What to Watch, #38

When They See Us, and Netflix and abortion bans

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This week’s top pick is not exactly an easy watch. If you’re not in the mood for something as tough as When They See Us, I want to point out a great new movie in the “new titles worth your time” section.

Always Be My Maybe premiered yesterday on Netflix . It’s a fun, enjoyable, and smart film. To learn more about it, I recommend this great Slate article titled “Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe Is Culturally Specific and Also Hysterical”.

Happy watching and happy Friday!


OUR TOP TV SHOW OF THE WEEK

When They See Us

New on Netflix today.

Some of the best black actors working today team up for When They See Us - the list includes Michael K William (Omar Little from The Wire) Jovan Adepo (Fences) and Jharrel Jerome (Moonlight).

And as most on-camera faces in this miniseries are recognizable (there is also Felicity Huffman and Michael Peña), so is the writer, director, and creator of the show, Ava DuVernay. She is the director of Selma, for which she became the first female black director to ever be nominated for an Oscar.

I’m spending a lot of time on credentials because the performances and high-quality direction are one of the few things that will get you through this show. It’s a tough watch - chronicling the story of five black teenagers who get falsely accused of rape. The case, known as The Central Park Five, was also made into an excellent documentary by the same name (available on Amazon Prime).

When They See Us goes through the mechanisms and details of how the U.S. justice system framed these teenagers. It also pays special time to their time in prison, and their family relationships. It’s an excruciating but incredibly important watch.

📰 The Atlantic’s Sophie Gilbert: “This is a work that wants viewers to see these people, and the fullness of their humanity, above everything else. What this means is a miniseries that's both profoundly rich and extraordinarily hard to watch.”

📺 on Netflix everywhere.; 🍅 rating: 88%


OUR TOP MOVIE OF THE WEEK

The One I Love

Added to Netflix today.

Calling The One I Love a romantic-comedy does not do this movie justice. Looking it up or watching the trailer may spoil it. If you don’t mind experimental films - I recommend just watching it.

If you’re usually opposed to movies with “love” in the title - then this one is for you. The initial WTF-ness that attracted me to it is compelled further by excellent acting. Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass play amazing co-stars.

📰 The Washington Post said: “Like figures in a funhouse that is both philosophical and phantasmagoric, the characters in The One I Love spook you, both inside your head and inside your heart.”

📺 On Netflix U.S. and select other geographies; 🍅 rating: 81%


Readers’ top picks

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind on Netflix gets our readers’ 🏅. It tells a true story of a kid in Africa who defeats all odds to save his family from a famine.

  • Rilakkuma and Kaoru also on Netflix, a recent mid-week pick is our readers’ favorite TV show. It’s a Japanese stop-motion series about a lonely office worker who has teddy bear roommates.


New titles worth your time

  • Always Be My Maybe stars Ali Wong (who you might know from the hilarious Netflix special Baby Cobra) and Randall Park. It’s a charming and easy watch with many laugh-out-loud moments.

    A new German Netflix Original is premiering today called How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast). It’s a comedy about two high schoolers who start an online drug business, and it’s Netflix’s biggest German production since their hit show Dark.

    Also new on Netflix today are our two top picks.

  • The much anticipated BBC series Good Omens is new today on Amazon Prime. Based on a fantasy story by Neil Gaiman, it stars Michael Sheen as an angel and David Tennant as the devil.


Great titles that will soon expire

  • The amazing Korean horror/fantasy movie The Wailing is leaving Netflix this Sunday, June 2nd. Critic Jada Yuan of Vulture once described it as "operating on a level that makes most American cinema seem clunky and unimaginative."

    The alien blockbuster District 9 and the fun Chris Pratt sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are both leaving Netflix Monday, June 3rd and Tuesday, June 4th respectively.

  • The Belgian dark comedy The Brand New Testament is leaving Amazon Prime next Thursday, June 6th. It’s about God, who in this movie is a grumpy sadist who lives in Brussels and who created humanity just to have something to torment. When his daughter finds out (Jesus’s sister, of course), she decides to escape the house and write a new testament. Nominated to ten Magritte awards, it has developed into a cult classic.


The Newsflash: Netflix and abortions

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made headlines this week for threatening to pull his company’s investments in Georgia, citing the state’s recent abortion ban. His statements prompted headlines like this one on Variety:

Netflix the Only Hollywood Studio to Speak Out in Attack Against Abortion Rights

However, as explained in a little-shared Washington Post article titled “The myth of the woke corporation”, Netflix’s CEO has also donated over $143,000 to Republican legislators in Missouri who later introduced an abortion bill similar to the one in Georgia.

Why do this? It turns out the same Republican legislators who support abortion bans also support giving Netflix tax cuts in Missouri. And it turns out, Netflix CEO didn’t mind their stance on abortion rights.

To summarize:

  1. Netflix funds Missouri Republicans who will give it tax breaks (and, small but important detail, Republicans who support an abortion ban)

  2. Netflix threatens to leave Georgia because of its abortion ban (but also tax cuts in Missouri are looking good?)

  3. Netflix wins bonus PR points as a “woke” company, but most importantly bonus million dollar points in tax cuts if it moves, say, from Georgia to Missouri.

As that Washington Post article also points out, Netflix has a history of putting finances before what it would have you believe as values:

Netflix weighs its values differently when there’s a question of gaining access to lucrative foreign markets. Earlier this year, the company complied with a “take down request” from Saudi Arabia’s government, pulling an episode of “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” that criticized Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman so that it would no longer be accessible to Saudi viewers.


The next edition will be in your inbox on Friday, June 7th.

Until then,

Bilal Zou, founder [bilal@agoodmovietowatch.com]

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