Tidying up before we go…

Three days to go before we fly home.  In that time, we are catching up with friends and neighbours before we lose touch with them.  I have two more golf games to go, a few exercise classes to attend and a refrigerator to empty out.  Hard work, but someone’s got to do it.  This past week we had the great pleasure of travelling up to Sarasota, Bradenton Beach and Longboat Key to reconnect with our Thornbury friends who assembled en masse just before American Thanksgiving.  We got to see the fabulous Ringling Museum and had a great golf day at the Longboat Key Club.  We celebrated our first American Thanksgiving in our new Golf Clubhouse.  Best turkey ever, but the political discussion got a little overheated and I found myself a bit uncomfortable as Trump supporters were under barrage by our table full of liberal minded Canadians.  It has been hard for our Canadian friends to see how much support there is for Trump here, when the promises he has made seem so intolerant and harsh regarding immigration, healthcare, the environment, support for NATO and foreign trade agreements, etc.  Everyone is trying to remain positive and hope for the best despite the daily announcements regarding cabinet and civil service appointments being filled by candidates with incredibly right wing views.  Sigh… we shall see what happens as time goes on.

Netflix

The Crown has proven to be the perfect antidote to the Trumpocalypse.  If you haven’t watched this magnificent series yet, give it a try.  Here’s a link to a Toronto Star article that explains why watching this series is very therapeutic for you:

http://startouch.thestar.com/screens/b4786a4f-51d0-4b08-80ea-97248fe99a5e%7C_0.html

Streaming

Hell or High Water is a modern day Western set in West Texas and starring Jeff Bridges as a small town sheriff on the trail of two bank robbing brothers.  Suspenseful and sad, this film shows a portion of the disenfranchised US working class who were so unhappy with the economy that they took desperate measures to improve their situation. Sound familiar?  The film has been hailed as a small masterpiece and is extremely touching.

Chance is the great new show on Hulu that stars Hugh Laurie as a forensic psychiatrist who is drawn into a film noir scenario by a sultry woman with whom he is infatuated.

Berlin Station is a new series on Epic that stars Richard Armitage as a British spy operating in contemporary Berlin.

The Kettering Incident is a New Zealand TV series set in Tasmania and London about a woman who has survived an alien abduction. Very dark and mysterious.

TBS

Search Party is a 20 episode comedy series about five self-absorbed 20-somethings who become entangled in an ominous mystery when a former college acquaintance suddenly disappears.  It is available in its entirety on demand here.

People of Earth (Tuesdays) is a delightful comedy series about alien abductees.

TNT

Good Behaviour (Tuesday) is a noir suspense series that stars Michelle Dockery as an exconvict who is forced to work for a contract killer in the south.  Who knew Lady Mary from Downton Abbey had such range?  She is incredibly convincing as a down on her luck gal from the backwoods of Tennessee.

USA

Shooter (Tuesdays) stars Ryan Philippe as a former Marine sniper who has been framed for the assassination of a foreign leader.

PBS

Poldark (Sunday) is airing its last episode of the season tonight.  Set in Cornwall in the early 19th century, this former soldier tries to set things right in his ancestral home after he returns from military service.  Set in Cornwall and featuring lots of scenes of the tall, dark and handsome Aidan Turner riding his steed along the Cornwall cliffs while his tousled curls are gently tossed by the ocean breeze, this is one romantic period drama.

HBO

Westworld (Sunday) airs its last episode of the season tonight. It has gotten more and more bleak and mysterious as we find out what is really behind the robots’ rebellion.

Divorce (Sunday stars Sarah Jessica Parker) is a wry look at the conscious uncoupling of a suburban couple.

Showtime

The Affair (Sunday) stars Dominic West as a writer who is drawn into an affair that wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone involved.

The CW

Crossover episodes of all the CW superhero shows air this week, especially my fave, Arrow. True confession, I am addicted to Arrow (Wednesday).  I love Stephen Amell’s character, his 5 o’clock shadow, his costume and his hilarious ability with a bow and arrow. This week Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and DC Heroes of Tomorrow all join forces to defeat alien invaders.  What could go wrong?

Fox

Gotham (Monday) is a close second in my guilty pleasure list.  I love Benjamin Mackenzie’s sad faced Inspector Jim Gordon and the depiction of young Batman.  Great fun.

Final Thoughts

We are off to golf with Thornbury friends in Bonita Springs tomorrow.  It has been an absolutely glorious fall here in South West Florida with hardly a drop of rain or an overcast sky.  Our beach walks and sunset cocktails will soon be replaced by cautious steps on icy sidewalks and nights spent warming ourselves by the fireplace in Thornbury.  We are looking forward to the Old Fashioned Thornbury Christmas celebrations and lots of get-togethers with family and friends in both Toronto and ski country. A fond farewell to all our friends here and we look forward to returning for our New Year’s celebration which will be spent watching the fireworks on the Naples beach from the comfort of our favourite restaurant in the dockside area.  To all our travelling friends over the next month, safe journeys.  To all our  northern friends and family, stay warm and we will see you soon!

Our last week in Paradise…

We will head home next Wed. Nov. 30 to spend a month back in Canada, before we head back to Florida just in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  It has been a very strange week here in the time that has passed since the Election.  Everyone is on tenterhooks to see how the new Administration will shape up and there is much uncertainty about the state of the nation right now.  I have decided to remain hopeful that Trump cannot possibly follow through on all his election promises as they constitute major and expensive program and policy changes, not to mention the Wall, the deportation of millions, the rollback of Obamacare, etc. We shall have to wait and see.  In the meantime, I am going to highlight some of the films and programs I have been watching.

On the Big Screen

The Arrival is a very cerebral science fiction film with a time travelling twist.  Full disclosure:  I watched this film at our Mercato Silverspot Cinemas after dining at a restaurant (with an incredibly liberal Happy Hour policy) called Blue Martini.  The combination of two of the best Mojitos I have ever had plus the cinema’s incredibly comfortable reclining leather seats caused me to doze through much of the film.  From what I was actually conscious for, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are part of an effort to communicate with visiting alien spaceships and the movie is framed by references to their life together in the future.  Very mysterious and layered.  Not your usual alien invasion fare.

 

Netflix

The Fall is now complete in 3 seasons on Netflix.  I finally finished watching Season 3 this week.  Gillian Anderson (X Files) is haughty and complicated as a Police Detective from London assigned to Belfast to mount a case against a serial killer played by James Dornen (50 Shades of Grey). Season 3 is full of twists and turns and shockingly suspenseful bursts of violence.  The series simmers with lots of complex characters and a slowly unwinding plot.

Paranoid debuted on Netflix this week.  This British crime series is filled with cliches: older cop romances younger cop; eccentric witness becomes involved with cop; cops latch on to easy suspect; etc.  The dialogue for this series seems incredibly silly and the tone is very uneven with comic turns scattered amidst the investigators’ conversations.  I have made it through 3 episodes of 8 so far and will give it a further go before deciding whether I hang in for the whole series.

Streaming

As a way of escaping reality, I dipped into a few family films:

The BFG – I tried to watch this Spielberg film and had to admit defeat when the film kept stopping and eventually gave up.  I will come back to this one as it stars the great Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies Oscar winner).

Pete’s Dragon – tried to watch this Disney film and I was frustrated by constant stops.  From what I could see in the first 6 minutes or so, their is a very silly looking furry and cuddly dragon at the heart of the film.  I don’t think I need to watch the entire film.

The Secret Life of Pets – started watching this film and lasted through about 30 minutes.  The beginning of the film is adorable as we see the pets frolicking in their owners’ absence.  It then degenerates into an adventure film where the hero has been abducted and must be found.  I will watch the rest of the film, only when I can find a child willing to watch it with me.

NBC

SNL (Saturdays at 11:30) has been very watchable.  Last night’s show (hosted by Kristin Wiig) featured Alec Baldwin in the cold opening as his very popular Donald Trump character.  I think this sketch overshadowed the rest of the Thanksgiving themed show as it showed Trump coming to terms with the difficult task of carrying out his election promises.

Fox

The Exorcist (Fridays at 9) continues its silly way of showing the effort to exorcise a teenage girl who has become possessed by the devil.  Unintentionally hilarious!

TNT

Good Behaviour (Tuesdays at 9) stars Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary on Downton Abbey).  Dockery plays a down on her luck drug addict and grifter who is reluctantly forced to go into partnership with a contract killer.  Lady Mary, who knew you could convincingly play a Southern gal with a very dark side?!!

 

USA

Shooter (Tuesdays at 10) stars Ryan Philippe as a former Marine sniper framed for the assassination of a US President.  Intriguing!

Amazon Prime

Goliath starring Billy Bob Thornton is an 8 episode miniseries about a down on his luck lawyer who goes to war against a big corporation and his old law firm.  Very old fashioned in a way.  The ludicrous dialogue has made me decide to give up after 3 episodes.  For serious BBT fans only.

Hulu

Chance is an 11 episode miniseries starring Hugh Laurie as a forensic psychiatrist who gets drawn into the case of a femme fatale whose husband is a very bad man. I love Hugh Laurie and will watch him in anything!

TVLand

If you haven’t discovered Younger (Wednesdays at 10) yet, see if you can find it on demand or through streaming.  I am extremely amused by this comedy about a 40 something who must pretend to be a 26 year old in order to get a job in publishing.  Sutton Foster is delightful in the lead role.

Closing Words

I have been consciously looking for escape in film and television over the last week or so.  Art can be very therapeutic in working through pain and anxiety, so I recommend you all immerse yourself in something very joyous (try The Crown on Netflix if you haven’t discovered it yet).  It’s going to be a very busy week here for us as we gather with friends for soothing golf games, mahjong games, cocktails, dinners, etc.  If you’re in the South, enjoy the beautiful weather.  I will see my family and friends in the North soon and I look forward to lounging under an afghan on a comfortable couch and enjoying the holidays with all of our loved ones.

 

Trumpocalypse!!!

Well, the other night when 16 Canadians gathered in our living room in Florida to watch the election results, the election didn’t turn out exactly as we thought it would.  We were horrified to watch the spread of red states while Hillary’s progress slowed.  It has since been a week of quiet contemplation here.  Florida was one of the first states to be declared for Trump and Collier County where Naples is located was also one of the first counties to be declared Republican.  On our drive down from Toronto 3 weeks ago, we were dismayed to see the preponderance of Bush signs and the almost total absence of Clinton signs.  It’s going to be a very interesting period of adjustment to the incoming regime.  Can Trump actually act on all the hateful promises he has made?  We’ll have to wait and see if calmer heads will prevail re healthcare, the environment, foreign policy, tax cuts for the wealthiest, immigration, mass deportations, making America white again, etc.  Scary times!  In the meantime, I’m going to make some soothing recommendations re your tv watching.

 

Netflix

If you haven’t started bingeing on The Crown yet, please do yourself a favour and take a look.  We finished watching all 10 episodes of life in a simpler time, when tradition was everything and the world was in awe of the British royal family.  So nostalgic!  This is in the mode of Downton Abbey comfort viewing, but it’s all based on actual events.  For me, nothing says soothing like British accents and period costumes.

A Royal Night Out stars Canada’s own Sarah Gadon as Princess Elizabeth in 1945, the night of VE Day in London.  The two young princesses are allowed out of Buckingham Palace for one night to experience the celebrations with the common folk.  This is a very slight piece of entertainment, but if your The Crown viewing leaves you with an appetite for more royals, this may satisfy your craving.

PBS

These days Sunday nights on PBS the British rule in three different series:

The Durrells in Corfu follows the adventures of a expat British family trying to adjust to life on a Greek island in a ramshackle house surrounded by eccentric characters.  It is a delightful escape to a simpler time in a charming place.

Poldark is a romantic period piece set in the late 18th century and it follows the exploits of the swashbuckling former soldier Ross Poldark as he returns to Cornwall following his military service in the War of Independence. As played by the Irish actor Aidan Turner, he’s dark and brooding in a Heathcote kind of way.

Indian Summers  is set in India in the waning days of Empire.  British eccentrics abound as the country thrashes its way towards independence.

HBO

Great choices abound on Sunday nights:

Westworld is moving slowly to the inexorable rise of the robots.  There will be blood.

Divorce (starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church) details the increasingly unpleasant movement toward divorce of a yuppie couple.

Last Week Tonight (Sundays at 11) with John Oliver should be an amazing show tonight as Oliver will undoubtedly hilariously share his concerns regarding the upcoming term of office of President Trump.

Real Time with Bill Maher (Fridays at 10, but on hiatus now until January).  This past Friday’s show was Maher and his panel trying to deal with the aftermath of the election.  Worth a look on demand, but you’ll have to hold your breath until January when the show will return.

Showtime

Masters of Sex (Sundays) is still following the career and lives of Masters and Johnson as they find themselves under siege from rival sex therapists who have stolen their methodologies.

Hulu

Chance stars Hugh Laurie as a forensic psychiatrist who is drawn into a case by a mysterious femme fatale.

Amazon Prime

Goliath stars Billy Bob Thornton as a downfallen attorney who seizes a chance for redemption in going up against a behemoth corporation.

AMC

The Walking Dead (Sundays) is trying to vary its tone from the terribly sad and violent opening episode of this season. Harrowing and gruelling to watch, this post apocalyptic tale of zombies threatening what’s left of mankind is not for everyone. Having started this journey, and stuck with it for 6 seasons, I can’t look away until this terrible tale comes to an end.

TVLand

Younger (Thursdays) is a great show about a 40 something woman masquerading as a 26 year old millennial in order to get a job in publishing. Great fun as it pokes fun at technology and the world of millennials. Sutton Foster is the lead and she is endearing.

FX

Better Things (Thursdays) is a great series about a working actress in Hollywood who is also a single mom raising three daughters. Funny and touching. The great Celia Imrie plays the grandmother.

FXX

You’re the Worst (Wednesdays) is about mismatched hipsters in LA. It was wonderful and fresh when it started, but I have tired of it and don’t know how much longer I will hang in with it.

NBC

The Good Place (Thursdays) is delightful as it tells the story of a young woman who has mistakenly ended up in Heaven, when she really deserves to be in Hell.

Chicago Fire (Tuesdays) is my unabashedly guilty pleasure show. Hunky firemen and ridiculous subplots abound.

The Blacklist (Thursdays) has run around in circles re the lead character’s parentage. I don’t care anymore. Just give Tom his own show!!!  Now on hiatus until January.

Saturday Night Live (Saturdays at 11:30) has used Alec Baldwin to portray Donald Trump this season and he has done a great job. Dave Chappelle hosted last night’s show.

TBS

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (Monday 10:30). Bee is wonderful at making devastating comments about the electoral process. Her post election special was full of her unyielding skepticism re the election results.

People of Earth (Tuesdays) debuted last week and is a hilarious sitcom about a support group for people who believe they are alien abductee survivors. Very cute.

CBS

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (nightly at 11:35) has been fabulous in the run-up to the election. Watching Colbert cope with the aftermath should be very entertaining.

Comedy

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Mon-Thurs at 11:00) has also done a great job leading up to the election. His post election analysis should be interesting to watch.

The CW

Arrow (Wednesdays) has me hooked and I only have one explanation. Stephen Amell is the lead and he is deliciously Canadian.

ABC

Designated Survivor (Wednesdays) stars Kiefer Sutherland as a man who didn’t want to be President who has the job thrust upon him. Still intriguing.

Final Words

It has been a whirlwind 3 weeks here.  The weather has been amazingly sunny and hot.  This week promises to be fairly action packed: tonight we are headed to the beach for a neighbours’ sunset cocktails and appetizers; on Monday Mahjong continues; Tuesday I am playing my usual ladies’ day golf; on Wednesday we are participating in a Canadians only golf tournament and dinner; on Thursday there is a cocktail party being hosted at our glam clubhouse by a developer who is building a new gated community of high end housing in the middle of our golf course; on Friday we’ll be out to dinner with friends at a waterfront seafood eatery. Plus there’s a fitness class every day of the week!!  I think I’m going to need a break in Canada to get ready for Christmas.  Until next week, enjoy the seasonal weather wherever you are and if you have a chance (and have Netflix), take a look at The Crown as it will offer you 10 hours of escape from the anxiety of our times.

 

 

 

Oh my goodness…

Well, this should be a very memorable week to be in Florida, the battleground state.  I will be hosting a get-together here for our Canadian neighbours on Election Night.  We have learned to be very circumspect in our comments on the political scene, as many of our neighbours are decidedly conservative in their views.  Last year at this time, I couldn’t believe that there was still a year to go of election campaigning.  Just today, the Comey revelations appear to be much ado about nothing, to Clinton’s despair, I’m sure.  Fingers crossed that the best woman wins.  In the meantime here are some recommendations for your viewing pleasure:

On the Big Screen

Both George and I really enjoyed reading the novel A Man Called Ove.  We were delighted to be able to attend the film yesterday and I thought it was a great adaptation.It is a wonderful tale about Ove, an ill-tempered, isolated Swedish retiree who spends his days enforcing block association rules and visiting his wife’s grave.  He has finally given up on life just as an unlikely friendship develops with his boisterous new neighbours. Bring out your handkerchiefs.

Netflix

The Crown (10 episodes in season 1) focuses on Queen Elizabeth II as a 25-year-old newlywed faced with the daunting prospect of leading the world’s most famous monarchy while forging a relationship with legendary Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill. The British Empire is in decline, the political world is in disarray, and a young woman takes the throne…a new era is dawning.  Peter Morgan’s masterfully researched scripts reveal the Queen’s private journey behind the public facade with daring frankness. Prepare to be welcomed into the coveted world of power and privilege and behind locked doors in Westminster and Buckingham Palace…the leaders of an empire await.  We’ve watched the first 5 episodes of this wonderful series and I am going to savour the rest.  It will be a long time before something this beautifully produced will appear again.

Hulu and Streaming

Chance continues to air episodes of this thriller starring Hugh Laurie and Gretchen Mol.  Very noir.

Amazon Prime

Goliath continues to air episodes of this series starring Billy Bob Thornton, William Hurt and Maria Bello.  A disgraced lawyer, now an ambulance chaser, gets a case that could bring him redemption or at least revenge on the firm which expelled him.

PBS

Sunday night is ruled by PBS with The Durrells in Corfu, Poldark, and Indian Summers.  All three are wonderful series.  People who say there is nothing of quality on TV are sadly missing out on these gems.

AMC

The Walking Dead (Sundays) is trying to vary its tone from the terribly sad and violent opening episode of this season.  Harrowing and gruelling to watch, this post apocalyptic tale of zombies threatening what’s left of mankind is not for everyone.  Having started this journey, and stuck with it for 6 seasons, I can’t look away until this terrible tale comes to an end.

 

HBO

Westworld and Masters of Sex both air on Sunday nights.  Again, quality television that is worth watching. Divorce with Sara Jessica Parker is a comedy that is written by the same author as Catastrophe.  While not nearly as funny, it is worth a look. Also on Sunday night is Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. This show has been praised for its terrific analysis of public affairs issues and Oliver has great fun poking fun at the US political scene.  Friday night’s political comedy comes from Real Time with Bill Maher.  He actually had an interview with President Obama this past week. It was also a great pleasure to see former Canadians Martin Short and David Frum opine on the presidential campaign.

TVLand

Younger (Thursdays) is a great show about a 40 something woman masquerading as a 26 year old millennial in order to get a job in publishing.  Great fun as it pokes fun at technology and the world of millennials.  Sutton Foster is the lead and she is endearing.

FX

Better Things (Thursdays) is a great series about a working actress in Hollywood who is also a single mom raising three daughters.  Funny and touching.  The great Celia Imrie plays the grandmother.

FXX

You’re the Worst (Wednesdays) is about mismatched hipsters in LA.  It was wonderful and fresh when it started, but I have tired of it and don’t know how much longer I will hang in with it.

NBC

The Good Place (Thursdays) is delightful as it tells the story of a young woman who has mistakenly ended up in Heaven, when she really deserves to be in Hell.

Chicago Fire (Tuesdays) is my unabashedly guilty pleasure show.  Hunky firemen and ridiculous subplots abound.

The Blacklist (Thursdays) has run around in circles re the lead character’s parentage.  I don’t care anymore.  Just give Tom his own show!!!

Saturday Night Live (Saturdays at 11:30) has used Alec Baldwin to portray Donald Trump this season and he has done a great job.  Benedict Cumberbatch tried his best this week to prove he is funny, but the writing defeated him in most of the sketches he was in.

TBS

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee will be showing its last pre-election episode on Monday night.  Bee is wonderful at making devastating comments about the electoral process.

People of Earth (Tuesdays) debuted last week and is a hilarious sitcom about a support group for people who believe they are alien abductee survivors.  Very cute.

 

CBS

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (nightly at 11:35) has been fabulous in the run-up to the election.  There will be a live show on SHOWTIME this Tuesday night.

Comedy

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Mon-Thurs at 11:00) has also done a great job leading up to the election.

The CW

Arrow (Wednesdays) has me hooked and I only have one explanation.  Stephen Amell is the lead and he is deliciously Canadian.

ABC

Designated Survivor (Wednesdays) stars Kiefer Sutherland as a man who didn’t want to be President who has the job thrust upon him.  Still intriguing.

Final Words

It’s shaping up to be a busy week.  Between Mahjong, 3 golf games, a variety of exercise classes, and dinners with friends (not to mention the election night party), we’ll be very busy.  The weather has been perfect, although this weekend’s time change means sunset is shockingly early despite the balmy weather.  What’s up with that?  For those in the North, stay warm and we will see you in December.  For our southern neighbours, enjoy this beautiful weather and let’s all hope that we don’t live to regret Tuesday’s election.