Women at War Season 1 Review

It is a sad truth universally acknowledged that women are only allowed to step when their men are called away to war.

The first season of the French television series Woman at War was recently released on Netflix. As World War I rages on, four women step up to save their country. Marguerite (Audrey Fleurot) is running from her past. Agnes (Julie De Bona) is a Mother Superior whose convent has been turned into a military hospital. Suzanne (Camille Lou) has the law on her tail. Caroline (Sofia Essaïdi) has been tasked with running the family business while her husband is on the front lines.

Blending personal drama with the compounding effects of a military conflict made for one heck of a story. The writing was fantastic, the actors were pitch-perfect and I was thoroughly drawn into the narrative.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Women at War is available for streaming on Netflix with English subtitles.

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Live to Lead Review

A leader is not one who only inspires by words. They act on their beliefs and encourage their followers to do the same.

The new six-part Netflix documentary, Live to Lead, tells the story of six extraordinary individuals whose actions helped to create a better world. Produced by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it was inspired by the late Nelson Mandela.

Among those profiled are Greta Thunberg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Siya Kolisi.

I enjoyed the series. It is a reminder that the impossible is possible. It is just a matter of courage, having a spine, and the knowledge that this chosen path will be full of pitfalls and brick walls.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Live to Lead is available for streaming on Netflix.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover Movie Review

Sometimes, life throws us unexpected curves. What matters is not the curve itself, but how we deal with it.

The new Netflix film, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, is based on the book of the same name by D.H. Lawrence. The starts with the marriage of Constance “Connie” Reid (Emma Corrin) and Sir Clifford Chatterley (Matthew Duckett). It looks like it is going to be a long and fruitful relationship. Then World War I intervenes.

Clifford comes home in a wheelchair. They try to settle into a new normal, but whatever brought them together in the first place is starting to fizzle out. Encouraged by her husband to have an affair in order to extend the family tree, Connie starts sleeping with Oliver Mellors (Jack O’Connell), the estate groundskeeper.

What starts out as a release of pent-up sexual energy turns into something much more. Like all secrets, it eventually comes out. Connie could pretend that it did not happen. The other option is to do what her heart tells her to do and ignore the naysayers.

I’ve never read the book, but I have heard of it. If there was ever a definitive list of banned books, Lady Chatterley’s Lover would surely be at the top. Its frank discussion of sexuality and a woman making her own choices is as relevant now as it was a century ago.

I liked the film. It was well done and well acted. I felt for all of the characters, especially Connie. It is not that Clifford purposefully excluded her, he was just caught up in his own world and forgot to include her.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover is available for streaming on Netflix.

Best New Television Shows of 2022

  1. Obi-Wan Kenobi: The DisneyPlus series answers the question of what happened to Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in between the events of Revenge of the Sith (2005) and A New Hope (1977). My favorite part of the series was the introduction of Reva Sevander (Moses Ingram).
  2. Anatomy of a Scandal: Based on the Sarah Vaughan book of the same name, this Netflix miniseries follows the investigation of a politician accused of rape.
  3. The US and the Holocaust: This Ken Burns multi-part PBS documentary exposes how the United States failed to help the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.
  4. Ridley Road: This PBS/Masterpiece program is based on the book of the same name by Jo Bloom. It tells the story of a young woman of Jewish descent in the 1960s who goes undercover to stop a Neo-Nazi group from destroying the UK.
  5. Gaslit: Julia Roberts plays Martha Mitchell in this Starz production that tells the tale of Watergate from Martha’s perspective.
  6. Dangerous Liaisons: A sort of prelude Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it started off a bit slow and took a few episodes to get interesting. Unfortunately, Starz canceled it at the end of the first season.
  7. The Serpent Queen: Samantha Morton plays the title character in this Starz series about Catherine de Medici. Wow, that is all I have to say.
  8. Women of the Movement: This ABC/Hulu miniseries told of the murder of Emmett Till and his mother Mamie’s journey to get justice for her son.
  9. Ms. Marvel: A young woman goes from an ordinary teenager to a superhero who saves the world.
  10. Andor: The prequel to Rogue One, the series explains how Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) became the rebel leader who led the fight against the Empire.
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This will be my last post for 2022. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for taking time out of your day to read this humble writer’s work. I’ll see you in 2023.

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Harry & Meghan Documentary Review

A logical mind would say that we ought to believe that everything that we read in the press is true. We can hope that the journalists have done their homework before putting (digital) pen to paper. But a realistic mind says otherwise. There are some publications that are more than happy to fudge the facts in order to increase sales.

The new six-part Netflix documentary, Harry & Meghan was released this weekend. In this docuseries, Harry and Meghan sit in front of their camera and tell the story. From their early years to their eventual courtship, marriage, and becoming parents, nothing is off-limits. Backing up the couple are family, friends, and a handful of respected experts who add additional details to the narrative.

I found their honesty to be refreshing and real. Harry talks about the mental health challenges he experienced after the death of his late mother, Princess Diana. For her part, Meghan describes the racism she experienced as a biracial woman. The villain in this piece is the media, charged with spreading lies and half-truths in order to get eyeballs on screen and hands on newspapers.

Though some say that the facts have been smudged, I think the message is clear. The purpose of the program is to hear their story in their own words, which I think is quite refreshing. It is also telling (in my mind, at least), there are crickets coming from the palace. Instead of responding to the criticism, the silence speaks volumes.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The first three episodes of Harry & Meghan are available for viewing on Netflix. The next (and final) three episodes drop on the 15th.

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Thoughts On Whoopi Goldberg’s Hamas Comment and Netflix’s Farha

There are two ways to view history: the fact as we know them to be and how the information is twisted to represent a certain perspective.

Just before Thanksgiving, The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg said the following about Hamas and the Taliban being labeled as terrorist organizations.

“Depends who you talk to”

This was in response to Ilhan Omar potentially being removed from her committees by the Republican leadership in January. Now granted, this is a partisan proposal that is deeply problematic, but Goldberg’s comments are also problematic.

Both Hamas and the Taliban (as anyone with a brain would recognize), are known terrorist groups. If the only way to create their ideal world is to destroy and kill, so be it. The Hamas Charter goes so far as to say it in black and white.

“Which calls for the destruction of the State of Israel, and would not
become a purely political movement, but quite the opposite, it would continue its policy of “resistance”.

The conflict with Israeli is religious and political: The Palestinian problem is a religious-political Muslim problem and the conflict with Israel is between Muslims and the Jewish “infidels.”

Goldberg seems to be an intelligent and capable woman. She would have lasted this long in Hollywood without a brain. But in making this comment, she has proven herself to be ignorant.

One of the newest films to be released on Netflix is Farha. It is supposed to dramatize the event known as “Nakba“. This is the lie that in 1948, Israel murdered and forced out hundreds of thousands of Arab Palestinians.

In any war, there is violence, there is death, and there is destruction. It is the nature of the beast. Nakba never happened. It was a story concocted to make the Israelis appear the Goliath to the Palestinian‘s David. The problem is that this fiction has continued to enable anti-semitism and has killed multiple generations on both sides.

Every time I read or see something about this, I get sick to my stomach. When I was very young, I was told the story about the ripple in the bond. As it got bigger, it spread. The same could be said for anti-semitism.

The only way to counter this hate is with love and acceptance. But first, we have to be willing to see one another as human beings.

Enjoy your evening.

Stutz Movie Review

Talk therapy is one of the most common forms of working through mental illness. Speaking to a therapist allows one to air their grievances (so to speak) in an emotionally healthy manner.

The new Netflix documentary Stutz is a conversation between actor Jonah Hill and his psychiatrist, Phil Stutz. Over the course of 136 minutes, both men spill their guts (figuratively speaking). Hill talks about being known as a plus-sized actor and the downside of fame. Stutz delves into his past and how his own trauma has gotten him to this point in his life.

This film is fantastic. I loved the honesty of both men. Filmed in mostly black and white, it speaks to the power of the importance of respecting mental health. As someone who has been grappling with it for many years, I related to Hill and his struggles. I also appreciated Stutz’s approach to working with his patients and helping them to achieve their goals.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Stutz is available for streaming on Netflix.

The Crown Season 5 Review

For four seasons, Netflix‘s The Crown has pulled back the curtain to tell the story of the Windsors.

Season five premiered last weekend. Taking place in the 1990s, it dives into the personal and professional troubles of the late Queen Elizabeth II (Imelda Staunton) and her family. Standing stalwart beside her is her now-late husband, Prince Philip (Jonathan Pryce), and late sister Princess Margaret (Lesley Manville).

Among the issues that the Windsors are dealing with are the failing marriages of three of the Queen’s four children. As we all know now, the “happy” union of the former Prince Charles (Dominic West) and the late Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) has reached its breaking point. Returning to the arms of his ex, the former Camilla Parker Bowles (Olivia Williams), he is torn between duty and love.

This season is amazing. Among the main cast, Staunton and Debicki are the standouts. Staunton perfectly follows in the footsteps of her predecessors, Claire Foy and Olivia Coleman. Debicki’s performance as Diana is award-worthy. If I close my eyes and just listen to her, I almost expect that it is the real person, not an actor playing a part.

The only thing that we have to remember is that this is not a documentary. The show is fiction. Some of what we are watching has been made up and not based on actual events.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Crown is available for viewing on Netflix.

Enola Holmes 2 Movie Review

Representation is a powerful thing. If we can see it, even if it is only in fiction, then we can strive toward being it in real life.

The new Netflix film, Enola Holmes 2, was released last weekend. This sequel to Enola Holmes takes place right after its predecessor ends. Our title character, the eponymous Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) has just opened her own detective agency. But being young and female does exactly bring in a tidal wave of clients.

The one person who does walk through the door is Bessie Chapman (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss). Her older sister Sarah (Hannah Dodd) is missing. Enola follows the trail to the Bryant & May Match Factory. The majority of their employees are women and young girls from the lower classes who are mistreated and underpaid.

With the help of her elder brother, Sherlock (Henry Cavill), her mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), and possible boyfriend Tewksbury (Louis Partridge), Enola must uncover the mystery of Sarah’s disappearance.

I like this movie more than I did the first one. Bringing together fact and fiction, the true story of the strike adds another dimension to the tale. I also enjoyed the slow-burning romance between Enola and Tewksbury. The “will they or won’t they” question is representative of Enola’s growth, but it is a secondary narrative to her investigation.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Enola Holmes 2 is available for streaming on Netflix.

The Empress Review

At the end of every fairy tale, the prince and princess walk into the sunset and live happily ever after. While we would like to believe that this is true both in fiction and IRL, reality and fantasy are two different things entirely.

The new six-part Netflix series, The Empress, is the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Played by Devrim Lingnau, the expectations for her life are direct and clear. She is to marry an appropriate man and bring children (preferably) boys into the world. At the age of fifteen, Elisabeth (known to those closest to her as Sisi), meets her future husband. Franz Joseph I of Austria (Philip Froissant) is supposed to be betrothed to her older sister.

Instead, they fall madly in love and marry eight months after their first meeting. While in the glows of newlywed bliss, both Franz and Elisabeth are trying to find their footing. She is unaware and unprepared for the constricted and controlled life of an Empress. Franz is balancing married life, his job (so to speak), and his overbearing mother Princess Sophie of Bavaria (Melika Foroutan).

While all of this is happening behind palace walls, a revolution is rumbling within the working and lower classes. Fed up with poverty, low wages, and being ignored/disrespected, they are agitating for their rights.

I enjoyed the series. Though Sisi is not as well known as some of her contemporaries (i.e. Queen Victoria), it is a fascinating coming-of-age story. Rebellious, headstrong, and a bit naive, she has no idea of the rough road ahead of her.

My only issue is that there are some elements that are too modern for the period.

Other than that, do I recommend it? Yes.

The Empress is available for streaming on Netflix.

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