MMT January 2017 Netflix Picks

Happy Sunday MMT Fam! Netflix has added some great titles to its repertoire since I last posted recommendations back in November 2016. When I saw that it acquired the 2015 Fox Telecolombia series CELIA I was ecstatic! An 80 (yes, you read that right, 8-0) episode scripted series based on the life of Afro-Cuban music legend Celia Cruz, “Celia” is a fact and fiction mixed telenovela that explores the singer’s life from her young years in Havana, Cuba through her over four-decade career, to her death from brain cancer at age 77.

At its core – and even with themes of racism, colorism, sexism, and the rise of the Communist takeover in Cuba – this series is an extended love story of the “Queen of Salsa” (born Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso) and her husband of 41 years and longtime manager Pedro Knight. Both characters are portrayed, wonderfully might I add, by two sets of actors – Jeirmarie Osorio and Modesto Lacen, and Aymee Nuviola and Willie Denton as the younger and older couples respectively. It was a bit odd once the switch happens, because I adored the chemistry between the former, so I’ll give you a heads up to brace yourself for episode 55!

Now, I emphasize again the word “telenovela,” i.e. soap operatic – with several characters that are highly or overly dramatic (think of “Ugly Betty” or “Jane The Virgin” as dramas). And note that the series is in Spanish, however there are subtitles in English. But, if you make it past the aforementioned, you are surely in for an entertaining treat. And with that many episodes, you can watch the series in between other favorites during hiatus. However, if you’re like me, you’ll do an almost two-week binge – it was highly addictive!

My next two picks are based on reviews that previously occurred on this site. The first is the newly added 13th: A Conversation with Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay, an interview where the journalistic maven sits down with acclaimed writer/director DuVernay to discuss her groundbreaking, and 2017 Oscar-nominated, documentary and the historically oppressive American prison system. You can read my review of “13th” and get additional information about the film here.

Lastly, the highly praised CGI fantasy adventure THE JUNGLE BOOK was also recently added to the streaming service, and I must admit I haven’t been able to fit in a watch (I’m still paying for my “Celia” binge!) but I’ve been waiting for this one since Darryl’s review – which you can read in its entirety here.

Alright MMT Fam, those are my choices from this month. Let me know if you’ve checked out, or plan to, any of the above, and/or share some recommendations of your own in the comments below.

Until next thought, Thomasena

PS – you can check out a trailer of “Celia” below:


MMT Quick Review: The Red Flower (a review of THE JUNGLE BOOK by MMT contributor Darryl King)

The Jungle Book (Disney)

Star Wars… The Matrix… Avatar… What do they have in common? They are great films with wonderful stories that also have pushed the technological advances and boundaries of movie magic. It is now time to add one more film to this stellar list… the live action adaptation of “The Jungle Book”.

“The Jungle Book” is a work of art… borderline masterpiece when considering the way this movie was created with the CGI that created a place, a real world that makes the viewer believe that we are watching a film that was shot in either India or Africa. The true star of this film is its director Jon Favreau, his vision and passion for the project facilitated astounding storytelling, a strong adaptation of the source material making this movie an exercise… in great filmmaking.

I cannot wait to delve into the behind the scenes making of this film. While shot only on a sound stage in LA, we are lead to believe and ultimately whisked away… magically to the jungle. The animals seem so real with set pieces that invoke emotionality and a story that makes you long for adventure.

But what also makes this movie good is the find of an unknown kid actor – Neel Sethi. He is not just playing Mowgli… he is Mowgli! Neel Sethi is so good that you will believe that the cartoon of Jungle Book is really a documentary about the life of Neel living in the jungle. He connotes an understated innocence, filled with an intoxicating charm and a touch of youthful boldness that makes you want to love his characterization of Mowgli. Normally it is very difficult for any actor to play/act opposite green screen images and settings, but this young actor pulls it off as if he was born for this role.

Jungle Book also boasts an all-star cast that rises to the occasion. Idris Elba plays the villain, the tiger – Shere Khan – who is menacing and truly convincing as the biggest bad of the jungle. Idris conveys through his acting/voice-over the cunning of his character and shows why the other animals fear him. Khan has a disdain for Mowgli because he knows that when he grows up he will become the worst enemy of the jungle… a man. Men who are dangerous whose ways are tricky… none more threatening to the jungle and something that separates animals from man – the dreaded red flower (otherwise known as fire)!

But the fire burns through the provocative vocal performances from the rest of the cast. Voice performances like Ben Kingsley (as Bagheera) offer this story the wise sage that helps us to bridge the gap of unbelief of a kid who is raised by wolves and finds a home in the jungle. Other stellar voice performances are given by Bill Murray (who plays Baloo) and Christopher Walken (King Louie).

Jungle Book is a must see movie that is more than a family and/or kid film – it is an experience. It is recommended that you watch in 3D because Favreau adroitly uses this technology to its fullest as if you are biting into a piece of fruit and the juices, nectar and goodness bursts into your mouth for a wonderful refreshing taste.

Unlike the animals in the Jungle Book, don’t be afraid of the red flower and go into this jungle and then just like our hero Mowgli you will find yourself at home… in the “Jungle Book”.

Darryl King (photo courtesy of Darryl King)Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. Check out his reviews of Batman v SupermanDEADPOOL, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens right here on MMT.


The Jungle Book

Happy Thursday MMT Fam! Wanted to make sure you knew about this cool virtual reality experience that’s set-up at select AMC locations across the country for the highly anticipated film THE JUNGLE BOOK.

From AMC and IMAX, in this real-time rendered Oculus Rift Virtual Reality experience you are placed high-up on a tree in the middle of the jungle, surrounded by lush trees and dense fog. You suddenly hear a voice in the distance. Where is it coming from? Who might it be? Suddenly, your surroundings start to move. A chill goes through your body. Before you know what’s happening, you see her… Kaa, the snake. Coiling around the trees, she approaches you slowly but surely…

Jungle BookYeah, my fear of snakes rules me out from this one! LOL, but if you’re not a chicken, unlike myself, and this is your cup of tea, take a look at the list in the pic above to see what cities are hosting, and get additional details about activation times at the AMC website here.

For those in or near the Philly area, this experience can be found at the AMC Neshaminy location as follows:

AMC Neshaminy

660 Neshaminy Mall

Bensalem, PA 19020

Friday, April 8th 1 PM – 10 PM

Saturday, April 9th 1 PM – 10 PM

Sunday, April 10th 1 PM – 8 PM

You can preview the experience using Facebook 360 here. THE JUNGLE BOOK in 3D opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, April 15.

Let me know your thoughts if you go and see the world #ThroughMowglisEyes family!

Until next thought, Thomasena


Directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”), based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, “The Jungle Book” is an all-new live-action epic adventure about Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (voice of Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo (voice of Bill Murray). Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (voice of Scarlett Johansson), a python whose seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (voice of Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire. The all-star cast also includes Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of the fiercely protective mother wolf Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of wolf pack’s alpha male Akela. “The Jungle Book” seamlessly blends live-action with photorealistic CGI animals and environments, using up-to-the-minute technology and storytelling techniques to immerse audiences in an enchanting and lush world.