Eleanor Oliphant (book) ****

I absolutely LOVED this book, but perhaps you have to be a bit quirky to love it, I don't know.  Eleanor is definitely different in the way she thinks, dresses, lives, and speaks.  And she's 30 years old, formed her own habits, and isn't really looking to change, until she sees this stranger and thinks he's "the one." As she tries to transform herself to fit into his world, she also befriends a nerdy fellow worker at her job, and they become connected over their happenstance of helping a dying man.  The best part of the book is Oliphant's narrative and the way she views the world, all because of a tragedy that happened to she can barely talk about.  And she doesn't, until near the end...and then it all makes sense.  I read that this book might become a movie, and I can't wait to see it...because I loved Eleanor.  After all, I'm a bit quirky myself.

Tenet **

This could have been a good film, if we could have understood it.  Lots of different accents that made it difficult to follow the story were a huge hindrance, so be sure to read the synopsis of the movie - a good one - before you go!  I'm not really a sci-fi fan, but this film and its premise is different and interesting.  There's lots of action, it's a LONG movie, and Denzel Washington's son plays the main character (remember him in BlackkKlanzman?)  There was a lot of hype about this movie before covid, so when it finally appeared in theaters, we wanted to see it.  But we left with more questions than answers, about the bullets that travel backwards...  Go see it.  But read about it before you go.  But you'll read about the horrible sound mix, and that just might make you skip it altogether.

Words on Bathroom Walls ***(in theaters)

If you haven't seen Charlie Plummer in a movie, do so.  He's a good actor.  And he is so good in this portrayal of a young man suffering from schizophrenia, while dealing with a new stepfather, and trying to "fit in" at school...where he meets a brilliant young lady with a secret.  Well, it seems they both have a secret.  He quickly finds out her secret, and it takes a while longer before Charlie's illness surfaces and everyone knows.  This film is emotional, especially if you know teens that suffer to figure out who they are amid their own limitations.  There's good acting, there's lots of pain, and there's so much acceptance and love.  And who doesn't need a story about that, right about now?

Made in Italy ***

Liam Neesom plays a father estranged from his grown son, due to great sorrow that befell them both.  The father is a once famous artist, and the son runs an art gallery for his wife's family - only she's divorcing him.  Then...there's this beautiful family home father and son left after the tragedy long ago, that's begging for a restart...and the son wants his half of the sale.  Father and son come together to face their past and rebuild the home and their relationship...but is it too late?  We both loved the film.  It's quite a departure for Neesom, as this is NOT an action thriller!  And the best part is the son is played by Neesom's real life son!  It's a great heartwarming story, the scenery is breathtaking, and watching father/son act together was wonderful.  Made in Italy is worth seeing...and you'll want to read about the son's experience while he made the Google after the credits roll...

The Vanishing Half **

This was my recent book of the month choice.  Its about identical twin sisters that grew up in a southern Black community but then left in their teen years, eventually separating into two completely different lives.  One eventually returns to her hometown and her mom, with a black daughter in tow.  The other has passed herself off as being white and is a married to a husband who knows nothing of her past, and also has a daughter. Years and stories and experiences pass, and the daughters' lives intersect...coincidentally?  The one sister wants never to return to her roots, and the other one longs to connect.  I suppose the book is mostly about dealing with your origins and family and self-esteem...and how tangled all of that can be.  I enjoyed the read, but it wasn't wonderful...and I was dissatisfied with the ending.  But I'm pretty sure that ending was meant to leave the reader frustrated...and pensive...and it did!

Black Water: Abyss (IPIC)**

I like movies about nature and storms and animals gone if you do, then you'll probably like this film.  It's just the good old-fashioned scary popcorn-eating movie for the end of summer watching!  Five friends descend into a remote cave opening, only to be flooded and stuck...with a crocodile in the pool's lake.  The friends have issues, and those come out, and the crocodile is hungry, and he finds a tasty dinner...or two.  This movie won't win any awards, but it's just suspenseful all the way through, and we quite enjoyed it.  It's an Australian film, so subtitles would have been nice, but oh well.  Just listen closely and enjoy their accents.  If you're looking for an escape and a thrill, watch it.  The crocodile is relentless, but so are the speelunkers...

Cable Girls *** (Netflix)

Yes, it's a foreign show, but the sound is in English, so the words don't match the lips!  However, we are intrigued by the premise of this far.  It's' the early 1900's, there's all these girls that are hired by the telephone company to work the boards, and all these men that have secrets and schemes...  The focus is mainly on a small group of girls, namely one - Alba (or Lydia, as she says...) with a past that's now in her face.  The characters and the story are constantly changing and there's really a tangled web after a few episodes! That's the good part.  There is sex - and scenes we fast forward past - just FYI.  That's the good part of having a remote in your hand.  We just finished Season One...and OH MY.  I especially love the outfits the girls wear!

Selena *** (at the IPIC)

We had not seen this movie back when it was in the theaters, 20 years ago or so. We did know the story of this young Latino singer that ended tragically.  When we saw it was showing, we decided to go, and then learned that this movie was Jennifer Lopez's first exposure and big break. She plays Selena, and honestly I thought she did a great job.  Selena's life to stardom, her over ambitious father, and her love story with one of the musicians in the band fills out this (long) film to the max, with the sad ending that is truly heartbreaking.  There's a lot of Selena's music in the film, and lots of insight into the Latino family culture.  We enjoyed it, but thought it didn't need to be over 2 hours in length.  It's worth seeing if you missed it like we did...

The High Note *** (at the IPIC)

She's a personal assistant (Dakota Johnson) to a famous singer(Tracie Lee Ross - Diana Ross' daughter!) but she's got a keen ear for music producing.  She meets a young man that she's certain has talent, and convinces him that she's a producer and can further his career.  However, the singer she works for is quite condescending and demanding, and producing the young man's career is quite time consuming and daunting...especially since she's not being truthful with either party.  And then, there's the ending - never saw it coming - and it was fantastic.  The music is GREAT in this film, and the story is different and very worth seeing.  Look up Ross after the movie....  We really enjoyed this movie, in so many ways...

Sweet Magnolias *** (NETFLIX)

Three best in the south...with pasts, kids, careers and an old stately home to run a business together. The southern charm is definitely thick in this story - a little too many colloquial sayings for sure.  BUT...the casting is great, the story line is I suppose "real to life." One was married to the local doctor but is divorced now, with three kids - all affected - and there's a new coach in town.  One runs a restaurant and has a teenage daughter that struggles with her mom/boys/etc. And the third is a lawyer, full of sass and hope for the isn't easy in this charming town, at all.  Too many tongues wagging and people bragging...while they drink sweet tea.  It's an entertaining show, and you'll like the three women.  

Land Girls *** (NETFLIX)

I had not heard about this...but in WWII girls/women were hired to work at local farms because the men were off to war.  This series is about the "land girls" that arrive to work on a farm, their personal stories and backgrounds, as well as their interaction on a daily basis with Lady Hoxley and the employees on her estate.  Each girl has a "story" with one being married to a soldier that is away, one that came to get away from abusive home life, a "city" girl with an attitude, and so on.  There is danger, intrigue, and all sorts of tangled webs that occur on the farm, and not the kinds with spiders!  We've enjoyed the series so far, I think there are three seasons.

Longmire *** (NETFLIX)

We are about five episodes into this six season series, at the recommendation of a friend.  Walt is a sheriff (an amazing detective) but he's recently lost his wife and lost his joy...  In his office he has a few deputies (one running against him for sheriff, one a feisty young woman, and one a barney-type guy), and a friend down at the saloon (an Indian played by Lou Diamond Phillips).  They work the Wyoming woodsy area, and deal with a murder in each episode.  Oh, and Walt has a grown daughter, Cady.  LOTS of drama, action, complicated plots, and real relationship and life woes - but put together well - and a good watch.  We are liking it so far!

The Stand at Paxton County **

It's been hard for us to find good we thought the story of this one sounded interesting.  A daughter that's a medic in Afghanistan is called home because her father needs her on the ranch where she grew up.  He's being threatened and about to lose his livestock and farm.  In fact, he's being harassed by the local sheriff.  The daughter and her dad were estranged for years, but this common quest to figure out what's really going on behind the threats brings them together, as the mystery and the drama unfolds.  The movie starts out slow...then picks up to become an okay film.  Supposedly, the story is based on true that's always cool.  It's a movie worth seeing if you need to see a movie and there's nothing else :). 

Worthy of Love ***

The author of this book is one of our writers, Kaelin Scott.  This is her second book, and I've not yet read the first one.  Worthy of Love is a Christian romance story of a ranch family that hires a new cook, a girl with a story and a past.  The main characters are Austin and Kacey, the ranch guy and the new hire.  One thing I loved about the story was that it was a refreshing read and a nice escape during this pandemic time.  It's a story of hope, forgiveness, salvation, and love.  All things that we know and believe, but we often become cynical about and take for granted.  I think most of us can find ourselves among these characters, either religious, loving, lost, wounded, searching for love, feeling unworthy of love...and more.  It's a feel good story in the end, and who doesn't need more of those right about now?

Happy & You Know It **

She's a musician recently kicked out of a band, and is hired by a group of wealthy moms with babies - to sing and bring musical "culture" to the children.  As she gets to know each one, she also discovers their HUGE secret in particular.  Will she tell all, and what will happen if she does?  I personally found the story itself very intriguing and wanted to keep reading.  However, this book is full of graphic  sexual encounters - that are not necessary - much like some movies.  Way too many..  And while the bulk of the book is a great read, the ending was a bit "eh" for me.  

Father Brown ***(PBS)

He's a priest in the 1960's in an English town, and he has an older lady and her niece that work with him.  He shows up at murder scenes to offer comfort, but it seems he's quite the sleuth himself - ever calm and wise and full of hope and faith.  However, the police detective doesn't like Father Brown, as he just wants to nab the first suspect and be done with it.  Each episode is a mysterious killing, and each episode is full of intrigue and suspense - against the beauty of the English countryside.  You'll enjoy, I'm sure...  And Father Brown always solves the case, while riding his bicycle and noting details.

Anne with an E****(NETFLIX)

We couldn't quit watching these episodes, the casting and the stories were so good!  This story is Anne of Green Gables revisited, with new actors and stories.  There's drama, adult themes (this isn't really for little kids), an amazing young lady's tenacity for plowing through life's struggles, and then there's Anne passion for learning and...her vocabulary!  Her guardians, Matt and Marilla, are equally as interesting as we find out what makes them act the way they do.  This is a must-see series for all.

The English Game ****(NETFLIX)

It's the late 1800's and the game of soccer is growing, but the players are divided between the Aristocrats and the Working Class.  There's friction and great competition.  There are also the personal lives of the main players, as they navigate loss, marital struggles, family matters and work issues.  The costumes are great, the story is intriguing and suspenseful, and we were so sad that it was only six episodes.  Wonderful stories told against an incredible backdrop, and it's all based on real life players! You'll definitely want to see this!

You are Not Alone ***

Shay Miller is looking for love, a fulfilling job, a place to belong...things we all want.  But she's isolated.  And then...she meets the Moore sisters with this life of glamour and perfection.  Besides that, there's nothing they want that they don't get.  Miller wants their life, she thinks.  But perhaps they want hers! This book kept me guessing and interested, it was hard to put down.  And the ending...what a twist and turn.  It's a great summer read, if you're looking for one!

Nothing to See Here ***

Not everyone will appreciate this book.  It's the tale of two children that catch on fire when they're aggravated.  That will turn some folks off. But I loved this story.  Two friends are now grown, the one is rich and has these two "firey" kids, and the other doesn't really live a life at all...partly because of the first friend.  The one is asked to come nanny these kids, and that's when the drama starts.  It's a story of friendship and parenting and emotions and heart wounds.  And I thought it was a great one, and told so smartly and well...

Doolittle ***

I thought this film was delightful, and that's saying a lot coming from a person that doesn't like talking animals. :) Robert Downey Jr plays Dr. Doolittle, hibernated away in his house, too sad to face the world. Until...a young boy and girl show up at his house and insist on his help for a wounded squirrel and a dying queen.  The animals are hilarious, and the story is heartwarming and fun to watch.  I wasn't expecting much when we watched, but was pleasantly surprised when the credits rolled..  Sit down with the family.  Enjoy...

Virgin River ***(NETFLIX)

This is a series that will return this fall, I'm told.  So we watched the first season and really liked it.  She's a medical doctor that needed to get away from her old life, so she takes a job in a rural California town - quaint - and full of people that apparently have past lives as well.  It's not at all what she expects, and she isn't even wanted there at first.  However, she settles in and meets him, and the others in the town, and the drama begins.  It's full of multi-layered individuals with stories to tell and experience, as we observe them all in this amazingly beautifully set town on a river...just outside of civilization.

Current Sightings
by Marcy Lytle

This column is full of TV show and book reviews, as well as movies!  It pays to be informed before we spend time watching or reading!

We will try to give a short synopsis, as well as our own opinion, along with a nod or a no, regarding suggestive content.


While movie theaters are slow to open, we're all at home wondering what to watch, read or enjoy...hope this helps!  If you have one to add, email us!

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