Tag Archives: netflix

Holidate: A Review

Holidate directed by John Whitesell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is Christmas Rom-Com time! This is the first, but certainly not the last, new Christmas film on Netflix (more have already been added to the list). And in a nutshell, it is one of those very self-aware movies.

Emma Roberts plays Sloane, a work from home admin of some sort who is unlucky in love. Her last boyfriend left her for a barista, and she is the last single in her family. She meets Jackson (played by Luke Bracey), an Australian golf pro who seemingly works at a golf course, maybe? They decide to be each other’s Holidate, a person who accompanies one to various holiday parties and get-togethers.

The premise was a little fantastical for a year like 2020, as the big end of year holidays are approaching. It was weird to see big parties and family events without the social distancing and masks. However, that will be a common theme in most of the Christmas movies this year.

The movie was very self-aware, making jokes about tropes in romantic comedies and relationships. But then they go ahead and do the tropes they complained about, to perhaps show the walls coming down for Sloane. There were some very hilarious moments, and some very cringe moments, but overall, a great start to what will hopefully be a season of sappy love stories filled with plot holes and silly tropes that resolve too neatly within the 2 hour time line until the last second of 2020 is over.

There is a lot of profanity in this film. It even becomes a joke towards the end. There is some grinding and “sexy” dancing at one point, and there is one sex scene but not incredibly steamy. Violence includes a lot of slapstick, like losing a finger while shooting off fireworks. It’s lighthearted and silly for the most part.

The Babysitters Club: A Review

The Babysitters Club created by Rachel Shukert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought sharing something light might be appropriate with all the crazy chaos lately. I was familiar with these books from childhood, as well as the original TV show, but I didn’t know much of the details. This new reboot of the franchise is light and fun, specifically directed towards young girls around 11 to 13.

It definitely has been updated a bit. For example, there is an episode that touches on transgender issues as part of the storyline. But for the most part, it pays homage to the original books. Each episode leading to the last two (which is a two part finale), focuses on one of the girls, and some sort of character growth she experiences. It culminates to a finale that incorporates the friendships created as well as lessons learned through the season.

Some of the content dragged for me, but that is probably because it is not meant for me. I loved the focus on standing up for others, playing as a team, and believing in yourself and your friends as main themes throughout the show. Definitely recommend watching it together if you have a daughter or child in your life that fits the demographic, because of some of the issues that are discussed. But overall, just a fun, light show!

There is no profanity in the film. Sexual content consists of a few chaste kisses. No violent content either, though the finale does include a “curse” over the theater at the camp, which may be a little scary for some.

Knock Down The House: A Review

Knock Down The House directed by Rachel Lears
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I decided to watch this documentary because I thought it would be interesting to see the process of a campaign during an election year. The film follows four women from various parts of the country who are trying to win in their primaries during the 2018 election. This is during the primaries, so at this point, they aren’t running against another party, but an established incumbent within their own party.

Did you know that there are organizations whose main purpose is to find new people to run against already established candidates? Two that were mentioned were the Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats. They basically seek out working class people to enter into grass roots campaigns to replace well established incumbents.

Each of the candidates had separate motivations for why they wanted to run and different obstacles to overcome. Sometimes it was personal, sometimes it was to make a difference in their neighborhoods on specific issues. Immediately, I recognized Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as one of the candidates the film followed. I also had heard of Cori Bush as well. But I knew very little about the other women.

It was really heartbreaking for those that lost (but I looked them up and one of them has won their primary this year). I really got invested in their stories.. The strategy and stress that go behind each of the campaign is incredible. Seeing AOC gather her community and acknowledge them every stop of the way, I can see why she won.

I think this is a great film to learn about the process, the work, and gain respect for those who campaign for public offices. They and their team put their hearts and souls into it. It didn’t make me want to throw my hat into the ring, but I gained a new respect for these women and all of the smaller names on the ballots. Even if I don’t agree with them on every issue, it takes a lot of guts and sweat and tears to get out there.

There is no profanity in this film, maybe a “hell” here or there. No sexual content or violent content. One of the candidates does talk about how her daughter died which was the catalyst for her to get involved in politics and advocacy.

Project Power: A Review

Project Power directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was one of my anticipated films for the month of August. I’m always hyped for a superhero movie, and the premise of this one intrigued me.

The movie is set in New Orleans, which is talked about a lot. The opening shot is of the Superdome. There are references to how the government mishandled Katrina. Outright mentions of being in New Orleans. But if you missed all of those clues, they had people in the streets chanting for the Saints (New Orleans football team) and wearing jerseys. I grew up in New Orleans, and I can’t remember making or hearing that many references to the city on a daily basis. But it felt like the city was a character in the film as well.

A secret organization is using the city as a lab to test a drug called Power. When someone takes the glowing pill, they get a superpower unique to them for five minutes, or they explode and die. The three main characters connect through this drug. Robin, known as Bird on the street, is a teenage girl who has started selling the drug through her cousin. Frank is a detective that uses Robin as an informant but is also her friend. Art is new to the city but there to find his daughter who was taken in connection to the drug.

There is this really amazing scene between Art and Robin as they first encounter each other. Robin wants to make rap music, that’s her dream, and she is pretty good at it. But she feels like in the present, she has to sell this drug in order to help her very sick mom who has diabetes and no insurance. When Art suggests college or the military, Robin doesn’t have the grades or the interest for either. She wants to follow her dream. They both talk about how the system works against them, and how they must use their skills, their own power, to push back, without relying on the quick fixes of promises destined to break.

It was funny and sweet at times. The relationships between the three main characters are familial, no romance necessary for this film. The characters were flawed but endearing, but the situations weren’t very complex. Very much bad guy versus good guy scenario. The writer, Mattson Tomlin, also wrote the new Batman movie coming out next year, so I’m looking forward to how similar that might be. If you like comic books, straightforward good versus bad type films, and you are able to stomach a good bit of violence, definitely check out this one!

There is profanity in the film. Really didn’t see any sexual content. But there is a lot of violence. Some of the powers were capable of burning a man’s skin or freezing a woman to death, there was a lot of slow motion violence, death, murder, fighting, car accident, and use of guns and other weapons.

Immigration Nation: A Review

Immigration Nation directed by Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This is a new documentary (came out on August 3, 2020) about the state of Immigration and its process. It covered a lot of the things I see in the media already – the separation of families, the harrowing journeys crossing the border, and the ICE raids. But I learned so much more.

Most of the episodes followed immigrant families or ICE agents. The first episode starts as ICE agents in New York City are going to different apartments to apprehend targets who have received a deportation order. Under the Obama administration, the main focus was on people who had committed serious crimes, but now all violators are in danger of being deported. And if an ICE agent enters a home with a target but finds others who are in the United States illegally, they are also taken, called “collaterals.” One ICE agent talks to the film crew about how he doesn’t take collaterals when he goes for a target, and minutes later, his boss calls over the radio to order him to bring in at least two collaterals so they can fill their quota.

Agents have to become desensitized in order to do their job. Some even looked at it like a game. They repeat over and over how it is not personal. Their hands are tied. They are just doing their job. The PR guy for ICE was very specific in his wording when he gave presentations or talked to people about ICE operations. He was super creepy and slimy. He would mention the word criminal, but that could mean anything from murder to a traffic stop. And the agents would repeat the rhetoric, most not really wanting to face the entire truth.

Families are still being separated all over the country, just not in the shelters at the border. One man has to say goodbye to his wife and children as he is deported back to El Salvador where he will most certainly be killed, as he was a police officer that helped American agents apprehend drug gang members from his country. A grandmother seeks asylum for her and her granddaughter because gang members want to force her young granddaughter to marry. The granddaughter got to stay in America with her mom. The grandmother was deported, and will probably be killed.

Plus, people who are already granted asylum in the US don’t have a guarantee they can bring their families with them. Even when it is clearly a civil rights issue, the paperwork alone can delay the process, leaving families separated and detention centers full. One mother is separated from her children for five years, only when she returns to Africa to talk to the embassy do things start to happen. And that trip was incredibly dangerous for her, considering her husband paid to have acid thrown at her, hence the reason she had to leave. It still took five years.

There are so many heartbreaking stories. And the solutions are not easy. This is a system that is set up to keep people out, and a lot of the changes need to start with the Executive branch decisions. I learned so much from this film, but I wish they had followups at the end of what became of the families that were interviewed. Overall, it is an excellent, in depth, heart-wrenching series that I highly recommend to anyone!

There is profanity in the film. Not much explicit sexual content – mostly just talks of rape or the forced marriage. There is some violence – the story of the woman who had acid thrown on her, the dead bodies in the desert or the river (including a child, so trigger warning there), but all faces are blurred.

Miss Representation: A Review

Miss Representation created by Jennifer Siebel Newsom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This documentary from 2011 was recommended to me by a friend.  The director and narrator, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, is an actress who had recently found out she was having a girl.  This sparked a deep dive into the way our community is set up for women, and how the patriarchy plays a part in both politics and Hollywood in keeping women from believing they could become leaders in industry.

I had heard about much of the content in this film through conversations and even in the media, probably since this film came out.  It covers the fact that women are encouraged to seek power through sexuality and not their intellect.  It described the evolution for women’s rights from WWII when women were working in the factories, through the 1950s when media encouraged women to return home, on to the ERA and then how Hollywood still continues to portray women in narrow roles.

There have been some things that have changed since this film aired.  The Me-Too movement happened.  There have been more and more women involved in politics as well as more female production companies in Hollywood.  In fact, I watched the TV show Mrs. America which gave a look into the ERA and the anti-ERA movement of the 1970s which is mentioned in this documentary.

But we still have a long way to go before we can really consider a realistic representation of females in leadership as it reflects to the number of women in society.  I found it interesting that a lot of the conversation around women in this film also applies to people of color as well as other marginal groups.  It was really shocking to hear what some men felt completely comfortable to say on live TV about their female counterparts.  And that still happens. Just a few weeks ago, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to some inappropriate public behavior of a fellow congressman.

There is profanity throughout the film.  The sexual content consists of women dressed and moving provocatively and talking about rape in headlines.  The violent content included video of women getting cosmetic surgery and pictures of women covered in bruises after assaults.

I felt convicted to really keep an eye on what I was watching, to critically think about what messages are being communicated in how women are portrayed, even in major roles in film, even how they are portrayed in news media.  I think this film is a good starting point to the conversation, but it shouldn’t stop there.

The Old Guard: A Review

The Old Guard created by Greg Rucka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had seen trailers for this particular movie in July, and I thought it might be something I would enjoy.  The premise is a group of immortal warriors live their lives in secret but use their unique skills to help those who are helpless.  Sometimes that means covert operations, sometimes it means being a part of some of the bigger wars.  Their immortality does end one day, unknown when it will happen, but their bodies just stop healing altogether and they die.

I usually talk about the profanity, sexual content, and violent content in any media I consume.  And there is a lot of profanity, but there is a lot of violent content.  You see bullet wounds, blown up body parts, just a lot of violence.  But I think that’s really a lot of the point of the plot.  One of the neat things they did was have each character with a special old-world weapon.  They would use that weapon in conjunction with newer weapons in almost a graceful dance.

There are two plots to the story.  One is that another immortal has surfaced.  This hasn’t happened for a couple of centuries.  They have dreams that tell them that there is another one around, and the new immortal has dreams about the others until they have found each other.  So, they set out to find this new girl and we see a lot of this story through her eyes.

The second plot is that there is a company that is hunting the immortals.  The pharmaceutical company, Merrick, wants to take these people apart and find out how they are able to heal and survive death so many times.  And in the world of pictures and records, it’s getting harder for them to hide.

The themes of teamwork and loneliness and making a difference that could help in generations to come are all blatantly set out in the dialog.  The dialog felt at times a little too neat, everything explained quickly and simply.  The characters are basically hand-holding the audience to the place they want them to be.

The movie was okay.  It had a lot of potential that I think it missed, but there is a major cliffhanger at the end of the movie.  So, hopefully this movie is just the set-up to a more complex one in the future.  Of course, that depends on the ability to even make a second one soon enough for people to remember the first one, and in this climate, that’s not so simple.  This might have been better as a TV series.  This felt like an elongated pilot.  If you like a good, simple, fighting movie, I would say check it out.  But don’t expect anything too deep or complex in this first movie.

Sweet Magnolias: A Review

Sweet Magnolias created by Sheryl Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first impression of the first episode was that this story was quite saccharine-sweet.  And that first impression maintains its accuracy throughout the season.  It takes place in a Southern, fictional town of Serenity and follows the lives of three women who have been friends since high school. 

They want to start a spa together in a mansion that they apparently spent a lot of time in when they were kids.  And I thought the building of said spa was going to be the main focus of the first season.  But as the show continued, the spa became somewhat of an afterthought.

The main focus of the show really were the relationships, between the three women as well as their children, community, and love interests.  There were a couple of love triangles that didn’t feel fully developed.  And sometimes the chemistry also came across as awkward. Also, I don’t know where to fit this, but the accents are all over the place. They are southern accents, but from various regions which is strange since they are all supposed to be from this one town.

In a nutshell, this is an easy, “turn your brain off” kind of show. The conversations, even the more deeper ones are not very long or detailed, even feeling glossed over at times. Plot points are either resolved quickly or ignored for several episodes, only to be mentioned again in the laundry list of drama that they are having to deal with. But in their defense, there seems to be a lot of ground to cover before the cliffhanger at the end. We have to understand how we get to that point, and that means a lot of rushed drama and quick resolutions.

I felt at times like I didn’t know the characters well enough to understand why certain things bothered them or why their reactions were so strong. I know this is based on a book series, so I feel like I’m missing chunks of their motivations because I haven’t read the books. But they will mention something to a character, but then there is no follow up until several episodes later when they dissolve a relationship over that thing that they haven’t really mentioned more than a couple times.

There is profanity throughout the show, usually followed by an apology for the language, and meant to give the speaker either strength or sass.  Sexual content includes several kissing scenes as well as one sex scene that is not graphic at all.  Violence includes some fist fights, some almost assaults, but no one is severely hurt.  There is underage drinking and bullying among the kids which is sort of addressed, again like most of the drama.

But all of those issues aside, I still gave it four stars because it is a nice escape from reality.  Serenity is just one of those places that you can just go with the flow.  The drama is muted, most of the conflict is resolved with ease and cliché.  And the humor is just the right amount of eye-rolling corny that I like.  Big warning, the season ends with a huge cliffhanger, and I’m not sure there will be a second season any time soon (thanks, coronavirus).

A Little Reading Chat

The Autumn season tends to bring up thoughts of cozy blankets, big arm chairs, a large mug of tea, and a good book.

But here in Texas, it is just getting to that point. I mean, I was in shorts just three days ago. It’s been ridiculous. And maybe that has contributed to my reading slump.

Maybe it was the vain attempt to finish a book I wasn’t in the right mindset to read.

Maybe it was the collection of really good shows that just came out on Netflix. (If you have Netflix, and you haven’t seen Raising Dion, you need to remedy that ASAP).

Maybe it was the our new weekly family schedule that began this fall.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep I’ve been getting lately because the boy hasn’t been sleeping well either.

Maybe, and most probably, it is all of the above.

By the time I crawl into bed at the end of the day, all I want to do is crash. And I do get up pretty early in the morning, but whatever energy I have managed to cultivate overnight has been dedicated to my Mom’s group bible study workbook (which is about false gods, that I talked about last week) or my continuation of reading the entire Bible in a year (I’m so close to the end of the year it would be crazy to stop, but Jeremiah is heavy material, ya’ll).

I guess I am reading. And I do have two books I’m reading right now when I get a few minutes here and there in my day. Also, it’s kind of adorable that every time I pull out one of my books in front of my son, he finds a book that he’s desperate for me to read (so, really, if you count all the kids’ books I’ve been reading lately, I’ve hit my year’s goal and then some).

I just started watching “Living With Your Self” starring Paul Rudd on Netflix. I don’t know if I like it yet or not, I’m just in the second episode, but if I were cloned, I would definitely use that opportunity to read more books. Although if I were to be honest, I would rather have a time turner because I’m sure my clone would get totally jealous of my reading time.

So, maybe I wouldn’t call this a slump, per se. More like just a busy season in my life. But it’s a good season, full of happy memories being made every day. And now that it’s cold, we have all the fun activities like, snuggles on the couch and that sensation you get when you’ve been outside long enough to get your nose red and then come back into to a warm house. I much rather would go from being cold to warm than the other way around. But that’s just me.

I hope wherever you are, you are staying warm and reading well. Enjoying life and making memories. Have a happy Tuesday, everyone!

Have you ever experienced a slump? How did you deal with it? (And it doesn’t have to be a reading slump!)

A Rotten Netflix Show

Okay, so how could I not play with the name of this series on Netflix?

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but this show hooked me. I wanted something slightly educational, as well as something I can watch while I fold clothes. Rotten is a documentary series on Netflix that checked both of those boxes.

At first, I thought this was another “guess what is in your food” kind of show. But instead, it kind of assumes you know the basics. While it does briefly touch on a few of the processes for each food product, it is really about the whole culture surrounding it. It’s about how government policy, climate, and consumer demands affect everything in the process.

For example, the first episode is about honey. They talk about how bees make the honey and the difficulties of bees disappearing or colony collapses. But they also talk about some of the crazy things local beekeepers have to deal with and decisions they have to make.

One problem is that China sold diluted honey (diluted with sugar syrup) to America, making a very cheap product and American beekeepers could not compete. Even when America put tariffs on the honey to help American beekeepers, China still found ways to circumvent the tariffs by sending it through a third country.

Another problem is when American beekeepers lease out their bees to almond groves in California to help with pollination. It sounded like a great idea, but then someone came and stole whole colonies out of the orchards. They ripped off any identification, so when the thousands of stolen colonies were found, they couldn’t get them back to the rightful owner. So any keeper that leases their bees to these groves could lose the hive forever.

Each episode doesn’t end with an answer to the problems that these keepers/growers/farmers face in food production. Of course, it promotes buying from small, local farms, but it doesn’t villainize bigger operations. In fact, it shows human faces to all of it. It really discusses the complexity of how our food shows up in the supermarket and how being an informed consumer will help in the long run.

Season 2 recently came out. I’ve already watched a few of those episodes. I will put a caveat on this show. There is some profanity, mainly in the people being interviewed. They are not bleeped out. It is rated Mature and I think it’s because of the profanity. Nothing else really stuck out to me as graphic or gory.

Overall, I am really enjoying it. I’m not sponsored by Netflix or anything like that. I just thought I would share this fascinating documentary. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the second season!