Hello, friends. It's week nine of quarantine. How is everyone holding up? Are you starting to find a new normal? The weather is finally beginning to feel like spring here in Boston and I'm relishing it.
Each Friday I have been sharing recommendations of what to watch over the weekend. In case you missed any of the previous lists, you can check them out here:
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 1)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 2)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 3)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 4)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 5)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 6)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 7)
- 6 Shows to Watch this Weekend (Volume 8)
Before I dive into this week's picks, Dead to Me (season 2) is now live on Netflix! Here's my review of season 1 if you're deciding whether or not to watch.
Mark your calendar for Friday, May 15, when Hulu releases The Great, starring Elle Fanning, about the rise of Catherine the Great. And speaking of Hulu, this weekend I plan to watch Normal People, based on the book by Sally Rooney.
Ok, now onto this week's list!
1. The Last Dance (ESPN) - The best thing I watched this past week was The Last Dance. ESPN and Netflix have teamed up to make a documentary about the 1997-1998 season for the Chicago Bulls basketball team. People are calling this "The Michael Jordan documentary," but it is so much more.
The first episode is indeed about Michael Jordan - where he grew up, how he started playing basketball, his decision to play college ball at UNC Chapel Hill, the moment he decided to go into the NBA and how he rose to super stardom. I didn't realize he was drafted in 1984, the year I was born!
The second episode is all about Scottie Pippen, the third is about Dennis Rodman and the fourth is about their coach, Phil Jackson. I found every single episode fascinating and I am not a sports person. I do not have an athletic bone in my body. In fact, as a kid, I played soccer, basketball and softball from kindergarten through the 8th grade and each season, at the team celebration dinner, I would get the award for "Most Improved." Anyway, I digress.
There have been six episodes so far, each is one hour long. Episodes seven and eight premiere this Sunday evening. There will be 10 total. If you have cable, you can watch the episodes for free on demand (which is what I did).
2. Hollywood (Netflix) - Ryan Murphy is the mastermind behind Hollywood, a seven-part mini series about Ace Studios and the first film they ever made written by a black screenwriter and starring a black actress.
Darren Criss plays the film's director, Raymond. I loved him so much on Glee (his cover of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" is still on constant rotation on my playlists) and was thrilled to see him on screen again.
Jeremy Pope plays first-time screenwriter Archie, and Laura Harrier (who got her start on the soap One Life to Live) plays the film's star, Camille Washington.
The supporting cast includes Patti LuPone, Dylan McDermott, Jim Parsons, Holland Taylor, Mira Sorvino, Rob Reiner and Queen Latifah. Hollywood indeed!
My overall summary is that the show feels like a Broadway musical, without any songs. The sets, the costumes, the pace - all feel like a stage show. You keep waiting for them to burst into song, but they never do.
A warning: if you were planning to watch this with kids (or even have the kids in the same room) there is a ton of nudity and sex scenes, especially in the first three episodes.
3. Just Mercy (Amazon) - I had wanted to see Just Mercy in the movie theater, but never made it. It is based on Bryan Stevenson's memoir of the same title. Michael B. Jordan plays Stevenson as a young man, fresh of out of Harvard Law School. He moves to Alabama to help men serving time on death row, who were likely not given fair trials.
Stevenson moved to Alabama during a time when racism was still super prevalent and accepted. In fact, on his very first day attempting to meeting clients at a local prison, the guard forced him to do a strip search before letting him in.
Jamie Foxx plays, Walter McMillian, one of Stevenson's first clients. He is amazing in the role.
This movie is very intense. There's a scene where Stevenson is meeting with one of his clients moments before his execution and I felt physically sick. The anxiety, anger and sadness made me nauseous.
While this isn't a feel good movie, it is very powerful. If you want to learn more about Bryan Stevenson and his work, visit the Equal Justice Initiative's website.
4. Knives Out (Amazon) - This is another movie I meant to see in the theater! I heard such good things about Knives Out, from friends and family of all ages and tastes. The film stars Daniel Craig as an investigator looking into the murder of famous author Harlan Thrombey (played by Michael Plummer).
Thrombey lives in a stunning estate. He has three children, who are all after his fortune. This is a seriously A-list cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Colette, Chris Evans and Don Johnson.
Weirdly, the movie gives the most screen time to actress Ana de Armas (Ben Affleck's current girlfriend), who plays Marta, Thrombey's nurse. I could not understand why with such an incredible cast they spent the bulk of the time focused on a relatively unknown actor.
For me, the highlight of the movie was the set. Thrombey's mansion is incredible. In real life, that building is the Ames Mansion in Easton, MA. Inside the house was a huge sculpture made from knives (see above). They are positioned in circles that make them look like a giant metallic sun. I was thinking I should put that sculpture as my Zoom background . . .
5. Becoming (Netflix) - On May 6, Netflix released Becoming, a documentary about Michelle Obama and her book tour for her memoir of the same name. I read Becoming in November 2018 and I was deeply moved. I finished it while on a plane and started ugly crying. In public. Here is my original book review.
If you haven't read the book, I think you will watch this documentary and laugh, cheer and be inspired.
If you have read the book, the film falls flat. Every story she tells on stage during the tour is one that was already shared in the book. Though now you get to see all the fierce outfits (and footwear!) she wore on the road.
The film is 90 minutes and if nothing else, seeing Michelle Obama again will make you smile.
6. The Half of It (Netflix) - I watched the movie The Half of It on the recommendation of one of my best friends. I tend to love everything she suggests, so earlier this week I snuggled into my favorite corner of the couch and pressed "play."
The movie stars actress Leah Lewis (from Nancy Drew) as Ellie Chu, a nerdy high school student known for writing other people's papers for money. Her classmate, Paul (played by Daniel Diemer), approaches her about ghost writing love letters for his crush, Aster (played by Alexxis Lemire). Lemire reminded me of a young Linda Cardellini.
I wanted to like this movie, but I just couldn't connect with any of the main characters. In addition, a lot of the plot revolves around text messages exchanged, which appear as lines of copy on the screen. I'm not a fan of having to read text conversations while watching a show or movie. It used to drive me nuts on Pretty Little Liars!
If you watched this movie, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
And there you have it! This week's streaming list. I'll be back next Friday with another round.