Politics is a strange push pull of personal needs vs. the needs of those who voted for you. It would be easy to say that you became a politician to serve the nation and your constituents. The harder aspect of the job is ignoring your gut instincts for prestige and press.
The discovery that Clinton used personal servers for government business sends Comey and his staff on a year long search to discover if anything untoward was located within her emails. When they come to the conclusion that it was just a mistake by the former Senator/Secretary of State/First Lady and her staff, Comey is torn as to how to proceed. He could keep it within bureau, or make a public statement. His wife, Patrice (Jennifer Ehle) and those who work under him advise Comey to not say anything to the press or or public. But, as we all know, he chose to bring this information into the light.
When a certain reality show star and businessman is elected President (played by a fantastic Brendan Gleeson), Comey does his best to do his job. But when it becomes clear that the new leader of the free world is underqualified, he knows that this man is different than any other who has held the role.
I loved this series. Combining news clips with scenes based from the real James Comey’s book, it is tense, dramatic, and reveals an aspect of the 2016 election that only a few at the time were privy to. If nothing else, it is a reminder of how important the separation of powers is and how democracy if not tended to as it ought to, can quickly disintergrate.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Comey Rule is available for streaming on Netflix.
Nature has a lot to teach us. But we must be willing to listen.
My Octopus Teacher premiered last year on Netflix. This nature documentary follows Craig Foster, a documentary filmmaker from South Africa as he spends a year bonding with an octopus. Recovering from a depressed state, he takes to the water, looking for a reason to feel good about himself. This comes in the form of his eight legged friend. In the year that they spend together, she teaches him about life, the importance of saving the natural world, and appreciating what he has.
This movie would not be my first choice to watch. It is certainly interesting and is educational without the viewer realizing it. I can see its value and why it won the Oscar for Best Documentary. But ultimately, it is meant for a niche audience who can truly appreciate what this film has to offer.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
My Octopus Teacher is available for streaming on Netflix.
Change, whether on a personal level or societal level, is hard. It requires work, the ability to open our eyes, and most importantly, the want to change.
The 2019 Netflixdocumentary, This Changes Everything, examines sexism in Hollywood and its impact on the careers of female creators, filmmakers, and performers. Speaking to noted names such as Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Shonda Rhimes, and Reese Witherspoon, the film looks at the ways in which women are inhibited from reaching the peak of their careers. Female filmmakers are not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts. If they have one successful film, it is a fluke. If a male filmmaker receives positive notices from critics and audiences, the door opens more work and a bigger budget. In the same vein, female actresses are often boxed into certain roles and are limited in screen time compared to their male co-stars. Very often, they are over-sexualized or forced into playing traditional female parts.
I got angry watching this film. Women are 50% of the population, yet on screen, we are at best minimized and at worst, forced into the background. What is worse is that we learn early that we need to fit a certain physical and sexual mold to not only be happy but also thrive. The one moment that really pissed me off was a conversation with actress Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie, 2013). At the young age of 16, a directive came down from the studios that she needed to amphliphy her bosom. What kind of adult tells a young girl that this is necessary to keep her job?
It is the kick in the but we need. Women are just as creative and capable as men. But we have not been given the opportunities to show what we can do. Those opportunities can only come when we break down the doors and demand our rights.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
This Changes Everything is avaliable for streaming on Netflix.
Challenging Kenneth are two surviving spouses. Charles Wolf (Stanley Tucci) lost his wife when the Twin Towers fell. A community organizer, he is continually nipping at the team’s feet, pushing them to think with their heart and not with their calculators. Karen Donato (Laura Benanti) is torn between her needs and what she is hearing from her brother-in-law.
Kenneth knows that the task he has ahead of him will be grueling, in every sense of the word. Money can never replace the ones we love. Whatever happens, he knows that he must succeed, even with the difficulties that lay before him.
This movie is riveting and powerful. Based on a true story, it is a reminder that the souls who died that day were not just names on a spreadsheet. They were human beings whose loss represent a black hole that can never be filled. It also a reminder that there is still hope in this world. Kenneth starts the film as the typical cynical bureaucrat who is just doing his job. By the end of the film, he understands the grief and heartache of those who he is trying to help.
Movie remakes are the rage in Hollywood, they have been so since nearly the beginning of the film industry. There are two ways this reboot could go. The first is that it stands on its own two feet while paying homage to its predecessor. The second is that on the surface has the imagery of the previous film, but it is nothing but a hollow shell of its forerunner.
The new Netflix film, He’s All That, was released on August 25th. A gender swap reboot of the late 1990’s classic, She’s All That, the new teenage would be lovers are popular girl/social media influencer Padgett Sawyer (Addison Rae) and artistic rebel Cameron Kweller (Tanner Buchanan). As in the original, Padgett’s boyfriend publicly cheats on her. When she makes a bet that she can do a makeover on any of her male classmates, the chosen candidate is Cameron. As they spend time together, they begin not just understand each other, but fall in love. But the revelation of Padgett’s initial impetus has the potential to break them apart.
The truth is that it does not take a rocket scientist to see where the narrative is going. But, that is this charm of both films. Its sort of a wish fulfillment fantasy about romance that has just enough of reality in it to keep it grounded.
What I liked was that it was not a line by like copy. It has enough of the 1999 film to keep old fans like me entertained while still being set in 2021 with everything that did not exist when I was that age. Add in Matthew Lillard and Rachael Leigh Cook as the high school principal and Padgett’s mother respectively (now I really feel old) and you have an entertaining 90 romantic adventure.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
He’s AllThat is available for streaming on Netflix.
*This review is based solely on the movie. I have never read thebook or heard of it until I saw the film.
A good love story is supposed to grip the audience by the throat. You want to feel the anxiety, not knowing if the potential lovers will be together by the end. It should be a heart stopping, blood pumping through your brain experience.
The new Netflix movie, The Last Letter from Your Lover, is based on the Jojo Moyesbook of the same name. In 1965, the marriage between Jennifer Stirling (Shailene Woodley) and her husband Lawrence (Joe Alwyn) is on the rocks. She starts seeing Anthony O’Hare (Callum Turner) on the side. It quickly blossoms into a full blown love affair. They write to each other, trying to keep the romantic flame alive while Jennifer maintains the façade of a happy marriage.
In our time, Ellie Haworth (Felicity Jones) is journalist whose newest assignment is to uncover the secrets behind the newly discovered letters. Working with colleague Rory McCallan (Nabhaan Rizwan), they start to fall for one another as the decades old truth begins to slowly reveal itself.
Just like anyone, I like a good love story. But it cannot be a romance just for romance’s sake. There has to be a legit reason as to why certain characters walk into the sunset together. While the 1960’s narrative was reasonably compelling, the modern narrative felt forced. Whatever it is that brings two people together, there was nothing that made me believe that Ellie and Rory would work as a couple. It felt forced and dragged down the movie as a whole. I would have preferred that they remained colleagues without crossing the line into a relationship.
Do I recommend it? Not really.
The Last Letter from Your Lover is available for streaming on Netflix.
Depending on who you speak to, the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is either a glass ceiling ball breaker who made history or a politician whose policies still were deeply controversial during her time in office.
The 2011 movie, The Iron Lady, explores her life and legacy. Starring Meryl Streep in the titular role, the audience relives the details of her life as she imagines conversations with her recently passed husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent). Still coping with his loss, we follow her story from her early years to her present circumstances.
I sat through about 3/4 of the film on Netflix a while back before turning it off. As a political history nerd, a feminist, and Anglophile, I should have been thoroughly engaged. But it lagged on to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Cross-class romantic relationships are one of the basic narratives with the romance genre. The key for success is for the narrative to stand out from the pack.
The Cook of Castamar premiered recently on Netflix. Based on the book of the same name by Fernando Muñez, it is the story of unlikely love. In the early 18th century, Diego de Castamar, Duke of Castamar (Roberto Enriquez) is a widowed aristocrat who lost his pregnant wife when her horse threw her over. Spending nearly two years grieving her unexpected death, he is brought back to life by the exquisite meals of his new cook, who he starts to fall for. Clara Belmonte (Michelle Jenner) has a talent for creating food that memories are made of. She is also agoraphobic and still reeling from her father’s execution. It is an attraction that neither saw coming.
The concept this series was impossible to ignore. I loved the idea of court intrigue, sex used as a tool to gain or maintain power, and a blossoming love that is not exactly welcomed. I also appreciated that the extra narrative layer created by the female lead’s mental illness. It is rarely seen in this genre. Unfortunately, it did not live up to it’s promise. I was waiting for a Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester spark which never materialized. After watching a few episodes, I gave up. The slow burn was too slow for me.
Do I recommend it? Not really.
The Cook of Castamar is available for streaming onNetflix.
The only way to learn from our past is to not repeat it. Sometimes, that requires reliving it, as painful as it sounds.
The 1998 documentary, The Last Days, was released on Netflix back in May. The film follows five Hungarian Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. During the last year of World War II, the Jews of Hungary were the last intact Jewish community in Europe. That would quickly change. Within six weeks, hundreds of thousands were deported to Auschwitz. Only a handful would survive. Containing interviews with survivors, a SS doctor, and American soldiers who helped to liberate Dachau, it is powerful and haunting reminder of both the light and the darkness in humanity.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. It was riveting, emotional, and a punch to the gut that is absolutely necessary. Hearing about this time in history from the people who lived through this nightmare reminds us all that the Holocaust is not a myth and not strictly relegated to the world of literature. It is an event that happened in the lifetimes of many people who are still alive. While we cannot bring back those who were murdered, we can honor their memory by remembering them, and open our eyes to the negative energy and destruction that hate drags behind it.
After watching a few episodes, I can understand why some Orthodox Jewish women are annoyed by how their community is portrayed, I think the viewer has to take into account that this is Haart’s perspective. I like the mental health aspect of the series, addressing how many women in conservative or fundamentalist may feel trapped by the constraints of their gender and the rules of their gender. I also liked how positively Judaism is portrayed. Though Haart is no longer Orthodox, she is still Jewish and not afraid to be open about it. It is educational without hitting the audience over the head.
It has the gloss of a Bravo reality show, but it is slightly less trashy and not as much of a brain drain as other programs in the genre.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
My Unorthodox Life is available for streaming on Netflix.