Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Fascinating Movies, TV & Books

For Mask Photos, please see "Need a Mask" (4/25/20). 
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From The Orlando Sentinel, May 7, 2020
If you can't read the captions, the ship is:  PHASED REOPENING; the mines - SO like the graphics of Covid-19 - are:  VIRUS COMEBACK

The cartoon above is an excellent depiction of what most experts fear will happen if we reopen too soon. I happen to believe them, though I would be delighted to be proved wrong. I absolutely, positively do not want to repeat the six weeks just past. I do NOT want to see the death toll go back up - the toll so heavily weighted against the fragile, the poor, and those who feel forced back to work. (No Unemployment checks for those who refuse to return to work.) Sadly, it would appear that too many Americans, including many government officials, do not have the guts to stick it out. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln would be ashamed. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Winston Churchill (whose mother was American) would be ashamed. While doctors and nurses, first responders, and others with essential jobs risk their lives to save others, we can't be bothered to wear a mask or space ourselves out in a line? And then there are those who just want to party and belly up to the bar. We're such crybabies we're willing to see people die so we can get a haircut or go to the gym? Shame on us all. 

Okay, enough ranting. I'm still hoping we'll squeak by despite the lack of backbone in so many of our governors (and the usual idiocy in Washington). On to a lighter topic . . .

I offer the following list for all the wise ones looking for a good "read" and for those looking for movies or TV series to keep the family amused (beyond Disney for the little ones). Grace note:  this is an expansion of my post of March 7, 2020. Movies & TV this week, books next week.

That Have Kept My Spirits UP


 Although I've been making masks like mad, squeezing in work on my next Regency Gothic, The Vicar's Daughter, as well as proofing a print version of The Ghosts of Rushton Court, I gave up attempting to work at night a number of years ago and have been indulging in a variety of old favorite books, TV, and movies to keep my spirits up, plus adding a few special "new and wonderful" titles to my list.

Firstly, a couple of movies (available on Netflix) I have seen during the past couple of weeks, although they were made almost 20 years apart:  Parasite and Pearl Harbor

Parasite is almost impossible to describe, except you know a foreign language film with subtitles has to be truly exceptional to win an Oscar. And, believe me, Parasite is a work of genius. A unique idea brilliantly presented - not to be missed. Just remember, you have to watch closely - there's no way to understand this one without reading the subtitles.

Pearl Harbor - did I see this film back in 2001? Surely I'd remember it if I had, for it is a rather remarkable recreation of what happened in 1941 and early 1942, ranging from the Battle of Britain to Doolittle's raid on Tokyo, with a protracted re-staging of the attack on Pearl Harbor in between. Yes, it's hoked up with the inevitable Hollywood romance, but it's not just movies that use personalization to add to the impact of history. We writers do it all the time. Since I remember Pearl Harbor (though I was young enough to think it was an island off the New England coast, where we lived at the time—so much for my parents' attempts to shield me from news!), I recognized the accuracy of so much of the film, from FDR's statements to those of Admiral Yamamoto. From the radar operator who was told the "incoming" was a flight of B-17s from the mainland U.S. to the warning note received from Washington an hour after the attack. From the devastation of the U.S.S. Arizona to all our fighter planes that were destroyed before they ever got off the ground. From the cook who took over a machine gun to the nurses collecting donated blood in coke bottles. If you want to see what REAL devastation is like, watch Pearl Harbor

Grace note:  In 1959, the year Hawaii became a state, I accompanied my mother on a research trip to Hawaii, where she was going to set her next children's book. They rolled out the red carpet for us, making sure we toured not only Oahu but Kauai, the Big Island of Hawaii, and Maui. Included in our tour of Honolulu was the Arizona. Not the lovely white memorial people see today, but a view of the actual superstructure sticking up out of the bay. A dramatic and sobering sight. I will forever be glad I saw "the real ship" instead of the memorial built on top of it.

Other movies I've enjoyed over the past few weeks:

For the Love of Spock. A documentary made by Leonard Nimoy's son, which may very well surprise you, as well as give you inside information about one of the great characters of our time. Thought you knew Mr. Spock? Well, I've got news for you . . .

The Downton Abbey movie.  A "must" for devoted "Downton" fans. All your favorite characters back again, with a hint of more to come.

Won't You Be My Neighbor? The poignant story of Fred Rogers, his days in the Neighborhood and his time not in the neighborhood. A "must" for those who grew up with the quiet all-embracing love of Mr. Rogers and for those who would like their children to see why this man had such a special place in their lives. 

Air Strike. I fell into this one by accident, attracted by a WWII story and Bruce Willis. Was totally surprised to discover the movie was Chinese made, depicting part of the story of what China suffered from the Japanese invasion, including the true story of the American who led the tiny Chinese Air Force into battle against the Japanese several years BEFORE Pearl Harbor. 

Television Series


What would I do without Acorn (the Public Broadcasting network)? It is absolutely chock-full of fascinating series - something for everyone, though I stick pretty much to the Mysteries.

Midsomer Murders. An all-time favorite, now on 20+ years. So glad there are a few episodes I still haven't seen, though I never mind a repeat. They are consistently top-notch.

The Brokenwood Mysteries. A not-to-be missed series from New Zealand. Clever stories, wonderful characters, great scenery, though the accent is sometimes a bit daunting. (There's one character I have yet to understand more than one word in ten.)

Miss Fisher Mysteries. A delightful series from Australia. I was already starting on these a second time before the Covid-19 crisis. They are absolutely guaranteed to challenge your who-dun-it gene while bringing a smile to your lips. And our leading lady's outfits are to die for! Also, the Miss Fisher movie, just out, is worth a look, though I still prefer the series.


Green Arrow. If you like Super Heros, there's always another episode in this lengthy series. Although it reached a point a bit dark for me during the current crisis, it is definitely worth watching by those who enjoy a rousing tale of a Super Hero and his devoted friends.

The Protector.   Okay, you've never heard of this Turkish-made Super Hero series, but it's worth taking a look. I was in Istanbul in 2015 and find the views of the city endlessly fascinating. The stories and attitudes clearly diverge from Western culture, but the dubbed American dialogue is the best I've ever heard. This series gives us a look at the modern-day city that was once the heart of the Ottoman Empire, a city that sits in the middle between two cultures and still manages to be itself. Like all Super Hero tales, you have to take it with a grain of salt, but the scenery, from the Bosporus to the inner city—Wow! And, oh yes, you might be surprised to discover the women are strong and dynamic. Like the Green Arrow, the Protector has some pretty amazing friends.

To be continued next week.

~ * ~

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  1. When we watch Brokenwood we turn the captions on. Otherwise I'm guessing at a lot of the story.

  2. I would add, we do this even though we have Kiwi friends and spent 10 days in New Zealand back in 1997. Our friends are so international they were very easy to understand, but for general use the accent did take some getting used to. I like Brokenwood just to hear it again, even though I've lost my ear for it.

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