Watching

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Man From Reno – A lonely writer gets involved with a mysterious stranger, diving down a noir-style rabbit hole she could have written herself. Full of surprises!

Pretend We’re Kissing – An insecure guy falls hard for a woman he meets at a concert. Sparks and pops and fizz. A true-to-life portrayal of how others take advantage of kindness, awkward intimacies, and the dialogue constantly running in our heads.

Girlfriend’s Day – Another trip down noir lane. A greeting card writer, who has already lost his wife to his rival, loses his mojo and his job. Will he find inspiration AND love AND write an award winning card for Girlfriend’s Day? Funny and witty and gritty…

Girl Asleep – I think there must be something in the water in Australia. Or perhaps the fact the country is surrounded by it? So many loveable oddball fil-ums come from down under, and this is no exception. Awkward and new-to-town Greta has one friend (that’s him there, Elliott) and is filled with dread about the fifteenth birthday party her mother is foisting upon her. Great one-liners, odd camera angles, and a wild and dreamy story line. I want to live in her house!!

Operator – A software developer creates a program to help people with their health care needs and uses his wife’s soothing voice as the interface. Things get weird when he starts to rely upon the AI version more than his actual spouse.

Rectify – The fourth and final season! Boy was this good – loose strings tied fairly neatly. Anything else might be a spoiler.

Glitch – Six people from different centuries emerge perfectly intact from their graves in a small Australian town. Who are they, how are they linked, and why did they come back? Mysteries abound!

Escape to the Country – A lovely BBC series, with four hosts showing buyers three different country escapes. Unlike their American counterparts, this is not “canned.” They might buy a house, they might not. Super fun and charming hosts, too. And now I want a country house, well sort-of.

Grand Designs – Another great British show! Watch families build their dream homes, the real, day-to-day struggles: the expenses, the permits, the delays. No melodrama, just the facts, and some g o r g e o u s homes. Yes, indeed.

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Slow West – A wealthy boy from Scotland travels to America (Colorado, in fact!) to find his love, Rose. Unbeknownst to him, Rose has a price on her head, and his quest to reunite is unwittingly leading a pack of killers right to her door. The sweetness of first love, the innocence of youth, the wickedness of cynicism and greed. Beautifully filmed, not in my fair state of Colorado but New Zealand. It does a bang up job at imitation!

 

Lovesick – the first time I wrote about this series, it was called Scrotal Recall. The name is is a softer version of its slightly vulgar former self, but the story remains the same, a man looking for love while contacting a list of mates he’d once slept with. It’s funnier now, the hubster and I both agree, thanks to Angus! Watch and see.

The End of the Tour – Based on David Lipsky’s five day trip with David Foster Wallace, their conversations on writing, life, and being. I have read David Foster Wallace, though not the book of the tour, Infinite Jest (I am mightily preparing for it as a result of seeing the film – soon!), and was not expecting this softness, this caring, this joy, though the last sentence of this quotation should have at least given me an inkling. It was a marvelous gift, really.

The Moaning of Life – Carl Pilkington travels the world to experience how different cultures approach the biggest questions in life. As with anything Carl does, it is thoughtful, irreverent, and full of laughs! Take, for instance, the giant Twix package in the photo. It’s a coffin for Carl and his love, Suzanne.

Galaxy Quest – An oldie the hubster and I couldn’t believe we hadn’t seen. Aliens, after believing a television show was real, take the disgruntled actors to their world help them save it from destruction.

Morris from America – He’s a black kid living in Germany. He barely speaks the language. He struggles to see eye to eye with his father. He likes rap. He’s in love with a girl who is out of his league. He is Morris from America.

The Family Fang –  Two adult children of outlandish performance artists attempt to determine if their apparent murder is just another stunt. Fascinating! Jason Bateman stars and directs, impressive.

Sensitive Skin – Kim Cattrall stars in this poignant and often funny glimpse at a couple’s attempt to stay relevant. It is a thought provoking look at aging, marriage, and the aftermath of death.

The Nice Guys – Two private detectives, one a shyster who would be completely lost without his daughter, the other on the brutish side, join forces to find a missing girl and solve the mystery of a murdered porn star. A very fine nod to Elmore Leonard.

And, finally, Only Lovers Left Alive, which I reviewed here, but we watched it again last night, and the magical day we first saw it is worth revisiting. The act of revisiting also got me thinking about mid-life, more precisely mine, and how I am looking backward as much as forward now. I am savoring the memories of a multitude of ordinary days, knowing full well that their collection and care are what make life extraordinary. It is why I am here, literally, in the blogosphere. I want to see where I have been, what I have felt, and who I was with with the simple click of a mouse. Hard evidence. And what a joy it is, both the writing and the gazing. Then there is YOU, dear reader, an interesting and delightful side benefit. Thank you for being and for being here, too.

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Queue ‘Em…

Terri – A true to life story (though not actually true) about a boy struggling to fit in, to keep his unconventional and mentally ill uncle and caretaker above water, and to be a decent friend. Sweet and sad.

Greta Gerwig has my number. I like everything she does, so surprise! Mistress America is a boisterous romp with two future step-sisters as they navigate college and adulthood. A little bit wacky and full of great one-liners!

Au Service de la France – Also a bit wacky and terribly French. It’s 1960 and Andre has just joined the French secret service. He doesn’t know what he’s doing at work or in the romance department, but that’s okay, most of his colleagues don’t either! Laugh out loud funny. Beh, oui!

DOPE – Oh, my goodness. Three brilliant and nerdy teens get caught up in the L.A. drug trade. Hilarity, wicked-smart schemes, and a bit of terror ensues. The edge of our seat storytelling kinda stressed us out, in a good way. Gah. Great soundtrack, too!

Ex Machina – An uber-wealthy recluse and tech genius rewards one of his minions with a week at his estate to conduct tests on an artificial life form. Provocative! To what lengths would you go to gain freedom? An interesting question.

Another Earth – A woman who made a grave mistake years earlier attempts at penance in this heart wrenching film about the sudden appearance of a parallel world very close to home.

Parker Posey does nutty and brilliant as only she can! Price Check follows her as she attempts to revamp a poorly performing super market chain, turning the office on its ear.

How to Be Single – A very fun examination of the ways we struggle to find the right partner, very relatable, even though I haven’t been single in a quarter century! Whaat? Rebel Wilson positively steals the show.

The Heart Machine relays the tale of a man certain that his online girlfriend (they Skype) actually lives in town. Trippy. I love how it looks at the ways ways we unintentionally self sabotage to cope with fear and loneliness. Soo good.

 

 

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Flaked – I love Will Arnett as a buffoon and a villain, but wow, as a regular, slightly self-absorbed guy slowly coming to terms with being a man, he really shines. Friendship, relationships, the stories we tell, it’s all there.

Nightcrawler – Egads, Jake Gyllenhall, what a creeper-doodle you play in this one! A loner capitalizes on the public’s ever insatiable desire for shock and gore on the news by not only chasing down accidents with a video camera, but making a few of his own. Yikes.

I’m Sorry You Feel That Way – Thoughtful, terribly insightful, and ever so funny, this is my absolute favorite Bill Burr special. Grab some tissues – you might just laugh until you cry!

Master of None – A great show about relationships, dating, feminism, and friendship. Nicely done, Aziz Ansari!

The Wolfpack – Whoa. A group of boys grows up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, near-permanently confined to their apartment with their mother and megalomaniac father. They watch a lot of movies and remake some of their favorites, though the real story, at least to me, is how these boys coped in such isolation and thrived, in their own way.

Man Up – I usually have such terrible luck in the romantic comedy category, but this was really fun. YAY! Jack and Nancy meet when he mistakes her for his blind date, and rather than correct him, she goes along with it because he quotes Hannibal Lecter! Of course there had to be a misunderstanding that could threaten their perfect chemistry, but you know, that’s the shtick!

The Kings of Summer – Three teens build their dream home in the woods to escape their overbearing parents. Tender, fun, silly, sad, and a little bit scary.

People Places Things – A newly single man struggles to parent his daughters, work as a graphic novelist and teacher, and move on with his life after a painful divorce. So very good!

Iris – Oh boy, does this woman inspire me! Imaginative, tireless, and fearless, Iris does everything with aplomb – style icon (great glasses AND turquoise!), interior designer, teacher. She go, go, goes, and gets the job done. Do what you want, be who you are, wear what makes you feel good. Y E S ! !

Short Term 12 – A glimpse into the lives of the residents and staff at a group home for teenagers. It’s a tender fil-um about the ways we are all broken and the ways we make each other better. Not for the faint of heart.

Les Revenants – After waiting for some two years and nearly forgetting much of the plot, Les Revenants (The Returned) returned! Just as creepy and mysterious as the preceding season, this was another binge watch with a satisfying end. Thank you Canal+ for not dragging this series out!

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Movies, etc.

Good Hair – the crazy things women, and a few men, do to and for (?) our hair, myself included. Once a year, from the age of eleven to sixteen, I got a home perm, my mom spending well over an hour rolling what seemed like a million pink and turquoise curlers at the dining room table, my eyes and scalp burning, and me, save the very LAST time, wholly disappointed at the results.

In this documentary, Chris Rock travels the globe to reveal the secrets and truths behind black hair and its care – relaxers, wigs, weaves, the whole shebang. Frightening, serious, and sad, the film brings up interesting questions on the value of hair, and how the majority of what is perceived to be “good” by the black community is far from its natural state. Sodium hydroxide, the primary chemical used for straightening, completely dissolves an aluminum can in about an hour, yet people put it on the heads of girls as young as three and often continue the practice over a lifetime. It’s a nine BILLION dollar a year industry that keeps a lot of mom and pop shops in business and poor women in debt, with weaves and wigs, good ones, at least, starting at $1,000, and many women spending thousands each year to keep it all up. The saddest part is the fact that many black women look down upon those with natural hair, saying they aren’t as serious or professional for forgoing the chemical processes. I happen to love it when a black woman rocks an afro, and after this bit of education will be even more hearty in my compliments to them!

Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage –  Never a big Rush fan, though I can sing along to more than I would have guessed, I started this documentary with the intention of watching it for five minutes, just until I saw what they looked like. An hour and a half later, I found myself at the end, happy and weeping at a quintessential underdog band story. Largely misunderstood by critics and the general public, but with a cult following, the trio play with passion and curiosity, to their hearts, their fans, and each other. Bravo.

Frank – this movie explores the odd and surprisingly lonely world of being in a band of angry misfits: the thrills, disappointments, and often painful work of leading a truly creative life, oh and having a leader who wears a fake head at all times.

Welcome to Me – Alice (brilliantly played by Kristen Wiig) suffers from borderline personality disorder and spends the majority of her time in her apartment watching television.  She wins the lottery and decides, a la her idol Oprah, to create a show that revolves entirely around her. Sooo good!

The Paper Chase – Explore the highs and lows of being a first year Harvard Law student in this classic movie from 1973. Super handsome Timothy Bottoms and that hair! Lindsay Wagner before she was the Bionic Woman! John Houseman! The story ain’t too shabby, either.

Get Low – A hermit with a mysterious past arrives in town to arrange a funeral party while still alive, raising fists and riling imaginations. The truth is never as bad as we think.

Obvious Child – Oh, golly. A young comic struggling from a break-up and the loss of her job discovers she is pregnant after a one night stand. Though the decision to have an abortion comes easily to her, the repercussions are lasting. Wherever you stand on the issue (I find the practice abhorrent and laws dictating what I do with my body equally so), the film is a thoughtful examination, often times tender and funny, of one woman’s handling of her unplanned pregnancy.

The Broken Circle Breakdown – Love at first sight. Tattoos. Singing and guitar picking. A love for America. A difference of faith and one couple’s struggle to reconcile a loving world with a child who becomes gravely ill. This is a stunner and a heartbreaker with a fantastic soundtrack.

What If – A fun romantic comedy with some very lovely animation. Enough said.

Laggies – An aimless woman in a stifling relationship escapes to the home of a new teenage friend in hopes of reassessing her life. Fun and thoughtful, with Sam Rockwell, one of my favorite actors. The man’s never made an indie movie I didn’t like. Word.

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