Music, Films, Books – Recommendations

MUMFORD & SONS

My absolute favorite band of late. Their music, lyrics and utter creativity makes my hear soar.

THE WHO

Praise be to our Roku box, oh magnificent streamer of Netflix instant video directly to our TV, through which we recently viewed this immensely satisfying documentary: Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who, featuring this undeniably brilliant, still relevant, thrilling band. Maybe the best rock band ever.

THE UNCOUPLING by MEG WOLITZER

I’m a fan of Wolitzer’s witty, literary novels. I’ve read The Wife twice and recently finished The Ten Year Nap. I breezed through this latest book because I didn’t want to put it down. The novel centers around a local high school’s teaching staff and the changes wrought by the new drama teacher when she decides to shake things up by staging Aristophanes’ drama, Lysistrata, as the school play (in the Greek comedy, women of Athens decide to deny the sexual privileges of their husbands and lovers in an effort to put a stop to an ongoing war). It’s a clever, fun, heartfelt and poignantly relevant reading experience.

Midway through, I wanted to cheer, when one of the students stages a bed-in reminiscent of John and Yoko’s Bed-In for Peace:

If only this sort of thing would happen more often.

FILMS FROM THE 1970s  

I love the low-budget grittiness of this decade of film. Here’s a few that I’ve recently streamed through the Roku box:

A WEDDING – vintage 1970s Robert Altman, meandering, kooky, punctuated with improvisation and parody, filled with name actors.

DILLINGER – (1973) starring Warren Oates as Dillinger, Richard Dreyfuss (!) as a very good Baby Face Nelson, Steve Kanaly as Pretty Boy Floyd (these three criminals were actually in the same bank-robbing gang, at one point), Michelle Phillips (from The Mamas and the Papas) as Billie, Dillinger’s girlfriend, Ben Johnson as the Special Agent tracking him down, and notable extras, such as the never-disappointing Harry Dean Stanton. A great film!

THE ONION FIELD – (1979) Unforgettable film about two decent cops and a traffic stop that goes terribly wrong. Tremendous performances by  John Savage (The Deer Hunter) and Ted Danson (Cheers) as the cops, a magnificent James Woods as the psychopathic killer.

SUPER FLY – (1972) Starring Ron O’Neal as Priest, dope dealer and reluctant pimp, and cameos by Curtis Mayfield and The Curtis Mayfield Experience providing the excellent soundtrack. Notable for its unflinching footage of down and dirty NYC ghetto life. And a much better film than I remembered it to be.

GOOD-MOOD-INDUCING FILMS RECENTLY RE-WATCHED

THE RED BALLOON  – Utterly magical, uplifting jewel from France.

MOONSTRUCK – An all-time favorite. Masterful, funny script by John Patrick Shanley (who also wrote “Doubt”).

MANHATTAN – A Woody Allen masterpiece. A perfect film.

MRS. DOUBTFIRE  – Never, ever fails to make me laugh.

STARTING OVER  – One of my favorite romantic comedies. Great work by Burt Reynolds and Jill Clayburgh.

INDIES & FOREIGN & DOCUMENTARIES WORTH CATCHING ON NETFLIX

SUNSHINE CLEANING  – Don’t let the subject matter of the film (crime scene clean-up), which, admittedly, kept me away initially, deter you. With stars like Amy Adams, Emily Blunt and Alan Arkin, you can’t go wrong. You won’t be disappointed.

COLLISION – Enthralling 5-episode drama from British T.V. about a six-car crash and the ensuing investigation that unearths lots of dark secrets as well as a murder. An obsessive viewing experience. Highly recommended.

VALENTINO: THE LAST EMPEROR – Fascinating entry into the over-the-top world of designer Valentino and his long-time companion. A sumptuous visual experience.

BORN RICH – Illuminating documentary on the trials and tribulations of a group of financially privileged young adults.

NO IMPACT MAN– Maybe you’ve heard of him, a documentary about the guy who gave up toilet paper, etc. to live simply with his wife and child…? Much better than I thought it would be. Worth catching.

THE ECLIPSE – Atmospheric, supernatural thriller from an Irish playwright (i.e., well-written) centering around a strange presence inhabiting the house of a recent widower. Really good film.

ISLANDER – Drama about a lobster fisherman imprisoned after a tragic accident on his boat and his attempt to rebuild his life and win back the love of his wife and daughter and the esteem of the town that has shunned him.

As you can see, a lot of film viewing with the benefit of air-conditioning in this hideous hot weather!

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