I attended yesterday’s Women’s March in downtown Naples. It was a totally positive and inspiring experience. I love this country and happen to think it’s already pretty great, so it was wonderful to see so many like-minded women (estimated to be about 2500) marching together to keep this country great. Among the many signs that people carried was one in particular that simply stated, “Make this country kind again.” Courage, hope and strength is my wish to all my American friends for the future.
Back to my usual predilections, the Academy Award nominations come out Tuesday, so I am busy doing my countdown to see as many of the films as I can before the awards on Feb. 26. And now for some recommendations:
On the Big Screen
Hidden Figures is a wonderful film that tells the previously untold story of three black women who worked for NASA in the sixties. It shows an era where women in the space program were rare and to have 3 black women who played important roles is phenomenal. This was still during the period of segregation where even going to the coloured only bathrooms forced these women to scamper furtively for great distances (not to mention, not being able to attend university, segregated lunchrooms and all the archaic restrictions on women of every colour in the Mad Men days) . Great performances from Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae.
Goliath is an 8 episode legal series starring Billy Bob Thornton as an underdog lawyer going up against his previous powerful law firm as he tries to uncover the real story behind a wrongful death suit against an aerospace company. I had started watching this series back in October when it premiered and didn’t get back to the last 5 episodes or so until this past week. For serious Billy Bob Thornton fans only.
Sneaky Pete is a 10 episode series starring Bryan Cranston and Giovanni Ribisi. Cranston is a crime lord and Ribisi is the con man out to save his brother by insinuating himself with a family of bail bondsmen. I loved this and binged on the entire series last week.
The Man in the High Castle has returned for its second season and is a high concept mystery series that hypothesizes what the world would be like if the Germans and Japanese had been the victors in WWII. Hypnotic and strange, I encourage everyone to take a look.
Grimm (Friday), Emerald City (Friday), Chicago Fire (Tuesday), and The Blacklist (Thursday) are all very enjoyable guilty pleasure shows. Pure escapist entertainment!!
Suits returns this Wednesday for more episodes in this legal drama. Mike’s out of jail, Rachel has had a job offer from her dad’s law firm, Jessica has left the firm and Harvey and Louis are battling to save the firm.
Colony has returned on Thursdays with the backstory of the alien invasion and the rise of the resistance.
Outsiders (produced by Paul Giamatti) returns this Tuesday with its story of a struggle for power and control set in the rugged and mysterious hills of Appalachia. Outsiders tells the story of the Farrell clan, a family of outsiders who’ve been in these parts since before anyone can remember. Living off the grid and above the law on their mountaintop homestead, they’ll protect their world and defend their way of life using any means necessary.
Taboo (Tuesday) with Tom Hardy tells the story of adventurer James Keziah Delaney who builds his own shipping empire in the early 1800’s. Mysterious and slow paced, this series hasn’t hit its stride yet. For serious Tom Hardy fans (of which I am one) only, I suspect.
Young Victoria debuted last Sunday and is a fabulous British costume drama about Queen Victoria’s early years. Ahhh… for those missing The Crown and Downton Abbey, this is just the ticket!
Mercy Street starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead returns tonight. It follows the lives of two volunteer nurses on opposing sides of the Civil War – New England abolitionist Mary Phinney and Confederate supporter Emma Green.
The Young Pope starring Jude Law (a 10 part mini-series) debuted last Sunday and airs two episodes a week on Sunday and Monday evenings. This fantasy tells the story of the beginning of the pontificate of Lenny Belardo, alias Pius XIII, the first American Pope in history. I can’t say I’m in love with this challenging, surrealistic series. Lenny is no modernizer. He has chosen a name that places him in a line of conservative papacies (Pius XI was a big fan of Mussolini) and is intent on restoring the church to its former glory. Uh oh… “Make the Vatican Great Again?”
Gotham is another guilty pleasure show for me about Batman when he was a boy. I am a huge fan of Ben Mackenzie (The OC) who plays James Gordon, Batman’s mentor. Great villains (Penguin, Riddler, et al) are also shown in their early days. Total escapism!
Homeland returned last week and continues the story of a bipolar CIA operative who is now back in the USA and preparing for the inauguation of the first female president (I guess things looked a little more Hilarian when the season was penned). Great suspense is building.
The Affair continues its story of an author (Dominic West) who blows up his marriage and family to have an affair with a waitress. Dark and sensuous, this is a cautionary tale of the chaos that ensues his decision.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (Comedy), The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS), and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee all poke fun at the news. Jimmy Kimmel (Jimmy Kimmel Live!) gave a great summary of how much fun he intends to have over the next 4 years with Donald Trump as President.
Saturday Night Live with Aziz Ansari as host last night had an outstanding show.(the Putin opening sketch; Ansari’s monologue about the new lower case kkk; a movie sketch making fun of La La Land and Westworld; a superb Kelly Anne Conway/Bob Fosse musical number; a very touching To Sir With Love closing). Catch it on demand or Youtube if you missed it.
CBS Sunday Morning
This show is my Sunday morning ritual. It takes a measured look at human interest stories, celebrity profiles and today’s news. Touching, hopeful, and inspiring, it’s a softer, more tender version of 60 Minutes. As it closed a segment on a group of Naples area high school students (from hardscrabble Immokalee) who attended the inauguration, it stated that “any civil discourse should begin with civility.”
I am looking forward to the week ahead which will feature Pickleball (much more strenuous than I had imagined as I thought it might be a little more like ping pong where your opponent hits the ball directly to you) and instead it features running for the ball after twilight with microscopic bugs attacking you in the extreme Florida heat; I have a couple of Mahjong games scheduled as well as a couple of golf games and our weekly Bocci Ball game. I also love my fitness classes here and am actually lifting weights, and doing Pilates and Yoga. I’m still reading my Daniel Silva spy novels (I’m about to start The Defector as I’m in a Russian state of mind) and I have started my book group novel, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah about WWII and the French Resistance. As for the political climate here, I am encouraged that those of us on opposite sides of the political discourse can agree to disagree agreeably. Have a wonderful week wherever you are!