Watch Now – On the Rocks

In what becomes a journey led by circumstance, Laura (Rashida Jones) re-kindles her relationship with her art dealer father, Felix (Bill Murray) after she finds her marriage potentially on the rocks because she suspects her workaholic husband, Dean (Marlon Wayans) of cheating. Felix accompanies Laura through New York City – and beyond – in an attempt to catch Dean in the act; In a way that only a playboy, such as Felix, would know how to do.

Photo: IMDB.com

There is more than meets the eye here. Written and directed by Sofia Coppola, “On the Rocks” is layered. Beyond Felix’s eccentricities, smart dressing, and dry humor and beyond Laura’s mundane life is a window into New York City as New Yorkers experience it. Coppola sharply casts the city as its own character, equally as important as the role of C.C. Baxter’s apartment in Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment”.

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones are charming, and we enjoyed Coppola’s sharp writing and directing. Available on Apple TV+. 4/5 stars.

Awards Buzz – The Trial of the Chicago 7

The timing of the release of “The Trial of the Chicago 7” is no coincidence given our current social and political landscape.

At the height of the antiwar and civil rights movements, 7 social activists from varying leftist groups and 1 member of the Black Panthers organized protests and marches directly across from the 1968 Democratic National Convention. what follows is a small fraction of the unimaginable events that transpired inside the courtroom trial of Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), John Froines (Danny Flaherty), Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins) and finally, the Black Panther, Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) whom the extremely bigoted judge on the case, Julias Hoffman (Frank Langella), showed extreme discrimination towards despite his lack of representation for the duration of the nearly 5 month trial.

“This is a movie we will be expecting to hear a lot about through this strange upcoming awards season”

The prosecution, led by the deeply corrupt Nixon administration and his Attorney General, John Mitchell (John Doman), sought indictments for the Chicago 7 for violating the Rap Brown law which was added to the Civil Rights Bill by conservatives even though president Johnson’s administration previously refused to prosecute.

Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, this ensemble piece is not only important, but packed with drama. It is confirmed that the cast of “The Trial of the Chicago 7” will all be up for awards in the supporting actor category – so this is a movie we will be expecting to hear a lot about through this strange upcoming awards season. Available on Netflix. 4.2/5 stars.

Weekend Watches: Kajillionaire

The thought of being a Kajillionaire is captivating to most. Not for a family of three eccentric con artists who rely solely on poor half-baked attempts to scam their way through life. The parents, Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger) leverage their daughter, Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) to commit a variety of low-level scams in an effort to simply pay their rent in a run down office space in the back of a Los Angeles bubble factory.

Photo: IMDB.com

Through an airline luggage scam thought up by Old Dolio, Robert becomes enamored by Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) on their flight from NYC to LA. When Robert discloses the details of their scam to Melanie, the family gladly brings her on as a fourth accomplice. While Melanie is facing her own unique struggles in life, she seems to live in the same world we all do. Melanie serves as a bellwether in many ways to Old Dolio as an example of what a normal life could be. Something Old Dolio has secretly longed for her entire life.

The magic in Miranda July’s writing and directing is the way in which she so astutely represents feelings of resentment, jealousy, and self discovery through a comedic and dramatic lens at the same time. Evan Rachel Wood brings a powerful performance to her role as Old Dolio and this film is a must see. Available to rent on Apple or Amazon Prime. 3.5/5 stars.

Weekend Watches: Banana split

When the classic love triangle trope is re-defined, you get “Banana Split”. Centered around a burgeoning friendship between April (Hannah Marks) and Clara (Liana Liberato) the summer before college. Even though this may be the most prolific friendship either have ever encountered; it is not without complications after April discovers Clara is now dating her ex-boyfriend, Nick (Dylan Sprouse).

“Banana Split” is heartfelt, funny, raw, and brilliant.

This genre is hard to breathe new life into and it certainly doesn’t escape all of the tropes of a romantic comedy but, it is refreshing in that it is not written from the male gaze. Packed with genuine moments of realizations that they have more in common with each other than either of them ever did with Nick, the chemistry on screen between Hannah Marks and Liana Liberato is sincere. “Banana Split” is heartfelt, funny, raw, and brilliant. This movie exceeded all expectations. Available on Netflix. 3.9/5 stars.

Weekend Watches

From the first scene in the modern-day Pacific Northwest where two skeletons are unearthed huddled together, the theme of friendship is established. “First Cow” examines the relationship between Cookie (John Magaro) and King-Lu (Orion Lee) on the American frontier of the 1800’s as they pursue individual success by secretly stealing milk from the only cow in town to cook delightfully salable biscuits for the people in their settlement.

“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship”

-William Blake

Confronted with characters as unforgiving and rugged as the Oregon Territory of the 1800’s, Cookie and King-Lu develop strong bonds in their pursuit.  While there certainly are layers to “First Cow”, deliberately exploring the obstacles of capitalism, the power of friendship cannot be ignored.

On the surface, “First Cow” seems a bit slow, but it is this pacing that delicately allows the characters and their friendship to develop into something profound. Director Kelly Reichardt is sincere in her filmmaking and it shows in “First Cow”. Available on iTunes. 4.2/5 stars.

Stream This

When it comes to summer movies, there are worse things to stream.

This is not an unfamiliar Judd Apatow film in that the protagonist is a stoner man-child who has seemingly plateaued. However, what makes “The King of Staten Island” unique is that it is a semi-autobiographical film about Pete Davidson’s (SNL) life.

The most sober of Apatow’s films; “The King of Staten Island” revolves around Scott’s life (Pete Davidson) and the way in which it has taken shape after the loss of his father, an FDNY firefighter, on 9/11. Scott lives on Staten Island with his mom, Margie (Marisa Tomei) and sister, Claire (Maude Apatow). While Margie and Scott’s entire lives have been stunted by the passing of Scott’s father, Claire has coped and is now confidently on a path off of Staten Island.

After Scott – who’s only aspiration in life is to own a restaurant/tattoo shop named Ruby Tattoosdays – tattoos a 9-year-old boy on the beach, he and his mother are confronted by the boy’s father, Ray (Bill Burr). Ray, ironically, is also an FDNY firefighter. While Margie falls for Ray, Scott finds himself in a precarious place as his mother moves on and he is left with his stifling childhood stoner friends and his longtime secret friend with benefits, Kelsey (Bel Powley).

Photo: IMDB.com

Apatow’s latest is not as on the nose comedically as others and the power in Davidson’s comedic presence here is that he allows us to nonchalantly laugh alongside him as he grapples with his new reality and is involuntarily forced to grow up.

Co-written by Davidson, “The King of Staten Island” is a bit long for this genre, but never dull. Available on Amazon Prime Video. 3.8/5 stars.

Watch now: Lenox Hill

This is not Reality TV. This is an unembellished docuseries that follows Dr. David Langer (Chair, Neurosurgery), Dr. John Boockvar (Vice Chair, Neurosurgery), Amanda Little-Richardson (Chief Resident, OBGYN), and Mirtha Macri (Emergency Medicine) at the Upper East Side Manhattan hospital, Lenox Hill.

Directed by by Adi Barash and Ruthie Shatz – we are reminded that these are not scripted characters; they are human, and this is an intimate look into their daily lives. The ethos at Lenox Hill is empathy and humanity and each patient’s story is interwoven throughout the 9-episode series. Throughout, we watch as this compassion drives every decision made inside Lenox Hill and we are deeply moved by the humility of these doctors and the way in which they so delicately work with their patients.

we are reminded that every individual in this world is living a complex and unique life despite our complete lack of awareness of it

As Dr. Langer steps into the bustling streets of NYC and sits on the subway on the way home after a grueling brain surgery, we are reminded that every individual in this world is living a complex and unique life despite our complete lack of awareness of it. Thank you to Adi Barash and Ruthie Shatz for bringing awareness to the critically important care that these doctors provide. Available on Netflix. 5/5 stars.

Weekend Watches

One of the best movies of the summer was just released on Hulu – “Palm Springs” featuring Andy Samberg (Nyles) and Cristin Milioti (Sarah). Nyles is stuck in an infinite time loop at a wedding in Palm Springs surrounded by people he hardly knows when Sarah ultimately ends up in the same time loop when they both slip away from the wedding reception to escape miserable friends and family members to have sex in the desert. With the same day repeating, Nyles and Sarah’s romance develops slowly without the plot ever becoming stale.

As Nyles has seemingly accepted the fact that he will never leave this loop – after all, not even death can bring an end, it will only bring tomorrow – Sarah is determined to find a way out; explaining to Nyles “I don’t want tomorrow to be today, I want tomorrow to be tomorrow.” There are hurdles along the way a la J.K. Simmons (Roy), full of resentment for Nyles after introducing him to the time loop during a drug induced evening at the wedding.

Photo: IMDB.com

What ultimately unfolds is a wildly refreshing take on the romantic comedy genre. The movie is smart, likeable, entertaining, and may just be the movie of the summer. Available on Hulu. 3.9/5 stars.

Binge-Worthy Amazon Originals

Is there any other way to watch a series than to binge it from beginning to end? These three Amazon originals beg to be binged and are a welcome escape from our daily lives.

Photo: IMDB.com

1. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (2017)

This award winning (Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Primetime Emmy, AFI, and many more) series is sure to delight. It follows Miriam ‘Midge’ Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) a flawless, 1950’s, jewish, uptown Manhattan housewife, who suddenly finds herself carving out a career in the decidedly boys-club of stand up comedy. This pursuit is left unrevealed in the beginning to her husband, Joel (Michael Zegen), her mother, Rose Weissman (Marin Hinkle), and father, Abe Weissman (Tony Shalhoub). Along the way she picks up a hilarious and irreverent “agent”, Susie Myerson (Alex Borstein). What unfolds is a jazzy, visual, and comedic masterpiece. Available on Amazon Prime Video. 4.5/5 stars.

Photo: IMDB.com

2. “Modern Love” (2019)

Each episode features a different love story based on a weekly New York Times column that examines relationships and their many complexities. These episodes are short (30 min) but unfold quickly and welcome us to fall in love with each character and their story. The stories are playful, dramatic, and charming all at the same time. Featuring names such as John slattery, Tina Fey, Dev Patel, Anne Hathaway, and many more. This is the ultimate heart-warming series we all need. Available on Amazon Prime Video. 3.9/5 stars.

Photo: IMDB.com

3. “Fleabag(2016)

Making a mockery of some of life’s most delicate moments in an approachable and somehow comedic way is why this so artfully crafted series lands on our list. Full of sarcasm and blunt humor, “Fleabag” (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) begs us to empathize with her as she struggles with loss and love. We love it because it is honest, it is hilarious, and most of all – it is unapologetic. The show’s creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, deserves all accolades her gem of a series receives. Available on Amazon Prime Video. 4.2/5 stars.

Weekend Watches

Good movies possess the artistic ability to transform our thoughts and emotions in an instant. They inform, they entertain, they delight, and sometimes, they force us to confront and challenge societal norms and even our own beliefs. This is the magic of the movies.

This weekend we discovered new titles that did just that and revisited one title that resonates just as much today as it did in 1996. Without further ado, our weekend watches.

Photo: IMDB.com

“Saint Frances” (2019)

A powerful film that visits themes such as acceptance, strength, and struggle. Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan) a thirty-something purposeless woman is forced to make an emotionally and physically strenuous decision for abortion when she accidentally becomes pregnant. While she grapples through the residual emotions of her recent decision, Bridget becomes the nanny for a mixed-race, same-sex family (Charin Alvarez and Lily Mojekwu) and their rambunctious and sage six-year-old daughter, Frances (Ramona Edith-Williams). What unfolds is a story of maternal instincts, compassion, and strength. “Saint Frances” is an important depiction of women in film and their sheer ability to challenge societal norms and stereotypes so unfairly placed them. A little on the nose at times, yet human and sincere. Available to rent virtually at https://www.denverfilm.org/at-the-movies/. 4.1/5 stars.

Photo: IMDB.com

“Love, Simon” (2018)

This coming-of-age film is a must watch. Simon (Nick Robinson) is a high school senior who has been suppressing a major secret from his friends and family since he was in middle school – he’s gay. With the imminent threat of being exposed on the high school Facebook page by an irritating class mate, Simon goes to great lengths to keep his secret while simultaneously preparing to come out to his friends and family in his own way and his own time. “Love, Simon” has many more layers to it than expected and does a magnificent job of capturing the emotions and struggles that are the reality for so many closeted teens. This is a story of growth and the delicate experience of finding oneself. Poignant and heart-warming all at the same time. Available to rent on the iTunes store. 4.2/5 stars.

Photo: IMDB.com

“The Birdcage” (1996)

What can we say about this movie that has not already been said? The story of gay Miami Beach nightclub owners Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) and his partner, Albert (Nathan Lane). Armand’s son, Val (Dan Futterman) suddenly drops an earth-shattering revelation on the couple that he has a fiancé, Barbara (Calista Flockhart) – the daughter of conservative and narrow minded senator (Gene Hackman) and his equally conservative wife, Louise (Dianne Wiest). The story unfolds rapidly and exposes what happens when two wildly different worlds collide. A comedic masterpiece that highlights the importance of remaining true to oneself and accepting of others. Based on the musical “La Cage aux Folles”. Available to stream for free via Amazon Prime Video. 4/5 stars.