Category Archives: Netflix

#AnneFrank-Parallel Stories Review

To some, the Holocaust is ancient history. In 2020, we have more pressing problems to occupy our time with. But the Holocaust was only 80 years ago, and the issues from that era are as prevalent now as they were then.

#AnneFrank-Parallel Stories is one of the newest releases on Netflix. With a voice-over by Helen Mirren, this documentary tells the story of Anne Frank while telling the stories of other women who are among the few to have survived. While Mirren reads from Anne’s diary, the audience follows a young woman as she travels across Europe, asking questions that frankly, need to be asked.

I’ve seen many Holocaust films over the years. What makes it different is that it hard-hitting, emotional, and squarely aimed at the younger viewers. If I have walked away from this movie with one message, it is that we have a chance to ensure that the Holocaust in any variation never happens again. That requires asking difficult questions and learning from the mistakes of our predecessors.

I recommend it.

#AnneFrank-Parallel Lives is available for streaming on Netflix.

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The Baby-Sitters Club Review

One of the things I have noticed that as I get older, certain childhood memories come back as if it was yesterday.

The Baby-Sitters Club premiered on Netflix last night. Based on the beloved books by Ann M. Martin, the series is updated to 2020 while remaining true it’s literary predecessor.

Bringing the main characters to the screen are Sophie Grace (Kristy Thomas), Momona Tamada (Claudia Kishi), Malia Baker (Mary Anne Spier), Shay Rudolph (Stacey McGill), Xochitl Gomez (Dawn Schafer), Vivian Watson (Mallory Pike), and Anais Lee (Jessi Ramsey).

I started watching initially for the nostalgia factor and was immediately sucked in. Though I was watching with adult eyes and adult experiences, my former thirteen year old self was watching it with me. It was still the BSC I knew and loved, but with a modern sensibility. I think what makes it feel like BSC with a 2020 twist was the casting. Choosing non-white actors for the roles of Mary Anne and Dawn was a brilliant decision. It was also a brilliant decision to cast Alicia Silverstone as Liz Thomas-Brewer, which made me feel very old.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Baby-Sitters Club is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga Review

The story of the underdog is as old as humanity.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga premiered on Netflix on Wednesday. Lars (Will Ferrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) have been best friends since childhood. Coming from a small town in Iceland, their dream is to win the Eurovision Song Contest.

It appears that their dream will be just that. Then an opportunity reveals itself. But like any dream, there are roadblocks. Lar’s father, Erick (Pierce Brosnan) is a cold fish when it comes to his son.

Alexander (Dan Stevens) is a Russian competitor who appears to be romantically interested in Sigrit. He also might be using Sigrit to break up the duo. But Sigrit and Lars have been doing the will they/wont they dance for years. Can they win the contest and finally admit of their feelings for one another?

I have mixed feelings about this movie. It is supposed to be part absurdist comedy and part inspirational film. The inspirational half of the film works just fine. But the absurdist comedy falls flat on it’s face. I should have been laughing out loud, but I wasn’t.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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The Crown Review

Behind every icon is a human being with the same joys and flaws as the rest of us. But when this person becomes that icon, their humanity is often forgotten.

The Crown premiered in 2016 on Netflix. It tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy). The series starts with her wedding to Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh (Matt Smith) in 1947. It appears the young couple has many years ahead of them to live as ordinarily as they can. Then Elizabeth’s father, King George VI (Jared Harris) dies. Thrust into the role of Queen, she is walking the fine line that many working mothers do between the job and taking care of your family. If that was not enough, her younger sister, Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) can only be described as a rebel who has all of the luxuries and none of the responsibilities the sovereign.

I am only the beginning of the second season. To say that I am hooked is an understatement. As both a history buff and a feminist, I find this fictional Queen Elizabeth to fascinating. She wants to be an ordinary wife and mother. But fate had other plans for her.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Crown is available for viewing on Netflix.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Review

As much as we wish we could control where life takes us, we know that we can’t.

In the 2018 Netflix movie, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (based on the book of the same name), Juliet Ashton (Lily James) is an author in post World War II England. Intrigued by a letter she receives from Dawsey Adams (Michiel Huisman) a farmer on the island of Guernsey, Juliet visits the island with the intention of writing a book.

She discovers that Dawsey is part of a book club entitled The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Included in this club is Amelia Maugery (Penelope Wilton) and Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay). Intrigued as to why and how Elizabeth disappeared, Juliet starts to investigate what happened during the German occupation of the island during the war. Along the way, Juliet discovers a new family and a new love that forces her to re-consider where she wants to go in life.

Award worthy, this film is not. That being said, it’s the type of movie one watches after a long week to relax. Though it helps that several of the main cast are Downton Abbey alum, it is does not do enough to overcome the film’s flaws.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Thoughts On The Baby-Sitter Club Trailer

There is something about a favorite book from your childhood. No matter how old one gets or what adult circumstances you find yourself in, reading that book immediately takes you back.

For decades, The Baby-Sitters Club has been a beloved series of novels for multiple generations of women. Written by Ann M. Martin, the books told the stories of an enterprising group of young women who start a babysitting business.

In July, a reboot of the beloved series will make its debut on Netflix.

My former thirteen-year-old self is doing a happy dance. To this day, I can’t help but smile when I think about what these books meant to me at that stage. There was a character that was relatable to everyone. The stories were both universal for the age of the characters and for general life experiences that we all can understand to one degree or another.

Looking back, I can see how the books inspired its former readers. The stories were not just about boys and romance (as much as one can be at that age). They were about young women who were independent and determined to succeed while doing a service to their community.

To say that I am looking forward is an understatement.

P.S. Ask anyone who grew up in the ’90s and they will tell you that the phone in Claudia’s room was the epitome of cool. Kids today with their own cell phones know nothing of what it was like to wish for a phone like that.

P.P.S Alicia Silverstone (Clueless) is playing Kristy’s mother. If that does not make us ’90’s kids feel old, I don’t know what does.

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Love Wedding Repeat Review

Defined simply, a wedding is a public commitment between two individuals who are ready, willing and able to make a life together. But we all know that weddings are far from simple.

Love Wedding Repeat premiered on Netflix last month.

All Jack (Sam Claflin) wants is to make sure that his sister Hayley (Eleanor Tomlinson) has a perfect wedding day. The day starts out smooth, but then it goes to Hades. Combine Jack’s angry ex-girlfriend Amanda (Freida Pinto), his dream girl who he has unspoken feelings for, Dina (Olivia Munn) and Hayley’s drug addled ex-boyfriend, Marc (Jack Farthing), and you have nothing but trouble.

Hoping to prevent embarrassment, Hayley asks Jack to put a sedative in Marc’s champagne glass. But before they can sit down, their places at the table are switched and the perfect wedding day is about to descend into chaos.

I can kind of see why this film got the reaction it did, but it is not as bad as it is made out to be. The movie slightly invokes the screwball comedies of the 1930’s and 1940’s, but with a modern twist. It’s nowhere near award worthy, but as romantic comedies go, I’ve seen much worse.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

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Becoming Review

In the past, the role of the First Lady of the United States or FLOTUS, was like many wives. She was responsible for the “domestic” side of the President’s life without room to prove that she could take one more. It is only in the last few decades that the role of FLOTUS has changed.

Becoming premiered on Netflix tonight. It is based on the best selling autobiography of the same name by former First Lady Michelle Obama. The nearly 90-minute documentary followed Mrs. Obama as she went on her book tour in 2018 and 2019.

I loved the documentary. Mrs. Obama comes off on screen like she did in the book. She is humble, appreciative, strong, capable, human and a woman to admire.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Hollywood Review

Hollywood is full of dreamers. It is also full of racists, homophones, misogynists and bullshitters.

The new Netflix series, Hollywood, is set, in well, Hollywood. Then, as is now, seeing one’s name in lights is the dream of many. But that does not always mean that those dreams will become reality.

Jack Costello (David Corenswet) is tall glass of water from the Midwest with optimism and no acting experience. Needing to support his pregnant wife, Jack takes a job working for Ernie (Dylan McDermott). Ernie runs a gas station that “services” their client’s needs. Jack’s first client is Avis Amberg (Patti LuPone), a former actress and the wife of a studio head who is looking for “company”.

Raymond Ainsley (Darren Criss) and Camille Washington (Laura Harrier) are both looking for their big breaks. Raymond is a director and Camille is a contract player. Though their relationship is perfect from inside, both are aware of the racial pressures the moment they walk out the door.

Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope) has two strikes against him: he is black and gay. He is also a screenwriter with a completed biopic of Peg Entwistle. Hired by Ernie on Jack’s recommendation, one of his customers is Roy Fitzgerald (Jake Picking) aka the future Rock Hudson. Their relationship quickly expands beyond the professional realm.

Roy, newly christened Rock has been taken under the wing of powerful agent Henry Willson (an unrecognizable Jim Parsons). Before Henry can introduce his client to the power players, he requires a down payment via his own version of the casting couch.

Claire Wood (Samara Weaving) is another young actress who under contract. Though she has extremely close connections to those who can make her career, she wants to do it on her own terms.

I loved this series. I loved that it showed what could be in terms of representation without hitting the audience over the head. I also loved it it righted the wrongs of the past. Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec) and Hattie McDaniel (Queen Latifah) are finally given their due, if only on film.

Created and produced by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, this series is what fans expect from this particular film making duo. But while it stays with the frame of their particular style of film making, it stands out because of the subtle and not so subtle message of equality and loving yourself.

I absolutely recommend it.

P.S. If anyone deserves any nominations or awards from this cast, it is Jim Parsons. He is creepy and disgusting in the most fantastic way possible.

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Unorthodox Review

We live in a world which demands that we conform. If we do not conform, the consequences are numerous.

Unorthodox recently premiered on Netflix. Based on the book, Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots, by Deborah Feldman, the four part series follows Esther “Esty” Shapiro (nee Schwartz, played by Shira Haas). Married at 19 to Yanky Shapiro (Amit Rahav), Esty is unprepared for the pressures that come with being a married woman in the Orthodox Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

When the pressure becomes too much, Esty escapes to Berlin where her estranged mother, Leah (Alex Reid) lives. Taken in and befriended by music students, she begins to see that there is life outside of the world that she was born into. But when her husband and his cousin Moishe (Jeff Wilbusch) arrive in Berlin to find her and bring her home, it becomes a game of cat and mouse.

I found this series to be fascinating and human. Its easy to live within the confines and the rules of the community, especially if you are a woman. It is infinitely more difficult to make your own way in the world. Two things stuck out to me as I was watching. The first was that although we see the world through Esty’s eyes, the judgement is not as harsh as it appears to be. The second is the relationships between the characters. Regardless of the societal, cultural and religious beliefs that the audience member holds, there is a universal quality to the the story being told.

I recommend it.

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