Tuesday, March 30, 2021

TV Snide: For March 2021

Movie of the month: Queen and Slim (HBO Max): Daniel Culuuya is one of my favorite actors, and he is on fire in this one with Jodie Turner-Smith, as the two are accused of killing a cop and fleeing on an epic 6 days to get to their escape hatch. It’s a strong statement on how some white people are so clueless when it comes to understanding the richness of so many Black people’s lives. 5 out of 5 stars 

TV of the Month: Brady Bunch Season 5 (Hulu): Arguably slightly inferior to Season 4 and its Hawaii episodes, the last year of this show is still must-see TV. My young daughter and I watched the season and she would stare open-mouthed at the screen the whole time as wonderful morals bounced around everywhere. The entire series abruptly ends when Greg accidentally bleaches his hair before high-school graduation and the real-life Mike Brady refuses to appear because he doesn’t like the premise, not knowing this was to be the final, anti-climactic episode. 5 out of 5 stars

Reading of the Month: Danny Sugerman, “It’s My Life:” This is an excerpt from one of my favorite rock books, Wonderland Avenue. The author is 12 years old when he first encounters Jim Morrison, who thinks the kid is stealing his band's equipment. Turns out he is helping his Little League umpire, who offered to take him to see The Doors and be a roadie if he hit a home run. The home run happened and the concert was the point Sugerman's life dramatically took focus. He also badly missed his curfew due to The Doors’ extremely late and tardy performance.  From The Penguin Book of Rock & Roll Writing. 5 out of 5 stars

Patti Smith: “The Rise of the Sacred Monsters:” The rock poet’s essay for Creem places the reader in her swampy house at the moment she sacrifices her complete allegiance to her father, who rants about the obscenity on TV that is the Rolling Stones’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan. She completely falls in lust with the band and in love with rock music. I have never been a big fan of Smith’s music, but this is one of the great pieces of music writing, and is available in The Penguin Book of Rock & Roll Writing. 5 out of 5 stars

Julie and the Phantoms Season 1 (Netflix): I’m pretty sure it’s not just because I have a 7-year-old daughter that I love this show. It’s so well written  and heartfelt, with music that is truly catchy for adults and probably too-die-for for kids. It’s simply everything a TV show should be and a classic first season. 5 out of 5 stars 

Nomadland (Hulu): Frances McDormand turns in a powerhouse performance of likable sorrow. After her husband's plant shuts down and he dies, she goes out on the road to see a different side of life from the seat of her 15-passenger van. No wonder it won the Golden Globe for best drama movie, it’s a wrenching mix of joyful and sad. 4.5 out of 5 stars 

Citizen Kane (HBO Max): Being often called the greatest film is quite an overstatement, but Orson Wells’ masterpiece is indeed riveting. Taking parts of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer’s lives as newspaper magnates, and mixing in a lot of shades of Trump to come, the tycoon falls apart and finally dies longing the days before his parents gave him away. 4.5 out of 5 stars

kid90 (Hulu): Soleil Moon Frye, better knows as Punky Brewster, took copious notes and video footage of her years growing up in the ‘90s with her celebrity friends. How she rebuilds the story of her life for us is truly fascinating, with help along the way from stars of 90210, Saved By the Bell, House of Pain, Jane’s Addiction, and the skateboarder movie Kids, to name a few. My high school and undergrad years flashed before my eyes. 4 out of 4 stars

Coming 2 America (Amazon Prime): Eddie Murphy compiles an ensemble cast that kills it in this wacky wonderful spoof of Black Panther and a look at what happens when the cultures of an African nation and Brooklyn collide. 4 out of 5 stars

Moxie (Netflix): Amy Poehler stars as the former rebel-girl mom to a quiet girl who ends up leading a revolution against toxic male culture at her high school. The empowering story is made even better with Mac McCaughan of Superchunk supplying the musical score. 4 out of 5 stars

Tom and Jerry (HBO Max): A family fun good time with all the classic adventures of the cat and mouse in a live-action adventure ala Roger Rabbit. Chloe Grace Moretz is adorable as an impostor trying to event manage a major celebrity wedding in a New York City hotel. 4 out of 5 stars

The Flight Attendant Season 1 (HBO Max): Kaley Cuoco is captivating - and makes me want to finally watch some episodes of The Big Bang Theory - in this mash up of trying-to-be-Hitchcock and the often funny but still annoying HBO show Girls. As Cuoco and her fellow flight attendants spring surprises about who they are, lots of interesting insights show up to display how these are people who are invisible to the world but have aspirations to be much more. A second season has been promised and it will be interesting if they can keep up the twists and intrigue. 3.5 out of 5 stars

The White Tiger (Netflix): A rags to riches tale of a rural kid growing up and running away to build an entrepreneurial route through the tangled web of Dubai. He does a great (if crooked) job in his professional life, but his personal life is unimaginably sad. 3.5 out of 5 stars

Kingpin (Sling TV): Woody Harrelson could save any sinking ship. This Farrelly Brothers comedy is not that, but Harrelson - as a washed up superstar bowler - is at his funniest, his arch nemesis Bill Murray is at his Donald Trump-iest, and the 90s soundtrack is top notch, even including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it stage appearance by Urge Overkill. 3.5 out of 5

Fleabag Season 1 (Netflix): I know this show was all the hype, and it definitely has a few laugh-out-loud lines per episode, but I think it moves a little slow. Definitely worth checking out. I’ll be interested to see if Season 2, what with all the accolades it’s received, gets better. 3.5 out of 5 stars

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