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New Views and Three Gems from TIFF

  New Views and Three Gems from TIFF 28 October 2021 I am woefully behind in posting reviews so will do a roundup in brief before noting several fine selections from September’s Toronto film festival. Starting with streaming platforms, Netflix keeps adding enormous amounts of content.    That includes new seasons of “Sex Education” (B+, third season, 8 episodes) and the terrific Spanish-language thriller “Money Heist “ (A, fifth season, five of 10 episodes so far).   In the case of the former the randy high-schoolers are played by actors in their 20s.   (Lead character “Otis”, son of a sex therapist, is played by Asa Butterfield who is 24.)   An excellent new drama series is Maid (A, 10 episodes) starring Margaret Qualley as the single mom of a three-year old daughter Maddy who ekes out a precarious living cleaning houses.   It’s based on a real-life memoir.   In terms of lethal action, the hit new series is the Korean Squid Game (B+, nine episodes) in which the financially dis

Late August Views and Reviews

  I’m headed west tomorrow (Saskatoon and Calgary) until mid-September so am sending this now.   On TV, recently the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel showed some classic films by the Japanese master Yasujirô Ozu including Tokyo Twilight (1957) and the greatest Tokyo Story (1953).    TCM is a great channel to have for catching up on older movies. To add to the growing list of documentaries examining the Covid-19 pandemic, HBO has aired In the Same Breath (A) by director Nanfu Wang (One Child Nation) , a Sundance premiere that went on to win an audience award at the South By Southwest Festival.     This is an incisive look at how Chinese authorities dealt with the Wuhan outbreak, the propaganda effort of the Chinese Communist party and also American government failures. [For more comment see: https://www.indiewire.com/2021/01/in-the-same-breath-review-nanfu-wang-sundance-1234612411/ .]             The “Crave” TV channel has presented the haunting historical drama The World To Com

Ides of August View and Reviews

  The streaming cornucopia continues, spurred by pandemic restrictions keeping many at home.   Netflix alone spends a staggering US$17 billion annually on content, and according to a report in The Economist now earns more than half its revenues outside North America. Amazon, Apple, and Disney have also gone global with rival services.   Almost every day Netflix keeps adding numerous docuseries worth checking out.   There’s even one on World War II events in colour. Over on Apple TV+ there’s a second season of the delightful comedy series Ted Lasso (A) as well as a new series Mr. Corman (B+) created and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a grade-school teacher looking for connection. On Amazon Prime Video is The Pursuit of Love (A) set in Britain between the world wars, a three-episode adaptation of the eponymous 1945 novel by Nancy Mitford.   Also on Amazon is an excellent documentary Val (A), directed by Ting Poo and Leo Scott.   It’s a fascinating profile of the sometimes troubled
  Mid-Summer Viewing Post Although the global theatrical box office fell by 80% in 2020 due to Covid there’s still plenty of screening content being created.   Of course the thing about streaming is that you do have to turn on an electronic device to select from the tens of thousands of hours available on various platforms.   (On the streaming wars see: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/05/streaming-services-compared-revenue-arpu-for-netflix-disney-more.html .)   Netflix alone seems to add a new series almost every day.   There’s now a bunch on medical themes; also one for dog lovers and one for cat lovers; two seasons of one on human babies.   There’s even a new 6-episode series How to Become a Tyrant. [*On the Kanopy platform (free linked to a public library card) one can find the 2018 documentary Active Measures which covers the deep ties between Putin’s corrupt regime as Russian overlord and the deeply corrupt Trump empire and campaign.   Fortunately Trump’s strongman ambitions were