May 25th, 2020

Alison had watched and reviewed Booksmart back in October last year.  Search for her review.   I had heard good things about this movie, and this being the directorial debut of Olivia Wilde.   The movie stars a good young cast, who are playing a modern day version of Fast Times at Ridgmount High and the predecessor before that American Graffiti with a bunch of high school kids on their last day of high school and before graduation.

The primary star is the young Kaitlyn Dever, named Amy (who was also in the series Unbelievable) and closely tied with her on screen best friend Molly, the school’s valedictorian (played well by Beanie Feldstein) and their graduating class and some school personnel.   These two best friends, and school outsiders, pledged to focus entirely on studies and school government with a view to getting into good schools and avoid typical high school trappings (partying, drugs, trouble etc).  On the last day of school Molly realizes unexpectedly that some of her classmates, who didn’t seem to focus entirely on school managed to get into equally notable schools as she did (but they also had fun).   She pledges to Amy that they will party it up on their last night of high school, even though they weren’t invited to any parties.   The story moves on to their numerous adventures.    It’s a fun story, and I had a number of good laughs along the way.  Things just happen to them, and they have encounters with a number of their classmates and others along the way.   Problems arise that need to be solved and the two face a number of challenges.   The story is well told and the various side stories match up well (I thought anyway).  I like the message about high school as a stepping stone and even those who you may think have it all together, don’t necessarily do.   There is a good message about friendship.    Things don’t always turn out the way you had planned, even for a single evening of fun.   This isn’t always a bad thing.   We learn, we grow, we take next steps.   The hope is that you meet some good people along the way that you can relate to and connect with.   Some will stay with you briefly, while others may be around for a lifetime.  As one ages you can see some of these people as you look backwards at your life.    There are a lot of truths to be found.  I can hear my daughter telling me that I am being pretentious and obvious at the same time.   Some moves are fun.  Some movies have messages and others still can do both.  This is a quality first time directorial debut for Wilde.   She seems have to a very good grasp of the material and allowing her able actors to make it work.   I note that she didn’t write the screenplay.

I am continuing to work through Killing Eve Season 3, which I do enjoy as well as RUN Season 1 which seems to be getting better each episode.   It started slowly with the other adult investigator star from Unbelievable (Merritt Wever) and Domhnall Gleeson, but it gets better and more complex.   This is yet another series where Phoebe Waller Bridge has her input (and acting skills).   Waller Bridge in also involved with Killing Eve.   I am also continuing to watch Westworld Season 3.   I realize as I watch these episodes just how complex this series really is.   I am not even sure after a short time whether I had watched that episode or not.   Dolores is exploring the “real world” having escaped the adult amusement park.   She has a few friends with her.    Plenty to pay attention about.

I am missing movies.  I am missing the theatre.   This goes without saying I suppose.   I am more distressed about the delays in movie releases like James Bond, Dune, Top Gun etc.   Of course the studios don’t want to lose out on the theatre revenue at $15 a seat.   But it would seem that this virus will keep people out of theatres for quite a while – well maybe everywhere but the US, unless they start showing movies in church.    Stay safe.   Stay home.

April 13th, 2020

Another week, another week working from home and living in a fairly small world.  All in the name of social distancing and trying to “flatten the curve”.  It’s amazing how our days can be committed to a mathematical concept.   The number of cases of this dreaded disease are rising around the globe, and we here in Canada are bracing and trying to do our part.   In truth, what we are doing is helping ourselves and making sure that our health care system can not be overwhelmed.    For those who think I have drunk the Governmental Kool-Aid, I have.  I have seen the devastation in Italy and Spain and think the actions of other countries (like Germany) are those we should emulate.  Check out the German number of deaths.   Much smaller percentage than other similarly sized countries.   Anyway, John Oliver has spoken at length about it on HBO’s Last Week Tonight.  This show runs weekly, on Sunday night’s on Crave and I think it is just so funny.   He was in really good form last night (April 12th episode).   It is quality commentary as well as a few good laughs.

For movies, on Crave I watched We Were Brothers which is a documentary on the (mostly) Canadian musical group The Band.   It talks about their history mostly through the eyes of Robbie Robertson, from Toronto, who wrote most of the songs.   He didn’t, however, principally sing these songs and left that to his bandmates.  Robertson had early on performed with Ronnie Hawkins and later these other members of the band, who toured with Bob Dylan in a wildly panned tour for Dylan.   He was leaving his folksy roots, and began using more electric guitar much to his audiences chagrin and disgust.   Afterwards, the guys holed up in a shack in Woodstock NY and wrote music together.   They were different, talented and had a sound all their own.   This was an interesting watch and showed some of the creative process which I find fascinating.   Robertson was writing songs when he was 15yo for Hawkins for a record.   I like The Band, certainly their more known and popular tunes and this was a story which showed the contribution of Robertson.  More than I had expected.   Worth a viewing with the beginning, middle and end of the band as they came apart at the seams at the end.

I also watched a HBO documentary on the life of writer and director Nora Ephron.  Everything Is Copy: Nora Ephron Scripted and Unscripted, shows her life in films with family, stories and writing.   She penned some of the most iconic relationship movies like When Harry Met Sally, and directed Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail.  You will note Meg Ryan in each of these.   She is present for the documentary as she talks about Nora.   So are Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep (who worked on Julie and Julia) and others.   The documentary was created by her son, Jacob Bernstein, and yes her second husband was Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post who worked with Bob Woodward to bring down President Nixon in Watergate.  That story is chronicled by book and movie All the Presidents Men.  Dustin Hoffman plays him in the movie.   She was then married to Nick Pileggi who wrote Good Fellas.  So she was well connected.   The story talks of her move from books and articles and screenplays to then directing.  Not everything she touched was gold.   Movies like Lucky Numbers, Mixed Nuts and Michael were forgettable.   Still she was a woman who worked right up until her very private death from complications from leukemia.   Hers is an interesting life.  The story alone with Rob Reiner about making When Harry Met Sally is good story telling which you can see in the extras from that DVD.   I enjoyed.

Finally, the creators of Fleabag, read Phoebe Waller-Bridge created Run which had a first episode streamed yesterday.   It stars Merrit Wever (from Unbelievable) and Domhnall Gleeson (of Star Wars, Ex Machina and many others) in the first episode anyway, as two people who have seemingly full separate lives and then they end of meeting up at a rather random spot together.   The details haven’t been fully disclosed and the viewer is expected to seemingly go with it.   I am not sure what to make of it yet, but given my enjoyment of Fleabag I will stick with it.

I have also re-watched documentaries on Top Gun (Danger Zone) as well as Disney nature documentaries on Blue Whales, Big Cats, and Dolphin Reef.   The Disney Nature stuff is amazingly shot.  I can only imagine how many hours were required to find and film a cheetah attack for example.   Or to catch up with blue whales off the coast of Costa Rica.   One can learn and watch at the same time.

Happy viewing.  Stay safe.  Stay healthy.   Keep your distance.   Stay home.