Archive for the ‘Movies & TV’ Category
Full disclosure: I haven’t seen any episodes of Big Little Lies, even though it is set here in Monterey. Still, I found Francine Prose’s comments in the NY Review of Books fascinating:
On the surface, the popular HBO miniseries Big Little Lies would appear to be nothing but surface: scenic shots of picturesque Monterey, California; multi-million-dollar mansions with panoramic ocean views; stylishly dressed families eating breakfast at kitchen islands the size of many Manhattan kitchens; the melodrama of soap opera ratcheted up by the same narrative hook—a murder has been committed, but a chorus of peripheral characters debate who the killer might have been, and coyly refuse to tell us who was killed—used by several other premium-channel series (The Affair, True Detective) to inspire viewers to keep choosing their shows over the other available Sunday-night distractions.
Watching Big Little Lies at first feels like eating a pint of ice cream in one sitting, alone. It’s highly enjoyable, as long as one doesn’t think too hard or deeply about what the series is telling us. Not only does it address our aspirational real-estate fantasies and notions of sustaining female friendship; it also considers the misguided ways in which we raise (and smother) our children, the more distasteful realities of marriage, the perpetual, damaging, and frequently violent war between men and women, and the ubiquity of bullying—not only among schoolchildren but also among the adults who presumably know better.
Based on the novel by Australian writer Liane Moriarty and adapted by David E. Kelley and Jean-Marc Vallée, Big Little Lies portrays a group of women whose privileged lives are, predictably, neither as easy nor as enviable as they might appear. As Madeline, Reese Witherspoon—projecting herself into the world like something shot from a cannon—faces a host of first-world problems: her tense relationship with her ex-husband and his sexy young yoga-instructor wife; her resentful teenage daughter; her sweet but boring second husband; and the resultant frustrations that she passionately channels into a community-theater production of the musical Avenue Q. Her friend Celeste (Nicole Kidman) has given up a law career to raise twin sons and placate her husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgård), a man whose attractiveness and charm conceals the soul of an abusive, controlling psycho.
In the first episode, Madeline meets a young woman named Jane (Shailene Woodley) who lives in a modest bungalow that—lacking a terrace on which to sip cocktails as the sun sets over the Pacific—is, by local standards, a Dickensian hovel. A single mom, Jane has moved to Monterey to start a new life with her son Ziggy, the product of a brutal date rape. Madeline, who loves causes, takes on Jane as her pet project, especially after Jane runs afoul of the ferocious Renata (Laura Dern). A powerful Silicon Valley CEO, Renata feels despised and persecuted because she is the only one of the women who works full-time, and her free-floating, manic rage soon finds its inappropriate targets in Jane, the vulnerable newcomer, and the unfortunate Ziggy, who is accused of bullying Renata’s daughter.
These charges, and the children’s unwillingness to refute them, make Jane wonder: Is Ziggy a sadist like his father—or a victim like his mother? Tormented by two equally dire possibilities, Jane recalls . . .
The conclusion is particularly striking.
And it really is extremely good in plot, characters, fights, effects. The sets are so elaborate they must be CGI, but they certainly look real to me. Worth watching, IMO: Rise of the Legend. There’s a fair amount of flashback, but it’s pretty easy to follow.
And he has more on YouTube.
FilmStruck is available online, on mobile devices, and select TV platforms including the following, with additional platforms and devices coming in the future.
• Android Handsets and Tablets (OS versions 4.4 and higher)
• iPhones and iPad (OS versions 9.0 and higher)
• Amazon Fire TV (OS versions 5.0 and higher)
• Apple TV 4th Generation
• Chromecast (Generation 2 and Ultra)
• Spring 2017: Roku
• Mid 2017: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
So far so good.
From the NY Times article:
I have lately been spending less time on Netflix, and more time on a new streaming service, FilmStruck, which includes the holdings of TCM and the Criterion Collection. On the site, there are neither stars nor thumbs, as if to say: While you may or may not “like” every film here, we think they are all worth your time. This I like.
UPDATE: I sent this message to support:
With Netflix, my wife and I share a plan, and we each have our own queue. Does Filmstruck have this sort of thing?
Message went out at 11:41; at 12:38 I got this reply:
For the moment we do not have a sub account system up and running yet but it is being developed and there is no time frame for release as of today. Your wife and yourself can still share an account as it can be streamed in up to 3 different devices at the same time.
Good answer, and quickly delivered. So far, so good.
Here it is, and it has quite a cast for the voices: Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, Jim Belushi, Patrick Warburton, Chazz Palminteri, and others.