A couple of minutes into Nahnatchka Khan’s ‘Always Be My Baby,’ I groaned to myself. Sure, I m a sucker for romantic comedies, but I thoroughly disliked the two main characters here, Sasha and Marcus (Ali Wong and Randall Park) who I know are meant to fall in love. I mean. why would I root for them to do that when I don’t even like them? I despise those type A over-achieving people like Wong’s Sasha, and Park’s slacker bro dude was just as annoying I thought. But I have to credit the actors, especially Park, who gives the character more depth than what’s written (probably because the actors also wrote the screenplay) And I have to admit, the characters grew on me, especially Marcus. He even says that he cannot leave his father because he needs to take care of him – and that’s a very Asian thing, by the way. Eventually, I gave in to the romance – they have good enough chemistry and there were several Asian-specific touches that I related to. And Keanu Reeves does a hilarious cameo playing himself – that alone in my opinion is worth a watch. I do have to say that I am really liking the fact that Netflix is investing in a lot of these romantic comedies, and this one is a little more adult than their earlier ones. I can only encourage and celebrate.
Who isn’t in love with Zac Efron? I know I have been championing him for a while now, as I do think he is an extremely talented and versatile actor. He is getting more attention nowadays for his performance in the new film ‘Extremely Wicked Shickingly Evil and Vile’ (bad choice of a title since I cannpt retain it in my memory) and rightfully so – he is extremely effective portraying the serial killer Ted Bundy. Seen in the eyes of his long time girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (who wrote a book based on her life with Bundy) this Ted Bundy is charming and handsome. It’s as if director Joe Berlinger has put you in the position of being one of his victims and you are able to experience how one gets manipulated and roped by this man. It’s a strange way to present a film about a serial killer. We never really get to see any of the killings, and at first thought you think, this film is as in love with Bundy (and Efron) as we are. But as I think about it more, I think it’s just an effective way to present Bundy. Even though Collins is great as Elizabeth, Efron takes over the film whenever he is on – his presence here i so magnetic that you are instantly and effectively drawn. Yes, it does seem like it is trying to glorify a serial killer, but in the initial eyes of his victims, he is glorified. And just like his victims, he instills fear as we get to know him better. There is a scene between Ted and Elizabeth towards the end which is supposed to be some kind of closure for their relationship, but instead is so horrifying it will make you feel sick and disgusted, yet there will be a nagging feeling in you that you will want more.
I initially had reservations about the film (even as I enjoyed Efron’s performance) – the pace is uneven, and there are some holes int he story telling. But taken as is, I think it’s still a worthwhile film. As my film ended, Netflix immediately followed my viewing with their docu series The TEd Bundy Tapes, and I think seeing those two things back to back will make the Bundy experience fuller. But then again, maybe one is enough.
I watched the first episode of ‘Special’ on Netflix. I have some thoughts.
- I kind of didn’t like it. I know a lot of people love it, and I want to give it another chance, but my overall impression is just kind of meh. I really did not like the main character, Ryan (played by Ryan O ‘Connell, and I am assuming the show is based on his life) and I thought that the minor characters were all unlikable as well. I thought the action seemed slow, and even though each episode only ran about fifteen minutes long, to me it felt longer – not always a good sign.
- But, I have not given up on this. I think maybe the show grows with each watch, and I have read that the situations do get more interesting. And I think this may be one of those shows that could be perfect as the last thing to watch before going to sleep.
Thank God for Netflix. They are single-handedly reviving the ‘chick flick’ genre. Yes, I know they tweeted that they dislike that term, but I am going to call ‘Someone Great’ exactly what it is: a chick flick. It’s also a solid romantic break up film, and at the same time a ‘now’ variation of the ‘Sex & The City’ formula. And you know what? It’s all good.
Gina Rodriguez plays q woman who is moving to San Francisco for a job, and her boyfriend breaks up with her because of that. SO she and her friends want to party one last time, and…well, you can just imagine where the film journeys on. Some sequences work, some don’t but it hardly matters as she and her friends (Brittany Snow and Dewanda Wise) give you a heady trip where they (and probably you) learn more about yourself. The movie is very current, and I wonder if the references would even work six months from now, but Jennifer Kaytin Robinson directs this in so fast a pace that everything blends well in blender speed. You will be intoxicated after.
In a course of three days, I have had at least five people recommend the new Netflix series ‘Bonding’ to me. They said it was funny, worthwhile, and above all, easy to binge. At fifteen minutes an episode, it is easy to devour. You can watch the whole first season in less time than watching a Netflix movie. That part I liked. And it is kind of funny, as the series focuses on the friendship between Pete and Tiff (Brendan Scannell and Zoe Levin) She is a dominatrix, he is a neurotic stand up comic. I kind of dislike her character (too much posing for my taste) but think Pete is adorable. Two episodes in, I feel like I have had enough, so I stopped. But I think one of these days I will go back to it.
I grew up watching the John Hughes movies of the 80s, so it is nice to see that resurgence on Netflix. Noah Centineo seems to be the Molly Ringwald of this generation, and why not? He is an appealing enough actor, and he is certainly easy on the eyes, so of course, I am so there for his new movie ‘The Perfect Date,’ and look, I am not going to pretend and say that I am expecting major literary cinema here, but for me, the film serves its purpose – it’s light, it’s funny, and Noah is certainly nice to watch. (as a small bonus, there’s even a cute gay subplot)
Centineo is so good he looks like he is doing this in his sleep. We all know from frame one where this film starts and where it will go. The surprise is if it will make us believe, and believed it every step of the way.
We have two competing documentaries on the failed Fyre Music Festival from 2017, and I have seen them both. So which one did I like better. I will give it to Hulu’s ‘Fyre Fraud’ by a small margin. It’s also a little lighter, and has a broader thing to say than Netflix’s ‘Fyre,’ which I thought was a little drier. I also saw ‘Fyre Fraud’ first and perhaos the Netflix one suffered because of that?
‘Fyre Fraud’ has an edge by having Billy McFarland interviewed – their competitors say that Hulu paid $250,000 for that, and if that’s is true, that would be disgusting. ‘Fyre,’ on the other hand has its own demons – it was produced by the media people who worked on the festival, and of course, it made the media company look good and less culapble for what happened. But for me, who cares? These rich people got scammed – boo hoo – and the social influencers got scammed boo hoo again. It’s not the end of the world for them, but how about the Bahamanian workers who shelled out money and never got repaid back. Why can’t Netflix or Hulu shell out some money for these people? In the end, I didn’t really have a lot of sympathy for some of these white entitled privileged people who got scammed.