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Thursday, November 12, 2020

5 Recommendations

I have had the astounding luck recently to have watched five different shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime….two movies, two documentaries, and something of a comedic combination…..that all made an impression and all seem particularly relevant to our challenging present. If you are looking for something to watch may I recommend:




“The Social Dilemma”-(Netflix) a documentary on social media and how the tech-world’s desire to increase profits inadvertently polarized the world. 




“David Attenborough- A Life on Our Planet” -(Netflix) part documentary, part life statement, Attenborough uses his own life of 93 years to add context to species loss and global warming. Of particular interest is the last portion where rather than only warn of the threats and challenges, he provides actual examples of solutions already underway across the globe, showing what CAN be achieved if effort is made.



“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” - (Amazon Prime) Sacha Baron Cohen reprises his role as a naive journalist from Kazakhstan…...this time with his “daughter” in tow. You would think a sequel to “Borat” would be impossible. It wasn’t. Or that it wouldn't be as funny. It is. The "cupcake gag" alone is worthy of viewing. Maria Bakalova is an absolute gem as Borat's 15-year old daughter, whose aspiration is to be the next Melania and live in a beautiful cage. What a darling combination of comic timing and sheer guts.




“The Trial of the Chicago 7”- (Netflix) Cohen is back again…..this time as Abbie Hoffman…..flag shirt and all, along with Frank Langella, Michael Keaton, John Carroll Lynch and others in a tale from my childhood where America seems not quite so American as we might wish. 




And finally, “Trumbo”- (On DVD and currently on Netflix) Another true story about American values and how easy it can be to undermine what this country is supposed to be about in the name of patriotism…….and what “patriotism” is about versus what merely waves a flag. Bryan Cranston deftly leads an interesting cast (including Helen Mirren, John Goodman, and some folks known more for comedy than drama ) that delves into the House Un-American Activities Committee and Hollywood blacklisting. (This movie prompted a very interesting discussion between me and Rosa over exactly what it means to be a communist in America. And ‘no’, neither of us are communists. LOL ) I also appreciated the film's reluctance to portray the protagonist as some idol of philosophical and political perfection.

So there you have it. If any of these prompt further discussion, I may follow up with a post going into more detail. But for now, these snippets seem concise yet accurate enough to act as teasers. Please know that I am a finicky viewer and hate (or at least consider mediocre) most everything. I recommend rarely because of the inherent flaws in most of what I see. However, while not perfect, these suggestions easily rise above the fairly high line that routinely prevents me from endorsing other films.  Enjoy watching!  (Or rather…………. Enjoy THINKING! )

16 comments:

  1. Looks like a great list. I haven't seen any of them yet, but another friend highly recommended The Social Dilemma. I also saw a 60 Minutes interview with Attenborough, and it made me want to see his documentary.

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    1. Social Dilemma is a bit scary, yet I was amazed at how I seemed to not be part of the more vulnerable market. Kids have it the worst. It was funny. There were recommendations at the end at how to "fight back" and I laughed at how many I already do routinely. I guess growing up without it, and having no interest at all in Facebook, has pretty much insulated me from the worse dangers.

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    2. A friend of mine described it similarly -- intriguing but scary. Frankly, I figured out several years ago the insidious nature of social media tracking, when suddenly without warning every advert that was served up to me was for Rogaine, Propecia or Viagra. I clearly had been assigned to an unflattering but true demographic bucket!

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    3. Interestingly the ONLY place that has been able to offer fairly accurate recommendations is Google news. However, I don't think they make any money off of what I get fed. The absolute WORST algorithm has to be Netflix's! I've been watching for quite a while and sometimes I just go to their personal recommendations for me just to laugh at them.

      Another loser is eBay. Now I love eBay, but if I had to rely on their recommendations for purchases, I'd never buy anything.

      However, I don't think my tastes, inclinations, shopping patterns, or even my thought processes, are easy to predict by usual patterns. So I think I will be truly impressed when one day they get me right. Then I'll know predictive AI has really come into its own. LOL

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  2. Thanks for the recommendations, I haven't seen any of these yet. The Social Dilemma looks like something I want to see.

    If you don't mind subtitles, might I suggest Barbarians on Netflix.

    Prefectdt

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    1. By all means check it out.

      As for Barbarians? Rosa found that a couple of weeks ago and being avid fans of stuff like that, we watched it.......and to make it a little easier for her, we even switched the language from German to English so that only the Latin needed subtitles. However, by the end, we were both disappointed. Having watched the documentary series on Barbarians -Storm over Europe: The Barbarian Migration on Prime and another on the Celts, plus a few more here and there, we found this series to be heavy on the melodrama and woefully short on substance. It felt way more like a soap opera than a historical drama.

      If you want to see an interesting blend of documentary and dramatic re-enactments, try "Rise of Empires: Ottoman". It's a pretty slick production with fascinating truths amidst the drama about the fall of Constantinople.

      (See? I wasn't kidding about being a finicky pain-in-the-ass. LOL.....but I do thank you for making the recommendation.)

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    2. Pity that you did not like Barbarians. I think that one thing that you did not like is one thing that I liked and that was the soap opera element. I am an enthusiast for history, watch a lot of documentaries and read a lot of books but I found that the adding of the human element of the love triangle and other conflicting but normal relationships managed to humanise the events, even if it was not totally historically accurate.

      I have already seen the Ottoman series on the fall of Constantinople and enjoyed it a lot. That was some months ago now.

      Prefectdt

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    3. I guess I would not have minded it if it was part of the story, but we both felt that Barbarians offered almost nothing in terms of history, strategy, or intrigue and focused way too much....almost solely.....on the human angle. The dialog lacked anything sharp or insightful. Even the human angle was simplistic at best. ( who wants whom, who fucked whom, who wants revenge on whom). I think even "Vikings" succumbed to that after a while, but at least it started strong.

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  3. You might want to check out the Queen's Gambit on NetFlix. It is a fictional story of an orphan girl in the 1960s that grows up to be a world class chess champion. It is a seven episode mini series. I just love the ending.

    ron

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    1. Thanks, ron, I have seen that in the queue and contemplated a view, but with your recommendation I might now give it a try.

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  4. Lately, all I watch is MSNBC, SNL, and Colbert.

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    1. Those aren't bad, but taken as a singular diet, I think you are skewing your experience and also missing out on a lot. A steady diet of anything without variation isn't good for you.

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    2. Since I sit next to Merry for most of her viewing, I can tell you she left out a few shows (Monkees, Partridge Family, Murphy Brown...).
      I also recommend The Queen's Gambit, but that's coming from a chess enthusiast.

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    3. Shilo: I did start watching "Queen's Gambit" and I like it a lot. It also had a deceptively realistic aspect that prompted me to search Beth Harmon.....only to find she is fictional. Thanks for the second motion.

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  5. Thanks for the great suggestions. Watched and enjoyed them all. Graham

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    1. You're welcome. You can add "Queen's Gambit" which was doubly recommended in this thread and which I finished a few days ago. Definitely above the usual fare.

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