Are you not entertained? Films & TV

In this series, I share my choices for better-than-average entertainment. Maybe you liked these, too? 

FILMS

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Green Book (2018) Easily the most enjoyable film of the year for me so far, the chemistry between Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is believable. Both actors shine brightly in this inspiring true story about the black concert pianist in the 1960s who lives above Carnegie Hall alone in his ivory tower. Highly educated and affluent, respected with friends in the highest places, Shirley travels to the deep south to be a presence among whites who only see blacks as sharecroppers. He takes with him a Bronx bouncer, a loveable Italian called Tony Lip. Their road trip doesn’t change the world, and the straightforward story doesn’t preach. If you liked Driving Miss Daisy, this story was just as good, if not better. I cared for both men and their ironic friendship. High praise to the acting of Mortensen. My ex-husband was from the Bronx and lemme tell ya, Viggo nailed it. Highly recommended. 4.5/5 

Trespassing Bergman (2013)  I find it is interesting to begin at the end of a story and learn backward. For example, if you are like me and know little about filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, instead of first watching his films blindly, a documentary provides me with the end result, his legacy. I want to know about the person first. Who better to explain his impact than the leading filmmakers as they recall their memories and the influence Ingmar Bergman had on them? Tip-toeing around Bergman’s estate on the faraway Swedish island of Faro, top directors pay homage. Jane Magnusson and Hynek Pallas direct this documentary oozing with ethos. Interviewees include Woody Allen, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Ang Lee, Lars Von Trier, Yimou Zhang, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Wes Anderson to name a few. For the sophisticate who possesses a solid foundation about Ingmar Bergman, I do not know how much will be gleaned. But for me, I enjoyed getting to know the man in his natural habitat and learning why his films had a powerful impact on filmmakers today. Now I will explore a few of his films. Where should I begin? Summer with Monika3.5/5 

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TELEVISION

SEASON THREE  – THE LAST KINGDOM 

Oh, King Alfred! I knew you would die in season three. I knew it was coming, but seeing you dead on your royal bed truly saddened me. What a sophisticated, complicated character! Better than the Game of Thrones and The Vikings, and far better than Outlaw King (2018) starring Chris Pine, what makes this BBC Netflix series entertaining is the balance achieved between the battles and the struggles, the accomplishments, and the forgiveness between Alfred (David Dawson) and Lord Uhtred (Alexander Doetsch). Series three was all about closure. Swedish director Erik Leijonborg did a fine job encouraging the actors to feel and provided them time to cultivate their personalities. If you have not seen the series, this is outstanding entertainment. 4.8/5.

53 thoughts on “Are you not entertained? Films & TV

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      1. I enjoyed ‘Fanny and Alexander’ as an historical piece. I like some other films of his, but don’t generally rate him as highly as most film fans. Many of his stories are based on his own life, or visions. Whilst this is not always a bad thing, I often think it makes some of his films too introverted for an outside audience.

        1. Well said! Plus some of Woody’s films are straight homages to Bergman … Interiors, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, September, Another Woman, etc. Woody also copied the title credits design from Bergman.

          1. Dead right, Eric. But Woody gave his versions something more. A little less pretentiousness, and a Tarntino-style sense of ‘homage’. Because Bergman’s style was unique, his films were not homages to anyone. 🙂
            Best wishes, Pete.

        2. Woody had a lot to say. He was greatly influenced. Yes, if the two are introspective, I can see the similarity. I was surprised at the sphere of influence Bergmen had. Listening to Ang Lee share his impressions was interesting to me.

          1. Bergman also influenced people like Wes Craven … Craven’s 1972 thriller The Last House on the Left, which started the revenge-movie-craze of the ’70s, is essentially a remake of Virgin Spring. Anyhow, the documentary sounds interesting!

  1. Love Viggo Mortensen, so Green Book is no-brainer!

    My favorite Bergman films are (in order of preference): Persona, Passion of Anna, The Magician, The Seventh Seal, and The Silence.

    However, I recommend non-fans like yourself to start with one of his less esoteric films: The Virgin Spring, Sawdust and Tinsel, Autumn Sonata, Summer with Monika, Fanny and Alexander (a great Christmas movie!), etc. 🙂

    1. Hi Eric, thanks for the advice. The Virgin Spring was mentioned frequently in the documentary. That was on my list. I saw (kinda) The Seventh Seal so many years ago when I was younger. I understand through the documentary that it’s not one to begin with and it is now very dated which apparently turns many now from seeing it’s beauty.

      1. As beetleypete said, his films are very personal. Some of them are hard to understand unless you know something about him. That’s why something like Virgin Spring, a medieval folk tale, is much more beginners-friendly.

  2. Anything with Viggo, I’m in.
    Rose and I devoured The Last Kingdom – despite some shocking blood letting. Great stuff. Rose thinks Alexander Dreymon is HOT.
    Very pleasantly surprised how good The Outlaw King was. I had fears of Pine as a Scotsman. He did well. That last battle scene was really something!
    Good viewing all the way around.

    1. Rose and I are in total agreement. In series three he’s wearing eye liner which I wondered why other than he’s identifying more as a Viking than an Englishman. I thought the character Aethelwold, the sneaky nephew who makes his attempt at power a very interesting character. I thought the actor Harry McEntire did a great job showing his humanity and intelligence. That he was not a one dimensional character is a testament to the show.

  3. skip any. i am now rewatching them all in sequence, and am amazed at how brilliant he was from the start. key films….wild strawberries, seventh seal, smiles of a summer night, persona, virgin spring, a passion, cries and whisepers, scenes from a marriage, brink of life

    1. Welcome Songladder. I am going to try and watch a pair and write a post about them. Not necessarily comparing or contrasting, but to have them bounce off each other. I hope you will stop by again!

      1. suggestions….brink of life and the virgin spring make a good pair, as they are written by the same person, incidentally a woman—–smiles of a summer night and the seventh seal make for a good middle period contrast of comedy and drama. wild strawberries and summer interlude contrast youth and age, persona hour of the wolf are respective studies of mental illness in the artist, the first female and the second male.

        1. Can’t say I disagree with you, GP. Green Book is a good story and it is placed in the 60s. The Deep South not a kind place to blacks which the film shows. In fact, some may say it was too bland for being in the south. Regardless, the story focused on the friendship and not a political agenda.

    1. A little cheese. Perhaps. If the script is faithful to the history, and I believe life has its cheesy moments. Are you thinking of the ending with the happy Xmas Eve dinner? Yes. I forgave it.
      Maybe I needed to feel good.

        1. If one was looking for grit — this movie didn’t have much. It wasn’t a movie about the discrimination of blacks in the deep south. It was about the friendship of the 2. I liked that. Thank you for your comments!

    1. Yes, The Last Kingdom is my favorite. I tried The Alienist on Netflix. The book was very good and the timeframe of early NYC 20th century is one of my favorite time periods. Yet, the topic matter had me wincing. Must be getting old.

      1. I’m following one called Heros on Netflix at the moment. Different persons and different situations but people who lost their lives standing up to the Mafia and eventually the justice system came through and bought the culprits to a jail term. It’s in Italian but with English sub-titles. I’m with you in having my favourite time period early 20th century.

    1. Ha! We are obsessed with them over here in the States. The roots of rugged individualism? The honor of the kill? Good grief, who knows. Men running around with shaggy hair and eye liner. What’s the appeal? IDK. 😉

  4. I am a member of the Producers Guild, so I have gotten a number of screeners, including “Green Book” but am holding out for a screening where the talent in front of and behind the camera stay afterwards and discuss the film…I’ve seen “A Star Is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” that way and it’s so much fun!

    1. That trumps a regular showing any day. Bully for you. I have enjoyed previous posts where you attended a screening. I’ll look forward to what you have to say when you watch ‘Green Book’.

  5. bergmans comedies are very much like shakespeares comedies, but much better. aside from merchant of venice and 12th night, i have never liked shakespeares comedies. i do like bergmans, though. shakespeare is just too kind to his fools.

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