The Watch List – Quarter #1 2017

Television happens when I’m not in the mood to read. Or when I’m in the mood for television. There’s a difference, I swear. Here’s what I’ve been watching and flailing over recently. All are highly recommended if you have my exact tastes.

613_1024x411Big Little Lies – Let’s lead off with the heavy hitter. Get thee to HBO Go and binge away. It starts slow, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better adaptation of a novel EVER. EVER. EVER. The performances (particularly Nicole Kidman) killed me. I felt uncomfortable in the best way. And the ending slayed my heart – made me laugh and cry and smile like a goddamn idiot. Give it all the awards.

MITJ_DigitalAssets_Landing_540x360_R1_GCMozart in the Jungle – Want to keep smiling? Head on over to Amazon (don’t @ me) and watch this gem. It’s such an underappreciated comedy about an eccentric conductor taking over the New York Symphony Orchestra. It’s strange and quirky while being grounded in the slice of life narratives of struggling orchestra musicians. Gael Garcia Bernal absolutely shines as Rodrigo. Season three was bonkers.

la_ca_1223_black_sailsBlack Sails – The most epic gay pirate love story that is also a prequel to Treasure Island. And maybe one of the most sexually fluid shows ever created for mainstream audiences. Very adult, very violent. And also slow as hell where characters get the time to breathe and develop. Episodes might center around a crazy battle, but might also center around a quiet conversation between two people. The women are amazing – always two steps ahead of the men. You didn’t watch this show and you should have.

tvd-castThe Vampire Diaries – This is a rewatch. I watched live until midway through the fourth season when the show took turns I couldn’t get behind. But knowing how everything ends and having processed my complicated feelings years ago, I’m giving this show the full watch treatment. And I have to tell you, it holds up so well. The first season is one of the most expertly plotted seasons of television I’ve ever seen. And so far season two is almost just as great. TVD is a show where I actually appreciate the blooming love triangle (which, to me at least, is an actual triangle) and takes plot twists super seriously. What I mean by that is the writers never waited for the season finale to do something major. They liked to switch things up and break your heart every few episodes. And I loved them for it. Plus, the acting is mostly superb. I particularly love Paul Wesley’s performance as Stefan Salvatore. (I’m a Stelena shipper – bite me)

Also, iZombie is back and if you’ve never watched this show PLEASE RUN DON’T WALK.

March Movie Madness

Not an entirely accurate post title because I didn’t watch a whole hell of a lot this month. At least, not beyond The Walking Dead. Remember how I was supposed to be embarking on a new cinematic journey? Well, did not happen. Didn’t watch a single one of the four films I had vowed to make time for. Here’s what I did manage to get around to:

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Veronica Mars (The Movie):

Of course I watched this and loved every single stupid second. LoVe for life, bitches.

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Thor: The Dark World:

Jimmy and I just watched this On Demand a few days ago and mostly enjoyed. I love Loki so he steals the show for me EVERY TIME. Jimmy thought the cinematic scope of the film was gorgeous and wishes he’d seen it in IMAX theaters. Wasn’t the biggest fan of Natalie Portman’s character, but loved, loved Kat Dennings.

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House of Cards:

Just started watching season one. Enjoying the Southern campiness of Kevin Spacey. And Robin Wright is fierce.

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Game of Thrones, Season Three:

Squeezed this in just in time for the beginning of season four. The Red Wedding might have been even more brutal on screen than on the page. Of course, I did throw the book across the room during that scene and refused to pick it up again for three days. So both were highly affecting.

What did you watch in March?

A Watch List

Okay, so just because I haven’t been reading much doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing other things. Most especially, watching the good ol’ television. Here’s what’s I’ve seen and the things I thought while doing the seeing:

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The Walking Dead – obviously I love this show something fierce and just wanted an excuse to post more Norman Reedus. But also, I love how much of a character Georgia has become. It’s nice to see my home featured so prominently. Plus, I can literally feel what the characters are feeling (heat and humidity-wise) by merely stepping outside my door. I can take a drive down the same backroads they travel. And even take a trip to Woodbury (a.k.a. Senoia) if I so choose!

Six Ways to Sunday – a great little 90s indie film starring Deborah Harry (and maybe Norman Reedus, too) which I loved when it first came out and have rediscovered all these years later and still love it. It’s about a boy and his mother (the Jewish mob, Adrien Brody with some unfortunate hair styling, and Agent Coulson also make appearances).

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Sons of Anarchy – I watched this in my efforts to avoid Breaking Bad. Just finished watching the third season and it’s hitting all of my buttons!! I’m feeling really nostalgic for Jimmy’s motorcycle which we exchanged for some much needed car repairs many years ago. We need another Suzuki cruiser in our lives.

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Supernatural – I’m rewatching season 7. I’m not sure where I quit the show, but have decided to catch back up. Because Felicia Day. Plus, Dean Winchester. I missed him. And Cas!!

Moonshiners – Okay, I don’t want this, but Jimmy does. He is borderline obsessed.

What have you been watching?

Also, Bonus Reedus:

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Downton Abbey

Thanks to the extra push by Courtney, I finally watched the first episode of Downton Abbey which completely trumps the Super Bowl.  How did it take me this long?  This show is fantastic.  I love how dastardly some of the servants are and how likable many of the family members are.  Totally wasn’t expecting to despise (yet be completely obsessed with) many among the ‘sympathetic’ lower classes.  The secrets, the scandals, the inheritances gone awry!!!  And to have some wonderful twisty moments in the very first episode is impressive – I didn’t realize how invested I was until shit hit the fan and I noticed myself gasping out loud.  Plus, the cinematography is gorgeous, the writing is way above the bar, and the acting is on point.  Go watch this show!!!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Sequels

One cozy, rainy Sunday afternoon when I lived in Vancouver I was working on my latest, slightly over ambitious craft project.  To pass the time while cutting out little stars on handmade birthday invitations (oh so many stars), I flipped on the TV.  And promptly began my happy dance.  You’ve Got Mail was on!  I settled in to watch, while my wonderful then-husband went out for the afternoon.  When he got back home hours later, I was still watching You’ve Got Mail.  So naturally, he asked, “how is this movie possibly still on?”  To which I had to shamefully (well, not really) admit that TBS was having one of its back to back movie repeats.  And that I was watching it…again.  Add that to the hundred times and counting I’d already seen it.  But that’s what you do when you just plain love a movie.  You love every quote, the whimsical music or the beautiful scenery; the main characters may even like the same books you like (got to love the Pride and Prejudice references in You’ve Got Mail).  So even though you’ve already memorized every precious part, you still want to watch it over and over again. 

Then one day you’re going along with your life and a trailer pops up on TV.  They’re making a sequel!  Huzzah!  Your excitement mounts (well, until you realize you have to wait another six months for it to be released).  In honour of that excitement, I’m dedicating this week’s Top Ten Tuesday to the Top Ten Sequels that most made me giddy in the weeks before their release.  Now, not all are necessarily the most Oscar worthy sequels ever made, but they will make you laugh.  And, of course, warm you up on a rainy, cozy Sunday.

1.      Father of the Bride & Father of the Bride Part II

Starring Steve Martin and the unbelievably lovable Diane Keaton, Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride II rank right up at the top of my family’s MUST WATCH REPEATEDLY list.  Based on the popular 1949 novel by Edward Streeter and the classic 1950s original film, FOTB gives us a glimpse into the serene life of George Banks (Martin); a life thrown into chaos when he reluctantly becomes the father of the bride in the wedding of his only daughter, Annie (Kimberly Williams).  Among the long list of things that endear these films to me is the unconditional love Banks exudes for his children – even when he’s busy losing his shit in the middle of crowded grocery store it’s wonderful to know it all comes from a place of fatherly concern.  And what great father doesn’t go a little nuts when the happiness of his kids is at stake?  As George’s wife Nina, Keaton gives another flawless performance, providing just the right calm to his crazy and giving both films an extra dose of heart, while wedding planner Franck Eggelhoffer (Martin Short) and his barely comprehensible foreign accent provide additional comic relief.  I could go on (obviously), but I think Roger Ebert reviewed it best when he said that FOTB is, simply “just everyday life, warmly observed.”  Well, it certainly warms my heart.

2.      Before Sunrise & Before Sunset

As one of the most graceful and subtle romantic films made in the 1990s, I never would have thought to dream that Before Sunrise would eventually inspire a sequel.  As a relatively unknown film, it just didn’t seem the sort.  But sometimes life sends you very pleasant surprises.  Nine years following its release, its starring actors, Ethan Hawke and Julie Deply, partnered with director Richard Linklater to continue their small labour of love.  After spending a single night together nine years earlier in Vienna, fated lovers Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Deply) come together again, this time in the City of Lights (and this time in the daytime).  In keeping with the original film’s eloquent, dialogue-fueled storyline, we get a refreshingly realistic look of where nine years of adult living can take two people who can’t escape the memory of one another.  Blissfully unadulterated fans of the films, such as myself, will also be happy to know the trio has announced a third installment in the year to come.  So keep on the lookout for trailers people!

3.      Sex and the City & Sex and the City II

There is little need to describe the depth and perfection achieved by the first Sex and the City movie.  If you were elated during its production and waited with bated breath for its release, I find it unlikely you came away from theatres disappointed.  With complex performances by all my favourite SATC regulars, and a few fabulous new faces as well (that’s right, I’m talking about you, Jennifer Hudson), I literally wanted to eat this movie with a spoon and from the moment the credits rolled was ready for seconds.  And although the second course undeniably missed the mark, I still just can’t help myself.  I savour any time spent with Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha, and their gorgeous, over the top couture.  (For fans of the series’ fantastic fashion, tune in to ABC Family on Tuesday nights for Jane by Design, a new show that boasts a cameo by SATC’s famed Costumer Designer, Patricia Field).

4.      My Girl & My Girl 2

My Girl was released in 1991.  I was seven years old and it was, for me, the examination of life and death that I imagine Lean on Me was for my brothers in the 80s.  In small town Pennsylvania in 1972, Vada Margaret Sultenfuss, a quirky and uniquely mature little girl, lives with her distant, undertaker father (Dan Aykroyd).  As charming and funny as this movie is, My Girl radiates a depth that could have easily been minimized and turned to fluff by a sequel.  But the 1992 follow-up did not disappoint as our heroine (because truly that is what Vada is to me) journeys to California to explore the life of her radiant mother, who died shortly after childbirth.  As well as unveiling how magical her mother was and how much she meant in the peculiar lives she touched, Vada discovers the bittersweet disenchantment of growing up and going home.  And, of course, meets a boy.

5.      How to Train Your Dragon & How to Train Your Dragon II

How to Train Your Dragon is probably the most out of place selection on my list because, well, its sequel has actually yet to be released.  It earned its position as number five, however, as a result of my incredibly eager anticipation of its sequel, which I sadly have to wait until June 20, 2014 to see!  The only upside to this long delay is that Finn will finally be old enough to attend movies with Mom and Dad, so yay for that.  Based on a series of young adult novels by British author Cressida Cowell, HTTYD tells the story of Berk, a seaside Viking village plagued by ruthless dragons, and its smallest and most awkward occupant, Hiccup (Jay Baruschel), who somehow manages to befriend the cutest dragon ever put to paper, Toothless.  In my opinion it is the most adorable and accessible animated film for children, while still managing to appeal to the sarcastic sensibilities of us grown-ups (that’s right, I’m counting myself as a grown-up now).  Since HTTYD is designed to be a part of a trilogy, we can only hope Dreamworks doesn’t disappoint in round two!

6.      Bridget Jones’s Diary & Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Since this is technically a book based blog and I have been lucky enough to attend a fair few book club meetings with our lovely Atlanta Lady Litwits, I know for a fact that our audience is very familiar with the brilliant novel Bridget Jones’s Diary by author Helen Fielding.  In making the transition from page to screen, BJD was fortunate enough to have lost none of its original charm.  In fact, we simply gain the opportunity to put a hilarious visual to the often unrefined escapades of London girl Bridget Jones and her search for the perfect man, career, and, well, panties.  And although Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason didn’t have quite the perfection of the original, it did include a slap fight between Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, which, if you ask me, was worth the price of admission alone.  The extra silver lining: look out for Bridget Jones’s Baby, appearing in theatres in 2013!

7.      Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants & Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2

Another fitting edition to our little book blog, the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants also began as a series of young adult novels.  The actresses chosen to bring to life the four effervescent young woman of SOTTP, could not have been better selected and will no doubt each earn a place of their own on the great list of Hollywood’s most promising up and comers (if Hollywood can get its act together).  America Ferrera, Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively, and Amber Tamblyn play friends from birth Carmen, Lena, Bridget, and Tibby, all very special and all very different.  For the first time in their lives, the foursome find themselves facing a summer apart.  But when they unearth a vintage pair of “magical” jeans that miraculously fit each and every one of them, from the beautifully curvaceous Carmen to the long and lean Bridget, they sudden have a gateway to keep them united across time and distance.

8.      Sleepless in Seattle & You’ve Got Mail

Okay, okay, okay.  You’ve Got Mail is not technically a sequel to the modern classic Sleepless in Seattle.  It does, however, follow a similar storyline (with a modern, updated twist), and was undeniably a carryover of director Nora Ephron’s ongoing professional love story with romantic leads Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.  In Sleepless in Seattle, the charming, but oh so 90s, frumpy Annie (Ryan) finds herself falling for single father Sam (Hanks) when she hears him on a phone-in radio show talking about the loss of his wife.  Five years (and much technological advancement later), Hanks and Ryan find love again in You’ve Got Mail as chat room pen pals Kathleen and Joe, blissfully unaware of each other’s true identities as rivals in the business of selling books.  Now, you can go on ahead and blame my youthfulness, but I actually saw the “sequel” before the original and it has found a place of indelible permanence on my list of favourite movies of all time (as I’m sure you caught on in the intro to this article).  I love everything about this movie.  I love getting to watch New York City move through Summer and Fall into Winter and lush, green Spring.  I love the slightly kitschy musical medley that my high school drama troupe ended up featuring in one of our shows.  I love the butterfly in the subway on his way to Bloomingdales (to buy a hat, of course).  And I love the books, all the books!  Charming.  That’s the only way to describe it…so see it, if you haven’t, and be charmed.

9.      Princess Diaries & Princess Diaries II: Royal Engagement

The Princes Diaries II and its predecessor are the first of two deeply guilty pleasures claiming spots on my list.  As well as being fun and silly (classic Disney, perfect for being re-run on ABC Family), these films marked the entry of Anne Hathaway into film making, where the powers that be thankfully discovered how talented an actress she truly is.  Hathaway stars as the clumsy Mia Thermopolis, hapless enough without the newfound discovery that she is, in fact, secretly the princess of a small European country called Genovia and the only heir to the Genovian throne.  Adding substance to these sweet films is the always royal grace of Julie Andrews who plays Mia’s long-lost grandmother Queen Clarisse Renaldi.

10.   Cheaper by the Dozen & Cheaper by the Dozen 2

Guilty pleasure number two comes with a confession.  I actually do not love the original Cheaper by the Dozen.  But take the crazy family of fourteen, fronted by Bonnie Hunt and Steve Martin as Mom and Dad Baker, on the road and into the woods for lake house fun, and I’m back on board.  Sometimes I ask myself why I like it so much.  Usually, the answer is something in the neighborhood of “I don’t know but Eugene Levy sure is a funny jackass.”  Either way, CBTD makes a good, wholesome treat when you get nostalgic for summer vacations with the family. 

Brooke’s Note:  Thanks so much to Victoria for kidnapping this week’s Top Ten List and morphing it into a fun movies post – always fabulous to add a little variety (spice of life and all).  TTT is hosted by the lovely people at The Broke and the Bookish, so go check out their regularly scheduled postings!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Best Couples for the Unromantic Reader

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

So this Tuesday bloggers are letting it all hang out and going freestyle, choosing whatever TTT theme tickles their fancy.  Love it.  I’ve decided to choose 10 power couples that I personally love.  This topic appeals to me because I’m not a fan of obvious romantic stories.  I don’t read books that cram a love story down your throat, no bodice-rippers in sight, and even most chick lit alludes me.  This is not to say I don’t enjoy a beautiful love story because I absolutely do – it’s just that I prefer my love story to be VERY subtle, a slow build, something that percolates right beneath the surface for a long time before bubbling over.  When I sat down to create this list, I had so much fun, but quickly realized I was not able to come up with a list of 10 bookish couples so I’ve chosen 5 couples from books and 5 from television shows.

Also, obviously my reading life is lacking in great love stories so please suggest some to me!!

Without further ado:

Brooke’s Top 5 Bookish Couples for the Unromantic Reader:

1.  Hermione Granger/Ron Weasley from Harry Potter – Jo Rowling has several couples I truly adore, but none more so than Hermione and Ron.  I’m a sucker for friends crippled by sexual tension and smart girls getting the guy of their dreams.  Honorable Mentions:  Snape/Lily, Remus/Tonks

2.  Emma and Knightley from Emma – Many readers don’t like Emma, but I adore her.  Far more importantly, Mr. Knightley is my favorite Austen hero (yes, even above Darcy).  Again, friends who become more – I have a type.

3.  Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice – I might like Knightley more, but the preference is negligible.  My second favorite story is enemies falling in love.

4.  Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak from Far From the Madding Crowd – The most honest depiction of a love story ever penned (that I’ve ever read, anyway – and also, my own humble opinion).  Bathsheba is a kick ass heroine and I just noticed that Katniss from The Hunger Games shares her last name – wonder if that was on purpose because it would make so much sense.

5.  Elphaba and Fiyero from Wicked – I relate to Elphaba is so many ways, so this choice is really about my love for her.  Of course, her getting all dirty with Fiyero in the forest was pretty satisfying as well.  Also, you gotta love when brunettes beat blondes.

Dishonorable Mentions:  Katniss/Peeta/Gale, Bella and Edward  (just to clarify, I hate these couples with a fiery passion)

Brooke’s Top 5 Television Couples for the Unromantic Reader:

1.  Mulder and Scully – My first ‘ship.  Yes, I read the fanfiction.  Yes, I wrote the fanfiction.  Yes, I find Gillian Anderson just as attractive as David Duchovny.  Don’t judge me – you know The X-Files (seasons 1-7 only) was awesome.

2.  Veronica and Logan from Veronica Mars – Even my husband rooted for them and he’s the opposite of romantic.  I still believe that Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring are together in real life.  I still feel you judging me.

3.  Luke and Lorelei – Gilmore Girls is the best scripted show of all time.  While Lorelei and Rory’s relationship rightfully took center stage, Luke and Lorelei quietly stole the show.

-Side Note:  As for Rory, I’m a Logan girl.  Do not argue with me on this fact because you will not win.  Logan trumps both Dean and Jess always and forever.

4.  Brian and Justin from Queer as Folk – I probably obsessed over Brian and Justin more than any couple on this list (with the possible exception of Hermione and Ron).  They also prompted me to enter the blogging world way back in 2003/2004 when Livejournal was all the rage.  I also wrote fanfiction.  You can still find it on the interwebs, but under a secret identity that shall remain nameless.

5.  Buffy and Angel – Love between a monster and the woman destined to slay him.  God Bless Joss Whedon for all he has done for television and my life.

Honorable Mentions:  Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler, Sam and Dean (bromance), Castle and Beckett, Chuck and Blair, Elena/Stefan/Damon, Chuck and Sarah (pre-wedding), Maria and  Michael, Joey and Pacey, Angela and Jordan, Jim and Pam,  Coach Taylor and Tami, Sydney and Vaughn, Doug and Carol, David and Donna, Zack and Kelly – I’m going to stop here before this list gets out of hand.

And just for some fun, my favorite Veronica Mars scene:

Showtime’s Brilliance

Sunday night is really one of the best nights of television out there – if you have Showtime and AMC.

Showtime’s fall season got started last night and I was not disappointed! The new season of Dexter has begun! Harrison is now a toddler starting pre-school which means Dexter is going to have to start teaching his kid how to be awesome. He wants to enroll Harrison in a Catholic school despite his own lack of religious belief.  Our new Big Bad is Colin Hanks partnered with old, spanish man who’s name I have forgotten – they catch a pregnant snake, remove a man’s intestines, and, of course, replace them with the baby snakes!  Awesome.  These killers are supposedly spreading some religious message – see a pattern so far?  Religion is going to be our new season’s theme!

What makes me love Dexter so much is how utterly mind-boggled I get sometimes cheerleading for a serial killer.  I mean, Dex’s hammer time joke when he kills his old high school classmate made me chuckle out loud – and then I was like – is it appropriate to laugh at someone’s murder?  Oh…and Dexter attends his 20 year reunion and plays touch football – genius.

Showtime’s new series, Homeland, premiered after Dexter.  I gotta say, didn’t have high expectations going into this one.  I have a love/hate relationship with Claire Danes, but Gideon (from Criminal Minds) is on my television again!  This show blew me away.  Powerfully intense stuff folks – and what a role for Damian Lewis.  He plays Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, a POW found in a hole in Iraq 8 years after he goes missing.  Claire Danes works for the CIA as some sort of anti-terrorism analyst who received intel earlier that a rescued POW would be a ‘double agent’ turned by his Al Qaeda captors with a plot a against America!  Also, both Danes and Lewis will be suffering from mental health issues – an interesting juxtaposition.  Go watch it now!!! My vote for Best New Show of the Season!!