When one thinks of the Western genre, the image of shootouts, cowboys, Indians, and a mass expanse of untamed wilderness. Most of the main characters are men. If there are any women, they are either the sweetheart/love interest of the hero, a prostitute wearing next to nothing, or an extra in the background.
The 2017 limited Netflix series, Godless, takes these tropes and fleshes them out. In the American West of the 1880’s, the town of La Belle, New Mexico has lost most of it’s men in a mining accident. The women are in charge, taking the places of their fathers, husbands, and brothers. Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery) is a widow living on the outskirts of town with her son and mother-in-law. In the middle of the night, she shoots an intruder. Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell) is a former follower of Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels), a criminal with a very long rap sheet.
When Frank discovers that Roy is in La Belle, it will be up to the women to defend their home from Frank and his murderous gang.
After watching only a couple of episodes, I have been hooked. I love that instead of being limited in scope, the female characters have finally been given their due. Strengthened by their mutual loss, the women come together to take a stand. From a writing standpoint, I also very much appreciate the equality between the men and women in terms of the spotlight. Each is given a turn to shine without sacrificing who they are and what they believe.
I would love to say that every marriage is a perfect vision of happily ever after. But we all know that some marriages are complicated, to say the least.
The new Netflix mini-series, Behind Her Eyes, based on the book of the same name by Sarah Pinborough, premiered last week. Louise (Simona Brown) is a single, divorced mother who works at a psychiatry office three days a week. She was supposed to have a girls night out with a friend at a local bar. But when her friend does not show up, she starts up a conversation with David (Tom Bateman). What starts with a brief flirtation ends with a kiss. But before it can go any further, he makes his excuses and walks away.
The next day, David and Louise meet up again. The sizzling attraction from the night before has not dissipated. But he is her new boss, making any relationship other than a profession one impossible. He is also married to Adele (Eve Hewson), who has a complicated past. Then Louise and Adele bump into each other and become friends. Though David and Adele project the image of a picture perfect marriage, their relationship is not so perfect.
I’ve only seen the first two episodes. I also have yet to read the book. But so far, I am enjoying this not so simple love triangle with three characters, who each in their own way, are damaged.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Behind Her Eyes is available for streaming on Netflix.
Change does not happen from nothing. It requires the will to see it happen and the bravery to stand up against those who would prevent such change.
Radium Girls premiered in 2018. Based on a true story, it takes place in the 1920’s. Sisters Bessie (Joey King) and Josephine (Abby Quinn) are employed by American Radium (based on the real company U.S. Radium Corp). Their job is to paint watches and military dials with radium. In order to paint within the miniscule lines, they had to wet the brushes with their lips. When Josephine starts to get sick, Bessie starts to put two and two together. But when the company starts to push back, she realizes that getting justice is easier said than done.
The narrative is the classic underdog/working class vs. the big bad men who keep them down. Though the story is in the same genre as Iron Jawed Angels, Norma Rae, and Suffragette, I didn’t getting the same “yes I can” rush that I usually get with these kind of films.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Radium Girls is available for streaming on Netflix.
Fire is an immortal element of nature. As much as we think we have control over it, the truth is that we will never have the upper hand.
The Bonfire of Destiny is a French television series. Originally airing in 2019, it is currently on Netflix. It is based on the true story of the Bazar de la Charité. In 1897 in Paris, a fire broke out during an annual charity event. 126 victims, mostly aristocratic women and their maids, died in the blaze. The series follows three women as they deal with the aftermath of the day’s events. Adrienne de Lenverpré (Audrey Fleurot) is anxious to leave her failing marriage. Rose Rivière (Julie De Bona) is almost ready to tell her mistress that she and her husband will be leaving for America. Alice de Jeansin (Camille Lou) is a young woman on the verge of marrying her sweetheart.
So far, I am three episodes in and enjoying it. I was immediately sucked in by the story and the choices that these characters have made so far. It is not easy to survive this kind of event and not come out with scars, both emotional and physical that will be with you during the rest of your life.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
The Bonfire of Destiny is available for streaming on Netflix.
From the outside looking it, archeology may appear to be akin to an Indiana Jonesmovie. But anyone with any amount of knowledge of this subject will tell you otherwise.
The Dig premiered yesterday on Netflix. As World War II rumbles in the distance in 1939, Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) is a self trained and unorthodox archeologist. He has been hired by Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) to excavate her land and see if he can find buried historical treasure. What he discovers will be known as Sutton Hoo, an Anglo-Saxon burial ship rich in previously unknown artefacts. But with war on the horizon and Basil’s expertise questioned, it looks as if the ship and her objects will remain buried.
I wanted to like this movie. The premise seemed interesting and the cast is stellar. It is a BPD (British Period Drama) with a narrative that is unusual for the genre. The problem is that I was bored, whatever promises that were made in the trailer did not come to fruition.
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.
A good romance has the power to metaphorically sweep the audience off their feet.
The new Netflix series, Bridgeton premiered on Friday. Set in Regency era England, the program follows the romantic trials and tribulations of the eight children of the widowed Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell). Her children are named in alphabetical order, from A-H. It is based on the book series by Julia Quinn and the first book in series (The Duke and I). The female protaganist is Lady Bridgerton’s eldest daughter, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), who is entering her first Season.
The initial response to Daphne, according to the unseen narrator and gossip Queen, Lady Whistledown (voiced by Julie Andrews), is that she is the one to watch. But before Daphne can enjoy the spotlight, she is downgraded by Lady Whistledown to persona non grata. On the flip side, the husband that every match-making mama wants for her daughter is Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings (Regé-Jean Page). Having recently come into the title after the death of his father, Simon has made it clear that he is content to remain a bachelor for the rest of his days.
Simon and Daphne have a plan. They will pretend to court. He will appear to be spoken for and she will have more suitors than she knows what do with. But like many plans, there is a hitch. Somewhere along the way, their relationship begins to change.
Bridgerton is easily the best new television program of the year. In a nutshell, it is Jane Austen meets Shondaland. I love the diversity, I love the characters, and I love the smart and capable women who populate this world.
This Regency nerd is ready for season 2. Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
When social media was created, the purpose of the new medium was innocent enough. It was to serve as a tool to bring people and ideas together in an open forum. But something changed along the way, and not for the better.
The docu-drama, The Social Dilemma premiered earlier this year on Netflix. The movie explores how social media, in spite of its innocuous surface presentation, has a dark underbelly. Combining interviews with experts, former tech employees, and a fictional story about one family, the film explores how social media has had an impact on our mental health, politics, and other aspects of our collective world.
Watching this film was a wakeup call. Social media is such a part of our everyday life that we don’t think twice about the side effects. What impressed me was the choice to interview people who had been at the forefront of the companies who created and own the social media platforms. Having an insiders perspective created a gut punch that would not have otherwise existed.
If there was one thing I enjoyed about this film was the solution to all of these problems. It would have been easy for the filmmakers to act as a nagging parent or teacher, telling us to get immediately close our social media accounts. Instead, they present a plan that allows for these companies to stay open while preventing future damage to our culture and our world.
I can’t say that this movie has convinced me to stop using social media. But it made me think twice about how I use my accounts.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
The Social Dilemma is available for streaming on Netflix.
There is nothing like a good BPD (British Period Drama). It has the power to sweep the audience into another world and for a short time, take them away from their everyday life.
The full trailer for the new Shondaland Netflix series, Bridgerton, premiered earlier today. Based on the series of books by Julia Quinn, the audience is introduced to the influential Bridgerton family living in Regency England. As the program progresses, they deal with the ups and downs that are unique to that world and that era.
The characters and the narrative are in the vein of Jane Austen, but the stories are not specifically based on any Austen novel.
I am intrigued by the casting of Julie Andrews as Lady Whistledown, the all knowing gossiping narrator who, according to the trailer is only heard, but not seen.
From a writing perspective, the couple pretending to be in love to get others off their back is one of those storylines that is used semi-regularly. The question is if the writer(s) make it their own or just copy what has been done before.
I am really excited for program. I can only hope that the promises made in the trailer are kept.
This hobby blog is dedicated to movie nerdom, nostalgia, and the occasional escape. In the late 90s, I worked at Blockbuster Video where they let me take home two free movies a day. I caught up on the classics and wrote movie reviews for Denver 'burbs newspapers and magazines. Today, I continue to revisit the old and discover the new on the screen. Comments and dialogue are highly encouraged. This year, I'm excited to collaborate with other writers via SLICETHELIFE, in which we will share our movie genre favorites in our 2021 Movie Draft!