Genuine hell and a fictional dystopia

My Brilliant Friend, the HBO miniseries of the first book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet, is playing now on HOT VOD.

December 19, 2018 18:09
3 minute read.
Genuine hell and a fictional dystopia

‘BIRD BOX,’ the latest creepy dystopian drama on Netflix, starring Sandra Bullock.. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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The hottest movie of the year, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, about a Mexican family and its servants in the 1970s, is now streaming on Netflix, and you have the luxury of watching it with English subtitles – or virtually any other subtitles you wish.

Having seen it in the theater, I recommend you venture out of the house if you can read Hebrew well enough to see it with Hebrew titles. That said, it should play well on the small screen. It’s a brilliant movie about the kind of people most of us overlook, and the fact that it is on Netflix guarantees that millions more will see it than if it were playing only in art-house theaters.

My Brilliant Friend, the HBO miniseries of the first book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan quartet, is playing now on HOT VOD. It’s an impressive, meticulous adaptation with wonderful performances that will work even better if you haven’t read the book.

It’s been 40 years since the horrific Jonestown massacre in Guyana left more than 900 dead and YES Docu is presenting a four-part series about it, Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle, starting December 25 at 9 p.m. and continuing on the following Tuesdays. It’s also on YES VOD and STINGTV.

Obviously, we all know how it ended, but this chilling series takes a close look at Jim Jones and his followers. It’s based on the excellent book by Jeff Guin, which I recommend, whether or not you feel up to seeing this series.

What the series and the book emphasize is that Jones was not just some evil lunatic who kidnapped and brainwashed people. He was a passionate, antisegregationist preacher who adopted children of all races long before movie stars made this fashionable. The programs his church ran devolved into abusive and intimidating group dynamics, but in the beginning, they provided much-needed help for working families and gave purpose to the lives of former drug addicts and criminals. As the interviewees in this gripping documentary recall it, he was someone whom almost all of them admired at one time or another.

Among those who speak about their experiences are several of Jones’s sons, who ironically were away at a basketball tournament the day the killings/suicides took place, as well as Jackie Speier, who accompanied congressman Leo Ryan to investigate his former constituents’ plight in Jonestown. Ryan was murdered at the airport on the way back, and Speier has recently written a memoir about surviving the attack.

The truth is, nothing can ever truly explain this bizarre event, but the series does show that more people resisted and fewer “drank the Kool-Aid” (which was really a different brand of juice) than was previously thought. If you think the world is going to hell now, it doesn’t hurt to remember that crazy, inexplicable tragedies have taken place in every era.

The latest small-screen movie starring an Oscar-winning actress in the latest creepy dystopian drama is Bird Box on Netflix, starring Sandra Bullock.

With a premise uncomfortably close to The Happening, the terrible M. Night Shyamalan movie, it starts out when Malorie (Bullock), a solitary artist who is pregnant, learns that people have started killing themselves en masse in Russia. Before you can say “Watch out!” people start offing themselves at the hospital she visits for a checkup.

The twist here is that people see something that leads them to turn psychotic so if you put on a blindfold, you’re safe. It goes back and forth in time between Malorie and the two children she is raising taking a blindfolded boat trip to safety (with two birds in a box that go crazy when they are in the presence of the evil vision, hence the title) and flashbacks to when the epidemic broke out and Malorie hid in a house belonging to a gun-toting John Malkovich with a bunch of strangers.

Bullock seems rather glum, without the energy she brought to her breakout role, the woman who can’t stop driving in Speed, which was almost 25 years ago.

By now, you can tell if it’s for you or not, and it starts streaming on December 21.

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