ARTS IN LOS ANGELES
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December 2018

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Television!

More Mrs. Maisel!

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel season 2 begins streaming December 5th on Amazon Prime

More Mrs. Maisel!

  • By Michael Jacobo
  • Photo Courtesy of Amazon Prime

We can finally start to get into the spirit of things because The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel returns for its second season this month. In addition to its charismatic lead character and fresh storytelling, the series couldn’t have premiered and succeeded at a better time; the themes of Midge’s life and her fight to be the woman she wants to be during a difficult period of US history struck some chords during a time when women needed to feel validated.

Mrs. Maisel stars Emmy and Golden Globe-winner Rachel Brosnahan as the titular character who, after her husband tells her she’s having an affair, delivers an impromptu set at an open mic night and immediately becomes a hit. It sounds like that monumental, classically cinematic, origin story you hear about all the time. That may be a bit too dramatic, but you can’t deny that the series isn’t that effective. The second season finds Midge broadening — and succeeding — her horizons while also juggling her difficult personal life which includes her estranged husband, Joel. Also starring are Alex Borstein (the Family Guy and MadTV comedian also won an Emmy), Tony Shalhoub (Monk), and Michael Zegen (Girls, Boardwalk Empire).

The series was created and developed by Amy Sherman-Palladino who also created the sublimely popular Gilmore Girls. Amazon has renewed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for a third season ahead of its second season premiere.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” returns December 5th on Amazon Prime.

HOMECOMING!

Homecoming is now streaming on Amazon Prime (Starring Julia Roberts)

HOMECOMING!

  • By RICH ANDREW
  • Photo Courtesy of AMAZON PRIME

Creators Micah Bloomberg, Eli Horowitz, and Sam Esmail deliver a compelling series about soldiers who have come home from war yet continue to battle its lasting psychological damage. The soul of the show is breakout star Stephan James (Shots Fired), who plays disturbed soldier Walter Cruz, but the heart comes from the always captivating Julia Roberts (Wonder). Roberts plays Heidi Bergman, a therapist who re-acclimates soldiers like Walter to civilian life. Roberts adds her usual warmth to a troubled character forced to make some heinous decisions, and as Heidi rides against her conscience, Roberts beautifully imbues her inner struggle with both fortitude and fragility.

This series explores the human need to compartmentalize emotions just to survive, and director Sam Esmail masterfully uses every image to express the suffocating sense of being boxed into circumstances one can neither change nor escape. Amid split screens and alternating aspect ratios, these characters fight to see the sinister truth literally beyond their scope. Even the frame’s edges fall into soft focus, blurry like a memory fading — or as Heidi soon discovers — a trauma being erased for the sole purpose of deploying these soldiers back into battle.

With an outstanding cast that includes Bobby Cannavale (Mr. Robot), Shea Whigham (Sicario: Day of the Soldado), Marianne Jean-Baptiste (Blindspot), Dermot Mulroney (Station 19), and Sissy Spacek (Castle Rock), Homecoming is a welcome revelation.

Homecoming” is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

The Romanoffs!

The Romanoffs is now streaming on Amazon Prime

The Romanoffs!

  • By J. Cook

This is pedigree television, coming at ya, complements of Amazon Prime via Mad Men’s creator Matthew Weiner. That is all you’ve heard, right? That is all I knew going in. You’ve heard of Mad Men, and all the accolades and awards that carries with it? Because they will remind you of that. And so on…

Interesting how long it takes until paragraph three to get to the meat, isn’t it? Expect no different from the these episodes. An hour into the 1st episode, I was still wondering why? Is this supposed to be slow paced a la Leone?  Is it aspiring to be modern literary epic a la Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy? It’s more like Follet’s Century series, which also could not live up to its forebears. But it is good.

The first episode features terrific work by Aaron Eckhart (Erin Brokovich, Thank You For Smoking), Marthe Keller (a ton of things you probably haven’t seen), and Inès Melab (rising star). Because the camera has a tendency to linger, we get extra moments with these folks, which we can commiserate the “why are we here?” with them. Then Weiner finds his way through the weeds to arrive to interesting pastures, but don’t expect revelation. Instead of why? I think more apropos is why not? If it speaks to you, proceed. Craft and performance abound. But don’t watch just because you’ve seen the credits on the billboards.

The Romanoffs” is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

My Brilliant Friend!

HBO’s The Brilliant Friend (Starring Ludovica Nasti and Elisa Del Genio)

My Brilliant Friend!

  • By Michael Jacobo
  • Photo Courtesy of HBO

Any film or television concept that’s developed into a foreign language makes the whole thing seem so smart and effective. Although, once you’ve seen enough, you start to recognize the goods and the bads. Which is why My Brilliant Friend has managed to surprise and entertain me. The mini-series, which premiered on HBO in November and will wrap up this month, explores the issues of womanhood, elementary school friendships, and social taboos, in particular those that pertain to young women.

Adapted from the first book of a popular series of novels, My Brilliant Friend chronicles the lives of two different girls, Elena and Lila, who meet in elementary school in 1950s Naples. The narrator, an older and wiser, Elena, begins to record her history with her friend, the very mischievous Lila, after Lila’s son calls Elena in the dead of night and tells her she’s missing. Then begins a nicely executed story that makes you wonder: do I like this because it’s in Italian? Perhaps at first, but very quickly you become entangled in the dangerously naive world Elena and Lila lived in. The series, a co-production between HBO and Italian networks, prominently features Italian actors, writers, directors, etc; a risky move considering no one we recognize is in it, but at the same a smart move, because it’s a damn good show. Check it out!

My Brilliant Friend” now airing on HBO.

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