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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

What I've Been Watching (November 2020)

What another great month of viewing.

Current ratings system:

  1. I wish this was never made

  2. Don't let anyone see this

  3. I'm not suggesting this to anybody

  4. Only if nothing else is on

  5. You can wait to see this

  6. Watchable, but not memorable

  7. Suggested

  8. Highly Recommended

  9. Must See

  10. Rush Home and Put this on Now

Feedback is appreciated. Thank you.

New Watches:

The Queen's Gambit (Season 1) - Netflix

- The show that literally everyone in America but my family is watching. I picked it up on the recommendation of a friend, and quickly binged this one. It is fun, it is lighter than the subject material would suggest, it has the feeling of a good sports movie, and it's just a quick romp. I really don't know if there will ever be a Season 2 since the book it was based on was a one-off, and I'm both apprehensive yet desperately wishing for more. Yet, this is exactly the type of show, mini-series, or storytelling that we need right now, and that the streaming revolution has allowed us to do. Yes, this, much more of this.

Rating: 9

Red River (1948) - Prime

- Great John Wayne/John Ford classic, but, to me, this just further solidified my possibly controversial opinion: Montgomery Clift was a better star than James Dean but doesn't get the lionized status because his tragedy was slower. Clift is outstanding in this film as he seems to be in every new film of his that I pick up. As usual with a Ford movie, he gets the most out of what is a seemingly simple and usually mundane premise by creating tension in ways you don't anticipate until they have sprung up on you, and the interplay between Wayne and Clift as a pseudo-father and son is beyond compelling on multiple levels both in generational legacy and in their budding conflict. The only issue I have is that I can't decide if the ending was exactly right or if it is disappointing, but you'll have to watch to find out for yourself.

Rating: 7

Holidate (2020) - Netflix

- I will confess that I watched a lot of trashy Netflix this month that didn't make it onto the list. I can only embarrass myself so many times on here, but this is one that I will gladly admit to. While the Emma Roberts character is rather whiny and mostly unlikeable, on the whole, this is a rather charming movie. It certainly isn't exploring anything new or anything that hasn't been done before, but it likely will create a new term in exactly what a Holidate is. I won't spoil it, but it basically does end the way you would expect.

Rating: 6

Dash and Lily (2020 - Limited Series) - Netflix

- Another based on a book mini-series, I binged like all 7-8 hours of this in one sitting on a Friday night (yes, I'm obviously single). That being said, I loved how this was so mysterious at times, really steered right into the episodic nature of the show, and let this very naturally build in a very elegant way. For me, this was obviously an easy binge, and I'm waiting to see if Netflix picks this up yet to adapt the second and third books from the series. Curious where it would go from here, but this is a perfect holiday series to binge with your mom or SO.

Rating: 7

Midnight at the Magnolia (2020) - Netflix

- Certainly a decent premise here, two best friends that do a radio show together finally realize their feelings for each other. There is the obvious trope of a family business in trouble and someone having to choose between their career and love. I'm curious how much Netflix will steer into the Hallmark space and claim that too in the coming years. Fun, light, but nothing special ultimately.

Rating: 6

Palm Springs (2020) - Hulu

- This is one that I waited awhile to watch, but did so over Thanksgiving weekend while I was staying with my parents, and had downtime to kill. I'm glad I finally got to this. First off, the time loop thing hasn't been overused yet, and so it wonderfully works here especially because they expand on a lot of the different ideas associated with it such as multiple people being caught in the time loop, people getting caught in the loop at different intervals, and how to escape in a daringly new way. Samberg has found a great niche after his SNL period, and I'm so glad to have him particularly because I really undersold his ability and value when he was on SNL. As always, I love me some JK Simmons, and he never disappoints with how good he is EVERY SINGLE TIME. Finally, Cristin Milioti, I don't know who found her to be on How I Met Your Mother as the mother in the last season, but that was when I was introduced to her and I have been deep in her camp ever since. She is so vulnerable, engaging, lovable, silly, warm, charismatic, and accessible all at the same time. This movie was famous for setting the record for highest grossing sale from Sundance, but it is so much more. If you have a Hulu account, you need to watch this as it may be in my eventual top 10 of the year.

Rating: 9

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009) - Netflix

- I believe this is the last of the McConaughey rom-coms before we got the McConnaissance. However, they did a very good job blending the tried and true premise of Dickens' Christmas Carol premise with trying to reform the rom-com pillar trope of playboy bachelor. I loved the few passing supporting scenes with Michael Douglas especially since he has embraced this side of himself (see The Kominsky Method), but this was truly a McConaughey starrer, and he definitely carried this one. He is everything you could want in a leading man movie star, and that's why his turn from the easy go-tos is so interesting. He has definitely overhauled his image, his career, and his approach seemingly to everything, and I believe he has actually become a much bigger star as a result. It's a little sad that we don't get these kind of decent middle-of-the-road movies or performances by him, but that makes these good not great movies even better.

Rating: 7

Hillbilly Elegy (2020) - Netflix

- I definitely have to say that I was very curious about this movie when I saw that it was going to come out, and that it was circulating early on some pre-awards season Oscar lists especially given who was attached to the project: Amy Adams (bridesmaid Best Actress - always nominated, never wins), Glenn Close (Maid of Honor of bridesmaid Best Actress who got robbed for her performance in The Wife despite how much I love Olivia Colman), and Ron Howard who happens to be on my short list of directors I usually watch everything they make. So, when I saw all the scathing reviews of this after I watched the movie last week, I was rather shocked, and then kind of disappointed because I realized how many good points they made. I personally didn't think this was nearly as bad as many of them claim, but many of the parts were grossly overacted looking for awards level buzz, the writing clearly had as much sympathy for these people as "elites" are accused of having, all of the characters depth and dialogue was shallow and stereotypical, and I was left not sure whether I was supposed to sympathize with JD or his family. Overall, this won't be something that is likely going to come up again, a one and done Netflix watch that is added to a similar pile as many others before it.

Rating: 3


Citizen Kane (1941) - HBO Max

Rating: 6

Singin' in the Rain (1952) - HBO Max

Rating: 10

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011) - Hulu

Rating: 8

All three of these are going to be coming up eventually on the Greatest Movie of All-Time Podcast. So I don't want to reveal my full thoughts before we get to these on the show. I will simply leave recommendation levels for you to pick at before we go. The one thing I'll mention here is that part of my rewatch of Citizen Kane was for the much anticipated release of Mank from David Fincher coming out on December 4 on Netflix. So, if you plan to watch Mank, you should go back and watch Kane on HBO Max since a lot of the plot turns on that movie.

My Weekly Shows:

This is Us (Eps. 5.3-5.4) NBC

- I never feel like I can get enough of this show, and it really bums me that we only got a few episodes before we had to break til January. Thanks 2020. However, the amount of great stuff that they packed into these four (way too short) episodes was outstanding. We already have four or five great storylines to follow for the rest of the year. I do hope we get as many shows as possible, and as close to a full season as possible because I truly look forward to this each week. The acting and writing are always dead on, and there are so many great performances. Honestly, for a show to be this good yet this far on is truly a great wonder to me as most shows like this lose their thread after a season or two. Outstanding work.

Rating: 10

The Mandalorian (Ep. 2.2-2.5) Disney+

- After an absolutely great episode one of season two, we had Egg-Gate 2020. This has to be one of the worst controversies I've seen in awhile since we didn't even give this the week to redeem itself as it did. While it is disturbing to the mythos of Star Wars to have a Jedi be non-vegetarian, the character is a child, and doesn't understand all of these things yet. Still, while episode 2 was a decent bridge, we got a lot of red-meat in episodes 3 and 4 with the return of Moff Gideon, some reveals about the intentions of the dark side for the Child, and a great guest spot by Katee Sakhoff. Obviously, I would expect that the amount of bigger actors dropping into this series is not just to use them for a sparing episode, but to eventually have a great reappearance at some point which has me giddy. All in all, I'm definitely not the first, only, or even the thousandth person to say this, but every week this show proves what is possible for Star Wars going forward if you have the right creative minds behind it that understand the original vision and tone of the show. That being said, there are so many genres and setting to explore yet, and I am truly excited to see where this all leads with many exciting names attached to properties of the series in the future. Additionally, even though I never watched the animated Star Wars series, Ah-soka Tano was awesome in only ways a Jedi can be (they're always magical for me), and Baby Yoda and the Child are no more. That's right, we can finally have a good name for the character, Grogu!

Rating: 10

Superstore (Eps. 6.2-6.4) NBC

- They did find a way to break-up Jonah and Amy in a natural enough way to let her character go without too much noise, but it ended up giving America Ferrera a stunted send-off. Nothing about her ending on the show felt great or meaningful or that we were paid-off as an audience for watching this for a number of year already, and it is indicative of the show's arc as a whole. It had an interesting beginning and premise, but has waned and faded since. I can honestly say that there isn't one character on here that I truly care about going forward, and I would have already stopped watching this show had it not been that it was light enough for casual viewing with the occasional laugh they get each week for having a decent joke on what work is like in a Superstore. Yet, I'm almost at my breaking point with this show given that we're in an "attention economy" and there's way too much on to waste time with a show that's no longer creative or going anywhere.

Rating: 4

A Million Little Things (Eps. 3.1) ABC

- Great first episode back. My prediction that the car accident they cliffhung us on at the end of last season wouldn't be serious turned out very wrong within the first five minutes. The reveal about the accident was even more unexpected. This show isn't nearly as good, cleanly written, or developed from either a story or character perspective, but it certainly brings enough heart each week to keep me coming back. I enjoy watching this series just as much as I always have, and hopefully they have some good surprises and payoffs in store soon with the delayed start.

Rating: 7

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

- The Millennial version of 60 minutes, I religiously watch this each week, and it will always get a recommend from me.

Rating: 9

**Greatest Movie of All-Time Podcast Watches:

All the President's Men (1976) - HBO Max

Fargo (1996) - Netflix or Prime

Goldfinger (1964) - Prime

The Philadelphia Story (1940) - HBO Max

Pillow Talk (1959) - Peacock

- Listen to the podcast on Spotify, Anchor, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, and RadioPublic.

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