1. The Lady in the Van magically appeared in my Netflix recommendations last week. Suspicious that it might disappear from the line-up just as quickly, we watched it immediately. What a gem! Maggie Smith is wonderful in this role, a considerable departure in many ways from her Downton Abbey Dowager, although both share intelligence and irascibility in equal measure. I also very much enjoyed the depiction of playwright/memoirist/writer Alan Bennett as a split Writer/Written persona, and I'm wondering why it's taken so long to add Bennett's works to my reading list. . .
2. I'm delighting in David Coggins' charming, whimsical, illustrated memoir, Paris in Winter, alternatingly erudite and sensual, sure to trigger happy recognition for those who have visited the city and inspire future trips for those who haven't yet had that good fortune. When this title first came to my attention, the book already seemed to be sold out whenever I tried ordering it online. Fortunately, however, one of my favourite brick-and-mortar bookstores, Munro's in Victoria, BC, had a copy on the shelf when we were there a few weeks ago. This is one to savour and return to. I hope you can get your hands on a copy. Just lovely.
And in case you don't follow me on Instagram, I posted about another very satisfying book a couple of weeks ago
3. Also on Netflix recently, we caught up with missed episodes on The Chef's Table, stirring up both appetites and wanderlust, plus copious admiration for those who bring such commitment and discipline and intelligence to their creative careers. We're also all caught up with The Bridge's third season and now will have to wait patiently to find out what Saga gets up to in the fourth season, which may well be the last. This is not a series for those who can't handle graphic violence and gore, and if you get impatient with overly intricate plots and long narrative arcs, you might decide to tune out. But the gradual development of the obviously damaged, probably autistic Saga's character and of the relationships she forms, step by careful step. . . so delicately, often painfully, always nearly beautifully handled, I think. The show's creator and writer, Hans Rosenfeldt, is also responsible for Netflix's Marcella, which we gobbled down. Here, the over-plotting is even clumsier, I'd say, and there are red herrings that never get thrown back into the sea, so to speak. . . Still satisfying, though, and we'll watch for the second series appearing eventually.
Right now, we're watching Wentworth, and I must say, this is a guilty pleasure that it's easy to surfeit on. Not sure I'd recommend it, but I must say it's addictive. You'll feel manipulated, I suspect, so don't say I didn't warn you.
4. A much sweeter viewing possibility, much more innocent, I guess, but so much fun, is the Meryl Streep-Hugh Grant-- Simon Helberg movie, Florence Foster Jenkins. Honestly, I think Pater was a bit skeptical about seeing this, based on the trailer we've seen a few times recently. But I'm a Meryl Streep and a Hugh Grant fan, and Pater's a very accommodating husband. His reward? The film itself, which he enjoyed just as much as I did. It's based on a true story of a wealthy New York socialite who generously funded the city's classical music culture and then decided she would perform at Carnegie Hall, no one willing to tell her how badly off-pitch she sang.
It's clear from that quick plot summary how wrong this could have gone, but the tenderness between Streep's wealthy singer and her husband, played by Grant, was credible and moving, tempted as we were initially to write him off as an exploitative cheater. Beyond the tenderness of their relationship, though, is the light-handed playing of the situation's comedy -- with the most brilliant "face-acting" I've seen in a long time. Simon Helberg is an astonishingly accomplished match in this to the more established Streep and Grant. Between them, a hilarious symphony of eye-widening and lip-tightening, and nostril-flaring, cheek muscles twitching just enough to express anxiety, eyebrows arching in incredulity. . . Okay, I've said enough. Put this one on your list; you won't regret it!
5. And this one you'll only get if, like me, you struggle to speak another language. We've found a splendidly compatible new tutor and have been having 90-minute conversations with her at a coffee shop once or twice a week. During one of which conversations, I confidently and happily surprised myself and my interlocutors (big fancy word for the other two peeps at my table) by describing someone as being vachement honnête, after some mental thrashing around for the equivalent to the English "forthright," spoken with the tone used in speaking of someone who's more honest than we really want at the moment. Not the kind of French you'd learn in any textbook, but after a split-second of surprise, Z nodded her understanding and approval of my expression. (If you know I made an error in using this expression, maybe wait an hour or two before bursting my bubble ;-)
That's a lot of sitting I've encompassed with my Five Things, isn't it? Don't worry, though. We're off on our bikes right now to get me fitted for a new pair of runners. Tomorrow I've been invited to join my daughters at their yoga class -- I'm excited about that as the studio's in our new neighbourhood, and I'm way overdue for a good yoga class (it's been almost three months! Eeeek!). Tomorrow night we're taking the seven-year-old and the coming-up-to-four granddaughters to some live theatre followed by a sleepover -- can't wait!
And you? Weekend plans? Reading, movies, sitting, moving, fast, slow, quiet, noisy, alone, with a crowd? What are you up to between now and Monday morning? Whatever it is, I wish you the best Saturday and Sunday possible.