|Search Party (HBO Max)|
2020 is that year, so much so that I forgot to do my June media diary! By the time I realized, it was pretty close to the end of July so I figured I'd just combine them. Anyway, here is everything I watched (and read) in the past two months, a supersized media diary, if you will:
Watching this in the context of the Black Lives Matter protests opened up a whole new avenue of reflection and critique that I may have not picked up on had I watched BlacKkKlansman when it premiered in theaters. The plot (a Black man infiltrates the KKK in 1970s Denver) is too good of a story (and yes, it's true) to pass up, but the film sacrifices some poignancy in its simplistic representation of the police force and the systemic racism within these institutions. I would still recommend it, though, because it is a movie that is rich for discussion and analysis. There is also an incredibly powerful scene that juxtaposes the racist propaganda of Birth of a Nation with the realities of living in the Jim Crow South, which for me was the crux of the film.
Our Planet: Behind The Scenes (2019)
I love watching nature documentaries, especially in times of stress. Toward the beginning of quarantine I spent hours combing through YouTube clips of BBC Earth documentaries, letting David Attenborough's soothing narrations lull me to relaxation when I was freaking out about the state of, you know, everything. Whenever I watch these stunning scenes, I always think, "Incredible! How on earth did they film this?" Our Planet: Behind The Scenes had the answers.
Truly, it is incredible to learn more about the work that goes into creating these documentaries.
The Lovebirds (2020)
I was dogsitting my brother's puppy while watching this so I may have been distracted by her adorable puppy dog face, but honestly I could not tell you much that happened in this film. I love Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, and their chemistry was decent, but the antics in this movie were predictable (and almost all spoiled from trailers) and unremarkable. But hey, I'll take a mediocre new movie!
After watching Pose (more on that below) Netflix recommended Disclosure, a documentary about transgender representation in film and television. This documentary features a great timeline of the way transgender characters have evolved throughout cinematic history and how trans representation has improved, but still has a long, long way to go. I loved hearing prominent actors like Lavern Cox and Chaz Bono talk about their memories of seeing trans characters on screen and how it felt to see representation, even if those characters weren't always represented in a truthful or positive way (like The Silence of the Lamb's Buffalo Bill). It's a testament to how powerful seeing yourself represented onscreen can be and why plentiful, positive representation is so important.
Because 2020 is the year where dreams go to die, this was the year I was finally supposed to see Hamilton onstage at the Pantages. And then...well, you know the rest. So imagine my surprise when Disney+ announced they were moving the release of Hamilton up by over a year and debuting it on Disney+ instead! This would be an adequate holdover until musical-going returns, and it features the original Broadway cast too! The filmed version was just as powerful and emotional as I had imagined after years of listening to the soundtrack on repeat, and to watch it right before the Fourth of July and ruminate on our country's foundations, our present, and my undying hope for the betterment of this country despite where we currently are...it was just nice to be reminded of the optimism for a little bit.
Palm Springs (2020)
Is this my favorite movie of 2020? Yeah, I think so! I've already watched Palm Springs twice and wouldn't mind watching it over and over and over.
This is a rom-com with a twist starring Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti, who have great chemistry. The supporting cast is equally wonderful, including the always-winning J.K. Simmons, and while the movie is a breezy 90 minutes, it's packed with enough hidden details and small mysteries that you'll want to rewatch again and again and again...
That Thing You Do! (1996)
So I think I've watched this movie a bazillion years ago because I knew the lyrics to the titular "That Thing You Do!" but I didn't remember the plot so I watched it again! Super cute, love Tom Hanks as always, and you're welcome for getting this song stuck in your head again.
The Old Guard (2020)
Charlize as an action hero badass. Need I say more? Also, love this for Kiki Layne who should be getting all the roles in Hollywood after her If Beale Street Could Talk performance.
The Kissing Booth 2 (2020)
Can you believe I originally published this and forgot to include the iconic The Kissing Booth 2!?!? I think I actually liked this movie better than the original (although maybe I need to revisit the first one, as I can't recall paying attention to it that closely) and as with To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You I found myself rooting for the newcomer boy instead of the main character's supposed one true love. Jacob Elordi is very dreamy, but Noah is a total jerk in both movies! And not to get all "men and women can't be just friends" but there was definitely something going on between him and Chloe. And Marco is also cute AND can dance (or at least, do performative DDR routines), so honestly I don't blame Elle for crushing!
Also, I know this is based on a teen Wattpad story so I'm not going to question it too much, but can we all agree that Elle and Lee's friendship pact that they made when they were children is dumb and should have a process for amendments. Kids are dumb! You should not hold yourself to the same standards and rules you established for yourself when you were eight.
Pose (seasons 1-2)
Not all Ryan Murphy projects were created equally, but oh, does he knock it out of the park with this one. Through two seasons of Pose, which follows the ballroom scene of the late 80s and 90s, and it is a beautiful celebration of both the ballroom world and the people who made it happen. It's so rare to see stories about trans women in television at all, that Pose features so many talented Black and Latinx trans women (who are actually played by trans actors) is a welcome rarity that will hopefully become more commonplace as Hollywood (slowly) diversifies its storytelling. Also, I don't need to tell you this but the costumes are absolutely amazing every episode.
Search Party (seasons 1-3)
Alia Shawkat does not get nearly enough recognition for her talents, and I'm glad Search Party came over to HBO Max for its third season (it previously aired on TBS) because I'm not sure if I would have discovered it otherwise. Anywho, I quite enjoyed this mystery show and its central unlikeable characters that you can't help but root for, even as they dig themselves deeper and deeper into trouble.
Dark (seasons 1-3)
My little brother recommended this show to me and I really enjoyed the journey through this time-defying drama. If you're a fan of Stranger Things and Back To The Future but wish they were 1000% more moody, this German series is just the thing for you! The plot is intricately woven through decades of a small German town, making Westworld's timelines a piece of cake to unravel by comparison, but if you are looking for an engrossing show to theorize on and obsess over, check it out. Bonus points: the complete series is available to stream on Netflix.
Dynasty (seasons 1-2)
You know that I love Succession, and until that show can resume production I've been in search of shows with similar vibes, and Dynasty (the CW reboot) is like if Succession had the wardrobe of Gossip Girl and the all-out drama of a soap opera. Sure, we knew Ariana Grande was bound for greatness after hearing her sing in Victorious, but Elizabeth Gillies was also clearly a star, and now in Dynasty she has the chance to shine as Fallon Carrington (and yes, she does occasionally sing). The first three seasons are streaming on Netflix, so check it out if you need a drama-filled binge!
Love Life (season 1)
Way more depressing than I had expected, seeing how the bubbly Anna Kendrick is the lead. Despite the name, this is anthology series is much more about Kendrick's character Darcy's journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance than it is about her romances. It was a surprisingly mature role for Kendrick, and the show dealt with serious themes like abandonment issues and substance abuse in ways I was not expecting, but I enjoyed the journey nevertheless.
When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
A great beach read, When Life Gives You Lululemons is part of the Devil Wears Prada extended universe, this time centered on the iconic Emily (who is apparently not British in the books) as she deals with a whole new set of mean girls: wealthy Greenwich suburbanites. The horror!