There is no more infamous 1990’s couple than model/actress Pamela Anderson and her musician ex-husband Tommy Lee. The release of their sex tape in 1995 was both a novel event and a harbinger of the upcoming change when it came to Hollywood and celebrities.
The new eight-part Hulu series, Pam and Tommy, is the story of said sex tape and the whirlwind it created. It starts with a constructor worker named Rand (Seth Rogen, rocking the ultimate 90’s mullet). Unhappy that he has not been paid for his work and drowning in debt, he sneaks back into the house and steals a safe. Among the items in the safe is a private tape of newlyweds Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan).
Selling it as both a means of revenge and paying his bills, he has no idea what he is about to unleash on the world.
The narrative type is the following: “you think you know, but you have no idea”.
I’ve only seen the first episode so far. I’m not completely hooked, but there is enough of a narrative that I am curious where the series is going. The draw so far is the lead actors. James is completely unrecognizable underneath the wig, the prosthetics, and the voice. It’s certainly an out-of-the-box role for her, but not in a way that I think will be detrimental to her career. So far, I’m impressed. Stan is not as much as a stretch, but he is certainly effective as Lee.
The beauty of a world like the MCU universe is that the number of stories that can be told is nearly endless. Over the last year or so, DisneyPlus has released four different series that extend the narrative beyond the ones that exist on the big screen. The list below is my ranking of the existing series.
Loki: Tom Hiddleston shines once more as the trickster g-d turned hero. With Owen Wilson as a mid-level bureaucrat and Sophia Di Martino as Sylvie/the Variant, the program takes one of Marvel’s most beloved and iconic characters in surprising directions.
WandaVision: A loving rip-off of the family sitcom over the decades, Elisabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany returned to the roles of Wanda Maximoff and Vision. An allegory of grief and loss, it speaks to how difficult it is to lose the ones we love. The highlight at least for me, was Kathryn Hahn as nosy neighbor/baddie Agatha Harkness. That is a character for the ages
What If…: This animated series takes the narrative into new directions, introducing new storylines and mixing characters in ways that do not fit into the big screen timeline. From a writing perspective, this program is completely unique and a lovely way to take this world to places where it had not been before.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: Taking place after Avengers: Endgame, this is sort of a buddy comedy meets series with a not-so-subtle political message. Though it was did not quite hit the mark as other series did, it was still relatively engaging. The addition of Erin Kellyman’s character, who turns from baddie to hero was a nice twist that I happily did not see coming.
Warning: this post contains spoilers about the finale of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the episode.
First impressions are just that, especially when it comes to movie or television reviews. Sometimes it takes repeated viewing for a movie or watching multiple episodes of a television show to change the reviewers mind.
I do have to admit that the narrative is a bit messy, but when it came together, it came together beautifully. What started out as an odd couple/buddy comedy/standard MCU fare turned into a partial treatise on the state of the world. Though Sam is known as The Falcon, he is not above dealing everyday racism.
My favorite character is Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman). In my limited experience of this genre, most villains have one goal: to take over the world. They’re pretty cut and dry without room for subtlety. Depending on one’s point of view, Karli and her people are either terrorists or freedom fighters. This murky line has been drawn time and again throughout human history, forcing us to take sides, and determine who is good and who is bad. It is a generality that at best has created enmity and at worst, has led to murder and destruction.
I also appreciate that the character was changed to a woman (and a redhead, for obvious reasons ;)). There are still too many female characters that are boxed in by “traditional roles” and not given the room to be anything else.
It is the type of series that grows on you, which at the end of the day, is never a bad thing.
Being different is most certainly an awkward experience. But being accused of falsehoods is another story.
In the 2018 movie, We Have Always Lived in the Castle (based on the book of the same name by Shirley Jackson), Mary Catherine “Merricat” Blackwood (Taissa Farminga) and her elder sister Constance (Alexandra Daddario) live in their isolated mansion at the edge of their small town in the late 1950’s. After being accused of killing their parents six years previous to the start of the story, Constance goes only as far as the garden. Their only companion is their wheelchair bound Uncle Julian (Crispin Glover), who is obsessed with the continual rewrites of his memoir. Only Merricat goes into town, knowing that it will not be a pleasant experience.
Things change when their cousin Charles (Sebastian Stan) comes for a visit. What starts out as a pleasant time together turns into an emotional rollercoaster. Family secrets that have been kept in the dark are brought to the light, threatening the tenuous existence within the household.
I don’t recall reading the book, so I cannot comment on the changes that were made to the screenplay. I really liked this movie. The acting is fantastic, specifically by Farminga and Daddario. Merricat is an unlikely heroine. Her mannerisms and the way she speaks is unconventional for a female character in her late teens. Behind her smile and easy going nature, Constance appears to be emotionally frail and easily set off. It has a noir-ish, Rebecca feeling that immediately sucked me in.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is available for streaming on Netflix.
There comes a point in which a brand has to realize that not every IP needs multiple spinoffs. After the massive success of Endgame and WandaVision, the next logical step is to greenlight other offshoots with other characters from within the same universe. The problem is not every one of them is worthy of it’s predecessor. The problem with The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is that while it is entertaining, it is not as good as WandaVision.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.