Two Movies & Two Series
The Holdovers: A Movie
A superb Paul Giamatti vehicle. Paul Giamatti is a tedious, sourpuss Classics teacher, Paul Hunham, at a boarding school in New England. This movie, along with Sideways in 2004, will be remembered as classic Paul Giamatti films.
Da’Vine Joy Randolph is the kitchen manager, Mary. The holdover student is Angus (newcomer Dominic Sessa), with no where to go for Christmas break.
Paul and Mary must care for Angus over the two-week Christmas break. Mary is happy to holdover; Paul and Angus are unhappy and have several issues to resolve. Fairly predictable adventures happen that are enjoyable to watch and funny at times, but it’s all about Paul Giamatti.
Anatomy of a Fall: A Movie
Do not be intimidated; this 2-hour and 30-minute French movie easily holds your attention and moves quickly. It is not all subtitles; the husband is French, and the wife is German, so they speak English at home as a middle ground. A large portion of the film is in English.
The husband (Swann Arlaud) dies after falling out of their chalet window in Grenoble, France. Was it an accident, or did the wife (Sandra Hüller) push him? Interesting investigations, confessions, interrogations, and French courtroom scenes. Legal people will enjoy seeing the differences in a French courtroom.
The wife, Sandra Hüller, should be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar.
Lessons in Chemistry: Series on Apple TV
If you enjoyed the book Lessons in Chemistry by first-time author Bonnie Garmus, you will enjoy the TV series. Lessons in Chemistry stays mainly faithful to the book. Additionally, Brie Larsen (Captain Marvel) is outstanding as the main character, Elizabeth Zott, accurately portraying the off-beat, intelligent, “feminist-but-she-doesn’t-know-it” chemist in the 1950s.
There are slight changes from the book. Less rowing, less dog training, but the dog is always present. Also, the neighbor, Harriet Sloane (Aja Naomi King), her role grows to highlight some of the racial issues in the 50s, a value-added addition. Finally, the ending is slightly hurried and a bit different than the book’s ending, but still satisfying.
The story moves from the lab to a cooking show on public TV, and Elizabeth Zott is a “feminist-but-she-doesn’t-know-it” star. Lessons in Chemistry would have been much better if there were more episodes.
Black Cake: Series on Hulu
Black Cake is from Charmaine Wilkerson’s fictional novel of the same name.
A mother dies and leaves recordings explaining to her two adult children what her life was really like, correcting the lies she told her kids their entire lives.
The story switches from current times in Southern California to the Caribbean, where the mother was born in the 1950s. The story is complex, more complex than the mother envisioned.
I haven’t finished the series yet, but the first few episodes are very intriguing, fascinating, interesting to watch, and appalling all at the same time. Black Cake tells a captivating story that has many layers.
Mia Isaac plays the mother as a child, Chipo Chung as the dying mother.
Black Cake is a Caribbean Rum Fruit Cake, which will probably come up somewhere in the series.