October climaxed with a six-night Carnival cruise to Mexico (on their Miracle ship). It was a Halloween cruise, and I celebrated by dressing up as a cowboy and performing Josh Turner and Brad Paisley songs at karaoke. I only saw three movies this month (although I walked out of a fourth, called Certain Women). TV: I started watching a new series, The Good Place, starring Ted Danson and Kristen Bell; it is quite amusing, which is not surprising, given that it’s from Parks and Recreation creator Michael Schur. Books: I finished Sleep Tight (Rachel Abbott) on audio, but her latest thriller isn’t available for purchase in this country on audio! I have also been reading an old pulp novel called Don’t Crowd Me by Evan Hunter. Music: I’ve been drilling my 1976 playlist..to be continued in November.
Here are the movies I saw in October:
DENIAL (2016)—Based on a real-life court case, this outstanding low-budget drama features Rachel Weisz as an author who is sued for libel by a notorious Holocaust denier (played by the great British actor Timothy Spall). Quite thought-provoking and absorbing—one of the year’s best. (9)
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (2016)—Although I noticed a few modifications to the original Paula Hawkins novel, which I read and greatly enjoyed about a year ago, the filmmakers have stuck pretty closely to the source material. Reviews were mixed, but the film version is quite enjoyable, with a stellar cast. For some reason they changed the setting from the UK to the USA, but at least Emily Blunt represents at least part of the Englishness of the story. Very good psychological suspense thriller. (8.5)
MOONLIGHT (2016)—Once every year or two, a film is released to universally positive acclaim, but it just strikes me as boring garbage. Recent examples include The Lobster and Beasts of the Southern Wild, both of which were absolute torture to sit through, and yet they earned rave reviews. Another was This Is Not a Film, a documentary that made me want to boycott the theater. (It currently holds a 98% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) This year’s sleep inducer is Moonlight, a movie that resembles Boyhood in that it’s a coming-of-age story tracking the life of a child as he grows into manhood. The boy in this case is Kevin, a shy, largely non-communicative black youth wrestling with his homosexuality. In the first two parts of the movie, he is bullied in elementary and then high school; in the last part, he’s an adult reconnecting with a classmate from Part 2. Both Joan and I found this movie excruciating to sit through—especially the interminable third section, which was devastatingly slow-moving and dull. Another debit: bafflingly, the three actors chosen to essay Kevin look utterly nothing like each other! However, I should mention that Naomie Harris was excellent as Kevin’s mother. (3)