Renta Cubana (Film Thoughts” Revolution Rent, HBO Max)

Over the years, I have been very vocal about my dislike of the musical ‘Rent.’ I don’t think it’s the worst musical in the world, but I am immune to its charms – I only like ‘Seasons of Love’ from its score, and that song is too popular for me to really champion. But I get why people like i t- its subversively inclusive message can be infectious. But of course, anything musical related I watch, and HBO’s ‘Revolution Rent’ documentary was just begging for me.

I totally loved this film. Directed by Andy Senor and Patrick Alvarez, it shows Senor’s journey of bringing the show to Cuba – the first musical to be staged there in a long while. Senor was a replacement Angel in the original production of Rent on Broadway so obviously he has strong affinity for the material (it’s akin to Baayork Lee directing a production of ‘A Chorus Line’)

I found myself rooting for him and the production. We see him mount the production from scratch, compiling a cast fo Cuban locals who had to be molded into actors and singers effectively essaying the spirit of the musical. I thought the process was poignantly presented, and by the time they take the final bows on opening night Christmas Eve in Havana, I was in tears.

Talkin’ Bout Their Generation (Television Thoughts, Genera+ion, Season One, HBO Max)

I finally finished the whole first season of HBO Max’s ‘Genera+ion’ and…well, it’s entertaining enough. I wouldn’t say it’s provocative or groundbreaking, and I may be too ignorant to say it gives teh voice of the Gen Z generation.Why? The stories are kind of generic and full of soap opera tropes, though I do admit that the way it was told is very modern. The whole series hinges on its opening sequences – one of the young girls gives birth at the mall, and we see piece by piece how it all came to be.

The strange thing about that, though, is that the pregnancy storyline isn’t really the main focal point of all the episodes, which center mostly on Chester (Justice Smith) who goes through the series with a different kind of teenage angst. He is a gay male who starts crushing on his new guidance counselor, who connects anonymously on Grindr. He in turn is being crushed by Nathan, who is bisexual, and strings a girl along to ‘cover’ his same sex tendencies. I think the MVP of the series is Martha Plimpton, who plays Nathan’s mom. The screen lights up when she is on, even if her character is a bit two-dimensional.

I wonder how the Gen Z kids are responding to this show. Did they even watch it, spending time away from TikTok?

Kids Nowadays (Genera+ion, S01 E01 – E03, HBO Max)

There’s this cute kid I follow on Instagram who keeps on talking about the new HBO Max show ‘Genera+ion.’ I have been trying very hard to ignore the show but here I am, watching the first three episodes of it. I mean, kids nowadays annoy me, so why should I watch this show, about Gen Z kids and their issues? But, the + in the title (in place of the letter T) is supposed to represent the plus sign in LGBTQ+ so the kids in this show are all sexually fluid, which means anything goes. Look, I will be the first to tell you all these new gender identity business so I might as well watch the show to eductae myself, right?

Sure. I have to say, though, that I found the show…interesting. Kids nowadays really do care about sexual identity, and we get a gamut of them here. We haev Chester, who is gay, somewhat stereotypical but really not – he is kind of femme but is a major athlete. We have a bunch of lesbians, bisexuals, well, you name it. I don’t think there’s a trans, though, which I thought was weird, since they are supposed to be including everyone,

At times, I feel like I am too old for this show – these kids are acting immature, but then I realize they are kids so how are they supposed to act? All their issues are magnified a million times, of course, because that’s what kids do. But I always find youth interesting, and it’s always refreshing to see where their mind is nowadays.

Allen Accusations (Television Thoughts: Allen v Farrow E01, HBO Max)

HBO Max’s Allen v Farrow’s first episode is a bit of an eye-opener for me. I have always been a fan of Woody Allen, the director, and even though I have read about all the allegations about him (and for the most part, believe it) seeing the case visually presented is a different matter altogether. I would think that for a lot of people, this show is the final nail for his coffin.

The first part of the documentary, by filmmakers Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, and Amy Herdy, features interviews mainly with Mia Farrow and her daughter Dylan, and credibly lays out accusations against Allen. I could n’t help but felt sympathetic towards them, because you can see the pain in their faces – how this has caused them terrible grief.

But as has been reported everywhere else, though, this is sort of one-sided. Allen’s side is not presented (it should have been titled Farrow’s case) so you can make of that what you will. But the Farrows’ case is pretty compelling, with visual evidence and eyewitness accounts from friends and families. This show is riveting.

A Quiet Thing (Television Thoughts: Love Life S01 E 07 08 09 10)

Love-Life-Anna-Kendrick-HBO-Max

I just finished the third and final drop of Love Life episodes, and I can say I am pretty satisfied with it, and the show will probably end up on my best of list for the year. There are a lot of things I liked about it, and I think Anna Kendrick was tremendous – I don’t think I have ever seen her give such an ‘adult’ performance. She has always been one of my favorite actors and this will cement her there. And, you know what? As much as a lot of the show is tropes, it surprised me in one angle – I thought Darby was going to end up with Auggie. In a way they do – they will always be coparenting their son – but I thought that they would end up together together. The last couple of episodes wisely showed the different sides of Darby – as a daughter, as a friend, as a mother. They helped show her growth as a woman, and when we see her in that last episode, we see her as a full woman, because we went through that journey with her. And I like the final sentiment – that sometimes love enters your life quietly, without bells and whistles.It reminds me of the Kander & Ebb Song, “when it all comes through just the way we planned, it’s funny that the bells don’t ring…it’s a quiet thing”

I will miss the characters.

The Winner Darby (Television Thoughts: Love Life S01 E 04 05 06, HBO Max)

llI just finished Episodes 4 – 6 of HBO Max’s ‘Love Life,’ and now I am officially hooked.  While it seemed like the first three episodes feel like Darby was just going through a series of men, the next three episodes have her getting into ia real long-term relationship, and getting married. The narrative will also suck you in – she meets Magnus, a chef who is lovable but much flawed – a complicated man child. He is passionate about his craft – talented and creative – but he is also undisciplined and dangerous. We see Darby fall for him hook, line, and sinker, and the relationship gets mentally abusive. And we think why does she get herself trapped in this? As we ask that question, we get episode 5, which is basically a flashback to a year she spent in boarding school, where she meets Luke, a guy who gives her self-confidence. But, he also takes everything away from her. There is a wonderful 180 degree that happens in Episode 6 that serves as Darby’s ‘escape’ from her marriage with Magnus. The story is wonderfully told, and we get great performance from Anna Kendrick, who’s ‘awkward’ aura is perfect for the character. I really love it and am waiting with bated breath for what happens next.

Where Is Love (Television Thoughts: Love Life, S01 E01-03, HBO Max)

MV5BOTE1OTU4YjctNTQ5Ny00ZGQ3LWFjMzAtN2NiYjc5MzEwNzNjXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTkxNjUyNQ@@._V1_‘Love Life’ is the one show on HBO Max I had been looking forward to seeing, since it’s a romantic series – you know me, hopeless and hopeful. It is billed as an ‘anthology’ and I was wondering if it was similar to Amazon’s ‘Modern Love’ which I loved.

The show follows one character, Darby, as she looks for love in New York City, and the anthology part comes in because each episode centers on a ‘relationship,’ and the definition is broad – a one night stand, dating, long-term relationships. It has a ‘Sex and The City’ vibe, and take that however you want.

And I have just seen the first three episodes, and I love it already. First of all, Anna kendrick is wonderful – slightly bitter, slightly acerbic, hopeful, vulnerable, funny. I am not too convinced when she becomes too ‘sexual,’ but maybe that’s just my projection. In the first three episodes alone, the show has shown range in the story – the first centers on a relationship with Auggie that lasted, and had you hoping for both to stay together. The second is a little ick – she starts dating her old boss – and it felt like when one of your friends starts dating someone you know is just wrong for them. I liked the third one, wherein she has  a one-night stand and the guy gets clingy and she unintentionally breaks his heart. The show is instantly bingeable, and i wish they had released all the episodes instead of just sets of threes. I am in, let me fall in love!

P.S. I am making a prediction – in the end she will be with Auggie.