HBO Max Season 1 review: ‘JULIA’ cooks up drama and delight.

JULIA

JULIA is inspired by Julia Child’s extraordinary life and her long-running television series, “The French Chef,” which pioneered the modern cooking show. Through Julia’s life and her singular joie de vivre, the series explores a pivotal time in American history – the emergence of public television as a new social institution, feminism and the women’s movement, the nature of celebrity and America’s cultural evolution. At its heart, the series is a portrait of a loving marriage with a shifting power dynamic.


Before finishing the screeners, I told friends they had to start the new HBO series “Julia.” The most common response I received was, “Didn’t they do a movie on this?” To be honest, the answer is “kind of!” Have we seen this story before? Yes. Do I care? NO! 

Witty and full of complex cultural commentary, HBO’s “Julia” is an absolute joy. Exploring Julia Child‘s iconic rise with a sharp eye on how it fits into the rapid societal change of the midcentury period, “Julia” succeeds in presenting complex ideas while keeping the show fun. The series is a visual feast of charming period settings, costumes, and sumptuous footage of Julia’s home cooking, recipe creation, and inspirational fine dining. An example is a luxe scene where Julia and her editor Judith strategize in a crowded Boston bar — the only women in sight– dirty martinis in one hand and casually finishing a dozen icy oysters each with the other. Ultimately the chef brings out two whole Maine lobsters served on a large plate accompanied only by ramekins of melted golden butter just at the resolution of their brainstorming– perfection. 

 While the series naturally focuses on Julia’s story and the unique power dynamics shifting within her marriage,  I  found the character studies on the tribe of women that made up her inner circle most fascinating. Fiona Glascott, Brittany Bradford, and Bebe Neuwirth shine in showcasing their own stories as they build the iconic culinary brand together. 

While “Julia” doesn’t shy away from issues you expect for a series set in this period (i.e. egregious workplace sexism), I was intrigued when they also made room to explore more complex ideas about what Julia Child’s success means within the feminist agenda. Despite her own accomplishments, what does it mean to build an empire by motivating homemakers to prepare more elaborate home-cooked meals than ever and raising the bar for what it means to be an ideal wife? Late-breaking cameos from iconic figures of the time play a unique role in bringing many of these factors to light in a way that is bold to incorporate into essentially a tribute piece. 

 My recommendation: Mix yourself a proper cocktail, add a flourish whether the drink deserves one or not, and watch this series.

The eight-episode Max Original comedy series, JULIA is now available to stream in full.


Cast: The eight-episode series stars Sarah Lancashire as Julia, David Hyde Pierce, Bebe Neuwirth, Brittany Bradford, Fran Kranz, and Fiona Glascott. Guest stars include Isabella Rossellini, Judith Light, Robert Joy, Erin Neufer, Jefferson Mays, James Cromwell, and Adriane Lenox.


About HBO Max:

HBO Max is WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer offering with 10,000 hours of curated premium content. HBO Max offers powerhouse programming for everyone in the home, bringing together HBO, a robust slate of new original series, key third-party licensed programs, and movies, and fan favorites from WarnerMedia’s rich library including Warner Bros., New Line, DC, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes and more. #HBOMax #WarnerMedia

SUBSCRIBE TO HBO MAX http://bit.ly/HBOMaxYouTube

GET HBO MAX https://itsh.bo/ways-to-get


 

Review: ‘Inventions that Changed History’ is a Palette Cleansing Delight’ streaming on discovery+

Inventions that Changed HistoryInventions That Changed History reveals the wild and often unbelievable stories behind many of pop culture’s most impactful inventions. Historians, Scientists, Pop Culture Experts and Hollywood Celebrities take us on this wild ride full of information and incredible tales.


Ready to dominate at the next Trivia Night? “Inventions that Changed History” is a light, silly romp that is likely to help your team win a free round. With a mix of historical exposition on familiar inventions– Mr. Potato Head and waterbeds make silly and fascinating segments– it is the perfect palette cleansing alternative to more serious documentaries (or the news). 

Filled with surprising celebrity cameos from fan favorites like Guillermo from “What we do in the Shadows,” Meredith from “The Office,” and Amanda Seals from “Insecure” candidly riffing on a nostalgic parade of core memories for Gen X/ Millennials, the show is a good time all around. In particular, I was locked in learning the origins of the Easy-Bake Oven while simultaneously trying to remember if and how severely I  burned myself– not enough to stop it from being one of my favorite toys. Oh, the 90s! 

A fun concept with plenty of options to explore, this could quickly become a niche favorite. What a treat!


Episodes 1 & 2 Streaming on discovery+ on March 31st

Two episodes premiering weekly through April 14


Executive Producers: Tom Forman, Chuck Dalaklis, Jenny Daly, and Jon Beyer

For Discovery, Wyatt Channell and Howard Swartz serve as executive producers

Scores of Hollywood celebrities like Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Lance Reddick (“The Wire”), Nicole Sullivan (MADtv), Haskiri Velazquez (“Saved By The Bell”), Amanda Seales (“Insecure”), Flula Borg (Suicide Squad), Yeardly Smith (“The Simpsons”), Jeff Ross (Comedian), Eric Griffin (Actor/Comedian), Harvey Guillen (“What We Do in the Shadows”) and Rachael Harris (The Hangover), join in on the fun as they take a hysterical and insightful hands-on approach to the inventions that molded their youth and stayed with them into adulthood.


Episode 2 Inventions:

Mr. Potato Head 

Pop Rocks

Corn Cob Holders

Easy Bake Oven 

Box Wine

Rubber Chicken

Listerine

Vending Machines

 

Episode 1 Inventions:

Waterbeds

Barf Bags

Big Mouth Billy Bass

Flushing Toilet

Super Soaker 

Sea-Monkeys

Pool Noodle

Slip ‘N Slide 


 

Netflix documentary series review: ‘BAD VEGAN: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.’ is the weirdest con job you’ll ever see. Streaming today!


Presents

Bad Vegan: 

Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.
From Chris Smith, the executive producer of Tiger King and director of Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened, comes BAD VEGAN: FAME. FRAUD. FUGITIVES., a wild four-part documentary series that explores how Sarma Melngailis, the celebrity restaurateur behind the glittering New York hotspot Pure Food and Wine, went from being the queen of vegan cuisine to being known as the “Vegan Fugitive.” Shortly after meeting a man named Shane Fox on Twitter in 2011, Melngailis begins draining her restaurant’s funds and funneling the money to Fox after he cons her into believing he could make her dreams — from expanding her food empire to making her beloved pitbull immortal — a reality…but only if she continues to obey his every request without question. A few years later the couple, now married and on the lam after stealing nearly $2 million from the restaurant and its staff, are found holed up in a Tennessee motel by law enforcement. Their undoing? A charge made under Fox’s real name, Anthony Strangis, for a Domino’s pizza. BAD VEGAN: FAME. FRAUD. FUGITIVES. takes viewers on a journey more bizarre than fiction.


On the heels of The Tinder Swindler and Inventing Anna, watching individuals fall under the spell of another human being is fascinating. The overlooked red flags are easy for me to spot as I watch from my couch at home. We’ve watched some crazy stories over the years, but nothing like Netflix’s documentary series, BAD VEGAN. Sarma Melngailis gets into hot water when a conman steals not only her heart but her employees’ money. But, is it that cut and dry? Witnessing this twisted plot unfold, I have serious reservations about the genuine involvement of Sarma in her own undoing. Desperate for funds, her entanglement and secretive marriage to Anthony Strangis leads to massive fraud, lies, and some of the strangest behavior from a smart and successful woman I’ve ever heard of.

The doc has unprecedented footage, some of which looks like it came from Strangis’ cell phone. Sarma’s moments of pushback while on the run show a clear head through her tears and anger. I’m not sure I believe her version. Through sit-down interviews with her former staff, restaurant associates, lawyer, and even her father, I don’t think they know what the real truth is, either. Along with phone calls between Sarma and Anthony, the series spans the rise and fall of this sophisticated businesswoman. The promises and threats she endured are, quite literally, unbelievable. When do we ask Sarma to take responsibility for her part in this apparent lunacy? The book deals and tv appearance feel inevitable if we’ve learned anything from Anna Sorokin (who is being deported back to Germany as of this week). Part of me wants Sarma to rise from the ashes, and yet there is this nagging feeling that she doesn’t deserve it. The series covers a lot, but I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one that has reservations *no pun intended* when it comes to Sarma Melngailis.

BAD VEGAN is now streaming on Netflix. We’re very eager to hear your thoughts as you watch.

Premieres on Netflix this Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

From Director and Executive Producer Chris Smith (Tiger King,
Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened)
Executive Producers: Chris SmithRyann FraserMark Emms


TOPIC series review: Nordic Noir miniseries ‘PIECE OF MY HEART’ grabs you from the very beginning.

PIECE OF MY HEART

(Pala sydämestäni)

In Helsinki, child protection agents, Rita and Laura, work tirelessly to protect children from recurrent trauma. A case becomes personal when it forces Rita to face her own disturbing childhood while Laura struggles to find work-life balance


Episodes 1 -3

Piece Of My Heart boasts a slick story structure. Laura is the newbie in Child Welfare Services and Rita is the old pro with serious baggage. Under a new director and with cases piling up, these two women must immediately pick up each other’s emotional slack to help the children and families under their care. As the plot progresses, clues as to what went wrong in Rita’s last case slowly reveal themselves to the audience. The nuance of performances, especially by women, in this series keeps you glued to your seat. We watch gaslighting, power struggles, intimacy issues, and the navigating of home life. You fully invested in each of them. Director Hanna Maylett and writing team Anna and Aino Lappalainen, masterfully plant the seeds of complexities. You’re kept on your toes in anticipation of something going awry. Leads Lotta Lehtikari and Niina Koponen are striking foils for one another, in every sense. Piece Of My Heart is a genre-bending series of mystery and drama. You’ll be sucked into the show from the very first episode.


***Golden Nymph Jury Special Prize Winner – 2021 Monte-Carlo TV Festival***
***Golden Nymph Television Nomination – 2021 Monte-Carlo TV Festival***

Streaming Exclusively on Topic Beginning February 17th
*Episodes 1-3 available on 2/17 followed by individual episodes each week*


 Directed by: Hanna Maylett (Sisters Apart, Suburban Virgin)
Produced by: Anita Kurvinen (Kotikatu, Tahdon asia)
Written by: Aino Lappalainen (Mersusta seuraava, Evä), Anna Lappalainen (The Spark, Tokio Baby)
Starring: Lotta Lehtikari (Seitsemän, On the Road to Emmaus), Niina Koponen (Urban Family, Rat King), Martin Bahne (The Border, Korso), Saimi Kahri (Täydellinen joulu, Pahan väri), Vilma Sippola (Flowers of Evil, Aktivistit), Manoel Pinto (Armi Aavikko – siinä välissä olin elossa)


About TOPIC
Topic is the boundary-pushing streaming service from First Look Entertainment for thrillers, mysteries, dramas, and documentaries from around the world, serving viewers who crave entertainment beyond the mainstream. Whether it’s a Nordic-noir crime thriller (The Killing), a back-stabbing, an Italian political drama (The Miracle), or a mind-blowing supernatural mystery from Russia (Dead Mountain), Topic expands your view of the world.

Featuring North American premieres, exclusive TV series and film, and programming from more than 40 countries, Topic showcases an unparalleled collection of creators, perspectives, and experiences. Complemented by our Topic Originals, we prioritize bold storytelling and champion underrepresented voices. Topic Originals and exclusives include Oscar® nominee The Letter Room (starring Oscar Isaac), Lambs of God (starring Ann Dowd), BAFTA® nominee The Virtues (starring Stephen Graham), Emmy® nominee The Accidental Wolf (starring Kelli O’Hara), Dark Woods, Gotham Award winning Philly D.A., and Soul City (directed by Chike & Coodie).

Topic is available to US and Canadian audiences on topic.com, AppleTV & iOS, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android & Android TV, Apple TV Channels, Roku Premium Channels, Bell Fibe, and Amazon Prime Video Channels. Topic is part of First Look Entertainment which also includes Topic Studios the award-winning entertainment studio which develops, finances, and produces content for all platforms.