Welcome to another installment of Movies, Movies, Movies! It will be another short week due to being busy with April’s A2Z posts and the wonderful outdoor weather we’ve been having. I’ve been busy picking up sticks and limbs from the willows and walking the nearby ditches with my litter picker-upper after last week’s racing winds blew lots of papers out of my recycle bin and into them. I also have planted 3 trays of seeds with tomatoes, peppers, and squash.
The One (2021) netflix series S1
Starring: Hannah Ware, Dimitri Leonidas, Diarmaid Murtagh, Zoe Tapper, Lois Chimimba, Eric Kofi-Abrefa, Jana Perez, Stephen Campbell-Moore, Greg Chillin, Albano Jeronimo, Palavi Sharda, Amir El-Masry, Simone Kirby, and many more.
Writers: John Marrs, Howard Overman, Howard Overman
Genres: drama, science fiction
Synopsis: Two friends, Rebecca Webb (played by Ware) and James Whiting (played by a quite handsome Leonidas) who work in a science lab extrapolate on ant behavior and apply it to human attraction through DNA-matching but resort to unethical ways to test it. The series focuses on Webb, who has become a millionaire by capitalizing on the knowledge. “The One” is the company that has the database that can determine who your one match in the world is. We come into the story after Webb is already CEO of The One corporation. Webb is a no-nonsense CEO and anyone who tries to tangle with her is sorry in a big hurry. Much of the plot focuses on what that means practically through seeing it unfold in some of the character’s lives. Underpinning it all is the karma that has rippled out from the unethical practices that have been used to make the company the success that it is.
Impressions: The show is somber throughout. Through a series of flashbacks meshed with current time, we see how things came to be. The main adversarial relationship is between Webb and the police detective Kate Saunders (played by Tapper.) Saunders and her partner are investigating a suspicious death when the remains of a body is found in the river that has been identified as Webb’s old roommate and suspected love interest, Ben Naser (played by El-Nasry.) Ware does a decent job in the central role. I liked the show but Detective Saunders really got on my nerves towards the end. She took up way too much screen time, imo, where other plot lines suffered. The season ends on a couple of cliffhangers, so hopefully a S2 will happen.
Etc.: UK origin; filmed in UK, Portugal, Wales, and Tenerife; LGBTQI+ friendly
Awards: none seen (too soon?)
The Eagle Huntress (2016)
Starring: Aisholpan Nurgaiv, Rys Nurgaiv
Director: Otto Bell
Synopsis: lifted directly from imdb:
This spellbinding documentary follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old nomadic Mongolian girl who is fighting to become the first female eagle hunter in twelve generations of her Kazakh family. Through breathtaking aerial cinematography and intimate verite footage, the film captures her personal journey while also addressing universal themes like female empowerment, the natural world, coming of age and the onset of modernity.
Impressions: Thanks to Cincinnati Babyhead for pushing me to see this one. Besides the star of the show, Aisholpan and her co-star, her eagle (forgot the eagle’s name, dangit), the other star of the show is the landscape which is captured magnificently by the camera person. Other standouts are the precious relationship that Aisholpan shares with her father, Rys. You will not see a more encouraging or loving father or a more adoring daughter anywhere. These two are inseparable. I also love the Aisholpan’s hard-working mother who is ALWAYS working around the homestead in addition to raising the younger kids. Mom never begrudges her husband or her daughter for their time together, which is a joy to see. Also worth an honorable mention are the sturdy pony-ish horses that the family could not do what they do without. One part of the movie I didn’t like was when they were lifting the eaglet from the nest. They implied there were two eaglets so OK to take one of them, but if you look closely, only one of the eaglets looks still alive.
Etc.: filmed in Mongolia, in the Altai Mountains
Awards: 10 wins and 20 nominations
Starring: Theo James, Stacy Martin, Rhona Mitra, Peter Ferdinando, and some others
Director: Gavin Rothery
Genres: Science Fiction, drama
Synopsis: George Almore (played by James) is a robotics engineer that lives in a remote high-tech complex set in a gorgeous mountain area. George lives with two generations of robots he designed and built — and the memory of his wife who died in a car crash. In this film when people die their souls/personalities can be vaulted (i.e. archived) for a limited amount of time and his wife’s time is running out. James is working on a robot sophisticated enough to be a receptacle for his wife’s soul, so he’s in a rush to get it done. Things keep getting in his way though, which ratchets the tension up.
Impressions: The landscape is good as I said before. Theo is good in his role, but the script is weak. It does a half-assed attempt to show the two earlier generations of robots getting jealous as they see their love/master/creator building the model that will make them obsolete. The movie feels more like made-for-television than for the big screen. Very low-key special effects. The retractable bridge that keeps the complex safe is the coolest gadget.
Etc.: English language; filmed in Hungary with some street scenes filmed in Chicago.
Awards: 1 win and 1 nomination
The Last Shift (2020)
Starring: Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGhie, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Ed O’Neill, Allison Tolman, and several others.
Director: Andrew Cohn (primarily a documentarian who is from Ann Arbor, MI)
Genres: drama; comedy
Synopsis: Stanley (played by Jenkins) has been the night manager at the same greasy fast food drive-thru for over 38 years but he’s getting ready to drive to FL and take care of his ailing mother who is in a shabby nursing home there. Jevon (played by McGhie) is on probation for vandalism and part of his probation is to seek employment, but Jevon’s attitude – in this case being too forthcoming with his thoughts on fairness and political views — has gotten him fired many times. He’s also a new father with his baby and girlfriend living with him and his mother, so the pressure is on. Shazz, the day manager of the restaurant (played by Randolph) hires Jevon and instructs Stanley to teach Jevon to be his replacement. Stanley is not real sharp, but after doing the job for 38 years, he knows every nuance of it and does a good job of teaching Jevon. They have a rocky start but once they get over that part, things begin to click for them. For the first time, Jevon starts to feel validated, competent, and motivated. But of course, plots have to introduce conflict, just like real life conflicts arise, that mess with the best laid plans of characters (and humans.)
Impressions: It’s a small, and I mean small, so small of a movie that it could have been filmed with someone’s phone. It’s about as real as real can get. Jenkins and McGhie deserve kudos as they are the forces that elevate it beyond cinema and into the real. The dialogue is important.
Etc.: set in Albion, Michigan, which looks like SO many small towns in the rust belt.
Awards: 1 win and 1 nomination