Stephen King did me right a few days ago with Parker, so why not let him keep going. This British TV drama was one of his favorite TV shows of the year. It was more like a movie though, it consisted of three parts of 45 minutes each and Gail and I watched them consecutively. That’s not binge-watching by the way, too short. I don’t binge-watch TV shows because I don’t have the attention span. I can barely stay in a football game for three hours. Continue reading
I used to watch football on New Year’s Day. So did my wife, in fact, but those days ended years ago for various reasons. Mostly, it doesn’t seem like there are that many interesting college football games on New Year’s Day anymore. Right? But also, we catch up on our consumption of screened entertainment in January and February. What better way to do kick things off then to read the Stephen King columns in Entertainment Weekly?
I love a good food/drink documentary. This was a great one that Gail found on Netflix. As you can probably tell, I almost defer exclusively to Gail regarding what I watch on TV, save sports. Somm is a food documentary about a group of sommeliers who are studying to pass the Court of Master Sommelier certification test. It’s a hard test to pass. There’s about a 3% pass rate and around 200 Masters in the world as of the filming of this movie. Continue reading
I’ve said, “this feels like the future” before and I’ve only been half serious. Well, this feels like the future, for real. House of Cards is a modern political thriller representing Netflix’s first foray into original content that has a couple of futuristic aspects. Continue reading
So these 30 for 30 things by ESPN are showing up on Netflix streaming. I was just flipping through the documentaries and Straight Outta LA popped up. Despite my hatred for the Worldwide Leader, I do love these sports documentaries, but I haven’t seen many of them. I hit play on this one thinking I’d check it out and I checked it out for an hour (I watched it all, yes). This is where you realize that not having cable doesn’t exempt you from becoming a TV-watching zombie. Continue reading
You know who can spin a yarn? Raymond Carver can. I’ve heard his name basically once on my life but it stuck with me because it was attached to something memorable. About 20 years ago my wife and I saw Short Cuts at Piper’s Alley (North and Wells) and I liked it so much that I’ve harbored a notion ever since to explore some more Raymond Carver. Continue reading
Okay, we got us a live one here folks. I harken back to my first foray into this particularly British examination of society and it’s multi-faceted skewering of inequity: Sense and Sensibility. My wife dragged me to that movie and I had very low expectations, but I enjoyed it. Now, I go into any Brit period-piece with raised expectations, expecting to be surprised and moved, even if only the spirit of Jane Austen is at the helm.
And deliverith did season 1 of Downton Abbey. In fact, it exceeded expectations.
The normal cast of aristocrats are there; the eldest sister destined for spinsterhood, the benevolent father, the mean sister, the hot sister, the snobby grandmother, the ugly suitor, the handsome suitor, etc… But they freshen up the whole thing with a deep dive into the underclass. In other words, you get a lot more than just the loyal butler.
Screen time is probably split 50/50 between the wealthy family lucky enough to inherit the beautiful country estate and the pack of maids, footmen, servants, and butlers who keep the place running relatively smoothly. It has a soapy feel, but it’s more like a soap opera on steroids. There is such fertile ground for intrigue and tension when social mobility is impossible, even within subclasses of subclasses.
It’s set just before WW1, so the Brits were beset with internal and external struggles; European powers were settling in for war and the political fervor to grant more rights to women and undo the British aristocracy was high. Women’s rights were the same as in Jane Austen’s time, despite that fact that there was electricity, the telephone, and the machine gun. This issue of women’s rights is especially important because the featured aristocratic family has no male heirs.
Yep, that’s some serious drama.
My wife and I watched this together on Netflix streaming over a period of about four weeks (it’s about 7 hours total). It helped us break in our Apple TV and eased us into our first month without extended cable. That’s quite a transition and I’m not sure it will last. But we are doing up Bleak House next, so we’ll see.
Rarely do I go into a movie with zero knowledge. I went into this one with an uncharacteristically low amount of information. Here’s what I knew: Hillary Swank learns law to get her brother out of jail. Oh yeah, and Gail said she heard it was good. That second part, about Gail saying it was good, was one of the primary reasons for seeing it.
So this woman, who didn’t graduate from high school, spends 16 years of her life getting her law degree so she can exonerate her brother, who’s serving life in prison for murder. She gets help from famous lawyer Barry Scheck, who runs this thing called The Innocence Project and they successfully prove the innocence of her brother Kenny Waters.
Hillary Swank turns in an inspired effort. I think I’ve only seen her in Million Dollar Baby, which rocked. I’m looking down through her filmography and I don’t see that many movies that I think I’d like, despite her popularity and consistent critical acclaim. What gives with that? Do people have favorite actors any more? You know, the actors for which every movie is a must-see. I guess I’ve seen a ton of Clint Eastwood movies and the majority of John Wayne movies, but I don’t really have any must-see actors anymore.
I watched this movie with my laptop open because I was half working, so I had The Innocence Project website up (plot killer). It got me into a little trouble because I broke the news to Gail that Kenny Waters died six months after getting out of prison, so the ending wasn’t as happy as it appeared. They did add a note that Betty Anne Waters won a settlement from the corrupt police department and continues to work on The Innocence Project, but neither of us noticed anything about the sad news of Kenny Waters’ death and inability of him to enjoy much of his late life freedom.