Screen Time….

There’ve been some good movies lately, so thought I’d bring you a couple of thoughts about two that we’ve seen in the past month or so. Both of them were good (although one was miles better than the other), and both were pretty different from each other. 

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

I’d been curious about seeing Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart’s project called “The Upside.” The trailer had made it look like a light-hearted comedy (and Hart is a comedian) so that was the approach I’d taken and was expecting. It was a pretty good movie, but the end result was that I felt that the producers couldn’t decide if they wanted this to be a comedy or a serious drama. Due to this indecision, it felt like the movie didn’t really reach either of these goals and so I walked out feeling slightly dissatisfied. 

It’s got a fairly standard plot line contrasting two very different characters who are more or less forced to be together and then hijinks result. Cranston’s character is a quadriplegic who happens to have oodles of money. He needs to hire a full-time live-in caregiver and that’s the (slightly clumsy) way that Hart’s character is introduced – as a candidate for that position. Hart, on the other hand, is a foul-mouthed newly-released ex-con who has to prove to his probation officer that he’s been applying for jobs. Hart needs a signature on his form to show that he’s been on a job interview, and so this is how the two people cross paths. 

(You know, it reminded me of the older movie called “Trading Spaces” with Eddie Murphy which has a similar set up between its characters, and is actually, you know, funny.…) 

However, as mentioned, the movie couldn’t decide whether to play up the comedy angle (two colliding worlds) or whether it would be a serious drama (life lived with serious disability and the impact it has on the person), so at the end, I was left feeling confused. It wasn’t hilarious (as the trailer had sold it) but it also wasn’t a serious drama (which it could have been). It ended up being somewhere vaguely in the middle, which left some frustration. 

The other movie that I saw was the brilliant “On the Basis of Sex” about the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (played by Felicity Jones who’s actually English but can do one hell of an American accent). I was slightly concerned when I saw the words “based on a true story” right at the beginning of the film since that can mean several things: is it only slightly based on the true story? Which piece(s) are not factual? And why did the producers decide to veer off the true life and when? 

However, despite these concerns, the bio pic ended up being really good (although I’m still not clear which bits were factual or not). Bader Ginsberg is a true American hero for me, and with the recent Cavanaugh hearing (he of the “I like beer” comment), the contrast between her views and that of other justices is huge – almost as though they are from completely different planets. With Bader Ginsberg alive and kicking, I feel safe that she’ll represent the more liberal views of this country, but she’s getting on in years and people don’t live forever…

Back to the movie: it was very well done and although I kept wondering what the true and not-true bits were, the plot line did show how driven Bader Ginsberg had been to be one of the first group of women to attend Harvard Law School, how she balanced home-work life with her husband (who seemed to be very cool to me), and how Bader Ginsberg had used her considerable legal knowledge to help to bring down the very-established gender discrimination which had been in place in the laws of the U.S. for eons.

Her plan seems to have been to show the courts that gender discrimination works in both ways, and so she developed a great argument for an unmarried male caregiver who had been denied tax relief for his caring for his old mum. By using such a non-threatening (to the males) approach of demonstrating the unfairness of such bias in the laws, Bader Ginsberg carefully paved the way for addressing the numerous other ways that the law had discriminated against women. An absolutely brilliant approach for the day and age in which they were living.

The film focuses around her law school years and on this particular case so it’s a fairly narrow time period, but it clearly shows the widespread discrimination that Bader Ginsberg and other women had to deal with. Looking back, I shake my head that it was allowed to continue as long as it did (and still does in some places), and so I am filled with admiration for Bader Ginsberg’s courage and leadership to change things. 

SPOILERS NOW FINISHED.

Anyway, I just loved this film and I’m still curious about what was true and not-true in the movie. Maybe this is the year that I finally read a biography of Bader Ginsberg to find out for myself.  🙂

TV-wise, we’ve been getting into Jason Bateman/Laura Linney’s crime/drama series called “Ozark.” Goodness me – they know how to ratchet up the suspense on these episodes (without Netflix bloat) , and now we’ve reached the end of Season Two, we’re all atwitter for Season Three. (Luckily, the series got renewed so there will be continuation. Phew.) Highly recommend it if you’re looking for a new series to watch – just know that it gets a little tense at times. 🙂

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The Book of Books – PBS (tie-in)

bookofbooks.jpgA random find at the library on the New Books shelf, this beautifully produced book was a joy to behold in terms of how it felt, looked, and the photos. It’s a book based on the PBS series, “The Great American Read,” which lists the top 100 fiction titles chosen through a “rigorous national survey” of 7,200 people who were “demographically and statistically representative” of the U.S. who were asked to name their most-loved novel.

This is actually the tie-in book for the eight-part TV series that “explores and celebrates the power of reading” and seems to be part of a “multi-platform digital, educational and community outreach campaign designed to get the country reading and passionately talking about books”. (Sounds like a noble goal to me!) (Haven’t seen this just yet though.)

So, this book does just as it says on the tin: lists 100 book titles, along with some background about the author, the plot, and the historical times, so it’s a very readable eye-friendly collection. I’m not sure if it’s listed in a numerical order of some kind (like a Top Forty would be on the radio), but regardless, it’s a pretty good mix of titles, some that were of no surprise (Pride and Prejudice and Catcher in the Rye) along with some that are not in the usual suspects list: Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight etc…

(Plus – it’s always nice to read a list of must-read titles and find out how many you’ve already read. Or is that just me? 🙂 )

What was really well done with this title was that it was printed in a great font put on to some heavy glossy paper, along with some great photographs of earlier book covers. It was a heavy book (due to thigh quality production) so more of a coffee table book, but it was a joy to read.

(The only thing to mar the experience was an occasional typo or error in the text. Would have been easy enough to fix with a sharp-eyed editor, but for some reason that didn’t happen. And these weren’t even huge errors. Just ones that someone somewhere should have probably caught.)

So, what were some of the titles? As mentioned, you have the obvious ones (such as P&P and Catcher), but then you’d turn the page and there’d be one that surprised you, not because of the title not belonging on the list (although I’d argue that about a couple), but more because the list strays off the High School Reading List which made a nice change.

Other little treats included in the book are many of the included books’ first lines, occasional lists of themed items such as “Admirable Female Characters” and also the inclusion of some of the “non-traditional” titles (for example, Sister Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help or Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code) so it was a good reminder of some of the other titles that are out there.

So, rather an enjoyable romp through some book titles along with some super-great production values.

(And if you’re curious about which titles made the list, check here.)

Catch-Up Time…

 

catch_up

So, thought I’d give you a looksee into the inner circle of the life of Just One More Page. It’s fascinating, let me tell you. 🙂

book372Finished up a quick (and must admit rather forgettable) read of “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. I remember it being hilarious when I read the first time, but this time, meh. (And that’s the risk you run with rereads, I think.)

So – ok read but no need to put it up on the TBR pile any more. Out the door with you, Bill.

 

 

Peaky_Blinders

We’ve been sucked into the fantastic BBC/Netflicks series called “Peaky Blinders”, a series that follows some Birmingham (UK) travelers who form an organized crime network that grows and grows and grows… The actors are great, but let me give a warning about the accents: Americans may well need subtitles until you get the hang of it. Truly – this is riveting stuff and it would be very very easy to binge-watch this series. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a summer TV series.

 

vivian_meierWhen my sis visited me, we ended up watching the documentary “Searching for Vivian Maier” which is truly an intriguing story about a young man who buys a box of negatives and photos in an auction. Opening the box, he finds some high-quality photographs so, curious to know more, he follows the clues to who the photography was. The journey leads to a nanny who took more than 100,000 street photos, but kept them all private. Who was this person and why did she keep the photos secret?

(Along with this detective trail, the question is also raised that since the nanny/photographer is now dead, do we actually have the right to show her photos without her permission? Interesting…) My sis and I are contemplating going to Arlington to see an exhibition there of her work…

Anyway, a fascinating look into a very private person…

And then I’ve been doing some cross-stitch. I had put it down for a while and then picked it up again. Sucked in as usual (which is rather fun)…What’s up in your world?

crossstitch1

You Screen, I Screen, We All Screen…

televisionAlthough I am a huge fan of the written word, I am also partial to a good movie or TV series (as long as it’s a good story), so thought I’d let you know what we’d been viewing recently. Something to know about our watching habits is that when we discover a new TV series, we become kinda sorta obsessive about watching it straight through episode after episode in rather a blitz. (We tend to discover older TV series so we can do this. Luckily.)

The most recent TV series we have found (well, kudos to the DH for this find) is “The Killing”,  a U.S. detective/cop drama which is set in recent times in Seattle. The first season (which we’re on) follows what happens when a young female high school student called Rosie Larsen is murdered. The director(s) of this series take the perspectives of multiple different people involved on varying levels with this murder and it’s fascinating to see how the drama develops. (We’re on Season One/Episode 8 or similar and so far, we are only about one week into the investigation which clearly shows how deep in detail the shows go.) The characters are flawed but understandable, they have backstories which are convincing and have realistic reactions. Plus it’s set in Seattle! It rains! All the time! (At least it does in this show.) The only minor challenge is that the lead detective chews gum as though her life depends on it which was distracting at first. (She smacks her gum. A lot.) However, as the story progresses and we get to know her character a bit more, it makes more sense (although it’s still annoying to a non-gum-chewer such as moi). Anyway, loving this series. Every episode ends as a cliff-hanger. Fab stuff.

Another TV series in which we immersed ourselves (but have now caught up with) was The Fall, a British BBC 2 show (I think) that is set in Belfast. Another crime/detective show which features Gillian Anderson (she of X Files which my dad used to love) who sports a very convincing English accent. Again, good plot and believable characters who are tied into a serial murderer. (Fascinating how they are portraying the criminal guy.) Recommend this one. (This one is also cold and rainy all the time. Can you tell I have had enough of Texas summer?…)

And then we watched the 1944 film of Gaslight,  a psycho thriller which follows a married couple with the husband playing serious mind games with the wife. Stars Ingrid Bergman and some people who I have not heard of, and is really good. (It turns out that “Gaslighting” is an accepted verb in some circles. Who woulda thunk?)

gaslight