Well, the weather has continued to be frightful, so we took advantage of enforced indoors time and caught up on some viewing. Here are some of my recommendations:
On the Big Screen
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri stars the indomitable Frances McDormand. Here, she is channeling her magnificent misanthropic Olive Kitteridge performance as the mother of a murdered teenager on the warpath against local law enforcement who have been unable to find the killer of her daughter. Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell also turn in touching and powerful performances.
The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins. There really aren’t adequate words to describe the magical world this movie creates. The Amphibian gill-man from the Amazonian lagoon is mesmerizing and you will be holding your breath at the sequences between Hawkins and her beast. I loved this sweet fable of a movie that manages to meld the genres of films like Creature from the Black Lagoon, Beauty and the Beast, ET and Splash while creating a world that is very distinct and original. I was transported by its very nonjudgemental look at a love affair between this alien creature and the sweet woman who is enchanted by him.
Lava Field and Trapped are two Iceland set crime series. We spent 5 days in Iceland in October of this year and so I was very curious to see these two mysteries. The desolately beautiful landscapes are perfectly captured and provide a wintry backdrop for both series. Lava Field is told in 4 episodes and Trapped takes a whopping 10 episodes to depict its very complicated tale of small town corruption.
La Mante (The Mantis) is a not so good French series about a serial killer. The acting is kind of awful and wooden and the storyline is ludicrous at times. The French could take a few lessons from the Scandinavians. I loved Spiral, another French TV crime series on Netflix), and this one isn’t nearly as good.
Here’s an article from the NYTimes on French TV series:
Manhunt: Unabomber I finally sat down and watched this engrossing series about the hunt for mad bomber Ted Kaczynski and found it to be a perfect follow-up to Mindhunter (a terrific series about the origins of behavioural profiling in the FBI). Sam Worthington and Paul Bettany turn in strong performances as FBI profiler and prey.
Bright Sadly, this fantasy/sci fi original Netflix film falls under the “hate watch” category as I found it absolutely unwatchable. It features a great cast with Will Smith, Joel Edgerton and Noomi Rapace, but it is so ludicrous and awful that I challenge you to watch the whole thing. I love the concept of a buddy story of two mismatched police partners (one being human, the other being an alien creature), but this concept was done so much more enjoyably in both the 1988 film Alien Nation (starring James Caan, Mandy Patinkin and Terence Stamp) and the subsequent 1989 Alien Nation TV series (starring Gary Graham and Eric Pierpoint). If this isn’t warning enough for you, take note of its 28% Rotten Tomatoes rating. My favourite review is very succinct: “Worth watching for the sight of Will Smith beating a fairy to death with a broom, but it takes a far more sophisticated grasp of the fantasy concept to really get away with Mordor.”
Countdown to Awards Season
The Daily Beast has it’s top 20 films you should see before The Golden Globes and Oscars are handed out:
My Regular TV Fare
There’s been very little original TV programming over the last week, but I did see the most recent Shameless (seen in Canada on HBO, but in the US on Showtime). Canadians will be very amused by William H. Macy’s rendition of “Oh Canada” as he begins a new career as a coyote helping immigrants gain illegal entry to Canada. Fiona attempts a new romance and may finally be leaving the Gallagher household for an apartment of her own.
Moments of Zen
As usual, I write this while watching CBS Sunday Morning. Their “Hail and Farewell” segment honouring those in the public eye who died in 2017 is a real trip down Memory Lane. It may bring both smiles and tears.
Tonight I am recording our local PBS affiliate’s Great Performances show. Last Sunday night, PBS featured the Broadway production of She Loves Me (revival of 1983’s Harnick and Bock musical – they are best remembered for Fiddler on the Roof). Tonight’s show is a tribute to composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, so well remembered for his musicals West Side Story and Candide. Enjoy if you love musicals as much as I do!!
We are looking forward to celebrating New Years this evening with longtime friends. It’s been a frigid holiday season this past couple of weeks in Ontario, but we did reconnect with friends and family, especially our mothers who are both in their nineties. I am so looking forward to writing this blog next Sunday from the comfort of our home in Naples, Fl. Our very best wishes to all of you for a wonderful celebration tonight and a healthy and joyous 2018 to come!