What’s new MMT Fam! Netflix has really great streaming options available to view now and releasing this week, so here are a few recommendations just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday!
First up there’s Academy award-winning actress Halle Berry’s directorial debut BRUISED, which drops this Wednesday, November 24. The film follows former MMA fighter Jackie Justice (Berry) who is thrown back into the sport unexpectedly by her boyfriend/manager Desi (Adan Canto). Not wanting to return permanently, yet financially strapped and given a comeback offer by a slick fight promoter (Shamier Anderson), she reconsiders when her abandoned son Manny (Danny Boyd, Jr.) re-enters her life.
It’s an underdog story, albeit a bit formulaic, for both Jackie and the underappreciated Berry – who won her Academy award for Best Actress (Monster’s Ball) 20 years ago. I’m excited that she’s created this opportunity for herself, and was impressed by the sentimental storyline and the kick ass fight scenes throughout the film – for which Ms. Berry incorporated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu into her own stunts, thank you very much. I rate it 3.5 out of 5 beats on the MMTrometer.
In second place is HELLBOUND, the limited South Korean series that for me was just as addictive as the streaming giant’s hit “Squid Game” when I watched it during TIFF 2021. If you’re looking for something in the sci-fi fantasy genre mixed with crime drama and religious themes then this one will be your jam.
In “Hellbound,” people who have been damned to hell are informed by a haunting apparition, who gives them not only the news of doom but shares the exact time and day they will be sent. When damnation time arrives, three figures that I can only described as smoky appearing and Hulk like show up and… well, did you ever see the movie “Ghost” and do you remember what happens to Willie? Yeah, it’s like that to the 100th power!
This film gives great commentary on the influences of social media, the power of group think and persuasion and also the desensitization to violence and cruelty that seems to have increased worldwide. There’s high tension, it was unpredictable and greatly entertaining. I give it 4 out of 5 beats on the MMTrometer. The series was released November 19 and is now streaming.
The next film, 7 PRISONERS, is another that I watched at the festival and thought was really well told, but extraordinarily heartbreaking. Outside of “Attica,” which I also screened at TIFF, “7 Prisoners” was the film I had the most visceral reaction to and, like the aforementioned, is not a drama for the faint of heart.
The film is a modern-day slave and exploitation narrative, that follows 18-year-old Mateus (Christian Malheiros) – who leaves home attracted by the prospect of a good job in a Sao Paulo, Brazil junkyard that would help him support his struggling family. Unfortunately for him, and the six other prisoners headed to same place, he is imprisoned by his boss Luca (Rodrigo Santoro) and threatened with harm to him and his family if he attempts to escape.
With involvement by fictional law enforcement and government officials impacting the prisoners’ plight, this story speaks volumes on the callous treatment by those in power on the least fortunate, as well as the decisions that some make when forced and faced with the most harrowing of circumstances. I rate it 4.5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
The next film is a bit more family-friendly, but it’s PG-13 – so still not for those little ones, but my Hawkeye review will drop later this week and that’s a solid family recommendation coming to Disney+, but I digress!
tick, tick…BOOM! premiered last Friday on Netflix, to rave reviews and a knock out performance by Andrew Garfield in the leading role of Jonathan Larson, the late composer/playwright who died one day shy of the off-Broadway premiere of his groundbreaking musical “Rent.”
Adapted by screenwriter Steven Levenson from Larson’s semi-autobiographical, one (sometimes three) person stage show, the film intertwines the musical and dramatization of Larson’s storytelling from the play. It also co-stars Alexandra Shipp, Vanessa Hudgens, and Robin de Jesus.
The directorial debut of Pulitzer prize and Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (In The Heights, Hamilton), this is a very meta production – with Miranda having portrayed Larson in a stage version, as well as Larson’s heavy influence on Miranda deciding to become a composer/playwright. In addition, there are strong parallels in the concept of running out of time, which is referenced by the film’s title, both the real and fictionalized Larson experiencing a recurring sense of it, and the fleeting time experience of the titular character in “Hamilton.”
Broadway babies and those who enjoy sing-alongs will definitely gravitate towards this one – and I know will greatly enjoy my personal fave scene “Sunday,” which included a host of Broadway veterans and legends including Chita Rivera, Bernadette Peters and Phylicia Rashad.
I rate it 3.5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
My last Netflix pick TRUE STORY premieres on November 24 and stars actor-comedian Kevin Hart as a fictional, somewhat (?) version of himself named Kid, and veteran actor Wesley Snipes (Coming 2 America, Cut Throat City) as his older brother Carlton.
A story of family dysfunction, lies and deceit, “True Story” follows Kid after a night of partying goes terribly wrong, the drastic actions he and his brother take to cover up the event, and the consequences that follow.
An undeniably Philly influenced tale, with the city setting and Philadelphia Sound tributes, I thoroughly enjoyed this show – binging the seven episodes in just two sittings.
Hart plays to his strengths and what he knows as a comedic actor, but he also is engagingly believable as a man caught in a bad predicament and in the subsequent choices made to protect himself from the fall out. If Kevin had a scary twin, Kid would be it.
And for me Snipes can do no wrong. He always brings the authenticity to every character he owns, and he is my forever “Blade,” even though I am loving the casting of Mahershala Ali in the latest MCU version.
An engaging series, with an unexpected ending, I rate “True Story” 3.5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
Until next thought, Thomasena