By Bruce A. Smith
To those of us sniffling, coughing, hacking, and otherwise dealing with illnesses, may I suggest a few good movies and TV shows that I’ve enjoyed during my past two weeks laid up with bronchitis.
1. The Irishman – Netflix. It’s the epic, 3.5 hour long, tale of a hit man who worked for a variety of Mafioso and related folks like Jimmy Hoffa. Exhausting, but good.
2. The Two Popes – Netflix. This is a surprise treat. Excellent movie about the transfer of power from Pope Benedict to Francis. Fascinating, moving, and a great exploration of the dynamics at work inside the Catholic Church. I wept at the end; it was that good a movie.
3. Killing Eve – Hulu. A charming, yet gripping, tale of an MI 6 agent and a freelance assassin who fall in love with each other while one is causing havoc in Europe and the other tries to stop her. Sandra Oh, as Eve, won an Emmy. Her lover, Villanelle, played by Judy Comer, is Oh’s equal.
4. Occupied, Season Three – Netflix. This is one of the best written, most fantastically creative and intelligent TV shows ever. It is a Norwegian TV series that takes place in the near future – 2030-2034 or so. It follows the political, social, economic and military impacts as Norway seeks to confront rising sea levels in northern Europe due to climate change. In response to devastating shoreline and maritime destruction, such as loss of fisheries and coastal cities, Norway stops all production of oil and natural gas production at its wells in the North Sea. This triggers profound responses from the EU, who are then subjected to intense economic and public pressures by the then 500 million folks who live in Europe. The EU convinces Russia to stage a bloodless coup in Norway, take over the oil fields, and restore production. Season 1 is that story. Season 2 is the rebellion within Norway as freedom fighters try to throw out the Russkies without any EU, NATO, or US support. The freedom fighters lose, but everyone in Norway has taken a side – whom to ally with, whom to trust, whom to fight, etc. The shifting alliances are intense and tragic. Season 3 just came out January 1, and it shows all the backroom deals energy suppliers engage to insure continued relative economic prosperity and political stability while Norway is gripped by attacks against collaborators, profiteers, Russian oil workers, etc. Until the Green Party hackers get going and sabotage the energy grids of western Europe.
5. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – Netflix. The 6th season – and its best – has just come out of this, Jerry Seinfeld’s quirky but fascinating series of interviews with the leading comics of our day, such as Eddie Murphy, Kate McKinnon, Tracey Morgan and Ellen DeGeneres. Insightful, heartfelt, light-hearted, and very educational about the art of making people laugh. Each show is about 20 minutes and is a sweet cup of java for the mind.
6. Hitler’s Last Stand – Hulu. This six-part series covers pivotal battles of the western allies attack on Nazi Germany. Each episode is superbly researched and offers keen insights to the sacrifices and challenges each side faced. The last episode is the kicker – the Battle of Itter Castle in northern Austria, the only known battle of WW II where US armored personnel and their tanks joined forces with regular German Wehrmacht infantry to defend prisoners of war against their extermination by 150 SS fanatics. This battle took place in the Alps five days after Hitler’s death and two days before Germany’s surrender.
7. Madam Secretary – Amazon. Season 6. The final season of this sweet, smart, and satisfying political drama culminates in M-Sec’s becoming the first woman president of the United States. Not as good at times as Seasons 1-5, which were Rock Solid, but the crew finds its way by the end. I wept saying goodbye to some really stellar characters.
How to Watch:
I get the medium level Netflix package for 12 bucks a month. Hulu is $15, and Amazon $10 and change, but it’s the limited package.