I haven’t written any personal posts for a while and have cut back a bit on my reading and reviewing. I have, however, been watching quite a bit of television. Well, not live television but stuff online. I shared some of my viewing in early March 2019, so thought it was time for an update.
Unicorn Store (Netflix)
I’m not sure I can even vaguely describe what this is about – a young purposeless woman who is offered a chance of purpose? It’s very whimsical and I worried at one point it might be some big metaphor I couldn’t get, but thankfully – though it was (kinda) – it was a pretty obvious one.
Interestingly I disliked Brie Larson in The United States of Tara, but all was forgiven when she starred in the movie based on one of my fave books, Room (and won all sorts of awards and accolades). She’s fun to follow on Instagram and I’m yet to see Captain Marvel as I don’t go to the movies much. This 2017 movie I understand, was her directorial debut and is very suited to the ‘her’ I see on social media. Earnest and quirky. It’s got a good supporting cast with Bradley Whitford, Joan Cusack and Samuel L Jackson.
Project Blue Book (SBD on Demand)
I’m in the midst of watching this as not all of the episodes are online here in Oz at the moment, or ‘dropped’ as the youngsters like to say (and I friggin’ HATE that saying!).
The show’s okay though not received well by those who expected it to be more faithful to the actual real life sightings and cases (as per Dr J Allen Hynek’s real-life case notes). I’m not a fan of documentaries so am relieved it’s dramatised, but this probably does offer up a few too many clichés around Cold War paranoia, American suburbia and ‘the unknown’. I’m enjoying the acting though, so hanging in there for all 10 episodes.
Black Earth Rising (Netflix)
I lived in south east Africa for about 18mths in the mid 1990s. At the time I was passionate about international development and I read widely about events impacting on developing countries. Rwanda was just emerging from the ashes of the genocide and I still remember some very horrific stories I read about some of the violence.
This personalises the genocide and what came after, adding in political games and subsequent maneuverings at The Hague via the ICC. The show features John Goodman (ie. dead Dan from Roseanne) as a human rights lawyer and centres around a young Rwandan woman who was adopted and raised in the UK by one of his friends and colleagues. It touches on contemporary politics in Rwanda, the role of big business in developing / exploiting poorer countries as well as that of major international players (US, French and Britain). Ultimately it’s a bit all over the place though was interesting nonetheless and morally challenging at times. It also offers a reminder that good people sometimes do bad things for good reasons. And vice versa.
Turn up Charlie (Netflix)
I really only checked this out cos Idris Elba was in it. Episodes are short (30mins) so all eight are easy to get through and it’s kinda fun, though probably had a bit more potential than is reached. Elba’s a washed up one-hit wonder turned DJ whose school friend (now well-known actor) throws some work his way. Piper Perabo plays another DJ – the friend’s wife – and I quite enjoyed her performance.
I thought initially this was going to be based on real life events as I’d vaguely recalled some American girl being accused of murdering her roommate and sitting trial for it. I hung in there for all ten x 1hr episodes but it went off on a bit of a tangent (sex clubs and the like).
I should have known it’d jumped the shark the moment a Prince / heir to the crown appeared on the scene as a lover of the dead woman.
Most Beautiful Thing / Coisa Mais Linda (Netflix)
The worst thing about this show was that it’d been dubbed – presumably from Portuguese into English. I actually watch everything I can with the subtitles on (not sure why, I guess I like to read and listen / watch at the same time), but the subtitles and dubbed words didn’t match and the dialogue was awkward.
It’s set in Rio de Janeiro though and I loved the look and era of the show. Lead actress Maria Casadevall is ridiculously stunning. It’s a Netflix original and comprises seven x 45min episodes and I’m not sure it’ll get a second series but it ended on a serious cliffhanger so, that was a tad frustrating.
Brene Brown’s Call to Courage (Netflix)
I enjoyed Brene Brown’s 1hr 16min special which essentially builds on a little from her very famous TED talk and books published since. In some ways it didn’t offer a lot more, but included some personal anecdotes I’d not heard… but she’s such an amazing speaker and so engaging I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Huge in France (Netflix)
Features Gad Elmaleh who talks about himself in the third person, reminding me of Chad from the first (circa 2000) Charlie’s Angels movie!
Here (and in real life I think) he’s a famous French comedian who burns out and decides to head to the US to reconnect with his teenaged son. Sadly the son is very unlikeable and brat-like which is not surprising as his mother and step-dad are very vapid (blogger / wellness Instagram type and ex model ex actor). Despite his overseas celebrity status Gad is unknown in the US and struggles to find his place and / or connect to his son.
I didn’t find this laugh-out-loud funny, but more cringe-worthy in an okay way. Gad is quite likeable though does some kinda underhanded stuff to gain his son’s attention. Although those on the receiving end deserve it, so… #whatevs. I should mention there are some soul-searching, poignant moments as well. I watched all eight (28-30min) episodes in one night. I’d definitely tune in for season 2 if one was made.
Love, Rosie (Netflix)
I don’t tend to watch many movies and probably would have assumed this would be too ‘young-adult’ ish for me but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Of course it’s a long drawn-out will they / won’t they scenario involving two childhood friends but I liked both leads, particularly Lily Collins.
I also started rewatching Doctor Who from the 2005 (Nu Who) series, until it disappeared off Netflix, and have recently caught up with all of season seven of Suits.
I’ve had a couple of DNF’s (did not finish) shows. I’d heard amazing things about Tim Roth and Tin Star on SBS on Demand but just couldn’t get into it. I watched most of the final season of Berlin Station on SBS on Demand, but stopped when my fave character (and the only reason I watched it) got killed off. Similarly Traitors on Netflix didn’t draw me in though I did last two episodes.
And… that’s it for now. I think. I’ve got a few things on my ‘to watch’ list, but would welcome any suggestions.