As we roll into Autumn, we get some of the weightier subjects and programming arriving. Here’s our thought on some recent releases worth your attention.
THIS IS PARIS (YOUTUBE)
This one was a pleasant surprise! Free to view for all right now on YouTube is this compelling look at Paris Hilton, known best as “the original influencer” and tabloid staple in the early 2000s, occupying much of our attentions whether we wanted it or not. Director Alexandra Dean really gets intimate with Hilton as for the first time ever, the Socialite discussed some past emotional trauma she had in solitary confinement as a rebellious teenager. Above this, she discusses her public persona and the character she has crafted. We’ve always known there’s a deeper layer to Hilton and this proves it. She is incredibly hard-working, tired, raw and vulnerable here and one cannot help but feel for her. A fascinating and eye-opening watch that digs deeper in a way that no others have before with our subject.
Director/Writer Antonio Campos gave us something truly riveting in 2016’s CHRISTINE. He’s back with Jake Gyllenhaal-produced THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME, which he co-wrote with brother Paulo, adapting the Novel of the same name by Donald Ray Pollock. The Film with a copious amount of blood and violence, explores religion and corruption in a small rural American town. The First Act gives us back story behind the Film’s central character Arvin (played both by Tom Holland and Michael Banks Repeta), setting-up a backdrop to a world where violence is a form of justice, co-existing in a world of prayer and repent. Arvin loses his parents at a young age and the Second Act sees an intersection of story lines as we meet Sandy (Riley Keough) and Carl (Jason Clarke) who are in pursuit of male victims to photograph, luring them in with a promise of sex before murdering them. We also meet a crooked Sherriff named Lee (Sebastian Stan) who is in pursuit of Arvin, not knowing the twisted things his brother-in-law and sister are up to. Some fantastic performances including that by Holland and interesting character studies here, even though the Film suffers from some issues with pacing, too many characters and hence, story lines and ultimately saying what it needs to say. That doesn’t mean that the 138 minutes aren’t without some rewarding moments, including Robert Pattinson as a flawed Reverend and Bill Skarsgård as Arvin‘s dad, Willard.
FATHER OF THE BRIDE (Netflix’s YouTube Channel)
This was incredibly-sweet. The Cast of FATHER OF THE BRIDE reunite in 2020 as does Director/Writer Nancy Meyer who helms this Short Film reuniting your favourites once again. Four new Cast additions arrive, played by Florence Pugh, Ben Platt, Alexandra Shipp and Robert De Niro. The video conference-set story takes place current day as the family under caring patriarch George (Steve Martin) and Nina (Diane Keaton) are navigating the Pandemic away from one another. Despite the Short Film taking place over split-screen, Meyers still manages to make this experience feel intimate, as if they family are all in a room together as Matty (Kieran Culkin) has an important announcement to make! Martin particularly is wonderful and you really feel everything he is going through as he goes through a spectrum of emotions. A heartwarming watch which many of us didn’t realize existed before now. There also is a call to donate to WORLD CENTRAL KITCHEN, details here. And note, right now you can only see this on Netflix‘s YouTube channel.
ENOLA HOLMES (Netflix)
Based on Nancy Springer‘s popular Young Adult novel series, ENOLA HOLMES is a delightful coming of age Mystery-Thriller which likely will be the first in a Series of Films for Netflix. Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown stars in the titular role as a young woman whom on her 16th birthday finds her mother (Helena Bonham Carter) has disappeared. She is the younger sister of world-renowned Sherlock (Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin), the latter who insists she be sent-off to school against her wishes, to become a lady after Enola had spent her childhood being schooled by her mother. Along the way, she meets Tewkesbery (Louis Partridge), a young man on-the-run while he and Enola learn that his uncle wants him dead. Enola must find her mother, while escaping to clutch of her brother Mycroft and protecting her new friend. Brown is fantastic in the Film’s Lead Role, capturing her character’s essence of youth, rebellion and also possessing that special strength which makes her more than just an average teenage girl. While an at-times whimsical adventure, Director Harry Bradbeer tightens the reins at the right moment, creating suspense and tension which make this a fun watch.
TEHRAN (APPLE TV+)
This was a pleasant surprise! TEHRAN is an Espionage-Thriller Series which centers on Niv Sultan as our protagonist Tamar Rabinyan, a Secret Agent and Computer Hacker who was born in Iran, but raised in Israel. She is on a mission to disable an Iranian nuclear reactor, swapping identities with a worker at the company named Zhilla. Just as she’s about to succeed in her mission, in an act of self defense, Tamar winds up killing Zhilla‘s predatory boss. Things begin to spiral horribly out of control and Tamar finds herself hiding from the Head of Armed Forces in Iran, Faraz Kamali (Shaun Toub) who is determined to find her. As the story unfolds, we see Tamar begin to connect with her lost past. The intense eight-episode Series manages to capture well also the tensions between Israel and Iran through its characters including its central character, giving us deep insight into what it means to be caught between the crossfires.
THE CHEF SHOW – SEASON 2 (NETFLIX)
We honestly adore this Series with Chef Roy Choi and Jon Favreau. Our mouth waters at everything they make and finally we get to see how some of the famous treats at MILK BAR are made with Christina Tosi including their famous Cornflake Cookies, Grasshopper Pie and Chocolate Birthday Truffles! We also learn how elevated twists are made to Italian Wedding Soup, Meatball Lasagne and Spaghetti & Meatballs and more! We enjoy the friendly banter which never feels pretentious and some times we learn a thing or two about the history of dishes. Some of the most educational bits of the Show are where things go wrong and Choi shows us how to overcome.
EMILY IN PARIS (NETFLIX)
Darren Star (Sex and the City) returns with his latest brainchild, EMILY IN PARIS which stars Lily Collins. While travelling to Paris right now might not be an option for many amidst the pandemic, the ten-episode Series sweeps us away in the most timely manner. Emily (Collins) works for an American marketing company which acquires a French marketing firm, and is hired with being the American voice for their Social Media platforms. The stylized Series is gorgeous and borrows elements of Sex and the City including its take on romance and searching for love and of course the fantastic fashion, but also it possesses of that fish-out-of-water perspective on life that helps draw us into Emily‘s new world, clumsily learning the language an in turn, so do we. Emily‘s character navigates some acceptance issues from her colleagues, being “The American” in the office and this propels much of the journey as Emily struggles to find her place amidst all this. Collins is cast perfectly. We foresee more seasons to come!
This Diana Paragas written and directed Musical Drama did the Festival rounds and is set for a limited theatrical release. The Film centers on an undocumented Filipina teen named Rose (Eva Noblezada) from a small town in Texas, who dreams of becoming a Country Music singer. She also must decide between staying with her family or leaving the only home she has ever known. At the center of the YELLOW ROSE is a story about the unbreakable bond between mother and daughter that is truly affecting, while also dealing with a frightening reality for many in America today. Front and center is the talented Noblezada who carries the entire Film on her own navigating Rose‘s youth, but also displaying a wisdom beyond her character’s young age. She excels both in the Film’s Drama and Comedy, and more so the musicality required of her role. Liam Booth as Rose‘s love interest Elliot possesses an organic awkwardness which pairs well with her and the Film’s biggest surprise is Broadway legend Lea Salonga as Rose‘s unlikable aunt, Gail. The timely Film opens our eyes to a reality many are facing today in America and succeeds largely in making a statement, while exploring the world from the view of an outsider hoping so much to find her place in the world. YELLOW ROSE is in select theatres Friday, October 9, 2020.
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION (Netflix)
Starring, directed and written by Radha Blank, this Sundance U.S. Dramatic Competition Directing Award winning Comedy makes its way to Netflix for us to enjoy. The Film centers around Radha (Blank) who once showed great potential as a Playwright but finds herself struggling and teaching a community class, to a group of snappy young adults. She re-invents herself as a Rapper, RadhaMUSPrime, and with the help of her friend Archie (Peter Kim), sees a play of hers brought to life as a stage production. The Film grapples with what it means to Radha to put out something authentic as a Black Artist, versus something that is expected of her. Along the way, she meets Producer D (first-time Actor Oswin Benjamin) and a romance looms between him and Radha which helps set her on the path to finding herself in her craft. The Comedy is searing and the insults burn, but THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION leaves a mark and we look forward to more from the fresh voice that is Radha Blank.
HUBIE HALLOWEEN (Netflix)
Happy Madison Productions are back and they delivery some goofy, spooky antics in time for Halloween. Make no mistake, HUBIE HALLOWEEN won’t be up for any Awards, but if you’re a fan of Adam Sandler and his zany brand of humour, this might be a worthwhile way to be entertained. Sandler plays Salem’s resident “Halloween Helper” Hubie Dubois (Sandler) often the butt of others’ jokes. After a disappearance takes place, coincidentally of one of Hubie‘s bullies, Hubie finds himself both suspected and in the thick of investigating what happened. Sometimes the answers are closer than you think. The star-studded HUBIE HALLOWEEN is what it is and it means well as Sandler has a knack for tackling these underdog roles and delivering some laugh-out-loud moments along the way.
AMERICAN MURDER: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR (Netflix)
Jenny Popplewell directs this concise and riveting Documentary which centers around the murder investigation of Shanann Cathryn Watts and her daughters Bella and Celeste. What makes Popplewell’s storytelling so compelling is the access she had to footage as Watts had been very active on Social Media and she was very candid with her friends in sharing details of her marriage. Through this she is able to paint a vivid picture of the events leading-up to this great tragedy. Her husband Christopher finds himself at the center of the investigation as a suspect and as the story progresses, we get a clearer picture of the shocking motives behind this heinous act. Definitely an intriguing watch.
We also have reviews for new releases THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7, ON THE ROCKS, POSSESSOR (UNCUT) and SPONTANEOUS right here.
Premiering at Sundance to raves, THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION is set to stream on Netflix!
Radha, a down-on-her-luck NY playwright, is desperate for a breakthrough before 40. But when she foils what seems like her last shot at success, she’s left with no choice but to reinvent herself as rapper RadhaMUSPrime. The Forty-Year-Old Version follows Radha as she vacillates between the worlds of Hip Hop and theater on a quest to find her true voice.
Winner of the Directing Prize at The 2020 Sundance Film Festival, The Forty-Year-Old Version is a hilariously candid and deeply personal debut from writer/director Radha Blank. A fresh addition to the New York City slice-of-life canon shot in lush black and white 35mm, Blank’s film is an ode to the unfulfilled, and those whose adversity gives them a one-of-a-kind story to tell.
See the Trailer:
THE FORTY-YEAR-OLD VERSION arrives on Netflix Friday, October 9, 2020.