Snapshots - #18

TV shows...
The Night Manager (♦♦♦♦♦): British army vet Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) is recruited by Angela Burr, a secret British enforcement agency's lead, to infiltrate the inner circle of Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie), the world's greatest arms dealer, and bring him down.
This AMC/BBC co-production blew my mind away for several reasons. First, it is an adaptation of the John Le Carré novel of the same name, which is an oddity as Le Carré's novels go because, unlike most of his novels, this one actually had a high stakes, satisfying conclusion. Second, the exotic locales, from its initial North Africa setting, to Mallorca and Madrid, Spain, Turkey, London, and the Middle East, the story moved along smoothly between all these settings without losing its cool. Third, the quality of the production was high, with excellent adapted script, and great direction. Fourth, the marvelous ensemble cast led by the amazing Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie had me, from the first episode, …

La La Land (♦♦♦♦♦)

Mia is an aspiring actress who works as a barista at a Starbucks in a movie studio lot. Sebastian is a jazz musician with dreams of owning a jazz club. Over the course of a winter they will meet intermittently not quite realizing that, perhaps, they are meant to be. But, will realizing their individual dreams keep them together?
La La Land is the feel good movie of 2016 award season, and it has it all in a classy nicely wrapped package that will make you, as did I, fall in love with it again and again. La La Land is a musical that pays homage to old Hollywood musicals. It is a love story between a boy and a girl, but also a nostalgic look at the pursuit of dreams, and a celebration of dreams come true in the "City of Dreams".
La La Land is written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who does a great job on both counts because the script has an ethereal quality, and the direction of the movie seems effortlessly; this film relies as much on drama as it does on gorgeous, evocative m…

11 Great Doctor Strange Passages

1- [The Ancient One]: “Who are you in this vast multiverse, Mr. Strange?”
2- [Mordo]: “Bathe, rest, Meditate, if you can. The Ancient One will send for you.” (Handing out to Strange a piece of paper with a word written on it …) [Strange]: “Oh, what’s this? My mantra?” [Mordo]: “The Wi-Fi password. We are not savages.”
3- [The Ancient One]: “We harness energy drawn from other dimensions of the Multiverse to cast spells, to conjure shields and weapons…to make magic.”
4- [The Ancient One]: “How did you get to reattach severed nerves and put a human spine back together bone by bone?” [Strange]: “Study and practice, years of it.”
5- [Wong]: “Mr. Strange.” [Strange]: “Uh, Stephen, please. And you are?” [Wong]: “Wong.” [Strange]: “Just Wong? Like Adele? Or Aristotle…Drake…Bono…E-mi-nem.”
6- (Pointing to books on shelves…)  [Strange]: “What are those?”  [Wong]: “The Ancient One’s private collection.” [Strange]: “So they’re forbidden?” [Wong]: “No knowledge in Kamar-Taj is forbidden; only certain practices. Those b…

Doctor Strange (♦♦♦♦♦)

Dr. Stephen Strange is a world renowned neurosurgeon who suffers a car accident that causes severe nerve damage to his precious hands. In need of healing, and as a last resort, Stephen travels to Kathmandu, Nepal, where, in a temple called Kamar-Taj, he learns the tools to heal his body through magic. But this ancient practice, and the three sanctums that protect it, are under attack by a zealot and his followers—former students at Kamar-Taj—, who want nothing but everlasting life and the Master of Darkness to rule on Earth as he does in the Dark Dimension.
I thought that after the luscious world building and the ambitious scope of Thor, there was nothing new to tell or new ways to express them in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Oh, how wrong I was! I thought Tony Stark (a.k.a., Iron Man) and Captain America were my favorite characters in the MCU, and now comes Dr. Strange, with the gifted and multifaceted Benedict Cumberbatch leading an all-star ensemble, and has made reconsider my oth…

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (♦♦♦♦½)

Inspector Alan Grant Book 5

Inspector Alan Grant with Scotland Yard is recuperating in the hospital after a leg injury. He is feeling crabby from lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. A friend, who knows him too well, thinks that there is nothing like a well constructed mystery for Grant to get his groove back; thus, said friend brings him photographs of famous faces, one of whom is Richard III.
Before seeing the royal’s name printed in the back, Grant first impression is that it seems like a man of strong conviction, of integrity. He should know. Human behavior and faces are his bread and butter. Then, why is he surprised to learn that the face on the photograph is of one of the most infamous murderers in history?
Armed with history books that may or may not contain contemporary accounts, and a sidekick all too willing to dig into historical records to unearth the truth, Grant will shed light into the life and character traits of a much misunderstood and misjudged historical figure…

The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley (♦♦♦♦½)

English archeologist Verity Grey is invited to an archaeological dig in the coastal town of Eyemouth, Scotland, by a former flame and colleague of hers. The purpose of the dig is to find proof of the stay of the Roman Ninth Legion Hispana in those parts before it vanished without trace never to be seen or be heard of again. There is little known knowledge to back up that hypothesis, except the word of eight year-old Robbie McMorran who has seen the ghost of a Roman Sentinel patrolling the area.
I always approach a new book by favorite author Susanna Kearsley with trepidation, fearing that that will be the one to disappoint me, but her whole body of work is so consistently great that not only I enjoy them but fail to choose my absolute favorite novel among the seven novels of hers that I have read, namely The Winter Sea, The Rose Garden, Mariana, The Firebird, Named of the Dragon, A Desperate Fortune, and now The Shadowy Horses.
The Shadowy Horses is unconventional as Kearsley’s novel go…

Snapshots - #17

TV shows...
Pride and Prejudice (1995), (♦♦♦♦♦): I fell in love with this wonderful co-production from BBC and A&E channel. The dialogues sparkle with intelligence and humor, particularly the initial banter between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Watching Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle's exchanges, I would have sworn that the love between their characters was there from the very beginning. Lovely music, perfect casting choices even for minor characters, sumptuous estates, and great chemistry among the actors, make this miniseries pure perfection.

The movies... Patriots Day (♦♦♦♦): Based on the true events of the Boston Marathon bombing, this film encompasses the investigation, follows the survivors as they got urgent medical care, and follows the bombers as they run away in an attempt to reach NYC to repeat their heinous deeds.
Patriots Day is a taut, edge-of-your-seat reenactment of the Boston bombing and its aftermath. Starring an all-star ensemble cast led by Mark Wahlberg, pun…