhere, bundle buggies to transport your possessions from the garage to the 23rd floor, etc. One thing we really have enjoyed is the direct entrance from our complex to the subway. We have used the subway for all our TIFF outings, a trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario, last night’s trip down to the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema, etc. I do miss the ability to walk out my front door and hop in my car (no pillars involved), but hey, I can always do that in Thornbury and Naples. We are now setting aside items that will make the trip down to Florida with us and are hoping to leave by Oct. 21 with a brief stop in Pinehurst, NC on our way. In the meantime here are my recommendations:
The Meddler is a cute little film starring Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne about a widow who follows her daughter out to LA after her husband’s death. Sarandon’s character initially lacks purpose aside from obsessively involving herself in her daughter’s life and it follows her journey of finding new purpose in life. JK Simmons and Michael McKean appear in small supporting roles as men who become interested in Sarandon. Very sweet movie.
The Movie Network and On Demand:
Gods of Egypt is truly a movie that has to be seen to be believed. It is a film that was savagely criticized for its white faced casting as Gerard Butler plays a Scottish accented Egyptian god Set and Nicolaj Coster Waldau (Scandinavian actor from Game of Thrones) gamely takes on the role of Horus. The script is hilarious and has a ludicrous plot revolving around Horus’s attempt to gain back his power. They really don’t make them like this anymore, but as I am a sucker for anything with swords, sandals and monsters, I had to watch this one. For aficionados of the genre, only.
At the Cineplex:
Bridget Jones’ Baby is a sequel to the first two films. Renee Zellweger reprises her role as does Colin Firth as Darcy. Patrick Dempsey plays the new guy. I have to admit that I find this series to be a little lame and predictable and sadly, Zellweger’s appearance does rather preoccupy. She is now 47, but her eyes are perkier than they ever has been. Much has been written about the injustice that actresses face when their looks are scrutinized as closely as their performances. Again, I have to ask the question “Why didn’t they just cast an actual British actress in this role?” I kept waiting for her accent to falter, but she’s actually pretty passable. Spoiler alert: the film seems to hold out the hope that Hugh Grant may actually appear in yet another sequel. I do have a soft spot for him, and would like to see him nominated for his dance scene alone in Frances Foster Jenkins. I’m not a big fan of this movie, which works extraordinarily hard to be a feel good film (obtrusive musical score underlies almost every scene) and Bridget actually dances on her bed in her opening scene. On a final note, Emma Thompson gets a writing credit for this script and she does manage to give herself some pretty good lines as the obstetrician who tries to cope with Bridget’s dilemma. For serious Bridget Jones fans only!!
The Bloor Cinema Hot Docs:
Command and Control is a chilling documentary based on the book by Eric Schlosser. It recounts the real life incident in 1980 Damascus, Arkansas that almost resulted in nuclear Armageddon. The lesson of this film is that the world’s nuclear arsenals are not as safe as they should be and that we shouldn’t ignore efforts to assure that a nuclear weapon does not go off by accident, mistake, or miscalculation. The film is riveting and dismaying. It expertly combines dramatic recreations, CGI tours of the missile site and interviews and archival footage of the people involved.
The Second Season of Narcos was a 10 episode endurance test. Still gripping, but the hunt for Pablo Escobar is painful and long and the last 3 episodes were difficult to watch as the task force slowly closes in on him. Spoiler alert: there will be a 3rd season, as there are still plenty more Narcos out there.
Amanda Knox debuted this weekend. It tells the story of the American student who was twice convicted and acquitted of the murder of her roommate in Italy. Amanda Knox and the people closest to her case speak out in this illuminating documentary.
Luke Cage is the latest instalment of Marvel’s superhero series following Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Cage is a hoodie-wearing, unbreakable ex-con who fights to clear his name and save his neighbourhood. He wasn’t looking for a fight, but the people need a hero. Incredibly timely in this age of Black Lives Matter and Income Inequality.
Poldark (Sunday night on Masterpiece Theatre) continues the stirring story of Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner). Poldark is a brooding hero who looks fabulous with his shirt off or on. The gorgeous Cornwall coast is the other major star of this series and Poldark gallops dramatically past the sea at some point in most episodes.
Indian Summers (also Sunday night on Masterpiece) continues the tale of British expats boozing and idling away their days in Simla, India as the Raj comes to an end and the country nears its independence.
The Strain (Sunday night) still has humans fighting the Strgoi in a most entertaining way.
Better Things (Thursday night) still amuses as Pamela Adlon plays an actress in LA who raises her three daughters while juggling the pressures of working in Hollywood and being a single parent.
You’re the Worst (Wednesday night) has taken on some serious topics lately: severe depression, the loss of a parent, and this week, PTSD. Pretty heady topics for a comedy about LA misfit hipsters.
Undercover (Monday night) came from the BBC and appears to have ended its first season of 6 episodes on a cliffhanger. Very dark series about an undercover cop who marries the woman he is supposed to be informing on and they are married for 20 years before she finds out the truth.
This Life (Sundays) has its Season 2 premiere tonight and Natalie embarks on an experimental drug trial, unsure if she’s receiving the placebo or the true treatment. Later, she and ex-husband David Clash. I loved this series last year and will be trying to catch it when I am in Florida where it’s a little difficult to keep up with CBC.
Kim’s Convenience debuts on Tuesday night. A series about a Korean-Canadian family who run a convenience store in downtown Toronto, opens with Mr. Kim deciding to offer a store discount to gays, while Mrs. Kim seeks a hip, Christian-Korean boyfriend for Janet.
The Romeo Section has its Season 2 premiere on Wednesday night.Wolfgang gets a colleague to help investigate a possible government conspiracy; Rufus kicks it up a notch in the heroin business; and Lily learns how much of a coveted asset she’s become.
Masters of Sex (Sundays) just gets more intriguing. The partners come to a new arrangement and Hugh Hefner is actually a recurring character this season.
Quarry (Fridays) tells the story of a Viet Nam vet trying to make a living as a hitman.
Real Time with Bill Maher (Fridays) continues to debate the upcoming US election and all the related issues.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (Sundays) continues to find the funny in world news and issues.
Gotham (Mondays) stars Ben Mackenzie (The OC, Southland) as a young Inspector Jim Gordon in the early days of Batman. This is one of my guilty pleasure shows, and I make no apologies for enjoying its pure silliness.
The Exorcist (Fridays) stars one of my favourite British actors, Ben Daniels (Flesh and Bone, The Exception, House of Cards, The Paradise, Law & Order UK, etc.) as Father Marcus. Geena Davis is the beleaguered mom whose teenage daughter appears to be possessed by the devil. A fun modern take on the scariest film ever made (at least in my failing memory).
Designated Survivor (Wednesdays) stars Kiefer Sutherland as an ordinary man who suddenly becomes US President after a terrorist bombing kills all those above him more qualified to succeed. Great fun so far! Will he rise to the occasion?
McGyver (Fridays) is a remake of a series I never watched in the first place. I must admit, I have gotten to the ‘who cares anyway’ stage with the plotlines, so I may not stay with this one.
Elementary returns Sunday nights with a modern take on the classic crime fighting duo of Holmes and Watson. I love Jonny Lee Miller, but I must admit, I had gotten to the ‘who cares anyway’ stage with last season’s stories. I tended to fast forward a lot last year, and stopped watching midway through the season.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (nightly Mon-Fri at 11:35) is often brilliant in its comic take on public affairs and Colbert’s hilarious world view. I do like Colbert and look forward to his skewering of all and sundry.
The Good Place (Thursdays) had a great first episode and a not so great second episode. Stars Kristen Bell as a woman wrongly assigned to Heaven after she dies. A truly terrible person, she spends the season trying to fit in and not get reassigned to the bad place.
The Blacklist (Thursdays) is a totally guilty pleasure show for me and I watch it only for the character of Tom played by Ryan Eggold. He has morphed from hero to villain and back to hero again. I understand he is getting his own spin-off series called The Blacklist: Redemption, and then I shall never have to watch this silly show again. I apologize, but I have never been a James Spader fan. That guy is a total hambone!
Saturday Night Live (Saturdays at 11:30) returned last night for its umpteenth season and starred Australian actress Margot Robbie as the host. I fell asleep after the first election debate opening skit (Alec Baldwin played Donald Trump and was actually not quite as funny as the real Donald). New players are featured and Taran Killam will be missed. I will try and catch up on the rest of the show.
The Comedy Network
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Mon-Thurs at 11) has had a tough time with some critics. I really do enjoy Trevor Noah’s worldview (he’s biracial from South Africa) and I think he’s delightfully funny. He hasn’t been an unqualified success as Jon Stewart’s successor, and I fear for his survival.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (usually Mondays, but there has been a Wednesday show the last two weeks). Great writing and savagely satirical, Bee is having great fun working up to her first US Election where as a dual Canadian/US citizen she can actually vote. I love this woman!
Queen of the South (Tuesdays) is a bit like a female driven Narcos. We are in Texas and an illegal Mexican immigrant is on the run from a cartel run by a nasty politician who is after her. Told in flashbacks, we see that she will eventually run her own cartel. Great concept!
Queen Sugar (Wednesdays) is directed by Ava Duvernay (Selma) and airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network in the US. It’s a meditation on mourning and family as a family comes together to run their late father’s farm after his death.
I’m sure I’ve left some things out (as usual) and there are probably lots more shows making their debut over the next week that I have been too lazy to track down. This week we are back north doing a little closing down of our place (lawn furniture must be brought in) and I will be catching up with a little golf, Mahjong and packing for Florida. We are going to celebrate the marriage of a long-time friend’s son as a week of Indian celebrations culminates with a final party in King City on Friday evening.