The following shows and movies are some of the things I’ve been watching since August 2021 until now (mid October 2021). Let me know in the comments if you’ve watched these shows and movies too.
Maid (2021) on Netflix has me hooked. I’ve only watched 3 episodes so far, but I feel connected to these characters. In this story, based on Stephanie Land’s memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, Alex leaves her boyfriend Sean, with their child Maddy sleeping in the backseat. The emotional abuse from Sean has become too much, and his alcohol addiction is getting worse. Or maybe Alex just finally sees how bad it is. At one point Alex goes with Maddy to a DV shelter, and a friend she makes there named Danielle returns to an abusive boyfriend. Denise, the woman in charge tells Alex it takes most women 7 times to leave, and Denise says that it took her 5 times. While Danielle has entered the cycle of abuse again, Denise shows us that breaking free is possible. Hopefully Alex is headed down that path.
As we meet different characters we see that Alex’s Mom is mentally ill, refuses to get help, and cares more about her art than her daughter. Alex’s boyfriend Sean doesn’t come from a much better background. Alex reconnects with a former coworker Nate, who has recently went through a divorce. Nate becomes her saving grace, providing a car and car seat, since Alex lost hers in a car accident. Sparks are there, but Alex cuts things off quickly. I’m excited to see if Alex will give Nate another chance, if Nate is even still single. He’s an attractive man with a good job and a big heart. While Alex appears to throw away a good thing, she might also be guarded because of her ex, and also that her Mom appears to go from man to man.
If you’re a fan of Shameless (2011-2021) this show is for you. It’s a white trash bash, a label Alex can’t seem to get out of her head as she applies for any type of assistance. The bash part comes from how low Alex feels, and how her lack of self esteem bashes her spirit down. The shows somber tone leads us through a painful story of the grittier parts of poverty. It covers parenting a kid and reparenting yourself, addiction, and the system overall.
Chuckie (2021) on USA and SYFY is a mix between a terrifying doll and campy storytelling. An extension of Chuckie’s tale, the tv series appears to show his new adventures as well as his background story. It’s not scary to any serious horror fans, but it’s what any fan of the original movie Child’s Play (1988) would want to see. Episode 1 just dropped on October 12, 2021.
Really Love (2020) premiered at AFI’s virtual film festival in October 2020, but dropped on Netflix in late August 2021. A painter named Isaiah with a working class background, becomes the desire of a law student named Stevie, who comes from a wealthy background. Her parents work even took them abroad, and Stevie was born in Rotterdam, but then her family returned to D.C. when she was 16. Despite her past life in the Netherlands, it’s clear Washington D.C. is a character in the film and the human characters’ lives too. Restaurants, parks, and music are portrayed strongly on screen. Filmed beautifully, almost like it’s one of Isaiah’s paintings, the movie has the audience rooting for Isaiah and Stevie’s relationship. Despite the obvious obstacles that surround their love, their passion is captivating. Stevie appears to be very naïve about men, as noted when she brings Isaiah to her parents house. They aren’t too happy about their successful daughter bringing a struggling painter into her apartment, and it takes a toll on Isaiah’s pride. Stevie gets advice from her friend and cousin, and they know a lot more about a man’s feelings than she does. This leads me to believe this is her first serious relationship. As a teenager being the girl from the family that loved D.C., but lived in Rotterdam probably made it hard to to connect to boys abroad. Then when Stevie moved to D.C. she might have struggled to date as a young woman. Besides being busy with her law books she will be caught between the culture of D.C. and Rotterdam.
The ending might have you torn, depending on how you see the potential outcome for this relationship. SPOILERS START HERE Stevie and Isaiah break up, but they reunite first in Chicago where Isaiah has an art show, and then again in D.C. at another one of his shows. Isaiah invited Stevie to come when they reunited in Chicago. Stevie walks up to a painting and finds that Her, as it is titled, is her. To me this means that they will always love each other, but this passionate painting is also goodbye. Stevie is a lawyer in Chicago now and will probably need a husband to come home to at the end of her stressful days. Isaiah is finally a successful painter, and even if he left D.C. his work will have him traveling the country, and possibly abroad. I could see the two trying to make things work, and maybe having a few more passionate nights of sex, but they have a lot pulling them apart. There’s a theme that comes from Stevie’s Mom about people being in your life for a season, and that you should enjoy that moment, and that no one can take it from you. Isaiah’s painting of Stevie is stunning, and while it is from his private collection, it’s not his only work of art. It’s heartbreaking to think true love isn’t enough but the film is still worth watching. SPOILERS END
If you liked the following this film is for you. The Photograph (2020), a movie about two black Millennials searching through the woman’s Mom’s past, and also dealing with career issues that strain their relationship. Love Jones (1997), a movie about two black Gen Xer’s falling in love, dealing with friends and everyday moments, and then dealing with a possible career move that threatens how far the couple can go. Normal People (2020), a Hulu series where a couple in Ireland from different economic backgrounds has a passionate on again off again relationship, only to find that their last reconciliation moment is complicated by an opportunity for one of them to go abroad.
Sankofa (1993) is from the year I was born, but I just saw it for the first time when it dropped on Netflix. An American model named Mona is doing a shoot in Ghana in Cape Coast Castle, which she doesn’t know was historically used for the Atlantic slave trade. She’s sent back in time to a plantation in the southern United States, and lives as a slave named Shola now. The lives of the slaves are brutal, but most of the graphic things they experience take place off camera. Through the amazing performances of the cast we can still feel their heartache.
Sankofa deals with the bond between a mother and son, and how being slaves destroys their relationship. Nunu, one of the field slaves, was raped and had a child named Joe. The now adult Joe is a head slave and is forced to whip other slaves. Joe also doesn’t get to be as close to his Mom as he could if they were free. Joe is mentored by a priest, which is really just him being brainwashed. The priest convinces Joe that the other people on the plantation, including his own mother, are devil worshippers. This leads to a violent act against his own mother. The other man in Nunu’s life, Noble Ali, is also a headman, and despite the guilt he carries for whipping other slaves, and the love he has for her, she must disconnect from his because of his position. One of the many unfair things Nunu goes through.
SPOILERS HERE: At the end when Shola is Mona again, Mona joins other enlightened people and it’s clear she will always remember her ancestors now. I’m white, but anyone can appreciate how beautiful this moment is. It’s especially passionate when the spirit of Nunu joins Mona and the other people. Spoilers End.
If you liked the following movies this film is for you. Antebellum (2020), a movie about a modern day black woman who must escape the plantation she is somehow transported to, with a twist that I can’t explain without spoiling the movie. The Devil’s Arithmetic (1999), a TV movie about a Jewish girl learning to appreciate her ancestors struggle through the Holocaust. Sankofa definitely pulls at your heart since it covers the harsh topic of slavery. The script is well written, and the actors all gave extremely moving performances.
Candyman (2021) is the perfect sequel for Millennials, and Gen Z’ers, and the original fans. We follow the baby Anthony McCoy from the 1992 film as an adult, with a girlfriend named Brianna Cartwright who supports his art career. We learn she’s the bread-winner from a comment made by her brother Troy. Anthony can’t run from his destiny as the legend of Candyman takes over his thoughts, his art, and his life. As much as we feel bad for how trapped Anthony is, we can also sympathize with Brianna and the ghosts of her past. Through a dream flashback to Brianna’s childhood we see her Dad was also a painter, but he needed more help than a creative outlet. Her Dad is in a bad place mentally and jumps out of a window. In the dream she sees Candyman, but then she wakes up, and she sees Anthony. I took this as a message to the audience of what can happen to a mans mental health when darkness lingers instead of dying on a therapists floor. The character of William Burke represented this to me as well. As a child a mentally disabled man named Sherman Fields passes out candy to the neighborhood kids, which leads to him being blamed for candy that had razors in it. Fields is brutally killed by the police, but the razor blades kept coming. William is at the top of the stairs as this happens, and he obviously never got help for that moment. He still lives in Cabrini-Green, which is where he meets Anthony. At first he seems like a helpful friend, but his anger and trauma from Sherman’s death grows inside him, and creates a very desperate and delusional state. The film deals with systematic racism, police brutality, mental health, couple dynamics, and gentrification.
SPOILERS HERE: Anthony taken over by Candyman, who takes on the form of Sherman. Original fans should know that they will get a cameo appearance from Tony Todd at the end. If we get a direct sequel to this new film I hope we follow Brianna trying to navigate a very complicated aftermath of the spirits latest form. It’s been almost 30 years since the 1992 film, so we can’t have everything we would like to see in a direct sequel, but the filmmakers gave us as much as they could. Helen and Jake weren’t in this movie, unless you count recordings of Helen’s voice, so I hope they return in a later film. Spoilers End.
If you liked the first Candyman from 1992, this sequel is for you. If you’re a new fan they fill in the blanks enough for you to know what’s going on.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) is action packed, but the character building and storytelling also make the movie fun to watch. I’m only a casual Marvel fan, but I just know this film is a great addition to the universe. We get to explore father and son moments, a mother’s love, when platonic friends are fighting their obvious romantic feelings, grief and moving on, girl power moments, and as always witty Marvel humor. If you are a Marvel fan you won’t be disappointed. I didn’t say too much because I know how hardcore Marvel fans get if they haven’t seen the movie yet and something is spoiled. So, just go watch this epic film.