Sunday, 28 February 2021

Arts & Life



‘THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT’ ON HBO MAX

Anyone who has been flying long-distance for decades has not likely encountered the likes of a flight attendant such as Kaley Cuoco’s manic Cassie Bowden, who views the job as an opportunity for free international travel with the fringe benefit of consuming tiny bottles of vodka.

HBO Max’s original new series “The Flight Attendant” is a darkly comic mystery thriller of sorts about the misadventures of Cuoco’s titular character that emanate in large part from the mess being made of her personal and professional life.

Our first glimpse of Cassie finds her passed-out from a night of an alcohol-fueled bender on a New York subway bench and then waking up to realize she’d better rush to her next shift on a run to Bangkok.

Cassie’s co-workers, including Megan (Rosie Perez) and Shane (Griffin Mattews), tolerate the train wreck party girl’s indiscretions, knowing that she will sneak many gulps of booze in first-class on the long overnight flights.

During the flight to Bangkok, Cassie pays more attention to handsome businessman Alex Sokolov (Michiel Huisman), who becomes known to the rest of the flight crew as “3C,” for his seat assignment.

Well, Cassie gets so carefree and flirtatious with “3C” in the middle of the night that an introduction to membership in the mile-high club with her passenger is emblematic of her propensity for precarious behavior.

To the surprise of no one on the crew, Cassie takes up an offer from Alex for an extravagant date night in Bangkok, which culminates in a stay in his swank hotel suite.

Having blacked out from too many libations, Cassie wakes up horrified to find Alex’s bloodily mutilated corpse without any recollection of how this happened. The only clue seems to be broken glass littered on the floor.

Meanwhile, Cassie naturally panics, knowing she would be the prime suspect in a foreign land. Visions of the legal plight faced by Amanda Knox for a murder in Italy dance in her head.

Grappling with her own thoughts of innocence, Cassie claims to be incapable of murder, contending “I’m not that kind of drunk. I’m public nudity yelling in the subway kind of drunk.”

In the first of many questionable decisions, Cassie rids the crime scene of key evidence, such as wiping up the bloody trails on the floor and discarding broken glass and liquor bottles, before leaving in haste back to the airport for a flight to Seoul.

As her colleagues keep wondering why she is acting more oddly than usual, Cassie finds her conscience grappling with images of Alex conversing about his fatal situation and how she needs to clear her mind to start remembering some details.

Alex’s ethereal presence prods Cassie to investigate the murder on her own, which goes against the pro bono legal advice given by her best friend Annie (Zosia Mamet) to not volunteer any unsolicited information to the authorities.

Yet, her first major mistake back in the States is a willingness to talk freely and without reservations with two FBI agents (Nolan Gerard Funk and Merle Dandridge) who are only looking for someone to incriminate their actions in Thailand.

As if dealing openly with federal agents is not problematic enough, Cassie channels her inner private eye to show up at Alex’s place of business, pretending to be an investor in a hedge-fund she knows nothing about.

Cassie wanders into other situations, often in an alcohol-fueled haze knocking over trays of drinks or a tower of cucumber sandwiches at a memorial service and bumbling along like Inspector Clouseau in search of clues to find Alex’s killer.

Meanwhile, Cassie also has to entertain a pending visit from her disapproving older brother Davey (T.R. Knight) and his family, which unearths more details of her childhood trauma that involved an alcoholic father’s unhealthy influence.

“The Flight Attendant” is an eight-episode series, and HBO Max released for review purposes the first-half of the run, which was more than enough enticement to hang in for the remainder in anticipation that the various plot threads would bear a fruitful conclusion.

Several mysteries need to be solved, not just the one involving the death in Bangkok. Why would someone ransack Cassie’s apartment? Who is the mystery woman stalking Cassie and why? What’s the Sokolov family hiding? What’s up with a co-worker meeting with shady characters?

Aside from an interesting cast of characters with their own motivations and hidden agendas, Kaley Cuoco’s performance alone invests “The Flight Attendant” with sufficient curiosity to ride along for a wild and perhaps bumpy adventure.

Whether or not “The Flight Attendant” soars to a new altitude or eventually gets grounded, my thought is that each new plot development so far definitely warrants a commitment of another four hours to see where and how the denouement lands.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.

We have lots of poets who would enjoy being described as “a poet first, and a (fill in the job) second," as if for them writing poems is the most important thing in their lives.

As I see it, Patricia Frolander is, instead, a widowed Wyoming ranch manager, a loving mother and grandmother first, and a poet, second. I like those priorities.

Here’s a poem about the loss of her rancher husband of many years. It’s from her book “Second Wind,” from High Plains Press.

Dream Watch

I softly call your name as I slip into the stand of wheat,
fifty-five acres of gold.
Careful not to shell the seed, my aged hands
push ripened stems aside.

You must be here for you love the fullness of a crop.
Yards farther, I call again.
The hawk above must wonder
at the trails through the field.

Did you leave with the winnowing scythe,
the burning heat of August?
For some good reason, I cannot find you here,
amid the nightly dreams and tear-damp pillow.


American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2020 by Patricia Frolander, "Dream Watch," from Second Wind, (High Plains Press, 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Patricia Frolander and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

NORTH COAST, Calif. – Held this past summer via Zoom, the first-ever virtual Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference was a well-earned success, and participants are asking for more.

The Conference, or MCWC, is now offering a Winter Publishing Series, a three-part series featuring online seminars focused on publishing topics:

– “Save The…Novel?” with Francesca Lia Block, Dec. 5, 12 p.m. PST.
– “Submitting Strategies” with Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Jan. 9, 12 p.m. PST.
– “Publishing with Small Presses” with Diana Arterian, Feb. 6, 12 p.m. PST.

Each seminar will be two hours in length and will include a presentation, resources, and questions and answers.

Registration is $20 each, or $50 for all three. Recordings of the seminars will be made available to registrants who are unable to attend live.

These seminars were developed in response to the great demand for MCWC programming on these topics at the 2020 Conference.

“We're excited to offer these seminars, which we designed in response to requests from our 2020 participants. Our instructors are experienced, we're honored to have them join us to share their knowledge, and writers will benefit from their expertise,” said Executive Director Lisa Locascio.

“I'm particularly excited for the iconic Francesca Lia Block's seminar on applying a beats structure to fiction, and I know that writers will be eager to learn from ‘Women Who Submit’ founder Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo and distinguished poet, teacher, and translator Diana Arterian,” Locascio said. “There's a lot of information out there about how to pursue publishing through the traditional agented path, and comparatively less about how writers can find, submit to, and publish their work with independent presses and magazines. Francesca, Xochitl, and Diana are here to show our community the way forward, and MCWC is so excited to partner with these great writers on this new venture.”

These seminars also serve another important purpose for MCWC this year: fundraising. Like so many arts organizations during COVID-19, MCWC faces a significant budget shortfall.

Every registration helps the organization continue creating meaningful, prestigious and high-quality literary programming for the community.

For more information about registration, please visit our website, www.mcwc.org.

Middletown Art Center staff install a featured artwork at the center in Middletown, California. Courtesy photo.

MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – The Middletown Art Center is hosting a virtual opening reception for its new exhibit, “HOME,” on Saturday, Dec. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m.

The opening will feature a virtual tour of the gallery and conversations with exhibiting artists and co-curators Nicola Chipps and Lisa Kaplan.

Broadcast on Zoom, the event is free and open to the public. A link is available at www.MiddletownArtCenter.org. It will also be livestreamed on Facebook through MAC’s page @ARTMiddletown.

The exhibit speaks to the places where humans and other living beings establish roots, the shelters we occupy, and our sense of the places we call “Home.” The artwork has been juried and curated to represent excellence.

The exhibit includes work from Lake County artists with the addition of new artists from Sonoma County and ceramicists from the Cobb Mountain Art and Ecology Project.

The virtual tour is prepared in 3D modeling and will be navigated live at the opening by Michael Chandler of Third Eye Visuals.

As Lake County’s premier art gallery, the MAC curates rotating exhibits of exceptional work from regional artists. The exhibits are poignant, well-crafted and contemporary with definitive earthy aspects.

As a vital arts resource, the MAC has been providing cultural enrichment and inspiring people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to engage with the arts since 2015, when it opened just a few months prior to the Valley fire.

Like other organizations in the region, the MAC has adapted and found innovative ways to serve and engage the community in the face of wildfire and the COVID 19 pandemic.

Remaining accessible through virtual workshops, exhibits, readings, a Maker’s Faire and more, MAC has been a beacon of resilience while uplifting community spirit.

“We are grateful to continue to provide arts and cultural enrichment while ensuring safety protocols are in place,” said MAC’s programs director and co-curator, Lisa Kaplan.

The Middletown Art Center Gallery Store remains open for your holiday shopping with current safety guidelines in place. Buy lake made art between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday through Sunday, or by appointment.

For more information about the artists and for online acquisition of the collection, visit Artwork Archive at https://bit.ly/39AxRLk.

“HOME” has been generously sponsored in part by Sterling Mortgage, Griffin’s Furniture, Chipps Interiors and Engel & Völker of Healdsburg.

Find out more about events, programs, opportunities, and ways to support the MAC’s work to weave the arts and culture into the fabric of life in Lake County at www.middletownartcenter.org.




‘BIG SKY’ ON ABC NETWORK

A visionary storyteller, former practicing lawyer David E. Kelley got his start in the entertainment business as a writer for Steven Bochco’s “L.A. Law,” which led to a career as creator of several networks series, including “Picket Fences” and “Boston Legal.”

In recent years, Kelley created series in cable television with HBO’s “Big Little Lies” and “The Undoing.” Cable offers more latitude than network television, and so his latest entry of “Big Sky” for ABC may lack the lurid edginess that comes with more creative freedom.

At the core of the “Big Sky” story is the kidnapping of young girls by a psychopath whose motive is not clearly in focus at first. Could it be a weird sexual fetish that may not play out too well on a network series?

Appropriate to the show’s title, the setting is Montana, known for its wide vistas and open spaces. The first scene is at the Dirty Spoon diner in Helena, a casual place with signage proclaiming “You Kill It! We Grill It!”

Sitting alone with a cup of coffee, Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick) suddenly rushes out of the joint after hearing a love song, heading off to her office to confront Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) with the question, “Are you sleeping with my husband?”

Jenny’s husband, from whom she is actually separated, is Cody Hoyt (Ryan Phillippe), but together along with Cassie they own a private detective agency, thus creating an awkward situation that soon erupts in a saloon brawl between the two women.

Meanwhile, two teenage sisters Danielle and Grace Sullivan (Natalie Alyn Lind and Jade Pettyjohn, respectively) have the hit road from Colorado so that Danielle can visit her boyfriend in Montana who just happens to be the son of the Hoyts.

A long-haul trucker, Ronald Pergman (Brian Geraghty), a 38-year-old man still living at home, is being mocked by his domineering mother (Valerie Mahaffey) for being a failure, if only for the reason that her friends boast of kids with important white-collar jobs.

Lecturing her son about not cleaning up after himself in keeping with her “my house, my rules” edict, Ronald’s mother exhibits attitudes that would cause any child to have “mommy issues,” which seem to cast Ronald into a Norman Bates mindset.

Local law enforcement appears primarily in the form of state trooper Rick Legarski (John Carroll Lynch) who is harried by a spouse feeling romantically neglected. That Legarski has a lot of quirks is first revealed in an oddly weird exchange with a stranded out-of-state visitor.

The nettlesome love triangle between the Hoyts and Cassie has to be put on hold when it becomes apparent that the arrival of the two sisters is long overdue, and the private eyes are engaged to help solve the mystery.

If you have seen any advertising for the show or even read the brief synopsis about young girls being kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway, then there is really no spoiler being revealed here.

An accident on the interstate takes the two sisters to a backroad where they narrowly miss being hit by Ronald’s rig. Angered by the incident, Danielle unwisely decides to pass the trucker to hurl profane insults, not knowing how deranged he is.

Apparently, the girls are too young to know about Steven Spielberg’s “Duel,” a cautionary tale about offending a psychotic truck driver who gives perilous chase to someone with the audacity to race ahead.

As misfortune goes, the sisters run out of gas on the desolate highway, and now along comes Ronald seeking twisted vengeance for hurt feelings, or something. But why kidnap the girls? Is it some sort of sexual perversion or just Norman Bates-like derangement?

The end of the first episode has a shocking twist that will not be divulged with even any vague hints of the big surprise. That’s the way David E. Kelley would like to tantalize the audience with a real cliffhanger series.

During ABC’s virtual press tour in late September, Kelley proclaimed that “at the end of each episode, I think the audience should be leaning in and say what’s going to happen next?” I’m not sure how he tops the first shocker in the episodes to follow.

“Big Sky” is a tantalizing thriller, but it is one where any layer of mystery is undercut to a degree in that Ronald is so transparently evil from the start. However, keep an eye on some of the other players for their motivations that might come out of left field.

Apropos of almost nothing, a quick mention of the pandemic here and there makes the story contemporary, but it appears nobody is adhering to protocols. Perhaps “Big Sky” seeks to offer much-needed escapism from our woes, or unbeknownst to the CDC the virus skipped over Montana.

At this early stage, deciding to invest time in this twisty thriller requires viewing at least a few episodes and see if the series lives up to the expectations of surprises in store according to the show creator.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

Ted Kooser. Photo credit: UNL Publications and Photography.


James Crews is the editor of a very timely anthology entitled “Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness and Connection,” published by Green Writers Press.

He’s also an accomplished poet and the author of several books, including “Bluebird.”

This poem first appeared, appropriately, at Gratefulness.org.

Winter Morning

When I can no longer say thank you

for this new day and the waking into it,

for the cold scrape of the kitchen chair

and the ticking of the space heater glowing

orange as it warms the floor near my feet,

I know it’s because I’ve been fooled again

by the selfish, unruly man who lives in me

and believes he deserves only safety

and comfort. But if I pause as I do now,

and watch the streetlights outside flashing

off one by one like old men blinking their

cloudy eyes, if I listen to my tired neighbors

slamming car doors hard against the morning

and see the steaming coffee in their mugs

kissing chapped lips as they sip and

exhale each of their worries white into

the icy air around their faces—then I can

remember this one life is a gift each of us

was handed and told to open: Untie the bow

and tear off the paper, look inside

and be grateful for whatever you find

even if it is only the scent of a tangerine

that lingers on the fingers long after

you’ve finished peeling it.


American Life in Poetry does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. It is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2019 by James Crews, “Winter Morning,” from Gratefulness.org, (2019). Poem reprinted by permission of James Crews and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2020 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

Upcoming Calendar

6Mar
03.06.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
13Mar
03.13.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
13Mar
14Mar
17Mar
03.17.2021
St. Patrick's Day
20Mar
03.20.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
27Mar
03.27.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
3Apr
04.03.2021 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Lake County Farmers’ Finest Saturday market
4Apr
04.04.2021
Easter Sunday

Mini Calendar

loader

LCNews

Responsible local journalism on the shores of Clear Lake.

 

Memberships:

 

Newsletter

Enter your email here to make sure you get the daily headlines.

You'll receive one daily headline email and breaking news alerts.
No spam.
Cookies!

lakeconews.com uses cookies for statistical information and to improve the site.