Watch This: A Thousand Times Good Night

A Thousand Times Good Night will be released in the US on October 24. It looks to be a marvelous film. Continue reading “Watch This: A Thousand Times Good Night”

Outlander Already Renewed for 2nd Season

The first episode of Outlander had such high viewership numbers that the series on Starz has already been renewed for a 13 episode second season.

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser in Outlander
Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser in Outlander

Based on a very popular series of novels by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander has material to spare. If you’ve read the novels, you know they are very long and extensive. Based on the original book, also called Outlander, season one consists of 16 episodes. Season 2 will be based on the second book in the series Dragonfly in Amber.

Caitriona Balfe as Claire Randall and Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser as relatively unknown names right now, but I suspect this series will make them famous.

The series is hard to categorize. It might be called sci fi because there is time travel involved. It might be called a romance because it’s very much a love story.  It might be called historical fiction, because Claire travels back in time from the 1945 to 1743 and we live through all kinds of historical events with her. To keep things complicated, she occasionally returns to modern times and her modern life. I’ve read all the books and can guarantee that the stories and the characters are compelling and always interesting.

I saw the first episode when Starz offered it free, but I don’t have Starz so I won’t be commenting on futher episodes of the series until they become available somewhere else as well. If you have Starz, I urge you to watch Outlander.

The Emmy Women’s Categories: Who I’m Rooting For

Primetime Emmy Award winners will be announced on August 25 on NBC. I’m chiefly interested in the women’s categories and thought it would be fun to talk about favorites, who I’m rooting for, and hear from you about who you are hoping to see win.

Best Actress in a Comedy Series

Lena Dunham, “Girls”

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”

Julia Louis Dreyfus, “Veep”

Melissa McCarthy, “Mike & Molly”

Amy Poehler, “Parks & Recreation”

Taylor Schilling, “Orange Is the New Black”

This is a hard one to pick because the only one of these shows I’ve seen regularly is Orange Is the New Black. (I have watched quite a few seasons of Nurse Jackie but not all of them.) So, I’m going to root for Taylor Schilling.

Supporting Actress, Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”

Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”

Allison Janney, “Mom”

Kate Mulgrew, “Orange Is the New Black”

Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”

Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”

Same problem with this list. The only show from these that I actually feel compelled to watch is Orange Is the New Black, therefore I hope Kate Mulgrew gets the Emmy.

Best Actress in a Drama Series

Lizzy Caplan, “Masters of Sex”

Claire Danes, “Homeland”

Michelle Dockery, “Downton Abbey”

Julianna Margulies, “The Good Wife”

Kerry Washington, “Scandal”

Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

I’ve seen most or all of every one of these shows, so I know a lot more about the acting in them. I’m going to back either Claire Danes or Robin Wright. Claire Danes has already won an Emmy for Homeland so maybe I’ll root hardest for Robin Wright. There’s no wrong choice in this lineup.

Supporting Actress, Drama Series

Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad”

Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”

Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”

Christine Baranski, “The Good Wife”

Christina Hendricks, “Mad Men”

Joanne Froggatt, “Downton Abbey”

I haven’t seen Breaking Bad or Mad Men or Game of Thrones. So, between the performances I have watched I’m picking Christine Baranski as my favorite. However, props to Joanne Froggatt for her amazing work in the rape episodes on Downton Abbey.

Best Actress Miniseries or Movie

Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Coven”

Sarah Paulson, “American Horror Story: Coven”

Helena Bonham Carter, “Burton and Taylor”

Minnie Driver, “Return to Zero”

Kristen Wiig, “The Spoils of Babylon”

Cicely Tyson, “The Trip Bountiful”

I can’t believe I haven’t seen a single one of these. I always hope Cicely Tyson wins at anything she does, but I really don’t have a pick in this category.

Supporting Actress, Miniseries or Movie

Frances Conroy, “American Horror Story: Coven”

Kathy Bates, “American Horror Story: Coven”

Angela Bassett, “American Horror Story: Coven”

Allison Tolman, “Fargo”

Ellen Burstyn, “Flowers In the Attic”

Julia Roberts, “The Normal Heart”

I tried watching Fargo because everyone said Allison Tolman was fabulous, but I just couldn’t do it. The others I haven’t seen at all, not even a bit. So again, I’m ignorant about who to pick. In terms of lifetime fangirl love, I’m very partial to Angela Bassett and Julia Roberts. Does that matter?

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series

Margo Martindale as Claudia in “The Americans”

Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell in “Game of Thrones”

Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes in “House of Cards”

Allison Janney as Margaret Scully in “Masters of Sex”

Jane Fonda as Leona Lansing in “The Newsroom”

Kate Burton as Sally Langston in “Scandal”

I have seen more of these and am confident in declaring that my favorite is Margo Martindale in The Americans.

Margo Martindale in The Americans
Margo Martindale in The Americans

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series

Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols in “Orange is the New Black”

Uzo Aduba as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in “Orange is the New Black”

Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset in “Orange is the New Black”

Tina Fey as Host in “SNL”

Melissa McCarthy as Host in “SNL”

Joan Cusack as Sheila Jackson in “Shameless”

Clearly, it has to be someone from Orange is the New Black. I love them all. Since the first time I watched Orange is the New Black I’ve lobbied to give the entire supporting cast an Emmy. But for this year, I’m going to root for Laverne Cox because it would be historic and awesome to have a trans woman take home an Emmy.

What’s your opinion on who should take home the statue? Have you seen the shows I have not seen? I’d love to hear your opinion on who should win.

Margo Martindale image © Copyright 2014, FX Networks. Christine Baranski image © 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Season 2 of The Fall with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan

The BBC released a season 2 preview for The Fall without mentioning the date when it will be shown. They merely say “coming soon.”

It’s been about a year since my enthusiastic review of season 1 in “The Fall: Mystery Great from the BBC.” Both Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan will be back for the new 6 episode run.

Jamie Dornan is the serial killer Paul Spector. He’s pursued by the Dublin Police Service and Stella Gibson, a Detective Superintendent played by a spectacular Gillian Anderson. At the end of series 1, Stella Gibson had figured out who the killer was, but she hadn’t captured him.

As you can see in the preview, Paul Spector is spying on his pursuer and keeping ahead of her every move. The MO of this particular serial killer is that he studies his subjects carefully while planning a kill. Is that what he’s planning for the detective? She is hardly a gullible and weak damsel who will be easy to kill.

A face in the cast that American audiences will recognize is the motorcycle riding pathologist, played by Archie Panjabi.

As I mentioned in my review of season 1, this brilliant series is slow-paced and intellectual. The audience has known from the start who the killer was, seeing into his life, work, marriage, family and killer’s mentality. At the same time, the audience has been inside the workings of the police and the analytical mind of Stella Gibson. Gibson is as complex as the man she’s hunting. The two are both angel and devil, each in their own way.

Season 1 is available in the U.S. on Netflix. If you missed this excellent mystery I urge you to catch up on season 1 and be on the lookout for season 2. It will be on BBC Two in the U.K.

Netflix Acquires Happy Valley

Netflix announced it has acquired the British drama Happy Valley. It will be available on Netflix starting August 20.

The six part series stars Sarah Lancashire as a police officer in a small town in Yorkshire.

Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley
Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley

I originally mentioned this series here. In addition to Sarah Lancashire, the series also stars James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce, a rapist and murderer who is not only a criminal on police radar, but a personal nemesis of Lanacashire’s character Catherine Cawood.

Siobhan Finneran, whom you may know from Downton Abbey, is Catherine’s sister Clare Cartwright. Clare and Catherine live together and jointly care for Catherine’s grandson.

The series was written by Sally Wainwright. In true Sally Wainwright fashion, there’s a lot going on, a lot of threads squeezed seamlessly into 6 episodes. There’s a current crime (a kidnapping) plus an older crime that haunts Catherine that resulted her daughter’s suicide, a broken marriage that followed the older crime, a grandchild to cope with as a result of the older crime. There are numerous characters related to the current crime – it’s a large cast and a wide-ranging tale.

Sarah Lancashire has done many British costume dramas, and she’s good at them, but she’s truly marvelous at the contemporary roles. Rose and Maloney, Last Tango in Halifax, and Happy Valley are the three contemporary pieces I’ve seen her in. Her age, her fortunate association with Sally Wainwright, the current status of women in television, and her brilliant talent have all combined to make this her moment. She’s in a very good place in contemporary entertainment and she deserves all the awards and praise she earns as a result.

If you have Netflix, you simply must watch Happy Valley.

Images ©Red Productions

RIP Robin Williams

Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire
Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire

Robin Williams brought much joy and laughter to the world. He touched us all. As we mourn his passing I want to provide a few links to help those dealing with depression and to remind us of what Robin Williams gave to the world with his genius.

Watch This: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I absolutely cannot wait to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The first one was arguably the best movie on planet Earth, and in 2015 we’ll have yet another best movie on planet Earth. Such riches.

Among the riches: the best cast on planet earth, including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Richard Gere, Penelope Wilton and Dev Patel.

John Madden is directing, with the screenplay written by Ol Parker.

I love these people! Wait, am I gushing too much? I’ll restrain myself and simply say it looks good.

Not to take away from The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, because I know it will be good, but I have a question. Why are women in shows about older people always chasing after men? Why isn’t it the other way around? Why aren’t the men chasing after the women? So Richard Gere is handsome and attractive – so what! Aren’t the women gorgeous and attractive, too? What’s up with this trope about women needing to be sexually predatory in their old age if they want to be with someone?

Brain Dump: Short Thoughts on Movies and TV

Brain Dump_ Short Thoughts on Movies and

I’ve had many pop culture thoughts that I’ve neglected to actually write down in the last few weeks. It’s time for a brain dump.

Movies

I absolutely loved Peace, Love and Misunderstanding! This 2011 indie film was directed by Bruce Beresford. It starred Jane Fonda as an aging, free-spirited hippie and Catherine Keener as her daughter. Also featured are Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Elizabeth Olsen, Nat Wolff, Chace Crawford, Kyle MacLachlan, and Rosanna Arquette. It was filmed in the town of Woodstock, New York, where the movie is set.

It was a feel good story about family and love and acceptance. I completely recommend it. If you see it wander past in your Netflix new releases, click play.

I also loved The Immigrant, although it was not a fun romp in any way. This grim slice of reality starred Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner, all of whom gave outstanding performances.

The Immigrant poster

Joaquin Phoenix was particularly powerful as a man who preyed on helpless and desperate immigrant women, tricking them into prostitution for his own gain. I won’t explain the twists in the plot in this tale – there are several – except to say that it brought out some amazing acting from the 3 stars. Again, watch it if you see it in your streaming choices.

TV: The Winners

Hally Berry in Extant
Halle Berry in Extant

I haven’t given an opinion about Extant, starring Halle Berry yet. I’m enjoying this sci-fi drama about astronaut Molly Woods who returns pregnant from a 13 month mission alone in space. The sci-fi aspects of the show are a bit iffy, but the cast is giving it their all. Goran Visnjic plays her husband. Pierce Gagnon plays their son, who happens to be a robot. Grace Gummer and Camryn Manheim also have significant parts in the drama. I hope this one makes it to a second season.

Murder in the First is a a full season story arc involving one crime. It stars Teye Diggs and Kathleen Robertson as cops and Tom Felton as the billionaire murderer they struggle to convict. The characters are particularly well drawn, considering this is just the first season. Again, I hope this one makes it to a second season.

The BBC’s Lark Rise to Candleford has me hooked. I’m most of the way through the first season. There are 4 seasons. It’s a period drama with many great female characters. It’s only available on streaming services, since it’s been off the air for a while now.

Stephanie Leonidas as Irisa on Defiance
Stephanie Leonidas as Irisa on Defiance

The women of Defiance, oh my. The character Irisa on Defiance, played by Stephanie Leonidas, is becoming more and more layered. She’s taken on some kind of supernatural power – perhaps alien power would be a more accurate term. It’s given her interesting abilities and she’s attracting followers. She’s starting to remind me of the kind of strong leader that we have in Bo in Lost Girl or Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Defiance has allowed Stahma Tarr, played by Jaime Murray, to evolve into a powerful woman. Julie Benz’s character of Amanda Rosewater is turning out to be full of twists and intricacies. Julie Benz really shines in this role, in ways that are new for her.

TV: The Losers

I gave up on Under the Dome. The story makes no sense in sci-fi terms, no sense in religious terms. None of the characters really grab me. Enough.

I watched one, and only one, episode of Seed and thought it was too stupid to ever watch again. I wanted to watch it because of Amanda Brugel. Zoie Palmer likes Amanda Brugel, so I wanted to watch something with Amanda Brugel in it because – well, I like Zoie Palmer. Sorry, Zoie, this isn’t the place where I’m going to become a fan of Amanda Brugel. I’ll give her another chance some other time.

Shondaland Thursday, AKA Rhimesday, is Coming Soon to Your TV

Let me count the ways that Thursday nights, AKA Rhimesday nights, are going to be amazing when the fall TV season begins.

  1. Shonda Rhimes
  2. Ellen Pompeo and Chandra Wilson and Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw and Sarah Drew and more
  3. Kerry Washington
  4. Viola Davis

That’s 3 solid hours of women lead drama from Shondaland productions. That’s a night for television, my friends. May I celebrate the fact that two of those leading actresses are women of color? Yes!

What Shondaland will Cause on Rhimesday Nights

On Thursday nights real life will stop. The only things operating in the void will be televisions tuned to ABC and eleventy million tweets about every move on ABC for 3 solid hours.

Those fat cat white male dudes who run ABC and Twitter should be bowing before Shonda Rhimes. Bowing.

Here’s a little preview from Shondaland of where we might be going with Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder.

Woman in Gold: Tatiana Maslany will be Young Helen Mirren

There are no trailers or preview images for Woman in Gold yet. Based on a true story, it’s due to release in 2015. The film is described this way:

Maria Altmann, an octogenarian Jewish refugee, takes on the government to recover artwork she believes rightfully belongs to her family.

The film features Helen Mirren, Tatiana Maslany, and Ryan Reynolds. Tatiana Maslany is playing the younger Maria Altmann, Helen Mirren is playing the older one. In addition to the fact that both of these actresses are impressively talented, there’s also the fact that they look believably similar.

Helen Mirren and Tatiana Maslany
Helen Mirren and Tatiana Maslany

Tatiana Maslany famously has received no Emmy nomination for her stunning performance(s) in Orphan Black, but the people doing the casting for Woman in Gold obviously weren’t worried about casting her as a younger version of the powerhouse Helen Mirren. Dame Mirren has won an Academy Award for Best Actress, four BAFTAs, three Golden Globes, four Emmy Awards, and two Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Awards.

Maslany’s racked up a few awards already, but none so impressive as Dame Mirren’s. Maslany won an ACTRA and a Phillip Borsos Award. For Orphan Black she’s won two Critics’ Choice Television Awards, a Television Critics Award, and a Canadian Screen Award. So far. That freakin’ Emmy better be coming at some point.

Woman in Gold is directed by Simon Curtis and written by Alexi Kaye Campbell. The film also stars Daniel Brühl, Katie Holmes, Charles Dance and Max Irons.