Thursday, April 3, 2014

Weekend Entertainment Recs for Seniors & Others

TV: The Fall
Gillian Anderson shows her range here--excellent!

We all best know Anderson from her role as agent Scully in the X-Files. Here she plays the antithesis of Scully. She is a senior inspector called into Ireland to solve a serial murder case. She is high handed, off putting, not interested in men except as one night stands--she could be a male senior policeman in short. Although there is no shortage of serial killer stories on tv, this one is quite compelling. We follow the killer as minutely as we follow Anderson. This must be intended as a series as you are ready for follow up on the story in more episodes at its end.

If you are wondering about where her red hair went, Anderson dyed her hair red to play Scully. She was a blonde before taking the role. At conclusion of the Scully role, she went back to being a blonde.

This series is available on Netflix Streaming, the iTunes Store or Amazon Instant Video.

Music: The Best of Laura Nyro, Stoned Soul Picnic
Incredible Musical Artist, Singer, Composer and Lyricist

The late Laura Nyro considered herself an artist and always had problems with the commercial aspects of the music business. I saw her live in 1970 and she was like a hot house flower, exotic, wonderful and completely at odds with fame. She was not felled by drugs though.  She lost her mother to ovarian cancer when her mother was in her 40s.  When Laura was in her 40s, she likewise contracted and died of the same disease. It was a huge and way too early loss to the music business.

Some people only recognized her music when others sang it, like Barbra Streisand and Blood, Sweat & Tears. But those people were missing something for Laura Nyro sang, and accompanied on the piano, her songs like no one else could do. I first started listening to her in college and have never stopped.

This album has a fantastic number of her songs from her studio albums and they are all stellar. If you have never listened to her before, this is your perfect way to start listening to her. If you are like me, you will thereafter want everything she ever recorded. I wish I could describe her voice and music but I have no words to describe the wonder of her.

This album is available for instant download at Amazon MP3 store and the iTunes store.

Book: The English Girl by Daniel Silva
Very intricate puzzle about kidnapped English girl--my favorite Gabriel Allon book so far!

This is one of the more intricate stories about Israeli spy Gabriel Allon. I have read a few of these books now, not in any particular order, and this is the best one so far. I figured it out but it took me awhile. Basically a young Englishwoman who has been having an affair with the UK's PM is kidnapped and held for ransom. MI5 brings in the Israelis to help recover her and Allon is in charge of the mission. He is helped by the assassin who tried to kill him in an earlier book, Christopher Heller. I believe Heller is becoming a regular in these books. Mikhail, one of Gabriel's spies on his team, has a particularly juicy role in this book which I especially enjoyed. This spy novel is a great cut above the spy books of old. I can remember when I read the old Robert Ludlum books. These are much, much better. I like them about the same as the Alex Berenson spy novels on the whole and more than the Vince Flynn spy novels. But I've read all of those novels and will read all of these as well.

This book is available at Amazon's Kindle Store, Audible, the iTunes Store or through the Overdrive app at your library.

Film: Somewhere by Sophia Coppola

The writer and director, is director Francis Coppola's daughter. Her cousin is Nicholas Cage. Another cousin is Jason Schwartzman (Bored to Death on HBO), whose mother is Talia Shire (Rocky), Francis's sister. Sofia was married to director Spike Jonze. She has probably known no one but movie people her entire life. Her movie is about a movie star who, far from being a fascinating guy, is closer to being a total zero in personality. Everyone who barely knows him thinks he is fascinating. Sofia Coppola paints a devastating portrait of a top actor in the first half of this movie.

I found it very funny but you might miss the satire it is so low key. Johnny, played by Stephen Dorf, is like an unmade bed walking around. He can barely be bothered to comb his hair, change his clothes or do much but passively participate. He hires twin pole dancers and falls asleep during their act. He falls asleep during sex. His costar finds him a big nothing. Women text him complaining about his behavior which is mainly that he isn't following through with them. He can sit in a makeup chair for hours with everything but his nostrils covered, completely cut off from stimulation, and be fine with it. He also likes hot tubs, massages, tv shows, like FRIENDS reruns, and video games. When he's asked about the meaning of a movie he's been in, he draws a complete blank. When he stands next to the movie poster of himself, you would never know it is the same guy. He likes driving but most of the time he's not even going anywhere. The movie opens with him aimlessly driving back and forth in the desert. He's asked at a party if he ever studied with anyone, perhaps the method school of acting, but he says no, he just does it. It is easy and natural for him to pretend to be someone else because he seemingly has so little personality himself. I say seemingly because the whole Hollywood lifestyle has put him into a deep state of hibernation. Only a real person can bring him out of it and that person is his daughter, played by Elle Fanning who does a fantastic job in the role.

The one thing that causes him to finally exhibit some liveliness is his daughter's mother takes off and his daughter has to stay with him. He starts to come out of hibernation with her because she is a real person. It is startling to realize that all the other people hanging around these places are hangers on, call girls or guys, wannabes, and so forth. The more intelligent end of the movie business (writing, directing) is absent from these places. His daughter is self reliant. She can cook and shop in a regular store. She dresses like a real person. She likes to swim in the pools, reads, keeps a journal, uses a computer and is going to camp shortly. She is eleven and she is real. No one else hanging around him is this self reliant and they are all adults! After seeing this, I think anyone stuck in this life should marry the most intelligent, life loving person he or she can as a spouse and probably start having a fairly large family. That is as normal as life will probably ever be. Oh, and get a hobby. Anything. Stamp collecting will do! Such a person needs a home a lot more than call girls.

And that's where the title comes from. He is nowhere. he has no real place. He needs to be somewhere real.

Critics and viewers tend to score this film low probably because it seems boring and slow when they expected to see a movie about a glamorous movie star. That is her point. THIS is the way it really is and it can be a real shock to discover that these people lead even more vacuous lives than we expected them to lead.

This film is available on Netflix Streaming, the iTunes Store or Amazon Instant Video.

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