Category Archives: TV

BLING EMPIRE (2021): The Things I Liked…

Bling Empire (2021): Cherie Chan, Netflix
Bling Empire (2021): Cherie Chan, Netflix

I quit watching reality TV shows a long time ago. Especially the ones where manufactured conflict always seemed to be the order of the day. The way the shows get edited is another factor that forced me to quit. You know, the kind of editing where only a morsel of information gets divulged per episode. And by ‘divulged,’ I mean ‘teased and drip-fed.’

Soon enough, I eventually realised that if you play the first few introductory minutes of an episode, the part that starts with ‘previously on (insert show name),’ and then watch the last few minutes of the same episode, you won’t miss a single thing. But, what you’ll get back is at least twenty two minutes of your life. Fast forward to a few days ago when I decided to watch Netflix’s latest Reality TV show Bling Empire

Undoubtedly inspired by the success of the 2018 movie, Crazy Rich Asians (2018); Bling Empire follows some pf LA’s wildly wealthy Asian and Asian American fun-seekers. We get to watch as they live their lives and attend fabulous parties while showing up in their finest jewels and attire. The reason I decided to watch Bling Empire include my love of Crazy Rich Asians, my desire to be back in LA without actually going back to LA, and just wanting to see a version of the LA-based rich life, but distinctly Asian, of course.

Bling Empire (2021): Christine Chiu, Netflix
Bling Empire (2021): Christine Chiu, Netflix

There are aspects of the show that borrow from the most well known and successful reality shows. For example, from the dramatic drink hurling to other scenes that seemed so contrived, that you could almost see the producer speaking to the cast via earpieces and telling them to do something outrageous and disrespectful for ratings. 

The reason I kept watching even after all the annoyances is an emotional investment in the character stories. Mainly entrepreneur Kelly Mi Li, unmarried young mother Cherie Chan, and Christine Chiu a ‘socialite’ whose real story I couldn’t wait to figure out. If you stick with Bling Empire long enough (beyond episodes two and three), you may find that it’s quite engaging, however imperfect.

The good news for me is that as the show continued, it seemed to move away from applying the most recognisable reality TV tropes, and instead turned into stories of the lives of some of LA’s most privileged Asians. Stories that still weren’t the full reality. However, I was glad to see that overall, Bling Empire is not edited in the irksome fashion mentioned earlier.

Would I say that Bling Empire is a show ‘you don’t want to miss?’ The quick answer is no. What I will say is this, give it a chance if you’re curious enough. And especially if you’re a fan of the movie that inspired it and are open to learning more about a version of the Asian experience.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE NETFLIX AFTER PARTY (2021): New Trailer For Talk Show Series Starring David Spade, London Hughs and Fortune Feimster

The Netflix Afterparty (2021), David Spade, Netflix
The Netflix Afterparty (2021), David Spade, Netflix

New weekly talkshow The Netflix Afterparty is hosted by David Spade, Fortune Feimster and London Hughes. The focus is on conversations, skits and more with stars of the newest and biggest Netflix titles.

Some key guests include comedian Bill Burr, Kevin Hart and other stars such as Lily Collins, Anya Taylor Joy and many more.

I haven’t watched all the shows some of the guests appear in; so I mostly just want to find out how well this concept works and hopefully feel as though I’m in fun company while watching.

It’s already clear tht most of the guests are in shows that premiered weeks, if not months ago. Therefore, something tells me this concept may work better if the featured guests appeared during the week of or soon after the show’s premiers. I could be wrong, of course. Will have to watch to find out. Fingers crossed it’s good and fun.

The Netflix Afterparty Release Dates: January 2nd, 2021 (US), Netflix.

Happy Film loving

G

DEATH TO 2020 (2020): The Thing I Liked…

Death To 2020 (2020), Cristin Milioti, Netflix

My favourite thing about Netflix’s Death to 2020, a comedic retrospective of the year that was 2020 is the phrase ‘Prime Ministerial scarecrow, Boris Johnson.’ I laugh every time I re-read it, because it’s true.

There’s certainly a handful of more amusing moments within the show, whether it’s courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant, Lisa Kudrow, Leslie Jones, Cristin Milioti or several others. Nevertheless, one of my key issues with Death to 2020 relates to how disjointed it feels; even with the narration used to bring everything together.

Furthermore, the show felt a lot like a less amusing version of Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show; even though I’ve only ever experienced The Daily Show via the best clips on their Youtube Channel.

Unfortunately, Death to 2020 also had me nodding off to sleep a few times. A reality I can blame on the above reasons, and the fact that my favourite comics already helped me laugh at 2020, a little closer to when much of the madness was happening.

I say give Death to 2020 a chance if you’re curious. You may not be as avid a consumer of current comedy as myself.

Happy Film Loving and a fantastic 2021!

G

BLOWN AWAY – SEASON 2 (2021): New Trailer For Netflix Glassblowing Competition

Blown Away Season 2 (2011), Netflix
Blown Away Season 2 (2011), Netflix

Netflix series Blown Away is a reality show focused on ten master artists with their eyes on a $60,000 prize and the title of champion. All they have to do is create the best glassblowing sculptures according to a group of judges.

Hosted by Nick Uhas; the contestants include Alexander Rosenberg, Patrick Primeau, Momo Schafer, Leah Kudel, Deborah Czeresko, Janusz Pozniak, Annette Sheppard, Edgar Valentine, Benjamin Kikkert and Kevin Kiff.

Based on some of the YouTube comments, looks like I may be one of very few who are interested in this one. I’m not into the annoying reality TV tropes or tricks that this will surely contain. But I do want to learn more about glass blowing, the people who love it so, and last but not least, I want to feast my eyes on the creative results.

It also looks like I missed the first season of this series. In which case I better start with that. Let’s hope it won’t have me re-thinking my season 2 viewing plans.

Blown Away Release Dates: January 22nd, 2021 (US), Netflix

Happy Film Loving

G

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (2020): New Trailer From Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Bill Camp…

The Queen's Gambit (2020), Anya Taylor-Joy, Netflix
The Queen’s Gambit (2020), Anya Taylor-Joy, Netflix

Based on the novel by Walter Tevis, The Queen’s Gambit is a new Netflix mini-series about a female chess prodigy named Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy).

Also starring Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Bill Camp, Moses Ingram and Harry Melling, the story starts with Beth as an eight year-old orphan who’s quiet, sullen, and seemingly unremarkable. That is, until she plays her first game of chess.

I’m mostly interested in Taylor-Joy’s performance. I’m also curious about Beth’s journey from an ‘unremarkable child’ to a chess superstar. Especially as I wonder what her life might have been like had she not discovered the game.

Chloe Pirrie, Annabeth Kelly, Marielle Heller, Janina Elkin, and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd also star.

The Queen’s Gambit Release Dates: October 23rd, 2020 (US & UK)…

Happy Film Loving

G

LONG WAY UP (2020): New Trailer From Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman…

Long Way Up (2020), Ewan McGregor, Charlie Boorman, Apple TV+
Long Way Up (2020), Ewan McGregor, Charlie Boorman, Apple TV+

Long Way Up is a new Apple TV+ Series that follows best friends Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman as they travel 13,000 miles through Central and South America, on their electric Harley-Davidsons

I’m in mainly for the tour of south America and to witness the kindness of the locals.

It’s intriguing that at time of writing, on IMDb, this series has been classified as Reality TV . I can understand why a little since it doesn’t seem to be a documentary. Neverthless, my fingers crossed that it isn’t edited in the style of reality TV shows. The way there’s only ever a morsel of new information in each episode. Information that will be teased a million times within the episode, before you actually see what happens.

Long Way Up Release Dates: September 18th, 2020 (US)/Apple TV +

Happy Film Loving

G

UNORTHODOX (2020): The Things I Liked…

Unorthodox (2020), Shira Haas, Netflix.
Unorthodox (2020), Shira Haas, Netflix.

In hopes of learning a little something about the ultra orthodox Jewish experience and also because the trailer was great, I watched Netflix’s four episode miniseries Unorthodox. The story of nineteen year old ultra-Orthodox Jewish woman Esther Shapiro, a.k.a Esty (Shira Haas). Young Esty flees her arranged marriage and very religious community for a new beginning in Berlin, Germany.

Episode one of Unorthodox is one of the best – if not the very best one because it’s well-paced, thrilling and very engaging. It starts on the very day that Esty flees Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. The story for all the episodes is then told in a clever way that shows us Esty’s life from the day she flees, combined with flashbacks of what her life was before she got married; before the idea of fleeing became the only option.

The reason why the second episode is my least favourite is because the first one set such high expectations, particularly in terms of pacing. So much so that I really couldn’t wait to see precisely when young Esty’s hopes of a happy marriage would be dashed. Especially because her wedding day, though filled with nerves, also included plenty of joy and hopefulness. It’s unfortunate that the wedding day scenes just felt as though they went on for too long. I’m sure that myself identifying with Esty in her nervousness, that combined with my general aversion to being the centre of attention in a big gathering all worked to make the wedding day seem that longer.

Everything I’d been impatient about in the second episode finally starts to unfold in part three. Haas performs brilliantly in all four parts of Unorthodox but I really felt for Esty in this one because it sold the true loneliness and desperation that comes with being a complete outsider.

The final part is perhaps much like the first, very suspenseful because you have no idea how things will really play out. As a person who tries not to take her freedoms for granted, I couldn’t help but admire nineteen year old Esty. Even though she proved naive in a number of ways, her courage in the face of desperation is something to admire.

Unorthodox is a good miniseries with a great story and very talented cast. It answered many questions for me, including those I didn’t even know I had.

In watching Unorthodox, the main challenge you may face besides the slower pace of episode two is probably trying to stop your mind from correcting ‘Esty’ to ‘Etsy‘. I failed miserably at this and I’ve never even shopped at Etsy.

Watch it because it’s good.

Happy Film Loving

G

MRS. AMERICA (2020): New Trailer From Cate Blanchett, Uzo Aduba, Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Paulson…

Mrs. America (2020), Kate Blanchett, Hulu
Mrs. America (2020), Kate Blanchett, Hulu

New drama Mrs. America has Cate Blanchett playing Conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. Schlafly becomes the leader of an unexpected fight against the Equal Rights Amendment movement in the 1970s.

Uzo Aduba, Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Paulson and Rose Byrne are among the key cast.

I’d been wondering about where one of my favourite actresses had gone. Turns out Blanchett was busy working on a very promising new drama I simply can’t wait to see.

Knowing how far we’ve come with the fight for equal rights, I’m looking forward to seeing Schlafly’s journey unfold. I’d also like to find out to what extent she remained adamant that the Equal Rights Amendment was a bad idea.

Kayli Carter, Jay Ellis, Ari Graynor, Melanie Lynskey, James Marsden, Margo Martindale, Niecy Nash, John Slattery and Jeanne Tripplehorn also star.

Mrs. America Release Dates: April 15th, 2020 (US) / Hulu…

Happy Film Loving

G