Summer is, to be perfectly honest, my least favorite time of the year. The heat is sticky and smothering, and school is out…which means there isn’t nearly as much structure as Yours Truly normally enjoys.
I’m remembering some words of wisdom my World War II-veteran friend told me last week at church, though. When I asked him what his plans for the 4th of July were, he just smiled and said, “Oh, I never think that far ahead…I take each day as it comes.”
So. (*takes a deep breath*) I’m trying to live in the now and be grateful–not only for this temporary writing respite that I definitely need, but for the time I’ve spent with my family doing fun things–like swimming!
I’ve gotten to enjoy some good shows and movies lately, too…so here’s a quick blurb on each one.
I watched this TV series with my sister Anna and my dear blogger/Twitter friend Wendy over at The Jumping Bean. (Wendy and I DM’d each other constantly about it. “How far did you get today?” “I just couldn’t even with that scene…” “That part was so saaaaaad!“) Wolf Hall is the somewhat-fictionalized story of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s most trusted…henchman or counselor, whatever floats your boat. I was hoping Claire Foy would portray the cinematic Anne Boleyn I’ve been dreaming about for years. I was disappointed on that count; it still made her out to be a shrew and I grumbled a lot. But it was good insofar as it accurately showed the political/spiritual tension between the Roman Church and the Reformation, and humanized every character. Which isn’t easy to do when you’re dealing with people who lived 500 years ago and tend to be surrounded by myth and legend.
Mark Rylance as Cromwell is a delight; I’ve loved him ever since I saw Tom Hanks’ Bridge of Spies and I can’t wait to see him again in Dunkirk. His facial expressions are the best! On the other hand, I’m still trying to figure out what kind of astronomical level of talent allows Damian Lewis to play somebody as good and kind as Dick Winters and then play Henry VIII. I’ll let you know when I wrap my mind around it.
Call the Midwife (Season 6)
Call the Midwife is one of those rare shows that just gets better with each season–and I’m pretty sure Season 6 was the best! My parents and I watched it every evening for about two weeks (give or take a few days–sometimes we couldn’t go to bed until we’d finished an episode) and agreed that these new stories were especially compelling and hard-hitting. There was one about a young man with Down Syndrome, another about female genital mutilation within certain Muslim communities, and yet another about domestic abuse. We also reunited with Baby Susan, who was deformed after her mother took Thalidomide in one of the previous seasons, and watched her get fitted for prosthetic limbs. Our nuns and midwives are as wonderful and wise as ever! My sole quibble was that we still had to deal with Patsy and Delia, the lesbian couple–but except for one scene at the very end, it’s discreet and easily skimmed over.
We’ve come a long way since the day Jenny Lee walked into Nonnatus House and learned about the ways and struggles of London’s East End. Midwives have come and gone, nuns have left the order to marry and have their own familes (or heal from deep inner pain), but some things are still the same. Love is still the prevailing theme…and Vanessa Redgrave is still narrating 😉
Unpopular opinion here? Please don’t pelt me with rotten tomatoes?? I’LL TRY TO SAY THIS NICELY.
The music is FANTASTIC (of course it is–Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote it–he is a genius). The animation is eye-poppingly gorgeous. Moana is a cute, spunky heroine. But the story was severely lacking, suffering from major plot holes (*whispers* why couldn’t the Ocean have just sent a tsunami crashing into Ta Ka at the very beginning and tossed the Heart into her chest?), vague themes, and very little character development on Moana’s part. Maui, the hilarious demigod voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, had more positive development than she did. The amount of Polynesian mythology, pantheism, and reincarnation was also troubling.
I realize I recently enjoyed a movie with Greek mythology in it, but that movie did have a well-told, clearly-defined, positive message attached to it as well. For a Disney film to show a grandma being reincarnated into a sting ray and for the Mother Goddess to be the island was disturbing.
That said, I’m still singing “I Am Moana” at the top of my lungs at any given opportunity.
(*historical fangirling intensifies*)
Hidden Figures is the incredible true story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson: African-American mathematicians, computer scientists, and engineers (respectively) who worked for NASA during the Space Race. The movie does take some artistic licenses–mainly with timing and composite characters–but these women really did defy racial and gender prejudices and made a tremendous impact on the space program! My family and I have been interested in the Space Race for years–my sister Emily is a walking encyclopedia of NASA trivia–but until we saw this movie we had never, ever heard of these women. I ended up reading more about Katherine Johnson and learned that she and her calculations didn’t just help get John Glenn into space–she also had a hand in getting the Apollo 13 astronauts back home after they had an explosion on their spacecraft.
I know good and well I’m not nearly as brilliant Katherine Johnson (I fully admit, I cried my way through mathematics), but she’s still what I aspire to be: a hard-working, intelligent, kindhearted woman who knows her worth, no matter what the rest of the world thinks or says about her.
Wolf Hall: B (recommended for people already familiar with the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn; not for younger viewers)
Call the Midwife Season 6: A+ (not for younger viewers)
Moana: C (not for unattended younger viewers; worldview discussions necessary)
Hidden Figures: A (some mild language, but my little sibs thoroughly enjoyed this with mommy-supervision)