After delivering a series of awful originals this year, which include The Cloverfield Paradox, Mute, and The Kissing Booth, Netflix finally delivers with Alex Strangelove. A touching film that hits familiar John Hughes-esque territory, but delivers a raunchy, comedic and heartwarming story of self-discovery.
The film follows type-A nerd Alex Truelove (Daniel Doheny), as he navigates the “savage kingdom that is the modern American high school.” He meets Claire (Madeline Weinstein) and they become best friends, start their own web series, and eventually, they start dating. This is where the familiar “You’ll be the laughing stock of the school if you don’t lose your virginity!!” flashbacks kick in, and just like every teenager, Alex is going through the same pressure. But things get complicated when Alex meets the charismatic, gay Elliot (Antonio Marziale), who sends Alex down a rollercoaster of sexual discovery and acceptance.
Netflix’s thought-provoking and controversial series, 13 Reasons Why, returned for a second season after its popular first. In the premiere season, the thirteen episodes were structured around the thirteen taped recordings the late Hannah Baker, played by Katherine Langford, left behind before committing suicide, each explaining why thirteen of her peers receiving the tapes were the reason she decided to take her life. This time around, there are no more structurally-convenient tapes and the show uses the testimonies made during the case surrounding Hannah’s death as the new guide. The latest episodes do a great job of encapsulating where each character ends up following the aftermath of discovering the tapes and Hannah’s death, but major missteps take away more attention.
Recently, legendary director Steven Spielberg went on record stating that he believes that films premiered on streaming services like Netflix should be considered TV movies eligible for Emmys rather than Oscars. This topic isn’t new as the Cannes Film Festival has had issues with Netflix Originals. Attempting to differentiate films by their distribution, however, will lead to a dangerous, elitist territory in Hollywood.
Let me start by saying that Gugu Mbatha-Raw is one of my absolute favorite actors, male or female. So, it breaks my heart that I thoroughly did not enjoy Netflix’s latest original film. Directed by Stephanie Laing, Irreplaceable You shares Abbi’s journey as she learns she is dying of cancer not long after she becomes engaged to her life-long boyfriend, played by Michiel Huisman, and tries to find him a potential mate for after she dies. Along the way with treatment, Abbi encounters different people struggling with cancer as well, like Christopher Walken and Kate McKinnon.
On December 13, 2013, American singer Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth body of work, along with visuals dedicated to each song, was released in the early hours of the morning without any prior announcement or promotion, exclusively on the iTunes Store — in a move following the footsteps of David Bowie, who himself had launched his comeback single, Where Are We Now, without any prior warning during the January of the same year. “I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it,” she commented on her unexpected business technique. “I am bored with that.” The album went on the sale 617,000 copies in the United States in its first three days of availability, becoming the fastest-selling album in the history of the iTunes Store up to that point.
More than four years later, popular American film director Ava DuVernay tweeted that, quote, “#FilmTwitter is going to explode tonight. Something is coming that I can hardly believe. Lawd. History in the making.” Just hours later, Netflix announced during the Super Bowl LII that it would be dropping the latest entry to the J. J. Abrams’ science-fiction horror series Cloverfield, titled “Cloverfield Paradox” immediately after the game.
DuVernay commented on that “something”, now revealed to be the movie, again after the announcement on her Twitter account: “No advance press, ads, trailer. Straight to the people. Gamechanger.”
Do you like watching movies? Do you have Netflix? If you answered yes to both of these questions then you have no excuses for not watching the Netflix original movie, Okja. Now, you may be asking, who or what is Okja? Okja is a fictional super pig and by the time you finish watching this movie, you’ll fall in love with her just as such as I did. I’ll admit, I was terrified of the super pig when I first watched the trailer. But it was getting so many good reviews after premiering at the Cannes Festival last summer that I had to face my fear and watch the movie when it was released.
* This piece is written as the first part of an ongoing series, “The New Age of 21st Century Television: The Good, The Bad & The Weird”, which will talk about the ongoing transition happening on both little & big screens, and the various factors causing that said transition.
* This piece involves spoilers for the series Lost, Gossip Girl, Glee, Game of Thrones; speculations for Game of Thrones & A Song of Ice and Fire Book Series.
The television — not the actual product that is television, but rather the television as in the programs and series presented in a way known for that said product, of course — is living its golden moment right now. Sure, the viewing percentages might be much lower than what they used to be during the nineties, where there was nothing else to do during a week-night if you weren’t living the lifes shown in, you guessed it, the television: even Game of Thrones, which is undoubtedly today’s biggest TV series when it comes to popularity, isn’t able get the numbers that is needed to crack into the top ten list of the most watched television episodes, which finds its lowest point in Home Improvement’s 35.5 million in 1999 and highest in M*A*S*H’s reported 105.9 million viewers of 1983. The newest entry to that list is 2004’s Friends finale episode “The Last One”, which earned its place in number four thanks to 52.5 million people gathering up to watch it. Game of Thrones, with its ever-expanding viewership on each new episode, has the chance of rise above The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (19.9 million) or maybe Full House (24.3 million) one day, but even that seems like a stretch. But this doesn’t mean that people are not watching television anymore, it just means that they’re not watching it on the actual television.