The time has come: we have entered the last week of 2020. It’s not the weather outside to chase a dog so our partner in this last week will be our Netflix list too. We were able to add something nice to that this week.
The only new series this week is called Bridgerton and is the first result of the collaboration between Shonda Rhimes – writer of among others Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Private Practice – and the streaming company.
She’s coming up with now Bridgerton, a series set in the high society of the Regency Era, between 1811 and 1820. The series revolves around the family of the same name, consisting of eight siblings who search for love and happiness.
There is more activity in the films. For example, the makers of Black Mirror have come up with their own way to say goodbye to the annus horribilis 2020: they have put together a mockumentary with the title Death To 2020.
This seventy-minute special features a ton of well-known headlines such as Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant, Kumail Nanjuani, Lisa Kudrow and many others. In this special, fictional characters discuss the real-life events that shaped our year.
It is much less pleasant The Midnight Sky. There was a time when looking forward to a new George Clooney movie, but the man’s last few films have been badly disappointing. Here he plays a scientist who decides to stay behind when humanity leaves Earth to look for a future elsewhere. The story parallels the space mission of a number of astronauts who try to return to their planet, but the whole thing never quite clicks together.
Then we have more amused with We Can Be Heroes. This weird creature was first on our list for January 1, but Netflix has pushed the release forward a bit. Since Christmas Day we can enjoy the delicious kitsch van We Can Be Heroes, a movie in which the Heroics – a sort of Avengers-esque superhero team that includes Christian Slater and Pedro Pascal – fail when their world is attacked by aliens. Only the children, who also each have a superpower, can now save the world. This film, written and directed, is predictable and ridiculous and clever and enjoyable and conveys the most hopeful message we have taken home from a film in a time.
With If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) is a small film masterpiece that has landed on Netflix in silence. The story revolves around 19-year-old Tish (KiKi Layne). She is madly in love and pregnant with 22-year-old Fonny (Stephan James), but the two are not married yet because Fonny is in prison. He is charged with the rape of a Puerto Rican woman unknown to him and detained by a racist cop. If Beale Street Could Talk on the one hand shows how the family is doing their best to clear Fonny’s name and get it released again, but is mainly about the all-encompassing pure and beautiful love between two people who are ready to start their life together.
It’s only after If Beale Street Could Talk The end is that you realize what you have really seen: a film that touches the core of life. That love captures in images and music. And who, despite the problems, also continues to bathe in a kind of optimism, in the belief that everything will eventually work out.
Another gem from 2019: Eighth Grade. After watching, we knew for sure: we wouldn’t want to be a teenager today and certainly not a teenage girl. In this debut film by Bo Burnham, we follow Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) in the last week middle school, before she can take the big step to the high school. It’s not like Kayla’s being bullied at school or anything. No, she thinks she’s just pretty mediocre. You can tell from everything that she’s not feeling well and she looks up to everyone except herself. In the meantime, Kayla sells online an image of a girl who is full of self-confidence and in various vlogs she gives good advice to people about friendships, about courage and assertiveness and about how important it is to always be yourself everywhere.
One thing we really wished Kayla after two hours in Eighth Grade to have stayed: rest. That this constant pressure, that constant stress and pressure is so well captured in a film, is to the credit of Elsie Fisher and of course Bo Burnham. Burnham – a phenomenon on YouTube just a few years ago – stated that he Eighth Grade largely based on his own experiences.
From 1993 comes another film about chess, one for fans of The Queen’s Gambit. In Searching For Bobby Fischer we meet Josh Waitzkin, a seven-year-old boy who, according to his chess coach Bruce, could surpass legendary grandmaster Bobby Fischer. The (true) drama is that father Fred starts to have doubts about the direction of his son’s life: should he try to get the boy to get the most out of his gift, or should he let him grow up as ‘normal’ child.
Musically we can close 2020 with Ariana Grande, because she dropped a real concert film on Netflix. The images in Ariana Grande: Excuse Me, I Love You are those from her concert at London’s O2 arena.
Those images are interspersed with interviews with Ariana and images of her life when she is on tour. On August 30, 2019, Ariana was also in the Antwerp Sportpaleis with the “Sweetener World Tour”.