This week, I present a potpourri of bingeable stuff. Take your pick or take them all; I did the latter.
“Crip Camp” on Netflix
Were any of us aware that in Upstate New York in the 1950s, a camp for disabled children was begun, or that it lasted for 22 years? How about the fact that in the late ’60s and early 1970s many of the future leaders of the disabled civil rights cause would meet and form a friendship that forged new paths in our country’s history? This documentary, which is often sweet and funny, yet pointedly serious, proudly salutes the Americans who have been marginalized, ignored or reviled all their lives and who take matters into their own hands. These are amazing people whose inner lights shine through their distorted bodies and often difficult speech. Michelle and Barack Obama are, among others, executive producers of this eye-opening and highly recommended film.
“World on Fire” on PBS Masterpiece Theater
I’ve seen three of the eight episodes of this WWII drama and I’m disappointed. It’s difficult to connect with the main characters, even as some of the lesser roles do garner our interest. The script veers between melodrama and stiff dialogue. Helen Hunt plays a no-nonsense female reporter who, as the Nazis begin to overrun their neighbors, tries to warn the rest of the world of the inherent danger they face if nothing is done. Hunt, ordinarily a fine actor, is not effective in the role, but that may be the script, which all-too-often feels written by the numbers rather than flesh and blood humans. A shame, really, because the build-up to World War II and the war itself are usually fertile grounds for excellent drama. This one doesn’t hold up, sorry to say.
“Run” on HBO
The glorious Merritt Wever pretty much takes over any scene in any show she’s in (“Unbelievable,” “Nurse Jackie”) and this new, eight-part dramedy is no different. I think it’s the fact that she’s not beautiful but attractive, that she feels like a real person, one we’d like to have as a friend… even when she’s being a bitch, which she can be in this series. From the first episode only, it’s obvious that her character, Ruby, is conflicted, brilliant, funny and desperate. She is well-matched by Domhnall Gleeson as Billy, an ex-boyfriend from college years ago. They spar, they eviscerate, they are furiously attracted to each other but keep missing moments that might provide the glue needed to make it work. This is not a classic (in any sense) happy-ending romance, but as the script is by one of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s frequent collaborators, Vicky Jones, there’s tension, dark humor and quirky left turns ahead.
“Fearless” on Prime Video
While perusing the Masterpiece Mystery list on Prime Video, I happened upon this six-part British series from 2017 that caught my eye. I’m quite glad it did because, although it doesn’t rank up there with the very best, “Fearless” is entertaining, most especially because Helen McCrorly, an award-winning theater actor, plays the lead, and, boy, is she good! A lawyer who defends lost causes and who really irritates the powers-that-be, Emma Banville is not only representing a Syrian doctor accused of collaborating with ISIS, but also another man who’s been in jail for 14 years, for a crime he says he didn’t commit. And a private life? She carries a very full load: she drinks too much, has a dying father, harbors a wish to adopt a child and cares too much about her clients but never backs down in a fight, even when the enemy is played by the always-excellent Michael Gambon. Fearless? Yes.
Coming on IMDBPro this week:
“Time Warp: The Greatest Cult Films of All Time”
“Volume 1: Midnight Madness”
Information about Volumes 2 and 3 as their debuts approach.
Happy watching, everyone!