This month will be a mix of good neutral and bad. July has been rough on a person who enjoys streaming content as I do. Not a lot of what I was scrolling through sparked my interest and if it did, it might not have been worth my time. Consequently, I decided to share all of my opinions.
An adaption of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, Beale Street is a romantic drama about Fonny and Tish in the 1970s. Beautifully shot and directed by Barry Jenkins, the story mixes first love and the challenges of blending families with a legal drama. I cannot come up with enough superlatives to discuss this movie. Regina King more than deserved her Oscar for her performance in this film.
With a relevant subject and relatable love story If Beale Street Could Talk is a faithful adaption of Baldwin’s book and the best thing, I watched this month.
In this ten-part docu-series the host of Top Chef travels the US to learn about the food of different areas of the country. This is not a cooking show, it’s about people, culture and how that relates to food. The first episode is set in El Paso, TX, they delved into how the immigration issue is affecting the people that live on one side of the border but work on the other side. The first thing I learned in the episode is what a burrito really is. The second thing? Lakshmi loves food.
Since my colleagues here on PCU will be posting a full review of this movie all I want to add is this film is FANTASTIC. Seriously, get your popcorn and watch this movie.
Filthy Rich is a four-part docu-series that dives into the case against Epstein from the point of view of his many victims. This telling of the story is detailed and rage-inducing. How could his sexual assault ring go on for so long without the parties being brought to justice? Or if they were why was the sentencing be so light? This docu-series illustrates how money and justice go hand in hand.
Well-paced, informative, and easily watched in one sitting.
Married attorney Ellie meets the firm’s new technology specialist David who happens to be a college friend of hers. Ellie & David almost had an affair one evening, which reignited David’s decades-long fixation with her. The story becomes one of mental health, stalking, emotional abuse, and murder.
The plot of this film has been done many times before and better, see Fatal Attraction. While I enjoyed Omar Epps performance as the bad guy, I wanted better for him and the other actors. The script did not rise to the level of the actors, nor give enough support to David’s obsession with Ellie, thus leaving the film feeling hollow. The movie is watchable; if you are looking for something easy on the brain on a weekend afternoon this is that movie.
The first episode of Unsolved Mysteries aired in January of 1987. Each episode would be a mix of a cold missing person or murder cases, UFO’s, strange happenings, and things that went bump in the night. With narration by Robert Stack, his bass tone voiced, and even introductions amped up the anxiety factor just enough to make this show a weekly anxiety fix.
What is missing from Unsolved Mysteries 2020 is the strange happenings and the things that go bump in the night. They took away everything that made this show fun and exciting to watch. This latest iteration has leaned into the current fascination with cold murder cases. Of the six episodes released on July 1st, 5 of them are about mysterious deaths and one about a UFO. Also, instead of mixing several topics into one show, they focus on ONE case for the entire 45-minute episode. That single focus did allow them to delve deeply into the subject; however, I miss having the additional investigations.
What makes this more disheartening is that the original creators of Unsolved Mysteries are involved in the Netflix version of the show. Who greenlit these changes?!?
It has good production value but did not meet the expectations I had of Unsolved Mysteries. The original series is available on IMBD TV for free.
One of the last movies with a theatrical release at the start of the stay at home orders. Couple Gemma and Tom are looking to purchase a home. They walk into a showroom for a subdivision called Yonder. The odd salesperson offers to show them the houses right away. Once they arrive and view the home, agent disappears. The couple cannot navigate out of the subdivision and are trapped. I love projects with new plots that keep you guessing, and Vivarium is just that.
From reviews I have read since watching this film there is no middle ground: either people loved it or hated it. One common complaint I have read is that the film is slow, which is true, but I found that to be purposeful. It builds dread and augments madness. The film takes on some deep themes that stay with you. Warning if you are sick and tired of the stay at home orders, do not watch this film.
I listen to a podcast called Unspooled. Actor Paul Scheer and Film Critic Amy Nicholson had a goal to watch the movies on the 2007 edition of the American Film Institute 100 Greatest Films of All Times. Each week they would watch a film, discuss quality of the story and acting, over-representation of directors and certain genres. They dove into the lack of women, people of color and LGBTQ+ stories and directors and give their opinion on if the film should remain on the list. If anything about the film was problematic, including the film itself, like Gone With the Wind and Alfred Hitchcock, they discussed that as well. Season one just ended; for season 2 they have decided to cut the list to 50 films and start rebuilding filling in the gaps. My next recommendation I watched because of the podcast.
This service is free and available to through libraries, check with your local library for access. You can watch up to six movies per month plus one Great Courses Plus.
Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 silent film opens with The Tramp working on an assembly line until he suffers a nervous breakdown. The iconic scene of the Tramp being swallowed by a machine is in this film
His life spirals out of control after this with commitments and being arrested. This film was fun to watch. I know Chaplin was a bit of a jerk, however he is considered a genius of his time and I had never watched one of his films, so it seemed like a good time to watch it. This film is brilliant, some of the themes around work and productivity are very applicable 84 years later. If you can separate the art from the artist give it a watch.
The following titles I do not recommend and refuse to compose more than a sentence.
Down to Earth with Zac Efron (Netflix) While the places the team visited were interesting, there are people on YouTube creating this type of content who are more engaging and informative.
Uncut Gems (Netflix) This is Adam Sandler trying not to be funny with the same acting style. I am not his target audience.
4 Presidents: Oval Office Conspiracies (Amazon Prime) Extremely random coincidences masquerading as a history documentary.
OK that was my July, I’ve reviewed the August trailers and I’m excited to see a few things. What did you watch recently? Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!