There is no doubt that Britney Spears is an icon. She is one of those few performers whose name and work is instantly recognizable. It doesn’t take much to conjure up her image or one of her songs.
Since 2008, Spears has been under a conservatorship led by her father. At the time, it made sense. Given her the public mental health breakdown, it was obvious that someone needed to step in. To sit back and do nothing would have irresponsible. It was supposed to be temporary, until she was able to function as an adult. But somewhere along the way, it became more about using her a cash cow while treating her as a child incapable of taking care of herself.
It’s time for the conservatorship to end. If not wholly, reduced down so that she has some say in her personal and professional life. I also have to wonder if she were a man, would the treatment been different? I think so. There have been a quite a few male celebrities who also live with mental illness and have been open about it. They were not legally and personally shackled down as Spears has been.
There are two ways to create children’s television. The first is to talk down to the audience while advertising an inordinate amount of merchandise. The second is reach the children on their level and respect them as human beings.
The documentary,The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story, was released in 2018. The movie tells the story of the children television network, Nickelodeon, from its inception in the late 1970’s to the powerhouse it became in the 1990’s. Interviewing execs, writers, creators, and actors, it is the story of a channel that was ahead of its time and continues to push boundaries today.
*Warning: the post contains spoilers about the end of the third season. Read at your own risk if you are still catching up.
The anticipated release of a new season of a favorite television series is both exciting and nerve wracking. It has to build on the narrative of the previous seasons while opening the door to wherever the new season may go.
The first episode starts off right where the 3rd season ended. The plane full of women and children has safely landed in Canada. In Gilead, the repercussions of June/Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) rebellion have created a ripple effect. She has become a Moses like figure to the fugitive handmaids who are desperate for freedom. The authorities in Gilead have a different take on her actions and have deemed her to be enemy #1.
In Canada, Commander and Serena Joy Waterford (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski) are in the custody of the government and bickering. Meanwhile, June/Offred’s husband, Luke Bankhole (O-T Fagbenle) and her friends who are refugees, are dealing with the consequences of her actions from another angle.
So far, the first three episodes are fantastic. It is dark, gripping, and completely intoxicating. Next Wednesday and episode 4 cannot come soon enough.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Handmaid’s Tale is available for streaming on Hulu. New episodes are released every Wednesday.
When the stakes are life and death, the choices that are open to us are nothing short of impossible. Regardless of the the path that one takes, we know that someone will lose their life.
The new movie, Quo Vadis, Aida?, takes place in the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war in the 1990’s. History tells us that over 8000 Bosniaks Muslim men and boys were murdered by the Bosnian army. Aida Selmanagic (Jasna Djuricic) is a translator in the summer of 1995. The Bosnians have just entered the town and are killing civilians who have not already escaped. Thousands upon thousands have made their way to the United Nations compound, looking for safety. But only a handful are able to enter.
Aida is able to get her husband and sons into the compound. But with many more outside, she has a horrible choice to make. She can either put her family first or save as many as she can.
If I were to compile a list of the best films of 2021 today, Quo Vadis, Aida would be near the top of the list. Djuricic gives a heartbreaking and tour de force performance. Her anxiety comes out of the screen immediately, as does the imminent feeling of danger.
When it comes to movies about war and trying to save lives, most of the protagonists are men. The fact that the lead character is a female who is a full fledged human being makes the narrative that much more powerful.
I felt myself getting angry at how useless the UN officials were. Whatever attempts they made to keep the peace were easily destroyed. I also saw similarities to The Holocaust, in which hate and murder was the norm.
Do I recommend it? Without a doubt, yes.
Quo Vadis, Aidais available for streaming on Hulu.
There are two equally important keys to success: talent and hard work.
The 4th season of National Geographic Channel’s Genius series follows the life and career of the late Aretha Franklin. The first three episodes cuts back and forth from the early fifties, when the future superstar is a preteen to the sixties when the adult Aretha (Cynthia Erivo) is on the brink of superstardom. As a young girl, Franklin was a singing wunderkind. Raised by her enigmatic preacher father C.L. Franklin (Courtney B. Vance), she witnesses both his devotion to the church and his less than moral extracurricular activities. In the present, she is not only dealing with work and motherhood, but her sometimes shaky marriage to her husband/manager, Ted White (Malcolm Barrett).
Watching the first three episodes, I feel like I know who Aretha Franklin was, as a whole person. Not just the image presented in the press. Looking back, she represents badly needed change in this country for both women and people of color.
Being a teenager is hard enough. Adding in Hollywood to the mix is a dangerous cocktail that has the potential for unwanted consequences.
The new documentary Kid 90 premiered last night on Hulu. It follows former child actor Soleil Moon Frye (Punky Brewster) as she interviews her friends who were also child stars growing up in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Reading from her old diaries and revisiting video footage that is decades old, she recounts her own teenage years with honesty that is sometimes missing from our memories of that period in our lives.
I enjoyed this movie. It revealed that the teenage experience is universal, regardless of where we are growing up. It also spoke of mental health issues and how being a kid actor can mess with your head in ways that are unique to showbusiness.
History is full of myths, half-truths, and stories that over time have been embellished or altered in some way.
Brad Meltzer’s Decoded aired on the History Channel from 2010-2012. Hosted by writer and investigator Brad Meltzer, the series follows a group of history detectives as they look into a variety of symbols, secret codes, and conspiracy theories.
Though the show has been off on the air for nearly a decade, it is available for streaming on Hulu. I watched one episode a while back. As a history nerd, I am all for exploring the narrative beyond the accepted facts. The problem is that it was just background noise. I enjoyed it, but I can’t say that I am excited to sit down and binge the entire series.
There is something about the power of music. A beloved song has a way of making it’s way into the listeners brain, conscious, and perhaps helping to change things for the better.
Billie Holiday is one of the most beloved singers of the 20th century. Though it has been six decades since her physical form left this Earth, her performances and songs continue to leave a mark on fans. The new biopic about her life, The United States vs. Billie Holiday dropped yesterday on Hulu.
The film stars singer/actress Andra Day as Holiday, Garrett Hedlund as Harry J. Anslinger, and Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher. The audience follows Holiday as she battles drug addiction, racism, and gets involved with FBI agent Jimmy Fletcher. Woven into the narrative is the iconic and dark song Strange Fruit, which sadly is as potent today as it was during Holiday’s life time.
I really wanted to like this film. Day’s performance is worthy of the accolades she is receiving. Unfortunately, that is where I have to draw the line. Frankly, I was bored. I wanted to be hooked, but I was not. Whatever tension and drama I anticipated was sadly lacking. Especially with Anslinger’s obsession and persecution of Billie Holiday. That should have been more exciting that it was actually was.
Twenty years ago, Britney Spears was one of the biggest acts not just in music, but in the entertainment industry as a whole. She was everywhere. These days, its a different story.
The new Hulu documentary, Framing Britney Spears, premiered on Friday. The movie follows her life, career, and the #FreeBritney movement. Their claim is that that Spears no longer needs to be under the control of the conservatorship, currently held by her father. After her mental health issues became public in 2008, it was enacted for her safety. The claim of those interviewed is that Spears is perfectly capable of making her own decisions, and that the conservatorship is no longer needed.
I loved this movie. It shines a new light on how disgustingly she was treated both by the press and those who benefited from her time at the top of the pop culture food chain. The issue at the heart of this film is mental health, and how those who suffer (women especially) usually get the short end of the stick. If there was one sticking point, it was that if Spears was male, none of this would have ever been considered. But because she is a woman, she must be taken care of because it would be impossible that she is capable of making her own decisions.
When solving a problem, a little creativity never hurts.
Trends are just that. Some come and go quickly, others last and create change in the process. For the last few years, homeowners have been getting around the issues of climate change and rising home prices in the United States. One of the ways they have been doing so is via container homes.
Naturally, the idea was picked up by television executives. Container Homes has been on HGTV’s schedule since 2016. The show is also available on Hulu. Every week, the audience is introduced to a new family as their new home is built by converting shipping containers into a livable space.
This show is interesting. What I find compelling is the process of creating a house using unorthodox materials and the surprise when it is all said and done.