Best Friends Forever
'The Pursuit of Love' and 'Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar'
Now Streaming: The opening scene may be misleading, since it features a very pregnant woman, clad only in a thin gown, as she lounges on a private balcony outdoors. From there, the series stretches backward and forward to tell the story of two best friends who share great joys, terrible tragedies, and a bond that is occasionally strained but never broken.
Based on a very popular book by Nancy Mitford, first published in 1945, the three-episode series, adapted and directed by Emily Mortimer, who also appears in a supporting role, follows the contrasting lives of devoted cousins Linda (Lily James) and Fanny (Emily Beecham). Fanny narrates, though Linda's outgoing personality appears to put her in the lead, as the ends up pursuing a more outwardly glamorous career and has more ups and downs than Fanny, who chooses a more traditional path through marriage and children.
Andrew Scott and Dominic West contribute to the strong comic chords that are struck throughout the show, which is dressed in gorgeous costuming and production designs, yet sometimes darken to reflect the more affecting and dramatic situations that develop. It all feels very literate, for want of a better word, and distinctly British, if that makes sense for those of us who are older Americans who still wonder at how the English are getting along these days without Americans to kick around too much.
I enjoyed the show as a break from some of the other fare that I've been watching for review consideration, which perhaps explains my generally cheery reaction to it. [Amazon Prime Video]
Current Cinema: Comedies are not universally funny, of course, especially in the modern day. Culture, family, heritage, upbringing and other factors influence one's individual sense of humor, which changes as we age. Widely praised on the social media that I followed earlier this year, I finally caught up with Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, anticipating a relaxing yet weirdly compelling comedy, reuniting Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo, the writers of smash-hit Bridesmaids (2005), this time in the starring roles as best friends.
The opening moments well define the movie's arch, strangely off-kilter sense of humor, and the movie follows from there, as the two lovable buddies happily indulge in whatever makes them laugh. Their view of the world resembles that of twins, with their own secret language that other people cannot comprehend in the slightest.
Director Josh Greenbaum has helmed a number of short films, as well as a slew of episodic television shows, and he is more than competent at staging individual scenes to wring the last laugh out of each moment. Truthfully, not much in the film made me laugh out loud, but I couldn't help but smile frequently at the abundance of absurd silliness. And, since I already subscribe to the streaming service, it felt like a bonus. [Hulu]
Also seen: Surprise, surprise! I liked the new film by M. Night Shyamalan, Old, much more than other people. To me, it felt like a return to form, with a considered contemplation of the subject at hand -- again -- that felt genuinely authentic. [DallasFilmNow]
No surprise that I enjoyed Jungle Cruise, perhaps because I didn't expect it to be anything more than a dressed-up theme park attraction. Which it is, but it's broadly funny and soundly entertaining. Even though I didn't see it in a theater, I imagine it would be worth seeing in a theater, if that makes sense. [DallasFilmNow]
Upcoming: As counterprogramming to Disney's newest release for families, other studios are offering R-rated theatrical releases intended for adults this coming weekend, namely, the dark fantasy adventure The Green Knight, starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, and Joel Edgerton, and directed by David Lowery; and the dramatic thriller Stillwater, starring Matt Damon and directed by Tom McCarthy.
Also in theaters: Nine Days, offering new opinions on souls in limbo, and Enemies of the State, in which the son of a hacker is targeted by the U.S. government. Personally, I'm going to catch up with a couple advance screeners, which I need to watch for possible review consideration.
And maybe a little of the Olympic Games, though nothing has really caught my eye yet. Has my half-century of watching the periodic athletic events finally run its course?