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By Anne Brodie

Unfrosted, the true but enchanced story of Pop Tarts, directed by and starring Jerry Seinfeld boasts a massive cast of funny friends including Jim Gaffigan, Melissa McCarthy, Hugh Grant, Patrick Warburton, Max Greenfield, Amy Schumer, Jack McBrayer, Cedric the Entertainer, James Marsden, Tony Hale, and Peter Dinklage. Here’s the plotline “In 1963 Michigan, business rivals Kellogg’s and Post compete to create a cake that could change breakfast forever.” Meh. Now on Netflakes. I mean “flix”. We’re ignoring the current, unrelated Seinfeld storm in a teacup.

The Beatles’ 1970 documentary Let It Be from Lindsay Hogg and lovingly restored by Peter Jackson’s team makes its streaming debut May 8th on Disney +. It’s an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the band preparing and recording some of their most loved rock anthems, and the mixed emotions they shared as their time together dwindled. Bittersweet, nostalgic, and filled with revelations, it followed their final split following the famed London rooftop concert. They’d tried to make a go of it once more and recapture the past but failed, bringing to an end to the most beloved bands of all time. Nuff said. Take a listen.

Jeanne Bécu, born in 1743, France in poverty was a beauty and adventuress, but she suffered from the label “illegitimate” and her sexual escapades, and was sent to a convent. She read and educated herself so she was able to carry on sophisticated conversation. The nuns threw her out she and she segued that beauty and sexual appetite to draw wealthy and important suitors, suitors who showed her off in the Court of Louis XV. He took notice and they began a passionate affair to the horror of the courtiers and his many daughters.  French filmmaker Maïwenn wrote, directed, and stars as Bécu in Jeanne Du Barry opposite Johnny Depp as King Louis and brings this little-known but fascinating historical character to life. Bécu gloried in the disdain of the wellborn court snobs who looked down on her; she wore extravagant clothes, often menswear, laughing, joking, looking at the King directly in the eyes in public, and refusing to leave him by bowing and scraping backward as the others did. He was not only charmed but amused; finally, a woman spirited and fearless enough to resist the rigidity of tradition. He gives her endless diamonds, a large home on the Versailles lands, and a little boy, Zamor (Ibrahim Yaffa) with whom she establishes a strong mother-son bond for the rest of her life.  Catty courtiers descend on her for her arrogance, curiosity, and spunk as they spoil themselves with the wealth and privilege of the courts, for which they will soon pay in the French Revolution. Depp’s pretty good as the dissolute but loving King and Maïwenn’s powerful presence carries the film, but it suffers from the longest, most drawn-out death scene in movie history.  The visuals, art direction, costuming, and look of it are gorgeous, a big screen experience to be sure and it’s fun to learn who was in the public crosshairs before Marie Antoinette showed up to marry the King’s son, le Dauphin, played by Maïwenn’s son Diego Le Fur.  The film’s an eyeful more than anything and there’s nothing wrong with that. In theatres.

Catching Fire: The Story Of Anita Pallenberg by Alexis Bloom and Svetlana Zill offers a sobering look into the massive social and cultural changes of the sixties era in the West when pop, music, drugs, sex and style seismically changed things, and it looks at the results, frequently tragic, of excess. Pallenberg, a German artist and personality is the focal point via her famous relationships with members of the Rolling Stones who, despite decades of alcohol and heroin addiction, miraculously survived into her seventies. Interviewees including her children Marlon and Angela Richards, Marianne Faithfull, Kate Moss, Volker Schlöndorff, and Prince Stanislas Klossowski de Rola, who say she was a fascinating and magnetic person, able to command a room through her beauty, confidence and imagination. She was a loving mother to Marlon who executive produced the doc. Their daughter Angela was sent away to live with Keith’s mother early on and never rejoined them; a son Tara was born and died of crib death. Pallenberg’s first Stone was Brian Jones, but she couldn’t bear his drug addled, violent rages. Keith stepped in to protect her in a relationship that lasted two decades while Mick was rejected; wags called her the Alpha of the Stones. A gossipy and florid look at an era and a touchstone is immensely interesting but tinged with sadness with the many tragedies that befell Pallenberg and her circle. Scarlett Johansson narrates. Theaters and TVOD.

Finally caught Netflix’ massive hit Baby Reindeer and I’m still shaking. Edinburgh writer and comedian Richard Gadd produced, directed, and stars in this autobiographical series that’s so well made that it gets into your emotional bloodstream immediately, stays there and leaves you gasping.  It’s about two episodes in his life of sexual horror. A woman called Martha (Jessica Gunning) comes into the bar where he works, they chat, and he gives her a free coffee because he feels sorry for her. She shows up every day and quickly becomes over-attached to him; he’s patient but his boss won’t allow him to bar her; they like watching him squirm. He tries to reason with her but always gives in and allows her certain access. Police don’t help and she sits 19 hours at a stretch outside his home. It gets ugly; her extraordinary manipulative powers and his weakness allow it, but the affair reawakens the deeply traumatic sexual abuse he suffered and had tried to bury. We see the historic attack – pure horror. The whole thing’s based on Gadd’s own experiences, it’s voyeuristic, unrelenting, and nauseating. According to the Hollywood Reporter, over some years, the unnamed woman sent Gadd 41,000 emails, 744 tweets, 100 pages of letters, and 350 hours of voicemails and now accuses Gadd of stalking her. Watch at your peril.

Netflix’ six-parter A Man in Full stars Jeff Daniels in a wowzer of a performance as Charlier Croker, owner of a powerful Atlanta real estate company, a despicable human being with no guardrails, created by Tom Wolfe in his novel and gleefully interpreted by Daniels. He’s always had power, as a college football star, now as a man of immense wealth and decisive action, in whom “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Croker’s given himself every ostentatious luxury money can buy. He underpays staff as he takes private planes to the massive plantation he built to hunt quail and breed horses. His loyal serfs are afraid of him, his stinging rebukes and routine emotional abuse but they’ll do what he tells them to do, legal, ethical, moral or not. And then he lands in the soup. The Bank calls for repayment of an 800-million-dollar loan, he refuses and threatens a lawsuit. But that’s only part of his debts. He hopes to wow a wealthy developer and his wife at his plantation for a loan, but missteps, forcing them to watch a violent and enforced penetration of a female horse; they run in horror and demand to leave; strange as Croker was told in advance they were PETA supporters. His son lets him have the truth about himself and his braggadocio, insensitive bullying, and extreme, undisciplined thinking (strangely familiar!). Authorities meet him at the airport as he takes his guests home and repossesses his plane. Stoically blind or uncaring concerning his misdeeds, enemies line up behind him, knives in hands, like he was Julius Caesar. It’s an eye-opening journey for a deeply flawed man as Daniels delineates him. From David E. Kelley. Listen for an exchange about nuclear warheads and dancing embers.

And also on Netflix, the Irish village murder mystery Bodkin, in rural Ireland has an unusually unlikeable lead character – journalist Dove (Siobhán Cullen) a New York-based immigrant with a bristling personality, tendency to go off in peoples’ faces or ice them out. There’s no middle ground with her, so her journalism is suspect; except that she’s often right in this perplexing series about cold case disappearances. Dove’s been reassigned to return home to Ireland to co-produce a true crime podcast (beneath her!) and gives her boss an earful. She comes this close to losing her job, so buckles down and joins Gilbert, American podcaster partner (Will Forte), and loathes him on sight; he’s too cheerful, too friendly, and too American. He’s researching the disappearance of three people in Bodkin, located by a rocky coastal cliff, during a traditional Irish celebration years earlier. Emotions still run high. Gilbert’s team is to earn the trust of the locals and find out the who what where when and why those people vanished. But Dover prefers break-ins, bulldozing and irritating people, and doing it all alone. She even engineers a break-in to the room of an ancient bedridden nun to grill her. There is no end of suspects, motives, and secret histories and it turns out, bad people who might have disappeared those folks. The locals and the podcasters spend much time in the local pub, listening to folksy music, creating massive hangovers, and in the podcasters’ case, trying to catch people off guard for dirt. A complex network of relationships pulls the tiny village together, as the podcasters leave no stone or bottle unturned and Dove goes off in all directions. An odd entry in the pantheon of folksy British crime series. May 9.

The BBC’s Sister Boniface, Season 3 has landed on BritBox. Each episode is a feature-length murder investigation, led by the local top cop Sam Gillespie (Max Brown) in partnership with the local convent vintner, Sister Boniface (comedian Lorna Watson) whose natural instinct for biochemistry, physics, weaponry and murder, have cracked many a perplexing case. This time the perfect classic mystery set up – characters of all stripes isolated in a single space – here in Ep 1, a train headed to London during a freak blizzard on Christmas Eve. Sister B’s reluctantly heading home for some Christmas no-cheer with her mirthless atheist parents, Gillespie’s heading to family, and a precious jewel, the “Star of the Orient” is locked in a steel chest, enroute under heavy guard to the London Museum. The man who owns the jewel wants rid of it – it’s cursed and has ruined to its owners. So he’s gifting it to the Museum – (what about its potential ruin?). A few odd others – a married aristo couple, a Sikh envoy, a young girl, and they later find out, a stowaway. Their car separates from the rest of the train due to equipment cracked by the cold, maybe. So there they sit, dwindling food and drink, freezing as time goes by with zero means of communication. The plot brilliantly knits together events at the convent without Sister Boniface, intense suspicion within the stranded train cars, and oops, a dead body, along with one found earlier in the village, all connected to The Jewel. What fun! Wish I’d had time to watch all the episodes. 

And there’s a new FREE streamer in town in the US and Canada, The Network. Sign up at and there you’ll find John Leguizamo in a role way out of his wheelhouse, a character of cruelty and hypocrisy in The Green Veil. There’s also a satirical series Chivalry with Steve Coogan and Wanda Sykes. Ok just two shows to start but I’ll stand by.



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