December 14th, 2020

Hillbilly Elegy: Newly released on Netflix, this is a new Ron Howard film with a very good cast, principally starring Glenn Close and Amy Adams. In a recent listing of Best Performances, both of these two actors were mentioned for this story. This is a movie based upon a best selling book. The casting and make up teams have done an excellent job to find talent and then make them look like their real life counterparts. In a rural farm area of Kentucky this family has its origins and we learn that it goes all the way back to the Hatfields and McCoy feud. They are poor, with few prospects. The family moves to small town Ohio early in the lives of the children. The story has three generations with Close playing the Grandma, Amy Adams playing the Mom and then two siblings. The young man was bullied and a bit awkward, but smart enough and finds himself on the verge of breaking free of this rural life. The challenge is that his Mom especially, finds ways to bring him back. Not generally being an Amy Adams fan, I can say that here she plays a character that is very difficult to like. She is what one thinks when you hear the term “hillbilly” or “redneck”. She isn’t a Mother of the Year candidate nor is her Mom. It is not a family really that you would wish to share a holiday meal. If August: Osage County has a dysfunctional aspect, these people have them beat. In the end, I was scratching my head about some of the decisions of the young man. I can understand family and being there for them, but I can also make a compelling case that he helps his family more if he can find a way to break free from the life. I cannot recommend this, but the performances were decent, however unlikeable that they were. Close who is one of the most nominated people without an Oscar will likely garner another nomination here. I won’t predict if she can break her streak.

Safe (series): Safe is a 2018 series starring Dexter star Michael C. Hall. That is a series that I did not watch, but is held in high regard. It is from the author Harlon Cobin, who writes popular crime/drama books. It is an 8 part series, with the typical who-dunnit style. A young person is dead, and the daughter of a prominent doctor (Hall) is missing. Hall, like most fathers would do, is scrambling to find his daughter, and doing some detective work of his own. The police are involved, and they too are following up on leads. The characters in this small gated community are all pretty tightly linked. They are friends, or neighbours and are bound by some collective history. The good doctor’s wife has passed away from cancer, and we see her being buried in the opening sequence. Her death has created tension in his household with his two daughters. The elder one goes missing. The story unfolds rather slowly as various people and their agendas are revealed. The viewer is left thinking about who the ultimate culprit is as the series comes to its close in the final episode. I will reveal nothing further than those higher details. I often wonder about the motivations and actions of various characters, in this instance the teenage mind at times needs to be forgiven. The adults and their situations are a little more perplexing. Was this worthwhile, or at least on par with a Broadchurch (season 1), The Bodyguard (UK series with Rob Stark)or The Fall? No. I can’t say that. It tries hard and means well, but I can’t put it up to those levels of quality. But if you have seen all of those, you can give it a go.

The Mandalorian (Episode 14: The Tragedy) again kept the momentum moving forward after the quality Episode 13, although not the same extent. Baby Yoda is taken to the planet that was discussed and manages to do the expected. Meanwhile, the new Empire leader is busy with trying to re-acquire the Asset. The two parties converge at this site.

SPOILER ALERT. The Mandalorian runs into Boba Fett (hard to not name the character without having a more fullsome discussion about him). Maybe I have the timelines wrong with respect to the Mandalorian but I don’t think so. Boba Fett found and captured frozen Han Solo and brought him to Jabba the Hutt in Empire Strikes Back. In Return of the Jedi, he was seen in Jabba’s chambers and nodded to the bounty hunter (Leia) who brought forth Chewie to Jabba. Boba Fett rather unceremoniously and lamely was felled by a half-blind Han Solo who turned around with a weapon and inadvertently launched Boba Fett’s jet pack to plunge him hard into the wall of Jabba’s sail barge and have him fall into the pit of the Sarlacc (ending with a belch). So seeing him here (with the same actor from Episode II: Attack of the Clones) was odd. It’s the thing about Star Wars people, we remember these not so insignificant plot points and then question how it all ties together. And maybe I am totally off but I am reading The Mandalorian is set 5 years AFTER the Luke timeline but before Rey and the latest episodes. So that doesn’t really work for me. Is Boba Fett resurrected somehow? Did he survive being “slowly digested over a thousand years” as C-3P0 exclaimed in the Sarlacc? Unknown but it makes little sense to bring him back here where there is a universe of characters that could be used that aren’t dead.

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