75th Golden Globe Awards

Tonight was the airing of the first of two award shows that I watch each year. The Golden Globes, which honors both film and television, presented its 75th ceremony. Seth Meyers hosted the live event in Beverly Hills, California.

Hollywood has experienced a huge shake up in recent months, as victims of sexual harassment and abuse, both female and male, have found their voices and come forth, breaking their silences. People in positions of power…directors, actors, television personalities and politicians…have toppled, losing jobs and careers, and facing charges and future convictions.

I love the story-telling medium of film, and good television. Movies, especially, have long spoken to me, teaching me deep truths about the world and myself. However, it was time for this shakedown…long past, rather. I stand wholeheartedly in support with those who have suffered abuse and harassment and have found the courage to speak up.

I wasn’t sure how tonight’s Golden Globes would go, as the industry emerges from a dark time into the light of change. I was not disappointed with how the Globes’ host, presenters and those being honored rose to shine.

Differences in tonight’s show were immediately apparent. The majority of the attendees wore black, not to be dull, but to stand in solidarity. There is mourning in Hollywood over wrongs that have been covered up for too long. Black was a very appropriate color to signify unity among a group of women and men who are saying “no more”.

They are saying, in fact, #TimesUp. This hash tag was used throughout the evening as a bold statement to say, Times up on sexual harassment, homophobia, gender inequality and racism.

I was very proud of the film industry tonight. I applauded, as I usually do, over the winners. I laughed, and teared up, over the acceptance speeches. I noted which movies and television series I’d most like to view. My heart was moved, however, by the devotion to change that I saw tonight. In Hollywood, in the world, things will only change when people change. I didn’t hear blame cast tonight on the “other” people. Instead, actors, actresses, directors, song writers, and a multitude of others shouldered responsibility and vowed to make a difference.

I cheered with the audience when host Seth Meyers addressed the women in the room with great sincerity and said, “I look forward to you leading us to whatever comes next…”

I nodded in agreement with Elizabeth Moss, Best Actress – Television Drama winner for The Handmaid’s Tale, who shared, “We are writing these stories now ourselves…”

I applauded Oprah Winfrey’s moving speech as she accepted this year’s Cecil B DeMille award. She promised, “A new day is on the horizon…”

And I squealed when This is Me won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song. I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me.

These women and men, these actresses and actors, and writers and directors, are agents of change. I witnessed the shifting of the tide tonight, amid recognition and happy acceptance speeches. I saw respect for one another, and fierce determination to bring about that change.

I have a list of award winning films and tv shows to watch. And an even longer list of beautiful life changers and shifters to watch and grow with. A new day is dawning, indeed.

Series Review: The Crown

I recently began watching the lavish Netflix original series, The Crown. I’m three quarters of the way through the first season, which premiered in November of 2016. Season two just released last month. The series has a projected run of six years. I’m glad. Being a history enthusiast, and one with a long time interest in the royalty of Europe, I am enchanted by this well done show.

The Crown stars Claire Foy, Matt Smith, John Lithgow, Victoria Hamilton, Vanessa Kirby, Jared Harris and Jeremy Northam. The historical drama, directed by Philip Martin and several others, is based upon the award winning play “The Audience” by showrunner Peter Morgan. It carries a Mature Audience rating, and has a weekly run time of 58 minutes.

The Crown chronicles the ascent to the throne of Elizabeth II (Foy) at age 25, after the death of her father, King George VI (Harris), and her life from the 1940s to current times. The king, who was more ill than his family realized, died unexpectedly, deeply affecting his wife, Queen Elizabeth I (Hamilton) and his daughters, the future queen and his younger child, Margaret (Kirby).

Elizabeth II has a young family with her husband, Philip Mountbatten (Smith), the Duke of Edinburgh, a naval officer whose career is on the rise. She expected to have years living a somewhat normal life with her growing family before she would be required to wear the crown. The first season covers the beginning of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and the intrigues and challenges of the monarchy, along with the political rivalries between an aging Winston Churchill (Lithgow) and prime minister hopeful Anthony Eden (Northam).

The focus of the series is on the relationship between the young Queen and her husband, the Prince. They must learn to live in this new world they find themselves in. Philip gives up his naval career, his last name and the home he shares with Elizabeth and their children, to become the Queen’s consort.

Elizabeth is in the important role of queen, which must take precedent over that of wife. She must adapt, and quickly, as the needs of the monarchy never cease.

I am not only enjoying this beautiful production, my perspectives about England’s royal family is shifting. The casting is excellent. Matt Smith embodies Prince Philip. I read he was given one piece of advice from Prince William, about playing the role. William described his father as “legendary “.

I feel strong sympathy toward Prince Philip. He knew he was marrying the future Queen of England. However, the ascension to the throne happened earlier than they dreamed possible. Philip finds himself in a role he doesn’t quite yet know how to play. He will never be king, and yet he is a pillar of quiet strength beside his wife.

Matt Smith and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Claire Foy and Queen Elizabeth II.

The newly crowned Queen draws my earnest respect. She was so young when she took the throne. And yet she shouldered the heavy and demanding responsibilities well, learning quickly, making decisions that oft times were contrary to tradition or against the wishes of the Queen Mother or her husband. I find her life fascinating, and I am already seeing the royal family as so much more than figureheads with a celebrity type status.

There were, and still are, many political decisions to sort through and masses of people to care for and a country to represent, all while living in one of the most elaborate glass houses in the world. This family is under constant scrutiny, and I can’t imagine living day to day under that kind of pressure.

John Lithgow as Winston Churchill.

I look forward to furthering my education about this powerful woman, and her stalwart Prince, who have, in reality, been married for 70 years. That is a lifetime together. I appreciate The Crown, and the peek I am getting into that extraordinary life.

Star Trek Discovery Fall Finale

I’ve already written about my excitement over the launch of this newest series in the Star Trek franchise. Tonight is the fall finale for Star Trek Discovery, as Episode 9 streams. Because I catch another show at 8:00 Sunday evenings, for one more week, I wait and watch Discovery after the hour long episode is over. The midway point in this year’s season provides the perfect opportunity to post an update about why I absolutely love this Star Trek.

Sunday evenings used to be my favorite night for television. For nine years, The X Files drew my viewing loyalty. Sunday night I was there, with Mulder and Scully. And while the original Star Trek and The Next Generation both aired on prime time television, the three series following TNG did not, at least not in Joplin. I watched Deep Space Nine, Voyager and Enterprise on Sunday nights at 10:30.

I didn’t mind the late hour. Everyone else would go to bed or to their rooms and the TV was mine. I am, and will always be, a Star Trek devotee. I watched it, whenever and wherever it was showing.

Which is why Sunday nights have become my favorite night for television again as Star Trek Discovery claimed that weekend spot. And why it was a no brainer for me to sign up for CBS All Access so that I could watch. That is the only way to catch episodes as they air. The cost for a year subscription was nominal. It is worth it to me.

It is SO worth it to me. I am loving Star Trek Discovery, with a passion that rivals my fondness for the original series. I am fully on board. The episodes are incredibly engaging, with movie quality cinematography, sets and special effects.

The crew is the most diverse yet, and that is high praise because all Star Trek series strive for that quality. The actors and actresses portraying those characters are just as diverse, extremely talented, and for being new at working together, have already developed strong connections with each other.

What I appreciate most about Discovery is that it is an edgier, darker Trek. I’ve only just figured out what it is that causes me to anticipate each episode, and set aside Sunday evenings to join the Discovery crew.

In the Star Trek timeline, Discovery’s events take place ten years before Captain Kirk steps onto the bridge of the Enterprise. By then, the starship functions as an exploratory vessel, charged with keeping peace in the universe and discovering strange new worlds as they boldly go.

Discovery is a war ship. The Federation is at war with the Klingon Houses. They aren’t boldly going on discovery missions so much as they are trying to survive and safeguard the universe. And here is what I am loving. This is a time of expansion and growth for the Federation. Captain Lorca doesn’t always take the moral high ground. He is a warrior more than a diplomat. He is a strategist, and he and his crew will do what it takes to win peace for the Federation.

Each crew member has his or her struggles. Michael Burnham, the series main character, is a mutineer who faces a life prison sentence. Tilly is full of doubts about her abilities. Lt Stamets wavers between snarkiness and self sacrifice. Saru is hardwired to feel fear every second of his life. These people…humans, non humans, androids…are in the process of becoming. It’s not always pretty. It’s messy and dark sometimes and gritty. But it has the ring of truth, of authenticity. That’s how lives…and organizations and Federations…transform. And that is what Discovery is all about, growth and transformation.

I can identify with that process, as can we all.

In Discovery’s time, we are seeing the huge shifts that take place in the universe that usher in the time of Kirk, Spock and Dr McCoy on Enterprise. For me, it is a journey worth taking. It gives me hope that fiction and fantasy aside, humanity is capable of making these same huge shifts that will ultimately bring about a different universe…or a different Earth at least. And like Discovery’s trek, ours can be just as gritty and edgy, and oft times it is fraught with perils.

We have to boldly go though, into that future, and we will figure it out as we go.

Star Trek Discovery returns for the spring season on January 7. I’ll be waiting…

Series Review: Versailles

I don’t watch a lot of television, preferring movies instead. However, when I find a series that grabs my attention and stays with me, invading my thoughts and even my dreams, I become a faithful follower. I had seen previews for the upcoming season two of a series called Versailles. Described as “opulent”, “addictive”, “intriguing”, and the “best series on television”, I became curious. Serendipitously, when I checked to see if episodes from season one were available, I discovered that the final two episodes of that first season were being televised at that very moment, ahead of this weekend’s season two premiere.

It’s true. The historical show is rich in detail and well crafted, with outstanding performances and amazing sets and period costumes. And…it is oh so addictive.

This is Versailles.

Versailles stars George Blagden, Alexander Vlahos, Tygh Runyan, Elisa Lasowski, Anna Brewster and Noemie Schmidt. This weekly historical drama is rate MA, for mature audiences, and each episode has a run time of 58 minutes.

Set in 1667, King Louis XIV (Blagden) is France’s 28 year old monarch. He decides to build the greatest palace in the world, Versailles, and move his court there. In a world of uncertainty, danger and unrest, he requires the nobility of France to reside in Versailles with him. Far from being a generous gesture, Louis keeps his friends and his enemies close, the better to control them and discover their secrets.

With him is his queen, Marie Therese (Lasowski), his favorite mistress, Montespan (Brewster), his brother Philippe (Vlahos) and his wife Henriette (Schmidt), and a host of advisors including the man he trusts most to safeguard him and his family, Fabien Marchal (Runyan).

And what a job that is, for to be king is to have many enemies. From those who seek to invade his country, to those who wish to hurt him by attacking those closest to him, the Sun King is beset with conspiracies and dark deeds on all sides. Even his brother, who deals with his own dark thoughts and insecurities, cannot always be counted on to stand with the king.

And yet, amid all the turmoil surrounding him, Louis is building a palace that is representative of him and his great power in Europe. He will spare no expense, for the story of Versailles is his story and the world is watching as it unfolds.

Louis XIV and his brother, Philippe.

Although I came late to the party that is Versailles, I loved the final two episodes, out of ten, of season one. Apparently the network was rebroadcasting the first season before the premiere of season two. I was able to watch a 22 minute behind the scenes program, which did an adequate job of catching me up, but also created the desire to watch this series from the beginning.

Ovation is the network carrying the current season, however season one can be found on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon.

I appreciate everything about this show. Opulent is the perfect word for Versailles. It is lavish in all regards, from the period costumes to the sets. Great regard is given to details, which is vital for a historical series. And the opening credits, with the theme song, gave me goosebumps. Watch HERE.

Although the cast is completely unfamiliar to me, the portrayal of King Louis and his court is superb. I have already become a fan of George Blagden and Alexander Vlahos. Their interactions, as royal brothers who both love each other and compete against the other, are the fuel that drives the series.

The thing I most love about Versailles is that it sent me to Google, to look up the real Sun King and his brother, the queens, the mistresses and the palace itself. I enjoy historical pieces because they create in me the desire to know more. I found that Versailles is very accurate in portraying King Louis and his court, with a bit of creative license taken for the sake of good storytelling.

Overall, I am quite impressed and taken with this series. I will be playing catch up as I watch episodes 1 – 8 of season one, while I am enjoying season two. I know King Louis XIV experienced the longest reign of any European monarch. I hope that means there will be many more seasons of Versailles.