It’s baseball season and, though neither of us are avid sports fans, we’re all too familiar with the concept of “streaks” and “slumps.” After all, they’re not limited to sports. Sometimes they even occur in the realm of at-home viewing. With access to such a wide variety of films and programs we’re bound to select the occasional stinker or land on a masterpiece that hits it out of the park. Often times, these happen in clusters—a winning streak of wonderful stories for a whole month straight, or a slump so bad that week after week we find ourselves tuning in to one stinker after another, unable to sit through them, or worse, regretting by story’s end more precious chunks of time lost.
Fortunately, we’ve both been blessed with many streaks this past year, however, this past month we seemed to have hit a slump. As such, we can only recommend two selections each this month instead of our usual three—
COMING2AMERICA (2021, Free On Prime): I was wary about watching this one until I heard Arsenio Hall talk about its origins on Stephen Colbert and was reminded how much I admire, and enjoy, Eddie Murphy as an artist. I’m glad I gave it a chance. While I’d by no means classify it as a brilliant, life-altering film, or even an equal to its much loved predecessor, this is a fun, breezy jaunt with fabulous sets, costumes, music and a whole lot of heart. The best surprise of all is its surprising feminist premise, calling out the deleterious effects of patriarchy by some clever and seriously kickass heroines.
SPARROWS DANCE (2012, Streaming on Prime): a hidden gem of a contained indie with the feeling of a play, but in a good way (not one of those movies that feels too staged) about an agoraphobic shut-in who develops a relationship with a plumber she must let into her home when her toilet goes haywire. The title comes from a line from a poem by an obscure Japanese poet known as “Cold Mountain”—
If someone would poke out the eyes of the hawks
We sparrows could dance wherever we please!
UNORTHODOX (2020, Series, Streaming on Netflix): Film and television don’t often tell the stories of Orthodox Jewish women, but this four-part miniseries is noteworthy for portraying such a woman as a feminist heroine. Esther flees an arranged marriage and her Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, NY. She moves to Berlin, seeking an education in a conservatory and her freedom. Her husband and his cousin follow her there, determined to bring her back to New York. The miniseries strikes a balance in portraying the female protagonist as an independent, courageous woman while respecting the traditions and community she is seeking to escape. UNORTHODOX is based on an autobiography and is primarily in Yiddish-a first for Netflix.
AUDREY (2020, Streaming on Netflix): A documentary on the life of Audrey Hepburn that recognizes why she deserves to be celebrated as not only a beloved Hollywood icon, but as a feminist icon as well. The film traces her early life in Europe during the Second World War to her later years when she worked as an activist with UNICEF. The film focuses on her early years in Hollywood but also highlights her work with the Resistance and how her traumatic experience during the war later inspired her great compassion for the plight of refugees. The film also delves into her private life and focuses on her resilient spirit in overcoming two failed marriages and finding personal fulfillment independent of the Hollywood studio system.
Here’s hoping everybody’s getting vaccinated. See you next week!
Devi & Amy
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