It continues to be a hot month and what better way to stay cool than staying-in and streaming it till we make it out of this pandemic?
INDIAN MATCHMAKING (NETFLIX)
This eight-episode Series was a surprise delight! Often the term “arranged marriage” has a negative connotation. What INDIAN MATCHMAKING sets-out to do successfully is explaining the challenges that this generation of single people of Indian descent face in finding a life partner. In turning to their cultural traditions in finding romance, we see how this works in a modern framework in a world that is entirely different from that of their parents. Leading the way is world-renowned Matchmaker Sima Taparia who is tasked with finding fits for men and women in the U.S. and in India. Some individuals are a bit more challenging than others to pair, but we love joining them along the way in the process. If anything, you should walk away from this experience feeling more informed in understanding the nuances of how socioeconomic status, astrology, faith, age and even how despite being Indian how there are so many divisions which dictate one’s romantic fate. In one storyline, we see an effervescent Guyanese-American woman named Nadia struggles finding an Indian man as she often isn’t considered “Indian” despite sharing the same ancestry. While some storylines aren’t tied-up quite as well as others as new characters get introduced throughout the Series, this leaves potential for a forthcoming season and we’re totally in!
DOWN TO EARTH WITH ZAC EFRON (NETFLIX)
This eight-episode Series is something we didn’t realize we would enjoy so much. Idol Zac Efron pairs with buddy Darin Oilen to travel around different parts of the world to understand how they are consuming energy and food differently from the United States. The conscious Series blends many of the obvious reasons one would want to look at shirtless Zac Efron with an awareness that we can all grab takeaways from in how we look at consumption in our own lives. The duo visit Iceland, France, Costa Rica, Lima, Puerto Rico, Sardinia, London and Iquitos and have some fun along the way going outside their comfort zones. There’s even a famous face or two along the way who join them, like Anna Kendrick! The explanations are clear and simple and this was an innovative, entertaining way to speak to a younger audience about issues that are important to our future.
FATAL AFFAIR (NETFLIX)
We admit it – we love crazy, over-the-top “fatal attraction”-type flicks. They usually are packed with thrills, the right amount of juiciness and end with a feeling of catharsis, because the obsessed one usually never survives and we can go once again to our mundane lives. The Thriller centers on former flames Ellie (Nia Long) and David (Omar Epps) who reunite one day by chance (or not) at the former’s work place. They decide to catch-up over drinks and after Ellie confesses she feels distanced from her husband Michael (Stephen Bishop), things heat-up as their passions ignite. David still is not over Ellie clearly and keeps surfacing unwelcomed and Ellie learns some dark secrets about his past that had occurred in the years they were apart. Soon Ellie and her family find themselves in danger as he infiltrates their lives. Peter Sullivan (Secret Obsession) directs and co-writes this Film which is pegged where right it should be as an at-home release. While introducing nothing new to the genre, we still got a rush and wish it went even more over-the-top and gave us a bit more David as we wanted better to understand his obsession and the whys.
THE OLD GUARD (NETFLIX)
Charlize Theron is back and ready to kick some ass. This Superhero-Drama directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Beyond the Lights) and based on Greg Rucka‘s Comic Book of the same name. The story is about a group of immortal mercenaries consisting of Andy (Theron), Booker (Matthias Schoenaerts), Joe (Marwan Kenzari) and Nicky (Luca Marinelli), who are sent to Sudan to rescue a group of kidnapped children, only to realize that they were set-up to be exposed by former CIA Operative James Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor). Joining them is Nile Freeman (KiKi Layne), a Marine whom after getting fatally-wounded in Afghanistan, realizes her own immortality and Andy is able to track her down and help protect her, assisting her in harnessing her new-found power. Enter the picture, greedy pharmaceutical empire CEO Steven Merrick (Harry Melling) who seeks to capture the group of mercenaries to find out their survival secrets. In a fight to protect their anonymity and avoid being captured for study, we wonder if they will be able to keep their secret guarded from the world. While from a pacing standpoint it feels a bit long at times, The Old Guard is loaded with adrenaline and high-octane action, giving Blockbuster fans a much-deserved thrill in the absence of cinemas this summer. Inclusive and unconventional casting gives the Film a fresh element, although all eyes go to its fierce star Theron who balances Andy‘s strength and vulnerability perfectly in what looks to be the start of a Franchise for her.
TED LASSO (APPLE TV+)
Jason Sudeikis reprises his role as Kansas College Football Coach sent overseas to oversee a soccer team in England. The funnyman developed this character prior and appeared on NBC Sports and has some fun with him in this fish-out-of-water Comedy which sees him adapting to language, personalities and cultural differences. Sudeikis is great, playing his character straight and well-intentioned yet fumbling, not exactly receiving the warmest reception. Sex Education‘s Hannah Waddingham is great as Rebeca, fearsome boss lady who inherited the said soccer team from her late husband. Why? She may have a reason or two why which you’ll find out. Under-appreciated Juno Temple also is delightfully-funny as a flirty minx who lands Lasso in a bit of trouble! We’ve previewed the first few episodes and are looking forward to the rest of the ten episodes which surface on Apple TV this August.
RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE SEASON 12 (CRAVE)
It’s RuPaul‘s world and we’re all just living in it. One of the greatest joys of this isolation period I’ve experienced is catching-up on RuPaul’s Drag Race and you’ll be pleased to know all seasons from the very start are available on Crave. This latest season sees 13 – and then 12 Drag Queens compete for fame, with one being disqualified after catfishing allegations surfaced after the season aired earlier this year. Compared to Season 11, these Queens may lack the sass their predecessors had, but more than make-up (pardon the pun) for with their showman – or should I say showwomanship?! Tons of celebrity guest judges surface including Nicki Minaj, Chaka Khan, Robyn, Jeff Goldblum, Olivia Munn and more. These Queens go through some positively-amazing and tough challenges including a Madonna “Rusical” and toughest of all, the final three compete for the throne from their own living rooms as the Finale had taken place amidst this pandemic. Truly the most heart-filled, entertaining hour on Television. We totally were rooting for Canadian Queen, Jackie Cox!
RUPAUL’S SECRET CELEBRITY DRAG RACE (CRAVE)
Our obsession with Drag Race continues even after season 12 with this limited-run, four-episode special Series which pits celebrities against one another with the winner of each episode getting a prize of $20,000 to a charity of their choice. We get some Canadian representation with Schitt’s Creek star Dustin Milligan appearing, plus some familiar faces like Hayley Kiyoko, Madison Beer, Loni Love, Vanessa Williams and more surfacing for a shot at drag glory. Most of all, it is fascinating seeing the cultural impact the Drag phenomenon has had on the world and a diverse set and we see that even celebrities are battling their own troubles which they overcome over the course of their time on this Show.
RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE ALL STARS SEASON 5 (CRAVE)
We honestly can’t get enough of this and RuPaul’s Drag Race has been our saviour amidst this Pandemic. Catching-up with all its branch-offs has been a thing of joy for me. This season pits returning stars of the past (some coming back a third time!) including Jujubee, Miz Cracker, Shea Couleé, Ongina, Alexis Mateo and Derrick Barry. While it is unable to avoid its drama, the bond of sisterhood among the contestants is stronger than ever and it truly is a nailbiter to the finish as the top three are evenly-matched. Celebrity guest judges include Jane Krakowski, Ricky Martin, Nicole Byer, Madison Beer, Tessa Thompson and more. RuPaul throws-in an added twist of a surprise Lip Sync Assassin each episode instead of the old format where the top two compete against one another. Instead, the contestant with the top score of the week competes against an unknown past star.
LITTLE VOICE (APPLE TV+)
We love Sara Bareilles and were so thrilled to hear she is responsible for the Music behind this Musical Young Adult Romance Series, joining forces with Mega-Producer J.J. Abrams. The Series centers on Bess (Brittany O’Grady) a talented younger Singer-Songwriter who is trying to find her voice. Part of the issue with the Series is that you really have to be invested in Bess to want to take this ride with her as the story takes a bit to progress and for a bit you have to sit through a phase of awkwardness. Some solid performances and nice Music on this Series, new episodes premiering weekly.
PALM SPRINGS (HULU)
Max Barbakow makes his directorial debut in charming Rom-ComPALM SPRINGS, which sold for a record $17.5 million after its Sundance Premiere earlier this year. While the pandemic has led to an altered course in its release, those in the U.S. already are able to enjoy this Groundhog Day-esque tale of a duo who cross paths and may be each other’s match. Nyles (Andy Samberg) already has a girlfriend in Misty (Meredith Hagner) and tags along for her best friend Tala‘s (Camila Mendes) wedding, in which Misty is a bridesmaid. Meet Sarah (Cristin Milioti), the older sister of Tala who’s made a few bad choices in her life. She and Nyles hit it off quite well, until an angry crossbow-wielding man named Roy (J.K. Simmons) shows up is in hot pursuit of Nyles. The odd thing is that the day keeps beginning over and over for the pair and they can’t quite understand why. Their storyline however keeps moving along in a linear motion despite the day lining-up differently each time and they realize that they aren’t going to be able to move ahead further until they confront some of the most toxic things that are holding them back in their lives. PALM SPRINGS uniquely combines raunchy Comedy, a bit of Physics and some heartfelt romance for a worthwhile watch that equally tugs a bit of the heartstrings as it does elicit the chuckles. The lead pair are perfect together, with Samberg delivering some of his best work yet.
When Sarah (Cristin Milioti) meets Nyles (Andy Samberg) at her younger sisters wedding the two are thrust into a surreal and unexpected interruption.
Palm Springs really is one of the best films at the Festival. The main idea, which I’m attempting to keep a secret from you, is something that has been done time and time again. However, Palm Springs takes this old trend and whips up something fresh and hilarious with it. The two leads have outstanding chemistry and there is never a dull moment from beginning to end. All involved, behind and in front of the camera, make this Film one true crowd-pleaser.
Palm Springs screens at Sundance on Sun, Jan. 26th at 3 PM at Library Centre Theatre, Mon, Jan. 27th at 11:30 PM at Prospector Square Theatre, Wed, Jan. 29th at 6:30 PM at Rose Wagner Centre, Thurs, January 20th at 6:30 PM at Eccles Theatre, and Sat, Feb. 1st at 12 PM at Redstone Cinema 7.