Love & anarchy
This Swedish drama in the publishing world is less Scandi Noir than Scandi Phowar. As a married mother of two children, Sofie (Ida Engvoll) starts a playful, daring flirtation with a young IT expert Max (newcomer Björn Mosten). As the two become involved in a series of sometimes sexual games and challenges that test societal norms, they grow closer and closer and the consequences for their actions more drastic. The separation between her conventional life and this new liberating world deepens as Sofie ponders the complexities of the behavior she indulges in.
Acclaimed Swedish indie director Lisa Langseth (Pure) co-stars with Alex Haridi (Quicksand) as showrunner and director of the series, giving the series a fresh, youthful feel that mimics the aesthetics of the criminally underrated Norwegian drama Young and Promising.
Carmel: Who Killed Maria Marta?
This four-part documentary series about true crime tells the story of the gruesome murder of Argentine celebrity María Marta García Belsunce in 2002. The crime was originally considered a domestic accident as Belsunce was found dead in her bathtub, but an autopsy revealed it did indeed shot, which led to the fact that the case in Argentina became a media sensation. The documentary attempts to separate the dry gossip from the facts and uncover the intricate details of the crime through interviews with friends, family members, journalists, and investigators involved in the case.
Dash and Lily
After the success of The Kissing Booth and To All the Boys, which I loved before, comes Dash and Lily, a festive teen romance based on the popular YA novels by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. In a perfect snowglobe version of New York, cute, cheerful Lily (Midori Francis) and cynical Dash (Austin Abrams) begin a correspondence over a shared diary hidden in the famous Strand bookstore. These private notes take them around town, from the lights of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree to the magic of 34th Street, as they open up and push each other out of their comfort zones without ever meeting.
One kind of You’ve Got Mail for young millennials, Dash and Lily’s beautifully filtered, epistolic romance is the kind of comfort escapism that Netflix does so well, and that audiences drink like expensive hot chocolate. Produced by Stranger Things Shawn Levy and teen idol Nick Jonas, these two have an innate understanding of their target market, which certainly means this won’t be Dash and Lily’s only outing.
The life before us
In The Life Ahead, film legend Sophia Loren returns in her first role in almost a decade. Directed by her son Edoardo Ponti, she tells the story of Ms. Rosa (Loren), a tough, unfathomable Holocaust survivor and former sex worker, who makes it her business to look out for the children of working girls in the small Italian coastal town . When her doctor asks her to watch over a 12-year-old Sudanese orphan, Momo (Ibrahima Gueye), she faces the dilemma that she may not be able to cope with the truculent, troubled boy who is her previously raided and determined to join the city’s drug trafficking network.
Based on Romain Gary’s bestseller The Life Before Us, it’s a bittersweet, emotional story about those made invisible by society. It’s a story of immigration, a story about the passage of time, the importance of history and the willingness to survive.
The Crown – Season 4
Season three of The Crown felt a bit like a lavish expanded trailer for the highly anticipated fourth series. It was a smooth introduction to Olivia Colman’s version of Queen Elizabeth, a chance for Helena Bonham Carter to expand her repertoire of ruinous party girls and put the brilliant Josh O’Connor in the spotlight as young Prince Charles – but it was just a placeholder for the double blow of the drama, the arrival of Diana and Margaret Thatcher to the trial.
The crown found its Diana in the form of the relatively unknown actress Emma Corrin, who looks through her lashes in the familiar shy giraffe manner of the deceased princess. Her and Charles’ strange mating ritual and their eventual wedding play a big role in the series, as does the ghost of Mrs. Thatcher with Gillian Anderson in a hair-sprayed helmet, which is sure to make many viewers develop strange new feelings for the Iron Lady .
The years 1979-1990 attempt to sum up everything from the 1981 hunger strikes, the Falklands War, Britain’s relations with South Africa, and the end of apartheid and Thatcher’s eventual overthrow from Downing Street in 1990. It remains to be seen how fully the seismic historical events surrounding the drama of the inner palace of Charles and Diana’s somber doomed marriage are detailed. Hopefully there will be less exciting exposures and more thorough explorations this important season.
We are the winners
Produced and narrated by actor Rainn Wilson (The US Office), this documentary series takes a look at various niche competitions from around the world such as chili eating, yo-yo, dancing dogs and cheese rolls. We Are the Champions finds the fun in the unconventional and celebrates the small town heroes and communities who dedicate themselves to these fringe events. The show is a mix of Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, Record Breakers and the more idiosyncratic moments of Britain’s Got Talent. It shows surprisingly moving and uplifting and shows the passion and commitment of the participants, who all strive to be the best in their particular field.
Voices of the fire
The musical polymath and super producer Pharrell Williams goes back to his roots for this documentary series. Voices of Fire sees Williams team up with his uncle, Bishop Ezekiel Williams, to investigate what makes a truly great gospel choir. With the help of various community leaders, they embark on a journey down the Hamptons Road in Virginia to find undiscovered talent and form an impressive gospel choir composed of people of all ages, races, and backgrounds.
Dolly Partons Christmas in the square
Christmas isn’t canceled not when Dolly has something to do with it. She is here to single-handedly spread the joy of this sad, strange Christmas season, with her crazy Scrooge story with Christine Baranski from Mama Mia.Baranski plays the mercenary Regina, who plans to take all (even a basket with her after her father’s death) Puppies!) From the small town where she grew up and sell the land to a developer who wants to build a megamall. Fortunately, an angel appears in the form of Dolly with her huge hair shine, convincing Regina that people might be a better investment than cash.
This dolly holiday treat is a singing, dancing, glittering cavalry of the camp. With the singing talents of Broadway icon Jennifer Lewis and a few new songs from Parton, Christmas on the Square is a much-needed, unified piece of cheer that will be needed as we race towards the end of 2020.
If there’s anything that takes 2020 it’s the sight of Glenn Close in Deirdre Barlow glasses making finger guns while ranting about the Terminator. Thankfully, director Ron Howard gave us this indelible image and more in an award-winning drama based on JD Vance’s best-selling memoir about his hard work in the Appalachians.
Gabriel Basso (The Kings of Summer) plays JD, a Yale student who has to return to his family after a crisis and is transported back to the traumas of the past and his broken relationship with his troubled relatives. Glenn Close plays his beloved grandmother “MawMaw” who took care of him when his drug addict mother Beth (Amy Adams) disappeared from his life. With expanded scenes in which both actors freely put on makeup, wearing an assortment of flattering wigs, and novel t-shirts that cry while yelling at each other, at least one of them becomes an Oscar winner for the first time.
Dance dreams: hot chocolate nutcracker
The first Shonda Rhimes production for Netflix is this documentary that follows legendary actress and choreographer Debbie Allen (Fame) who constructs her famous annual musical theater extravaganza, The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker. Allen has been producing this show for over a decade, and their nonprofit brings the world of dance and theater to a wide variety of talented youngsters who may not have had the opportunity to experience it before.
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