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Friday 28 August 2020

Friday Favourites - August Edition

Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton listening to the podcasts she reviews once a month in Friday Favourites, while out hiking
It's nearly September! We got through lockdown, summer is bowing out, but we're still not back to normal in terms of going out and having holidays abroad. Soon it will get darker earlier and we'll be spending even more time at home. Let's hope the broadcasters have some good programmes in store for us.

For this month's round-up I've got a wide selection of what I've enjoyed / am enjoying.

TV Hits

 The Last Wave (BBC iPlayer)

The surfers in The Last Wave prepare to flee as the mysterious cloud above circles

I really enjoyed this French drama.  The quiet seaside town of Brizan is preparing for a surfing competition when suddenly a mysterious cloud appears. The surfers disappear with no trace, and then return with strange abilities. It's humanity against nature, and nature is winning. It helps that the children and adults are nearly all gorgeous to look at. That creepy old cloud stayed with me for a long time.  I still keep expecting to see it.

The Morning Show (Apple TV)

Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon in The Morning Show for Apple TV

We finally got Apple TV, although it was fairly tricky to set up on our TV,  and still involves an ipad and pressing the play button manually.

I'd heard great things about The Morning Show and it hasn't disappointed. You can tell right away this is a big budget quality drama - $15 million per episode, the same price tag allegedly spent on each installment of Game of Thrones' final season.

It's loosely based on Brian Stelter’s 2013 book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.

It's a #MeToo drama for our times. Morning Show presenter Mitch Kessler is suddenly fired for Harvey Weinstein type indiscretions.  But how much was his behavior tolerated, and how damaging will it be for his co-presenter Alex? (Jennifer Aniston). She seems to relish getting her teeth into the role as feisty and scheming Alex. The final episode of season 1 was utterly gripping! For once you couldn't predict the ending.

TV Misses

A couple that I tried but lost interest in:  The Bureau (Prime) and Lucifer (Prime).  After discovering Call My Agent and The Last Wave, I was scouring the channels for French content and found The Bureau which has had great reviews.  Unfortunately I found it a bit too ponderous and slow.

Lucifer is an American urban fantasy television series, starring Tom Ellis  (the love interest in Miranda Hart's comedy series). I am generally repelled by anything that features ghosts, vampires, angels and devils, so seeing as Lucifer is a demon released from hell and now living in LA, this was never going to do well with me.

Films:  Greyhound (Apple TV)

Tom Hanks in Greyhound, a fictional take on The Battle of the Atlantic in WW2

Greyhound is a WW2 drama starring Tom Hanks and one of the star attractions on Apple TV. In a story inspired by true events, Ernest Krause (Hanks) is assigned to lead an Allied convoy across the Atlantic during World War II. As his convoy enters a zone where air cover is not possible, the ships are pursued by German U-boats. Although this is Krause's first wartime mission, he finds himself embroiled in what would come to be known as the longest, largest and most complex naval battle in history: The Battle of the Atlantic.

The film started in traditional wartime movie fashion with a back story for Krause, whose girlfriend wanted him to postpone his wedding proposal, accompanied by swelling violins.  But as soon as the action began at sea, all this disappeared and the film was entirely focused on the battles, with hardly any character development beyond that of Krause, who battles on tirelessly, refusing food and sleep.So in a sense it was disappointing, as one U-boat battle seemed to merge into the next.

The Lighthouse (Prime, Netflix, Hulu)

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as two lighthousemen in The Lighthouse
Willem Dafoe is always highly watchable when he plays mysterious characters who are a touch unhinged. Now he has serious competition from Robert Pattinson, who gives a sublime performance alongside the maestro.  A lighthouse keeper (Dafoe) and his assistant are sent to a deserted outcrop off Maine in the 1890s. Unable to leave, things take a dark and despairing turn as they both start to lose their minds.   It's a hallucinatory, disturbing and visually stunning film.

What I've Been Reading

I go through phases where I prefer biographies or memoirs to fiction, and this is one of them.  I'm always fascinated by anything to do with forensic pathology. Pathologist Richard Shepherd has performed over 23,000 autopsies, including some of the most high-profile cases of recent times; the Hungerford Massacre, the Princess Diana inquiry, and 9/11. And this has come at a great cost to his personal life.

In his book Unnatural Causes, Shepherd produces a real tour de force, a gripping and haunting account of his encounters with the dead and the impact on him a few years later.

What I've Been Listening To: Podcasts

Paradise  (BBC Radio 5 Live) tells the story of how Facebook helped to solve a 1978 murder mystery. A young couple from Manchester were on the adventure of a lifetime, backpacking through Belize. Suddenly their family stopped receiving letters and phone calls. Their bodies were found floating off the coast of Guatemala. They had been weighed down with engine parts and the autopsy showed that they has been horrifically tortured. But what actually happened to them, and why was no-one arrested?
Artwork for the Paradise Podcast from BBC Radio 5 Live

Women Living Well After 50

I was introduced to the podcast Women Living Well After 50 by the Australian blog Deb's World.  To be honest, I generally avoid the fast growing genre of podcasts for women over 50 because they concentrate too much on the downsides.

It's presented by Sue Loncaric from blog Sixty + Me. Sue gets her teeth into some weighty topics: dealing with a weak pelvic floor, understanding HRT, The 5 benefits of connecting with your life purpose, and productivity & mindset for the midlife entrepreneur.  Although some of the episodes deal with the definite downsides of being middle-aged, Sue has a positive and no-nonsense attitude and presents some well argued solutions.

How to listen to a podcast

Download one of the popular apps onto your phone or tablet.  I like Pocket Podcasts, Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Browse genres you're most interested in and find a few podcasts to listen to.  I love listening when I'm on long car journeys or out walking.

That's it for August. Do share any of your discoveries in the comments below.  I'm back on Monday with the Style Not Age Challenge - and this month I set the challenge.  Come over to see what it was.

Sharing this post with #Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings and Fabulous Friday at Lucy Bertoldi


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