Are You Not Entertained?, crime drama, culture, television series

Are you not entertained? Series

During 2020, I seem to have spent more time watching different series on Netflix or Amazon than watching movies. Some started out strong but fizzled. Some grabbed my attention all the way through. Have you seen any of these?

Bosch. (3/5 stars) Starring Titus Welliver. Six seasons beginning 2014. Amazon Prime Video. As a lover of film noir, there’s an echo from previous novels and films about decadent Los Angeles. LA murder detective Harry Bosch sits in his glass home hanging over the valley perched like a lone eagle high above the lights of LA as an aloof, brooding anti-hero. The first season was interesting. Harry’s love for jazz. His fatherly instincts for teenage daughter Maddie. His motley crew station colleagues. The shenanigans by the mayor and chief police. The psychotic killer and child molester. There are plenty of plot twists.  I love the clever, award-winning introduction score. Based on Michael Connelly‘s popular crime novels, it was easy to get hooked. Something happened in Season 2. I grew bored. Bosch seemed too aloof. The plot and the twists didn’t excite me. I found it hard to keep going. Now, I can’t imagine continuing. I preferred Luther, (4.5 out of 5) the London homicidal detective played by Idris Elba. Did you like Bosch or Luther?

The Witcher. Can I rate this as a guilty pleasure? It was fun to see Henry Cavill with white hair as Geralt of Rivia. The 2019 fantasy was a ridiculous romp but still entertaining. Season 2 is promised but no dates are set by Netflix. It reminded me of those fantasy books I read in high school like The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. I’ll watch season two not because it’s great stuff. It tapped into my past on some emotional level like a spell cast by one of the witches. Just don’t ask me what the plot was about. It doesn’t matter. It’s the hero plot. You’ve seen it before.

Britannia (4/5). Set in A.D. 43, the Romans invaded Britain led by General Aulus Plautius (David Morrissey), who is determined to succeed where Julius Caesar failed and conquer this mythical land on the very end of the Roman Empire. Kerra (Kelly Reilly), daughter of the King of the Cantii, is forced to put her differences with archrival Queen Antedia aside in order to unite the tribes. If you saw the series Outlander (4/5), the Druids were pretty women in white gowns dancing in circles and harmonizing. In Britannia, they are a scary, pagan group of weirdos  Looking like John Malkovich with a hangover, the leader of the Druids, Veran (Mackenzie Crook) is sinister and compelling. The outcast, a trickster, and comedic relief is the character Divas played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas who bonds with the charming young heroine, Cait (Elinore Worthington). The series copies the success of Game of Thrones by pairing characters together as they move from A to B thereby giving them deeper characterizations and a chance to root or boo them. I gobbled down season one and look forward to the second season. Stylish, smart, and dark. Amazon Prime Video. 

Fosse/Verdon. (4/5) On FX. Or rent this if you can to learn about a dynamic duo featuring the symbiotic relationship between Bob Fosse (Sam Rockwell) and Gwen Verdon (Michelle Williams)  Spanning five decades, Bob is a visionary filmmaker and one of the theater’s most influential choreographers and directors. Gwen is a leading Broadway dancer. Only Bob can create the groundbreaking musicals that allow Gwen to showcase her greatness. Only Gwen can realize the unique vision in Bob’s head. Together, they will change the face of American entertainment — at a perilous cost. If you can maneuver around the choppy back and forth narrative without getting lost, the backstory and details are informative and entertaining. I wanted to rewatch All that Jazz and Cabaret over again.

Unorthodox. 5/5  Directed by Maria Schrader. This Netflix series has only four episodes. It’s all that is needed. What a unique story and excellent acting job by Shira Haas who portrays Ester Shapiro, a Hasidic Jew in Brooklyn. She runs away from her marriage and her orthodoxy. It’s the best coming-of-age story I’ve seen in years. It’s a refreshing story regarding a culture rarely seen or experienced. Marvelous drama.

What’s the best series you’ve seen in ages this year? 

authors, books, crime drama, In My Opinion, photography, Science Fiction, writing

IMO: Cancer & Altered Carbon

My mother has cancer. In typical fashion, the salt-of-the-earth woman is facing stage four lung cancer far better than I am. I have worried and wept since October when her back pain led to an MRI, and she lit up like a Christmas tree. Red dots punctuated her lungs, her spine, and lymph nodes. I have flown to Illinois as often as work allows to assist and be a shoulder to lean on. In the end, it is I who needed consoling. My mother would have been a great Buddhist. Her motto: “It is what it is.” 

I say, “You’re dying.” She says, “I’m living with cancer.” 

Recent rain makes the desert flowers bloom prettily. Watch your step!

I flew to Illinois to be with her last weekend. She is alone which bothers me, but she is exactly where she wants to be, in her townhouse surrounded by her favorite possessions and independent. Her routine has always been simple. Wake up at six and turn the television on for background noise. Walk the dog three times a day. Take a nap after lunch. Watch Jeopardy. Watch the news again. Eat dinner. Watch a Netflix series. Go to bed at nine. Repeat. 

I’m shocked by how therapeutic it is to try on her routine and escape my job, my responsibilities, and my hobbies. Like water lapping on the shore, she is the moon that directs the day’s rhythm. I breathe and begin to relax in her company. We buy ice cream cones and take country drives looking for eagles. We laugh at my inability to adjust to the fancy BMW I rented (I didn’t ask for one; the cheap cars were taken and it was all they could offer me.). Our bodies creak as we try to get in and out of the thing. The speed and smooth ride were like the sprinkles that covered my chocolate cone–a sweet indulgence, indeed.     

To contrast the quiet days, I downloaded Altered Carbon, season one on my phone since I heard it was great, and I like Science Fiction. Each night under my covers after Mom went to bed, I watched a couple of episodes and was impressed with the Blade Runner vibe, sophisticated worlds, and plot twists. My favorite character is Poe, who is AI and wants to be human. He provides the comic relief and is more human than anyone else in the grisly, narcissistic world of the haves and the have-nots. It is violent and for mature audiences. I’d like to read the trilogy by Richard K. Morgan for which Netflix developed the television series in 2018.  

According to Forbes contributor, Paul Tassi, season two is less exciting due to budget cuts. Who knows about season three. You can read his article about season two HERE.  All I can say is season one was highly distracting from the solemn situation facing my family. It sure beats listening to the news and panicking over the Corona Virus.  I have plunged deep into creating the rough draft of my third book in a six-part series. It takes place in World War II and two major characters are Jewish sisters who find themselves in the Philippines, 1942. It’s a safe spot to be, writing about the 20th Century while watching the futuristic setting of the twenty-fifth century.

At the end of the month, the April newsletter will be sent to those who have shared their email addresses with me. You are encouraged to join them. I’ll be sharing the research and the process of writing historical fiction. E-mail me at cbruchman@yahoo.com, and I’ll add you to the list.

Love & Friendship,

Cindy

1940s, actors, crime drama, directors, Film Spotlight, movies, Winter Project: Classic Male Actors

The Killers (1946)

The Killers (1946)

Synopsis: Two hit men walk into a diner asking for a man called “the Swede” (Burt Lancaster). When the killers find the Swede, he’s expecting them and doesn’t put up a fight. Since the Swede had a life insurance policy, an investigator (Edmond O’Brien), on a hunch, decides to look into the murder. As the Swede’s past is laid bare, it comes to light that he was in love with a beautiful woman (Ava Gardner) who may have lured him into pulling off a bank robbery overseen by another man (Albert Dekker).

Image result for stills of film the killers starring burt lancaster

What a lot of fun this noir was to watch for the first time. A film debut for both Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner, their careers established, and the admirable plot twists kept me guessing, but I found myself admiring the direction and cinematography the most. The variety of camera angles, the silhouettes, the position behind the driving wheel, just about every scene was staged in an appealing way–it was no surprise to me to learn that director Robert Siodmak was nominated for the Oscar in 1947.

Charleston: Stop listening to those golden harps, Swede. They can land you into a lot of trouble.

The screenplay was adapted by Ernest Hemingway‘s short story “The Killers” by John Huston, Richard Brooks, and Anthony Veiller. I want to reread Hemingway’s story and explore more of John Huston’s writing contributions.

How does this film-noir rate in your estimation?