Before we get back to our weekly individual posts here at BTB, we’d like to share some recommended viewing we’ve each discovered while sheltering in place. We’ll be offering these roundups once a month from here on out. Happy mindful viewing!
PERFECT SENSE (free movie with Amazon Prime): A deceptively optimistic depiction of humans learning to adapt to an even more devastating pandemic than the one we’re experiencing now. It effectively blends fear and courage, pain and joy, devastation and innovation, all with an overlying message of hope – that is, save for an unfortunate voice-over narration at the end which essentially refutes the entire promise of the premise. I recommend turning it off the second that misguided voice begins to speak.
HOLLYWOOD (series, streaming on Netflix)and FEUD: BETTE & JOAN (rentable on Amazon): Both are engaging, fascinating limited series created by Ryan Murphy who shows us how things were (and still are in many cases), as well as what they could have been and what they might still become, in an illuminating blend of genuine history and alternate history. Both shows masterfully explore the roles of gender and sexuality in the film industry as experienced in front of and behind the camera. HOLLYWOOD also explores race and racism in inspiring ways. FEUD is more of a cautionary tale about the deleterious effects of sexism, while HOLLYWOOD becomes a fairy tale, giving a whole new meaning to the “Hollywood Ending.” Now if only the latter were a documentary. Sigh.
SHOOT THE MOON: (movie, rentable on Amazon) Alan Parker’s chilling 1982 drama brilliantly depicts the dangers of unchecked toxic masculinity within the context of marriage and family, featuring an especially memorable performance by Diane Keaton whose character confronts the dark repercussions women may suffer when they behave as society expects them to.
MISS JUNETEENTH (movie, available On Demand): A wonderful gem of an independent film that recognizes and celebrates African-American women in their quest for freedom, respect and independence. The movie centers on the struggles of a young woman and her strong willed daughter. The film features the directorial debut of Channing Godfrey Peoples, an African-American woman.
RELIC (movie, available On Demand): A horror film that explores the ravages of old age and the emotional toll that it takes on caregivers, a burden often shouldered by women. The film is a bit repetitive with a storyline that meanders, but features strong performances as it explores relevant themes to which many women can relate. RELIC is the debut of female director, Natalie Erika James.
ROSEMARY’S BABY (movie, available On Demand): This 1968 film is still one of the most suspenseful films of all-time. It’s story of a young woman in NYC who is betrayed by her conniving and selfish husband during one of the most vulnerable periods in a woman’s life-a pregnancy. The film still resonates. While I don’t condone the disgraceful continued adulation of the sexual predator who directed this film, we can still appreciate the great performances from the cast, and Ira Levin for his brilliant novel that produced one of the most chilling feminist horror films of all time.
OBVIOUS CHILD (movie, rentable on Amazon or Hulu with SHOWTIME add-on): Gillian Robespierre’s 2014 directorial debut takes abortion and financial instability and turns them into a feel-good (and non-alarmist) portrayal of the challenges many young women face, and the support we need from our mothers, friends, and significant others to face them. A refreshingly different take on unplanned pregnancy, one that encompasses another path most films neglect to meaningfully consider.
POSE (series, streaming on Netflix): Another amazing series by Ryan Murphy that showcases the Black and Latino LBGTQ ballroom scene in 80s and 90s NYC. The show does an excellent job of highlighting the unique struggles faced by transwomen and gay men of color in their quests for self-actualization against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic—a plague that was politicized and life-changing, just like our current pandemic.
HARLOTS (series on Hulu): While Pose considers sex work on the periphery, Harlots addresses it head-on. Set in 1763 London, Harlots shows the underbelly of the Georgian era that no other period piece has before, in a way that is incredibly empowering to the women and men who populate it. In following the feats and falls of two rival brothels, Harlots combats the ageless issues of race, gender, class, and sexuality, showing us how little the world has actually changed in the last 280 years.
Iconic Quote: “It’s not your power we’re at the mercy of. It’s your weakness.”
Up next week: Devi kicks off her latest discourse — this time on all thing Rom-Com…
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