Busy, busy, busy…

It has been a somewhat hectic week.  We spent last weekend visiting friends in the Keys and touring Key West. I then had to get back into the swing of things with exercise classes, golf, Mahjong and perhaps most important of all, my Academy Awards countdown (inspired by last weekend’s Golden Globes Awards).  I did host a Girlfriends of Treviso Bay coffee party to introduce 30 new residents to each other and to the myriad activities that we now offer in our community, so having now tidied up my place, I will take a few minutes to make some recommendations.

On the Big Screen

Jackie stars Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy dealing with the aftermath of JFK’s assassination.  She is tremendously effective as the incredibly intelligent and sensitive First Lady, however the film is a little slow-paced, and I did actually wake myself up at one point with my own snoring.  This is a very subtle and nuanced film which takes a very multi-layered approach to telling her story.  I was struck by what a young woman she was, coping with an incredibly painful and difficult reality. The film is very poignant in its references to Camelot, the myth of the once and future king.  Great resonance to today’s presidency which we will one day look back on with the benefit of hindsight and history. Note to self:  scheduling movie outings for afternoons can coincide with my natural nap time.

Lion stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman.   It’s about the journey of a man who is adopted as a 5 year-old by a couple in Tasmania, who gradually decides to search for his real family in India. The film is very touching and inspiring and I was very happy to find a package of Kleenex in my purse during the last segment of the film.  Bring your hankies!

Moonlight is a small independent film that tells the story of Chiron, a young black man, who comes of age as he comes to terms with his sexuality.  We see the story told in 3 stages:  childhood, adolescence and adulthood.  There are wonderful performances  by character actors:  Mahershala Ali is very powerful as a drug dealer who helps him as a child; Janelle Monae is the dealer’s compassionate girlfriend who takes care of him in her home; Naomie Harris is his drug addicted mother. This film is filled with touching scenes of a harrowing childhood and adolescence.  Most poignant of all is the final chapter where Chiron has developed such a guard against the world, a toxic masculinity that’s led him down dark and dangerous alleys to avoid facing who he really is. This is the most challenging, and perhaps most rewarding and thought provoking of the 3 films I saw this week. Not for everyone.  The total opposite of a feel-good movie.

Streaming

I’ve been glued to Amazon this week!

The Man in the High Castle has unveiled its second season and is just as murky and puzzling as Season 1.  The hypothesis of the show (what would the world be like if Germany and Japan were the victors in WWII) is now being questioned by an alternate reality world where the outcome of the war is challenged.

Sneaky Pete is a Bryan Cranston/Giovanni Ribisi series about a con man desperately trying to save his brother from the clutches of an evil policeman turned crime lord.  Wonderfully unpredictable with lots of plot twists and turns.  The wonderful Margo Martingale stars as a grandmother trying to salvage the family Bail Bond business.

Hulu

I caught up with the last episode of Chance (starring Hugh Laurie) this week.  Incredibly dark and labyrinthine. Gretchen Mol steals the show as a femme fatale with multiple personality disorder.

On the Broadcast Networks

CMT

Nashville is back and soapier than ever!  Juliette’s in a wheelchair and back with Avery; Raina and Deacon are worried about their future; Maddie is an intern at a recording studio; so enjoyable!!

FX

Taboo starring Tom Hardy debuted this past week.  It’s a historical drama from the Peaky Blinders team that tells the story of a man who is on a campaign of revenge against the East India Company set in the 19th century.  Crazy and dark!

HBO

The Young Pope (starring Jude Law and Diane Keaton) begins its 10 episode run tonight and will air on consecutive Sun and Mon nights for the next 5 weeks. From the reviews, this is no ordinary look at the Papacy, but should be a wild ride.

NBC

Emerald City Despite my horror of reboots, I have found this new look at The Wizard of Oz, quite fascinating.  If you liked Wicked (prequel to The Wizard of Oz) you might like this version.  Great special effects that would, of course, been unavailable in 1939.

Grimm has debuted its final season.  Kind of lacklustre as this monster of the week show tries to bring its plot lines to conclusion.

Chicago Fire and The Blacklist continue.  I’m still waiting to Tom Keen (aka Ryan Eggold) to get his own show The Blacklist: Redemption which debuts on Feb 23.

PBS

Sherlock on Masterpiece Mystery will be airing its final episode tonight. Although I do like Benedict Cumberbatch, I find this series terribly self indulgent and a snoozefest at times.

Victoria on Masterpiece Theatre will debut tonight for all of you fans of The Crown and Downton Abbey.  Ahhh, period costumes and British accents.  I will be in heaven!

Showtime

Homeland returns tonight and we’re back in the USA approaching the inauguration of a new president.  Quinn is in an awful way after his ordeal in Berlin and Carrie is trying to save him and the rest of the world.

The Affair continues its story of a man who blows up his marriage and life to have an affair with a sultry waitress.  A cautionary tale.

TNT

I finished watching the last episode of Good Behaviour with Michelle Dockery. Catch up with this one on On Demand if you missed it (not sure when and where it will air in Canada).  Lady Mary from Downton Abbey will knock your socks off as a southern con woman trying to get custody of her son.

TBS

I have been bingeing on episodes of People of Earth, a Conan O’Brien produced series about a group of alien abductees who meet in a support group.  This show is clever and hilarious.  Try and find it On Demand or when it debuts in Canada (on Comedy, I believe).  It is filmed largely in Canada and is filled with Canadian actors.

TVLand

Younger ended its third season on a terrific cliffhanger this week.  Can’t wait for Season 4 to start.

Audible.com

George and I finished listening to When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.  It is a memoir about his life and illness, battling stage IV metastatic lung cancer.  Touching and inspiring.  It is very much about a life lived with courage and a great sense of purpose.

Book Group

Our book group read A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler. I loved this family saga and was happy to finally finish a novel by Anne Tyler.

Guilty Pleasure Reading

I am now devouring my third novel by Dan Silva, author of 19 espionage novels. I started with his last two books, The English Spy and The Black Widow and then purchased Moscow Rules and The Defector as tales of Russian espionage abound in today’s news cycle.  I can’t wait for the next James Bond film, although I would settle for just about anything starring Daniel Craig (soon to be seen in the TV adaptation of Jonathan Franzen’s Purity).

Comic Relief

Samantha Bee (Full Frontal on TBS), Trevor Noah (The Daily Show on Comedy) and Stephen Colbert (The Late Show on CBS) have all given me many moments of laughter and insight regarding the upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump. Last night’s Saturday Night Live had a great opening segment with Alec Baldwin impersonating Trump at his press conference and Weekend Update also had some great lines re the wisdom of Trump alienating the media and doing a hilarious run down of the Cabinet Nominees.

Final Thoughts

The Academy Awards are approaching on Feb. 26, so of course, I will be doing my own countdown in an attempt to see as many of the films as I can.  Hidden Figures, Fences, and Elle are all on my list.  This week I am going to my first club Trivia Night, and attending my usual golf and mahjong games, bocci ball, exercise classes, etc.  George and I bought Pickleball rackets over the summer and are going to play our first game tomorrow night.  Pray for me as I am not particularly gifted at racket sports (I believe some kind of rapid side to side movement is involved, and I far prefer it when people hit the ball to my exact location, so that no running is required).  Enjoy your week!

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