Film: Le Passé (The Past)
Another excellent movie by Irani director, Asghar Farhadi
Bérénice Bejo plays Marie, a Parisian woman who has unresolved relationships with two Arab men. Her present husband has just returned to France from Iran to see to the finalization of her divorce. They have been separated for several years since he felt the need to return to Iran. He is her second husband. She had two daughters with a first husband. He was not Arab and her daughters almost look Nordic next to everyone else. The mother is now involved with another Arab man, living in Paris, and wants to marry him. Neither her daughters nor his son are reacting well to all of this domestic upheaval, especially since his wife is in a coma in a nearby hospital.
This coma keeps intruding into the story and for good reason. Tahar Rahim as the Iranian husband is the most likable of all of these characters but that may be because the worst thing he's done is move back to Iran. As the story unfolds, this is very minor indeed compared to everyone else's acts in the past. Marie and her soon-to-be husband really start to grate on your nerves and then you start finding out more and more about them. This director and writer has a wonderful understanding of the complexity of human relationships and families. This is what all of his films are about. He carefully builds a story around these complex personalities, nuances them with every fine detail imaginable and then brings an emotional powerhouse down on everyone in the 11th hour. His film from the year before The Separation was also outstanding.
Novel: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
This is a novel but done through emails, legal documents in a divorce case and professional documents, such as a psychiatry report regarding child custody disposition. I used to practice divorce law and the author has captured the reality of divorce law perfectly since she too is a lawyer. Once committed to the story, I stuck with it and read it to the end.
My favorite character is the wife sued for divorce, called 3M. She is a hoot. The divorcing husband's being a doctor is perfect too as that profession is well represented in divorce courts throughout America. He even lives down to its usual problem in divorce court: everything and everyone comes behind his being a doctor. He's a pediatric oncologist and as his own daughter puts it, "Sickness doesn't cut it with him unless you're dying of cancer." So, of course, he initially wants custody! He is also a pretty delightful character to dislike.
I read this while in bed recovering from eye surgery and a horrible summer cold. It did the job of cheering me up while I felt pretty lousy overall. Although my first reaction was not to like the way this was written, via emails and documents, I completely forgot about that the further I got into it as the story swept me along. It is actually perfect summer reading material.
For those of you who are avid New Yorker readers, the author is married to its film critic, David Denby.
TV: Orphan Black
Season Two is just about as jam packed as the first season with action and adventure. This is all to the good as the same actress, Tatiana Maslany, plays multiple roles as clones of one woman. She does a terrific job. My favorite clone remains the housewife out in the burbs, Alison, who can often be unexpectedly deadly. She is a riot and I love every minute she is on screen. Felix, the faithful gay friend, is back as well. I like him best when he is with Alison too. They are funny together. Perhaps the very best moments though are when Alison is forced into rehab, her husband Donny confronts her there and then Donny, in one of the funniest tv moments ever, accidentally kills one of her worst enemies by pounding a gun against his steering wheel in frustration.
The other clones vary. Sarah has a very big role and she gets in the most fixes of any of them. However, her clone "sister" a Russian terminator is great at killing off anyone who gets in Sarah's way. Another great moment is when the Russian clone is dancing in a bar with a fellow and someone bothers her partner. Her partner is overwhelmed but she is not. She beats the crap out of guy bothering them! There are more clones as well but just tune in and watch Tatiana Maslany act her butt off playing all of them.
This is a BBC production and Tatiana Maslany is from Toronto. One warning, you definitely need to see this in order. So watch season one first.
Music: Everly Brothers, 29 Golden Greats
I really surprised myself by listening to these songs one afternoon and enjoying them a lot. Even more surprising is that I could remember every single one of them! I do not know if someone who had never heard them as a younger person back in the day would enjoy these as much. Certainly this style of singing and even their whole look and mode is not being done today. However, this is what I found refreshing. I think the Everly Brothers were quite good within their very limited range. They are very white bread 1950s and if you are expecting a 2014 multicultural musical experience this is not for you. As a 65 year old woman brought up in that era though, I thoroughly enjoyed these songs and the live performance.
Everything reviewed above is carried by Amazon, iTunes, Audible, the Overdrive app for your public library and most other outlets both online and in the real world. These are taken from my five star reviews at Amazon where I am a Top Reviewer.