Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Bill's 2015 Top Ten Lists - The Penultimates, AKA The Number 2's

My Top Ten List for 2015 is quickly winding down. Today I spent a half hour or so at the gym to get my body and mind in shape to present the Top Two's.. (well, maybe I just went because I'm trying to get fit, but I thought it sounded better to make it seem like making up this list is a strenuous activity). We actually had a bit of snow last night; unfortunately it's pretty well gone now, but it did feel somewhat Xmasy for awhile.

So, anyway, here we go, the Number 2's.. taaaaa daahhhhh!


2. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious (Fic) - Over the past couple of years in one of my book groups on Goodreads, I've seen comments about Peyton Place, generally quite well received. I recalled watching the original TV series back in the '60s when we lived in Chatham, NB and also having quite a crush on Barbara Parkins, who played Betty Anderson. I also had watched part of the movie a couple of years ago, when the missus had it on. I was quite surprised to find out that it was based on a book, so I ordered a copy and read it this past year. It was pretty well one of the first book I read in 2015 and it remained one of my favourites throughout the course of the year. It was Grace Metalious' first book and was released in 1956. This was my review of the book -

"Excellent story. I was drawn in right from the start and enjoyed it throughout. I had seen portions of the movie based on the book and also as a youngster, vaguely recall watching the TV series. Once I heard there was a book, I had to try it out and I wasn't disappointed. It was similar in some ways to books like; The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and To Kill a Mockingbird, especially in the aspect of telling a story from a small town perspective. But it was also very different, as it focused on the secrets that guide people's lives in small towns.

I liked so many of the characters, but each had their flaws and their positive aspects. I liked Constance McKenzie; she was a strong independent woman and she helped Selena and her mother, providing work to them. (But she also has many faults; is three-dimensional) I liked Selena, a strong young lady, who lived on the wrong side of the tracks and had tribulations like you won't believe, but who tries to work through them and make something of herself. There were characters who you can't like, as in any community, close-minded, snappish, maybe even evil people. But it's a community and Grace Metalious tells it in such an interesting style. I like how she switches from character to character and their stories, e.g. Alison walking down the street and looking at a neighbour's house, then the story moving onto that person. I'm glad that I finally read this excellent book and I highly recommend. Fascinating and a true gem."


2. Dancing On My Own by Robyn - I added this song to my usb back in January. Robyn is a Swedish singer whose had success since her first single in 1995. Dancing on my Own, released in 2010, is a touching song and every time I hear it, it gives me chills. It's got a dance beat but its theme is loneliness. Lovely song.


2. Orphan Black (Season 3) - This has been one of my favourite TV series since the very first episode. It's a Canadian SciFi series, starring Tatiana Maslany as several clones, trying to find out who made her and her varied, individual sisters. In Season 3, we learn more about the male clones that were also fabricated, the Adams to Sarah's Eves. It's a fascinating series and watching Tatiana switch from character to character is always amazing. Sarah is the original clone and over time we've met Elizabeth and Katja, both of whom died very early in the show's history. Series regulars have been Alison (my favourite), an anal retentive soccer mom, Cosima, a hippyish microbiology student trying to find out about her many clone - related health issues, and Helena, a disturbed killer, who is one of the most interesting of the group. There have been others introduced as well and, of course, the male clones played by Ari Millen. There have been so many fascinating episodes. I especially like when one clone has to step into the shoes of another, which means that Tatiana is playing Sarah acting as Alison. I have also liked when the various clones interact as a group; the technical skill to make that look realistic is amazing. If you click on this link, you can see some of the amazing interactions. It's such a great series and I'm looking forward to Season 4 so much.


2. Spy - I've only recently seen Spy. It's a 2015 comedy action film, directed by Paul Feig and released in Jun. It stars Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Miranda Hart and Alison Janney and it's just rollicking good fun. Basically, Melissa McCarthy is a CIA analyst, who assists agent Jude Law on his missions; providing a satellite link, talking him around corners and helping him out of jams. Law is killed and Melissa, who has a deep crush on him, becomes an agent to find out who killed him and to bring them to justice. A simple premise, but the movie moves along at a full-on pace and the cast all seem to be having a great time. Jason Statham is over the top, a self-styled super agent, who causes more problems than he solves. Miranda Hart is Melissa's best friend and takes over as her analyst throughout the movie and she is a joy. Just one joke after another and a true fun ride.


2. Eva Green - I've liked French actress, Eva Green, since I saw her in Kingdom of Heaven back in 2005. She has a certain quality about her, maybe it's her eyes, that draws you to her performances. Since then, I've seen her in Casino Royale as Vesper Lind, The Golden Compass as witch, Serafina Pekkala, my favourite character in the book and also the movie. But for the past two seasons, it's been her role as Vanessa Ives, in the HBO series, Penny Dreadful that has made me sit up and really take notice. It's a gritty, dark, moody Gothic horror series, one of the best on TV and she just stands out in her role as the darkly disturbed woman, living with Timothy Dalton as Sir Malcolm Murray, battling first, vampires and, in Season 2, a group of witches/ devil's maids, led by the scary Helen McCrory as the mysterious Evelyn Poole. All of the cast is great in this series, but the true standout has been Eva Green. You must watch this!


2. Denzel Washington - American actor, Denzel Washington is always good value for money, well, maybe not in John Q (but that is just a personal assessment). Over the past couple of years, I've enjoyed him in so many excellent movies. He seems to specialise in the grizzled, tired, man of the world role and does it so very well. Whether he is an action hero, like in Man on Fire, The Book of Eli or Safe House, or just world weary and trying to live his life, like in Unstoppable, The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, he always delivers and makes each role believable. Most recently, it's been in 2014's The Equalizer that I've been so entertained. He lives the role and you can't help but want him to succeed and to feel for his character; the ex-agent who now helps the Everyman, battling Russian mobsters and whoever gets in his way. All excellent stuff and great entertainment.

Well, there you go, the penultimate list. Tomorrow, I'll list my Number 1's. Hope you like them.

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