#FIRSTLOOK: WHAT TO WATCH MAY 2020 – “DEAD TO ME”, “THE WRONG MISSY”, “THE LOVEBIRDS”, “MRS. AMERICA”, “LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE”, “YOU DON’T NOMI”, “HOLLYWOOD”, “NEVER HAVE I EVER”, “THE ASSISTANT” + MORE
While we always feel like we’re running out of things to catch-up on, we’re always proven wrong. Lots of great stuff for you to stream or see on-demand or digitally right now and here are some recommendations!
DEAD TO ME SEASON 2 (NETFLIX)
We adored Season One of this darkly-funny Thriller-Comedy Series. While it takes a bit longer to get into it again here in Season Two, the powerful chemistry between a perfectly-paired Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini who reprise heir roles as Jen and Judy, reminds us once again why we fell in love the first time. The Duo cope with their dark secret and grief in their own different ways, navigating on their own terms, until things reach a boiling point as Steve’s (James Marsden) disappearance must be accounted for. We wonder what happens if the dark truth ever comes to light. Believe me, there’s plenty still to go on for a third season and we loved that Marsden resurfaces in the least likely plot twist ever!
MRS. AMERICA (HULU)
I cannot possibly praise this Series any more than I continue to on Social Media. This Toronto-made Series set in the ’70s, follows closely two sides of the Equal Rights Movement and all the key figures involved. The one side who wants to preserve a woman’s right to stay at home, led by Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett). The other side progressive, trying to get the ERA ratified, led by among others the likes of Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne). Each week in this nine-episode Series focuses on a different central character as the fight progresses and believe me, this is like a Master’s Class in acting with standouts including Sarah Paulson as Alice Macray,Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug, Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan, Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm and Ari Graynor as Brenda Feigen-Fasteau. This Series mesmerizes and enrages us at once, which is what it is supposed to do as America is “made great again” right now. Most of all, Blanchett once again is phenomenal, tough as nails with the occasional glimpse of vulnerability. In fact, we love to hate Phyllis as she is undeniable. We cannot keep our eyes off of Byrne. Please God, let there be a Season Two! You can catch this on F/X Wednesday nights at 10 PM in Canada, or download off Apple or Google Play Store, where you would be ahead a few weeks if you pay as little as $2.99 per episode. Worth every penny.
THE LOVEBIRDS (NETFLIX)
We were willing to pay to see this in theatres, however COVID-19 brought Paramount‘s The Lovebirds straight to us on Netflix sooner. Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani are fantastic together in this Adventure-Comedy. The Film centers around Leilani (Rae) and Jibran (Nanjiani) who start off falling blissfully in love. Cut-ahead a few years, they are feuding and on the verge of contemplating a split. They find themselves at the center of a homicide investigation and are on-the-run from the police landing in all sorts of unpredictability, including the threat of getting bacon grease poured allover them, to a sex cult gathering. The laughs are endless with Leilani‘s no-nonsense approach and Jibran‘s hilarious curiosities about the world popping-up at the most tonally-inappropriate moments. This was loads of fun and cute!
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE (HULU/AMAZON PRIME)
Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon.Mic drop. You can’t go wrong with these two together acting and now producing. Witherspoon as an Executive Producer, continues to deliver us compelling stories in the female voice, tracing back to GONE GIRL, BIG LITTLE LIES to THE MORNING SHOW. Little Fires Everywhere, adapted from Celeste Ng’s best-selling Novel, is no different. Set in the mid-90s, Elena (Witherspoon) once was an emerging Reporter and now a mother with a picture-perfect home. Mia (Washington) and her daughter Pearl (Lexi Underwood) arrive in Elena‘s town and she offers help renting-out her property to them and welcomes them into her home. From here, some dark secrets which Mia is harbouring from her past are uncovered, which not even her daughter knows about. This is an interesting study about race and class at a time we might have had less awareness, but also, the great divides that can occur under one roof even. Tensions mount when we realize Elena and Mia‘s worlds intersect on a deeper level and they find themselves on two sides of the matter while their families become intertwined.
THE WRONG MISSY (NETFLIX)
We admit we couldn’t stop giggling at its Trailer and THE WRONG MISSY really turned out to be just right for us! We needed a good laugh. The Comedy is a throwback to the ’90s and the many over-the-top Physical Comedies which defined that era in Film. David Spade and Lauren Lapkus are delightfully-funny as an odd couple. Spade’s Tim is level-headed and believes he knows exactly what he wants in life until he mistakenly invites the wrong girl he went on a disastrous date with, to a business trip on a resort. Missy (Lapkus) is in-your-face, overbearing and way aggressive, but before he knows it, she might just be exactly what he needed! We could watch this many times. It’s ridiculous and we all need a bit of that. We need more Lapkus!
YOU DON’T NOMI (levelFILM)
Since surfacing in 1995, Paul Verhoeven‘s Showgirls has gained cult status, but not quite for the gritty Drama it was intended to be. I for one, love it! It is a visual spectacle full of senselessness which keeps us guessing why things happen or their exact significance. Jeffrey McHale’s YOU DON’T NOMI takes a look at how Showgirls, while panned universally, has found new life being appreciated for its unintentional humour and we trace its journey from a theatrical release to now even its star Elizabeth Berkley embracing its new life recently despite distancing herself from it for many years. We get lots of insight from Adam Nayman, Author of It Doesn’t Suck: Showgirls, who sheds some light onto why the Film has been misunderstood. He went from fearing cease and desist orders from MGM, to being welcomed to commentate on the Film’s re-release now that the Studio has come also to embrace the repurposing of the NC-17 Film. We missed this at Inside Out last year, and enjoyed catching-up on this, available June 16, 2020 on-demand and digitally.
THE ASSISTANT (levelFILM)
Official Sundance selection THE ASSISTANT from Director/Writer Kitty Green gives us an intimate glimpse into a day in the life of a young and recently-hired Assistant to a powerful Executive. Ozark‘s Julia Garner stars and once again is superb here. What makes the Film interesting is that even without us ever seeing the said Executive on-screen, what we makes this compelling is how her Co-Workers and even Human Resources act and react with misconduct being so deeply-institutionalized in this workplace. Even when Garner’s Jane tries to do the right thing, she isn’t supported and that makes this Film heartbreaking as surely this can’t be altogether untrue in the real world we live in. This is available now digitally and on-demand.
If like me you’re fascinated by Michelle Obama, this is a Documentary for you. BECOMING traces Michelle Obama‘s rise as one of the most powerful thought leaders and personalities in the world as she promotes her eponymous Memoir on-the-road. We get insight from those around her who work closely with her and the relationships she has with them. President Obama also appears to speak as a doting husband and even her brother Craig Robinson comments what it’s like being overshadowed by his little sister, when she was the one living in his shadows growing-up. The Film only gets as personal as it wants to, which is unfortunate, but we still get a good snapshot of this great woman and while being adored widely, how even she has her share of naysayers.
TOO HOT TO HANDLE (NETFLIX)
I honestly despised this show and pretty much all the contestants, but miraculously I made it through. I don’t mind a bit of shallow, mindless fun once in a while, but it should come with purpose or us being able to witness real growth for these self-proclaimed “10 out of 10s”. The nine-episode Reality Series puts a bunch of “hot” singles together on a resort where they are to abstain from sex. Some succeed and some just basically suck! They did whip-up a follow-up episode catching-up with the contestants to see how they are doing during COVID-19 and if these relationships formed during taping are lasting. Just checking. Yep, still can’t stand them.
In a similar vein to Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, TV legend Ryan Murphy re-invents a moment in Hollywood’s Golden Age. The seven episode Mini-Series centers around some of the complicated relationships a group of young actors have as they set-out to stamp a name for themselves in Hollywood in the early ’50s. The Series is hyper-sexualized and some my take offence to this angle in its tone as it’s only mid-way through the Series that our attentions are taken away from this. Everything culminates in Awards Season as a fictional Film named Meg is created, defying conventional casting at the time, making us wonder what Hollywood today would’ve been if its predecessors had dared to defy convention. While HOLLYWOOD takes a few too many liberties, none can take anything away from some of its fantastic performances from the likes of Darren Criss as aspiring Filmmaker Raymond Ainsley, Dylan McDermott as Gas Station Owner/Pimp Ernie West, Laura Harrier as Actress Camille Washington, Holland Taylor as Studio Executive/Actor Mentor Ellen Kincaid, Jim Parsons as Talent Agent Henry Willson, Patti LuPone as the Studio Head’s Wife Avis Amberg and David Corenswet as aspiring Actor Jack Castello.
NEVER HAVE I EVER (NETFLIX)
Toronto’s Maitreyi Ramakrishnan makes a star-marking turn in this Mindy Kaling-produced and co-written Coming-of-Age Series. We meet 15-year-old Devi (Ramakrishnan), who is both coping with losing her ability to walk and also the loss of her father Mohan (Sendhil Ramamurthy). We meet also her mother Nalini (Poorna Jagannathan), whom she has a strained relationship with. Devi is eager to shed her geek status and garner the attention of her crush Paxton (Darren Barnet) and also contend with her arch nemesis Ben (Jared Lewison). While over much of the ten episodes, Devi grates on our nerves with her teen angst and sexual frustration, the Series does become something deeper as a contemplation of loss, plus its emotional aftermath and also what it means to grapple with your identity when your family are immigrants. We applaud Kaling for giving a voice to kids who don’t always feel like they fit in.
Coming to Netflix later this week are eagerly-anticipated SPACE FORCE starring Steve Carell and JEFFREY EPSTEIN: FILTHY RICH. THE HIGH NOTE starring Dakota Johnson also will see a digital/on-demand release. Reviews to come.