Friday, June 20, 2014

Weekend Entertainment Recs for Seniors & Others

TV: In Treatment, Season 3 Gabriel Byrne
The Way It Really Is

There was a great deal of unipolar depression littered along my family genetic tree. So that I got it as a young adult and needed this kind of long term treatment seemed inevitable. The way treatment is usually depicted in films and tv is that patient and therapist achieve a complete catharsis for the patient and the patient strides off towards what will now be a brilliant future which he or she will be able to handle without emotional turmoil. Sadly, this rosy treatment plan only exists in most screenwriters' imaginations.

The reality is that therapy is messy, as messy as life itself. It starts and stops like the rest of life starts and stops, not at any great dramatic points but at quite ordinary and often unresolved points. The patient teeters off to do life on his or her own for awhile and after some missteps will often come shakily back into therapy again with perhaps a different therapist. Although the therapist comes across as all knowing and wise in session, if you stumble across your therapist's personal life, you discover his or her personal life eclipses your own in sheer messiness.

This show captures the above like no other film or tv show ever has. It has done so for three seasons. It may have done it best in this season. Gabriel Byrne does a tour de force job as therapist Paul Weston and indeed very much reminds me of my own first therapist. This season we see him in therapy with a new woman therapist plus him as the therapist with three new patients. My personal favorite has always been to see Byrne's Paul Weston in therapy and this season is no exception to that. He is just a complete mess but in a wholly believable way.

His three patients are a gay adopted boy, a retired widower from Calcuttan forced to live with his son and his family in New York and a middle aged actress (Debra Winger), whose sister is dying of breast cancer, like their mother did. All three are compelling stories and the only sense you have at closing is that although certain issues have been resolved, manifold problems lay ahead for all of them at therapy's end. Is this how it goes for people in real life? Of course it is.

Amazon Instant Video is currently carrying all three seasons and they are free for members of its Prime Program. All three seasons are excellent. It would be best to see them in order but not essential. This series is also available on DVD. I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Film: Bad Timing, A Sensual Obsession 
by Nicholas Roeg 
starring Theresa Russell & Art Garfunkel

Nicholas Roeg used his real life wife, Theresa Russell, as the female love interest in this, his best film. Art Garfunkel plays the male lead, a professor, in that phase of his life when he was acting instead of singing. This film has been compared to Last Tango In Paris. Its theme of sexual obsession between an unlikely man and woman is similar. However, the obsession in Last Tango In Paris is kicked off by Brando's wife's suicide. 

There is no cause in Bad Timing which similarly explains the man's obsession. These two come together with wild, animalistic lust and it never seems like there is any more than that. However, it is apparent that these two are terrible for one another. The film is shot in a jerky fashion (deliberately) with flashes back and forward in time. It produces a very clashing effect. If the couple were a musical composition, you would judge it/them as atonal and dissonant. There is not one element of harmony to this couple other than when they animalistically mate. 

What does a musician dread as his worst nightmare? He fears losing his timing. The timing is bad throughout and thus the affair is always poised on the edge of oblivion, the disharmony threatening to shatter it. Harvey Keitel also plays a police officer in this movie. This was before he only played leading roles.

Art Garfunkel's roles in both this and Carnal Knowledge were supposed to turn him into a major movie star. It never happened. He was a fine enough actor. He was just too peculiar looking to fit the leading man roles he wanted to play. Had he been content to play smaller character parts, the experiment would have worked.

Amazon Instant Video is currently carrying this film and it is free for members of its Prime Program. It is also playing on iTunesI am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Music: Lazaretto by Jack White
He Knows His Music & Art

Some people do not like Jack White as a person, finding him fairly unbearable. He is peculiar. That comes out in every interview, including every interview in connection with this album's release. His appearance is weird too: odd hats, black hair dye, vintage clothing, facial makeup including eye liner. He even color coordinates his albums because he's also an artist and is always building things and coordinating them together. This album's color is blue, which means everything in connection with it is blue including every outfit White wears. When he was the front man for the White Stripes, he made everything in red, white and black.

Frankly, I think all of the above goes with the territory. The guy was given an astounding amount of musical and artistic talent. He composes the music, writes the lyrics, produces all of his own albums, plays in other bands, etc., etc., One could never fault this guy on his work ethic. He's 38 and this is the 45th album he's produced!

So is he good and is this album any good? Yes and Yes. How could the answer be anything else?He is a huge talent. No matter what he turns to, it comes out fresh, original, vibrant and uncompromising. In particular, he really lets loose with his guitar on this album and even his worst detractors admit he is one heck of a guitarist. It is fair to say that he is on fire with the guitar with this album. This album also has a distinctly Southern twang to it. I can now tell he lives in Nashville, TN. He was originally a kid out of the Motor City (Detroit) so this is a big transformation. This is the first time I would take him for a native Southerner on an album. He has been moving steadily in this direction for quite a few years. As for his voice, it always works with his own material. If he sang someone else's songs, one might not like his voice. But his voice is perfectly suited to his own material. This is also true of Billy Joel and Bob Dylan.

In short, I do not really want to know my artists as people. Instead, I want to enjoy their work. In that respect, Jack White scores yet again.

This album is available everywhere online and in real world stores. It is available for instant download at both Amazon and iTunes. I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

Novel: Remember Me Like This

Bret Anthony Johnston

Terrific Writing About Family Under Siege
A family living on the Gulf Coast of Texas experiences a tragedy. One of their sons disappears when he is 11. Four years go by and all efforts to recover him have petered out. The parents still post flyers and have a toll free number and a reward but the rest of the world has moved on. This family cannot move on, the mother, father and other son. They are just getting by, day by day. Then they get a call from Corpus Christi from the police. A street vendor called the police when she seemingly recognized him from the flyers. He had an older man with him who was buying him mice to feed the snake he'd bought him. To tell you anymore would ruin this story. It went in NO direction that I was thinking it would go, which is a good thing. All the scenarios which occurred to me as the usual kind of resolution were not used. The writing is terrific. The emotions of every character captured in this story are just sensational. I read this in a day while recovering from surgery. I went to bed after 3am.

This novel is available everywhere and in every format, both digital and real world. I am a top reviewer at Amazon. You can see my reviews here.

new feature: Entertainment Bombs!

Music: Ghost Stories, Coldplay

More Conscious Uncoupling? 

Lead singer Chris Martin has always had a lovely voice and delivery. I can't say that fails him here and he is certainly accompanied by the lushest musical sound possible. Somehow this just doesn't do it for me though. Part of the problem might be that I came straight from listening to Jack White's LAZARETTO. Here are two men with recent breakups from their wives. White is on fire in a spare, minimalist environment and style whereas Martin sounds as if he's on a Hollywood soundstage supported by a cast of thousands. I saw Martin perform two of these songs on SNL and was somewhat underwhelmed then as well. I think he is a lovely man but I also think he might not be quite as heartbroken as he needs to be for this album to work. I don't blame him for this. I think being married to Gwyneth Paltrow for ten years was probably not good for him or his art. Too much New Agey, flakey influence and it is showing on this album. I think he needs to get back to his roots, back to where he was musically before being influenced by Paltrow's whole Hollywood Princess lifestyle. Perhaps the worst thing I can say is unfortunately the truest: it SOUNDS like he is broken up with an American movie star, not the love of his life. Move on, Chris, in every sense of the word.

However, whoever did the art on this album did a fantastic job. You can see everyone involved in the Paltrow-Martin family in those wings. Click on above image to see biggest version.

Novel: Double Image
by David Morrell

his is a very bizarre book. It has its entertaining moments but it became so disjointed as to lose believability. First, we start off with one villain for about a third of the book and this villain is totally over the top. He is a Bosnian after an American photographer who took photos of his war atrocities and he kills anyone in his path. Then we abruptly shift directions but with the same hero who now is obsessively tracking the movements of a film starlet from the thirties whose photographs he discovered in the home he just bought. This has nothing to do with the Bosnian or any of the people the Bosnian killed. Meanwhile, the hero has lost all of his friends because the Bosnian killed them. He is down to just his ex girlfriend vis a vis the movie starlet who would be nearing 100 if still alive. And it just gets weirder from there. I was half expecting the last third to turn into a ghost story but it did not. If this had been two or three different books, there may have been one good book there. There are enjoyable parts but the whole is a mess.

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