Hello, friends. Happy Friday! It really feels like summer here in New England. I'm spending the weekend at the beach with my cousins.
If you're staying inside to keep cool, there's lot to stream and plenty coming up. I'm currently counting down to:
- Today - Neil Patrick Harris returns to the screen in a new Netflix series called Uncoupled. When his boyfriend breaks up with him, he finds himself single again in his 40s.
- Thursday, August 4 - A new rom-com, Wedding Season lands on Netflix. Asha and Ravi are under pressure from their parents to get married, so they pretend to be together. As predicted, those feelings turn real.
- Wednesday, August 10 - After an insanely long wait, season two of Indian Matchmaking is coming! I was addicted to this Netflix show and I'm elated it's returning.
- Friday, August 12 - Season three of Mindy Kaling's Never Have I Ever drops on Netflix. The teaser trailer was just released this week and it looks so good. I can't wait.
- Wednesday, August 24 - If you love Selling Sunset on Netflix, the Oppenheim brothers are back with a new spinoff, Selling the OC.
Let's get into this week's top picks.
1. Virgin River (Netflix) - Of all of the original Netflix TV shows, this one may be my favorite. The Pacific Northwest setting is so tranquil, and serves as the perfect juxtaposition to the constant drama.
This new batch of episodes is season four. When we rejoin our friends in Virgin River, Mel is concealing her pregnancy, Jack is struggling to keep his drinking in check, Hope is recovering from her car accident, and Preacher is still searching for Christopher.
I don't want to give too much away because the fun of watching this show is how they end every single episode on a cliffhanger. I will say, there's a pretty big storyline for Brie (Jack's sister) and Brady, and I found that to be the best part of this new season.
There are 12 episodes, each about 45 minutes. The ending of the final episode feels very abrupt. So much so that I thought my Netflix had unexpectedly quit the episode. Thankfully, season five has already started shooting!
2. Persuasion (Netflix) - Since watching Pride & Prejudice a few weeks ago, I seem to be on a British period film kick. This new movie is based on the Jane Austen novel of the same title and stars Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot.
The casting is excellent. Yolanda Kettle and Mia McKenna-Bruce play Anne's insufferable sisters, Elizabeth and Mary. They are both super brats, which makes for some hilarious sibling exchanges.
The always charming Henry Golding plays one of Anne's love interests. A wealthy man who is set to become the heir to her father's estate. But her true love is Captain Frederick Wentworth, played by the incredibly handsome Cosmo Jarvis. I must say, Captain Wentworth is ten times better looking than Mr. Darcy and writes epic, poetic, love letters. His final letter to Anne nearly brought me to tears.
I loved the relationship between Anne and Lady Russell, her late mother's best friend. Lady Russell is played by Nikki Amuka-Bird. She shows Anne that their can be a path to adulthood as a single woman that is wonderfully fulfilling.
The music choices in this movie are brilliant. There was one particular song that was truly moving and I looked it up right away. It's called "Quietly Yours" by Birdy.
My one complaint is that they break the fourth wall. I think that technique is very hard to pull off. Several times throughout the film Anne looks directly into the camera and addresses the audience. It felt annoying and unnecessary.
The movie clocks in at one hour and 49 minutes. A bit long, but worth it to reach the satisfying ending!
3. Cha Cha Real Smooth (Apple TV+) - By total coincidence, I watched a second movie starring Dakota Johnson this week. Several of my coworkers recommended this.
The movie stars Cooper Raiff as Andrew, a young man who moves back in with his parents after college. Completely lost, he decides to make money as a bar mitzvah hype dancer (hence the movie's title).
At all these local parties, he meets Domino, played by Johnson. Her daughter, Lola, is autistic and struggles to fit in at these big, social events. Andrew is great with Lola and winds up agreeing to hang out with her after school and at night when Domino needs a sitter.
Johnson's character in this movie reminded me so much of her role in The Lost Daughter. In both stories she plays a young mother responsible for 90% of the care of her daughter, and she copes with the stress by flirting.
Leslie Mann has a supporting role here as Andrew's mother. I thought the best relationship in the film was actually between Andrew and his much younger brother, David. All my favorite scenes were the two of them riding around in the car together.
This movie is one hour and 48 minutes long and it felt slow to me. I also kept waiting for the title to have a deeper meaning, but it never did. It feels to me like this was the original name of the script and that the draft likely morphed and changed several times before being produced, but they kept the name.
4. Don't Let Me Go (Amazon) - I was mindlessly scrolling through Amazon when I came across this new movie starring John Cho. I have been a fan of his ever since Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, so I decided to watch it.
In this movie, Cho plays Max, a single father to a teenage daughter name Wally (short for Wallis). It's the summer before her junior year of high school and Max finds out he has a brain tumor. Unsure of how long he'll have, he decides to take Wally on a road trip. The catch? He doesn't plan to tell her about his diagnosis.
Wally is played by Mia Isaac. She captures this stage of teenage life so perfectly. She both wants total independence, and seeks comfort from her dad anytime she feels scared of overwhelmed.
I must admit that it felt weird to see John Cho play a dad to a 15 year old. I think of him as being perpetually in his twenties.
The movie was cute, but not memorable. One warning: the opening scene takes place on a nude beach. I was not prepared for full frontal within seconds of pressing "play."
There you have it! This week's streaming suggestions.
I'm also watching season two of Only Murders in the Building on Hulu. I'll share my thoughts once all the episodes have been released.