I have this weird taboo about watching television during the day. Even streaming movies! But Covid and now torrential rain (and maybe just getting old) have been major factors in changing my mind. Hence I have a long list of recommendations this month. Sorry, but I can’t rave about any of the following, but most of them are definitely really good.
“The Good Boss” (Amazon, Apple, Vudu) in Spanish with subtitles. Javier Bardem plays the paternalistic boss/owner of a family business that builds scales. The film is best described as a cynical comedy, carried mostly by Bardem’s charisma and good looks. The title alone tells you what you need to know about a not very subtle subtext. Regardless, I include it under very watchable but forgettable.
“Swan Song” (Hulu, Amazon) Pat Pitsenbarger was a legendary Sundusky, Ohio hair dressing, drag queen (for real). The plot is about his “escaping” a nursing home to style the hair and do the makeup of a former client. The client (played by Linda Evans!) is dead and has requested Pat’s services for her funeral. But the movie is about oh so much more. Although it’s billed as a comedy–and there are certainly a few humorous moments–the story is a bittersweet nostalgia piece about “gay assimilation” and its accompanying losses. Most (but not all) of the acting is strong. And one of the highlights in the film is Jennifer Coolidge (yes–White Lotus Jennifer Coolidge).
“Official Competition” (Amazon) in Spanish with subtitles. Penelope Cruz, looking her usual gorgeous self plays a highly acclaimed but eccentric film director. Antonio Banderos, and the lesser known Argentine actor Oscar Martinez are the egomaniacal stars of a film Cruz agrees to direct for an elderly billionaire who wants it as his “legacy”. The result is a very amusing, intelligent and visually appealing satire. The Argentine directors Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn have their own delightful sensibility, but the casting and the stunning visuals reflect an Almodovar influence.
“Tove” (Amazon, Apple) in Swedish and Finnish with subtitles. A few years ago my book group read The Summer Book, a lovely novella about an elderly woman and her six-year-old granddaughter on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland. The author of that book, Tove Jansson, is the subject of this very interesting bio pic that focuses on Jansson’s young adult life as an aspiring artist who ambivalently finds fame as the creator of the Noomins, cartoon figures beloved by children. I really enjoyed this film for its character development, cinematography, and acting.