It has been a week of sadness mixed with joys. My husband and I got out to walk the golf course in Thornbury while we played 9 holes on a gorgeously sunny, yet decidedly cool and windy day. Sadly, two longtime friends have passed away. One, a neighbour of over 30 years, died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 64 and with no previous history of heart disease. Another, a golf buddy of longstanding, died after a battle with pancreatic cancer. They will both be missed and the message of “Carpe Diem” calls out more loudly than ever, so in a tribute to departed friends, it’s important to celebrate our gift of life, and to never forget that it can be taken away very unexpectedly, so here’s how I have been celebrating life this past week.
On the Big Screen
Esquire has a great article on the 10 Great Movies that were booed at the Cannes Film Festival:
Last week we attended a one-man show of New York Stories presented by Micah Barnes (formerly of The Nylons) at the gorgeously renovated and restored Gayety Theatre in Collingwood. He is a terrific singer and storyteller currently taking his show across Canada. We were lucky to be seated with his Collingwood-based aunt and uncle, so we felt like we were almost part of the family. If you have a chance to see this gifted performer, please do see his show.
This past week, I attended The Bodyguard with a friend at the Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto. I have to admit that although I enjoyed the music and especially the singing of Beverly Knight in the lead role, this is a seriously flawed show. It has a ridiculously thin plot that the writers have tried to enhance by adding in characters that didn’t exist in the movie and a love triangle plot that makes no sense whatsoever. There was much giggling and chuckling throughout the audience over clumsily staged action scenes involving the stalker who is after “Rachel” throughout the entire show, and in fact, the audience began to laugh every time the villain made a hulking appearance. As is now the convention with every modern musical, the cast assembled on stage for their curtain calls and launched into a reprise of several musical numbers from the show. When the villain started dancing at the end of the show, the audience went completely berserk with laughter. If you actually see this show, don’t run to the parking lot before the curtain calls are over, as they are actually more entertaining than the musical itself. The music consists of Whitney Houston’s greatest hits, and it is poignant now to be reminded of what a talented artist she was and what a great loss her early death is.
What I’m Listening To
Bryan Cranston: A Life in Parts is our current “read” while driving. Cranston is a gifted storyteller and writer and hearing him read his own life story is a treat. However, similar to Alec Baldwin’s recording Nevertheless, there’s a little too much tedious detail that the average reader is likely not fascinated by.
If you haven’t caught up with Anne, the new version of Anne of Green Gables, do yourself a favour and give it a look. I binged yesterday on the first 4 episodes and am absolutely loving it. Amybeth McNulty is wondrous in the lead role, as are Geraldine James and R.H. Thomson as Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. Enjoy! For a wonderful article in the NY Times (as reprinted on Flipboard) read:
Einstein’s Genius premiered this week. This miniseries stars Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Flynn as both older and younger Einsteins. The series depicts how patent clerk Einstein could not get a teaching job or doctorate in his early life, yet managed to go on to solve the secrets of the universe.
The Last Kingdom (a co-production with the BBC) continues the thrilling story of Alfred the Great and his efforts to unite England.
Riverdale (originates with the CW in the US) continues its subversive retelling of the Archie story.
Dear White People is a series adaptation of the movie of the same name which is set at a predominantly white Ivy League college where a diverse group of students navigate various forms of racial and other types of discrimination. Narrated by Giancarlo Esposito (Gus from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul)!
Girlboss (starring Britt Robertson as Sophia) follows the story of Sophia, a misfit, who discovers a passion for fashion, becoming an unlikely businesswoman in the process. As her business grows, however, she has to learn to cope with life as her own boss.
Designated Survivor continues its imaginary tale of what would happen if a decent, well intentioned fellow were to accidentally become President of the US.
Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show has hit its stride in its merciless skewering of Trump and the right wing every weeknight from M – Fri.
CBS Sunday Morning has finished recording as I write this blog. Segments include the closing of the Ringling Bros. Barnum &Bailey circus; singing duo Hall & Oates; astronomer Neal DeGrasse Tyson; the Liberty Bell, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey bellmakers; Albert Einstein; Jonathan Demme, etc. I always anticipate watching this show, and its closing moment of nature, with great pleasure.
Great News (starring the amazing and hilarious Andrea Martin) debuted last week: A New Jersey mom puts her relationship with daughter to the test when she lands an internship at her new job, which comes with many challenges. I was very amused by this series, and it’s wonderful to see Andrea Martin in a role that is tailor made for her.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is based on the wonderful book of the same name. I frankly found the telefilm adaptation tedious and prosaic, although it does star a wonderful group of actors who gamely try to bring this fascinating story to life. If you haven’t read the book, you may be intrigued.
The Leftovers is possibly the saddest TV series ever, but it is taking some weird and wacky turns this season. We are currently in Australia!!!
Veep is wickedly following the former President, Selina Meyers as she tries to secure her legacy.
Silicon Valley I love these silly boys who struggle to find funding for Pied Piper’s video chat app. I particularly love Kumail Nanjiani who plays Dinesh and has now taken charge of Pied Piper. He has a film out about his life which just debuted at Sundance called The Big Sick, which I can’t wait to see!
Billions (starring Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti) tells a suspenseful tale about a cat and mouse game between a US Attorney and his quarry, a ruthless hedge fund manager.
Real Time with Bill Maher continues to amuse and inform while skewering politicians.
Samantha Bee White House Correspondents Dinner/ CNN (Actual) White House Correspondents Dinner: I just finished watching Samantha Bee’s WHCD which did have some standout moments, particularly the parody of The Man in the High Castle segment, which showed an alternative version of history where Hilary Clinton got elected and then promptly impeached. Her “In Memoriam” tribute to Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly was also pretty funny.
We had to do a lot of fast forwarding through the CNN coverage of the event which featured a keynote speech by Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Comedy (which I watch religiously every night at 11 pm). Once he finally appeared on stage at the end of the show, Minhaj got in some good remarks about the irony of a Muslim speaking at a dinner that is roasting a President who has sponsored a Muslim ban. There was a mixture of jokes and very pointed political commentary about Trump’s assault on freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The evening also featured a stirring segment with Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward talking about the importance of the first amendment to the US constitution which guarantees freedom of the press.
A Handmaid’s Tale (a miniseries adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel) premieres tonight. I found the novel and the movie adaptation starring Natasha Richardson very dark and disturbing 20 years ago. Apparently, this new version is very timely indeed, as that dystopian future may be closer than ever. Here’s what the NY Times had to say about it:
The 100 has returned with new episodes about attractive young people in space. You can catch previous episodes on Netflix.
Gotham (about Bat Man as a boy and Inspector Jim Gordon when he was a 30-something) returns for new episodes tonight.
Great shows I’m following at the moment include The Americans and Fargo. Esquire has an intriguing article debunking what it calls the myth of prestige TV:
If you liked Breaking Bad, you need to see the prequel, Better Call Saul.
Tonight’s British Drama lineup includes Call the Midwife, Home Fires and a repeat of the Wolf Hall series.
The Expanse I was delighted to be able to find this series (which originates on SYFY in the US and is showing previous episodes on Netflix) on Rogers On Demand. This thrilling saga of conflict between the Earth, Mars and the Asteroid Belters is fascinating and has pretty good special effects. It’s Game of Thrones meets Battlestar Galactica. Thomas Jane has the original lead role and there is a wonderful cast of supporting players that features many Canadians. Look for the remarkable Iranian sultry-voiced actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo, as a UN official trying to stop war from breaking out.
The White Princess continues the story of the rise of the Tudors.
Summer TV Premieres
Esquire has a rundown of the upcoming summer TV season:
A dear friend is performing his music live this afternoon at our neighbourhood cafe in Thornbury so George and I will be attending with pleasure. Sunday night is full of TV delights and I will thoroughly enjoy having an opportunity to watch my lineup of recorded programs at my leisure. Back in Toronto later this week, we will be celebrating birthdays with our daughter-in-law and our younger son with a family dinner! Today is clearly an “April showers bring May showers” kind of day, so enjoy the day by taking some time to reflect on your blessings whatever they may be. Stay dry! (Unless you’re in Florida where I believe it is incredibly hot, humid and scorchingly dry with the lowest amount of rainfall in many years.)