Grace and Frankie

A little while ago I finally started watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix. I have been aware of the show for some time, and I have always liked Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, but somehow I was never actually moved to watch this. After the recent resurgence of my interest in actor James Stewart, I began reading about his friendship with Henry Fonda. That led me to reading about the complicated relationship between Henry Fonda and his kids and that in turn led me to some video interviews with Jane Fonda. From that my interest in Grace and Frankie grew and I finally braved the first episode. I was very pleasantly surprised, not only with the two women, but with all the main characters in the story!

Grace & Frankie posterThe show is about so many things, although most obviously it’s about two ladies in their 70s that have to completely reshape and redefine their lives.

At the start of the series Grace Hanson (Jane Fonda) is married to lawyer Robert (Martin Sheen) and Frankie Bergstein (Lily Tomlin) is married to another lawyer Sol (Sam Waterston); the couples are in their 70s. Grace is an uptight former beauty product executive who is very fond of a drink and doesn’t much like Frankie who is a free-spirited hippie, giving painting lessons to ex-cons and who likes to smoke pot on occasion.

Grace Robert Frankie Sol

Robert and Sol work together in their shared law firm and the two couples have known each other for ages. The series begins with a dinner, where Robert and Sol announce to their wives that they are gay, that they have been in love with each other for 20 years and that they want to get married…

Grace & Frankie 01

While Robert and Sol are relieved that their secret is out at last, the two women are completely blindsided, their whole worlds are turned upside down. The two women retreat to the beach house the two couples had shared as a time-share and while at first Grace and Frankie get along with difficulty, they soon develop a friendship.

grace frankie01Each of the couples also have grown up children. Grace has two daughters, Mallory (Brooklyn Decker, on the left in the two pics below) and Brianna (June Diane Raphael, on the right).

Mallory is ‘the nice one’, married and a mom, while Brianna is the one who now heads up Grace’s old beauty products company, she is sarcastic and a commitment-phobe.

Frankie has two sons: Nwabudike, Bud for short (Baron Vaughn, the dark guy), who is also a lawyer, very responsible and on his way to take over the dads’ firm, and Coyote (Ethan Embry, the light guy) is a recovering drug addict, just out of rehab and living with his brother because he isn’t ready to live on his own yet.

What I loved about these two sons is that it is immediately clear that they are brothers and it takes a couple of episodes until it’s explained that they were both adopted by Frankie and Sol. It reminds me of my own family. I just visited my brother in London last weekend, and he too is dark where I am light (and his daughter is a lovely mix).

bro sis

Seeing Bud and Coyote going through regular sibling stuff reminds me of my brother (or my Palestinian brother or my Palestinian sister) and me. There is no emphasis on adoption, there is emphasis on sibling relationships with ups and downs and I just love that.

The daughters and sons of Grace and Frankie have known each other pretty much all their lives, so we also see them explore together what the new status quo means, how they too need to find their places. We also get glimpses into their lives and some of the big stuff they need to deal with.

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Then we have Sol and Robert. The marriage of Robert and Grace had sort of muddled on for ages, they weren’t particularly close. However, Sol and Frankie did have a close relationship in their marriage and their ‘uncoupling’ is difficult as they still really like each other.

Sol & Frankie 01

Yet, there is no doubt at all that Sol and Robert are absolutely in love and seeing that, despite the hurt they caused their wives, is heartwarming…

They deal with finally coming out as gay in their 70s (in a later season we see how nervous Catholic Robert is when telling his 90+ mother that he is gay), trying to tap into a gay community and find their own ‘way’ of being gay and struggling with couple issues like any couple does (living together, wedding preparations but also jealousy and infidelity of sorts are included).

The stars of the show are of course Grace and Frankie. They deal with the blow they have received and must learn to find new sources of support. They deal with feeling obsolete and ageing and health and death and family and finding love and sex and what all that means late in life. They must find their new normal, figure out a way to deal with their ex-husbands and figure out a way to make life fun and meaningful again. All of this sounds quite dramatic but the show has so much humour! It is touching and very funny at the same time and that combination is gold.

Grace and Frankie are two opposites who somehow attract and so much comedy is derived from how these opposites interact with each other, how very differently they deal with situations.  Grace is closed off and not too comfortable talking about emotions, Frankie is the opposite, Grace finds solace in drinking, Frankie finds solace in chanting and smoking pot. Frankie is very nurturing of her sons, whereas Grace is more standoffish with her daughters. She doesn’t particularly like kids and being a hands on grandmother is not her thing. And yet, reluctantly and bonding over the situation they have found themselves in, they become close. At some point Grace and Frankie even decide to found a company making vibrators that are tailored to older women, after Grace injures her wrist using a ‘regular’ vibrator at Frankie’s suggestion.

Gracle & Frankie 03

That whole vibrator storyline is just a joy to watch. It also highlights how different their approaches to business are. Grace is a business woman through and through and Frankie is very much a go with the flow person, also very intent on being ethical in business. This leads to some very funny situations and they even go out and about with vagina balloons at one point!

grace frankie balloons

And their families look on in wonder how these two very different women seem to gel…Grace & Frankie group

They also deal with love. Frankie finds herself attracted to vegetable farmer Jacob (Ernie Hudson) who provides yams for the yam lubricant she makes (yeah, funny, just watch it…).

Grace gets involved with travel writer Guy (Craig T. Nelson) for a while…

… then reconnects with contractor Phil (Sam Elliott) whom she had once been attracted to but at that time she couldn’t act on it…

Grace & Phil

… and later finds that rich businessman Nick (Peter Gallagher), a man younger than she is and an adversary in business, is trying to pursue her…

Through all of this, at the heart of the show, there is the friendship between Frankie and Grace, dealing with problems that age brings and finding their feet in a later stage of life.

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To me this is a very universal show, relevant to all ages. Sure, it centers around old people, but really it’s a show about humanity, accepting the differences in people, dealing with what life throws at you and trying to make the most of life regardless, and survival. All of this is done with a nice large shot of humour thrown in. The acting is great, the characters are great, the stories are fun and serious subjects are not shunned. I have just completely fallen for Grace and Frankie!

There are four seasons of Grace and Frankie available on Netflix (13 half hour episodes a season). The fifth season is being filmed as we speak, it should be out at the beginning of next year. I, for one, can hardly wait to see how this continues! Here’s a trailer for the start of the series.

The show really is everything this trailer promises and more… totally worth a watch in my humble opinion. 🙂

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I love Gugu Mbatha-Raw!

Last night I was re-watching a movie I had seen some time ago called Beyond the Lights (from 2014). It was an accidental selection but once I started watching I couldn’t stop. I had forgotten how good it was and especially how excellent the lead actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw is!

In Beyond the Lights Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the singer Noni Jean who has shot to fame and has just won a Billboard music award. However, not all that glitters is gold and Noni, once she is alone in her hotel room, tries to commit suicide by getting ready to jump off a balcony. She is saved by a police officer and slowly but surely has to deal with what it was that made her want to jump.

Beyond the Lights

Yes, it’s a love story as she and the police officer Kaz (Nate Parker) fall in love, but far more than that, it is a story of a young woman who has let herself be swept up to be a certain way and starts figuring out who she really is; it’s about her emancipating herself from her manager-mother (Minnie Driver, also amazing in this!) and it is about finding her own voice, figuratively and literally.

Beyond_the_lights

At some point Noni escapes it all with Kaz and starts to really find herself. At her hideout in Mexico she is not recognized and stands up incognito at a karaoke bar to sing Nina Simone’s ‘Blackbird’ acapella. That performance is mesmerizing and moved me to tears, especially considering all the character has been through up to that point in the story. Here, take a look yourself…

I have also seen Gugu in the excellent 2013 movie Belle, in which she plays Dido Belle, the mixed-race adopted daughter of a judge who lived at Kenwood House in London in the 18th century. It’s the story of Dido trying to find her place in society as a young woman of mixed-race and is set against the backdrop of her father judging a case about slaves who were thrown overboard from a slave ship, with the owners of the ship claiming compensation from insurers. I even fan-girled over the movie when I was in London a year ago.

The film is based on a painting that used to hang in Kenwood House (but is now in Scotland) where, maybe for the first time, a person of colour is portrayed as equal to the white person (and not as a servant or slave). Here the original painting (on the left) and the one featured in the movie…

Gugu is so excellent in this movie and I have seen it quite a few times already. Period drama addressing racism and slavery in England is unusual and I can only highly recommend this one!

I remember noticing Gugu in a small role in the Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts movie Larry Crowne (the movie itself was so-so)…

I even remember first seeing her back in 2008, in a very small part in the very amusing miniseries Lost in Austen, where she plays the (20th century) friend of the main character Amanda…

And Gugu was Plumette in the recent Beauty and the Beast movie..

She is also in a few movies on my I-still-wanna-watch-that list, for instance:

  • Free State of Jones about a man’s armed revolt against the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Once I learned she was in it, it went on my list. The only reason I haven’t watched it yet is because of Matthew McConaughey (he’s a good actor but I’m not a fan).
  • She plays the lead role in Irreplaceable You, out on Netflix. As it’s a film about a woman with terminal cancer, I haven’t been able to watch it yet (ever since I saw the process of dying with my father, I don’t do so well anymore with dramas about someone dying).
  • She’s also in A Wrinkle in Time, a scifi fantasy adventure starring Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon. I missed it in the cinema (apparently it didn’t do so well) but it will be out on DVD soon.
  • I have only just now found out that she also plays in Miss Sloane with Jessica Chastain and Mark Strong. It’s a movie about the gun lobby in the USA and one I’ve already been curious about. Now I have extra incentive to actually watch it soon.

I have seen little bits and pieces of her in the first two films on this little list and that was already looking good. I have a feeling Gugu Mbatha-Raw is slowly worming her way into becoming one of my fave actresses!

Aussie Aussie Aussie!

Aussie – as in an endearment for an Australian. 🙂 There has been some great Aussie entertainment news this past week!


Last week two of my favourite Aussies were posing together: Simon Baker of The Mentalist fame and Hugh Jackman. Simon has made a movie called Breath and Hugh Jackman and his wife Deborra-lee Furness were helping Simon promote his movie in New York City! As shared on Hugh’s instagram account…

… as well as on Simon’s instagram account. Apparently Jackman hosted the screening!

Here a few more pictures from that same event (click to enlarge)…

Breath is an Australian movie set in the 1970s. It’s a coming of age story about two teenage boys who befriend an older surfer (Simon Baker) and he challenges them to take risks. Here’s a trailer…

Simon Baker not only stars in this, he also directed, produced and co-wrote this movie and, as an accomplished surfer himself, he also surfs in it. I’m not sure how wide the release will be but the first reviews I have seen sound promising!


In other Aussie news: the Australian Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries film is a go! Crowdfunding (and yes, I also am a backer) helped make this possible. 🙂 All the main actors will be back and filming will start in October in Morocco and in Australia (Melbourne). The new movie is called Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears

You can read the full press release here. From the press release…

“The film opens with the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher rescuing Shirin Abbas, a young Bedouin woman, who has been thrown into jail in British Mandated Palestine, for making trouble at a time of colonial unrest. After a perilous escape from Jerusalem, she rejoins Shirin as a fellow guest in the home of Lord and Lady Lofthouse, for the London ‘season’ and she pledges to help her right a wrong and discover the truth about the Crypt of Tears – an ancient crypt rumoured to lie somewhere beneath the rolling sands of the Negev Desert.

Fiona Eagger said: “Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears will have the witty intrigue of Indiana Jones, the opulent style of a Merchant Ivory Production, and the feminist fun of Thelma and Louise.”

It’ll be a while before we’ll actually see it but already I am getting excited for this!


Also, a bit of Aussie fun: Chris Hemsworth, Australian actor of Thor fame, posted this funny little video of him signing photographs of himself the other day.

I can so imagine that it must feel like a workout if you have to sign so very many!


And in final Aussie news – nominations for Australia’s biggest TV awards, the Logies, have just been announced. The Aussie show A Place to Call Home, that I love so much, has been nominated for ‘Most Outstanding Drama Series’!

They won the award last year and I wouldn’t mind them winning it again this year! Jenni Baird has again been nominated for ‘Most Outstanding Supporting Actress’ for her role as Regina…

… and by George, would I absolutely love to see her win! She has been the most dubious, chilling and layered character on the show, she was robbed for not winning last year. I hope she gets it this year, fingers crossed!


Yes, I love me some good Aussie news!

My fave royal wedding

I am not a royal gusher but when I see things about royal families, I do get a look in when I feel I like them. I therefore am quite aware of who the main Dutch royals are, I know a bit who the main Danish royals are (I quite like their Australian-born crown princess) and I think just about everyone knows who the British royals are. While I do quite like prince William, his wife Kate doesn’t do much for me (never has, even when they got married). In recent years, I thought Harry was turning out quite nicely too. And then he got engaged to Meghan Markle, of tv-show Suits fame. I really like Suits and I really like Meghan too and I admit that I was very much taken by the idea of them as a couple! And today (well, yesterday, as it’s after midnight here), they got married in what I think may be my fave royal wedding to date.

It started special when there was Idris Elba and Oprah Winfrey and George & Amal Clooney walking up to the chapel in Windsor Castle.

I wouldn’t call myself a George Clooney fan, although I do like him, but he sure as hell looked extremely gorgeous in grey (colouring nicely with his hair) in the spring sunshine!clooneys3

I got the greatest kick out of seeing the Suits actors walk to the church. There was gorgeous Gabriel Macht (Harvey Specter on the show) and his lovely wife Jacinda Barrett…

… and Patrick J. Adams (who plays Michael Ross, the man Meghan Markle married on the show!) with his wife Troian Bellisario…

Back in November, when Meghan and Harry had gotten engaged he had tweeted…2017-11-27-Patrick J Adams op Twitter_ _She said she was just going out to get some milk...

… and this morning he followed on from that joke with this Instagram post…

2018-05-19 22_03_22-Patrick Adams on Instagram_ “I_m beginning to think she might not actually be ou

Also Sarah Rafferty (Donna Paulsen on Suits) was there with her husband Santtu Säppäla…

And Gina Torres (who plays Jessica Pearson) and Rick Hoffman (who plays Louis Litt) also came…

There were more illustrious guests (like Serena Williams and Elton John) but I don’t want to go on about guests, I want to show pictures from the wedding!

Harry arrived with his brother William, who was best man…

… and then bride Meghan, driving with her mother Doria Ragland beside her, appeared…

In the church, the two princes were waiting for the bride…wed3 asile0

Doria went into the church alone, and, already fighting the tears, Harry caught her eye…

It must have been quite something special for her to see her daughter get married in such a unique way, she looked very touched throughout the service.

Outside Meghan arrived, accompanied by two page boys who carried her veil…

I kinda loved that she walked down the aisle on her own, as an independent woman of the world.wed3 asile1For the last part of her walk, she was met by Prince Charles (standing in for Meghan’s father who was ill and couldn’t be there), who welcomed her into the family rather than ‘gave her away’. When she got to Harry, you could lip-read Harry saying “Thank you, Pa” to his dad. Awww.

And just after the couple greeted each other at the altar you could also lip-read Harry saying to Meghan “You look amazing”. 🙂

They found each other’s hands and held hands for most to the ceremony, which I found sweet and I don’t think I ever saw other royal couples do so extensively.

Harry uncovered Meghan’s face (another awww!) and they went right on holding hands during the ceremony.

And then maybe the best part of the ceremony came, when Episcopalian bishop Michael Curry delivered his lively sermon about love.Bishop Michael Curry3That man is a good speaker and certainly woke people up, made them sit up and made people smile. Not only the royal couple…

… but many guests looked surprised and bemused…

The best reaction has got to be from Zara Tindall (daughter of Princess Anne, Charles’ sister), who was trying to process what was hitting her…react zara

I think that may have been the moment I said to Mr Esther “best royal wedding ever!” After that wonderful, enlivening sermon came a wonderful gospel choir singing “Stand By Me”, which was stunning…gospel choir2

Harry and Meghan listened from afar…wed7-seated01

And then finally the vows were exchanged (and I wiped away a few tears).

Again, lovely. The way these two look at each other, it’s pretty clear how they feel about each other! After the vows they went out for a few minutes to sign the register. They were followed by Prince Charles who so graciously invited Doria to come with him. One of the highlights for me really was how Charles looked after Doria, who was the only member of Meghan’s family present.doria charles

He was also sweet to Doria after the service, walking with her and talking with her, including her in everything and lending her his arm. I found that very touching.

Back to the wedding service: after the signing, the national anthem was sung and the couple left the church…

They exited the church…

… looked at each other…

… and kissed…

Pictures from another angle…

Ah, the romance! The walked down the steps to an awaiting carriage…

… and then came the carriage ride through Windsor…

Apparently there was also a kiss in the carriage. I didn’t see it on TV, but it was there in the pictures..wed11-carriage (8)

I also found this image somehow very beautiful and endearing…wed11-carriage (13)

The wedding was festive and there was pomp and circumstance, but it also was personal, mixing the traditional more reserved English world of Harry beautifully with the more emotionally demonstrative American world of Meghan. It was about a woman standing on her own, openly embracing a future with a prince, it was about embracing difference and celebrating it. And it didn’t hurt that I found Meghan’s dress absolutely gorgeous and the couple was beautiful to look at.

The rest of the festivities were outside the public eye, except for a moment this evening when the couple left Windsor to go to Prince Charles’s residence at Frogmore house for the evening party. Meghan had changed into another dress, Harry had changed into a tux and they were off in a cute little blue Jaguar sports car…

I don’t often go gaga over royal events. I do usually enjoy them and like looking at the pictures but then easily move on. This wedding, however, somehow touched me more than other weddings have and yes, it even made me actively actually gather all these pictures throughout the day! In a world so hateful and cynical Harry and Meghan today radiated an image of love and inclusion and change. I hope they can continue to do this and wish them all happiness and the best for the future!

TDH in the past few days

Luckily not everything has been doom and gloom of late – to cheer me up from depressing world news there have been some Tall Dark Handsome people to really enjoy looking at!

Starting off with Richard Armitage and a second short video interview about the Wolverine podcast (I mentioned the first one on blog here). I still haven’t listened to Wolverine because of reasons, but the behind the scenes still looks good.

In the other post, I put many images of Richard talking with his hands, which is fascinating to look at, here are a few more screencaps I made from this second interview. He doesn’t only talk with hands, he talks with fists as well!

RA Wolverine Podcast 4-5-2018 (3)And he’s expressive when moving around (click on images to enlarge)…

The most evocative shot that I really fell for was this following one of him. In the first video we’d seen a close-up of him on the floor. This time we get the full body shot of him sitting on the floor, with legs pulled up, one crossed over the other. The other guy on the couch is watching him be the picture of focus and concentration, with Richard lost in his Wolverine world on the tablet; I just love that…

RA Wolverine Podcast 4-5-2018 (6)

Here, a closer look…

RA Wolverine Podcast 4-5-2018 cutout

I really like those boots too!

Moving from one tall, dark, handsome man to the next: Colin Firth and his wife Livia were at the recent Met Gala. They are embroiled in a legal battle with Livia’s ex-lover right now but they have been forming a united front lately and are going everywhere together, including the gala. They looked very handsome and very elegant!

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I especially loved this profile shot of them, with Colin’s hand resting lightly on his wife’s back!

colin-firth-livia-firth-met-gala-2018-02I really hope they get through this difficult time well together…

Speaking of the Met Gala, I have seen pictures here and there of people all dressed up in the Catholic theme of the gala. I don’t intend to show all those images here, except for the dress of one person, that really struck me. Zendaya, who did such an awesome job in the part of Anne Wheeler in The Greatest Showman, came looking like Joan of Arc. I found it a stunning look!

She certainly looked tall dark and handsome and gorgeous and should there be a new Joan of Arc movie in the works somewhere, I recommend they look to Zendaya for the title role!

Speaking of tall dark handsome and The Greatest Showman: on his instagram Hugh Jackman posted a lovely pic of him and his wife Deb all dressed up, ready to go to the Met Gala…

Hugh Jackman & Deb Instagram

He’s also been promoting his ethical coffee company called ‘Laughing Man‘.

Yes, Hugh Jackman makes me smile!

And finally, nothing to do with the Met Gala, but all to do with tall dark and handsome and making me smile: Pierce Brosnan who shared some lovely images on his instagram in the past few days. First, he shared a picture of himself with full beard for a role he has been playing. The man ages so beautifully, he’s become even more interesting to look at over the past decade or so! Anyway, I find him drop dead gorgeous here…

Pierce Brosnan instagram 01

… and then he shared a picture of himself with his paintings. I have seen paintings of his in the past before and I really like his colourful style! He’s pretty good at it. He has painted since 1987 since his first wife started fighting ovarian cancer (she died a few years later). The painting has apparently been very therapeutic for him and he still loves doing it…

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Apparently he is running out of storage space for his paintings…

If he needs space, I wouldn’t mind a Pierce Brosnan painting donation for my living room! Interesting to look at and the colours can lift my spirits… 🙂