Tag Archives: netflix

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!

November Favorites

It’s almost the end of the year!  On to the November Favorites

Book of the Month

I had a few books I really enjoyed this month, but Truly Devious was really good.  And I’m looking forward to the next book in the series in January.  I wrote a review for this book here.

Baby

So, originally, I bought this outfit by ZOEREA because I thought his Halloween costume wasn’t going to come in on time.  It actually did serve as a warmer version of his costume, but we have actually just had him wear this on cooler days.  Plus, my husband loves the hat.  He basically wants him to wear this hat all the time.  It is pretty adorable.  You can check it out here.

Beauty and Fashion

Sephora at JC Penny had a face mask sample kit available this month, and I’ve been loving a nice face mask or serum at the end of the day lately.  It’s just a little bit of pampering that helps me relax before going to bed.  I tried this one, which was in the kit, and absolutely loved it.  It really does feel like you are putting dirt on your face, but my skin felt so soft and lovely afterward.  It’s definitely in the running as one of my all time favs.  You can get it for yourself here.

Entertainment

I waited until after Christmas to start indulging on all the sappy Christmas movies.  We don’t get the Lifetime channel, but Netflix seems to be bringing their own game this year.  I’ve seen this one, The Princess Switch, and the Holiday Calendar, and I was surprised that I liked this one better than the other.  Although both have their moments of cheese.

The premise of The Princess Switch is pretty straightforward.  One rich girl who longs to be normal convinces an average girl that happens to look exactly like her to switch places.  And there is a baking competition thrown in (with some very elaborate cakes showcased at the end).  Even though it is completely predictable (which is good with my anxiety), it was really well done.  It’s sweet and a nice hour and a half escape to a far-off village where royalty and sugar cookies are the highlights of the day.

What are some favorites you have been enjoying this month?

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September Favorites

Each month seems to be going by so quickly!  On to my September favorites!

Book of the Month

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This was my first book written by Victoria Schwab that I’ve read, and I absolutely loved.  I wrote a review here.  I’ve already read two more books by this author.  Reviews coming soon!

Baby

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I think I, unfortunately, passed on my allergies and sinus issues to my son.  These Boogie Wipes

really came in handy this month!

Beauty and Fashion

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On a whim, I found these Garnier Fructis hair masks at Target and decided to try them.  I used it once a week and loved the avocado mask for the frizziness due to the humid weather here in Texas.  I just got the papaya mask to try next.  I can really tell a difference after using it, even into the next day (I don’t wash my hair every day so a product that lasts two days or more is worth talking about!).

Entertainment

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I watched this movie the day after I posted my August Favorites.  And I would have changed it if I could.  I absolutely loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  It’s about a community, books, and World War II on a little island between England and France in the English channel.  I loved all of the characters, but Amelia was my favorite.  The book is definitely on my Want to Read list now.  Five stars.

What are some favorites you have been enjoying this month?

All disclaimers have now moved to my About Me page.

August Favorites

This month is a little different because a lot of these favorites are from small businesses that I’ve found and loved.  Small disclaimer, I’m not sponsored by any of these companies, but I am an Amazon affiliate, more about that on my About Page.  So here we go!

Book of the Month

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Point Blank by Alan King was my favorite reviewed book this month.  This book of poetry could not have come at a better time for our culture right now.  I wrote a review here, but I highly recommend purchasing this book or the ebook on Amazon here.

Baby

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I found Declan Roe in my research for my Continuing the Conversation post last week.  I loved what they are doing so much that I purchased the sweet button romper above.  Basically, 15% of the proceeds go to an organization called Bundled Blessings that help couples with IVF treatments or adoption.  With adorable clothes (even for boys) and a precious cause, how could I not love this?

Beauty and Fashion

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At the farmer’s market, I saw this booth, Simple Suds and Stuff, selling laundry detergent and alpaca dryer balls.  I loved the business owner’s passion for wanting to know every ingredient that goes into the products she uses.  I was intrigued, even more so when I found out that one of the scents she was selling was Peppermint.  I love all things mint, so I decided to try it.  That week, Sam had one of his incredible blowouts on a white onesie.  This detergent made it look brand new without dimming the lettering on the front of the onesie!  I am sold.  She also has the lavender scent, and who doesn’t like lavender smelling sheets?

Entertainment

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And finally, if you are wanting a cute, sweet, light rom-com, I highly recommend To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Netflix (which was originally a book by the same name).  It follows a girl named Lara Jean who writes a letter to a crush in order to process that crush, and then she addresses it and hides it in a hat box.  But somehow, the letters get out, and all chaos ensues.  I was actually hesitant to watch this because I didn’t want to watch something with a lot of tension.  But I was pleasantly surprised at how much comedy balances out the drama.  Five stars.

What are some favorites you have been enjoying this month?

All disclaimers have now moved to my About Me page.