Well it’s been a glorious week here in Naples. Beautiful weather, lots of activities, enough time to catch up with some of the shows and movies I’ve been meaning to watch and we actually made it out to a real movie theatre (Silverspot at the Mercato in N. Naples, one of my favourites) to see a film that will likely get some Oscar nods. I’m now in the first stage of my Oscar countdown as I try and see all the films that will likely be nominated. Here are some viewing suggestions for you:
On the Big Screen
The Favourite (1 hr 59 min) Starring Olivia Colman (soon to be the next Queen Elizabeth in The Crown, also known for Broadchurch, The Night Manager, etc.), Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz. In early 18th C. England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah Marlborough, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Full of great performances and witty dialogue, this film will intrigue lovers of period drama. Watch for the unforgettably hilarious dance scene which could have been directed by Baz Luhrmann. A film that’s very hard to categorize as comedy or drama but incredibly entertaining.
Breath (1 hr 55 min) Based on Tim Winton’s award-winning and international bestselling novel set in mid-70’s coastal Australia. Two teenage boys, hungry for discovery, form an unlikely friendship with a mysterious older adventurer who pushes them to take risks that will have a lasting and profound impact on their lives. Stars Simon Baker, Elizabeth Debicki, Richard Roxburgh. Full disclosure, I would watch anything with Simon Baker (The Guardian) so I adored this coming-of-age film with great performances from the two boys. If you love surf films, this one’s for you.
And Breathe Normally (1 hr 35 min) Two women’s lives will interest while trapped in circumstances unforeseen. Between a struggling Icelandic mother and an asylum seeker from Guinea-Bissau, a delicate bond will form as both strategize to get their lives back on track. I loved the scenes that showed the rugged and desolate Icelandic landscapes. A very touching character study.
Roma (2 hr 15 min) A year in the life of a middle-class family’s maid in Mexico City in the early 1970’s. Directed by Alphonso Cuaron, this is a love letter from Cuaron to the woman who raised him, the family maid. Full disclosure, the first time I watched this film, the elegiac pace lulled me into a deep sleep that lasted most of the 2 hrs plus running time. This week I tried again in the company of 15 women in my movie club and managed to stay awake for the whole thing! Here are my thoughts on this film which I wrote about to a friend as she wondered why so many people love this film. It’s an art film. Subtle and nuanced. Very understated if you don’t count the earthquake, riot, near drowning, forest fire, etc. It’s a memoir of Cuaron’s childhood where he was raised by his maid. Just a portrait of a way of life. Lots of very subtle shadings – the character of the father, the role of the grandmother, the way the mother totally depended on her maid. Lots of references to a corrupt and failing country – the training of paramilitary forces, the expropriation of the land belonging to the maid’s indigenous mother, a student demonstration that turns into a riot.
It’s a movie that needs to be closely watched. I slept through the entire thing the first time I tried to watch it. This time with a group of women watching it with me, I watched it with my whole attention. We had a great discussion afterwards.
For a completely alternative view of this film (and for those of you who may watch it mystified about all the fuss), here’s a review from L.A. Review of Books:
Sex Education (8 episodes) A teenage virgin who lives with his sex therapist mother teams up with a smart and edgy high school classmate to start their own health clinic. Full disclosure: I gave up during the first episode, which I felt was very much aimed at a teen audience. I felt a number of the teen characters were played by much older actors and quickly decided this series was not for me. However, it has had terrific reviews and here is one of them:
7 Days Out (6 episodes) A series that documents behind the scenes of some of the largest events in the world. So far, I have only watched Westminster Dog Show episode and found it to be a lovely overview of some of the owners and trainers who compete. Wonderful scenes of glorious dogs!
I have been enviously looking at the pop-up ads for Acorn and Brit Box subscription streaming services of British TV content. I finally got a look at some of the series they advertise. Most, but not all, of these are in the crime genre:
Butterfly (3 episodes) Stars Anna Friel. 11-year-old Max identifies as a girl and wants to live her life as Maxine. Her estranged parents Vicky and Stephen attempt to work out how best to cope with and support this huge life decision. Very sweet series which presents a very sensitive view of the dilemmas that face families coping with transgender issues.
Suspects (23 episodes) Fiction made to feel like documentary, this crime series is entered on a team of three detectives – each with their own distinctive style of working. A bit grim (the first episode I watched dealt with a missing 2-year-old girl). Very realistic! I really did think I was watching a documentary at first.
The Loch (6 episodes) The search for a serial killer becomes a matter of life and death for detective Annie Redford, who is trying to cope with her first murder case. I realized a few minutes into this one, that I had seen it before, probably on TVO or PBS and had thoroughly enjoyed it. The setting is Loch Ness, so the scenery is beautiful. A terrific tangled tale of crime.
Blood (6 episodes) Stars great Irish actor Adrian Dunbar (Line of Duty) Cat Hogan returns to West Meath, Ireland, upon her mother’s sudden death – she has an accident at home and died (or was it an accident?). Blood is about old secrets, older betrayals, mind games and the lies family tell each other. Terrific tale of a dysfunctional family and the secrets and lies that damage and distort.
Regular Fare I’m following
Dirty John (8 episodes, Bravo) Terrific true life tale that started as a true crime podcast. Debra’s seemingly perfect life is disrupted as she falls for a handsome doctor who sweeps her into a whirlwind romance. But her handsome new beau pulls Debra into a sinister game of psychological manipulation. Connie Britton, Eric Bana, Juno Temple, Jean Smart and Julia Garner all deliver terrific performances in this mesmerizing nourish tale of a woman who descends into a downward spiral once she engages with a devilish con man.
Outlander (Season 4, Starz, streaming) Oh my, the romance continues in the New World.
Counterpart (Season 2, Starz) Mind bending mystery series about a parallel world involved in a Cold War with our own. The war slowly heats up thanks to spies from both sides.
FBI (12 episodes, CBS) Procedural drama about the inner workings of the NY office of the FBI bringing to bear all the Bureau’s skills, intellect and mind-blowing technology to keep NYC and the country safe. Great cast in this completely routine crime series includes Jeremy Sisto and Sela Ward.
The Rookie (20 episodes, ABC) The series follows John Nolan, a 40-year-old man who moves from his comfortable small-town life to LA to pursue his dream of being a police officer for the LAPD. He must navigate the dangerous, humorous, and unpredictable world of a “young” cop determined to make his second shot at life count. Nathan Fillion is his usual charming self in the lead role.
New Amsterdam (12 episodes, NBC) A new medical director breaks the rules to heal the system at America’s oldest public hospital. Ryan Eggold is a charmer in the lead role.
Chicago Fire (Season 7, NBC) I only watch this idiotic and predictable show from the procedural factory of Dick Wolff, for the two lead actors, Jesse Spencer and Taylor Kinney. Sigh….
Chicago Med (Season 4, NBC) I only watch this entirely lame medical procedural for the performances of Oliver Platt and Colin Donnell. Also from the procedural factory of Dick Wolff.
Berlin Station (Season 3, Epix and streaming) Follows Daniel Miller (Richard Ermitage), who works in the CIA station in Berlin. Great cast includes Leland Orser, Michelle Forbers, Rhys Ifans Richard Jenkins, Tamlyn Tomita and Ashley Judd. If you love espionage series, this is the one for you.
Catastrophe (Season 4, Amazon) American boy Rob gets Irish girl Sharon pregnant while they hook up for a week while on a business trip to London. Catastrophe and chaos ensue in this cheeky and bawdy series from the UK.
The Orville (Season 2, Fox) Delightful parody of Star Trek from Seth MacFarlane who also stars.
Gotham (Season 5 – final season) Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne face the chaos Gotham City has become, as villains who survived the attack on the city begin to resurface and claim various territories. If you want to see the origin story of Batman, this series is for you. Stars Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue.
CBS Sunday Morning (on air since 1979, CBS) I love this peaceful anthology show for its insightful and inspiring segments. This morning’s show featured Key Lime Pie, M. Night Shymalan, etc.
The Christmas holidays are over and Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah are back. I love watching the highlights of James Corden and Seth Meyers on Youtube.
It was a great week for dining out and catching up with friends. Looking forward to our regular activities here this week (golf, mahjhong, bocce, etc.) We are off to the theatre this week to catch Canadian singer Kyle Riabko at Artis Naples doing a Rogers and Hammerstein tribute. How I love show tunes!! Have a wonderful week wherever you are. To my Canadian friends, stay warm up there and be careful on the roads. Hugs to everyone.