He is the champion!

Last week was a great one for George – not only did he celebrate a birthday with a little help from his friends, but he won the Seniors and Super Seniors Championship titles at our golf club.  Yippee!!! It couldn’t have happened to a nicer fellow.  We entertained friends visiting from Toronto and we managed to sneak in a trip to an actual movie theatre.  Here are some more screen time recommendations for you:

On the Big Screen

Yesterday (1 h 56 min) A struggling musician realizes he’s the only person on Earth who can remember The Beatles after waking up in an alternate timeline where they never existed.  We had the great pleasure of seeing this with our friend who was in a Beatles cover band for many years.  If you are a Beatles fan, this is absolutely must-see viewing.  Himesh Patel is wonderful as the musician and you will enjoy Ed Sheeran’s supporting role as he plays himself as the Salieri to Patel’s Mozart.  Directed by Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis, this is a romantic musical comedy that is an absolute joy to watch.

Returning show alert

PBS

Grantchester (Season 4, 6 episodes) Catch James Norton while you can as the dishy vicar is about to exit this series. In the premiere of Season 4, Sidney Chambers attends a talk by the Reverend Nathaniel Todd, a key part of the Civil Rights movement in America.  During the event, protestors disrupt Todd’s speech and release fireworks, causing the audience to panic and leading to a crush as dozens of people try to escape through a locked door.  In the chaos, a man is stabbed and killed by an unseen assailant.  The murder sees racial tensions spike and Geordie is called in to investigate.  Robson Green stars and Tom Brittney makes his first appearance as James Norton’s successor.

Superchannel , Hulu

Harlots (Season 3, 8 episodes) Brothel owner Margaret Wells struggles to raise her daughters in London during the 18th century. Very bawdy indeed!

Netflix

Capernaum (2 h 6 min, from Jordan in Arabic with English subtitles)  While serving a five-year sentence for a violent crime, a 12-year-old boy sues his parents for neglect.  This was a film festival favourite last year.  Incredibly touching and a wonderful performance by all the children in the film. If you watched Shoplifters (from Japan, another festival favourite), it’s a very interesting comparison film, as the ersatz family of thieves in Shoplifters is so much more affectionate and nurturing than the genuinely horrific biological parents in Capernaum.
Anima (10 endless minutes)  Long version music video from the mind of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.  It is a mind bending, artistically shot and choreographed artistic film.  Featuring music from Yorke’s Album Anima.  I will never get those 10 minutes of my life back while watching this pretentious, incredibly boring film.

CBC Gem

Greyzone (10 episodes, 45 min each) A character-driven drama and thriller series about the events leading to a terror attack in Scandinavia. I thoroughly enjoyed this Nordic noir about preventing a terrorist attack.
Warigami (10 episodes, 10 min each) I am loving the short form video format.  Origami: beautiful paper folding, killer weapons, or both.  Enjoy this comedic thriller.

HBO

The Loudest Voice (7 episodes) Limited series about Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News.  It focuses on the past decade in which Ailes arguably became the Republican Party’s de facto leader, and the sexual harassment accusations that brought his career to an end.  Russell Crowe, Sienna Miller, Seth MacFarlane and Naomi Watts star.
Divorce (Season 3, 6 episodes) Divorced couple Robert and Frances are both trying to make fresh starts but find their new lives less easy than they had hoped for.  Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church are very likeable stars.
Years and Years (6 episodes) Follows a busy family from Manchester with their lives converging on one crucial night in 2019.  Stars Emma Thompson, Rory Kinnear. Very scary dystopian film set mostly in Trump’s second term in office.
Jett (11 episodes) World-class thief Daisy “Jett” Kowalski is just out of prison and already being forced back into what got her there, by a group of eccentric and dangerous criminals.  Carla Gugino headlines a great cast in this one.

Crave

Mary Shelley (2 h) The life of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who at 16 met 21-year-old pet Percy Shelley, resulting in the writing of Frankenstein.  Ahh, British period costumes and accents!!! Elle Fanning is terrific in the lead role and Douglas Booth makes for a dreamy but devilish Shelley.

PBS

Vera (Season 9, 4 episodes) In Blind Spot, the first episode of Season 9, DCI Vera Stanhope investigates the murder of a trainee forensic psychologist found dead on a Northumberland landfill site.  Brenda Blethyn stars as a kind of north country Columbo who seems like a rumpled, folksy, and kindly auntie, but who doesn’t miss a trick in the murders she investigates. Delightful!

Showcase

Mother Father Son (8 episodes) A psycho-thriller set within systems of power in politics, media and the police.  Richard Gere, Sarah Lancashire and Helen McCrory star. A bit of an incoherent start to this star studded series, but I’m giving it another chance.

Streaming

Yellowstone (Season 2, 10 episodes) Bonanza meets modern Wyoming.  Cattlemen versus oil barons, and even worse, property developers.  Kevin Costner stars in this modern day western.
Younger (Season 6, 12 episodes) Kelsey is now the publisher and Liza and Charles are still madly in love.  Sutton Foster is wonderful as the 40 something masquerading as a millennial.
Los Espookys (6 episodes, in Spanish with English subtitles) A group of friends turn their love for horror into a peculiar business, providing horror to those who need it, in a dreamy Latin American country where the strange and eerie are just part of daily life.  Fred Armisen stars in this Spanish language series.  Made for HBO in the US, there’s a reason it’s not airing in Canada, as the market for this type of very odd show would be very small. Very peculiar, indeed, but I’ll give it another chance.
The Boy Band Con: The Lou Perlman Story (1 h 39 min) A look at the rise and fall of boy band impresario Lou Pearlman, who not only discovered NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, but set up one of the largest ponzi schemes in US history.  Quite the tale of seduction and deceit. Your heart goes out to all who were fooled by this charlatan from Queens, NY who became the King of Orlando for a while.

Comic Relief

Hopefully everyone is coming back from holidays soon as all my favourites (Colbert, Noah, Bee, Oliver, Maher, etc) have been on hiatus.  What with hurricanes and ICE deportations, we need humour more than ever.

Closing Words

I’m heading off to golf shortly, and afterwards we are going to have a family birthday dinner with our kids this evening.  The beautiful weather seems to be continuing, so please enjoy your summer wherever you are. My moment of Zen (delivered via CBS Sunday Morning) is going to have to wait until a calmer time as I have no time to watch it today.

 

So much to binge on….

Well, it’s been a great week!  We had a lovely visit with friends in Niagara-on-the-Lake which included a live theatre performance.  We managed to get in lots of regular activities like golf and mahjong and a lovely night out with some lady friends.  When I wasn’t either eating or golfing, I managed to get in a little screen time.  Here are some recommendations:

Live on Stage

Rope (at the Shaw Festival) I was so disappointed by this lacklustre stage adaptation of Hitchcock’s 1948 film.  Despite the presence of a very animated Michel Therriault, this play lacked any real suspense or energy.  When two young university students commit the “perfect murder” just to show that they can, it’s clear from the beginning that they have committed a crime and it’s just a matter of time before they are caught.  I was not on the edge of my seat during this tedious production.  Terrible British accents and a very humdrum stage design.  The Shaw Festival is going to have to reinvent itself if it’s going to attract a younger audience.  Oh, how I would have loved to see a lively musical!!!

Amazon Prime

Made in Belfast (1 h 25 min) After his best-selling novel exposes the private lives of his closest friends, Jack Kelly returns home to put right some of the wrongs which included breaking up his best friend’s marriage. A sweet little character study about going back to your roots. I was astonished to see how pretty Belfast can be when the sun comes out.  I just remember grim streets in the rain, some of them still festooned with murals as a remnant of the struggles.

Crave

Everybody Knows (2 h 13 min) Laura, a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her two children to attend her sister’s wedding.  However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open. Stars Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.  Wonderful film about secrets and lies.
City on a Hill (10 episodes)  Kevin Bacon stars as a somewhat crooked FBI agent trying to clean up police and political corruption in 1990’s Boston.

Netflix

Family Business (6 Episodes, French with English subtitles)  Oh, how I wanted to love this very silly French comic series about a family that tries to take advantage of changing cannabis laws and open a marijuana cafe in Paris. The family is Jewish and it’s a very interesting depiction of Jewish family life in France.  Klezmer music plays throughout the series, just in case you forget they are Jewish.  I lasted about 3 episodes in before I decided it was really just too silly for me.
Stranger Things (Season 3, 8 episodes) Summer brings new jobs and budding romance.  But the mood shifts when Dustin’s radio picks up a Russian broadcast, and Will senses something is wrong.  Oh, how I loved this season.  Yes, I can’t believe I watched the whole thing in one day!!  If you loved the first two seasons, you will likely love this one as all the characters are growing older before our eyes. Winona Ryder does seem to overact madly, but somehow her manic tone is perfect for this series.
Unit 42 (2 seasons, 20 episodes, French with English subtitles) This has become my go-to comfort viewing series.  A French procedural about a cyber crime unit with a great cast of characters.  Sad dad is recently widowed and is struggling to raise his three children as a single father.

HBO

Years and Years (6 episodes)  Follows a busy family from Manchester with their lives converging on one crucial night in 2019.  So timely, many mentions of Trump and Pence. This provocative series will make you think about where our world is going. Stars Emma Thompson as a populist politician.
Jett (made for Cinemax in the US, 11 episodes) Carla Gugino will wow you as world-class thief Daisy “Jett” Kowalski who is just out of prison and already being forced back into what got her there, by a group of eccentric and dangerous criminals.

Big Little Lies (Season 2, 7 episodes) Meryl Streep has now joined the cast as the mother-in-law from hell.

Euphoria (8 episodes) A look at life for a group of high school students as they grapple with issues of drugs, sex, and violence.  Not for everybody, especially the faint of heart.

ABC

Grand Hotel (13 episodes) Campy high melodrama. The ultimate summer guilty pleasure set in Miami Beach.

Bravo

The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 3, 13 episodes) Darker and more dystopian than ever.
Animal Kingdom (Season 4, 12 episodes) Ooh, Ellen Barkin terrifies as the granny of a Southern California crime family.

Superchannel

Pure (Season 2, 6 episodes) A Mennonite family gets involved with drug traffickers. Great performances from a mostly Canadian cast.

CBC Gem

Save Me (2 seasons, 16 episodes)  This little web series from the CBC is so easy to binge on as most episodes are under 10 minutes. It drops us into random lives, mid-sentence,who at some point will be blindsided by a medical emergency.  All of it is rooted in the on-going stories  of the regular cast of EMT’s who come to the rescue.  Fab Filippo writes, directs and stars.  Here’s what John Doyle had to say about this series:

PBS

Endeavour (Season 6, 4 episodes) The young Morse is shown as an iconoclastic young police officer who always tries to do the right thing.

Streaming

Yellowstone (Season 2, 10 episodes) Kevin Costner stars in this rather old fashioned new western set in Montana.  It’s all about protecting their land from developers!!!!
Younger ((Season 6, 12 episodes) You will love this rom/com aha woman in her 40’s passing as a 20-something.

New Show Alert

I haven’t managed to watch this one yet, but it did debut on STARZ in Canada.  It is set to record tonight, The Rook.  Here’s what John Doyle had to say about it:

Film on the Big Screen

I still haven’t made it out to see Yesterday (directed by Danny Boyle, featuring Beatles music), but here are a couple of articles about the best films of the year so far:

Comic Relief

Maher, Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, John Oliver are still providing levity in these times of Brexit, tank based rallies, etc.

Moment of Zen

I am currently rewarding myself by watching CBS Sunday Morning as I write this. Great segments about the impossible burger, the Mississippi, Ringo Starr, monster trucks, etc. Looking forward to that great nature moment at the end. The most soothing and inspiring show on TV.

Closing Words

It has been a gorgeous weekend in Thornbury, hot and sunny.  Lots of opportunities for pool time and dining outdoors. Looking forward to the week ahead.  Having joint birthday parties for friends coming up from Toronto and George, who will also be celebrating his birthday this week.  As we speak, George was in first place going into our golf club’s seniors’ championship.  Fingers crossed that he will be triumphant.  Bubbly will be drunk regardless, as it’s an accomplishment just to be on the leaders’ board.  There is a jazz concert in the park on the bay here this evening and we will be picnicking with friends.  Have a wonderful week ahead!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canada Day weekend!!

Well, summer has finally arrived and we have had days on end of balmy weather!  Fingers are crossed that tomorrow’s celebrations of local parades and events can go ahead despite a worrying forecast of rain.  It’s been a great week for dining outside, golf, mahjong, etc.  I’ve also managed to sneak in some screen time and can make some recommendations as follows:

New Show Alert:

The Loudest Voice debuts on Showtime tonight (7 episodes) Series about Roger Ailes, the founder of Fox News.  It focuses on the past decade in which Ailes arguably became the Republican Party’s de facto leader, and the sexual harassment accusations that brought his career to an end. Stars Russell Crowe, Sienna Miller, Seth MacFarlane, Naomi Watts.  Here’s what John Doyle said about it in the Globe and Mail:

HBO

Years and Years (6 episodes) Stars Emma Thompson and Rory Kinnear. Follows a busy family from Manchester with their lives converging on one crucial night in 2019.  Here’s what John Doyle said about this series in the Globe and Mail:

 

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/article-hbos-years-and-years-unmissable-dose-of-the-frights-about-the-near/

Big Little Lies (Season 2, 7 episodes) Meryl Streep now joins the all-star cast as the mother of Alex Skarsgard who is determined to find out how her son died.

Euphoria (8 episodes) a look at life for a group of high school students as they grapple with issues of drugs, sex, and violence. Astonishing amount of nudity, sex and graphic violence.

Jett (11 episodes) World-class thief Daisy “Jett” Kowalski is just out of prison and already being forced back into what got her there, by a group of eccentric and dangerous criminals.  Carla Gugino, Giancarlo Esposito, gil Bellows, Greg Bryk star.
Native Son (1 h 44 min) A young African-American living in Chicago enters into a seductive new world of money and power after he is hired as a chauffeur for an affluent businessman.  Based on the 1940 novel by Richard Wright.  I admit that I only hung in for the first hour or so, as the impending feeling of doom around the lead character’s fate seemed to foreshadow a very dark ending.

Crave

City on a Hill 
(10 episodes) In 1990’s Boston an assistant district attorney and a corrupt yet venerated FBI veteran work together to take on a case that grows to involve the entire criminal justice system of Boston.  Stars Kevin Bacon.
The Hate U Give (2 h 13 min) Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer.  Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.  Thought provoking and very moving, if a little bit too long. Based on a young adult novel, this is a terrific film.

Streaming

Hotel Mumbai (2 h 3 min) The true story of the Taj Hotel terrorist attack in Mumbai.  Hotel staff risk their lives to keep everyone safe as people make unthinkable sacrifices to protect themselves and their families.  Deeply moving.  Get out your hankies.  Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupak Kher, and Jason Isaacs star.
High Life (1 h 53 min) A father and his daughter struggle to survive in deep space where they live in isolation.  Stars Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche.  Despite some rave reviews, this festival favourite was very difficult for me to watch.  I think I really would have preferred to watch paint dry.  Apparently Danny Boyle was so impressed with Robert Pattinson’s charisma in this film, he has suggested that he would make a great James Bond.  OK, Batman maybe, but not on the strength of this excruciatingly dull film.
Shoplifters (2 h 1 min, in Japanese with English subtitles) A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find outside in the cold.  This sweet little film is a festival favourite (coming to Meaford in September!)  A delightful meditation on the meaning of family and community.
The Gold Seekers (1 h 42 min, in Spanish with English subtitles) This very sweet film from Paraguay is also a festival favourite! It follows Manu, a newspaper delivery boy  who one day receives a book that talks about the history of Paraguay and contains a map that may or may not reveal the exact location of a buried treasure.  Comedy ensues as Manu instigates a hunt for the treasure.
Yellowstone (Season 2, 9 episodes) A ranching family in Montana faces off against others encroaching on their land.  Family saga of the new West.  Think Bonanza with Kevin Costner instead of Lorne Green.  Gorgeous cinematography!
Younger (Season 6, 12 episodes) Delightful series about a 40-something single mother who decides to take the chance to reboot her career and her love life as a 26-year-old.
Curfew (8 episodes) A group of amateur drivers from all over the world compete in an illegal night-time street.  Bring on the batshit crazy!!  Stars Sean Bean and Billy Zane.

Netflix

The Guilty (1 h 49 min, in Danish with English subtitles) This film is rumoured to be Denmark’s pick for Best Foreign Film.  A police officer assigned to call centre duty enters a race against time when he answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman.  Engrossing!  I really was on the edge of my seat watching this one.  A meditation on making assumptions.
The 100 (Season 6, 13 episodes)
Guilty pleasure show for me as a group of young people try to survive a post-apocalyptic earth and truly are lost in space.
Schitt’s Creek (Season 5, 14 episodes)  When rich video-store magnate Johnny Rose and his family suddenly find themselves broke, they are forced to leave their pampered lives to regroup in Schitt’s Creek. After watching Season 1 of this series when it debuted 5 years ago, I lost track of it.  So many friends have asked why I never write about it (and it’s so Canadian!!) I decided to give it another look.  Very cute!  Outstanding performances by a marvellous ensemble cast that includes Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dan Levy, Chris Elliott, Emily Hampshire, and many more.  It’s largely filmed in Goodwood, Ontario, a community close to our family in Uxbridge.  Here’s an article that names the locations where the show is filmed:

Bravo

Animal Kingdom (Season 4, 12 episodes) Centrees on a Southern California family, whose excessive lifestyle is fuelled by their criminal activities.  Stars Ellen Barkin as the world’s most terrifying grandma.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 3, 13 episodes) Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship. Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Joseph Fiennes, Max Minghella, Ann Dowd star.  So dark and dystopian!

ABC

Grand Hotel (13 episodes)  God help me, I cannot look away from this impossibly guilty pleasure summer series set in Miami.  Demian Bichir and Roselyn Sanchez star as a couple running a hotel in Miami Beach.  A night-time telenovela!!

FX

Legion (Season 3, 8 episodes)  Bat shit crazy show about David Haller, a troubled young man diagnosed as schizophrenic, who, after a strange encounter, discovers special powers that will change his life forever.  Kind of a fever-dream tv series.  Dan Stevens stars.

Comic Relief

I couldn’t stand to watch both Democratic debates, so I let the comedy shows interpret them for me via Colbert, Noah, Bee, Maher and John Oliver.  So much more entertaining.

Moment of Zen

CBS Sunday Morning is playing in the background as I write this.  Ah…. so soothing.

Closing Words

Today is Canada Day and we are looking forward to watching the fireworks tonight with very good friends.  Bonus: Our younger son is joining us for the big celebrations! Tomorrow’s day will feature our local Canada Day parade and festivities.  The week ahead includes a visit to our longtime friends who recently purchased a home in Niagara-on-the Lake which includes a theatre visit to see Rope, an adaptation of a Hitchcock film. So looking forward to a NOTL getaway. Looking forward to a week that also includes mahjong and golf.  Have a wonderful week, whatever your plans may be and enjoy this beautiful weather.

 

 


Back in the city for a while…

It’s been a busy week for us with dinners with friends, movie outings, an actual live theatre event, golf and more.  We celebrated our 46th anniversary and joined good friends for a 50th anniversary party.  Tonight, we’re joining longtime friends in our condo for a long delayed joint barbecue in our outdoor area.  First time actually using one of the building’s amenities!  In the meantime, here are some viewing suggestions for you:

Live on Stage at the Luminato Festival

Hell’s Fury, The Hollywood Songbook Part of the Luminato Festival presented at the Harbourfront Theatre.  Words do fail me in trying to describe this piece of performance art.  Hanns Eisler was an Austrian composer who lived an extraordinary life as an exile from Hitler’s Germany in the 1940’s, who wrote musical scores for 40 films, and who was deported as a Communist in the Red Scare of 1948.  This performance concentrates on his song cycles and they are performed by Russell Braun, baritone and Serouj Kradjian, pianist.  An evening of opera performed on a very intimate stage, with minimalist stagecraft and design. Not really my thing.  I was misled by the title of the piece, which did emphasize the Hollywood Songbook aspect of his work. So tedious!! Luminato’s schedule this year was for highly specialized tastes.

On the Big Screen

Late Night (1 h 41 min) Starring Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Reid Scott, etc.  I so wanted to love this film as I adore all the actors and am a huge fan of late night chat shows.  However, I never really bought the great Emma Thompson as a plausible choice for a late night host. Mindy Kaling’s earnest performance as the only female writer in the writer’s room didn’t soar to any comic heights.  This is a feel good movie about overcoming obstacles, but it never rang very true to me, and worst fault of all in a comedy, I didn’t find very much to laugh about.

New Program Alert

CBC Gem

Das Boot (9 episodes)  This remake of the 1981 movie is spellbinding.  They have broadened the plot and are also focusing on a tale of espionage as a young Alsatian woman Simone Strasser (played by the magnificent Vicky Krieps from The Phantom Thread) tries to walk the line between loyalty to the Germans and the French Resistance.  Lizzy Caplan is startlingly out of place as the Resistance leader who seduces Simone into becoming a spy.

HBO

Euphoria (8 episodes) Much has been written about the boundary breaking sex and nudity of this series about teenagers.  Sadly, I did snooze through a fair bit of episode 1 and missed Eric Dane’s full frontal performance.  I will try and watch episode 2 when I am less sleepy.
Big Little Lies (Season 2, 7 episodes)  The suspense continues as two grandmothers are now trying to figure out how Alexander Skarsgard died.

PBS

Endeavour (Season 6 , 4 episodes)  The young Morse is shown as an iconoclastic young police officer who always tries to do the right thing.
Doc Martin (Season 8, 8 episodes)  Doc Martin is as irascible as ever, but he does allow the adorable mutt to stay on at the cottage.

Crave

City on a Hill (10 episodes)  Kevin Bacon is a corrupt FBI agent with an amazing moustache in 1990’s Boston.

Starz

Vida (Season 2, 10 episodes)  I can’t believe I watched the whole thing.  I love this series about two LA sisters who inherit their mother’s dive bar.

Superchannel

Pure (Season 2, 6 episodes)  Things are hopping in Mennonite country as a Mexican cartel forces the Funk family to handle their heroin shipments into Canada.

ABC

Grand Hotel (13 episodes)  Campy high melodrama.  The ultimate summer guilty pleasure set in Miami Beach.

FX

Pose (Season 2, 10 episodes)  AIDS casts a very long shadow over this season.

Cinemax/HBO Canada

Jett (11 episodes)  Violent and full of adult scenes, this series about a female thief (Carlo Gugino) is very, very dark.

Global

Mary Kills People (6 episodes)  The police are still after Mary as an angel of death nurse tries to blackmail her way into Mary’s hospice business.

Bravo

Animal Kingdom (Season 4, 10 episodes)  The suspense mounts as the family tries to operate behind Smurf’s back and Smurf (played by the terrifying Ellen Barkin) deals with a serious illness.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 3, 13 episodes)  Darker and more dystopian than ever.

Paramount/Streaming

Yellowstone (Season 2, 10 episodes)  Kevin Costner stars in this rather old fashioned new western set in Montana.  It’s all about protecting their land from developers!!!!

Streaming

Younger (Season 6, 12 episodes)  You will love this rom/com about a woman in her 40’s passing as a 20-something.

Netflix

Triple Frontier  (2 h 5 min)  I love Charlie Hunnam, so I wanted to love this film, but found it just plain boring.  If you want to see a caper flick set in South America that reunites a group of former soldiers, watch the vastly more entertaining Israeli film When Heroes Fly.
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (2 h 22 min)  If you can sit all the way through this one, you are far more patient than I am.  In a mix of fact and fantasy, Martin Scorses looks back at Bob Dylan’s 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour and a country ripe for reinvention.  Excruciating!
Berlin I love you (2 h ) Latest installment of the Cities of Love series (Paris, NYC, Rio), this collective feature film is made of ten stories of romance set in Berlin.  Ouch, a great cast that includes Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Luke Wilson, Jim Sturgess, Jenna Dewan, Mickey Rourke, Diego Luna, Iwan Rheon, etc. is utterly wasted in this terrible mess of a film.  Be very afraid!

Comic Relief

To the ranks of Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher, John Oliver, etc., I must add The View’s panel of women.  I do find Joy Behar amusing, but the interplay among these women will make your jaw drop.  They talk over each other, but Whoopi Goldberg tries bravely to rein in the discussion as Megan McCain and Behar go at each other for their polarized right versus left political viewpoints.

Closing Words

As George goes off on a golf trip with some buddies, I will be getting together with a longtime girlfriend from high school and and looking forward to my regular activities of golf, fitness, mahjong, etc.  Canada Day is coming and we will be watching the fireworks from Thornbury next weekend.  Have a wonderful week whatever your plans may be.

Busy week…

This past week, I decided to stay up in Thornbury for a few days to prepare for a get-together with many of my golfing lady friends and returned briefly to Toronto for a birthday celebration for one of my book group friends.  There was much fine dining and beverage appreciation involved.  We joined some of our Thornbury friends in an excursion to a legendary local eatery, Ted’s Range Road Diner (just west of Meaford) that features great food and music and listened to a local band called Horseshoes and Grenades that had an entire restaurant up and dancing.  We also ate at the newish restaurant at the end of our street, The Grey, and had a great meal with very good friends. Left to my own devices for a few days, I did manage to sneak in some viewing.  Here are my recommendations:

New Show Alert

HBO

Euphoria (8 episodes) A look at life for a group of high school students as they grapple with issues of drugs, sex, and violence. Stars Zendaya, Eric Dane.

Jett (12 episodes) World-class their Daisy “Jett” Kowalski is just out of prison and already been forced back into what got her there, by a group of eccentric and dangerous criminals. Stars Carla Gugino, Giancarlo Esposito, Greg Bryk.

City on a Hill (10 episodes) In early ’90’s Boston, racism is endemic and crime is widespread. Stars Kevin Bacon, Jonathan Tucker, Jill Hennessy.

Returning Show Alert

Streaming

Younger (Season 6, 12 episodes)  If you haven’t discovered this wonderful show yet, look for it.  Our heroine (played by the lovely Sutton Foster) is a 40-something passing for a Millennial in order to get a foothold in the publishing industry in NYC.  Romance and comedy abounds with a wonderful ensemble cast that includes Debi Mazar, Miriam Shor, Nico Tortorella. Peter Hermann, Hilary Duff and Laura Benanti.  It’s captivating!!

PBS

Doc Martin (2017, Season 8, 8 episodes) In the Season 8 premiere, Martin and Louisa are living together again in the surgery.  Portion is buzzing with activity as preparations for Janice and Penhale’s wedding go ahead.

Endeavour (2019, Season 6, 4 episodes) In the Season 6 premiere the murder of a schoolgirls brings Endeavour back to Oxford.  When he refuses to accept that the main suspect is guilty, Endeavour must uncover the truth and rescue a victim before it’s too late.

Streaming

Juliet, Naked (2018, 1 h 37 m)A charming offbeat romance starring Chris O’Dowd, Rose Byrne, and Ethan Hawke in a most unexpected romantic triangle from a script by Nick Hornby.
State of the Union (2019, 10 episodes, each about 10 min long) I binge watched all 10 episodes in one evening. A marvellous intimate look at a marriage as a couple meets every week for a drink before seeing their marriage counsellor. Chris O’Dowd and Rosamund Pike have great chemistry together. From a script by Nick Hornby.  Almost a companion piece to Juliet Naked as both feature Chris O’Dowd as a failed music critic.
Perpetual Grace, Ltd (2019, 10 episodes) Incredibly dark tale of a con that goes wrong. Ben Kingsley plays an evil pastor, Jacki Weaver is his wife. Jimmi Simpson is the grifter in this doomed scenario.

Netflix

Always Be My Maybe (2019, 1 h 41 m) Truly delightful romantic comedy that is both romantic and very funny. Stars a great predominantly Asian cast; watch for Keanu Reeves in a hilarious supporting role.
Tales of the City (2019, 10 episodes)  True confession:  I also binge watched this one and felt very let down by it.  Despite starring Laura Linney and Paul Gross (yay, Canadian!!), this series was strangely artificial.  Ellen Page is extremely disagreeable as their daughter who lives with a huge chip on her shoulder. Now I understand why I don’t really like the series The Village for its saccharine “community of diversity” in a NYC apartment building.  This series is all about the loving and supportive community a trans woman in San Francisco creates for the tenants in her magnificent home.  I wanted to like this series so much but I found it very maudlin and self congratulatory for telling its stories of gay people and those who love them. Watch at your own risk, you could choke on the sugar.
When They See Us (2019, 4 episodes) Chronicles the true story of a notorious case of five black teenagers who were convicted of a rape they did not commit.  Harrowing and heartbreaking.

HBO

Foster (2018, documentary, 1 h 53 m) A very touching documentary about the foster care system in L.A.
Gentleman Jack ( 2019, 8 episodes) This tale of an astonishing Lesbian businesswoman in 19th Century England wound up it’s first season in a most satisfactory way.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 3, 10 episodes) OMG, and you thought this dystopian tale couldn’t get any darker. June has decided to stay in Gilead and fight for the resistance.
Big Little Lies  (Season 2, 7 episodes) Wow, Meryl Streep joins the cast as the mother of Alexander Skarsgard, the sadistic wife beater. She is determined to find out exactly how he died.

Global

Mary Kills People (Season 3, 6 episodes) This show seems to have lost its way a little bit this season as a weird angel of mercy joins the cast and blackmails Mary.

Showtime

Billions Season 4 (12 episodes) comes to a very satisfying end.

Superchannel

Pure (Season 2, 6 episodes) Wow, the Funk family is in the most awful pickle as Noah works as a CI for the police while Anna tries to support the family and poor Isaac is held captive by the Cartel.

Bravo

Animal Kingdom (Season 4, 10 episodes) Ellen Barkin continues to terrify as the grandma of a California crime family.

Comic Relief

The comedians are still trying to make us laugh at the news of the day:  Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, John Oliver and Bill Maher are my regular habits.

Moment of Zen

Today’s CBS Sunday Morning featured an exceptional segment on a little boy in need of a kidney transplant who is adopted by his teacher.  Get out your hankies.  Inspirational and informative viewing.

Closing Words

Today’s Father’s Day menu was pretty casual, but we are headed out this week to properly celebrate Father’s Day, our 46th wedding anniversary, and our son’s birthday with our children at a trendy spot in the Ossington district.  Golf and fitness are on the schedule and I will be attending the Luminato Arts Festival in Toronto.  Some friends are celebrating their 50th Anniversary with a fancy party at the University of Toronto, so it’s going to be a very festive week ahead.  Enjoy the week, whatever your plans may be.

Actually left the TV behind for a bit…

It’s been a great week.  I got to go to the theatre with my family to see a play at the Royal Alex in Toronto.  We joined friends for dinner and a movie in Collingwood.  As well as my usual golf, mahjong, book club activities, etc., I managed to binge watch a couple of newish series.  Here are some recommendations:

Live On Stage

Dear Evan Hansen (2 h 35 min, includes 15 min intermission, Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto) Great technical production values indicating the prevalence of social media in the characters’ lives. Score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (LaLaLand).  I wanted to love this show as it has been so hyped.  We tried twice to see it on Broadway and were reluctant to pay $400 US a ticket, so we waited a long time to see it in Toronto.  Great performances, but I felt it was a little underwhelming.  The songs did make me think of Rent (particularly Seasons of Love).  It’s a fairly organic musical where characters move from dialogue into song lyrics quite gradually and naturally.  The show deals with social anxiety disorder as the incredibly shy and introverted central character is swept up in a movement to honour a dead fellow student who has committed suicide and it’s mistakenly assumed that his suicide note is intended for Evan Hansen, our lead character.  Evan is forced to pretend that the two, who barely knew each other, were best friends and he becomes the leader of a movement to memorialize the dead teenager. My whole family attended the show together as it was my combined Christmas, Birthday and Mother’s Day gift.  We love musicals, but I don’t think this one is going to join the canon of Rodgers & Hammerstein or Lerner & Lowe, as it is so of today’s moment  in theme (the power of social media) and issue (teen suicide).

On the Big Screen in Theatres

Rocketman (2 h 1 min) A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. I loved this film (from Dexter Fletcher, the same director as Bohemian Rhapsody).  Taron Egerton and Jamie Bell do a wonderful job as Elton John and Bernie Taupin. I have always been a bit puzzled as to the meanings of John’s lyrics, but this film gave every song tremendous meaning. Fabulous over-the-top production numbers. Prepare to be very entertained by this very touching and exuberant film.

Here’s a summary of new movies to stream and see in theatres this weekend from the Globe and Mail:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/film/reviews/article-new-movies-to-stream-and-see-in-theatres-this-weekend-dark-pheonix/

Netflix

When Heroes Fly (10 episodes, 45 min each)  I binge watched this series from Israel.  It stars Michael Aloni (Shtisel) as one of four friends (army buddies in the IDF), 11 years after a major falling out, who reunite on a final mission:  to find Yaeli the former lover of one and the sister of another.  I loved this suspenseful series that examines themes of redemption, forgiveness and healing.  Great action sequences.  Make sure you watch it with subtitles.  Some of the dialog is in English as the Israeli characters try to communicate in a Spanish speaking country.

Amazon

Good Omens (6 episodes) I can’t believe I watched the whole thing.  Bat shit crazy show about an angel and a demon (Michael Sheen and David Tennant) who team up through the millennia to prevent Armageddon.  Jon Hamm has a cheesy cameo as the angel Gabriel.  Comedy/fantasy is not everyone’s cup of tea and I’d have to rank this one with many unwatchable shows that obviously have found audiences like American Gods, Legion, Happy, Preacher, Outcast, etc. I watched because of the amazing cast of supporting players that includes Jack Whitehall, Michael McKean, Frances McDormand (voice only), Daniel Mays, Miranda Richardson, Anna Maxwell Martin, Mireille Enos.  All of these actors may wish to have their performances in this over-the-top series expunged from their records.

Streaming

Domino (1 h 29 min, but seemed much longer)  I laughed when I read the review for this one, figuring how bad could a Brian De Palma film starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Carice van Houten (both from Game of Thrones) and Guy Pearce be?  The answer is bloody awful.  Watch at your own risk as once seen, this one cannot be unseen.  Here is the hilarious review that made me curious in the first place:

Bravo

Animal Kingdom (Season 4, previous seasons available on Netflix) Ellen Barkin stars as a ferocious grandma in charge of a Southern California crime family.  Suspense to the max!!  Great adaptation of a 2010 Australian film that stars Jackie Weaver, Guy Pierce, Ben Mandelsohn, and Joel Edgerton, in the original roles.

Comic Relief

Don’t forget to laugh once in a while as Colbert, Noah, Samantha Bee, John Oliver and Bill Maher all try to make you laugh at the events of the day.

Moment of Zen

I am just about to treat myself to CBS Sunday Morning for my moment of inspiration and enlightenment.

In case you were wondering…

I am serving on the selection committee for the Naples International Film Festival and am in the process of reviewing submitted entries.  Most of the films I have watched are international, both features and shorts.  They are challenging as they deal with many difficult issues being faced all around the world.  This selection process is hard work as I can’t simply give up on a film part way through and have to review everything I see in some detail.  I think my trudging through a host of tough to watch films has made me veer off into binge watching shows that are simply easy and entertaining.  Who knew that previewing festival films could be such hard work?

 

Festival Alert

The Meaford International Film Festival has announced their program and it includes The Grizzlies, Cold War, Free Solo, Shoplifters and The Woman Who Loves Giraffes.  I have seen Cold War and Free Solo and loved them both and look forward to seeing the other selections.The festival runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1. You can find the entire program including ticket information on:

meafordhall.ca

TV Alerts

The New York Times brings your attention to returning shows (Tales of the City, The Tony Awards, The Handmaid’s Tale, Big Little Lies, etc.)

Closing Words

I’m taking the week off to stay in Thornbury to play some Mahjong, enjoy a few golf games, and of course, to catch up on my festival movie screening.  The sun seems to be making more regular appearances this week, so enjoy this fine spring weather wherever you are.

Off to Manitoulin Island

I’m getting ready to join 6 long time lady friends for a weekend on Manitoulin Island. Located in Lake Huron, it is the largest freshwater island in the world with more than 100 inland lakes. Our Playgroup originated about 36 years ago when a group of neighbours decided to gather together weekly with our babies in each other’s homes. The oldest of those children are now in their 37th year and although we don’t often get our children together anymore, we still gather together for lunches, Christmas parties and occasional reunions at a cottage or vacation home. Sadly, the last time many of our children were together was for our dear friend Judy’s funeral in December.  We will be raising many a glass to her and toasting to wonderful memories we have of our friendships through the years.  I won’t be watching much TV this weekend, but I do have some recommendations for you for the week to come:

Amazon

Good Omens (6 episodes) A tale of the bungling of Armageddon features an angel, a demon, an eleven-year-old Antichrist and a doom-saying witch. Stars Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Frances McDormand.

Netflix

What/If (10 episodes)  So cheesy and soap opera-ish.  I can’t look away!  I am compelled to finish this revenge melodrama just to solve the mystery of Renee Zellweger’s fiendish plot.  That woman now has the sharpest shoulder bones of anyone I’ve seen.  The actress has lost a ton of weight and is scary thin.
Luther (Season 6, 4 episodes) Ooh, this one is so dark.  An old villain returns.

National Geographic/Showcase

The Hot Zone (6 h) I can’t believe I watched the whole thing! Outbreak overdose! Very suspenseful, but perhaps this tale could have been told in under 6 hours. Stars Julianna Margulies and Liam Cunningham.
Here’s what John Doyle had to say about this series in The Globe and Mail:

Bravo

Animal Kingdom (Season 4) The Cody family is back and these criminals are coming apart.

FX

Fosse/Vernon (8 episodes) Now available on demand. Such a sad tale of creativity and heartbreak. Great performances from Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams.

Global

Mary Kills People (Season 3, 6 episodes)  Mary is pregnant and being blackmailed by an angel of death nurse.  Very dark and intriguing.

HBO

Chernobyl (6 episodes) A tragic tale of a nuclear disaster compounded by bureaucratic folly in the former Soviet Union.
Deadwood (TV Movie) The original cast reconvenes for a movie to air this week.
Vida (Season 2, 8 episodes) The girls are still trying to sort out their inheritance and their future directions.
Warrior (12 episodes)  Kung fu fighting in 1870’s San Francisco.  Mayhem usually ensues!
Gentleman Jack (8 episodes)  LGBTQ hijinks in 19th century rural England.

Superchannel

Condor (13 episodes)  A great suspense tale, but surely this could have been told in less than 13 episodes.

Pure (Season 2, 6 episodes) We’re back in Ontario Mennonite country and now Anna must save her family from the drug cartel forcing her to work for them.
Here’s what John Doyle had to say about it in the Globe:

Crave/HBO

Billions (Season 4, 12 episodes) Axelrod and Rhodes combine forces to defeat their enemies.

AMC

Killing Eve (Season 2, 8 episodes)  Wowee! This season went very quickly and ended with another cliffhanger.

New Programs Alert

Here’s the Globe and Mail’s summary of new programs to watch for:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/television/article-the-summer-tv-schedule-mystery-politics-hot-trash-and-suspense/

Comic Relief

Colbert, Noah, Maher, Samantha Bee, John Oliver and many others on YouTube (Seth Meyers, James Corden, Randy Rainbow).  They bring levity to the news of the day.

Moment of Zen

Don’t forget to watch CBS Sunday Morning for its inspirational stories.

Closing Words

Looking forward to my ladies weekend and the week to come with a family gathering to watch Sunday’s Raptors game, fitness end of year party, golf, mahjong, etc.  It was actually warm enough in Thornbury to leave the house without a jacket this morning!  Summer is coming.  Enjoy this break in the weather, wherever you are.

New and returning program alert…

It’s been a pretty busy week.  Appointments, Mahjong, golf, brunches, lunches and dinners with friends.  We tried out the new restaurant The Grey, which is conveniently located on our street in Thornbury, and although we were astonished at the noise level (lots of hard surfaces) we were pleasantly surprised by great food and service. We have said good-bye to some favourite programs that have ended, but this week, there are some new shows to enjoy! Here are some recommendations:

Streaming

Cobra Kai (Season 2, 10 episodes)I can’t believe I watched all 10 episodes of this weird, lame, sequel to the original Karate Kid film. Last year’s Season 1 wasn’t nearly as awful as I had assumed it was going to be. My expectations, therefore,  were high that I would be equally entertained by Season 2, but it was very disappointing. Some truly terrible acting on display here. Unbelievably juvenile, but great soundtrack full of 1980’s music.

Premiering this week:

HBO

Deadwood (TV movie, 2 h) The cast returns including Ian McShane, Timothy Olyphant, Robin Weight, Brad Dourif, Kim Dickens Molly Parker, Paula Malcomson, Anna Gunn, Keigh Carradine, John Hawkes, etc.  Expectations are high for this one.
Vida (Season 2, 6 episodes) This great series features mainly Latino performers.  Following the death of their mother Vida, her two estranged daughters come to terms with their identities and their inheritance.

Bravo

Animal Kingdom (Season 4, 10 episodes) The Southern California based Cody crime family continues their saga under the leadership of Ellen Barkin (Smurf).  Great suspense series.

CBS

Blood & Treasure (13 episodes) An antiquities expert teams up with an art thief to catch a terrorist who funds his attacks using stolen artifacts. Meant to be light entertainment that blends Indiana Jones-style adventure with caper flicks.

Netflix

What/If (10 episodes)  If you loved the campy suspense series, Revenge (2011-15), you will get a kick out of hate watching this “so bad it’s good” series.  Features an over the top performance from a shockingly thin Renee Zellweger as an amoral venture capitalist who gets the action started with an Indecent Proposal-type plot line. Enjoy if you like campy morality tales.

Here’s an article from the NY Times recommending some new programs:

OMNI TV

Eurovision 2019 (4 hours +) This one took place in Tel Aviv.  You have to see it to believe it. Over the top production numbers. Now available on demand. Warning:  Once it’s seen, it cannot be unseen!

Netflix

The Sense of an Ending (1 h 48 min) A man becomes haunted by his past and is presented with a mysterious legacy that causes him to re-think his current situation in life.  Great British cast includes Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode. etc.  I watched this on a dreary, rainy afternoon, and found it so soothing that I managed to snooze through a good portion of this rather slow and understated film.
Dracula Untold (1 h 32 min) I’m sure I had seen this one before, but family consensus determined our choice. Tells the untold story of a kinder, gentler Vlad the Impaler who was only trying to save his kingdom from the Turks. Luke Evans and Dominic Cooper star.
White Gold (Season 2, 6 episodes) The travails of Cachet Windows continue as Vincent has now teamed up with a gangster to run the business.   Ed Westwick stars as the amoral Vincent.

AMC

Killing Eve (Season 2, 8 episodes) The cat and mouse game between intelligence officer and international assassin continues.

Crave

Billions (Season 4, 12 episodes) The cat and mouse have teamed up in this one to vanquish their enemies.

CITY TV

Catch 22 (6 episodes)  Long and torturous retelling of this anti-war tale. Great performance by Christopher Abbott in the lead role as Yossarian.  There are cameos from Kyle Chandler, George Clooney, and Hugh Laurie as the nefariously out of touch senior officers.

FX

Fosse/Verdon (8 episodes) Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams are fabulous as the two leads.

Global TV

Mary Kills People (Season 3, 6 episodes) Mary is pregnant now and still providing medically assisted suicides for terminal patients.  Now, she’s being blackmailed!

HBO

Warrior (12 episodes) Riotously violent tale of warring gangs in 1870’s San Francisco.  Features great Kung Fu fighting.
Gentleman Jack (16 episodes) Astonishing tale of a real life LGBTQ trailblazer in 1830’s Yorkshire.
Chernobyl (5 episodes) Tragic retelling of the 1986 disaster.  Stars Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgard, Emily Watson.

Superchannel

Condor  (13 episodes) Great cast includes William Hurt, who turns into an American Bill Nighy in this one! Watch for the resemblance. I do think this series could have been a few episodes shorter.

Comic Relief

Keep watching James Corden (Prime Time Carpool Karaoke Special with Celine Dion should be available on demand), Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher, etc.  A bright light on You Tube is the series of brilliant political/musical parodies of Randy Rainbow.  If you haven’t discovered him yet, try this recent one done to the opening music of Beauty and the Beast:

Moment of Zen

I have yet to watch this morning’s CBS Sunday Morning, but I look forward to watching its Memorial Day Weekend show which features a travel segment on road trips, Annette Bening on Broadway, conductor Teddy Abrams, historical statues of men,  Iraq war veteran, school bus drivers, etc.

Closing Words

The weather seems to be warming up a little, and the rain has stopped temporarily.  Great time to stay in and watch videos, when the rain starts again.  I keep trying to view the numerous submissions I am screening for the Naples International Film Festival.  So far I have watched films from Israel, Iran, Turkey, Hungary, Britain, and more.  It’s been a combination of features and shorts.  On the whole, they are challenging films on difficult themes.  Enjoy this season, indoors or out! Have a wonderful week wherever you are.

Happy Birthday Queen Victoria!!

It has been a very busy week. I hosted our gourmet group’s monthly dinner ( 9 of us have been gathering in each other’s homes for over 30 years to eat and socialize). I spent a lovely couple of days with our Scottish friends, Doug and Catherine (our fitness group gathered for a wonderful coffee get-together to welcome Catherine back to Canada after an absence of 4 years). The four of us spent a beautiful morning golfing together and went out to our local French and Indian restaurants for two great dinners. I just golfed in our Friday morning casual golf group in Thornbury. It’s our Victoria Day holiday weekend and we are grateful to have both our sons (plus Bruce the Wonder Dog) in Thornbury to watch the very last episode of Game of Thrones together. In between golf and my other usual activities I am watching entries to the Naples International Film Festival as a member of the selection committee. Here’s what I’ve been watching this past week:

City TV Now

Catch 22 (6 episodes) Remake of the 1970 film.  This adaptation tells the story of a man trying desperately to be certified insane during WWII so he can stop flying missions. It took 6 long hours to tell this endlessly repetitive tale.  Great performance from Christopher Abbot in the lead role.  Several over the top caricatures from George Clooney, Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie as hopelessly out of touch officers.

Streaming

Cold Pursuit (1 h 59 min) A grieving snowplow driver seeks out revenge against the drug dealers who killed his son.  Based on the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance. Liam Neeson is no Stellan Skarsgard who stars in the original.  Same director as the original, but sadly, this one just meanders through the killings.  Watch the original!!

You Tube

Anthropocene: The Human Epoch (1 h 27 minutes) We had seen the exhibition at our Art Gallery and were very struck by the photos.  Filmmakers travelled to six continents and 20 countries to document the impact humans have made on the planet.  Gorgeous and haunting cinematic images of a planet being devastated by humanity.

Amazon

Fleabag (Season 2, 6 episodes) Angry, pervy, outrageous and hilarious Fleabag arrives with a bang as she spins through the city grasping at anyone and anything that might keep her head above water.  This season she tries to cope with her father’s marriage to her godmother, and she feels an irresistible attraction to her godmother’s priest.  Starring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, Bill Paterson. Hypnotic and addictive!

Crave

Condor (11 episodes)  Too long by far, but a great remake of the 1970’s Robert Redford film.

HBO

Chernobyl (5 episodes) A tragic tale of nuclear catastrophe.  Stars Jared Harris and Stellan Skarsgard.
Gentleman Jack (Season 1, 8 episodes) A dramatization of the life of LGBTQ and trailblazer Anne Lister, who returns to Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1832 determined to transform the fate of her faded ancestral home Shibden Hall.
Barry (Season 2, 8 episodes) Bill Hader stars as a disillusioned hit man who wants to start a new life after following his quarry to an acting class.  Hader is amazingly convincing as the conflicted hit man.
Game of Thrones (8 seasons, final episode tonight!) This fantasy tale of 9 noble families fighting for control of the mythical lands of Westeros comes to an epic end tonight.
Warrior (Season 1, 12 episodes)  Who doesn’t like Kung Fu fighting? Addicted to this batshit crazy series about San Francisco in 1878.

Netflix

The 100 (Season 6, 13 episodes) 100 impossibly attractive young people seek out a way to survive in a hostile universe after Earth’s destruction.  I love this kooky show, that like the Walking Dead series, shows our central characters facing one enemy after another as they try to survive a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Riverdale (Season 3, 22 episodes) This once quirky and delightful show has morphed into a nonsensical tale of Griffins and Gargoyles. Gothic and ridiculous.  You might want to sit out this past season and just enjoy Season 1 which introduced us to a darker, sexier Archie than the comics ever intended.
Here and Now (1 h 31 min; aka Blue Night on IMDb) A singer in NYC gets a grim diagnosis that puts her life and dreams into perspective.  Sarah Jessica Parker stars but watch for cameos from Renee Zellweger, Jacqueline Bisset, Simon Baker, Common and Taylor Kinney.  Sadly meandering film that, in the end, leaves you glad that it is finally over.

AMC

Killing Eve (Season 2, 8 episodes) Cat and mouse game between spy and assassin continues.  The great cast includes Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer and Fiona Shaw.  Enjoy its very black humour.

Showtime

Billions (Season 4, 12 episodes) Now the cat and mouse are allies. Old enemies are faced together.

CBS All Access

The Good Fight (Season 3, 10 episodes) What a weird season this has been, as this series attempts to incorporate a very political anti-Trump stance in its stories.  Lots of animation and music has been inserted to give it a bizarro-world sense of unreality.  Ridiculous over-the-top performance this season from Michael Sheen as a Roy Cohn wannabe who tries to infiltrate and then destroy the law firm.

Global

Mary Kills People (Season 3, 6 episodes) Mary is a physician who provides assisted deaths to those who don’t qualify as terminal patients.  The cops are still after her!

FX

Better Things (Season 3, 12 episodes) Sam struggles to balance her life as a single mom of 3 girls with her life as an actress in L.A.
Fosse/Verdon (8 episodes) E#xploring the singular romantic and creative partnership between choreographer/director Bob Fosse and dancer Gwen Verdon.  Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams are fabulous as the two leads.

Comic Relief

Colbert, Noah, Bill Maher, Samantha Bee, Jim Jeffries, John Oliver, SNL, (and Seth Meyers and James Corden on You Tube), all continue to distract from the political reality we face on a daily basis.

Moment of Zen

If you haven’t been to Italy, you should try and watch today’s episode of CBS Sunday Morning which features segments on life in Tuscany sharing stories on all things Italian – from street art, culture, fashion, food and music, to history, traditions and human interest.

 

Closing Words

It’s been a pretty chilly spring so far, but we are headed out shortly to play golf with some dear friends.  The week ahead features more golf, dinners with friends, mahjong, and, of course, some screen time.  Tonight we are looking forward to watching the season finale of Game of Thrones with our two boys.  Enjoy this spring weather wherever you are!

 

Happy Mother’s Day…

It’s been a pretty hectic week as I caught up with appointments, get togethers with longtime friends, celebrated our son’s birthday and had a family gathering yesterday to celebrate my mother’s life.  Much champagne was consumed!  I made it out to dinner and a movie with a friend and have just finished setting the table for my gourmet group who is dining here tomorrow.  We have some friends from Scotland coming to visit this week, so there will be golfing! Today is Mother’s Day and the men in the family are gathering to do some TV reconnaissance involving a trip to Costco and a TV exchange as we adopt one son’s 65″ screen which, for some reason, doesn’t work in his very sunny space. My plan for today, is to stay in my pyjamas as long as possible before our family gathers this evening to watch Game of Thrones on our new to us TV. As you can imagine, I didn’t have quite as much screen time as usual this past week, but here are some recommendations:

On the big screen

Gloria Bell (1 h 42 min) A free-spirited woman in her 50’s seeks out love at L.A. dance clubs.  Stars Julianne Moore and John Turturro.  An American remake of a Chilean film.  I somehow was more moved by the 2013 original (same director), but maybe that was because of the originality of this very gentle story. Not really necessary to remake it, but I know many viewers are not comfortable with subtitles. I watched this film because of the sentiment attached to the original theme song, Gloria by Laura Branigan in the 1980’s.  A permanent reminder of my beloved sister, it has been used in countless films and TV scores, including The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Flashdance, The Wolf of Wall Street, I, Tonya, Glee, South Park, Scorpion, Family Guy, Chips, etc.
For Esquire’s list of the best films so far in 2019, here’s a link:

Netflix

The Little Stranger (1 h 51 min) After a doctor is called to visit a crumbling manor, strange things begin to occur. Great cast includes Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter Ruth Wilson, Charlotte Rampling. This little film appears to be a ghost story on the surface but is really more a study of the British class system as a doctor longs for a life he cannot have. Very slow moving and subtle.

HBO

Chernobyl (5 episodes) In April 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union becomes one of the world’s worst man-made catastrophes. Terribly grim and a nasty wake-up call regarding how close to total cataclysm this story really was. If you want to worry about the impending doom that nuclear proliferation in Russia may still bring, watch the documentary Command and Control , which details how close we have come to apocalypse through nuclear accidents (2016 1 h 32 min;  directed by Robert Kenner).

Crave

Shrill (7 episodes in Season 1) A woman seeks out ways to change her life without changing her body. Stars Aidy Bryant and Luka Jones.  I loved this brutally honest series and watched the whole thing this week.

Amazon

Sneaky Pete (Season 3 10, episodes) Marius is involved in new con games as he continues his relationship with the Bernhardt family.  I’m not as engaged with this season as I would like to be.  Maybe a sense of deja vu?  Stars Giovanni Ribisi and Margo Martindale.

PBS

Les Miserables (6 episodes) So long and so sad.  Only one reason to watch:  Dominic West, whom I adore.

Call the Midwife (Season 8, 8 episodes) So poignant.  I love this series, which always makes me reach for my handkerchief.

Superchannel

Condor (11 episodes) I don’t know why they need 11 hours to tell this story which was adapted from the 2 hour 1975 Robert Redford film.
Swedish Dicks (Season 1, 10 episodes) supremely goofy Swedish/American series about two struggling detectives in L.A. Stars Peter Stormare and Keanu Reeves (as a ghost).
The Spanish Princess (8 episodes) The beautiful Spanish princess, Catherine of Aragon navigates the royal lineage of England with an eye on the throne.  From a Philippa Gregory novel.  So stilted and strange. I really don’t know about this one, a I am not sufficiently entertained to tolerate the weirdness and dullness of it.

Shows you should be watching

HBO

Game of Thrones (if you aren’t watching this, then you must not be interested in pop culture, although fantasy isn’t for everyone). I am loving this very last season.
Barry (Season 2, 8 episodes) Hit man tries to go straight as an acting student in L.A. Bill Hader is amazing as the lead character. If you watch only 1 episode, let it be Season 2, Episode 5, ronny/lily. Pure action, mesmerizing, hilarious.
Gentleman Jack (8 episodes) So weird and original. A very boyish woman works hard to revive her family fortunes.
Veep (Season 7, 7 episodes) Selina continues her fight to be President.  Superb cast of supporting players surrounds Julia Louis-Dreyfus in this raucous satire of American political culture.

AMC

Killing Eve (Season 2, 8 episodes) Eve and Villanelle continue their cat and mouse game.  Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer are terrific in this delightful series.

Crave

Now Apocalypse (10 episodes) While on quests to pursue love, sex, and fame with his friends in L.A. Ulysses’ premonitory dreams make him question the3 possible presence of a dark and monstrous conspiracy.  So weird and sexy!!!

FX

What We Do In the Shadows (11 episodes) Supremely silly satire based on the live of three vampires who’ve lived together for over 100 years, in Staten Island.
Better Things (Season 3 12 episodes) Pamela Adlon stars as a struggling single working mom of 3 girls in L.A. Touching and wryly funny.

All the comedians

Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Jim Jeffries, Samantha Bee, Bill Maher, and SNL.

Zen Moment

CBS Sunday Morning for its inspiration and information.

Closing words

So looking forward to the week ahead as we visit with friends and I settle back into my golf and fitness routines in Toronto. Fingers crossed for some beautiful spring weather. Enjoy the week wherever you are!!