The Falcon and the Winter Soldier now on Disney+ holds so many delights!! Hang on to your hats and meet seismic new characters, stories and an unseemly number of jaw-droppers. By now you know that Julia Louis-Dreyfus makes her MCU debut, making it a little less safe. She is Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine and may be the Power Broker, Russian agent Madame Hydra, Nick Fury’s love interest, leader of the Femme Force, and God knows what else. Nice oldster seduction, Marvel! The Falcon and Winter Soldier – Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan – grow their complicated relationship, knowing they must work together to stop the coming chaos. I don’t want to wreck anything, but Wyatt Russell’s John Walker, the newly anointed Captain America doesn’t measure up to the job, potentially leaving the post – and shield- up for grabs while developing a bad attitude. And I know who I want to have the job, even if it means losing his wings. Action fans, prepare for battle, even as Falcon and his big heart, takes precious time to help save the family fishing business – with Bucky’s help – as he plots the war against Karli Morgenthau (Erin Kellyman) and the Flagsmashers, anti-world order activists growing in numbers and power. Karli’s not afraid of any superheroes, because … and what does Zemo have up his sleeve? Oh, Marvel you truly are a marvel.
Amazon Prime Video‘s Stowaway presents us with a gutwrenching moral quandary in a beautifully crafted four-person character study. Toni Collette, Daniel Dae Kim and Anna Kendrick must face a life and death decision aboard a spaceship en route to Mars. All systems are go as they begin the two-month journey to the space station when an unconscious and injured man (Scarborough’s own Shamier Anderson) drops from the ceiling. He is restored to health but poses a major danger to the crew; their oxygen food and water supplies are carefully calibrated for three people, not four, and his weight drains fuel. As they bear the weight of a decision that must come, they carry out duties in space in a complete sensory no-mans-land; these moments are precious and set the imagination soaring. Still, Stowaway is a dirge, an intellectually and spiritually stimulating retelling of the lifeboat story, made with authenticity and power. Writer-director Joe Penna’s meditation on what makes us human is heavy, make sure tissues are within reach.
The Marijuana Conspiracy is a shocking true story. In 1969 Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government pondered changing laws regarding the use of marijuana and the 1970 Le Dain Commission delivered its report on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs recommending decriminalisation. It was a polarising moment in Canadian history. In 1972 a conservative government group set in motion a 98-day live-in research study of the effects of marijuana on young women, hoping to tailor a negative outcome and quash legalisation efforts. The study was carried out in secret in downtown Toronto; young women paid to smoke weed under observation in a closed setting. Little thought was given to their physical and mental health; halfway through the experiment they suffer chronic coughing, due to heavy smoking, but strangely, excelled in their “paid” work as macrame weavers. Being isolated for so long, well, we know what that feels like. Writer-director Craig Pryce tells us our secret past of manipulation and cruelty. Tymika Tafari, Julia Sarah Stone, Morgan Kohan and Derek McGrath star. (His character recommends genital electric shock to cure homosexuality) Stone’s character, based in part on the actual subjects is homeless, and that issue still plagues us. The attention to early seventies detail is terrific, music, set direction, wardrobe, and lexicon. The film refuses to go down the exploitative path, choosing instead to follow naive young women who just need a paycheck, dammit. TVOD.
Chaos Walking Next! TVOD.
HBO Max‘ ten-episode documentary series Generation Hustle is an eye-opener! It’s not set in a disco in the seventies. No. It’s about criminal hustlers, one per episode, one risk-taking narcissist after another, creating chaos. These hustlers pull cons on innocent people for money, fame, power, right? It’s debatable. Surely the reward for these folks isn’t money, fame and power, it’s about exerting one’s ability to dupe. Many of the con artists are familiar; they’ve made the news for a cycle or two and done time. They were enabled by social media like the German heiress Anna Delvey who took New York by storm; she was condescending, unlikeable, class conscious and wealthy as heck and nightlifers loved her. And her Instagram image. She took an acquaintance to Marrakesh and stuck her for the $75k bill. Delvey owed luxury hotels around the world, and as you’ve guessed she was no German heiress. And the Hollywood Queen who lured young creators from Canada and the US to SE Asia to launch their careers. The caller claimed to be Wendi Murdoch, the wife of Rupert Murdoch, (seriously, people?) and she suckered them pretty thoroughly. Her assistant Aaron was so helpful organizing their trips and making them aware of expenses they’d accrue, which he would pay back asap. Well, too bad, kids. Eight more cons on offer.
And on Showtime and Crave, an hysterically funny, perfect modern retake of classic films in the public domain. The Duplass Bros.’ Cinema Toast finds juicy melodramatic, sci-fi, horror, genre, classic and dubs the actors’ voices with contemporary lingo provided by Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Fred Armisen, John Early, Christina Ricci, Megan Mullally, Chloe Fineman, Chris Meloni, Nick Offerman, and Dan Stevens. Carole Lombard and Jimmy Stewart are married but living at the pleasure of his domineering mother. What comes out of their mouths is so on point for 2021, swears, politics, contemporary issues and all, to create sharply rejuvenated takes. Plaza’s psychological thriller Quiet Illness stars Loretta Young as a troubled woman married to manipulative magician David Niven and struggling to stay sane and survive him. Inside Ronald Reagan features banditos checking up on President Reagan’s mental stability in a visit to the white house, Night of the Living Dead is reconstituted as The Attack of the Karens, After the End, morphs the monster movie into comic mumblecore and the surreal Report on the Canine Auto-Mechanical Soviet Threat bristles with talking cars and telepathic dogs. It all so weirdly wonderful and kitschy and of our times.
Speaking of kitsch, Tiny Tim: King for a Day from Johan Von Sydow and narrated by Weird Al Yankovic celebrates the life and legacy of the character played by Herbert Khary. He blasted into pop-culture consciousness in the ’70s with the falsetto remake of Tiptoe Through the Tulips. Initially considered a one-hit-wonder, he overcame the limitations of his quirky personality and persona and became a major star. For a while. He is shown to have influenced David Bowie, Prince, Iggy Pop, Boy George as well as Bob Dylan, Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga, covering other’s songs and giving them his trademark bizarre touch. Khary’s early home life was severe and unloving, but his deep belief in God was his comfort. He withstood prejudice and came out on top and was known worldwide. He was married on the Tonight Show and married twice more. But he lost it all. His daughter Tulip Stewart blames her grandparents for not loving their son their legacy contributing to his inability to cope and downfall. TVOD.
It’s been quite a ride today so how about some Dolly Parton? Netflix‘ wonderful doc Here I Am is balm for the heart and soul. Parton opens recognising her bizarre appearance and inviting people to calm down. “I’m fake outside but inside I am real”. Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Kylie Minogue dish on Dolly with great affection and admiration, as do her musicians who’ve supported and loved her for more than forty years. She says she is considered a family member by her public because she has always been there and she’ll always love them. Dolly shares photos of her performing at age five, right through to today, her relationship with Porter Waggoner, and her longtime, never-seen husband Carl who is “very handsome” according to Fonda. Dolly the savant’s written 3000 songs; favourite is Coat of Many Colors because it’s about confidence and acceptance, saying “It’s OK to be different, it’s wonderful you are who you are”. This is what we need now. Dear Dolly. And for dessert, also on Netflix:
Enjoy the Oscars Sunday night!