Cynics need not worry that Diane Keaton’s senior living comedy is saccharin and predictable. Well, Poms is for a while but somewhere along the line it grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go, much the way life does. Keaton’s a seventy-something Manhattanite headed to a Georgia retirement home while battling serious cancer. She’s in need of fun and focus, and starts a cheerleading club – a boss-type tries to shut her down, she stands up to ageism from a group of snarky high schoolers and there’s that rowdy but charming next-door neighbour (Jackie Weaver) who eggs her on. The squad – cult film queen Pam Grier and a host of elder character actors go along and soon, they’re ready to compete with the youngsters. Director Zarah Hayes goes for broke in the third act and – gasp – they went there. Poms takes a huge risk and lands it. It’s sweet, a tad bitter, lively, uplifting, inspirational and makes the grade.
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Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in White Crow a far-ranging biography of Soviet ballet superstar Rudolph Nureyev, who famously defected from Russia at the Paris airport at the height of the Cold War. In embracing the West, Nureyev found his world. He was a dynamic, inimitable dancer, loved and admired, he dragged ballet out of the closet and paved the way for others, like Mikhail Baryshnikov, creating a powerful legacy.
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Fiennes follows Nureyev, played by Ukrainian dancer Oleg Ivenko, from the extreme poverty of his early years, to dance lessons, to Paris with his troupe where he marvelled at its colour and life. What made him so special? He says “I took from the woman, the way they move around, men don’t”. The use of flashbacks and forward is a bit whiplash, but it’s a great story, recalling the Cold War era when politics had a chokehold on everything, Nureyev’s dismal early years and later glories. Nureyev was tried for treason in absentia but probably just laughed and had another glass of champagne at Studio 54. Liam Neeson executive produced.
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English acting, producing and writing sensation Phoebe Waller-Bridge has created a universal hit in Killing Eve but wait for it. But three years after its acclaimed premiere, Waller-Bridge is finally bringing back her scandalously hysterical sitcom Fleabag for a second season. She stars in the titular role, a Londoner who faces life’s twists and turns with bitterness, dread, irony, sarcasm and burning wit. She’s suspected of killing her business partner, she’s put out by her father’s affair with her godmother, she’s pregnant and alone, a fight breaks out at the dinner table and show shows her disdain by breaking the fourth wall and giving us side eye. Second episode she makes a fool of herself at church, attempts to romance the priest (Andrew Scott) and Kristen Scott-Thomas attempts to romance her. Laughs, whimsy, English eccentricity and far too much fun. I was gasping. Amazon Prime Video
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Fabulous funny women bring their fifty plus selves to Wine Country in theatres now and on Netflix May 10. Get this SNL-heavy cast: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey and the outrageous Maya Rudolph – they’re off to Napa to celebrate a fiftieth birthday – fun, food, wine, spas, all according to a painstakingly strict itinerary. (Do you smell trouble yet?) Fey is their rental host, Jason Schwartzman’s the much younger bus driver and chef, and Cherry Jones is terrifying as the Tarot card reader. Lots of familiar topics to femmes of a certain age– bangs or no bangs, anxiety, solo dining, “things we say now”, high tech sex toys, pathetic portion sizes at fancy restos followed by trips to McDonald’s, night breathing machines, memory fails, aching backs and hell bent for leather, damn the defiant adventures. The emotional temperature of the trip changes a lot like any great four-day romance. My takeaways are playing The Path Not Taken, the fifty-year-old who lost her job because she took too long to get on Snapchat and the hilariously ballsy hill sequence. Not Preston Sturges but good dirty fun.
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Acorn’s excellent police drama Line of Duty is back with Season 5, the number one rated show in British television. Series regulars Martin Compston, Vicky McClure, Adrian Dunbar and Stephen Graham return in a gut-wrenchingly exciting new story. A woman screams for help on a rural road, her car’s burning and her baby’s locked inside. A police transit carrying a fortune in seized drugs stops to help, three officers are shot dead. And so is opened a major can of corrupt worms penetrating all levels of policing. The pacing, writing and performances in Line of Duty remain exceptionally good – it’s a powerful franchise that really get to the heart of things, like so “We’re getting into business with bad people.” “We’re bad people.” Fluid morality across authority structures has always been its creed and so here, and beautifully.
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The Eurovision Song Contest, the great granddaddy of international music events celebrates its 64th year from May 14th to the 18th and Canadians have a front row seat this year via OMNI Television. Celine Dion, ABBA, Enya, Katrina and the Waves, Olivia Newton-John, Cliff Richard, and Julio Iglesias have all famously appeared. This year, forty-one countries from the European Broadcast Union will compete at EXPO Tel Aviv, in Israel and supermodel Bar Refaeli, and television personalities Erez Tal and Assi Azar will host.
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The hugely popular show hasn’t been without political and social controversies over its history and this may be a heck of a year, given Israeli/Palestine tensions this week. The Australian Greens party, Sinn Féin, the Irish Alternative, Sweden’s Left Party and entertainers including 1994 contest winner Charlie McGettigan are calling for a boycott to protest Israel’s occupation, while Sharon Osborne and Stephen Frye have spoken against a boycott.
It’s intense, and the potential for drama is extremely high, especially this year, making US singing shows look like a day at the cotton candy factory. Watch on OMNI.1 and stream on www.OMNITV.ca.
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