HBO‘s SUCCESSION led the way at the 74th EmmyAward nominations, which were unveiled earlier today, hosted by J.B. Smoove and Melissa Fumero.SUCCESSION gets a total 25 nods including Outstanding Drama. Following in second is Apple TV+‘s TED LASSO with 20 nominations, including Outstanding Comedy, which ties the same feat it accomplished last year. Ten of those nominations are in Acting categories.
This is a stellar, record-breaking year for Apple TV+, which received a whopping 52 nominations, also highlighted by their new Series SEVERANCE getting 14 nods in its first season.
Also receiving 20 nominations, making it the most-recognized Limited TV Series this year, was HBO‘s THE WHITE LOTUS. Star Sydney Sweeney gets two nominations for the Network for her Supporting Actress work in that Limited Series and also EUPHORIA. Her Co-Star Zendaya got three out of the 16 nominations for the Series, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and Original Songs “Elliot’s Song” and “I’m Tired“.
With both the Holidays and Awards Season approaching, December can be a joyous time indeed for us with a big slate of new releases to surface. Here’s some of our recommendations across various screening platforms, including some theatrical releases!
HAPPIEST SEASON (EONE FILMS/AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
Clea Duvall co-writes and directs this Holiday Rom-Com with a fresh take on expanding the idea the type of relationships the genre includes. Kristen Stewart stars as Abby, who is ready to propose to her live-in girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) as they get ready to spend the Holidays at the latter’s home for the first time. There is one hitch, Harper still hasn’t officially come out to them yet despite telling Abby she did, and that it went well. The daughter of a politician, image is everything for her family and this keeps holding her back from being her true self and matters get confused as former flames resurface in the visit which make the couple question their commitment to one another.
While ultimately meant to be heartwarming, tonally Duvall goes to heavier places as the couple gets pulled apart and its message is something the world needs a bit more of, hence its release is timely. Stewart has a knack for bringing her characters a ton of history and her Abby feels truly lived-in, while Davis spends much of the Film embattled in Harper‘s fears and in the shadow of her rival sister Sloane (Alison Brie). Canada’s Dan Levy delivers some much-needed comedic relief as Abby‘s confidante John and we wish the Film had even more of that. That being said, this is a Holiday story which many will identify with and feel seen by. And who knows, Stewart just might win over even more new fans here!
eOne Films release HAPPIEST SEASON Digitally and On-Demand Friday, November 26, 2020. It arrives on Amazon Prime VideoThursday, December 10, 2020.
We knew very little until only recently about this latest effort from Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones’s Baby) and now we can’t imagine life before it. Right in time for the Holidays comes this whimsical and fantastical Comedy which centers on Eleanor (Jillian Bell) who is out to prove to the world that Fairy Godmothers are needed. She finds a letter written by Mackenzie (Isla Fisher) when she was 10-years-old, only to realize now that she has grown into a widowed, 40-year-old single mother of two, stuck in a job at a newsroom with a miserable boss. Needless to say, she’s given-up a little on the “happily ever after” she dreamed of as a girl. Eleanor, whether Mackenzie wants it or not, is here to grant her wish but we wonder if Eleanor ever be more than just a Tooth Fairy with this challenging task ahead!
Bell is an absolute joy, hitting what is a sweet spot in her career after last year’s acclaimed Brittany Runs a Marathon. She brings a Will Ferrell-Elf-esque enthusiasm and curiosity to the world which is infectious. Fisher also is a pleasure to watch as she channels Mackenzie‘s cynicism in a way many of us see the world right now. Maguire manages to craft a magical experience which lifts the spirits, yet balancing what it means to expand our definition of what happily ever after means and who it involves in our lives and we’re here for this.
GODMOTHERED arrives on Disney+ Friday, December 4, 2020.
Prior to his passing, Screenwriter and father of David, Jack Fincher, had completed a Script for MANK, based the life of Herman J. Mankiewicz, also a Screenwriter.After many years in incubation as a passion project, the Film finally got made by the younger Fincher. The Film recounts its titular character’s well-documented fight to get credit for co-writing what would go on to be one of the greatest films ever made, CITIZEN KANE.Mank (Gary Oldman), who prior had been brought aboard to help as a Script Doctor on The Wizard of Oz – without credit – isn’t particularly a likable type. He’s an alcoholic, a gambling addict and in fact, others call his wife “Poor Sarah” (Tuppence Middleton). Mank’s outspoken in his political beliefs and his support of Democrat Upton Sinclair, who is viewed by powerful Hollywood types as a Socialist. This puts him at odds with the powers that be. He’s tasked with helping co-write CITIZEN KANE, which Orson Welles (Tom Burke) produced, starred, directed and co-wrote. From here, we see a heated battle between Welles and the unpopular Mank as the latter fights to secure himself a credit on the eventual masterpiece. More so, we see how the battles within his own life found their place in CITIZEN KANE – his alcoholism, going against the machine and career sabotage. Mank had nothing to left to lose, refusing to go down without a fight. And we’re here for it.
While the Film might not be for everyone, it is a must-watch for true Cinephiles and those obsessed with the history of Cinema. Fincher‘s direction and some of the performances are meticulously-faithful to the period. Carrying almost all of the weight is Oldman who transforms completely and he mesmerizes in the manner of passersby staring at a car crash on a highway. We are concerned for and empathetic of the driver in the wreckage. Amanda Seyfried plays actress Marion Davies, whom Mank befriends. She is the mistress of William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance), a media mogul and backer of MGM who inspires the character Susan Alexander, albeit an untalented entertainer and second wife of the titular character in CITIZEN KANE. Seyfried is so committed, poised and sweet that what Mank does feels like a huge betrayal.
This certainly is a Film which Awards Season was made for and just may replicate the Oscars success which CITIZEN KANE achieved. MANK arrives on Netflix Friday, December 4, 2020.
SHAWN MENDES: IN WONDER (NETFLIX)
Fan of Pickering’s Shawn Mendes will revel in delight at this Documentary by veteran Music Video Director Grant Singer. The Singer-Songwriter rapidly has shot to stardom and makes his first foray into the world of Film with recent collaborations with TIFF and now this companion to his upcoming fourth Disc, WONDER coming early December. The Film gives us an intimate (literally we go right into the shower with him) look at his daily life, which really presents him as someone who is level-headed and taking his fame into stride. In one scene he is driving around downtown and a man asks him roll-down his window to give his daughter a video shoutout. We learn about Mendes‘ creative process writing material for the new Album and he goes back to older, soulful influences this time around and one thing I found particularly interesting is to protect his voice from the rigours of touring, he takes vocal rests finding alternate ways to communicate on rest days. While nothing earth-shattering is revealed here really, it is an essential watch for fans or those who appreciate his Music and believe me, there are many! SHAWN MENDES: IN WONDER arrives on Netflix Tuesday, November 24, 2020.
SOUND OF METAL (PACIFIC NORTHWEST PICTURES/AMAZON PRIME)
Riz Ahmed delivers a career-best performance in Darius Marder‘s SOUND OF METAL,which after a run on the Festival circuit, including TIFF ’19 gets its debut at long last. Ahmed plays Drummer Ruben Stone whose hearing rapidly is deteriorating and after battling heroine addiction for years, he now is sober. While resisting help from the Deaf Community, the Film centers itself on his humbling journey accepting help, with the urging of his bandmate girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke). Ruben is his own enemy in many regards and at the core of SOUND OF METAL which while being set in the chaotic world of screamy Death Growls, is something heartfelt and a meaningful coming-of-age.
Ahmed and Cooke disappear completely into Ruben and Lou and their transformations are sympathetic and affecting. A bit of a slow-burn but a rewarding watch.
Pacific Northwest Pictures release SOUND OF METAL in theatres Friday, November 20, 2020 and it arrives on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. and it is available digitally and on-demand in Canada Friday, December 4, 2020.
Anna Sewell’s BLACK BEAUTY is a love story that captures the bond between human and animal so beautifully that it should come as no surprise that it still stands the test of time some 143 years after it was written. Ashley Avis, formerly a competitive Equestrian, takes the reins on Disney+‘s adaptation of the story for a new audience. Along with this heartfelt timeless tale, we get updated messaging and more inclusion in casting.
This version centers on Jo Green (Mackenzie Foy), who is sent to live with her Uncle John (Iain Glen). While she is reluctant to warm-up to him, she does strike a bond with his filly (narrated by Kate Winslet) a wild Mustang who is acquired to be broken-in and sold. The horse changes Jo‘s life forever, helping her find herself but circumstances separate the two and we wonder if they ever will reunite again as she is treated like a commodity, changing hands multiple times.
Foy as always is great and she is fascinating to see develop into a dramatic actress and while we appreciate how the Film treats animal rights with the right delicateness and sympathy it deserves, ultimately it is paced in a way where things happen a couple beats too quickly, without fleshing-out key characters and their involvement with the Plot. And at times, the dialogue feels perhaps too simplistic even though we appreciate that the Film caters to a young audience. That being said, Winslet’s narration tugs on all the right heartstrings and you do feel something for her and her beloved friend, Jo.
BLACK BEAUTY arrives on Disney+ Friday, November 27, 2020.
THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES: PART TWO (NETFLIX)
If there’s anyone who knows the spirit of nostalgia, it’s Director Chris Columbus who has brought us classics like Adventures in Babysitting, Home Alone (1 and 2), Mrs. Doubtfire and a litany of others. He directs and co-writes the sequel to 2018’s popular The Christmas Chronicles and while the first Film was very enjoyable, this installment has a wondrous, fantastical element to it that truly captures the joy of the Holidays.
Back again are Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy (Judah Lewis) as they find themselves spending Christmas on a resort with their mom Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), her new boyfriend Bob (Tyrese) and his son Jack (Jahzir Bruno).Kate is faced with the fear of her deceased father being forgotten and wishes to escape and together with Jack, they find themselves transported off to the North Pole with Santa (Kurt Russell) and Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn), where the elves have gone out of control. One elf gone rogue, Belsnickel (Julian Dennison) threatens to ruin Christmas forever with the potential of a world without a Santa Claus. It is up to Kate and Jack to help save Christmas and also, will Kate get her long-awaited wish of finally getting to see her father?
THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES: PART TWO is none short of the boisterous, sparkly fun we’re totally here for. The Film belongs entirely to Camp and Russell who both are fantastic and Hawn is a welcome addition to the Franchise, a perfect warm and nurturing Mrs. Claus. Hijinx aside, the Film hits all the right notes emotionally, feeling exactly like a Holiday film should! We wouldn’t be surprised if this got several viewings this Holiday season. Streaming now on Netflix.
SMALL AXE (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
It’s been a minute since we’ve heard from Academy Award-winning Director Steven McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Shame, Widows), but he’s back with an innovating new Mini-Series of five Films centering on the West Indian-immigrant experience in London in the ’60s and ’70s. While the subject matter is timely, with #BlackLivesMatter being at the forefront of discussion this past year, McQueen’s storytelling is timeless as we are transported right into the era.
The first Film in the Series, Mangrove, is about nine black activists arrest for inciting a riot after police had targeted a restaurant of the same name in Notting Hill. In a fight for their rights and the rights of the future generation, the group choose to represent themselves in court. What plays out is an intense court battle featuring some truly compelling performances from Shaun Parkes (Doctor Who), Malachi Kirby (Black Mirror) and Letitia Wright (Black Panther). McQueen masterfully examines racial hatred from both sides of the argument and this is a fantastic start to the Series.
The second Film, Lovers Rock is a sensual Romance set within a party where we meet Martha (Amarah-Jae St. Aubyn) who sneaks out of her bedroom at night, and Franklyn (Michael Ward). The lighting is gorgeous and we are swept away into their looming love affair. McQueen has a masterful way of transporting us into the moment through music and the scenes just breathe beautifully as the songs play. While most of the story is set within the party itself, he paints a picture of the world these characters are living in at the time when we get brief glimpses of how unsafe things can get just stepping away from that safety net.
The remainder of the films arrive December 4, 2020 on Amazon Prime Video.
SELENA: THE SERIES (NETFLIX)
Throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s, Selena became the queen of Tejano music. Managed by her father and supported by her siblings in her band, this tight-knit family went from performing at weddings, while living on the road to Selena becoming one of the most successful Latin artists of all time. That is, before she was murdered in 1995 at the age of 23, by the manager of her boutiques. This happened tragically, just as she was set to launch internationally with her debut English album.
The detail-obsessed Series is crafted heavily with the input of the Quintanilla family so what we get here are ten quick-moving episodes that recount the family’s struggles from having very little, but were ignited by an undying commitment and belief in themselves. Rather than being entirely focused on Selena, we get the story from all sides of the family and we truly feel the tension between them in how tightly-knit they were. Fantastic performances from our lead Christian Serratos (The Walking Dead) and Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives). Even at the end of the ten episodes the complete story isn’t told, cleverly leaving room for a second season. A must-watch for fans and intriguing enough to win over new fans who aren’t familiar with Selena‘s legacy.
SELENA: THE SERIES streams Friday, December 4, 2020 on Netflix.
ALL MY LIFE (UNIVERSAL PICTURES CANADA)
Based on a true story that happened right here in Toronto, ALL MY LIFE recounts the tale of a young couple, Solomon (Harry Shum Jr.) and Jennifer (Jessica Rothe). The couple whom after receiving tragic news, still forge ahead with plans to have a fairy tale wedding with the help of their friends who help them raise the funds to make it happen.
Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer) directs this tale which at times tugs on the heartstrings, but in moving along rapidly, misses the opportunity to delve deep into the couple’s love and their struggles during Solomon’s health battles which could’ve made this a bit more impactful, giving us more to root for. A solid performance from Rothe (Happy Death Day) in the lead role, though we wish a bit more room was given for the talented Supporting Cast which includes Jay Pharaoh (Saturday Night Live), Keala Settle (The Greatest Showman) and Mario Cantone (Sex and the City). There is definitely an audience for a Film like this.
ALL MY LIFE opens in theatres Friday, December 4, 2020. Please ensure you observe COVID-19 protocols if seeing this in theatres.
MARIAH CAREY’S MAGICAL CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (APPLE TV+)
Based on the premise that 2020 has been… not so great, the Queen of Christmas, Mariah Carey is here to help save Christmas. Joining her on this 45-minute adventure is an understandably starstruck Billy Eichner as Santa‘s Assistant, with a story narrated by Tiffany Haddish. Several famous friends join Carey including Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson on a new rendition of Oh Santa!, which stands a chance at being a successor to modern classic All I Want for Christmas is You! The Peanuts Gang also make an appearance as do the likes of Snoop Dogg and long-time collaborator Jermaine Dupri. While festive and well-being including a touching rendition of Silent Night, the Special’s emotional high note is its Encore, where Carey delivers an extra festive Aspen-set performance of her biggest Holiday smash and her twins Moroccan and Monroe even come on out to support their Mom! We live for this and even if another Carey Holiday Special doesn’t come for a while, this one will do on-rotation! Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special streams now on Apple TV+.
EUPHORIA: TROUBLE DON’T LAST ALWAYS (HBO/CRAVE)
While it’ll be a while till we see Season Two of HBO‘s Euphoria, two special Holiday episodes of the acclaimed Series are amidst us, to tie us over. Director/Writer Sam Levinson goes deep as we ponder the Holidays with Rue (a recent Emmy-winning Zendaya) and her friend Ali (Colman Domingo) where they question their existence and what it means to cope with addiction, sobriety and some of the destructive things they had done in their lives to the ones who love them. Rue is coping with Jules (Hunter Schafer) leaving her, which leads her on a downward spiral again. Phenomenal, intimate performances in what feels like it could’ve been a stage production. A reminder that the Holidays aren’t a happy time for everyone. The first special episode is available to stream now on Crave with the HBO add-on, with the second arriving January 2021.
SUGAR RUSH CHRISTMAS SEASON 2 (NETFLIX)
You know how much we love our baking shows and we’re so delighted SUGAR RUSH is back for a second season with its Christmas edition. Lots of exciting and exhilarating baking challenges here in this second season where contestants are challenged with tasks like making creations inspired by Christmas Carols, the North Pole, Advent Calendars, Peanuts and more. The finished products as always look to-die-for and we wish we could taste everything too! Celebrity guests include Chris Bosh, Abigail Breslin, Jordin Sparks, among others! Adore this. Season 2 is streaming now.
FABULOUS LIVES OF BOLLYWOOD WIVES (NETFLIX)
We’re told Bollywood is different from Hollywood in that Bollywood stars maintain much more mystique than many of those stars those in Hollywood who have embraced oversharing on Social Media. This new Series comprised of eight episodes, takes us right inside the worlds of Neelam Kothari Soni, Maheep Kapoor, Seema Khan and Bhavana Pandey, whom are longtime best friends and among Bollywood’s elite. With a Kardashians-like view, we get a glimpse into their glamorous, although they consider it mundane, lives. All isn’t always rosy as passions too flare at times as these friends too have unresolved issues that get brought to the table. Don’t know much about the world of Bollywood? Don’t worry, they explain these relationships well and drama knows no cultural boundaries. Maheep is the loud, assertive one. Neelam is a former Actress pondering relaunching her career. Seema is all about protecting her family even though we understand her husband isn’t always around. Bhavna plays Devil’s Advocate which can be problematic when a friend wants her support. Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Lives is streaming now on Netflix.
THE UNDOING (HBO/CRAVE)
This six-part Mini-Series directed by Susanne Bier and and written by David E. Kelley, is adapted from the Novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz.The Undoing centers on a privileged family, Jonathan (Hugh Grant), Grace (Nicole Kidman) and their son Henry (Noah Jupe) who are impacted in the aftermath of a woman’s death. With Jonathan standing accused of murder, Grace is left to put together the pieces how her husband could have been done this. The story masterfully twists and turns as we no longer know what to believe and who is reliable right up to the gripping conclusion.
Phenomenal work as expected from Kidman who is forced to dig deep and find the truth, leaning on her father Franklin (a strong performance by Donald Sutherland) for guidance. Jupe is coming into his own as a fine Actor with a goodheartedness that makes it all the more unbelievable that such a grounded family could be dealing with something so awful. Grant is the biggest surprise here and while we’re used to seeing him in Holiday movies around this time of year. Looking back, it all makes perfect sense.
THE UNDOING streams now on Crave with the HBO add-on.
STYLISH WITH JENNA LYONS (HBO MAX/CRAVE)
Better known as “The Woman Who Dressed America” at the height of J.Crew‘s popularity, the retailer’s former President Jenna Lyons is a fashion icon in her own right. Since her time with J.Crew had ended, she’s been a bit more on the quiet side, but she’s back as she makes her foray into Home Design and Beauty. She’s looking to add to her Team and goes on a search for the next Associate as fresh new talent have a chance to prove they have what it takes to work with her on this eight-episode Series. What is interesting is that the finalists must work against unconventional conditions as the competition is halted amidst the Pandemic and picks-up again, forcing Lyons to alter her course. We love the assured way in which she speaks and mentors, which comes with a gentle grace and assuredness. The Series gets intimate as was also learn about her life and her own challenges. STYLISH WITH JENNA LYONS is available to stream now on Crave with the HBO add-on.
THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT (HBO MAX/CRAVE)
Cassie (Kaley Cuoco) is a flight attendant coping with Alcoholism, living her life recklessly between stop-offs. On a flight to Bangkok, she meets a handsome stranger in Alex (Michiel Huisman) and after an enchanting, alcohol-fueled night out, she wakes-up to find him dead in the bed beside her. As she runs away from the situation, trying to stay under the radar, she must confront her past, her addiction and relationships, and gets to know Alex better as he surfaces as an apparition to her. The Series has a chaotic energy to it which keeps things fun and lively, and Cuoco is a perfect casting choice. Also Girls’ Zosia Mamet surfaces as Cassie‘s delightfully-funny lawyer/best friend Annie. THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT streams on Crave with HBO add-on, new episodes weekly.
The most wonderful thing about this time of year is that we get to catch-up on TV. While we spend much of the year seeing theatrical releases, we regret missing some great Television so these past few weekends we’ve found out what the buzz is all about with some recent Golden Globe Award winners and nominees, plus also some new releases. Without going too much into detail, we’ll give you our thoughts on some shows that absolutely are worth your while! We hope you get some inspiration in your own winter watching!
THE MORNING SHOW (APPLE TV+)
This ten-episode Drama Series starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston helped launch subscription service Apple TV+ back in December. It surfaces in a timely manner as we enter this post-#MeToo era, exploring the aftermath of taking action on Sexual Misconduct in the workplace and healing some aged wounds. It definitely veers on the melodramatic and is a bit too passionate for its own good, but no one can deny the phenomenal work here by Witherspoon and Aniston, who play-up dueling female competitor tropes. It takes a while to get going, but proves worthwhile the deeper you go.
YOU – SEASON TWO (NETFLIX)
Joe (played masterfully by Penn Badgley) comes back as Will in the second season of this failed Lifetime Series which gained a massive following after surfacing on Netflix. Serial killing and stalking has never been as seductive as this and although You is all sorts of wrong, we were just as obsessed with this season which manages to be just as messed-up as its predecessor. Joining the Cast is Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting of Hill House) as Love and in her Will finally has met his match. James Scully is grating and unpredictable as Love‘s twin brother, but what Psychological Thriller is complete without an unstable twin? Teen Actress Jenna Ortega as a wise-beyond-her-years Ellie and Carmela Zubado as Delilah are welcome additions to the Cast and Gotham‘s RobinLord Taylor is unrecognizable in a surprise turn as a hacker who knows too much, also named Will. You Season 2 quashes the perception that follow-ups and sequels suck.
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL – SEASON THREE (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
Season three of this Golden Globe and PrimetmeEMMY Award-winning Series continues putting its star Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) front and center and she once again proves outstanding. The eight-episode season sees her character supporting Singer Shy Baldwin (LeRoy McClain) on-tour and we see her go from Las Vegas to Miami fighting to win herself some new fans. All the while, she navigates her split from ex-husband Joel (Michael Zegen) and custody of their children. Her eccentric parents (Marin Hinkle and Tony Shalhoub) shine also as they cope with having to downsize and sell their beloved family home. We also see charismatic manager Susie (Alex Borstein) cope with her gambling addiction and balancing having to oversee Midge‘s career and that of competing funnywoman Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch). Things get a bit messy and we’re here for it, leaving us on a bit of a cliffhanger.
FLEABAG – SEASON 1&2 (AMAZON PRIME)
I admit it, I zipped through this quick watch and wasn’t sold on Season One at all. I didn’t get it. I found Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) grating and irresponsible, feeling little empathy for her. Season Two took this Series to a high point and I absolutely got it! I enjoy Waller-Bridge’s ability with lightning-fast ability to break the Fourth Wall with us and soon I found myself connected intimately with her. And “Hot Priest” (Andrew Scott) is so worth the wait and her bond with on-screen sister Claire (Sian Clifford) make this all so magical. Here for this, and sad there won’t be a third season.
DON’T F**K WITH CATS: HUNTING AN INTERNET KILLER (NETFLIX)
I am a bit queasy with True Crime stuff and remember as a kid torturing myself watching Unsolved Mysteries alone at home and being messed-up for days after. Repeat weekly and you’ll understand why I have issues. The three-part Netflix series centers on the capture of Canadian murderer Luka Magnotta with the help of some savvy internet crime solvers hot on his trail, piecing the clues which took authorities on an international manhunt. Especially eery that some of this hits close to home with Toronto being where Magnotta once lived and their insistence on looping over and over real footage of Magnotta murdering kittens, with the gory bits kept off-screen. It is hard not to get caught-up in Mark Lewis‘ relentlessly-intense storytelling and the access he gets us whether it be Magnotta‘s mother or his actual interrogation after being caught and brought back to Canada.
KILLER INSIDE: INSIDE THE MIND OF AARON HERNANDEZ (NETFLIX)
While we know only bits and pieces of disgraced Football star Aaron Hernandez‘s story, this three-part Docu-Series gives us some insight to the circumstances surrounding his conviction and eventual suicide. Director Geno McDermott takes us on a gripping ride as we go right inside the courtroom and literally right into Hernandez’s brain as we see the impacts of his Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. We also get never-seen-before interviews with those from his past including a lover, suggesting that Toxic Masculinity and a deep-fear of his sexuality being uncovered may have played a role in his downfall as well. We found ourselves asking more questions than before we started and get the bigger picture in this great American tragedy.
SPINNING OUT (NETFLIX)
Filmed right here in Toronto, this Figure Skating Drama series takes bits from Black Swan, bits from Riverdale and mixes it into the world of competitive Figure Skating. The Series sees fallen Kat (Kaya Scodelario) make her way to a comeback, this time as a Pairs Skater, but not without some domestic drama. Scodelario navigates the mental struggles her character faces and handles the athleticism of her role with prowess. While the Series is not without its melodrama and goes the route of scandal for shock value more than it needed, there is enough to go on to keep fans engaged for ten episodes.
While it’s not for everyone, this hyper-sexualized Drake-produced Teen Drama Series explores some of the issues facing teens today. Several topics like drugs, toxic masculinity, same-sex relationships, being transgender are taboo still but Sam Levinson isn’t afraid to go there and for that we applaud this fresh take on the genre. These eight episodes are shocking and hypnotic and this is Zendaya‘s big moment, delivering a phenomenal breakthrough performance as central character Rue, a teen girl battling drug addiction. We were unable to keep our eyes off of newcomer model/actress Hunter Schafer, who possesses an ethereal beauty and magnetism, making her a name to look-out for. We cannot wait for Season Two, which is rumoured to begin production soon.
SEX, EXPLAINED (NETFLIX)
Janelle Monáe narrates this quick watch which gives adults a quick five-episode refresher on Sex Education, a spin-off of Netflix‘s Explained series. A vast array of taboo topics are explored with a diverse group of participants talking about things like attraction, fetishes, birth control and childbirth. New data is thrown at us quickly giving new insight into matters which have impacted humans since the beginning of time. Fun and informative.
SUCCESSION – SEASONS 1 & 2 (HBO)
Never before have we hated characters as much as The Roys in HBO‘s critical hit Succession and we kinda love it! And the fact that we couldn’t stop zipping-through 20 episodes is a testament to how masterfully-crafted it is. The second season of the Drama centering on an ailing patriarch of a media empire and his thirsty children who are eager to assume the throne, finished airing in the fall. While we were a bit late catching-on, we are seeing many people on the same boat who too are learning what Succession is all about after its Best Television Series – Drama win at the Golden Globes. We despise this Family, played with gusto by an Ensemble including 60-year screen veteran Brian Cox in the patriarch role, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin. We want them to basically go to hell and go bankrupt in the process! Give us season three!
THE CIRCLE (NETFLIX)
We listened to the recommendations of our friends on Social Media and began streaming this 12-episode Reality Series based on a British series of the same name. And we were seriously annoyed! The Series takes a group of millennial men and women, putting them together in one building in Manchester and they are to interact only via a Social Media portal where some of them are “catfishing”. Some are exactly as they present themselves to one another via their portal profiles. They compete for a prize of $100k, but must avoid being eliminated by Influencers who earn that title each episode and are given the power to decide who gets eliminated or “blocked”. They never get see each other except for the eliminated entrant at the end of each episode getting to meet one player of their choice. Sometimes there are major shocks when the eliminated player realizes the one person they chose to meet, looks nothing like the person whom they projected themselves as on the portal. While we appreciate the Series’ premise of encouraging people to let their true selves shine and stop judging one another by their appearances, it all feels forced and we aren’t sure it accomplishes exactly that through some of the artifice and all the “Yo Bruh!”. That being said, we vowed to stop watching after episode one but found ourselves finishing season one quickly, powered by our sheer drive to want to throw things and scream at our TV.
We were so genuinely-touched and invested in this six-episode Docu-Series by Greg Whiteley, which just got released on Netflix. We know nothing about Cheerleading but quickly found ourselves in-love with these Corsicana Community College athletes who are competing for glory at the NCA College Nationals in Daytona. The heart and soul of the Series is Coach Monica Aldama, whom despite having business acumen has chosen a career in Cheerleading, running a tight ship, leading the college to victory many times in the past and its standing as the best in class. We see how these young adults, many who come from troubled pasts, have found themselves in Cheerleading, under Aldama‘s meticulous guidance. The setbacks are painstaking and we see how much danger these athletes put themselves through in the name of perfection and loyalty to the enchanting Aldama. These are compelling stories and the thrills are tear-inducing, making us sad we had to say goodbye at the end of it.