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The White Lotus streaming on HBO Max

The White Lotus

  • By Nina Sventitsky
  • Photo Courtesy of HBO

The White Lotus is one of two ‘vacations gone wrong’ series available this month that will make you long for the safety of isolation. No, this is not American Horror Story. This is a 6-episode comedy that journeys to the land of the wealthy and oblivious. Within 2 minutes of the first episode you’ve learned that SOMEONE HAS DIED at The White Lotus, a resort on an unnamed Hawaiian island catering to the well-off and connected. By the end of episode 2, you’re having trouble deciding which of the 10 main characters is the most heinously privileged, and who deserves to die the least. And you’ve not even met Molly Shannon’s character; she will drive you up a wall. If this is turning you away, please stay and watch.This is a fun show, with just the right amount of outrageous to keep you chuckling. The cast is well-formed, including Jennifer Coolidge as a wackadoodle heiress with a mother complex. Connie Britton is a Sheryl Sandberg-type exec married to Steve Zahn’s emasculated husband. Armond, the beleaguered GM of The White Lotus is brilliantly played by Australian Murray Bartlett. Filmed at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea – have you been? – the spectacular natural beauty of Hawaii is ever-present and timeless despite the useless frantic machinations of our players. For anyone who enjoys social satire, teens and up. 

“The White Lotus” is on HBO and HBO Max.

Birds of Paradise premieres September 24th on Amazon

Birds of Paradise

  • By Cynthia Lum
  • Photo Courtesy of Amazon

Amazon Studios’ Birds of Paradise written and directed by Sarah Adina Smith, the filmmaker behind the surreal cult film Buster’s Mal Heart with Rami Malek, is a drama film about two dancers at an elite ballet academy in Paris. Adapted from A. K. Smalls novel, Bright Burning Stars, both works follow the dancers while they compete for a contract to join the highly coveted Opera national de Paris. 

Kate Sanders is an ambitious and gifted, if tomboyish, aspiring ballerina from Virginia who, because of her low-income status, is given a scholarship to attend a prestigious ballet school in Paris, France. Upon arriving at the cutthroat, internationally-renowned institution, her confidence and emotional fortitude are tested by a beautiful, mysterious fellow dancer, Marine Durand, who recently lost her brother (and dance partner) to suicide. While confrontational at first, Kate and Marine’s relationship evolves into an emotionally-charged, competitive union beset by lies, sexual awakening and, ultimately, emotional breakthrough as they risk everything to win the school’s ultimate prize: a contract to join the Opéra national de Paris.

Picturesque, sensual and captivating, the images promise what has come to be expected from ballet films — melodrama, identity and sexuality questions and intrigue, all wrapped up in a coming-of-age story. Shot in Budapest and teases some classic ballet garb, the film is sure to be a treat visually and features some stunning dance numbers.

For more, click here.

ROADRUNNER’S Anthony Bourdain

ROADRUNNER

  • By PAIGE PETRONE
  • Photo By FOCUS FEATURES

Almost everyone knows what happened to the extremely complex Anthony Bourdain (for those who don’t, he committed suicide), and he left behind much mystery and many unanswered questions. Unraveling the mysteries and searching for answers to those questions is what the new documentary, ROADRUNNER, tries to do. It does so at a lovely pace and with lots of heart.

It opens with fantastic vintage footage of Bourdain as a bad-ass chef running a restaurant in NYC. It tells the story of how he began traveling the world and sharing tales of his adventures on radio, television, in newspapers, and more. His resumé was full. He was a chef, writer, travel television host, and humanitarian — basically, a real-life Indiana Jones. The film shows how he began to crave the travel, but most of the time was torn apart (emotionally) by what he saw. Anthony had a huge heart. His many celebrity friends share wonderful stories about their friendships and how they felt they owed him. Most barely get through the filming without breaking down. Many feel that maybe they could have helped him. “Or should have kept a closer eye on him.” This is very touching stuff. As the film continues to show Bourdain on his adventures — there is so much footage from the various travel shows — you see him drifting away from reality and questioning life. The film is well worth watching.

ROADRUNNER” is playing in theatres and on various streaming services.

Cry Macho’s Clint Eastwood

Cry Macho

  • By Sasha Gary
  • Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Clint Eastwood is back — producing, directing, and starring in his latest film Cry Macho.Written by Nick Shenk, a longtime collaborator on Eastwood’s films Gran Torino and The Mule, Cry Macho is based on the book by N. Richard Nash from 1975. Nash is perhaps best known for his play The Rainmaker. Clint is still going strong and it’s great to see him still in action. He’s a star for a reason! This film is destined to be another classic. 

Eastwood portrays a washed-up rodeo star who is hired to find and return a young man (Eduardo Minett) to his father (Dwight Yoakam) from Mexico to the United States. They face many challenges during the journey, and Clint’s character tries to teach the young man what it’s like to be a good person and what macho really means. He also finds redemption and a possible love connection along the way.

The movie also stars Horacio Garcia-Rojas (Narcos), Fernanda Urrejola (Blue Miracle), and Ana Reyes (Jane the Virgin), and a friend of mine from acting class! Proud of you! At 91 years of age, Eastwood gives a fantastic performance. He’s the ever so gritty tough guy we have all loved over the years. Will this be his last film? I seriously doubt it. Clint loves what he does, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he already has another one in pre-production! 

Releasing September 17th, click here.