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.
Soul: Though it is marketed as a kids movie, the subtext of appreciating life feels appropriate and potent this year.
Mulan: The live-action reboot of the 1998 animated film Mulan rises above its predecessor, making it fresh and relevant.
Emma.: Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Jane Austen‘s eponymous heroine, Emma Woodhouse, introduced as clever, rich, and handsome. Directed by Autumn de Wilde, this adaption is entertaining, funny, and a lovely addition to the list of Austen adaptations.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire: This LBGTQ historical romance between a young woman and the female artist hired to paint her portrait is sweet, romantic, and powerful. It proves once more that love is love is love.
Ordinary Love: Joan (Lesley Manville) and Tom (Liam Neeson) are your average middle-aged couple. When she is diagnosed with Breast Cancer, they both must deal with the rough road ahead.
The Assistant: Jane (Julia Garner) is an assistant to a Harvey Weinstein-esque powerful movie producer. She starts to notice things that don’t sit right with her.
I am Greta: This documentary follows teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg as she advocates for the world to pay serious attention to climate change.
#AnneFrank-Parallel Lives: Narrated by Helen Mirren, this documentary tells not just Anne’s story. It follows other young women who survived the Holocaust. Parallel to the stories of the past, the viewer is traveling with another young woman as she visits different countries in present-day Europe.
Though sex and sexuality is part and parcel of human nature, it is often viewed as something dangerous and wrong.
For decades, Dr. Ruth Westheimer (aka Dr. Ruth), has been America’s sex therapist. The 2019 Hulu documentary movie, Ask Dr. Ruth, tells her story. Born in 1928 to an Orthodox Jewish family in Germany, everything was normal for the first ten years of her life. When it became clear that being a Jew in Germany was dangerous, Ruth (then known by her first name, Karola) was sent to Switzerland on the Kindertransport.
At the age of 17, she emigrated to what was then British controlled Palestine (pre-Independence Israel) and joined the Haganah. Years later, she again emigrated to the United States. Living in New York City, she married, raised her two children and became the woman we know her to be today.
The thing I love about her is that at nearly 100 years old, she has the energy of a woman half her age. She represents hope, life, change, and that a woman can never be limited to what she can do because she is “female”. Her presence first on the radio and then on television, helped to open the door to long overdue conversations about sex and sexuality.
When Covid-19 first appeared on the scene at the beginning of the year, no one knew what to make this virus that seemed to come out of nowhere. Looking back, we know now that a little common sense would have saved lives and saved the economy. But there is no going back.
Totally Under Control premiered last month on Hulu. This 2 hour documentary tells the story of how mismanagement and partisanship led to the mess that we are currently in. The film also compares the response of the United States to that of South Korea.
I couldn’t help but get angry as I watched the movie. There were so many opportunities to control the outbreak, but due to a number of circumstances, those opportunities were not taken. The lost opportunities and the missteps created opened the door for the destruction of our economy and the loss of 225,000 Americans.
If nothing else, this is a warning and a lesson learned in a painful way. There will be another virus in the future with the potential to kill hundreds of thousands of people. If we do not take logical and non-partisan steps to control it, we will only repeat the same mistakes that has led to our current predicament.
I absolutely recommend it.
Totally Under Control is available for streaming on Hulu.
Sex is one of the core components of being human. But sex, like all things related to being human, is complicated.
Tales from the Royal Bedchamber aired on PBS back in 2013. Hosted by historian Lucy Worsley, the documentary takes viewers into the personal and romantic lives of the monarchy. Entangled into the story are concerns about family, children, and the next generation of royals.
I enjoyed this documentary. It could have easily been a dry history lesson talking about kings, queens, and their successors. But Worsley has a way of making history come alive while showing the humanity of the film’s subjects.
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-ParallelStories 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.
The situation is Middle East and Israel, specifically, is complicated. Despite the finger pointing, the media and multitude of opinions, it is not as simple as black and white.
Dancing in Jaffa, a documentary by Hilla Medalia, follows Pierre Dulaine, a native of Jaffa, who returns to his birth city to teach it’s children to dance. Mr. Dulaine, born to a Palestinian mother and an Irish father has been a professional ballroom dancer for decades.
He selects five schools. They are either exclusively Jewish or Palestinian, with only one containing a more diverse student body. The students initial reaction, to both the dancing and their potential dance partners is expected. In addition to following Mr. Dulaine, the filmmakers follow several of the students as they learn to dance and spend time with their new friends and dance partners.
What I enjoyed about the documentary is that we, as the audience, understand what it is like to live in Jaffa. What I gained from this documentary is hope. Hope that these children will remember their dancing experiences and their dancing partners and use this experience to lead us to peace.