The Crown Season 5 Review

For four seasons, Netflix‘s The Crown has pulled back the curtain to tell the story of the Windsors.

Season five premiered last weekend. Taking place in the 1990s, it dives into the personal and professional troubles of the late Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton) and her family. Standing stalwart beside her is her now-late husband, Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce), and late sister Princess Margaret (Lesley Manville).

Among the issues that the Windsors are dealing with are the failing marriages of three of the Queen’s four children. As we all know now, the “happy” union of the former Prince Charles (Dominic West) and the late Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) has reached its breaking point. Returning to the arms of his ex, the former Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams), he is torn between duty and love.

This season is amazing. Among the main cast, Staunton and Debicki are the standouts. Staunton perfectly follows in the footsteps of her predecessors, Claire Foy and Olivia Coleman. Debicki’s performance as Diana is award-worthy. If I close my eyes and just listen to her, I almost expect that it is the real person, not an actor playing a part.

The only thing that we have to remember is that this is not a documentary. The show is fiction. Some of what we are watching has been made up and not based on actual events.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Crown is available for viewing on Netflix.

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The Matchmaker’s Gift: A Novel Book Review

The concept of marrying for love is a relatively new one. In the past, marriage was a business arrangement. Your spouse was based on your status in society, not the person who made you happy.

Lynda Cohen Loigman‘s new novel, The Matchmaker’s Gift: A Novel, was published in September. In the early 20th century, Sara Glikman has just emigrated to America with her family. Moving to the Lower East Side, she has recently discovered that she has a talent for making matches.

The problem is that she is a girl. The men who make a living doing the same thing are far from pleased that their competition is a young lady. After a decade of doing her work in secret, Sara has to find the courage to stand up for herself.

Decades later, Sara’s granddaughter Abby is a divorce lawyer, representing the rich and famous. A child of divorce herself, she takes a cynical view of romance. Soon after Sara’s passing, Abby inherits a series of journals that contains details of her grandmother’s matchmaking. As she begins to go through the pages, she begins to question her career choices and her opinion on love.

I have been a fan of this author since her first book. Kudos to her for creating a dual timeline that is believable and easy to follow. In my experience (as both a reader and a writer), this is one of the harder narratives to craft. The balance between the individual stories while slowly weaving them together is akin to walking a literary tightrope. If one is out of balance, the reader is likely to walk away.

I loved it. It was compelling, entertaining, and inspiring. Sara is a proto-feminist, standing up against those who stand in her way simply because of her gender.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I would go as far as to say that this is one of my favorite new books of the year.

The Matchmaker’s Gift: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

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Ticket to Paradise Movie Review

Not everyone is meant to live happily ever after. For every couple that spends their life together, there are many who have long since gone their separate ways.

In the new romantic comedy, Ticket to Paradise, David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts) hate each other with a passion. Divorced for years, the only thing they can agree on is their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever).

A recent college graduate, Lily is on vacation to Bali with her bestie Wren (Billie Lourd) before the real world comes calling. When she meets Gede (Maxime Bouttier), their relationship goes from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye. When Lily tells her parents that she is engaged, David and Georgia book a flight to the island. Their goal is to prevent their daughter from making the same mistake they did. The pilot behind the controls is Paul (Lucas Bravo), Georgia’s boyfriend.

This is a proper rom-com. Clooney and Roberts have a chemistry that is both undeniable and off the charts. I truly believed that their characters were once in love and are now in hate with one another. It wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, but there were plenty of chuckles along the way.

Given what is going on in the world right now, I needed a break from reality. Ticket to Paradise is everything I could have asked for in that break.

Ticket to Paradise is presently in theaters.

Throwback Thursday: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Love can make us do crazy things, as cliche as it sounds. So can divorce.

In the 2011 romantic comedy, Crazy, Stupid, Love, Emily (Julianne Moore) has told her husband, Cal (Steve Carell) that she wants a divorce. Needing a pick-me-up, Cal turns to Jacob (Ryan Gosling) to teach him to meet women at bars. While this is happening, Jacob is trying to romance (or at the very least, get into bed), Hannah (Emma Stone). Hannah is Cal and Emily’s daughter.

If this was not enough, Robbie (Jonah Bobo), Hannah’s little brother has a thing for his teenage babysitter, Jessica (Lio Tipton). Jessica, for her part, has a crush on Cal.

I like this movie. It is one of those rom-coms that manages color outside of the proverbial lines while keeping to genre standards. The cast is terrific and the story is thoroughly entertaining.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Flashback Friday: The Parent Trap II (1986)

Divorce is a hard thing on a kid. You want your parents to be happy, but their happiness is no longer dependent on one another.

The 1986 TV movie, The Parent Trap II, is the sequel to the 1961 movie, The Parent Trap. Nikki Ferris (Carrie Kei Heim) and Mary Grand (Bridgette Andersen) both have divorced parents. Being best friends, they plan on bringing Nikki’s mother Sharon Ferris (Hayley Mills) and Mary’s father Bill Grand (Tom Skerritt) together. Their goal is to prevent Sharon and Nikki from uprooting and moving to New York City. But the girls are not doing it alone. Sharon’s twin sister, Susan Carey (also Haley Mills) is more than eager to provide help in whatever ways she can.

I haven’t seen this movie in thirty plus years. I remember watching it countless times when I was young. Its a cute movie and overall, a nice extension to the narrative of the original film. With films like these, important thing is the balance between nostalgia and moving the story forward. Granted, I have only seen it it through a child’s eyes, but as sequels go, I have seen much worse.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Divorce Happens

The internet has been exploding yesterday since the announcement that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are divorcing after 10 years of marriage.

The coverage coming from the press is mind boggling. Questions of whom is to blame and what their exes might say about Ben and Jen are all over the internet.

It drives me bonkers. If they were John and Jane Doe  from anywhere, USA, no one, outside of their immediate circle of family and friends would give a rats ass. But because they are Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Hollywood movie stars, the entire world has to know every sordid detail of their divorce.

Divorce happens for many reasons. Even the best of couples sometimes drift apart. That’s life. I am sorry that their marriage is ending, but if that is the best decision for themselves and their children, so be it.

There are more important things to worry about than a married couple divorcing.

Time to move on, people.

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