Back home again with lots of catching up to do…

Our two wonderful weeks in Europe came to an end on Saturday. We did a Uniworld River cruise up the Rhone And Saone Rivers in France, followed by two days in Paris and 4 days in London. We flew to Marseilles and boarded the ship in Avignon with stops in Arles, Vivier, Macon, Lyon, etc.  Beautiful beyond compare.
Along the way I read a couple of books, watched a few downloaded series and then we managed to see four plays in London.
Here are some of our highlights from my reading, iPad downloads, and theatre in London:

Live on Stage in London

Everybody’s talking about Jamie This delightful musical is fabulous, funny and has great songs and dances.  It’s about a 16-yr-old who dreams of being a drag queen.
Strictly Ballroom The Musical Adapted from Baz Luhrmann’s award winning film, the show has been transformed into a very entertaining musical with 30 hits that are sung and danced to.
Hamilton The Tony award winning musical is brought to life at the newly renovated Victoria Palace theatre.  Featuring a hip-hop musical score and great dancing, the story of the self-destructive egomaniac who was America’s first secretary of the treasury, it’s a wonderfully engrossing story.
Company This wonderful revival of the 1970 Sondheim musical features Patti Lupone and has been updated with a female lead.  Great songs!

Watched on the Inflight Entertainment system on the flight over to Marseille

Meditation Park This wonderful little film is set in Vancouver’s Chinese community and tells the story of an aging woman who questions her life after suspecting her husband of having an affair. Stars Sandra Oh and Don McKeller.

La Bolduc This is the life story of Mary Travers also known by her stage name of La Bolduc. She was a musician and singer of French Canadian music who sang rapid patter songs that were adored in the 1930’s.

On the Big Screen

A Star is Born (2 h 15 min) Both Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are great in this film, but I do confess that I found it a little long and slow.  Probably as this is the latest of several remakes of the basic story, so there is very little suspense as we wait for Gaga’ star to rise and Cooper’s to fall.

Books in Print

I tucked in two paperbacks which I actually enjoyed and finished during our cruise.  Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police (small town police chief solves an apparent hate crime). Daniel Silva’s The English Assassin (Mossad’s Gabriel Allon pursues a killer across Europe).

On my Ipad downloaded from Netflix

The Party (1 h 11 min) This very black and bleak comedy is an ensemble piece about a dinner party to celebrate a political victory.  Great performances from Cillian Murphy, Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Cherry Jones, Emily Mortimer.  Probably too dark for most.
Anne (Season 2, 10 episodes) I loved the first season of Anne with an E, but admit to finding season 2 a little tedious.  She’s annoying me now.  Maybe I was exhausted from bingewatching on the plane.
Babylon (7 episodes) This hilarious look at the people in charge and on the front lines of a contemporary police force in the UK.  James Nesbitt and Nicola Walker are among the ensemble of British actors.
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (1 h 45 min) This wonderful film is a true story about the last days of Academy Award winning actress Gloria Grahame whose life was as tragic as many of her roles.  Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Kenneth Cranham and Julie Walters star.
The Angel (1 h 54 min) Overly long true story of espionage between Egypt and Israel.
Maniac (10 episodes) Two strangers are drawn to a mysterious pharmaceutical clinical trial that will solve all of their problems… Bat shit crazy!! Starring Joah Hill and Ema Stone.
Burn Burn Burn (1 h 45 min) Following the death of their friend, two girls embark on a road trip to spread his ashes.  Very sweet.

New on Netflix

Private Life (2 h 3 min) This highly recommended Netflix original stars Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn.  Here’s what a review from Variety said about it:
The Walking Dead (AMC,  9 seasons and I’m still watching this show!)  I can’t look away, no matter how sad or harrowing this series is.
Get Shorty (Epix, 2 seasons) Fabulous satire of filmmaking in Hollywood stars Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano.
Mr Mercedes (Audience/Superchannel 2 seasons) A very dark tale of the hunt for a mass murderer.
Better Call Saul (AMC, Season 4, 10 episodes) Prequel to Breaking Bad. Wonderful in its own right.
Shameless (Showtime/HBO – OK, it’s season 9 and I’m still watching this show!)  I can’t look away no matter how insufferable some of these characters have become.
The Sinner (Showcase Season 2, 8 episodes) Powerful story of a young boy with a mysterious past who murders two adults.

OK, now the task of catching up with new and returning programs begins!

Catching up with the new shows

Vanity Fair (CBC 7 episodes) This latest adaptation from ITV is sumptuous in its recreation of regency England and the venal ambitions of Becky Sharpe to climb to the top of society.
Manifest (NBC 13 episodes) Absolutely awful and clunky as an opposite to Lost plotting (this time the plane gets lost for 5 years but reappears mysteriously). I have only suffered through 1 episode, but doubt I will return.
New Amsterdam (NBC  7 episodes) Full confession: I really liked Ryan Eggold (Tom from The Blacklist) so I have caught up with a couple of episodes of this one despite the insufferable characters and ludicrous plotlines.
Mayans MC (FX 11 episodes) Sequel to Sons of Anarchy with a largely hispanic cast as we delve into the world of motorcycle gangs and cartels.

Catching up with the returning shows

911 (Fox Season 2, 16 episodes) The high-pressure experiences of first responders continue…
Tracey Ullman’s Show (HBO Season 3, 6 episodes) Her sketch show continues to skewer British society and world leaders.  I find her hilariously funny!
American Horror Story (FX Season 8, 10 episodes) Bat shit crazy show now focusing on a post-apocalyptic world where demons reign.
The Resident (Fox Season 2, 13 episodes) Oh the melodramatic medical mysteries go on and on…
CBS Sunday Morning (CBS, 40 seasons) My Sunday morning ritual continues.
Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Bill Maher, Jim Jeffries, Samantha Bee,
Saturday Night Live alL continue to make me laugh at the news of the day.
Poldark (PBS Season 4, 8 episodes) Aidan Turner continues to ride the Cornwall Bluffs in full romantic hero mode.  Very dashing indeed!
The Durrells in Corfu (PBS Season 3, 8 episodes)  Keeley Hawes continues to enchant as a rather Bohemian mother of 4 trying to live cheaply in Corfu in the years leading up to WWII.

Closing thoughts

It’s good to be home and I have to confess that a head cold has confined me to the couch in case you are wondering how I managed to watch so much TV over the last few days.  It’s hard work, but someone has to do it. Our son and daughter-in-law are on the road to Naples and are driving our car down for us, but unfortunately, a hurricane is threatening along the way.  Best wishes to all who are travelling in these stormy days and  hugs to my friends who are dealing with medical challenges.

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