Tag Archives: Netflix

The Crown Season 4 Review

Sometimes a writer does not need to look too far back into the past for inspiration.

The 4th season of The Crown premiered yesterday on Netflix. The season follows the lives of the British royals from 1979-1989. Coming back from season 3 are Olivia Coleman (Queen Elizabeth), Tobias Menzies (Prince Philip), Josh O’Connor (Prince Charles), Erin Doherty (Princess Anne), Helena Bonham-Carter (Princess Margaret), and Marion Bailey (the Queen Mother). Adding new levels of drama and intrigue are Emma Corrin (Princess Diana) and Gillian Anderson (Margaret Thatcher).

In addition to the internal family drama, there is political and economic upheaval beyond the walls of Buckingham Palace.

I binge watched a good chunk of the new season last night. It is nothing short of fantastic. I loved the new additions to the cast. Corrin brings a humanity to her role and adds to the mystique of the real woman behind the character.

If there is one actor among the main players who deserves an award for her work, it is Gillian Anderson. I am the first to admit that my knowledge of Thatcher’s work as Prime Minister is limited. But I know enough to know that then and now, she is a polarizing figure. As the character, Anderson plays a ball busting, glass ceiling shattering woman who is as formidable as the Queen.

The thing I really enjoyed so far is the complete 180 of how Charles is viewed. Last season, he was a young man trying to out who he was as a human being while dealing with burden of responsibility placed upon his shoulders. This season, he still draws empathy, but not as much as did during season 3.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Crown is available for streaming on Netlflix.

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The Life Ahead Movie Review

Having an adult mentor or teacher when we are young is sometimes all that is needed to guide us to adulthood.

The new Netflix film, The Life Ahead (based on the book entitled The Life Before Us by Ugo Chiti and Romain Gary) premiered this weekend. In a small seaside town in Italy, Madame Rosa (Sophia Loren) is a Holocaust survivor and a retired prostitute. She earns her bread by taking care of the children of those who ply the same trade that she used to.

She meets Momo (Ibrahima Gueye), a young orphan boy who was born in Senegal. In the country illegally, he steals a pair of candlesticks from her in a market. When he is forced to apologize and return the stolen goods, Rosa reluctantly agrees to take him in. What starts as a forced relationship turns into mother/son bond that both Rosa and Momo learn to treasure.

Directed by Loren’s son, Edoardo Ponti, this film is easily one of the best of 2020. Returning to the screen after a decade, Loren is nothing short of breath taking as Rosa. Her acting is superb and her character’s arc is perfection. Gueye is a young actor who based on this film alone, has the acting chops to hopefully have a long career ahead of him. What kept me watching was the slow reveal of what was beneath the emotional hard shell of the main characters.

I absolutely recommend it.

The Life Ahead is available for streaming on Netflix.

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I Am Woman Movie Review

It’s easy to get on a soapbox and rail against whatever one feels is wrong with the world. But sometimes, it takes art and music to give that needed change life.

I Am Woman premiered last year. Starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Evan Peters, and Danielle Macdonald, the movie tells the story of the late singer Helen Reddy. The narrative begins in 1963. Helen (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) is a single mother with a dream of signing a recording contract. Originally from Australia, she is currently living in New York City. Making a living as a lounge singer, it looks like her dream is just that.

Her fate changes when she meets music journalist Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald) and wannabe talent manager Jeff Wald (Evan Peters). Lillian inspires Helen to write her iconic song “I Am Woman“. Jeff straddles to the dual role of husband and manager.

It looks like Helen has everything she has ever wanted. But fame and the constant grind of work begins to take a toll on her private life. Jeff becomes an addict, forcing Helen to take a hard look at her life.

The thing about a movie or television biopic is that it can feel dry and predictable. The womb to tomb story arc has been done to death. But this movie is neither dry or predictable. It is entertaining, charming, and most of all inspiring. I love that the filmmakers wove in their protagonist’s story with the burgeoning second wave of feminism in the 1970’s.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

I Am Woman is streaming on Netflix.

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Anne with an E Review

For multiple generations of readers, Anne Shirley will always be one of their favorite literary leading ladies. The heroine of L.M. Montgomery‘s beloved novel Anne of Green Gables, Anne is a spirited young woman with a wild imagination and an open heart.

The Netflix reboot of the series, Anne with an E, ran for three reasons. Stepping into the hallowed shoes of the young Miss Shirley is Amybeth McNulty. Playing her adopted parents, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are Geraldine James and R.H. Thomson.

I only watched the first episode and I couldn’t help but smile. McNulty is the perfect young actress to play Anne. Her take on the character is everything we expect from Anne Shirley. James and Thomson as the unmarried, middle aged Cuthbert siblings are equally well cast. James is severe while Thomson is willing to give the newest member of their family a chance.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Anne with an E is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Rebecca Movie Review

Rebecca is one of those books that readers come back to time and again. There is a reason that Daphne du Maurier‘s novel of love, jealousy, and secrets is considered to be a classic.

The Netflix reboot starring Lily James, Armie Hammer, and Kristin Scott Thomas premiered earlier in the week. The unnamed narrator and future Mrs. de Winter (James) is introduced as a paid companion to a wealthy woman who is eager is climb the social ladder. In Monte Carlo, she meets Maxim de Winter (Hammer). Maxim is a widower and the owner of Manderley, a sprawling estate on the English coast. Swept off her feet, she says yes to his marriage proposal.

But upon arrival at her new home, she discovers that all is not what it seems. Her husband’s deceased wife, Rebecca still haunts her former home. The housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Scott Thomas), takes pleasure in tormenting the new Mrs. de Winter via the memory of the previous Mrs. de Winter.

I wish I could say that I loved this adaptation. The truth is that it was not what it could have been. There is a certain something in the novel that raises the hair on the back of the neck. That feeling is missing from the movie. The other issue that I had is that as good an actor that Lily James is, she is not quite right for the part.

Her performance was stronger when her character began to realize the truth. As a viewer, I couldn’t wrap my head around her youth and naivete in the beginning of the story. Among the main actors, Kristin Scott Thomas was the best part of the film. She was both creepy and charming, if that combination is ever possible.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Rebecca is available for streaming on Netflix.

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The Trial of the Chicago 7 Review

If nothing else, history is cyclical. The experience of one generation is often repeated time and again.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 premiered last weekend on Netflix. The movie tells the story of seven men who are accused of inciting a riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Among the defendants are Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), and Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). One of the lawyers they hired to represent them is William Kunstler (Mark Rylance).

On the other side is Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a lawyer for the government whose job is to ensure that a guilty verdict is obtained. On the judge’s bench is Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella). Judge Hoffman is more than eager to see the men thrown in jail.

Though the movie takes place in the late 1960’s, the comparisons to 2020 are too obvious to ignore. The cultural and political divisions back then were as rigid as they are today. If nothing else, it is reminder that there are some things in this world that are constant. The details may change, but the basic frame is unchanged.

Narratively speaking, the tension goes a bit slack in the middle of the film. But other than that, the movie is well done and worth watching.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

The Trial of the Chicago 7 is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Enola Holmes Movie Review

Classic books were given the title of “classic” for a reason. However, that does not mean that a modern writer cannot put their own spin on the tale.

Enola Holmes premiered Wednesday on Netflix. Based on the series of books by Nancy Springer, Millie Bobby Brown stars as the title character. Raised by her widowed mother Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), Enola receives an education that is extremely unusual for a young lady in Victorian era England. When her mother disappears, Enola’s much older brothers come home to take charge.

Her oldest brother Mycroft (Sam Claflin) is conventional in every sense of the word. Her second oldest brother, Sherlock (Henry Cavill) is more empathetic, but still concerned that his sister was not raised as she ought to have been. Before she can be sent to a school that promises to make her a proper young lady, Enola runs away to find her mother. Along the way, she meets a young aristocrat, Tewkesbury, (Louis Partridge) who is also running away and a new mystery is set at her feet.

I would categorize this movie as cute and empowering (if that makes sense). The message, I think, is the most important part of the film and feels very relevant for 2020. That being said, it is not without it’s flaws. However, it is one of those movies that is both fun to watch and an inspiration, especially for the younger female audience.

I recommend it.

Enola Holmes is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Outlander Review

The narrative of a stranger in a strange land is one of humanities oldest stories.

Outlander (based on the books of the same name by Diana Gabaldon) premiered on Starz back in 2014. In post World War II Scotland, former British military nurse Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) is enjoying a second honeymoon with husband Frank (Tobias Menzies). Then somehow, she is sent back two hundred years in the past. In order to survive, she marries Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan).

Can she return to her own time and if she can’t, what changes must she make to adapt?

I am presently about 2/3rds of the way though the first season. Though I never read the books and cannot make any comparisons to the series, I am enjoying it. It has elements of the different genres that play well together to create a story that is engaging and very entertaining.

I absolutely recommend it.

Outlander is now streaming on Netflix.

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The English Game Review

One of the major conflicts over the course of human history is between the working class and the ruling and/or wealthy class.

The English Game premiered on Netflix earlier this year. Written by Julian Fellows (Downton Abbey), this six part series tells the story of how football (soccer for us Americans) became the sport it is today. In 1879 England, football is a game played by amateurs. The teams are made up of members of the upper class who are well, overprotective, of the game.

When they are confronted with other teams who come from the working class, the conflict becomes more than football. It represents the idea that the traditional social hierarchy is changing. Those who were born on the lower end of the hierarchy are no longer content to remain where they are. They want a piece of the action, so to speak, and are more than willing to fight for their rights.

Representing the upper classes is Arthur Kinnaird (Edward Holcroft). Standing up for the working men and women is Fergus Suter (Kevin Guthrie).

I enjoyed watching the series. Though it is a BPD (British Period Drama), the narrative is not the standard BPD narrative. It tells the story of a time in which the world was changing and the forces it took to create that change.

I recommend it.

The English Game is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Barry Movie Review

Our college years are for many, the formative years of our lives. The transition between young adulthood and adulthood, these four years will forever have an impact on the rest of our lives.

Barry premiered in 2016 on Netflix. In 1981, future President Barack Obama is an undergrad at Columbia University in New York City. While dating fellow student Charlotte (Anya Taylor-Joy), he is faced with the existential crisis of figuring out who he is as a human being. As one of the few students of color who is dating a white woman, he is the recipient of subtle and not so subtle reactions. If that was not enough, the lack of a relationship with his father weighs heavily on his decisions.

I really enjoyed the movie. We all know the man who was President for eight years. The introduction of the the younger Barack Obama was a revelation. I don’t know about anyone else, but college was not just about the education and the degree. It was about the emotional experience of growing up and figuring out who I am on my own terms.

His journey in this film hit home because I remember going through the same things when I was in college.

I recommend it.

Barry is available for streaming on Netflix.

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