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.
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.
Democracy, as Americans have recently learned the hard way, is not guaranteed or promised. It must be cherished, protected, and stood up for when necessary. The same could be said for human rights.
Today is International Holocaust Memorial Day. Some may say that we no longer need this day of remembrance, it so far in the past that we can move on. The hard and sad truth is that we cannot move on. Eighty years after the end of World War II, anti-Semitism (and prejudice is general) is as alive and well now as it was then.
Back in the summer of 2019, I went to the Auschwitz museum in New York City. If there is one message that is clear, it is that both the perpetrators and victims were normal people, as normal as you and I.
I recently finished watching the third season of The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. It takes place in the fictional Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian patriarchy in which women are second class citizens and non-conformists are enslaved or killed. Though it could be called dystopian science fiction novel, the truth is that this world is closer to our reality than we think it is. The riot in Washington D.C. three weeks ago was a cold slap in the face and a harsh reminder of that truth.
The only way to prevent another Holocaust of any group of people is education, respecting diversity, and remembering the past.
May the memory of those who were murdered because of who they were (my own relatives included) forever be a blessing.
Thanks to generations of brave and hardworking women, we have achieved rights and privileges that were once upon a time, a dream. But that does not mean that the fight is over.
The Handmaid’s Tale (based on the books by Margaret Atwood) premiered on Hulu back in 2017. In a world not too distant from ours, climate change and the low numbers of births opened the door to a second Civil War. When the dust settles, the United States as it existed is a thing of the past. The Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime, is now in control. The once archaic gender roles of the past are now the law of the land.
The women who are still able carry and bear children are slaves. Among them is Offred (Elisabeth Moss). She is given to a childless couple, Commander and Mrs. Waterford (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski) and has one job: give them a child. Offred’s only form of survival is to hang onto the past and remember the life, the name, and the family she had before everything changed.
Though I could not get into the book, I am part way though the first season and thoroughly hooked. What makes this story palpable and scary is not a dystopian future that is impossible to imagine as reality. Given our present predicament, it wouldn’t take much for this work of fiction to become something more.
It is for me, a reminder that in some countries (Saudia Arabia, for one), the daily experiences of women are not too far off from the women in this book. It is also a throwback to a not so far away time when we had to fight for even the most basic of rights.
If nothing else, it is stark reminder that our democracy and freedoms are not guaranteed. We must continue to do everything we can to ensure that they are protected.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Handmaid’s Tale is available for streaming on Hulu.
World on Fire (PBS): This PBS/Masterpiece follows a group of individuals as World War II is on the horizon.
Mrs. America (F/X/Hulu): In the 1970’s, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was close to becoming the law of the land. A tug of war begins between one group of women that is for it and another that is against it.
Sanditon (PBS): Based off the unfinished book of the same name by Jane Austen, we follow Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), a young woman who leaves her family for the seaside resort town of Sanditon.
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.