Things to Come (dir. Mia Hansen-Løve) stars Isabelle Huppert as a married author in Paris who teaches writing at the local university. We meet her just as her troubles are piling up at breakneck speed. She learns her husband, an unappealing professor with megalomania is cheating on her and moving in with his younger lover. The publishing house that has released a string of her highly regarded books on philosophy fails to renew her contract when she disagrees with its “new media” ways of promoting and presenting her latest book. Her mother, a movie legend, is falling into dementia and is disruptive and depressed, and she calls umpteen times a day. This gal has a lot on her shoulders as well as disrespectful and absent adult children. So she packs a bag and a cat and moves to an artists’ commune in the country on the advice of a younger man, her academic protégé. What makes the pain bearable is its attention to the details of everyday life, the beauty in small, otherwise ordinary moments and the strength we can summon to move forward, even when it hurts like hell. What are these “things to come”? Drop everything and go find out cos this is the real deal and Huppert is the BEST.
The Other Half (dir. Joey Klein) stars Canada’s Wonder Woman Tatiana Maslany and her real life boyfriend Tom Cullen who played one of Lady Mary’s beaux Anthony Gillingham in Downton Abbey. Tatiana told me she spent a lot of time on the DA set! They play troubled lovers in difficult times in Klein’s debut feature, a micro-budgeted Toronto-made portrait of love and perseverance. She is on the severe end of the bipolar scale and he is in a dark depression stemming from the accidental death of his kid brother years earlier. He watches in horror through her window as she has an “episode” – he mistook her natural exuberance and crippling downs as temporary but the truth is more painful. Meds don’t work for her. The miracle of it is that they struggle to be together and lead regular lives, knowing full well that’s something they’ll never have if they remain together. The centre of the film is hope. It is intimate and kind and the sex scenes are underscored not with passion but tenderness. Pretty darn good for a first feature.
BET founder Robert L. Johnson has expanded his reach with Urban Movie Channel in association with RLJ, the folks behind the sensational streaming subscription service Acorn TV. Johnson’s UMC service features “quality urban content and showcases feature films, documentaries, original series, stand-up comedy, and other exclusive content for African American and urban audiences”. Here’s an early sampling of UMC’s programming – new titles weekly including live stand-up specials like Gary Owen’s I Agree With Myself and performances by Trevor Noah, Kevin Hart; comedy the films #Lucky Number starring Method Man; dramas including Knucklehead starring Emmy Award winning actress Alfre Woodard and Gbenga Akinnagbe and Second Coming with Idris Elba and Nadine Marshall; documentaries including Tim Reid Presents: The Legacy Documentary Series; action/thrillers including The Sin Seer with Isaiah Washington and Lisa Arrindell Anderson and stage play productions including the premiere of David E. Talbert’s Another Man Will on December 9, 2016. Find UMC at www.urbanmoviechannel.com, on Roku, on Amazon Prime, Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire Stick. UMC will also become available on Apple TV in early 2017. Available to download free at http://apple.co/2epkx7z. UMC offers a seven-day free trial and thereafter is just $6.99/month.
TVFX knocks it out of the park with its current 600-episode, 27 season, 300-hour marathon of The Simpsons! Just imagine endless hours of Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa and years of fabulous guest stars and larger than life characters. It’s all going on in Springfield, the longest running scripted television show in all of television history! Now in its 28th season, The Simpsons has won 32 Emmy Awards, 34 Annie Awards, a 2016 People’s Choice Award, was the first animated series to win a Peabody Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 for the theatrical short “The Longest Daycare.” The Simpsons Movie was a hit feature film, as was The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios and has its own Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. Some have called it the greatest television show of all time, and I’d argue with that (Seinfeld, people!) but even I realise this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the fans. It ends soon so get cracking.
Actually it’s interesting that The Simpsons demographic may be the same that so enjoys the annual holiday season Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, airing on CBS Monday night Dec. 5 at 10 p.m. It’s fashion, fantasy and entertainment on a bun with plenty of va-va-voom ladies in elaborate lingerie creations. This year’s “Angels” include Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio, Lily Aldridge, Elsa Hosk, Jasmine Tookes, Josephine Skriver, Lais Ribeiro, Martha Hunt, Romee Strijd, Sara Sampaio, Stella Maxwell and Taylor Hill, as well as new faces. Watch for Bradley Cooper’s gal pal Irina Shayk as she struts the stage pregnant with their child. Allegedly. There has been no confirmation. Shayk is reportedly in the second trimester and is “so excited” about motherhood. The event took place Wednesday, and featured Shayk in midriff-covering confections.
Jude Law has never appeared more terrifying than he does as The Young Pope a controversial series premiering on HBO in January. It aired in Italy to puzzled, angry and adoring audiences and may raise eyebrows in North America. It follows the pontificate of Lenny Belardo, alias Pius XIII, the newly elected Pope and former Archbishop of New York and the first American Pope in history. It’s a fictional character that dances on the edges of madness, power and amorality. Diane Keaton co-stars.
Netflix looks to religion and tradition in Medici: Masters of Florence is a political, family drama set in Florence in the early 15th century. Cosimo de’ Medici finds himself at the helm of his supremely wealthy, banking dynasty family, when his father, Giovanni played by Dustin Hoffman, dies suddenly. But he’s not convinced that life is for him. He is destined for the church becoming the Archbishop of Pisa before being installed as cardinal by Pope Pius IV in 1560 at the age of seventeen. The lavish series was shot in Florence, Siena and other historic Italian beauty spots. .
After some number crunching Corus / Global announced it has a whopping 3,100 hours of holiday content coming to celebrate the Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza and whatever else you like. The net is offering seasonal episodes of fan favourite series and festive movies like The Legend of Frosty the Snowman, Elf, Bad Santa, My One Christmas Wish and more, so much more apparently. Given seasonal offerings on CBC, WTN, City, CTV, PBS, TCM and the remaining channels, it appears no one need ever leave the TV room for the next month. Bring it on with egg nog and a tartan blanket.
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