#WFH: 'M' is the Maverick You Need to Unlock Your OTT Binge This Weekend
From Marilyn Monroe to Shakespeare, this weekend's binge watch recommendations have a wide range to suit all tastes.
This weekend deserves a good dose of feel good both in terms of content and form. Yet another devastating instance of a school shooting in the US has captured the global headlines. What happens when even a developed country is unable to keep its children safe? The ethos of an entire society are called into question.
A society that still cannot find a sure place for personal liberties. A society where alienation is spreading like a pandemic. A society where, often, there are no second chances given.
Yes, I'm still talking about the US. What did you think?
Let's move on to the weekend watch-list.
The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes (2022)
"Happy Birthday, Mr President" - the sultriness of this iconic moment in the American pop history is unparalleled. And so is the interest in its protagonist — Marilyn Monroe. From various lookalike competitions to celebrities across the world paying homage — latest being Kim Kardashian wearing the 'Mr President' gown to Met Gala — Monroe has been the centrepiece at the altar of global popular culture.
Directed by Emma Cooper, a new documentary titled The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes aims to demystify, yet again, the personhood of Monroe. And it drops just in time for Marilyn Monroe's 96th birthday.
Cooper collaborates with Irish journalist Anthony Summers to make use of audio tapes archived at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. Summers recorded these tapes when he interviewed Monroe's friends and associates while researching for his book Goddess: The Secret Lives of Marilyn Monroe.
Since a lot has been already known, speculated, and spoofed about Monroe's life, the documentary doesn't work as a whodunit but another homage to her. However, in the light of the recent tensions between US and Russia, Monroe's story becomes more White House than Beverly Hills.
At the height of the Cold War, Monroe and her second husband, author Arthur Miller, were watched by the FBI because of the couple's mingling with known communist figures of the day. On top of this, her relationship with the Kennedy brothers worried the agencies that whatever the President and his brother discussed with Monroe could reach the enemy ears. Eventually, the brothers had to cut her off.
What shines through in the documentary making use of the voices of John Huston, Jane Russell and Billy Wilder, archival footage, and Summers on-screen presence is Monroe's formidable work ethic and her deep vulnerability.
Where to Watch: Netflix
Mom, created by the undisputed king of the American sitcom, Chuck Lorre, is not something one would normally chance upon while browsing through OTT directory. Yet, it's a perfect binge-worthy show that runs into eight successful seasons.
Revolving around the theme of motherhood, Mom is about Christy Plunkett (Anna Faris)—a single mother—and her mother Bonnie Plunkett, (Allison Janney) and daughter Violet (Sadie Calvano). Voilet, too, is a teen mother. There's enough in this package of mothers and daughters to keep you glued for many, many episodes. What makes it more interesting, and deep, is issue of addiction that the show deals with. Mom is about bad decisions, second chances, and the possibility of redemption.
The show highlights the role of support system in a society that is increasingly turning against its most vulnerable sections: women, children, people with disabilities, immigrants, et al. For Christy and Bonnie, their biggest rock of support is the fellow attendees of their Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. The AA members band together despite their idiosyncrasies and help each other while getting through their own conflict-ridden lives.
Mom is a typical Chuck Lorr-ian feel-good drama where fallible characters are rendered immensely likeable through the sympathetic portrayal of the vicissitudes of their lives.
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video
Joel Coen's spectacular cinematic rendition of William Shakespeare The Tragedy of Macbeth is an experience that leaves you with a satisfying aftertaste. And that's when you say a silent prayer for the proliferation of OTT platforms. You can pause, savour, rewind, savour, rewatch, savour your favourite bits of this Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand starrer film.
Watching this Macbeth, you can be forgiven for ignoring the star cast to focus more on the sets and the use of lights. Let's not forget, the Shakespearean tragedy was supposed to be performed at a stage, and you couldn't bring audience to a play during the 16th century unless the production design was good enough for their six-pence ticket.
Washington is magisterial as Macbeth and McDormand is as impressive as always in the role of Lady Macbeth. But the jewel of this crown is Kathryn Hunter's performance as the embodiment of the Three Witches. She is extraordinary.
Critics across the anglophone world are divided over Coen's screen adaptation that aims to marry Shakespeare's theatrical and linguistic brilliance with cinema's liberties. And this part of the charm of the film. Love it, hate it, you cannot ignore it.
Where to Watch: Apple TV+
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