Are You Not Entertained? Books, TV, Movies

Always on the quest for excellent entertainment, here continues a series of a quick report of above-average finds.

BOOKS

 

The German Girl (2016) by Armando Lucas Correa. Historical Fiction. A fine opportunity to tell the story of the plight of the passengers of the St. Louis, when in 1939, 900 passengers sailed from Hamburg to Havana. They were mostly German-Jewish refugees escaping from the Nazi regime. The protagonist is a 12-year-old girl named Hannah Rosenthal. Her wealthy family hoped to start a new life in Cuba. Her best friend Leo and her father are refused entry. The ship leaves without Hannah and her mother who are forced to live in Cuba. After failed attempts to disembark in Canada or the United States, the St. Louis is forced to return to Germany where the passengers meet their demise. There is a duo narration between Hannah the girl who grows and ages in Cuba and her eventual grand-niece, who pieces together the mysterious puzzle of her aunt’s life.  It’s a good story but falls short at times. Hannah’s life in Cuba is glossed over. It would have been better had Correa devoted more time to the challenges facing the Jewish pair living in Cuba. 4/5.

Lilac Girls (2017)  by Martha Hall Kelly. Historical Fiction. A fascinating topic concerning the Rabbits, the female concentration camp victims at Ravensbrück, who suffered medical experiments. The POV alternates between three characters based on real people. It’s sophisticated, interesting and a gripping account of WWII and the aftermath. Set in New York, Paris, Germany, and Poland, Caroline the New York sophisticate and survivor Kasia bring justice to those that time has forgotten. 4.2/5

MOVIES

A Fortunate Man (2018)2018 Danish drama film directed by Bille August. Starring Esben Smed Jensen, it’s an intellectual film about a nineteenth-century ambitious young man named Lykke-Per who escapes his strict Lutheran family in remote Denmark and becomes an important engineer in Copenhagen. He is a man who seeks opportunity and advances himself in any way possible. He’s a flawed character which makes him interesting to watch and Jensen gives a fine performance. It’s a beautiful film about the possibilities of technology from the 1880s and Lykke-Per is complex and likable despite poor decisions. Equally important is the role of Katrine Rosenthal, the spinsterly oldest daughter of a Jewish family who sponsors Lykke-Per’s projects. The actress who plays the progressive feminist is Jakobe Salamon. She is marvelous. It’s long with a running time of 2 hours and 42 minutes. If you have time to kill and want sumptuous scenery and fine acting with interesting ideas and a convincing protagonist, you can find it on Netflix. 4/5

The Professor and the Madman (2019). Great fun seeing Mel Gibson and Sean Penn give convincing performances depicting the making of the OED. The irony does not fail me — how odd that a Scotsman and an American would have a huge influence over the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. I loved it. The story, the acting, the story-line. I don’t know how authentic this film is based on “the incredible true story”, but I was greatly entertained. Check out the trailer. 4/5

TELEVISION

So as I was preparing to go to Scotland and London this summer, I watched a lot of United Kingdom storylines. Purely to get me in the mood.

Outlander (2014 -) At first I thought it was a Harlequin Romance put to television, but I did have to concede how historically interesting and the culture of the highlanders were displayed to my utter satisfaction. Details were accurate and the setting was absolutely what I was looking for. Of all things, my mother (at 78) recommended it to me. I was shocked at the graphic sex in the first season. I blushed. Now I understood what my young colleagues were talking about when they mentioned how exquisite Jamie Fraser was played by the buffy actor Sam Eughan. I offhandedly heard of the novels written in the 1990s by the author Diana Gabaldon but I was unaware Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology. I am growing restless at the end of season two and might switch to Reign. It is about Queen of Scotland Mary Stuart. My mom says it’s better. We’ll see. 4/5

Luther (2010-)  This was easy to binge on. My blogging buddies, Pete and Abbi O, raved about it so I gave it a go. I got through a few seasons easily. Idris Elba plays Luther, a brilliant but emotionally impulsive detective who is tormented by the dark side of humanity while hunting down murderers. The cat and mouse plots are top-rate albeit gory. The best part of the series is the unusual relationship he has with psychopath Alice Morgan played to perfection by Ruth Wilson. 4.5/5

DOCUMENTARY

May it Last (2017) The Avett Brothers are refreshing because they don’t follow the pattern of a band rising up to stardom via sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I love their music and their relationships are heartwarming. Authentic and beautiful, their story will move you to tears in parts. 4/5.

This is the prettiest, astute song I’ve heard in ages. “No Hard Feelings”

52 thoughts on “Are You Not Entertained? Books, TV, Movies

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      1. Idris Elba is a great Actor…he won’t be the next Bond, but they made a mistake not choosing him earlier…he fits the role perfectly, suave with hint of menace under the surface, the way 007 should be…

  1. I agree with Fraggle. Outlander is historically sumptuous, and well worth seeing through to the end.
    I like the look of the Danish film, and will check it out on Netflix.
    Alice Wilson steals every scene she is in in ‘Luther’, which is still one of my all-time favourite BBC series.
    Both of your recommended books look good too.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. Pete, I thought of you when I saw ‘The Fortunate Man’ because of your love for foreign films. I think you will like it. I had to break it up just because it was too long for me to sit in one sitting!

  2. two actors i cant staand were pretty good in the professor and the madman but the script leaned to far into the ridiculous romance between the psycho and the wife ofthe man he murdered…not nearly enough emphasis on the making of the dictionary, and what there was was not detailed enough to be clear on who exactly was doing what. still, i enjoyed the movie for what it was, and thse two miserable actors were uncharacteristically charismatic together,

    1. I felt similarly. That is, I really enjoyed the making of the dictionary. I assume the romance was a part of the true history in which case to fall in love with the murderer of your husband is quite a story, indeed. While I would never choose to marry either one or have them babysit my grandchildren, I have always admired their talent, and as you pointed out, their chemistry was undeniable.

        1. Yeah. He has aged enough that he has managed to wipe the slate clean or for the youngers, they see him fresh as the old guy. An interesting twist. Sean has always looked twenty years older. Both are passionate men. I like that quality. Their weather beaten faces have seen a lot. More than most. I don’t have to agree with their politics…

          1. well i really cant stand sean penns face and his attitude is even worse. he was funny in fast times at ridgemnt high and gave a fabulously intense performance in at close range,, but in genera he is the kind of smug actor who thinks he is a lot better than he is. as for mel, i loved him as mad max, did you know that he got the part because he got attacked and beaten up on the way to the audition? the director thought he looked tough and rugged , when in fact he was a pretty boy. and i liked him in most of the australian films. but he became insufferable as a movie star.

          2. I fell in love with him in Mutiny and those eyes haunted me. I was impressed with his portrayal of Hamlet and started to take him seriously. Did you approve of his performance? (Having Glen Close as his mother was a stretch)

          3. the only scen i liked was the one with the flute and R^G…he showed a strong physicality in that scene that i had never seen in a hamlet before. but thats all i saw. and the script was a mess.

          4. i also liked him in gallipoli and the recend dragged across concrete. i thought the bounty was horrible. i also thought the gable laughton version was bad. but i loved the 1962 versoon with brando and trvor howard.

  3. I still need to carve Professor/Madman. I’ve had it on my list for some time but keep slipping other movies in front of it. Still, I’m pretty intrigued.

  4. You come up with some really interesting selections. I’ll be looking out for “German Girl.” I like historical novels. Even fictional ones get the message across. We need to hang our heads in shame over how those refugees from Europe were treated.

  5. So glad you enjoyed Luther and Outlander!

    I too love a bit of The Avett Brothers and the Lilac Girls sounds fascinating although I must admit that I am going through a bit of a reading slump.

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