Executive Producers: Ben Browning, Jason Cloth, Aaron L. Gilbert, Brenda Gilbert, and Andrew Pollack
April 21, 2020: Hulu Documentary: Margaret Atwood (2019)
Quote by Margaret Atwood
“Good writing takes place at intersections, at what you might call knots, at places where the society is snarled or knotted up.”
Director: Nancy Lang and Peter Raymont
Executive Producers: Steve Ord and Peter Pearson
Major Cast: Carl Atwood, Harold Atwood, Margaret Atwood, Ruth Atwood, Louise Dennys, Peter Florence, Graeme Gibson, Charles Foran, Phoebe Larmore, Susan Milmoe, and Charlie Pachter
Running Time: 1 hour and 33 minutes
MPAA Rating: NA
Watch the Trailer
This documentary is about Margaret Atwood, the Canadian writer responsible for The Handmaid’s Tale and many other stories. If there is ever a writer that stays true to her vision, it would be Margaret Atwood. From the very beginning to the present time, she never strayed far from Canada. Her inspiration and creativity run deep and found it fascinating she finds the usage of index cards to plot out your story as atrocious as I do. I’ve tried this method once and it will never work for me under any circumstance. Never wanting to be a popular writer but a good one, Atwood graduated from Harvard, married and had three children, and wrote a lot of stories and poetry. Atwood is part of writing history and the most recent projects of hers is graphic novels. It’s a progression of her life thus far from her childhood influences and friends she made along the way, at times maybe too curt, but she remains an authentic voice in modern times.
I give Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power 100%.
It gets FOUR FINGERS and ONE THUMB.
February 26, 2020: The Last Three Documentaries I Watched
I decided to do this a little differently this time around. I’m not going to list all the behind the scenes people involved and focus more on the content of each documentary and my short thoughts on each one.
Inequality for All (2013) is the first one I watched. It covers the former U.S. Labor Secretary, Robert Reich, as he makes it his life mission teaching others about the dangers of the widening economic gap in the U.S. and its consequences. He brings up valid points and stresses the positives about a capitalistic society that can work for everyone instead of the top 1% of earners. They basically take up 20% of the income and as Reich points out the richest 400 Americans own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. So long the American Dream, it doesn’t exist anymore, but hopefully change will not make things look so sour for most of us. The favorite part of it was the statistical data and graphics. My thoughts about the American economy: I hope I can retire at a decent age and where someone doesn’t have to bury me in a pauper’s grave. It is one hour and 29 minutes and watched it on Netflix.
Crime + Punishment (2018) is the second one I watched. It covers the 12 whistle blowers in the NYPD who exposed the illegal quota practices. Just because a piece of paper is passed around outlawing quota practices in 2010 doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur now. As interactions between superiors and street patrol officers are secretly filmed, retaliation for bringing this into the open manifests in obvious retaliatory ways. These quotas once used only by large police departments across the U.S. has seeped its way into smaller towns. It’s a brutal fact that New York City financial well being depends on arrests and summonses as well as other cities. My thoughts about this police policy is this: the whole criminal justice system needs to be gutted from top to bottom and for those police officers whose goal is to help people, it’s a shame they get caught in this net. It is one hour and 52 minutes and watched it on Hulu.
The House of Suh (2010) is the last one I watched. It covers the evolution or more de-evolution of a Korean family that immigrated to the United States. While it takes some time to get into the story, keep watching because it’s a fascinating story. You have old Korean cultural values intersecting with two different personalities growing up in America. One is a rebellious female teenager and the other a dutiful male that gets absorbed into the chaotic life of his sister. It this is a tragic story? Yes. Does this highlight family brokenness? Yes. Does this make for a good movie? Yes but only if Kristy Swanson can play the lead. The TV movie is called Bad to the Bone. My thoughts about this brother and sister relationship is this: the brother was blind to his sister’s intentions and because of his loyalty to her found himself in a bad situation. It is one hour and 30 minutes and watched it on Amazon prime.
November 11, 2019: Movie Recomendation: The Nightingale (2018)
Quote from Nightingale by Lieutenant Hawkins
“That’s just the way isn’t it? You don’t want trouble but sometimes trouble wants you.”
I rate Nightingale PERFECT with FOUR FINGERS AND ONE THUMB at 100%.
October 30, 2019: Documentary Recommendation: Free Solo (2018)
Quote by Alex Honnold from Free Solo
“I think it’s the best thing in life to be able to take the one thing you love the most and have it, like, work out that you can make a living that way.”
Executive Producers: Tim Pastore, Matt Renner, Carson Hood, Laurie MacDonald, Stefan Sonnenfeld, and Walter F. Parkes
Directors: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelvi
Cast: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin, Cheyne Lempe, Mikey Schaefer, Sanni McCanless, Dierde Wolownick, Peter Croft
Cast as Archive Footage: John Bachar, Derek Hersey, Sean Leary, Dan Osman, and Dean Potter
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes
This documentary is about Alex Honnold, a free solo climber, who scales rocks for a living. As one’s upbringing affects most people when they become adults, Alex is no different. His mother left an impression on him where the brightest is only the best. He was not short of intelligence as he was accepted into Berkeley for civil engineering, but university life wasn’t for him. He dropped out and lived frugally out of his van until it broke down and bought another one in 2007. This was the start of his climbing endeavors where he free soloed Yosemite’s Astroman and Rostrum that same year. In 2012, he was interviewed by 60 Minutes and set a new record for climbing a part of El Capitan. After he made the decision to free solo El Capitan in 2017, you watch how his mental ability and physical prowess support and betray him. You find out the results of his MRI and the dangers free soloing El Capitan. If he succeeds, he will be the first. If he fails, he will fall and die. While he clearly spends a lot of time at Yosemite as he’s climbed El Cap, Half Dome, and Mt. Watkins, it only takes one misstep to ruin his day. He’s an interesting athlete and his nomadic way of life suits him. It’s a mesmerizing entry into a part of Alex’s life. I learned more about rock climbing and Yosemite.
I rate Free Solo Four Fingers and One Thumb.
Near Perfect at 97%.
October 9, 2019: Documentary Recommendation: Ballet Now (2018)
October 7, 2019: Documentary Recommendation: Frank Serpico (2017)
Quote from Frank Serpico by Frank Serpico
“I said this to the Knapp Commission over 25 years ago,… We must create an atmosphere where the crooked cop fears the honest cop, and not the other way around.”
I rate Frank Serpico GREAT with Four Fingers at 90%
September 30, 2019: Documentary Recommendation: Untouchable (2019)
Quote by Harvey Weinstein
“People want to see big, escapist fare. They don’t want to be challenged to think.”
Have you ever wondered about the actual power Harvey Weinstein possessed and why the actors and actresses chosen for his movies won Oscars time and time again in the 1990s and early 2000s? It’s because he knew a great story when he saw one and had the guts to take risks. It’s because he knew how to wine and dine those associated with the Academy, which led to crucial votes for his movies. It’s because he had his hand in every inch of Hollywood. How many times have you heard of a particular movie that saved or bankrupted a studio? Not that Miramax and the Weinstein Company needed rescuing unless you’re talking about their bad year of 2017 and the really bad year of 2018 when the brothers filed for bankruptcy. To make matters worse, Harvey Weinstein was kicked out of the Academy in 2017 too. Untouchable points to the weaknesses and insecurities of Harvey Weinstein as a child and yet he grew into a man who used tactics to get what he desired and did anything to make his movies tantamount to gold. He was the “IT” man who could make things happen. He could also make things bad for you. The negative result of his fame, fortune, and status without boundaries is where the tender meat of the documentary is found. It is found in those people who challenged him after all the liquor had been drunk, the drugs had been swallowed and snorted, and the paparazzi had moved onto someone else. It is found in the women that had something to say after many years of silence. For all his generosity that appeared genuine, he wanted something in return later. As his power grew and no one bothered to intervene, his personal need to dominate others increased. As Brad Pitt recently spoke about when he confronted Harvey Weinstein for making a pass at Gwyneth Paltrow in her early days as an actress, Pitt made it to clear to him that nothing else was going to happen between them. But not every actress has a caring partner in the movie business as Gwyneth did and even if she did, Harvey Weinstein knew what it took to gain the upper hand. As he said himself at one point during his life, he was the “sheriff of this shit-ass fucking town.” I’m sure he was worth his weight in gold back then, but after his second wife divorced him in 2017, after he was arrested in 2018, and now waiting for his trial in 2020, he can’t feel too powerful anymore. He had a lasting impact on the movie industry, but whether it is viewed as more positive or negative thirty years from now remains to be determined. If this documentary highlights anything, it is the following: Hollywood cycles where nothing lasts forever, but certain memories do and it is those people they belong to that have a way of making history.
I rate Untouchable FOUR FINGERS at GREAT at 90%.
August 16, 2019: Hulu TV Review: The Handmaid’s Tale Season 3 (2019)
Do not read if you haven’t seen all seasons from The Handmaid’s Tale!!!
Quote from The Handmaid’s Tale by Moira
“Everybody’s talking about happily ever after, but there’s just after.”
Creator: Bruce Miller
Directors: Mike Barker, Kari Skogland, Daina Reid, Reed Morano, Kate Dennis, Floria Sigismondi, Jeremy Podeswa, Amma Asante, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Dearbhla Walsh, and Colin Watkinson
Writers: Bruce Miller, Lynn Renee Maxcy, Margaret Atwood, Nina Fiore, John Herrera, Kira Snyder, Eric Tuchman, Dorothy Fortenberry, Yahlin Chang, Leila Gerstein, Wendy Straker Hauser, Marissa Jo Cerar, and Jacey Heldrich
Major Cast: Elisabeth Moss as June Osborne, O-T Fagbenle as Luke Bankole, Jordana Blake as Hannah Bankole, Samira Wiley as Moira Strand, Clea DuVall as Sylvia, Alexis Bledel as Emily Malek, Amanda Brugel as Rita, Madeline Brewer as Janine Lindo, Nini Kiri as Alma, Bahia Watson as Brianna, Kristen Gutoskie as Beth, Ashleigh LaThrop as Natalie, Sugenja Sri as Sienna, Ann Dowd as Aunt Lydia Clements, Edie Inksetter as Aunt Elizabeth, Sam Jaeger as Mark Tuello, Bradley Whitford as Joseph Lawrence, Julie Dretzin as Eleanor Lawrence, Stephen Kunken as Warren Putnam, Ever Carradine as Naomi Putnam, Christopher Meloni as George Winslow, Elizabeth Reaser as Olivia Winslow, Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford, Joseph Fiennes as Fred Waterford, and Max Minghella as Nick Blaine
TV Rating: TV-MA for sex/nudity, violence/gore, profanity/alcohol/drugs/smoking, and frightening/intense scenes
Episode Running Time: 60 minutes although season finales run longer
Not everyone enjoyed the third season and recognized some noticeable flaws. I choose to overlook them and the feasibility of certain scenes. The Handmaid’s Tale is still a TV show I’ll watch and will continue to watch until it ends. Most of us know it’s an adaptation from Margaret’s Atwood’s book with the same title and about living in an autocracy with limited freedoms and bathed in religious doctrine. We were still learning about Gilead in the first season and the second season continued to explore the reality of the situation presented to those enslaved and those who escaped. We learned what happens to undesirables and the forced participation of violence by the handmaids. The season finale of season two left you cheering and screaming at the same time. It doesn’t take long to realize why June’s decision was made.
The first episode of season three begins after June made the decision to stay in Gilead instead of leaving it. We see the unusual relationship between Commander Lawrence and his wife in their home. We get a good picture of how horrifying it really can be for the handmaids in the Capitol. Christopher Meloni is great in his role as Commander Winslow as he is proud of his dutiful wife and army of children. The relationship between Mrs. Waterford and June/Offred gets interesting as each other question the other’s intentions, sacrifices, and bravery or lack of. I find the character of Serena Joy Waterford defeated and lost as she battles within herself what she has done. You can see it on her face, but in the season finale, she had what was coming to her. There’s a definite shift of power happening between those in leading and those following in Gilead. The fourth season will more than likely focus on Gilead commanders trying to defend their practices and beliefs to the United States and Canada on a larger scale and smaller scale the consequences of what the handmaids and marthas did to hurt Gilead’s stability.
There’s some heartbreaking moments in this season for June, Luke, Emily, and Sylvia. We learn more about Aunt Lydia before Gilead and how much it has affected her negatively. Her apple didn’t fall far from the tree before Gilead. There will be more opportunities for June to show her heroics, but it’s come at another cost. This is clear as she’s letting nothing stop her agenda as she’s willing to kill in the name of justice. I enjoyed this season because June has grown as a character, gotten stronger in some respects and weaker in others. The effects of Gilead is more pronounced, but she still is a fighting force. By her not being on the wall means she’s a valuable member and I’m looking forward to seeing how the show angles this because her recent action alone would lead to a painful, slow death. Being she is the driving force behind the resistance and basically central character of the show, June will not be killed but those angry with what she has done will make question her sanity. The fourth season will be released sometime in 2020.
Pisaries Creator rates The Handmaid’s Tale Season Three
Four Fingers and One Thumb at 100%
March 19, 2019: Hulu and Netflix Recommendation: Fyre Fraud (2019) and Fyre (2019)