Friday, June 6, 2014

Weekend Entertainment Recs for Seniors & Others

Novel: The Humans by Matt Haig

The Edgar winners were just announced. This is the highest, most coveted mystery award, named after Poe. This book was one of the five nominees. It didn't win but it is amazing it was even nominated. This is because although yes there is a murder and the protagonist is an admitted murderer, that is about the only conforming aspect this book has to the mystery genre. But I guess the mystery writers wanted to claim author Matt Haig and who can blame them? He is a huge talent and this book is quite simply a blast.

Our protagonist is an alien sent to earth in the body of a Cambridge University Professor. That professor has already been removed by the aliens because he solved a math problem which will propel the humans ahead way too much for the aliens' liking. So the alien is put in the Professor's body to go back and remove not only the solution but any human who may have learned of it from the professor. He is expected to kill the wife, the teenage son, the math colleagues and anyone else who knew he solved the problem. The book starts with his being set down on a road in Cambridge totally in the nude and his adventures walking home in the nude are hilarious as are his experiences eating what we eat (he is repulsed). 

To say anymore would ruin it. Matt Haig is an author to watch and I am off to discover his other books as his newest fan.

This novel is available everywhere in all formats. I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Film: The Unbelievable Truth by Hal Hartley
Love Story That Was Smash Hit at Sundance

This film was made in 1989. It was compared to Woody Allen's work at the time because it was quirky, funny, profound and filled with zingy one liners throughout. It was made by Hal Hartley who would continue to be compared to Allen if Allen weren't Jewish and his films could at times have happy endings. In 2014 you will have to search high and low to find a love story this good being made present day.

23 year old beauty Adrienne Shelly was Hartley's muse. She played a just graduated from high school girl en route to Harvard. Her love interest is a rumored murderer now working as a mechanic for her father. In typical quirky Hartley fashion no one seems to know who he murdered or why and his list of victims is entirely based on local gossip.

The relationship between the girl and her father is absolutely hilarious as well. They are at cross purposes throughout. When he tries to put a spoke in her wheels, she turns around and becomes an overnight success as a lingerie model, splashed all across the New York papers, which sends him into a tizzy. She is also convinced that the world is on the brink of a nuclear disaster and this hilariously peppers all her exchanges as well.

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

TV: Absolutely Fabulous

A friend had me watch this show with her and I thought she was nuts when she was laughing uproariously throughout it. I didn't find it funny and I didn't like the two middle aged flakey women who were its stars. Fast Forward to a year later. I put it on my own DVD player and began watching, not expecting much of anything....AND I LOVED IT!!! Part of the problem may be that it has taken me awhile to "get" British humor. Now, even though I get it most of the time, I still don't get it the first time necessarily.

I've since read that Jennifer Saunders, writer and one of the leads, actually met a real life woman in Britain who lived like this character and Saunders based the entire series on her. The woman has a son instead of a daughter but basically the rest of it is true. There was no matching friend though as there is in the series. It seems incredible to me that there really is someone like this in the real world but truth often is very strange.

Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley play the two women, Edina and Patsy, two women left over from the counter culture, rock and roll, heavy drug use, let it all hang out days. Patsy has made it fairly big in fashion writing and Edina likewise in PR. The reason for their success is that these two have never met a fad or a trend which they didn't embrace completely. Edina has a teenage daughter and two ex-husbands. Patsy remained single.

The daughter Saffy is the straight character as she is the practical, self reliant one in between these two ditzes. That Edina and Patsy would fly the Concorde to New York from London just to find a doorknob is the epitome of the absurdist line of their thinking.

These two remind me of Lucy and Ethel from I LOVE LUCY. Yes, on the surface they would appear to be completely different comic duos. For one, Edina and Patsy have money to burn whereas Lucy and Ethel had more limited means. However, both duos were capable of doing ANYTHING once they set their minds to doing or getting something.

Perhaps the thing I like best about this series is that if you feel down or depressed, Edina and Patsy can lift you out of the dumps and into the heights of lunacy.

Amazon and iTunes carry AbFab. Currently it is free on Amazon to Prime subscribers.  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.

Music: Love Is... The Tender Trap, Stacey Kent

Stacey Kent reminds me of several singers who have done these songs but none as much as Billie Holliday. On the very first tune, I thought I was listening to Billie except the technical aspects of the recording sounded too good to be Billie's. (Recording conditions were primitive for many of Billie's recordings and so you have to enjoy her in spite of the conditions.) I thoroughly enjoyed the album and found myself getting into it more and more with each listening. 

Someone else was comparing her to Diana Krall. I recently gave Krall's album a 5 star rating also. The difference to me is that Stacey Kent actually could fool me into thinking she was Billie Holliday. I would not be fooled by Diana Krall. However, I think Krall is still probably more accessible to an audience who is perhaps not used to the singing of Billie Holliday or Ella Fitzgerald. I can certainly fit both singers into my CD collection! Kent also has more orchestration behind her whereas Krall's was really stripped down to a Minimalist style with the backup musicians. I liked it both ways. Let me put it this way: if you like Sinatra or Baker, buy the Krall. If you like Fitzgerald or Holliday, buy the Kent.

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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