For as many couples that are able to have children the old-fashioned way, there are numerous others who cannot conceive naturally. That is where modern medicine comes in.
Our Father is a new documentary that recently dropped on Netflix. It starts with an at-home DNA test. The woman at the start of the film knows that she came into the world via in-vitro fertilization (IVF). When the results come back, she discovers a horrifying secret. Her mother’s fertility doctor, Donald Cline, said one thing and did another when he injected the sperm into his client’s eggs.
As I watched this film, I got so angry. This man, for whatever reason, chose to play G-d. A doctor is supposed to save lives, not play with them for their own disgusting purposes. In doing so, he has potentially messed up multiple generations, while pretending that he did nothing wrong.
I wish I had learned about her earlier. When we talk about second-wave feminism icons, Martha Mitchell is a name who rarely comes up. After watching this movie, I felt like she should be given a second look by modern feminists and historians. She dared to take on a corrupt administration and tell the truth when many stayed silent.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Martha Mitchell Effect is available for streaming on Netflix.
Family is complicated. Marriage is complicated. We can only do our best and hope that it is good enough.
The new Netflix series, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, is based on the novel, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem: A Novel, by Sarit Yishai-Levi. The first series is set in the 1920s and 1930s. It follows the women of the Ermoza family, a Sephardi Jewish family living in Jerusalem. Gabriel (Michael Aloni) is in love with another woman but is forced to marry Roza (Hila Saada), by his mother Merkada (Irit Kaplan). He tries to be a good husband and father but is not exactly dedicated to his family. Almost twenty years later, their eldest daughter, Luna (Swell Ariel Or) is growing up in a time of political tension and struggle.
I don’t recall if I read the book, but the first series is fantastic. Set against the backdrop of British-controlled Palestine (i.e. pre-1948 Israel), the emotional conflicts within the Ermoza family collide with the heady and complicated world events of the era. It is fantastic, immediately grabs the viewer, and does not let go until the final credits roll. If nothing else, it reveals a side of history in this region that is not often talked about in the mainstream press.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The first season of The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is available for streaming on Netflix.
P.S. The second season is scheduled to be released sometime in July. I eagerly await its arrival.
If I were to rank Jane Austen‘s novels, Persuasion would be on the top of my list. This story of second chances is one that over 200 years later still hits readers in the heart and sends a few tears down our cheeks.
The film stars Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot, Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Frederick Wentworth, and Henry Golding as Mr. Elliot. For those unaware, the plot is as follows: eight years before the book starts Anne Elliott and Frederick Wentworth were young, in love, and newly engaged. She was persuaded to end their relationship due to his lack of status and income. Cut to the present and Anne is still single, still hurting from her decision. Wentworth is back in her life. He is a war hero, wealthy, and considered to be a catch. He is also still bitter from their breakup.
I would love to say that I am jumping for joy, but I have a few reservations. I am going to try to keep my concerns at bay because this is only the trailer. Trailers don’t always match up with the full movie.
The dialogue in the scenes that we see so far seems to be loosely taken from the original text. Maybe it’s the Janeite in me, but I would prefer the wording to be as it is in the novel. To paraphrase her brilliant writing (especially in a reboot set in the Regency era) could be seen as a shanda (disgrace).
The casting of Dakota Johnson as Anne. I have nothing against Johnson. I have a bias against American actors playing lead characters in Austen adaptations. It goes back to the casting of Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1996 Emma. Her portrayal of the character rubbed me the wrong way. But who knows, maybe Johnson will prove me wrong.
Her hair should not be down unless it is either the beginning or the end of the day. Only young girls wore their hair loose. By the time they got to their mid to late teens, their hair was up. On a side note, that was my only beef with Sanditon. Charlotte Heywood’s (Rose Williams) hair should have been up.
It comes off a little too rom-com-like. I like a romantic comedy as much as the next person, but Persuasion is not and has never been one. To turn this story into a rom-com is a double shanda and sure to turn off the fanbase.
On the upside, we see the early romance between Anne and Frederick. In previous film versions, the audience is only told about this experience.
That being said, I am willing to have an open mind and not condemn the film before it is released.
For many of us, religion is a very important part of our daily lives. But there is a distinct line between believing in a higher power and using that belief to enrich your own needs.
Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey is a new Netflix four-part miniseries. It tells the story of the FLDS and the group’s infamous leader, Warren Jeffs. Known for being polygamous and practicing a strict adaptation of Mormonism, Jeff was arrested for marrying young, underage girls and having sexual relations with them. Interviewing former members of the FLDS, law enforcement, media, etc, a picture is painted of a man who instead of representing his heavenly creator, twisted religious doctrine to fit his own needs.
As I got further into this program, my stomach kept turning and I kept getting angrier. I am not a religious person, but I respect a lay leader who in turn respects their congregation and the doctrines of their faith. What I do not like is using their power and status to take advantage of those who trust them.
What struck me was the strength of the women who survived the ordeal and have thrived in what they would previously called the “gentile” world. It’s more than coming out of it and living a normal life, it’s having the strength to tell their story to strangers who might judge them in a negative manner.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey is available for streaming on Netflix.
Presented to the audience as unlikable, she was villainized as a woman whom no man would want as a partner/spouse. In her new feminist manifesto/memoir, She’s Unlikeable: And Other Lies That Bring Women Down (published earlier this year), Shewakramani details both her experience on the program and how women can fight against the idea that standing up for themselves only creates a negative image.
Before reading this book, I did hear rumblings that there were inconsistencies and stereotypes that existed within the program. But that’s reality television for you. In theory, I liked the concept of the book. It is, unfortunately, still relevant and necessary.
I hate to say it, but it was hard to read. Knowing nothing about the author is my issue. I should have been inspired to give the figurative middle finger. It was just a little too much from her perspective and not general enough for me to truly dig into the message.
Do I recommend it? No.
She’s Unlikeable: And Other Lies That Bring Women Down is available wherever books are sold.
For obvious reasons, the movie was a must-see. A cast chock full of Austen actors (including the two most popular Fitzwilliam Darcys), a spy thriller set in World War II-era England, and the fight for freedom against tyranny.
I have mixed feelings about it. What was good was that the main female characters were initially more than secretaries, love interests/spouses/female family members, and background characters. They were as important to the mission as their male colleagues. I also very much appreciated the subtle reference to the Holocaust and the destruction of European Jewry. It reveals that the Allies once again knew what was going on, but did nothing to stop it (which is another topic for another time).
What was bad is that about halfway through the film, I started to lose interest. It was as if the screenwriter(s) just gave up. The other thing that bugged me was the love triangle between Charles, Jean, and Ewen. It felt unnecessary. It also trivializes Jean, making her little more than the wannabe romantic significant other instead of an integral part of the group.
Do I recommend it? Disappointingly, no.
Operation Mincemeat is available for streaming on Netflix.
Prosecuting the case is Kate Woodcroft (Michelle Dockery). Though she appears to be randomly chosen to represent the government, her connection to the case is much closer than anyone would guess.
Holy shit. The tension in this series is so thick that it could be cut with a knife. What starts out as a straightforward story morphs into twists and turns that made my mouth figuratively drop. Though I have never read the book (or even heard of it until I watched the on-screen adaptation), I am tempted to read it. The narrative is a roller coaster ride that is a thrill to watch and a unique way to explore a topic as tempestuous as sexual assault.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Anatomy of a Scandal is available for streaming on Netflix.
The Regency era is an interesting time in human history. Looking back, it is easy to see that, as a species. we are on the road to the modernity that is life today. But we are also still clinging to the rules and social structure of previous generations.
After a year and a half wait, season two of Bridgerton premiered last weekend on Netflix. It’s been nine months since the narrative of season one ended. Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Bassett (Phoebe Dyvenor and Rege-Jean Page, who decided to move onto other projects) are happily married and have a baby boy. The oldest Bridgerton son Anthony (Jonathan Bailey) has decided it is his time to settle down. Among the eligible women of the ton, he chooses Edwina Sharma (Charitha Chandran). But before they can walk down the aisle, he has to get through her overprotective older sister, Kate (Simone Ashley). She is tough, smart, and unwilling to compromise on whom she sees as her future brother-in-law. The problem is that there is something between Anthony and Kate that cannot be ignored.
If last season one was hot, this season has the fire of several volcanoes exploding at the same time. The chemistry between Ashley and Bailey is intense. The enemies to lovers/slow-burn narrative is so perfect that I would recommend that anyone who wants to write a good romance novel watch this series. It’s that good.
Its been nine months since the audience has spent time with the denizens of Sanditon. After the death of her first love, Sydney Parker (Theo James), Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) has returned to the seaside town and the Parkers. Bringing her younger sister, Alison (Rosie Graham) with her, Charlotte reunites with old friends while making new male acquaintances. Among them are Charles Lockhart (Alexander Vlahos) and Colonel Francis Lennox (Tom Weston-Jones).
With her usual tenacity and intelligence, Charlotte is trying to move on with her life. But she is still grieving (as I suspect the viewers are as well) for what might have been, had things gone in another direction. As much as we all miss Sydney, I feel like this is opening the door for new opportunities for her in both the romantic and career arenas (as much as a woman could have back then). Akin to Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) dying in a car crash at the end of the third season of Downton Abbey, it was a heartbreaking loss. But I feel like if we look at it from a modern perspective, this unexpected change is normal. Not everyone spends their life with the first person they fell in love with. It sometimes takes a few years and a few relationships to find your other half.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Bridgerton is available for streaming on Netflix. Sanditon airs on PBS on Sunday night at 9PM.
It’s easy to believe that a psychic is either a charlatan or a con artist, looking to make a quick buck by telling their “clients” what they want to hear.
The new Netflix series, Life After Death with Tyler Henry, follows psychic Tyler Henry as he travels around the country, providing comfort and messages from loved ones who have passed. But his life is not all sunshine and roses. When he returns home, Tyler is faced with a family mystery that has already opened the door to emotional scarring.
I sat down to watch this reality show last weekend. For a few episodes, it was compelling. What drew me in was the family mystery more than his work. The problem is that the program became repetitive to the point in which I was no longer interested in continuing on.
Do I recommend it? No.
Life After Death with Tyler Henry is available for streaming on Netflix.
I'm a retiree in his seventies. That may not be significant to many, since there is a bunch of us Baby Boomers around. However, in the year 2,000, when I received a diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma, I expected to be dead in three to five years.