2016 was a weird year. Guess that sums it up. Torn between Dad in PA and life in TX. Had my foot surgery - that ate up time. Had another surgery this summer, so missed pool season. Watched tons of Netflix - "Stranger Things" and "The Crown" were highlights.
Political stuff - the gift that keeps on giving.....for comedy. I look forward to SNL's opening sketches for 2017.
Highlight of the year was my trip to Alaska with Ray. That can renew anyone's spirit. Beautiful, breathtaking, vast, and impressive. Put it on the bucket list if you haven't already.
I finished work Friday for the year, came home and put away Christmas, and now shall relax. Ray's off at his aunt's place - the deer lease. And oh boy, he did shoot some deer. (yes, my tone includes an eye roll). He's happy, guess that's what counts.
I'm seeing "La La Land" in the theater tomorrow. Then Sunday, shall catch up with friends at a pizza party. Laughter is the best medicine and a good way to kickoff 2017 (plus Cowboys play the Eagles).
Happy New Year Weekend!. I wish everyone health and laughter, enjoy friends and family, and enjoy some time on your own too - put down the phone or iPad, read a book, watch it snow, or take a walk.
I've turned off comments....go...relax....
Moonlight is one of those films you will never
watch but be aware. It could show up at Oscar time. I saw it because I like to
support my local theater when they run that one artsy weird flick. I want them
to keep ‘em coming. Mahershala Ali as Juan is so darn good. You’ve seen
him in films (he’s in Netflix’s Luke Cage - Cottonmoth) and he’s a great
understated actor. He just shines in this film as the drug dealer who befriends
a kid in the hood who needs guidance.
The kid is the adult Chiron (Ashton Sanders), but before
that he’s Little ( Alex Hibbert) – a wide-eyed little boy who just seeks
escape. When he hides out in a room, Juan finds him and takes him home. His
wife, Teresa (Janelle Monae – yes, she can sing and act) feeds the kid and
doesn’t ask too many questions. Little aka Chiron ultimately always seeks
Juan and Teresa out as his rock. He can count on them to feed him, shelter him,
and not question.
His mother, Paula, played by a heartbreaking Naomie Harris,
is a druggie. Oh, she cares for her son but the drugs and that life suck her
in. Meanwhile, Chiron is a sensitive kid who’s gay but just won’t acknowledge
it. There’s an underlying need for love but he shoves that aside with a tough
Moonlight operates on many levels and it’s
really well acted and touching. It might not have themes that everyone cares
about, but ultimately it is about love and family and friendship and who you can
count on………..that means a lot in this day and age. I truly hope it sees
some Oscar nominations.
Edge of Seventeen is such a reminder of the
old 1980s John Hughes movies – edgy teens with “real” scenarios and great
soundtracks. Now it’s updated for 2016. For me, a bit too much of the “F” word,
but otherwise, this movie is on target and so true and totally made me laugh
(and cry on the inside) at the same time. I felt for Nadine (a
brilliant Hailee Steinfeld) – she’s an insecure high schooler who’s pretty but
doesn’t know it. She’s not comfortable in her skin and lets her motor mouth run
her façade. She’s smart, well read, and nerdy (and that’s okay but she
doesn’t know it). She resents her mother (Kyra Sedgewick – who can play
attractive but trying too hard and acting too young). She “hates” her brother
Darian ( a very solid Blake Jenner) who’s the star football god at high school.
She counts on her bestie, Krista ( Haley Lu Richardson) who cheats on her with
her brother – yep, Krista is moving on. And then there’s the smitten young
man (Hayden Szeto) that Nadine takes for granted and oh, he’s so right for her.
Seventeen?? Yep, tough age. And this movie
captures all of the horror, the good, the anxiety, and more.
Gotta love Woody Harrelson who’s the English teacher that
Nadine counts on. She’s always barging in on his lunch break and assumes he
really has no life. Ultimately when the chips are down and she counts on
this teacher, he goes the extra mile. He has a wife and a baby and Nadine
witnesses that her teacher is a real person. Oh, she has so much to
Edge of Seventeen is excellent. It truly
captures that age of uncertainty and potential. I am fifty-eight and
could feel seventeen again – that inner heartache and worry. You’ll laugh
and inner swoon. Huge thumbs up to a superb little film with a big
heart. Go see it
Ray has a Maker's Mark membership. It's all in good fun and they send him a holiday treat each year. I've featured some of the silliness before - a scarf, earmuffs, and a sweater - all adorn the bottles.
Well this year they get their own mistletoe.
It's a week until Christmas. Go be merry and bright....and chuckle!
Arrival is sorta science fiction but in a good
way (in my opinion). It’s more about human emotions and is a thinking type
movie. Let’s just say I came out saying, “Wow, hmm.”. My husband came out
saying, “Hmm, what just happened? Oh, okay, I get it now.” He was a tad
confused but then okay with the movie. I liked it more than him, that’s for
sure. I won’t give away the punchline, but there is a timing question to the
movie, a certain sequence and order. Keep that in mind and you’ll enjoy
Twelve alien objects arrive – they hover close to the ground
and do not appear to be threatening. BUT…what do they want? Linguist
Louise Banks (played by the superb Amy Adams) is called upon to try to “talk”
to these aliens. Do they have a language? What are they seeking? Jeremy
Renner plays her partner, a physicist, and Forest Whitaker is the military
colonel in charge of the operation. Each approach the “problem” with a
different viewpoint, and that’s what makes the movie interesting and very
viable to today.
Approach in peace? Or assume the worst and prepare for
war? That’s the dilemma for today’s world. Naturally Amy’s
character has the right touch. She gets out of her space suit and communicates
hands on with the beings – inkblot looking creatures. Are they advanced
or primitive? I won’t give away more but this movie is excellent on so
many levels. In this day of instant reaction and eagerness to battle, Arrival
asks for patience –a worthy trait to consider.
Communication is key…..don’t be hasty. Oh, if only the
world would listen and appreciate this story. Go see it and ponder life,
time, and what would you do “if”……
Tana French knows how to engage her reader. She just writes
like blokes in Dublin would talk at a police station. You feel you are in on
the interrogations and confessions. And you are hearing the internal dialogue
of Antoinette Conway. She’s a detective on Murder Squad, her dream job. Her
partner, Stephen Moran, is awesome and they are a team. BUT. The rest of the
working crew are giving her the “shite” jobs and harassing her. Oh, it’s
subtle, but it’s wearing her psyche and maybe she’s ready to break.
The Trespasser is the latest book in a series
of excellent crime fiction. I discovered French with In the Woods
and have followed her ever since. So, the new case looks like a
lover’s quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine,
and dead in her pretty living room. There’s nothing unusual about her – except
that Antoinette has seen her somewhere before. (cover blurb)
Looks easy, but this case turns messy with a lot of twists
and turns. Other detectives are pushing for a quick solve, but why? And of
course, there’s more to the victim than what is seen on the surface.
Conway is feeling paranoid, fights with her partner, and is
ready to quit. But you will root for her to see this through. You want
her to get resolution with Stephen – he’s a good guy. And poor Aislinn deserves
to be buried with dignity. We need to know who killed her and why. Tana
French will throw you some red herrings and clues. Stick with her to the end
and you’ll say – whoa! I knew it wasn’t easy but Conway pulled it together.
(that’s the only bone I’ll throw you) Check it out and solve this crime.
Allied is a very old fashioned movie and
that’s a good thing. It’s a war movie/ love story/ mystery/ thriller. The
characters are beautiful – hot, smoldering with simmering emotions. The times
are fraught with danger. The backdrop is slinky hot and classy. Everything
builds slowly and you have to watch and invest your time and emotions.
It’s 1942 North Africa. Who emerges in the desert but Brad
Pitt as Max Vatan. He’s driven into Casablanca with a new identity and a
shiny wedding band. Shades of the movie Casablanca, he walks into a bar
dressed to the nines and meets his new “wife” Marianne Beausejour (played by
the stunning Marion Cottillard) . They are matched for a mission and oh the
sparks slowly fly. This is a movie with repartee, slow burning glances,
and hot steamy nights. They do manage to blow up some Nazis (no I’m not
giving away the movie), and then high tail it back to London.
Are they in love? Do they marry? Is she a German
Oops – well, are two out of three okay?
This movie kept me guessing until the end and I won’t give
it away. I enjoyed the buildup and anticipation a lot. Despite
being a war movie, this is not a big bang ‘em up showy mess. Instead it’s a
slow burn and Brad and Marion are a worthy pair. Give yourself some time
in a day and enjoy Allied.
Where's Ray? Well, he's in San Saba at his deer lease. And he's happy with his early $20 Christmas present. Oh, the man is easy. He asked for camo sheets..... not to sleep on. He wanted cheap ones to hang in his deer blind for backdrop
It works. Guess the deer can't see him. I must admit, he blends in pretty well. If he's having fun, more power to my hubby. Love you dear as you avoid the deer.............
I'm glad I'm home watching Netflix.........who's with me??
Poet Laureate Billy Collins writes accessible poetry. It's subtle and real and human. I love his writing and his work seems so easy and off the cuff. I know it's not and I'm sure he agonized over every line. However, his words flow and just tell a story of normal life. Or his everyday observations could have been mine, except way better.
(back cover blurb) Possessed of a unique voice that is at once plain and melodic, Billy Collins has managed to enrich American poetry.
Here's one stanza from "Madmen" They say you can jinx a poem if you talk about it before it is done If you let it out too early, they warn, your poem will fly away and this time they are absolutely right
Or from "Snow Day" Today we woke up to a revolution of snow, its white flag waving over everything the landscape vanished not a single mouse to punctuate the blankness, and beyond these windows
He epitomizes the word sublime.....
Monet : The Early Years is a splendid new
exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. It runs through January 29,
2017 and is worth a trip. I shall probably go see it again, as there’s much to
see and enjoy. Over sixty paintings cover Claude Monet from his debut in
1858 until his move to Argenteuil on the River Seine in 1872. He showed genius
from the beginning and his early career (all in his 20s) assured him of a place
in the art world. He transformed influences and challenged his fellow painters
– Manet, Pissarro, Renoir, and Sisley – along the way.
The above picture On the Bank of the Seine
illustrates his skills. Water, sky, clouds – he became a master impressionist.
You will be astounded at his skills at such an early age. And he stayed a
student of art through his whole life. He studied light – one picture with
reflections in water just glistens. Gossamer clouds in the sky. Fleeting pinks
and purples enhance a delicate palette. He often returned to places over
seasons and captured the different aspects of nature. His time in Holland
proved enlightening and you can see the difference in the colors and how he
interpreted life there.
I highly recommend a trip to theKimbell.
Monet: The Early Years is a feast for the eyes and the
soul. (and then I recommend lunch at the museum café – tres bien!)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is in
theaters now and it’s worth seeing on the big screen. J.K. Rowling is back with
a prequel, so to speak, to Harry Potter world. Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander
shows up in 1926 New York City from London with a rather magical bag. He’s a
magizoologist and thus the adventure begins. The wizard world vs the Muggles in
the UK or the No-maji (as known in the US) is in flux and more trouble is not
needed. But his encounters with a “normal” guy played by a funny Dan Fogler
involves switched bags, an escaped creature or two, a hatching egg, some lovely
sisters, and more.
Eddie, with his mop of hair, dusting of freckles, and
wistful smile, is perfect as the shy magizoologist who’s trying to save
creatures and keep the magic alive. He wants no trouble. But Colin Farrell and
his gang are seeking “troublemakers” and a host of explosions and destruction
in NYC is causing an uprising. The theme of who’s “different” and how to get
along is subtle. Fogler falls for one of the sisters and Katherine Waterston
works with Newt to corral his creatures, erase Dan’s mind, and make
peace. I won’t give away the surprise at the end as far as the serious trouble and evil spirit. It’s all cleverly done.
This is a big movie with lots of special effects and a
worthy lead up to Potter World backstory. I would have edited the movie a bit –
it ran a tad long. However I was entranced and intrigued by the premise.
Rowling knows how to fill in characters and create a world. I liked Eddie a
lot. So if you are looking to escape with a big tub of popcorn, Fantastic
Beasts and Where to Find Them is worth seeking at your nearest
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.