Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Weekend Entertainment Recs for Seniors & Others

TV: Louie Season 4  For those of us who like sitcoms, the ground is a bit thin these days. It used to be the glory days of tv. But now cop and zombie shows rule the roost instead. So thankfully, Louie C.K. came along. He has been doing great work straight across the board, whether on tv, live in standup, in movies, comedy albums--you name it, he's done it in entertainment. This show, much like Seinfeld, uses the grist of his personal and professional life to showcase the comedy of being Louie C.K. a beset every man who happens to be a standup comic with two small girls to raise.

There is one big difference between Louie and Seinfeld and an even earlier inspiration, Woody Allen: Louie was raised Catholic, not Jewish, and, of course, is not much of one these days. So we get a very different slant on his own peculiar kind of moral and ethical code from these other comics.

Like all sitcom males, Louie is a disaster with women and he is a great disaster to watch on the dating or relationship scene.

Charles Grodin plays a doctor in this season and he is as funny as ever. It is so great to see him on a series show. When Grodin is onscreen, no one can touch him comedically, not even Louie. Ellen Burstyn also does a nice turn as an aged Hungarian woman in Louie's apartment building.

I can tell no quality difference between season 4 and the prior three seasons. They are all excellent. It took me about three episodes of season 1 to warm up to him but once I did, I was a hard core fan.

Netflix, Amazon and iTunes all carry Louie. However, Netflix only carries the first three seasons. You'll need Amazon or iTunes to pick up Season 4. You really would be best off seeing the series in order, starting off with season 1. 
I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Film: The Fortune Cookie (1966)
The Golden Triangle of Talent: Wilder, Lemmon and Matthau

Billy Wilder's film stars Jack Lemmon as a photographer who is injured slightly and temporarily at a Cleveland Browns football game. He has one weakness, his ex-wife, whom he would like to get back. Other than that, he is an honest and upright person. He sees his relative, Whiplash Willie (Walter Matthau who won the supporting Oscar for this). WW is an attorney. He seems like a terrible one at first but when he breaks into his arguments, he is rather convincing. He also will do anything to win the case. 

WW plays on Lemmon's weakness by getting in touch with his ex. He tells her about all the money Lemmon could win in a lawsuit against the Browns for personal injury. The ex-wife comes back to town to do her part and WW is off and running with his lawsuit. Lemmon, meanwhile, more the straight man in this film, starts having serious second thoughts because the football player who hit him is taking it badly. But getting back the ex-wife seriously clouds his judgment. This is a great pairing of Matthau and Lemmon, who always shine under Wilder's direction. Far from feeling dated, you will finish this film thinking you haven't seen anything this fresh and original for ages...and you will be right!

Walter Matthau is at his absolute hilarious best in this film. He came close ever afterwards but this is his crowning role.

This film is available on dvd currently. 
I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Novel: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta is interested in the bizarre ways religions figure in American life. His last novel, The Abstinence Teacher, was a tour de force involving born again Christians. This time his aim is broader. He is after anyone who reads the Bible. A portion of the Bible contains the Rapture where people are taken (removed from earth) by God shortly before the End of the World. Perrotta turns this belief right on its head by having lots of people disappear, just as foretold, but it is all of the wrong people. The ones taken are just a random hodge podge of people with no saintly characteristics whatsoever.

This off kilter Rapture turns society into chaos for awhile and then as life moves on for the ones left over (or left behind), there are enduring and often hilarious changes in the surviving culture. For example, one minister has a nervous breakdown because he can't handle the fact that he wasn't among those taken. Ultimately, he spends his days investigating scandals involving those who were taken and then publishing those scandals in his mini tabloid which he hawks from street corners.

A new sect pops up called the Guilty Remnant. They don't believe in trying to pick up and continue life as before the unRapture. They believe that the end is nigh and everyone should fatalistically accept that fact, abolish all hope and drive and just wait for the final axe to fall as surely it will any day. The practices of this sect took an incredible amount of wicked wit on Perrotta's part. For one, members of this sect are required to always be smoking a cigarette, even if they hate cigarettes. For another, they don't speak except that electronic communication is ok. You can IM and email but you can't speak in non virtual life. They travel in pairs, like nuns, and shadow the left overs so that they can spoil their attempts to keep on living. Romances in particular propel them into action as hope and joy are taboo.

I could go on and on but I don't want to ruin this for anyone. If any of the above intrigues you, just read it!

This novel is available everywhere in all formats. It airs as a miniseries on HBO starting June 29, 2014. 
I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Music: Consolers of the Lonely by The Raconteurs

I got this album because Jack White became one of the Raconteurs. I expected to only like Jack White. Much to my surprise, I really like the Raconteurs and especially this album. Although Jack's Carolina Drama end tune on this album became my top favorite almost immediately, I soon found that I also was listening to Brendan's Fade to Black quite often. This song made it onto the NPR listeners' top 25 songs for 2008. Then I found that I really like the first track, then the third track, especially with the piano opening and close and so on. Now I listen to all of them and so I am hooked.

This album is available for immediate download at Amazon and iTunes.  I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

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