If there’s one positive thing to come between this year and 2020, it’s the plethora of movies that have been released digitally through a number of online platforms. As recently as this week alone I’ve caught my fair share of films from the comfort of my own home. Boogie (Netflix), Awake (Netflix), and In The Heights (HBO Max) are all movies I’d recommend for different reasons but the later of the three here strikes a connective chord with me. A musical by Lin Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), it delivers points throughout the film; from gentrification, relationships, to most importantly, the varying kaleidoscopes of Latino culture. I don’t want to glaze over an important factor of In The Heights that Miranda shares, and that would be the beauty in the imperfect perfection of the cast in its entirety. Throughout the movie, we all see how this country is full of talent that would have never received the opportunity to be cast in some of these roles because they do not “fit” Hollywood’s typical standard of beauty. These are everyday people we may have never known who are extremely talented! This opens doors for man brown people with an over-abundance of talent.
MR. INBETWEEN (FX/HULU)
If there is one show that is intriguing since it first began airing, it was Mr. Inbetween. It may have taken some time, but I finally did get around to it. It’s an Australian show picked up by FX here in the States that can be streamed on Hulu. It revolves around Ray Shoesmith (Scott Ryan), a former soldier that works security at a strip club. When he’s not working there, he doubles as an enforcer and hitman. He splits custody with his ex-wife over his 9-year-old daughter Brittany (Chika Yasumura), an innocent, friendly little girl that sees nothing but the best in her dad.
Episodes spin in and out quickly and while we see the violence Ray is capable of, there are lines he won’t cross. But there’s also a level of respect he’s willing to give others so long as he receives the same in return. There are a number of supporting cast members, most notably his best friend Gary (Justin Rosniak). This is the type of best friend people wouldn’t normally have but if they did, it’s a friend that rides with you, without question. Situations each one finds themselves are in abundance, they are willing to kill for one another, without question, because their friendship is much thicker than blood. Our protagonist here has a bit of moral flexibility throughout the show as I mentioned earlier but it’s also a roadblock of sorts. It doesn’t afford him the ability to build relationships unless they’re wrapped around crime & violence. There are times in our culture when we need individuals like Ray Shoesmith, but this is fiction after all. Or is it? Mr. Inbetween is a well-oiled machine that’s quick-paced and delivers with each episode. Hulu currently has 3 seasons but don’t expect a 4th. The series is limited but it’s worth its weight in gold.
WARRIOR (HBO MAX)
If there are any doubts that Bruce Lee was far ahead of his time, then Warrior (HBO Max), should quiet the Doubting Thomas in every critic. Bruce Lee had amassed a healthy catalog of his own writings, some of which centered around the old west and a Chinese hero. Back in the 70s that was just one of his treatment ideas, ideas Hollywood studio executives scoffed at. Who would support it? How could he even think of pitching something so farfetched? Lee was one of the biggest action heroes of the time and since he couldn’t find success in American studios, it prompted his return to China. Studios in America though, banked on his idea and created a television show based around a “Chinese” character entitled “Kung Fu” starring David Carradine. The show was a moderate success running from 1972 to 1975 and as we look back now, yes Bruce Lee was ahead of his time, 50 years to be exact.
Warrior follows the story of tong (gangs) wars during the late 1800s, all of which were looking to gain dominance over one another in Chinatown. Ah Sahm, played by English actor Andrew Koji, arrives in San Francisco and quickly builds his reputation as a scrapper with skills. His ascension is slow but steady running into road bumps and constant battles with police, rivals, and organized Irish workers. His American grandfather taught him and his sister, who he later finds is the head of a rival faction, English and he’s able to use it to his benefit early on. There’s blood, violence, multiple storylines, in the action-packed Warrior, which was picked up for a fourth season. The show originally aired in 2019 on Cinemax and later moved over to HBO proper. The show is produced by Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, and directed by Fast & Furious director Justin Lin. This is the show to watch. Literally. There are 2 seasons with lengthy episodes and season 3 is on its way. This show is so good, fans are already campaigning for a season 4. But don’t take my word for it, you won’t be disappointed.
SWEET TOOTH (NETFLIX)
“Once upon a time, bad people ruled the Earth. They were greedy and self-destructive, so nature made everyone sick. And then, a miracle happened.” These were just a couple of lines pulled from the latest adventure called Sweet Tooth, playing on Netflix. It’s a not so complex story of a dying planet on the brink, with a virus that took the life of billions. Through the chaos, the mysterious emergence of hybrid babies emerged. They were born part human and part animal, leaving many with questions as to how or why they were born. While everyone is unsure as to the why, many believe they were the cause or result of deadly virus that ravaged humanity. Many feared the hybrids and would openly hunt them. The story is as old as time; humanity fears and destroys what it doesn’t understand.
Culled from the pages of Vertigo’s comic of the same name, the story revolves around Gus (Christian Convery) a half-deer, half human hybrid, raised by his father Pubba (Will Forte) out in the woods, away from humanity. Pubba’s attempt to keep his son safe and away from the rest of humanity is cut short and Gus is forced to strike out on his own. He’s helped along the way by Tommy Jepperd who Gus lovingly refers to as Big Man. With Big Man’s help, Gus avoids imminent danger at just about every turn as he searches for his mother, whom everyone presumes is dead. The remaining government faction The Last Men are intent on finding a cure, forcing medical staff to do horrendous and unethical things, all in the name of finding a cure. The story sometimes moves at an incredible pace while at other times basking in the sweetness of misunderstood children. The show is produced by Team Downey (Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan Downey) and directed by Jim Mickle. An excellent job is handled by all.