“Dead to Me” (Netflix)

This is a series that I would not have tried, but did on the basis of M and M’s recommendation. It’s the story of two women (played by Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini) who come together in grief and develop a touching and often funny relationship. The plot is improbable at times and a little too California-correct for me, but it’s smart and well done.

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Deadwood (the movie, HBO Now)

You either loved the series or you didn’t care for it at all. I loved it. I loved the story and the cinematography and the characters and the language. I was a sucker for the psuedo-Shakespearean English that everyone that passed through this town spoke fluently.

The movie takes place 10 years after the series ended, which is appropriate because most of the actors look 10 years older. I enjoyed the series but was happy to close the book on it when it finished. I would not have wanted to see it extended – but another 90 minutes in movie form was just about perfect.

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The Island Murder (Netflix/American Experience)

In 1931, Honolulu’s tropical tranquility is shattered when a young Navy wife makes an allegation of rape against five islanders. This sets in motion a series of events reminiscent of the Jim Crow South. It was, apparently, a big story at the time that made national headlines and pitted the US military and the island’s social elite against the native population. In a brief 45 minutes, this B&W documentary gave me a good introductory lesson on the early days of the American occupation of Hawaii.

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I’d give Kon-Tiki a B for cinematic values and a B+ for historical interest. Seeing the movie made me want to read the book again and try to find the documentary made about the expedition that won the Academy Award in 1951.

The movie was based on Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific in a Raft, one of the first books I remember reading. My father, who was not a sailor but a ship captain during WWII, recommended it to me, and I was enthralled by the story.

Here’s some info about the movie from the IMDb website.


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Slaughterhouse Five

This month, Bob S challenged us with 2 books and a movie. The books were Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle(both by Kurt Vonnegut). The movie was Slaughterhouse Five.

I watched the movie last night. It is part anti-war and part time-travel. And it is well done on both accounts. The hero, Billy Pilgrim, is a classic modern tragic figure who is traumatized by his past life, bored by his present life, and hopeful for a better life in the future. Yet he is unable to change anything. Being “unstuck in time,” as he puts it, allows him to move back and forth through his past life as a prisoner of war during the firebombing of Dresden, his present life as a successful optometrist, and his future life as a caged animal in a zoo.

The transitions are cleverly done through a variety of techniques: musical cues, camera angles, images, sound effects, and gestures. Ultimately, it’s an ironic statement about the futility of human volition and the absurdity of large-scale human “achievements” such as war.

Note: Nearly the entire enchanting soundtrack is Bach’s 5th Concerto, arranged by Glenn Gould.

Here’s the trailer:


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Eric Edmeades on “How to Become a Master in the Art of Public Speaking”

A very good speech on public speaking that’s about much more than public speaking.

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Tony Robbins on Why We Do What We Do

 People that haven’t experienced Tony Robbins – who have heard or read about him but never actually listened to him for any length of time – have the wrong view of him. They see him as a motivational speaker and they view motivation as something frivolous. I’ve spent enough time reading and listening to him to know that he’s the real deal. This short TED Talk will give you a glimpse of that.

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“Flight of the Conchords” (Netflix)

On Wednesday, I posted my mini-review of the HBO docudrama series “Chernobyl.” After watching an hour of the deeply distressing first episode, I needed a half-hour of fun – and I got it with an old episode of “Flight of the Conchords.”

If you haven’t seen it, “Flight of the Conchords” is a quirky New Zealand series starring comedian/musicians Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. Based on a BBC radio show, it is a fictionalized account of McKenzie and Clement’s efforts to achieve success as a band in New York City. The humor is both self-effacing and satirical. Each episode is punctuated with clever-funny songs of their own composition.

I absolutely love this series. But K – and I suspect many others – do/did not. Here’s a test: Clement and McKenzie bill themselves as “the almost award-winning fourth-most-popular folk duo in New Zealand.” If you don’t like that, you probably won’t like it.

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”Chernobyl” (HBO NOW)

I’d read good things about this – a docudrama series about the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident – and it didn’t disappoint. The first episode was riveting. It will make you wonder about the potential danger of what many consider to be the cleanest and safest form of energy.

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Weapon of Choice (Netflix).- An intriguing 90-minute documentary about the amazing proliferation of the Glock as the preferred weapon for police, the military, and criminals. Glock, the engineer that invented the world’s most reliable gun, turns out to be a fascinating nut case.

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