Movies Screened 2012

As previously (2011, 2010, 2009), I’ve kept track of the dvds (TV series and movies) and first-run movies I watched this year.

January

a row of PoirotsAgatha Christie’s Poirot, starring David Suchet (re-viewings):

  • The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb (1993) with Hastings and Miss Lemon, set in Egypt, mostly. Mysterious deaths among several former Yale classmates, centered on  the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.
  • The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly (1989), with Hastings, Miss Lemon, and Japp (who calls Poirot “Mr Poirot” – an early story). Wealthy couple receives notice of their son’s imminent kidnapping and police force tries to prevent it, to no avail.

Beginners (2010) with Christopher Pummer, Ewan McGregor, Mélanie Laurent. Sweet story of a son who can’t commit and his father who was married for 44 years, and who comes out as gay after his wife dies, then himself dies after 4 years of lung cancer.  A Jack Russell terrier is in almost every scene.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Season 2 (1971/1972):

  • The Slaughter Affair: Murray works two jobs
  • More Than Neighbors: Ted might move in to the apartment building
  • The Care and Feeding of Parents: Phyllis coops Mary to get Bess’s essay published
  • You Certainly Are A Big Boy: Mary dates a man with a 24-year-old son.
  • Some of My Best Friends Are Rhoda: Mary’s new friend Joanne won’t invite Rhoda to her Country Club.
  • His Two Right Arms: Bill Daly guests as a clueless local councilman.
  • I Am Curious Cooper: Lou breaks his rule about not fixing people up, but when he fixes up his friend Mike Cooper (Michael Constantine) with Mary, there’s no chemistry.
  • And Now, Sitting in for Ted Baxter: Ted’s vacation fill-in is a lot better than Ted.
  • Don’t Break the Chain: Mary conjures up a men from her past when she reluctantly continues Mr. Grant’s chain letter.
  • Ted Over Heels: Ted is in love with the daughter of Chuckles the Clown.
  • The Five-Minute Dress: Mary’s new love interest, an assistant to the governor, keeps breaking their dates.

February

Good Neighbors: The Early Birds (1976): Barbara and Tom try to adjust their schedules to early morning farming while keeping it quiet so the Leadbetters can sleep.

Get Low (2009), with Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black and Bill Cobbs. Duvall plays a hermit who has isolated himself because of his shame about his actions 40 years before. He wants to get his story off his chest before he dies, so arranges his own living funeral party. Good acting, some good lines, but something was missing for me.

The Goodbye Girl (1977), written by Neil Simon, with Marsha Mason, Richard Dreyfuss, and Quinn Cummings. Haven’t seen this in about 25 years. Jilted dancer Paula (Mason) and her 10-year-old daughter unwillingly share an apartment with struggling actor Elliott (Dreyfuss) and romance blossoms.

Murder by Death (1976): Comedy. Five famous literary detective characters and their sidekicks are invited to a bizarre mansion to solve an even stranger mystery. Written by Neil Simon. Stars Peter Falk, Eileen Brennan, Truman Capote, James Coco, Alec Guinness, Elsa Lanchester, David Niven, Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith, Nancy Walker. Amusing, especially if you’re familiar with Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Charlie Chan, Nick and Nora Charles, and Sam Spade.

Mary Tyler Moore dvdsThe Mary Tyler Moore Show, Season 3 (1972):

  • The Good-Time News: Mary’s for a more entertaining news format, Lou’s not.
  • What Is Mary Richards Really Like?: Mary is interviewed by a hypercritical newspaper columnist.
  • Who’s in Charge Here?: When Lou is promoted, Mary has to decide whether she wants to be promoted
    to producer.
  • Enter Rhoda’s Parents: Rhoda’s mother walks out on her father, in Minneapolis.
  • It’s Whether You Win or Lose: The poker game.
  • Rhoda the Beautiful: Rhoda loses weight and enters her dept. store’s beauty contest.
  • Just Around the Corner: Mary’s parents are moving to Minneapolis.
  • But Seriously, Folks: Mary’s new boyfriend (Jerry Van Dyke) quits his job writing for Chuckles and tries to go into stand-up.
  • Farmer Ted and the News: Ted gets a change in his contract so that he can now do cheesy commercials.
  • Have I Found a Guy for You: Mary’s friends the Fosters split up and he wants to date Mary.
  • You’ve Got a Friend: Mary tries to make her dad and Mr. Grant friends, but they’re more like rivals.
  • It Was Fascination, I Know: Bess’s date falls for Mary.
  • Operation: Lou: Lou goes in to get some shrapnel removed and comes out with Ted as a friend, briefly.

The Big Chill (1983): re-screening. Gotta love the soundtrack. Seven former college friends (including Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place), plus a few others (Meg Tilly, e.g.), gather for a weekend reunion at a posh South Carolina winter house after the funeral of one of their friends. But I always forget that it’s mostly about finding a sperm donor for one of the women.

Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), dir. David Susskind, with Richard Castellano, Gig Young, Cloris Leachman, Anne Jackson, Beatrice Arthur, Bonnie Bedelia, Anne Meara, Marian Hailey, and Diane Keaton (her film debut). The Carpenters wrote “For All We Know” for this movie. The focus is the wedding of Mike and Susan, who have been living together for a year and a half, but the relationships of their parents, cousin, brother, and sister are also explored. Very much a period piece. Funny.

March

Charade (1963) with Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau.  Rescreening after many years. When Hepburn’s husband is murdered, several men show up to claim the $250,000 they feel he owed them. A comedic thriller, I guess you’d call it (reminded me in places of Foul Play). Set mostly in Paris.

To the Lighthouse (1983), from the Virginia Woolf novel, with a young Kenneth Branagh, Rosemary Harris (looking very Meryl Streepish), Michael Gough, Suzanne Bertish, et al.  The Ramseys — a professor, his wife and their 6 children — plus Aunt Lily, an old friend of the professor’s, and Mr Ramsey’s rather stiff student, Charles Tansley (Branagh), spend the summer in rambling seaside house in Cornwall just before World War I.  Mr. Ramsay is mercurial and prone to temper and sternness, while Mrs. Ramsay is the heart of the family, warm, understanding and giving.  The family talk about sailing to the lighthouse, but the trip is always postponed, leaving young James always disappointed.

Desk Set (1957) with Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Gig Young, and Joan Blondell.  Romantic comedy. Efficiency expert comes to observe a broadcasting reference department to determine how to best use a massive IBM computer there. Some of it set around Christmas, with drinking, musical office parties.

The Great New Wonderful (2005), with Olympia Dukakis, Jim Gaffigan, Judy Greer, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Naseeruddin Shah, Tony Shalhoub, et al. Set in Sept. 2002, the film “weaves five stories against the backdrop of an anxious and uncertain post-9-11 New York City.” I liked it, especially the security guard story and Judy’s story.

Nuts in May (1976), dir Mike Leigh, with  Alison Steadman and Roger Sloman. “The comical story of a nature-loving and rather self-righteous couple’s exhausting battle to enjoy what they perceive to be the idyllic camping holiday.” Very conflictual. Not that funny.

Something's Gotta Give dvdrescreening of Something’s Gotta Give (2003), with Jack Nicholson, Diane Keaton, Keanu Reeves. I’ve seen it 4 or 5 times and really like it. It’s a love story.

April

rescreening (many times over) of Manhattan (1979), dir. Woody Allen, with Allen, Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy, Mariel Hemingway.  Black & white. Entire soundtrack of George Gershwin, and lots of Manhattan cityscape and locations. Another love story … Allen chooses the neurotic, overly cerebral woman (Keaton), who’s been dating his married best friend (Murphy), over the wise teenage girl (Hemingway, who was only 16 at filming). As one critic wrote: “the … visual beauty of his films is part of their grace and sweetness.”

rescreening of They Do It with Mirrors (1991), a Miss Marple (Agatha Christie) mystery, with Joan Hickson.  When Miss Marple is invited to the manor house — now also an institute for young offenders — of an old friend, Carrie-Louise Serrocold, she finds an assortment of characters there, and then of course a murder takes place. Inspector Slack and Sgt. Lake appear in this one.

The Third Man (1949), dir. Carol Reed, with Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles and Trevor Howard. 1949 British film noir set in Vienna after World War II. Atmospheric. Welles is great as a sociopath, Cotten as a romantic hero.

May

Frenzy (1972), dir. Hitchcock, with  Jon Finch, Alec McCowen, Barry Foster, Anna Massey, Barbara Leigh-Hunt. A man is raping and strangling women with his necktie. The police have arrested a suspect … but are they right? Graphic in places (has an R rating – not sure if it was for nudity or depiction of rape and murder, or both), and also humourous in places.

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), dir. Hitchcock, with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day. Need I say more? Schmaltzy. WAY too many verses of Que Sera, Sera. Starts in Marrakesh, with local bus and market scenes, then moves to London. An upper-middle-class couple from Indiana and their son (perhaps aged 8 or 10) are travelling around Europe and northern Africa when they run into a stranger whose death leads to their son’s kidnapping. Much of the last hour or so is reminiscent of Foul Play (or vice versa, really).

Midsomer Murders: Death’s Shadow (Season 2, #1 – 1998), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. Richard Briers (of Good Neighbors) guest stars as the vicar.  “Barnaby and his wife are planning to celebrate their 25th anniversary by renewing their vows at the church in Badger’s Drift. When a controversial local property developer is gruesomely murdered there just hours after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Barnaby and Sergeant Troy are called to investigate.”

Midsomer Murders: Dead Man’s Eleven (Season 3, #1 – 1999), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy.  “Tragedy strikes when the Fletcher’s Cross [Cricket] Captain’s wife is found beaten to death with her step-son’s cricket bat.” Robert Hardy (from All Creatures Great and Small) guest stars as cricket team captain Robert Cavendish and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Harry Potter, Return to Cranford) as Christine Cooper, a woman with a secret.

Midsomer Murders: Judgement Day (Season 3, #3 – 2000), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. Barnaby’s wife, Joyce, is one of four judges of the Perfect Village contest, for which Midsomer Mallow is in contention, but murder(s) may ruin their chances. Josephine Tewson (Elizabeth in Keeping Up Appearances) guest stars.

Midsomer Murders: Strangler’s Wood (Season 2, #2 – 2000), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. Joyce is away, but Barnaby doesn’t get much time to spend with his visiting daughter after a tobacco company actress is discovered murdered in Raven’s Wood — renamed Strangler’s Wood by the locals after three young girls were killed there nine years ago. Trudie Styler (Sting’s wife) guest stars.

Midsomer Murders: Blue Herrings (Season 2, #2 – 2000), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. Barnaby is on vacation, painting his house, but he still finds time to investigate a few deaths at the Lawnside Nursing home, where his aunt Alice Bly is a resident.  I found this episode weak, though I enjoyed the cast of old people.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), with Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Dev Patel et al. “British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways. ” It sounds better than it is, which is so-so, with some predictably good acting and vivid cinematography, and too many platitudes (e.g.: Evelyn: Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected. Muriel: Most things don’t. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff), bouts of awkward scripting, and somewhat caricaturish portrayals. Pleasant enough. (Saw this in the cinema while on vacation.)

June

Midsomer Murders: Garden of Death (Season 4, #1 – 2000), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. “When an arrogant aristocratic family’s decision to develop a memorial garden into a commercial tea shop has the villagers up in arms, murders past and present rear their heads.” We recognised two of the actors (Frederick Treves and Margaret Tyzack) from two Agatha Christie: Miss Marple episodes.

rescreening of The Trouble with Harry (1955), dir. Hitchcock, set in New England in the fall, with John Forsythe, Edmund Gwenn, Mildred Natwick, Jerry Mathers, and introducing Shirley McLaine. Harry’s dead, but who did it and what should be done about his body? Black slapstick comedy.

Midsomer Murders: Destroying Angel (Season 4, #2, 2001), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. A hotel is left to four beneficiaries, who are being murdered. Somewhat complicated plot. A Punch and Judy show and mushroom-foraging (and eating) figure in the plot.

Midsomer Murders: Market for Murder (Season 5, #4, 2002), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. Women in an investment group, disguised as a reading group, are being killed off. Angela Thorne (Marjory in To the Manor Born), guest stars.

Midsomer Murders: Ring Out Your Dead (Season 5, #3, 2002), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. The bell ringers of the parish church in Midsomer Wellow are being shot, just before the big bell-ringing competition. Graham Crowden (Waiting for God) and Gemma Jones (Bridget Jones’s mother, among many roles) guest star.

Midsomer Murders: Who Killed Cock Robin? (Season 4, #4, 2001), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. “Barnaby and Troy are drawn to Newton Magna where their search for a horse whisperer allegedly struck by a car is complicated by the discovery of a body in the town well.” Ian McNeice (Bert Large in the Doc Martin series) guest stars.

New in Town (2009), with Renée Zellweger, Harry Connick Jr. and Siobhan Fallon. Young Miami businesswoman goes to New Ulm, Minnesota to oversee a reduction in the work force of a food manufacturer. She is ill-suited to the wintry climate and low-key social interactions of the small town; crow-hunting, making and eating tapioca, scrap-booking, eating together, and winter sports seem to take up most of the villagers’ time. Sparks fly between her and the head of the labor union. Eventually, she sees the charm of the place and takes a stand for the plant and the community. Connick Jr. plays a very similar role (sexy blue-collar guy, who’s really more complex than he seems, underestimated by independent citified woman) in Hope Floats. Saw it on the commuter bus. Not bad.

Midsomer Murders: Dark Autumn (Season 4, #5, 2001), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. Local mailman – also village Lothario – is almost beheaded, but he’s just the first to die. Dance hall music. Celia Imbrie (Ab Fab) guest stars.

Midsomer Murders: Murder on St. Malley’s Day (Season 5, #3, 2002), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. When Daniel is murdered the day after his grandfather dies, all eyes turn to the secretive Pudding Club at the prestigious Devington School.

Midsomer Murders: A Worm in the Bud (Season 5, #5, 2002), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. The fate of Setwale Wood seems to be at the heart of village murders.

Midsomer Murders: Written in Blood (Season 1, #1, 1998), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. The morning after a meeting of the Midsomer Worthy Writers’ Circle, Gerald Hadleigh is found battered to death. The guest speaker for the meeting had been a best-selling novelist that Gerald did not want invited. No one seems to know much about Hadleigh …

Midsomer Murders: Death of a Hollow Man (Season 1, #3, 1998), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy.  “The Causton Players are readying their production of Amadeus when Barnaby must inform lead actor Esslyn Carmichael (Nicholas Le Prevost) that his cousin Agnes Grey (Denyse Alexander) has been murdered.  … Then on opening night, Esslyn is tricked into killing himself on stage.” Janine Duvitski (Jane in Waiting for God) guest stars as the harried and verbally abused stage manager.

Midsomer Murders: Faithful unto Death (Season 1, #4, 1998), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy. Co-investors in a new  craft centre have a public argument, and soon after, the wife of one disappears. Lesley Vickerage, who plays Helen Lynley in The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, guest stars.

Midsomer Murders: Death in Disguise (Season 1, #2, 1998), with John Nettles and Daniel Casey as chief inspector Barnaby and sergeant Troy.  The co-owner of the  New Age commune the Lodge of the Golden Windhorse is found dead with a broken neck, lying at the bottom of a staircase – was it an accident or murder?; a few days later, a definite murder takes place.  Judy Cornwell (Daisy in Keeping Up Appearances ), guest stars as a past-life regression guide.

July

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (Season 3, #1, 2004), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small  as DC/DS Barbara Havers. When the daughter of a retired police officer and her male friend are found beaten to death at a camping site, Lynley brings in the recently demoted Havers to help.

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: A Traitor to Memory (Season 3, #2, 2004), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DC/DS Barbara Havers. Lynley and Havers (who plans to resign from the force) are assigned to the hit and run of a woman, the estranged mother of a concert violinist.

To Rome with Love (2012), dir. Woody Allen, with Allen, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni, Judy Davis, Alec Baldwin, Alessandro Tiberi, Alessandra Mastronardi . A sort of “charming trifle,” as one reviewer put it, and a version of a Decameron, set in the city of Rome, separate tales of several couples, with one unifying theme: what is the role you were born to play? Most of the characters take on (voluntarily or not) new roles, then revert to their previous roles. The funniest is Leopoldo’s story.

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: A Cry for Justice (Season 3, #3, 2004), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DC/DS Barbara Havers.  Havers is reinstated and goes undercover as a secretary at a private club to investigate what looks like suicide but is actually murder.

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: If Wishes Were Horses (Season 3, #4, 2004), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DC/DS Barbara Havers. “Lynley investigates the car bomb murder of a womanizing forensic pathologist whose list of former lovers includes Helen.”

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: In Divine Proportion (Season 4, #1, 2005), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DC/DS Barbara Havers. “The unusual shotgun murder of an interior decorator is linked to the rape and subsequent suicide of her sister fifteen years earlier.”

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: In The Guise of Death (Season 4, #2, 2005), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DC/DS Barbara Havers. Lynley is visiting the family estate and doesn’t tell his mother that he and Helen are separated after the loss of the baby. Havers is at a spa in the same area after being shot. Both assist local police with a suspicious death related to the local horse world.

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: The Seed Of Cunning (Season 4, #3, 2005), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DS Barbara Havers. “Lynley and Havers investigate the beating death of a doorkeeper at Parliament.” Fascinating look behind the scenes at the working of government underlings. Lynley starts to get involved with another woman.

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: Word Of God (Season 4, #4, 2005), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DS Barbara Havers. “An illegal Jordanian immigrant is found strangled in a meat locker with a page from the priceless ‘Golden Koran’ found on his person.”

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: Natural Causes (Season 5, #1, 2006), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DS Barbara Havers. Now Lynley is suspended from duty; Havers is assigned to DI Fiona Knight (love her!) on a case in the hinterlands, but Lynley helps solve the case. Helen (new actress) comes back on the scene (boo, hiss).

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: One Guilty Deed (Season 5, #2, 2006), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DS Barbara Havers. The holiday trailer park murder mystery. The mob, drugs, ghosts in the marsh, and a seedy trailer park — fun!

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: Chinese Walls (Season 5, #3, 2006), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DS Barbara Havers. Lynley investigates the murder of a young girl after she quit her job with a high profile lawyer to work for an on-line sex site.

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: In the Blink of an Eye (Season 5, #4, 2007), with Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Thomas Lynley and Sharon Small as DS Barbara Havers. “The murder of a former war photographer turned paparazzi seems linked is Bosnian war crimes and a prominent London crime kingpin.”

August

Fawlty Towers:

  • Series 1, Ep. 1 : A Touch of Class (1975): Aristocratic Lord Melbury is not all he appears but Basil fawns over him nonetheless. Sybil orders Basil to hang a picture.
  • Series 1, Ep. 4: The Hotel Inspectors  (1975): Basil becomes increasingly obsessed with trying to determine which guests are hotel inspectors.
  • Series 1, Ep. 6: The Germans (1975): Sybil’s in hospital for toenail surgery. Meanwhile Basil is bashed on the head by a moose he’s hanging on the wall and offends his German guests after he escapes from the hospital to the hotel.  “Don’t mention the war.”

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple: A Pocket Full of Rye (1985), with Joan Hickson. One of my favourite Marple stories. Peter Davison also stars.

Song of the Thin Man (1947) with William Powell and Myrna Loy. Also Kennan Wynn and Jayne Meadows. When a band leader is killed after a charity benefit aboard a gambling ship, suspicion falls on Phil Brant, who had argued with Drake earlier in the evening, but there are plenty of other suspects. Best exchange (among many): “Nick: If the party gets rough, duck.” Nora: “I’m practically under the table now, but not the way I like to be.”

My Architect dvdMy Architect (2003), re-screening of one of my favourite movies, about architect Louis Kahn, by his (publicly unacknowledged) son, Nathaniel Kahn. Beautifully filmed, scripted and paced. “Kahn led an extraordinary career and left three families behind when he died of a heart attack in a Penn Station bathroom.” Appearances by Frank Gehry, I.M. Pei, Robert A.M. Stern, Philip Johnson.  Best quote: “There are very few people you will find anywhere who will talk about matter in spiritual terms. Nothingness mattered to him, silence mattered to him, the engima of light mattered to him. So those are not normal discourses, but these are what we liked and we talked about it. And when somebody understand this, he can not be an ordinary person. he has to be highly cultivated soul who we call guru, we call him a yogi.” —  B.V. Doshi, architect

Fawlty Towers:

  • Series 1, Ep. 2 : The Builders (1975): Over his wife’s objections, Basil hires his usual firm of incompetents (O’Reilly’s) to do some carpentry work in the hotel lobby.
  • Series 1, Ep. 3: The Wedding Party (1975): Basil’s puritanical streak comes out when a young couple he suspects of not being married tries to book a double room.
  • Series 2, Ep. 2: The Psychiatrist (1979)
    Confusion arises when Basil tries to catch a girl in a playboy’s room after hours, all the while unnerved by a psychiatrist’s presence. Lots of Basil skulking in the hallways.

Ab Fab (all re-screenings):

  • Season 2, Ep. 4: New Best Friend (1994): When Eddy’s old friend Bettina, a notorious minimalist, and her husband Max come to visit, they turn up with their new baby, filling the house with clutter. Eddy leaves and she and Patsy try to make each other jealous in a restaurant.
  • Season 2, Ep. 5: Poor (1994): Eddy has to economise, so she and Patsy go off to do their own supermarket shopping for the first time.
  • Season 2, Ep. 6: Birth (1994):  After Patsy burns down Eddy’s kitchen with a cigarette, Saffy, Patsy and Eddy are locked into the main living living (by Eddy’s mother) and exchange stories of their births.
  • Season 3, Ep. 1: Door Handle (1995): To Saffy’s annoyance not only has Eddy forgotten her birthday but has failed to redecorate the kitchen after the fire. Eddy agrees to start work but ends up flying to New York with Patsy on the Concorde in pursuit of a suitable door knob she once saw there.
  • Season 3, Ep. 2:  Happy New Year (1995): Eddy and Patsy are about to go out for a New Year’s Eve party when Patsy’s older sister Jackie arrives, claiming to be homeless and asking to stay at Eddy’s until she can get the money together to start a shelter for stray animals.
  • Season 3, Ep. 3: Sex (1995): Patsy and Eddy decide to have an orgy with (unenthusiastic) male escorts. A video tape of a prior orgy they were involved in gets mixed up with Saffy’s science presentation at the university.
  • Season 3, Ep. 4: Jealous (1995): At a dinner to award the prize to the best P.R. consultant Eddy is not happy when she loses out to rival Claudia Bing. Later, at a P.R. meeting, Eddy loses her speech but makes another one. (A male teacher tries to seduce Saffy.)
  • Season 3, Ep. 5: Fear (1995):  Despite their frequent conflicts Eddy feels lost when Saffy moves out to live in college and drinks herself unconscious. When she wakes up she finds Patsy and her colleagues in her kitchen as their magazine has gone bust and Patsy is considering a move to New York for another job offer. They start out bonding in the bathroom but end up arguing; Patsy takes the NY job and Eddy decides to do her own thing. One of my favourites.
  • Season 3, Ep. 6: The End (1995): Eddy goes to live in a commune but doesn’t fit in (“stick! stick!”) Patsy’s not enjoying New York, either. (Bo, Eddy’s ex, Marshall’s, girlfriend, marries the richest man in town, Patsy’s publisher, right before he dies … or maybe right after.) Eddy turns up in a helicopter and finds Patsy drinking on a skyscraper rooftop.

Ballykissangel (all re-screenings):

  • Season 1, Ep. 1: Trying to Connect You (1996): Father Peter Clifford arrives at his new church in Ballykissangel, meets Assumpta.
  • Season 1, Ep. 2 The Things We Do for Love (1996): While trying to save a caravan family from losing their home, Peter is greeted by a young woman from his past and rumors begin to circulate when the two are seen together.
  • Season 1, Ep. 3: Live in My Heart and Pay No Rent (1996): After a near miss from a falling statue of a saint, Ambrose feels he has a vocation, being pulled towards the priesthood. However doing so means ending his engagement to Niamh.

September

BallyKissangelBallykissangel (all re-screenings):

  • Season 1 , Ep. 4: Fallen Angel (1996): Ballykissangel gets its own underground, unlicensed radio station, and Father Clifford takes driving lessons with Assumpta.
  • Season 1, Ep. 5:  The Power and the Gory (1996): Following the death of a local politician, Brian Quigley begins campaigning for the vacant position, while his assistants find some bones on the site of Quigley’s new development. Assumpta’s college boyfriend,  Leo, a reporter, comes to town.
  • Season 1, Ep. 6: Missing You Already (1996): Brian Quigley brings a fair to the town, along with his own bar and grill, putting Assumpta out of business for the weekend. But while Assumpta contemplates the possibility that she might lose her business, Father Clifford must accept his possible departure from BallyK.
  • Season 2, Ep 1: For One Night Only (1997): Sparks fly when Father Peter casts Assumpta in the village play.
  • Season 2, Ep 2:  River Dance (1997): Brendan may lose his job as head school teacher, and Liam & Donal open Our Lady of the Bonanza.
  • Season 2, Ep 3: In The Can (1997):  Former one hit wonder Enda Sullivan takes Assumpta out on a date, and Fr Peter recruits him to play at a Gospel Mass.
  • Season 2, Ep 4: The Facts Of Life  (1997): Peter finds an abandoned newborn on his step and attempts to reunite the family. Ambrose slips in the tub and a new Garda arrives in BallyK.
  • Season 2, Ep 5: Someone To Watch Over Me (1997): Quigley gets a overly flirtatious housekeeper.
  • Season 2, Ep 6: Only Skin Deep (1997): Quigley sets up a town beauty contest as part of the village festival.
  • Season 2, Ep 7: Money, Money, Money (1997): A fire guts Kathleen’s home and the villagers help her rebuild. When Peter gets wrong information on a dog race, the town turns to a poker tournament to help her out.
  • Season 2, Ep 8: Chinese Whispers (1997): Two strangers cause chaos when the villagers think they are from the revenue service.
  • Season 3, Ep 1: As Happy As A Turkey On Boxing Day (1998):  Everyone’s Christmas plans fall apart when Padraig’s son, Kevin, falls down a mine shaft, and Fr. Mac’s nephew Timmy, a priest in training, visits.
  • Season 3, Ep 2: When A Child Is Born (1998): With the birth of Niamh’s baby approaching, Ambrose’s mother arrives to help. Meanwhile, Kathleen discovers a ‘miracle’ at the Church. Peter experiences some doubt about his vocation.

Doc Martin, Season 5 (2011):

  • Preserve the Romance: Martin drives Louisa and their baby son back to her house in Portwenn, where Martin’s nervous replacement, Diana Dibbs, is already having problems. Then Martin learns that his aunt Joan has died, causing him to stay for a week for her funeral.
  • Dry Your Tears:  Portwenn gathers to pay its last respects to Joan at a less than perfect funeral. His parents do not show up but Joan’s sister Ruth does, and is surprised to find Joan has left her the small-holding.
  • Born with a Shotgun : Ruth is disturbed when reclusive neighbour Shirley Dunwich tells her that her surly young son Michael is trying to poison her.
  • Mother Knows Best: As the first annual Portwenn charity fun run leads to unfit casualties and a price war between Bert and publican Mark Bridge.  Louisa’s feckless, long-absent mother Eleanor turns up at the surgery.
  • Remember Me:  Joe Penhale is shocked when his ex-wife Maggie, seemingly amnesiac and believing that they are still married, arrives in Portwenn. Heavily in debt, Bert Large falls in with the local loan shark.
  • Don’t Let Go: As Maggie regains her memory and aims to leave Portwenn, a desperate Joe tries to impress her into staying by being assertive. Louisa returns to school where the children fall prey to a mystery illness which Martin links to demented caretaker Mr. Coley, who has inhaled carbon monoxide fumes and cleaned the school floors with fertilizer.
  • Cats and Sharks: Al is shocked to hear that his father is in debt to loan shark Alistair Tonken and his menacing son Norman and lends him the money that Ruth gave him to buy a new fence. Eleanor keels over with a hernia that needs emergency repair.
  • Ever After: Mrs. Tishell volunteers to mind Louisa and Martin’s son but she has long nurtured a hidden love for Martin – even creating a shrine to him in her wardrobe – and now, after an excess of self-prescribed drugs, she flips and runs off with James.

October

Ballykissangel (all re-screenings):

  • Season 3, Ep 3: Changing Times (1998): Brian’s latest venture to attract Korean investors is bulldozing a local beauty spot where badger sand orchids live.
  • Season 3, Ep 4: Stardust in Your Eyes (1998): Quigley tries to impress potential investors while his daughter struggles to balance work and motherhood.

Hospitalité (2010; orig title: Kantai). This review at Hollywood Reporter describes the plot well: “Mikio Kobayashi runs a small printing business … in [a] house that doubles as his workshop and shop-front. One day, a dodgy-looking man [Kawaga] turns up, ostensibly to offer news of the parakeet that Kobayashi’s daughter Eriko lost. … Kobayashi hires him as a temporary replacement for a sick employee. The expression ‘give him an inch, he’ll take a mile’ seems to be coined specifically for Kawaga. First, he asks to move in with his employers, next he brings home his Brazilian wife Annabelle (she says she’s Bosnian to someone else) who loves parading herself naked. Together, they stir up the hornet’s nest in the household, and lay the groundwork for an ‘alien invasion.’ This docile, non-descript petite-bourgeois family may seem like the bedrock of society, but all the members have a past that they prefer to hide. What Kagawa achieves is not just to drag skeletons out of the closet, but to decree a Saturnalia that liberates them from their conventional mindsets and behavior, symbolized by wimpy Kobayashi talking back to his busybody neighbors who are paranoid about homeless and foreigners.” I was underwhelmed but maybe that’s how the movie is supposed to work.

Ballykissangel (all re-screenings):

  • Season 3, Ep 5: The Fortune in Men’s Eyes (1998): Quigley takes an interest in Ambrose’s mother after learning she inherited some money.
  • Season 3, Ep 6: I Know When I’m Not Wanted (1998): Assumpta returns home with her new husband and Peter returns home to find his lodgings have been re-let and the townfolks are at each other’s throats.
  • Season 3, Ep 7: Personal Call  (1998):  Assumpta’s marriage is faltering and she starts a women’s empowerment group; Father Mac has heart problems; and Quigley’s financial situation worsens.
  • Season 3, Ep 8: Lost Sheep (1998): Siobhan is stunned when she discovers she is pregnant and is confused as to what to do. Assumpta’s marriage takes a turn for the worse.
  • Season 3, Ep 9: The Waiting Game (1998): The whole town waits for the anonymous lottery winner in Ballykissangel to claim their prize. Ambrose goes undercover at a pub in Cilldargan.
  • Season 3, Ep 10: Pack Up Your Troubles (1998): Brian starts up a paint ball camp. Assumpta returns to Ballykissangel a single woman.
  • Season 3, Ep 11: The Reckoning (1998): Peter finally admits his true feelings for Assumpta while the town participates in a Far East cooking competition.
  • Season 3, Ep 12: Amongst Friends (1998): Ballykissangel is in mourning after the recent tragedy when a journalist stumbles into the town searching for a story. Peter must come to a decision about what he must do as a priest and the choices he must make for himself.

After Life dvd coverAfter Life (Wandafuru Raifu;1998; in Japanese with subtitles) – Perhaps my 5th and 6th times watching this little gem, a light-hearted, sweet  (but not funny) film envisioning one version of an afterlife. So many ideas explored in this movie: the nature of memory, the purpose of life, what makes a good life, what happens after we die, what is happiness?

November

Rescreenings of AbFab:

  • Season 3: Happy New Year ; Sex
  • Season 4: Parralox ; Fish Farm ; Paris ; Donkey; Small Opening ; Menopause

Rescreening of Poirots:

  • Taken at the Flood (2006): A young widow is left in sole possession of her late husband’s fortune, and her controlling brother refuses to share it with her in-laws — so they enlist Poirot to try to prove that the widow’s missing first husband might not be dead after all.
  • Third Girl (2008): After a seemingly neurotic young heiress tells Ariadne Oliver and Poirot that she thinks she may have killed someone, her ex-nanny is found with her wrists slashed.
  • Cards on the Table (2005): The enigmatic, sinister Mr. Shaitana invites 8 guests, 4 of them possible murderers and 4 ‘detectives’ (incuding Ariadne Oliver) to his opulent apartment. Then a murder takes place.
  • The Adventure of the Cheap Flat (1990): A young couple is surprised to find such an amazing flat to let for such a reasonable price. Then they’re caught up in the FBI’s tracking of stolen plans for a U.S. Navy submarine. Includes Hastings and Japp.
  • Death in the Clouds (1992): After spending a bit of a holiday in Paris, Poirot finds himself on a flight to London with an odd assortment of people, some of whom he had met during his stay. When one of the passengers, Madame Gisele, a well-known moneylender, is murdered during the flight by a poisoned dart, Poirot is asked by Inspector Japp of Scotland Yard to assist with the investigation.
  • One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (1992): After Poirot pays a routine visit to his dentist, the doctor apparently shoots himself to death a short time later. Includes Chief Inspector Japp.

December

Rescreening of Miss Marples:

  • Murder at the Vicarage (1986): Faced with two false confessions and numerous suspects after a despised civil magistrate is found shot in the local vicarage, Detective Inspector Slack reluctantly accepts help from Miss Marple (Joan Hickson).
  • Nemesis (1987) : Miss Marple (Joan Hickson) receives a cryptic letter requesting her to right an unknown injustice, but receives no hint other than a ticket for guided tour of historic homes.

A Late Quartet (2012 – new) with Christopher Walken, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots. Really a sweet gem of a movie, something most artists will appreciate seeing, though a little soap-operaish. For me, the central question of the movie involves control and disciple vs. risk and passion in art … and in life. The plot is simple: a string quartet is losing one of its members and the loss precipitates other changes among the group members and relationships.

Auntie Mame (1958; rescreening): An orphan goes to live with his free-spirited aunt (Rosalind Russell). Conflict ensues when the executor of his father’s estate objects to the aunt’s unconventional lifestyle. Set in the Roaring 20s and the Depression. One of my favourites.

Hitchcock (2012) with Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. “A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959. ” The story felt pretty thin to me but the acting was fun to watch.

The House Without A Christmas Tree (1972). A favourite from my childhood. Ten-year-old Addie Mills (Lisa Lucas) wants a Christmas tree but her grieving, widowed father (Jason Robards) thinks she needs to learn you can’t have everything you want in this life. Her grandmother (his mother; Mildred Natwick) wishes he would change his mind. Set in 1946 rural Nebraska. Charming.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989): Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) just wants his family to have a fun-filled good old-fashioned family Christmas. With Randy Quaid, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis, EG Marshall, Doris Roberts, et al.

Christmas in Connecticut (1945): Barbara Stanwyck, Dennis Morgan, Reginald Gardner, Robert Shayne, S.K. Sakall. A navy war hero comes to the Connecticut countryside for a homey Christmas with a magazine food writer, her persistent beau, her obstreperous boss, her Hungarian cook, etc. Hijinks and cat-a-strophe ensue as she tries to hide that she isn’t married, doesn’t have a baby (or two), can’t cook, and doesn’t live in this house …. as she and the war hero fall in love.

Teletubbies’ Christmas in the Snow (2004), with videos of kids in Finland, South Africa, Spain, and the UK celebrating Christmas with their own traditions.

Bob Newhart episode, Season 2: I’m Dreaming of a Slight Christmas (1973): A power outage and blizzard keeps Bob at the office late on Christmas Eve.

Bob Newhart episode, season 3: Home is Where the Hurt Is (1974): Carol spends Christmas Eve telling Bob and Emily all about her depressing childhood.

Mary Tyler Moore episode: Christmas and the Hard-Luck Kid – II (1970): Mary has to spend Christmas at work.

Family episode: The Christmas Story (aka On the First Day of Christmas; 1976): Doug’s father brings a much younger woman, with a high-profile past, to join in the Christmas festivities at the Lawrences’; Nancy is upset that Jeff plans to take Timmy on a cruise for Christmas.

Good Neighbors’ Christmas Special (1977): One of the best. Margo sends her Christmas from Harrod’s back to the store and she and Jerry are invited to Tom and Barbara’s for some simple holiday fun.

Dame Edna Christmas SpecialDame Edna’s Christmas Experience (1987): Spooky fun with Lulu, Roger Moore and Dennis Healy MP.

One Special Night (1999), TV movie with Julie Andrews and James Garner. Catherine, a widowed pediatric cardiologist, and Robert, a builder whose wife has Alzheimers and is in failing health, meet and are stranded together overnight after leaving a nursing home in a blizzard on Thanksgiving, then run into each other again on Christmas. A favourite.

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