Watching

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Lucky – a man near the end of his days, Lucky follows a rigid and routine existence in a small California town. Yoga, the same seat at the diner, puzzles. With fear of the end, he moves forward, sometimes awkwardly, always with intention.

Paddleton – two loner best friends live a small existence of regularity and routine, watching the same movie over and over, making pizza, playing their favorite game. All is upended when one learns he has a terminal illness and asks the other to help end his life. So touching!

Shirkers – Teens make a movie only to have it disappear along with the strange friend who helped them with its creation. Decades later, they seek to learn what happened.

On Body and Soul – One of the most magical films I’ve seen in a long while. Co-workers discover they share a strange dream time connection which sparks a tenuous romance. A stunning meditation on love and the beauty and sanctity of life. A word to vegans and vegetarians – contains scenes from a slaughterhouse. I should hope to die in such peace.

Dean – A man struggles to find his mojo, creative and otherwise, after losing his mom and breaking with his fiancee in short order.

The Other Son – A Jewish and Palestinian family learn their sons were mistakenly switched at birth, the anguish and reconciliation.

Dead in a Week (Or Your Money Back) – A man inept at suicide outsources the job only to discover he might have something to live for.

The Breaker Upperers – best friends help cowards end their relationships for a living, via cowboy songs and elaborate schemes, depending upon how much the client wishes to pay. All is rolling along nicely until they meet a former victim in need of a friend.

p.s. The woman on the right looks like Bethie, one of my best childhood pals. Love….

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It’s been snowing light lofty flurries for the better part of three days. The accumulation is nothing serious (sorry Seattle!) but enough to shovel and sweep. Like the best snow of childhood memory, it keeps us mostly inside and huddled under wool blankets, gazing at the hypnotic fall. Yesterday we celebrated President’s Day and kept from freezing by binge watching an entire season of Grand Designs Australia. I love architecture! I also dragged out the instant pot to make lickety-split quick boneless pork ribs – fall apart tender in one hour – and a sweet potato mash. Food of the gods, I tell you.

Juniper remains delighted by snow, rubbing her nose in it, jumping, frolicking, and barking in delight as she zips to and fro in the back yard. We are considering hooking our girl up to a sleigh, so eager is she to pull us along on our now short because it’s so darn cold walks. Her eager face exclaiming, “Isn’t it wonderful? It’s SNOW! SNOW! Hurry up, so we can smell ALL of it and pee on some, too.”

And art! While delivering holiday treats to one of our dear neighbors, I spied a rather lovely painting on her bureau and commented on it. Lucky for me, it was painted by yet another dear neighbor (and all around fine person!), so I made arrangements to buy a couple for our upstairs bathroom. Both are of New Mexico and make my heart sing. I will post more accurate representations soon! In the mean time, you can check out her work for yourself – Susan Owens Fine Art and maybe buy something too!

p.s.

If you squint your eyes at the house photo, you just might spy Greg and Juniper waving hello from the living room!

Latest Film Picks

A Ghost Story – a beautiful meditation on grief and our deep connection to people and places. A bit magical, too.

Sweet Bean – Oh, gosh, gosh, gosh. A fil-um about really recognizing what is important. Kindness. Small joys. Connection to others. Making food that speaks of love and caring.

Lean on Pete – Written and filmed in and around Portland and the great state of Oregon, which always sparks a light in me. A boy whose had more knocks than a person of his age ought takes some more. Also about doing right by those we LOVE. A stunner.

First Man – A brief glimpse into the life of Neil Armstrong: dedicated, earnest, humble, daring, and a little bit sad. Also a lesson in early rocket science – holy guacamole, it’s a wonder any of them lived.

Faces Places – A delightful film about honoring tucked away communities and the people who live and work in them.

American Ultra – a stoner learns he is actually an assassin with some pretty badass skills. Mayhem ensues. Funny and wild and NOT for the faint of heart. There’s a whole lotta blood, peeps.

Maniac – A pharmaceutical trial with questionable ethics brings two broken strangers together. A computer suffers from depression. Sally Field in fabulous glasses. A whole lotta weird. Truly wonderful, too.

The Hero – My guy (remember we had a moment? Scroll ALL the way down…) with the velvet voice! An actor proud of and most fondly remembered for a single role learns he has terminal cancer. With the time that remains, he hopes to make more of his life and amends for past mistakes.

Hearts Beat Loud – A father and daughter create a magical bit of music and do NOT form a band before she leaves for college.  My favorite bit: the daughter is gay, and it is a complete non-issue. How I wish that could be true for everyone.

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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