Posted in Movies

Netflix Gems: Rom Coms

We all love Netflix. It’s a service a lot of people use, which provides an excellent product and allows us to binge on television and movies in an easy and fun way. However, it can sometimes be difficult to find things to watch that you haven’t seen a million times, so I thought I would make a few lists of great things to watch on Netflix. So, without further ado, here are the best romantic comedies you can watch on Netflix.

  1. The Decoy Bride: This is a great movie, starring David Tennant and Kelly Macdonald. It’s set on a small Scottish island, where the beautiful Alice Eve portrays an actress trying to get married in secret, and the whole island gets totally turned upside down. Kelly Macdonald is lovely and sympathetic as the protagonist Katie, and the music is awesome.Image result for the decoy bride
  2. The Switch: Jennifer Aniston has her time and place, but the real strength of this movie is the cuteness between the father, Jason Bateman, and their son. This movie is not super profound, but it is a cute love story about falling in love with family.
  3. Practical Magic: Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman are both always a win, but as witches they are fun and sweet. The movie is about love, but also about sisterhood, Image result for bridget jones diaryand family. 100% would watch again.
  4. Bridget Jones’ Diary: The whole Bridget Jones cannon is brilliant, but the first film is always fun to come back to. You may have even forgotten some of the funniest bits.
  5. The Last Five Years: The songs are a bit hit or miss, but this movie-musical is beautifully romantic and terribly sad. Anna Kendrick continues to be a promising talent, and Jeremy Jordan is a great leading man. Don’t watch this if you want to be reassured of the reality of love, because it doesn’t end well.
  6. While You Were Sleeping: Wow, two Sandra Bullock movies in one list! This movie is just some sweet ’90s fun.
  7. After the Ball: A young woman gets kicked out of her family’s clothing company. What else is there to do but dress as a man and prove herself? She also happens to fall in love along the way. Very sweet, very Canadian.
  8. 10 Things I Hate About You: Another classic ’90s movie with a cast of some future famous people and some future nobodies. Funny, sweet, sex-positive and full of poetry.

That’s eight to get you started, comment your favorite rom-coms, specifically ones you can stream.

Posted in TV

A New “Series of Unfortunate Events”

Like anyone who grew up and came of age in the early two thousands, I read A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket in elementary and middle school. The books, a hit, were adapted into a so-bad-it’s-good Jim Carrey showcase entitled A Series of Unfortunate Events. Personally, I enjoyed watching the movie, but I wasn’t really thinking of it as an adaptation of the books. When I watch a movie based on a book, I lower my expectations. I mostly think of the book as a suggestion- I know that’s how Hollywood sees it.

 jim carey count olaf series of unfortunate events GIF

So the Jim Carrey movie masquerading as A Series of Unfortunate Events was widely considered a failure, which is too bad because failed movies tend to deter future similar movies. But, through the magic of Netflix, we received an almost version of A Series of Unfortunate Events in the form of an eight-episode miniseries. Neil Patrick Haris is, like his character, a flawless scene stealer. The children are remarkable, especially for such complex roles, and the supporting cast is just phenomenal- Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket is just criminally good. Honourable mentions to Aasif Mandvi and K. Todd Freeman, who were just so book-accurate.

NETFLIX netflix a series of unfortunate events lemony snicket asoue GIF

There are a lot of ways that I think that the Netflix adaptation is a lot stronger than the books- there are characters of color whose races were never specified in the books, there are gay characters who are specifically established as gay. Obviously, in television foreshadowing and plot pacing has to be different than in books, so we may get answers we weren’t expecting. The opening sequences are hilarious and give every episode a little special something. I could go on forever talking about the aspects of the show that I think are brilliant, but I’ll just say one more thing: The decision to introduce the Quagmire siblings and their parents in the first season is genius, and Colby Smoulders and Will Arnett are a perfect and tragic red herring.

Image result for a series of unfortunate events parents

In terms of the second season, it has been announced that it will consist of ten episodes, and cover the next five books- Austere Academy to Carnivorous Carnival. Supposedly, season three would tackle the final four books, but considering how much longer and more complicated the books get later in the series, I hypothesize that they will have to make more than two episodes to cover the last two books, so perhaps season three will be ten episodes as well. The production team and writers have definitely proven themselves with season one, so I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in future seasons. Season two has an anticipated release in 2018, but it’s likely that the producers will choose to film the entire rest of the series back-to-back, due to the children not remaining children forever. Let’s hope it continues to impress us all with its unfortunateness.

You can read a letter from Mr. Snicket here, explaining the very fraught direction that this very frightening decision has pushed us all in.

Posted in TV

Katherine Ryan’s “In Trouble”

I set low expectations when I sat down to watch Katherine Ryan’s In Trouble. I am a student of the genre and I like to think I’m open minded, but there’s a quiet sexism that’s embedded in us all. Still, I like to give everyone a chance, and especially the few women who find success in such a male dominated industry. The thing is, In Trouble doesn’t need my condescension. It’s brilliant, maybe the best performance I’ve seen out this year.

5dad6218200000141b50641d

There isn’t a flat moment in the whole special, but Ryan’s clear strength is in story -telling, and form. She connects all of the threads of her story, working her jokes in with grace and dexterity. Her delivery is spot on, and her crowd work is the best I’ve seen in years. I saw a similar attempt in Michael Che’s Michael Che Matters last year, but like a lot of comics, Che used the audience to bounce jokes off of. That’s fine, and it works. But Ryan, ahhh. Her crowd work is a conversation, with the audience and the viewer. It makes her stories more vibrant, she brings us into her vision of that moment. The moments when she talks to the audience, listens and then responds to them, are some of the best in the hour.

 katherine ryan GIF

Ryan doesn’t overshare, her personal details are relevant and funny, and her description of her family is a winning bit. Ryan describes her family with a degree of empathy, and manages to describe their peculiarities with a tone of semi-tolerance. She manages almost the impossible, acting authentic in some places and exaggerated in others. Her racial humor is hilarious, without offending this Jew, and her jokes about Canada and America were spot on. When Ryan talks about the women from her hometown who tormented her when they were young, you see them. You know these women, they’re from your hometown too. Her description of her relationship with her sister is sweet, and funny. Their closeness leaves plenty of room for comedy and jokes about the middle child, which were everything.

If you’re a fan of comedy, watch this. If you’re a fan of women, watch this. If you’re a fan of humans, watch this. Just watch this. It’s available on Netflix, and it’s worth your time.

Posted in TV

“Iron Fist” Ironic Failure

I found Iron Fist to be an extreme disappointment. Just gonna lead with that. After the okayness of Daredevil, the genius of Jessica Jones and the brilliance of Luke Cage, Iron Fist is simply blah. Perhaps if Iron Fist had been the first of the series to be released, I would feel more positive about it. But we’ve seen what Marvel can do with Netflix’s support, and Iron Fist shows substandard, shoddy work.

NETFLIX netflix marvel family trailer GIF

The characters do look right and feel honest. Ward Meachum looks predictably evil, almost Trump Jr. like, with his slicked-back hair and inky black eyes. There is no clear relation between him and Joy, who is supposedly twenty-six but looks younger. The premise of Meachum Sr. leaving the company in the hands of his two, at the time, teenagers, or in trust for them upon their reaching adulthood, is kind of ridiculous. It does kind of fit with Meachum’s general control freak-ness and horrible parenting, though, so there’s something to be said for that. Colleen feels real too, she’s brave and funny, but her character arc is flawed. She lacks consistency, and her connection with Danny lacks depth. I think it would have played out differently if they had been friends, and not romantically linked, but their closeness as a couple doesn’t feel right. Their only real moment of chemistry is in the dance scene at the end of episode twelve.

The only really enjoyable parts of the show are the appearances of character we already know from the other shows, mainly Claire Temple. Rosario Dawson is always a win. Hogarth also makes me feel that life is worth living again, she acts as a wake-up call for Danny, which was sorely needed. I love Claire- she’s clearly a cape-chaser, but she keeps it real and is hilarious.

Finn Jones is ultimately the main issue of the series. The only authentic thing about him is his American accent- he only slips once, during the wound-cleaning scene in episode eleven. Jones is very obviously a martial arts novice, he looks as though even he doesn’t believe he’s in this. He comes across as a poor man’s Oliver Queen, and honestly this whole show does feel like a more lack-luster Arrow. The board-room power struggles are uninteresting, the characters’ loyalties are fluid and inconsistent, and the writing is not what we’ve come to expect. Plus, the show expects us to be surprised in the end that they pulled the oldest trick in the book, the business partner did it.

NETFLIX netflix marvel iron fist finn jones GIF

This first season is supposed to establish Danny as a character. His whole arc this season is meant to be his quest for identity, Danny’s journey from the Himalayas to New York, Danny finding himself. But what he finds? It’s uninteresting. The writers make Danny intrinsically good, and in the process deprive him of all personality. I just hope that this flop doesn’t derail the other defenders.