Watching

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On the T.V.

I have a serious lament. Too many people are mean, and too many people delight in it, especially in movies and on television. I cannot tell you how many times I am recommended a fil-um or show to be immediately struck by cruelty spun as humor. “Oh, look at me! I am a jerk and am going to purposefully hurt someone. Isn’t it hilarious?” There is enough wickedness in the world; I do not have any desire to make it my entertainment. So, as you might imagine, I start a lot of t.v. watching without even remotely crossing the finish line. Yes, sometimes it is annoying, especially when trying to come to a consensus with friends, but I feel I must stick to my principles on this one. Love and kindness are worth the effort! Forever and always.

Remember quite a while back, how I talked about the hubster and I never having cable television? Well, looky who joined the revolution, peeps! About six months ago, Greg called the cable company about some technical difficulty. While on the phone, the nice fella who helped him gave us a discount bundle for HBO and our internet for less than we were paying for the internet alone – an offer we couldn’t refuse! It took us another three months to actually hook our television up to it, but that is another story.

So anyhoo, we started perusing their On Demand offerings and found High Maintenance, my absolute favorite show. Seriously. I love, love, love it. And crazy coincidence, I saw an interview with Ben Sinclair (the handsome bearded guy on the bike) on you tube where he opined the attack on love, basically sharing my lament from above, so even more reason to be enamored.

What the heck is it about, you say? A guy, known only as The Guy delivers marijuana to Brooklynites (Brooklyners? No clue, sore-ee.) via bicycle. Each show is a vignette about the lives of his customers or someone involved on the periphery of their lives. It’s a beautiful  show about humanity and pot smoking. Such fabulous writing! I couldn’t be more smitten.

Surprise, more HBO viewing.  Issa Rae’s most fabulous insecure – a recently turned thirty-year-old woman copes with the ups and downs of life, work, and relationships, both romantic and friendly. More great writing!

The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes – the title kind of nails it. Homes for the 1% mostly, too. Exquisite, oftentimes outrageous, all an absolute wonder to behold.

Well, whaddya know? It seems I have never spoken about Rita before. A super Danish series (season four!) that follows the life of a rather fine teacher with a pretty messed up personal life. She’s working on it.

Big Dreams, Small Spaces is the antidote to the Extraordinary homes from above, highlighting what determined people can create with mostly limited budgets and time. It made me a little homesick for my Portland garden – all that rain and GREEN!

Felix and Meira – A man and a woman live in the same neighborhood, yet worlds apart. Felix is coping with the death of his estranged father and asks Meira, a Hasidic mother at the park with her baby in tow, how to cope with the loss. They forge a forbidden friendship as he helps her come to terms with her incompatibility with the religion that has defined her entire being. Wow, just wow.

 

If you, like me, happen to be suffering from the throbbing pain of a bunionectomy or just need some quality toes-up time to binge watch, have I got some recommendations for you! Let’s begin…

Seymour: An Introduction – Seymour Bernstein was a revered concert pianist who left the stage without telling a soul. He found his joy in teaching and immersing himself in the solitude of his craft. How wonderful that he and Ethan Hawke were brought together so his touching story, marvelous philosophy of life, and most especially, his music, could be shared with a broader audience.

Tim’s Vermeer – With enough money, time, and patience, even the non-artist among us can create a pretty fine imitation of a masterpiece. Follow Tim as he conceives of and executes, down to the last detail, Vermeer’s Music Lesson. Fascinating!

Thunder Soul – With the right teacher, just about anything is possible. This is the inspiring story of the class-act Kashmere Stage Band – Houston high schoolers that sound like the tightest, most bad ass funk band of the 70s – and their inspiring teacher as they reunite some 35 years later to pay tribute to the man who led the way. Oh, and DO buy the music, if you can. We absolutely love it!

Godless – This cliche-filled Western is worth the hype. A bad, bad man searches for the gunfighter who left his gang. Mayhem ensues. I love how it explores the strength and independence of women and the notion of family. Blood or not, the one we create is most important.

Under an Arctic Sky – a small band of surfers go after epic waves in w i n t e r in I c e l a n d. Crazy insane blizzards and the coldest of water under the aurora borealis. Eeek!

Jouney to Greenland – More cold. More snow. A pair of friends named Thomas take a trip to Kullorsuaq, Greenland to visit one of their fathers. They live among the inuit, hunting, eating as the locals do, experiencing the perils of middle of nowhere internet, and facing the truths of life.

My Happy Family – Manana leaves the apartment shared by her husband, children, and parents to live on her own. Though it is a great shame in her community, she does not waiver, her motivations revealed incrementally, as the film progresses. Also, the first Georgian (the country not the state) film I think I’ve ever seen – a fine window into a community I do not know, yet so much like home.

Tangerine – A transgender sex worker learns from her best friend that her boyfriend/pimp cheated on her while she was in jail. A taxi driver who leads a double life goes home for Christmas Eve dinner. An unvarnished glimpse into the sex trade and the cruelties and complications of being transgender, all while tackling the everyday complexities of relationships – the tenderness, the betrayals.

 

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Sometimes I question my choice of middle name for that pooch of ours. Beulah is meaningful, but JOY, now that would really nail it! Our girl such a joy-filled creature! Saying good morning: wiggle, wiggle, wiggles of joy. Coming home from the store: wiggle, wiggle, wiggles of joy. Walking? Oh my heavens the JOY of walking! The JOY of eating, and cuddling, and licking, and running, and playing, too. She brings it out in us, too.

I bought her a new collar (the other got sprayed by a skunk – not fun!!). Neon pink with reflective bones, eek! Also, new socks for winter weather, and damn if they don’t look like she’s wearing high heels! The silliness. And how cute she looks in her little coat, too!

A beautiful day in the neighborhood…

Our nephew came down to see us this past weekend, but I didn’t get a picture – rats! We had a grand time of hiking and eating and talking and eating some more. Ms. Juni B. enjoyed her first meal inside at a restaurant – Pub Dog, if you don’t know it. It is the first in the country to allow pets at the table indoors. Though the food was quite tasty, it was a bit of sensory overload – dog sniffs and food sniffs and so many people, too!

A trip down the Rabbit Hole after seeing the highly anticipated (at least for us) Blade Runner 2049, both of which we rather liked. Get the Chicken and Biscuit and the Tweedle Bee. Yessirrreee!

Oh, and almost mandatory photo of Pike’s Peak. Lovely from every angle, that one…

Woke up to that sliver of moon this morning, peering just above the trees.

Some little one is a sad, sad camper this morning, having left a rather sporty jacket and these two dolls at the park.

And finally, what kind of a duck are YOU?

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Movie Time…

Captain Fantastic follows the unusually rigorous life of a family living on the outskirts of society. They are survivalists, skilled at killing and growing their own food, living thoughtfully and intellectually, all while keeping at the peak of fitness. They know so much, yet so little. All is upended when their mother dies and they must face the actual world and determine their awkward place in it.

Following – Bored and in need of inspiration, an aspiring writer follows people on the streets of London, involving himself in a twisted game. A gem from Christopher Nolan, who, it seems, is perpetually obsessed with time. Love the Batman sticker on the door – aspirational or, even better, he saw into his own future.

The Lunchbox – A woman hoping to reignite her marriage sends delicately crafted meals to her husband, only to have them delivered to the wrong man. She begins a relationship with the recipient via tiffin tin notes, each revealing their lonely and sad worlds. A great story of love, loss, and aging and the families we make when our own fail.

Before I Go to Sleep – A once in a long while fil-um to keep me guessing. A woman without a memory begins to question her existence. Her husband. Her friends. The son she swears she once had. Thriller!

Enemy – A colleague recommends a film to a man recovering from a difficult divorce, only to discover a man identical to him in looks is a bit player. Obsessed, he finds the man and begins to follow him, and a host of bizarre events unfolds.

Demolition – Two with Jake Gyllenhaal – he’s got our number! A man finds odd ways of coping with his wife’s sudden death – corresponding with vending machine companies and tearing his house apart are chief among them. An honest look at the way we grieve.

Found Memories – A woman wanders into a small town of ordinary folk, doing as they always have. She begins to question and photograph them and becomes part of the fabric herself. Simple, meditative, beautiful.

Calvary – An unknnown parishioner tells a priest in a small town that he is going to murder him in a week’s time. The intervening week is a soulful one, with the priest carefully tending his deeply flawed flock, including himself. A skillful and very human tale.

Talk to Me weaves the fact and fiction of the always interesting and often controversial Petey Green – an ex-convict turned D.J. in Washington D.C. He tells it like it is, inspiring and engaging his listeners and the ire of his employers, but never once flinching.

The Guard – In writing about the previous two, I was reminded of one of our favorite fil-ums of all time. A highly irreverent and hilarious fish out of water tale. A black F.B.I. agent comes to Ireland in hopes of busting a multi-billion dollar drug ring. Great one liners and quick wit get the job done in a highly entertaining fashion. Movie time, indeed!

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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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