It was a very enjoyable week that included a terrific book talk with one of my favourite thriller writers and a 2-day escape to the Stratford Festival to see 3 plays. I had to squeeze in my TV and movie addictions in the remaining available time:
Live on Stage at the Stratford Festival
Rocky Horror Show This wonderful musical has never been presented with more life and spirit. Great performances abound from all the major characters. The dance sequences are spectacular and the stage settings are great fun as we experience a rainstorm, bumpy car rides, a Transylvanian castle, mad scientist’s lab, etc.
An Ideal Husband This Oscar Wilde play is a little more serious than many of his comedies as it deals with a politician’s ethics as he is being blackmailed for using insider information to enrich himself. Beautiful costumes and terrific sets and set changes that are so magically done that the audience applauds.
The Music Man This wonderful Meredith Wilson musical from 1957 is given new life by a black leading man who manages to bring real soul to the part. Incredible dance numbers accompany each big show stopping number. Virtually every song is melodic and memorable. A tremendous salute to a simpler time in a simpler place (small town Iowa at the turn of the century).
Here’s what the NYTimes had to say about both the musicals:
Ocean’s 8 (feature film, 1 hr 50 min); delightful caper flick starring Sandra Bulloch, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, etc. Richard Armitage (Berlin Station, Strike Back) is the villain. James Corden makes a very humorous appearance as an insurance investigator.
Missionary Impossible: Fallout (feature film, 2hrs 27min); non-stop action as Ethan Hunt fights to stop an anarchist from destroying the world with a nuke. Great music and effects. Tom Cruise looks awfully good for a 59-year-old. Rebecca Ferguson, Michelle Monaghan, and Vanessa Kirby are the three femmes fatales. Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Alec Baldwin and Angela Bassett are all involved. Henry Cavill is big and muscular as the CIA agent Ethan is forced to partner with.
Daniel Silva at the Beth Tzedec. This wonderful evening at one of Toronto’s biggest and most beautiful synagogues featured a terrific interview with Silva conducted by the Toronto Star’s books editor and attended by 1000 admiring fans. Silva has written 18 novels featuring art restorer/Mossad agent Gabriel Allon as the hero. The novels are fast paced but also great character studies. They deal with situations torn from the headlines of terrorism, Russian espionage, etc. As a bonus for attending the Silva session, we all received copies of The Other Woman, his latest novel.
The Other Woman novel by Dan Silva; we’re back in the world of intrigue with Gabriel Allon and the Mossad. I have dived into the latest novel and am devouring it as Gabriel fights to clear his name after being framed by the Russians for murdering a defector.
Kompromat by Stanley Johnson We couldn’t resist ordering this comic political espionage novel when we found out it had been written by Stanley Johnson, father of Boris. Johnson has published 25 various fiction and non-fiction works and was an EU diplomat for much of his career. The novel is a hoot to listen to as the narrator, Richard Attlee, manages to do a myriad of accents representing all the countries in the European Union plus Russian, American, Australian, etc. The novel deals with Russian interference in both Brexit and the US election. It is extremely silly in its farcical elements. Who would believe a US presidential candidate cozying up to the Russian president and having a listening device implanted in his body as a result? A real roman a clef that has great fun with all the politicians involved. Johnson pokes fun at his own son Boris as he describes his extreme ambition to become Prime Minister. A rollicking satire of current events.
My usual addictions
The Affair HBO
Animal Kingdom Streaming
Queen of the South Bravo
The 100 The CW
All of the above are available on demand for catching up with your viewing.
I Feel Pretty (feature film, 1 hr 30 min) This very silly movie stars Amy Shumer as an overweight young woman who bonks her head and becomes delusional about how ravishingly attractive she is. Cringe inducing comedy ensues. Kind of an interesting companion piece to Dietland which is a much darker comedic look at issues of body image and fat shaming.
Blockers (feature film, 1 hr 30 min)Extremely silly teen comedy with a great cast (Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, John Cena) that unfortunately is built around a painfully unfunny plot about parents trying to prevent their daughters from losing their virginity on prom night. Ouch! I’m still cringing with embarrassment for all the actors involved.
Junun (feature film, 54 min) This documentary from director Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread, Inherent Vice, The Master, There Will be Blood, etc.) is mesmerizing as it shows a collaboration between an Israeli composer, an Indian band and Radiohead musician Jonny Greenwood filmed in a historic fort in Jodhpur, Rajahstan, India.No narration, interview questions, or captions. Very little dialogue. The focus is on beautiful photography of the area and the power of the music.
Binged on Seasons 1 & 2 of Bonus Family, a wonderful Swedish series about the joys and sorrows of blended families. Touching and funny.
I am still glued to my political satirists including Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Jim Jeffries, Samantha Bee, Sacha Baron Cohen (Who is America), and returning from hiatus tonight on HBO, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Moment of Zen
I’ll be recording my Sunday morning ritual, CBS Sunday Morning, today as we are headed out to meet longtime friends for breakfast. I find this show both soothing and inspiring with its gentle profiles and human interest stories. Be sure to stay tuned for its final moment of nature to get your week ahead off to a great start. It will make you feel happy to be alive.
It should be a great week to stay up at our place in Thornbury for our usual golf, mahjong, etc. A dear friend’s band is playing at one of the local concert halls and we will attend a dinner there as well. Stay cool and hydrated wherever you are. Warm hugs to our friends who are dealing with medical issues. Enjoy the week ahead.