A Backlog of Books, Podcasts, TV, Movies, and Food

Well, the year is half over and I’ve set myself a new financial year resolution (though not related to finance) to keep on top of Very Good Things. Here are a few highlights since my last, long ago post in March:

BOOKS
Conversations with Friends
by Sally Rooney – her second book, Normal People, swept me away so I had to read her first book. I didn’t want it to end.
Becoming by Michelle Obama – this was a book club pick and wasn’t on my personal list to read but I loved it and became quite teary by the end to think who has taken their place in the White House.
Can’t wait to read Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, available in July in Australia.

PODCASTS
Clementine Ford on Wilosophy – she’s warm, open and intelligent and he really struggles with this interview but credit to him, he openly admits it.
Fresh Air with Terry Gross – the queen of interviews talks with Phoebe Waller-Bridge (13 May) and Christina Applegate (5 June).

TV
Chernobyl
– HBO’s five-part series is chilling.
The Letdown season 2 – the Barossa episode is hilarious.
Fleabag season 2 – just when I thought nothing could top the first season, along comes a second and it’s perfect. Waller-Bridge is also a writer on the brilliant Killing Eve.
Easy season 3 – I particularly loved the episodes about the couple who are navigating an open marriage.
I’m currently watching the second season of Big Little Lies and could possibly be enjoying it more than the first.

MOVIES
Free Solo – a documentary that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor.
Always Be My Maybe – after Chernobyl, light comedy was in order and this was funny, sweet and easy viewing. Worth watching just for Keanu.

FOOD
Everything on Fad Free Kitchen – a shameless plug for a site I do with my dietitian friend that’s all about quick and healthy food using versatile, everyday ingredients, but honestly, I rarely cook from anywhere else.
Kindred restaurant in Darlington – order the cabbage with pine nuts, currant, pecorino and buttermilk dressing to go with your pick of their excellent pastas.

Ricky Gervais Will Divide Viewers in Bittersweet ‘After Life’

In desperate need of a palate cleanser after watching Leaving Neverland, Ricky Gervais’ new Netflix comedy series, After Life, delivered on the laughs and also, unexpectedly, on the tears.

Tony (Ricky Gervais) had a happy life and adored his wife, Lisa. But after she dies, Tony doesn’t want to go on living. He decides to say and do whatever he likes because being nice is simply a waste of time and energy, particularly when you don’t plan on living for much longer.

Suicide is a central theme in After Life and Gervais doesn’t hold back when it comes to cracking jokes about it, which will no doubt lead to criticism. But that’s his style so if you haven’t warmed to him through his other shows, you may not find this one amusing.

After Life is a six-part series created, written and directed by Ricky Gervais and you’ll recognise much of the cast from other shows he’s starred in. Each episode runs for around 25 minutes.

Watch the trailer for After Life.

It’s on Netflix now.

Post-Holiday Wrap-Up of Books, TV, Movies, Podcasts and Other Very Good Things

It’s February so there’s no denying the holidays are well and truly over. If you need a little distraction in your day, here are the best books, TV, movies, podcasts and other stuff I got stuck into over summer:

BOOKS
Normal People by Sally Rooney has been dubbed ‘a future classic’
Tin Man by Sarah Winman is about love, loss and loneliness
The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love
Putney by Sofka Zinovieff is confronting, timely and beautifully written
Yuval Noah Harari has a knack for making sense of complex issues in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is not new but swept me away. Now an HBO show

TV
The Cry on ABC iView has tension to the max
Sex Education on Netflix will have you in stitches
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime is sweet and easy watching
Abducted in Plain Sight on Netflix is wild an almost unbelievable

MOVIES
The Wife on iTunes really should get Glenn Close her first Oscar
Private Life on Netflix is a raw and honest look at infertility struggles
First Man is the best kind of blockbuster
What We Did on Our Holiday on Netflix is seriously funny and the kids steal the show

PODCASTS
Believed covers how Larry Nassar got away with so much for so long. Beyond shocking.
The Daily is a news podcast powered by New York Times journalism. Stand out episodes are 16, 19 November and 4, 5, 10, 11 December

OTHER STUFF
I can’t shut up about how spectacular Lord Howe Island is
Peanut Butter Oat bars are simple, healthy and make the best snack
I loved reading this recent travel article on my hometown of Newcastle – get there now

HBO’s Succession – The Most Unlikeable Family on TV Makes for the Year’s Best Viewing

HBO’s brilliant family comedic drama, Succession, tracks the lives of the Roy family, who control one of the biggest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world. When their ageing father’s health plummets, chaos ensues as the family grapple with what the future holds.

It’s brilliantly cast, with Australia’s Sarah Snook playing the only daughter, Shiv. She and her three brothers are insanely rich and ruthless, with a serious sense of entitlement. Roman Roy, the youngest brother (played by Kieran Culkin), is possibly the most cringe-worthy character on TV.

Watch the trailer for season 1.

Read The Guardian‘s review of Succession.

Season 1 has 10 episodes available to watch now on HBO.com

I’m already excited for season 2, which is set to return to screens in June, 2019.

 

Very Good Things for a Rainy Long Weekend

How is it almost the middle of the year already? Here are my recent top picks for TV, books, podcasts and food. Very Good Things to get you through a rainy long weekend.

Watch
Killing Eve – when Phoebe Waller-Bridge is one of the writers, you have to watch it. View trailer, watch on ABC iView.
The Defiant Ones – history is made when two unexpected music moguls come together. A four-part documentary series about Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Watch it on Netflix.
Sour Grapes – a fascinating documentary about fine wine fraud on a grand scale. Watch it on Netflix.
Atlanta season 2 – that ‘Teddy Perkins’ episode. Whoa. Watch it on SBS On Demand.

Read
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie – an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide.
I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell – an astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined O’Farrell’s life.
The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn – a page-turning thriller, the movie is already in development. Great holiday read.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – traces the intertwined fates of a picture-perfect family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

Listen (I’ve been in a bit of a podcast slump recently but my friend just gave me a bunch to get over it so stay tuned):
Revisionist History Season 3 – Burden of Proof (episode 2).
This American Life – #339 act one (Break-up) and Five Women.

Eat Out
Two restaurants I’ve revisited recently after years and they are still excellent, particularly if you’re after a cosy winter vibe – Alpha (Greek) in Sydney CBD with a stunning bar upstairs and Sagra (Italian) in Darlinghurst for perfect pasta.

Eat In
Curried Fish Pie from River Cottage.
Jill Dupleix’s Salmon in a Light Fragrant Broth. I like to up the spinach and chilli for a green hot hit.

Safe Harbour TV Series – A New Psychological Thriller on SBS

Safe Harbour is a psychological thriller about a group of friends whose sailing holiday alters their lives forever after they cross paths with a struggling fishing boat overloaded with asylum seekers en-route to Australia.

The Australians decide to tow the refugees, but when they wake the next morning the fishing boat is gone. Five years later they learn that someone cut the rope between the two boats, with tragic consequences.

I’ve been in a bit of TV watching slump since The Crown and two episodes of Safe Harbour has pulled me out of it.

The four-part series from Matchbox Pictures stars Ewen Leslie (Top of the Lake: China Girl), Leeanna Walsman (Seven Types of Ambiguity), Joel JacksonPhoebe TonkinHazem Shammas and Jacqueline McKenzie.

Watch the trailer.

Read more about Safe Harbour or watch it now on SBS On Demand.

THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD – A Bold Dark Comedy TV Series on Netflix

The new TV series on Netflix,  THE END OF THE F***ING WORLD, takes you into the dark and confusing lives of teen outsiders James (Alex Lawther – Black Mirror, The Imitation Game) and Alyssa (Jessica Barden – The Lobster, Ellen, Penny Dreadful) as they embark on a road trip to find Alyssa’s father, who left home when she was a child.

It’s hilarious and deeply unsettling in equal measures. Jessica Barden as Alyssa is incredible – she’s terrifying yet vulnerable and you just want to hug her. I wish I had half her confidence level and disregard for others opinions during my teenage years.

The show is based on the award-winning series of comic books by Charles Forsman and consists of eight episodes around 20 minutes each.

Watch the trailer for The End of the F***ing World.

Watch the show.

Sunshine – A TV Crime Drama Series

Set in Melbourne’s outer-west suburb of Sunshine, the four-part TV crime drama series, Sunshine, follows Jacob, a young, aspiring South Sudanese-Australian basketball player who dreams of making it to the NBA.

He’s on the cusp of being picked up by scouts for the US college league but his future is put in jeopardy when he’s drawn into a criminal investigation.

Sunshine features a line-up of renowned and seasoned Australian actors including Anthony LaPaglia, Vince Colosimo and Kim Gyngell, alongside a stellar South Sudanese Australian cast being seen for the first time on Australian TV.

According to The Guardian, “Sunshine is one of the standout Australian TV shows of the year.”

Watch Sunshine now on SBS On Demand.

Dark TV Series – A German Supernatural Thriller on Netflix

Netflix’s new supernatural thriller, Dark, is set in a German town in present day where the disappearance of two young children exposes the double lives and fractured relationships among four families.

True to its name, the content is fairly dark and given the storyline, comparisons with Stranger Things, The Missing and The Returned are inevitable.

It does take a few episodes to wrap your head around who’s who and how they are connected as the show jumps through various points in time but you are rewarded with a thrilling series and excellent soundtrack.

Watch the trailer.

Watch Dark on Netflix.

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