December Pandemic Viewing Roundup
It’s December. The election is behind us. And 2021 is nigh—hopefully with the promise of a brighter future ahead. In the meantime, we all deserve some time to recover from a year that, we imagine, few will be sorry to see come to an end. As such, for our final Pandemic Viewing Roundup of the year, we shall end on a high note—be that in the form of escapist comedies, epic tales of good triumphing over evil, or smaller stories about personal redemption—we hope you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season and a bountiful new year.
WOKE (streaming on Hulu): I am over the moon to learn we can expect a second season of this fabulously fun, wacky and yet deceptively poignant comedy series that makes you laugh as you shudder with each new episode shedding more light on the realities of what one might expect when he’s Black in America. Based on the brilliant comics of writer/artist Keith Knight, WOKE borrows stories from Knight’s life to create a rich, provocative, often sweet, frequently disturbing and always entertaining journey.
FEEL GOOD (streaming on Netflix): Talk about truth in advertising. This unassuming romantic dramedy series centers around a romance between a recovering junkie lesbian stand-up comedian and her new closeted girlfriend who runs among the rich and conservative, and it really does make you feel good. It’s touching, it’s funny and does a great job of showing how we can overcome our most challenging flaws with the help of our friends. Lisa Kudrow is masterfully awful as the dysfunctional mother.
HOLIDAY (available to rent on Prime): My favorite holiday film (after the original 1966 animated THE GRINCH WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS, natch), this 1938 screwball explores First World problems to be sure, but in a thoughtful, funny and surprisingly moving way. Cary Grant comes to the extravagant household of his wealthy fiancée, but when he meets her older sister, the self-proclaimed “black sheep of her family,” the most wonderful can of worms opens up and with it song, dance, puppets and a thoughtful examination of identity and the pursuit of genuine happiness.
LOST IN TRANSLATION (available On Demand): A quirky romantic comedy that features two lonely people adrift in life who forge a bond while abroad in Tokyo. The film won Sofia Coppola the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and cemented her reputation as a serious filmmaker.
BORAT (available On Demand): Ok, it might be stretching it to call BORAT a feminist film, but this comedy features his teenage daughter who finds herself on a journey of self-discovery and respect. She overcomes life in a cage, a fixation with Melania Trump and plastic surgery, to realize her dream of a career in journalism. She scores the interview of a lifetime and humiliates Rudy Giuliani in a way that only a woman could. And what could be more feminist than that?
1 BR (available On Demand): A smart, low budget horror film features a young woman who moves to Los Angeles seeking independence only to find herself at the mercy of a cult in her apartment complex. The film is also a commentary on Hollywood culture and the cliquish mentality that can be prevalent there.
CALL THE MIDWIFE (streaming on Netflix): The crown jewel of the BBC’s drama offerings (in my humble opinion), CALL THE MIDWIFE seamlessly blends period charm and hard-hitting social commentary. Partially based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, the drama follows the midwives of Nonnatus house, both Episcopalian nuns and laywomen, who tirelessly help the expectant mothers of London’s East End in the 1950s and 1960s. Despite the sometimes-heavy subject matter, this show absolutely radiates love and warmth.
DERRY GIRLS (streaming on Netflix): This series is the epitome of irreverent British comedy. DERRY GIRLS depicts the antics of five teenagers at their Catholic secondary school against the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The main cast is brilliant, but Siobhán McSweeney as Sister Michael steals the show.
KNIVES OUT (streaming on Amazon Prime Video): A classic, Clue-like murder mystery updated with dysfunctional Trump-era family dynamics. Ana de Armas, not Daniel Craig (as some have argued), delivers the best performance here.
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