Friday, August 26, 2016

Five Things Late Friday, Heading into the Weekend. . .

It's been a while since I've posted a Five Things Friday, but I have a few small pleasures to share and/or recommend:

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 honnĂªte, 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.

24 comments:

  1. I also enjoyed The lady in the van...based on a true story too which surprised me.
    Paris in Winter will go on my list...thank you.
    I also want to see the Meryl Streep/ Hugh Grant film...I see another Bridget Jones is in the works too! I never thought that the cast would reunite to do another film...
    We have a few sweet treats planned for the weekend...family birthdays to celebrate. Have a fun weekend Mater!

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    1. They've been talking about another Bridget Jones film forever. Have to say I'd just as soon Hugh Grant continued to say no. . . I think he's capable of so much more than that type of role. . .
      Hope those birthdays were well celebrated -- and now the weekend's over...

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  2. BTW, I'd go see that Streep movie but my friends will not. Nor will my husband.

    Oh, and (a propos of your response to my comment on your last movie post) AbFab was HORRIBLE, IMO. I have no idea of what they were thinking but, while zany 40 y/os pretending to be shallow 20-somthings is amusing - at least it was when I was in my teens. Watching @ 60 y/os doing the same seemed a sad parody. And it was entirely lost on them. I found this movie truly ugly.

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    1. I think your friends, even your husband, would be surprised by how good the movie turns out to be. Don't miss it yourself, at least.
      And I'm glad to hear the not-laughing wasn't just me re AbFab. .

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  3. Thanks for the heads up about The Lady in the Van - we'll watch it this weekend. We only watched the first season of The Bridge, really enjoyed it, and have just finished The Tunnel, on PBS I think - an English-French version centered around the Channel Tunnel. I think I enjoyed this even more because of the lead actors. This weekend we look for the last of the Christmas gifts to take to the UK, as well as a wedding gift for an old uni friend who just got hitched for the first time at 57. We'll deliver it next week in England. Enjoy the sleepover!

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    1. We don't have access to The Tunnel at the moment, although perhaps our move will bring us new cable options. I've come to really care for the actors/characters in The Bridge, so it's hard to imagine others playing similar roles, but I'm looking forward to checking it out (before too long, I hope). Hope the gift-shopping went well. The Countdown begins for your trip -- Bon Voyage!

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  4. Lucky you!
    You know I can't wait to see Lady in the Van after reading the book
    Netflix here is a pale shadow of yours and first one who landed was Pickbox
    I am now not sure did I watch the third season of Bridge or not-must check,I love Saga and her struggles,and Scandinavian series as well
    Brava for you,you'll be native speaker in France,just don't be afraid to speak
    Only this (mistakes included :-)) take you to next level IMO
    Sun(shade exactly),swimming,reading,coffee/wine drinking (modestly)-would be my weekend!
    Enjoy yours
    Dottoressa

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    1. I think Netflix has big plans, though, and you'll probably catch up soon enough. And you have better access than I do, at least, to many British shows -- I've not yet been able to watch the original Scandi version (with English subtitles) of The Killing (Forbrydelsen?) -- just can't find it here, and although I came to like the American version (after resisting it for years), I'd still like to see "the real thing" -- perhaps I'll be able to access it on Netflix in France this visit. . .
      Let me know if you find you've seen or not seen Series 3 of The Bridge -- I love Saga as well, find her character moving and sometimes so funny.
      Agreed, one has to willingly risk -- and make! -- mistakes to speak a new language. Sadly. . .
      That sounds like a good list of weekend activities -- hope it worked out well!

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  5. Alan Bennett has ' national treasure ' status in the UK , even though he doesn't want it . He pops up occasionally swearing a little in an effort to change our minds . Still love him & his memoirs especially - so wry . I've read Lady in the Van & will catch the film - Maggie Smith is always worth watching . The Bridge is a must too . Saga is portrayed beautifully . There is a YouTube clip of the actress laughing & joking in an interview & it's quite a surprise . Perhaps Saga makes people a little more understanding of autism problems too .
    Wendy in York

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    1. I'm going to look for that YouTube clip -- I haven't seen the actress in anything else, and I think she's very good. And yes, perhaps she helps us understand autistic people better.

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  6. Love Maggie Smith in most of her films. Such a great actor. Lady in the van was wonderful. Just watched 'My old Lady' set in Paris. Also excellent. B x

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    1. Oh my goodness! How did I miss that one? Love Scott-Thomas and I think KK is good as well. Tracking it down asap! Thanks you.

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  7. I saw Maggie Smith in the play Lady in the Van in London in 2000. It was thrilling to be able to see her on stage my first time in London...actually only time in London. So when the movie came out I was excited to see her reprise her role. And loved the film as much as the play. Loved her ascension moment. Have you read Alan Bennet's book The Uncommon Reader...where Queen Elizabeth discovers the bookmobile and reading? It's wonderful.

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    1. also saw her on the London stage.
      I remember her wide repertoire of the word - possibly.
      Question, exclamation, pointed hint - what she could pack into that single word!!

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    2. Oh you two -- how lucky!
      And no, Susan, haven't yet read any Bennett, but I'm looking forward to remedying that very soon (except I can't figure out how to read six books at once -- working on it though. . . )

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  8. I loved "The Lady in the Van"! But truth be told, I will see anything Maggie Smith is in because I think she is wonderful.

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  9. Brava on the use of vachement with your tutor! Thanks for the heads up on Lady in the Van available on our Netflix. So much good viewing ideas in this post!

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    1. Oh, thank you Lorrie. Nice to have a reader who gets what that means to me. Not sure you'd thank me for Wentworth, though -- it's actually quite horrid much of the time, but we're stuck and going to see it through. Be warned...

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  10. I must try and find that film somewhere. I enjoyed the book and I love Maggie Smith, so... And I'd like to join Susan (above) in recommending "The Uncommon Reader" to everyone who hasn't read it yet. One of this summer's dicoveries for me.
    Florence Foster Jenkins forms a part of my childhood memories. Her doting husband published a record of her singing the most complicated soprano arias that western music has to offer. Sometime back in the sixties my mother received that LP as a birthday present, so that voice, missing all the high notes, is carved in my memory. I wonder if they used the original recordings for the film. It will also be amusing to hear Meryl Streep sing off key because we all know she sings quite well (see "Mamma Mia").
    My weekend (almost over): The first hot days in all this summer, so on friday afternoon I dropped everything and came out to the lakeside where I have been swimming, reading in the shade, pottering in the garden und picking blackberries. This afternoon a friend is coming for a quick sail and dip in the lake - then most likely summer will be over for me...

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    1. Eleonore, that's wonderful! I wonder how many our age would still remember FFJ -- I'd never heard of her before, but perhaps my parents had. And yes, they used some of the original recordings in the film, and the recording itself, at the studio -- and its aftermath, the attention she received and mistakenly took for appreciation of her talent -- form part of the narrative's poignancy.
      Your weekend sounds a good match to Dottoressa's and full of things I'd enjoy. I do miss my blackberry-picking on the island. I let them grow at the edge of the yard, just outside the fencing. In the city, there are spots where they can be found in generous quantities -- near train tracks, on empty lots, etc., -- but I'm never sure they haven't been sprayed with something noxious.
      I do remember that last swim of the summer -- bittersweet. Especially for you, heading back to campus (not for so much longer though, right?!)

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  11. We just watched the "Lady in the Van" last week, and were moved and surprised. A good film, with great acting. What a treat.

    Now, thanks to you, I've got to look into "Wentworth." Thanks for the suggestions.

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    1. Wasn't that a delight, that film? So determined to read some Bennett now!
      As for Wentworth, do be warned: It's uglier than you might like -- we got too far in to stop, but decided by the end that we probably won't watch another season

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  12. We saw the play, "Souvenir," several years back and were awestruck by the performances. I will see the movie and will be curious about how how it compares.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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