“You Belong to Me” (1941) starring Barbara Stanwyck & Henry Fonda

A JOYOUS REUNION OF THE STARS OF “THE LADY EVE” -Tag line on original movie poster

A young general practitioner, Dr. Helen Hunt (Barbara Stanwyck), meets a millionaire/playboy, Peter Kirk (Henry Fonda) when he crashes at her feet during her vacay at a California ski resort. He insists ONLY she can treat his (minor) injuries; it’s obvious he has a crush on her. After knowing each other for a few days, Peter suddenly proposes marriage- Helen accepts! They marry and settle in his (huge) estate somewhere in LA. On their wedding night, Helen is called away on a medical emergency. When she returns, Peter has fallen asleep. Soon, Peter becomes jealous of her career, getting into physical altercations w/ two male patients (yikes)!

Peter: Are there many lady doctors?

Helen: A few.

Peter: As beautiful as you?

Helen: No doubt.

Peter: The time I’ve wasted being well.

There are (serious) underlying themes in this movie. Remember that this was a time (here in the US) when women (who could afford it) quit their jobs immediately after they got married. Professional women (incl. doctors) made up a small percentage of the workplace. Fonda and Stanwyck make a believable couple, as they have (obvious) romantic chemistry. Stanwyck had great comic timing; Fonda was good at using his physicality for humor. There are some close-up shots of both actors that are gorgeous. Peter is no doubt “problematic” (as the young’uns say today); he goes from sweet/chill to irrational/jealous! As one astute viewer commented: “The Stanwyck character would’ve dumped this guy in 24 hrs in real life.”

The script has some snappy dialogue, as well as a few fine scenes for the supportive players. Billings (Edgar Buchanan) is the grumpy gardener who offers down-to-earth advice to Peter. Moody (Melville Cooper) is the stuffy butler full of sly comments for the entire household. Ella (Maude Eburne) is the understanding nurse/secretary to Helen. I learned that a young Lloyd Bridges (uncredited) plays one of the ski patrol (early in the film).

[1] …feminists would probably be aghast at it.

In fact, Barbara Stanwyck herself didn’t like it at all. She liked working with Henry Fonda right enough, but thought this film was ridiculous. As well she should have.

[2] The first portion at the ski lodge and the next did NOT fit well together, nor did the final “Horatio Alger” inspired section…

[3] In a year where Stanwyck was really busy, three out of four films have become classics. One of them had to be a disappointment, and this is it, albeit a minor one. She was a sexy gold-digger (opposite Fonda) in “The Lady Eve,” a sequin-wearing gangster’s moll nightclub entertainer in “Ball of Fire”, and a hard-as-nails reporter in “Meet John Doe.” Those films all have outstanding screenplays, something this one lacks. The comedy moments are infrequent…

-Excerpts from IMDb comments

“Free Guy” (2021) & “The Lost City” (2022)

I just got past a V busy time at work; my team was under a LOT of pressure these past 6 wks! So, I decided to watch these newer/comedic movies. I didn’t have high expectations, so I wasn’t TOO disappointed. These movies already played in theaters; you can watch them on streaming now. Just don’t think too much and try to analyze entertainment like this- LOL!

Free Guy (2021) starring Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, & Utkarsh Ambudkar

Guy [saying his catchphrase]: Don’t have a good day, have a great day.

In the (fictional) popular video game, Free City, a NPC (non-playable character) named Guy (Ryan Reynolds) somehow breaks out of his programming and starts behaving differently from the other NPCs. (Gamers noted that this world has elements from Grand Theft Auto and Fortnite.) He eventually learns the true nature of his existence after he meets a human player, Millie AKA Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer). Guy’s best friend is a security guard, Buddy (Lil Rel Howery), who can’t see the game as Guy does. Key (Joe Keery) and Mouser (Utkarsh Ambudkar) are two programmers who work on user complaints at Soonami, the company that owns Free City. Antwan (Taika Waititi- in a rare bad role) is their boss.

The scenes in the real world are shot w/ anamorphic lenses, while the scenes in the game are shot w/ standard spherical lenses; the film is at 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Though the establishing shot of Free City is downtown Pittsburgh, the movie was largely filmed in Boston. In later scenes, when Antwan is standing in his office, the background is the Seattle skyline. The director, Shawn Levy, is perhaps more known as a producer; he worked recently on Stranger Things (Netflix). This movie was shot in 2018, BUT was delayed for some time.

Guy: Millie, how many times a day are the banks robbed in your world?

Molotov Girl: Hardly ever, Guy.

Guy: What about corpses, Millie? Do ya see a lot of those? How many an hour?

Molotov Girl: None per hour, Guy.

Guy: What about gun violence? See a lot of gun violence in your world?

Molotov Girl: Actually, that’s a big problem, Guy, it’s a massive problem.

This joke above is one of the few clever/funny parts of this movie, sorry to say. There are a LOT of cameos- voice and in-person! The two up-and-comers – Comer (one of the co-leads in The Last Duel) and Keery (best known as Steve on Stranger Things)- are doing as well as they can w/ the material; this was actually her 1st movie role. Reynolds is (as MANY critics/viewers commented) playing a version of himself; I haven’t seen a LOT of his movies yet, BUT he doesn’t impress me much. Reynolds (personally) asked Mariah Carey for the rights to use her iconic song- “Fantasy.” You can watch this movie on HBOMax.

[1] Free Guy (2021) feels as though it’s been made by people who have never actually played a video-game. […] …the fact that it lacks a proper sense of logic isn’t its biggest issue, although it is undeniably irritating that a movie which is supposed to celebrate video-games clearly doesn’t understand them and also partakes in the kind of banal ‘gamer’ stereotyping that perforates pretty much every piece of traditional media about the subject. No, the biggest issue is that, for me, it simply isn’t fun.

[2] Free Guy is worth going to see because it is one of the few quality films right now that increases one’s faith in human nature. Lately, I feel as though I have lost my faith in humanity, with all that is happening in the world, so it is refreshing to get a movie that feels confident in the human experience. Maybe I’m looking too deep into the message of Free Guy and maybe it was conceived just so Ryan Reynolds could screw around for two hours…

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

The Lost City (2022) starring Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, & Daniel Radcliffe

Reclusive author Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) writes about exotic places in her romance novels. The model for her hero- Dash- is named Alan (Channing Tatum); his look is based on Fabio. While on tour promoting her latest book- The Lost City of D– w/ Alan, Loretta gets kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire, Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who hopes she can lead him to an ancient city’s lost treasure. Determined to prove he can be a hero in real life, Alan sets off to rescue her w/ the help of a former Navy Seal- Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt).

Loretta: Why are you so handsome?

Jack: My father was a weatherman.

This movie was shot on location in the Dominican Republic (during the pandemic); the scenery is gorgeous! Ryan Reynolds was originally sought for the lead male role, marking this a reunion w/ Bullock after The Proposal (2009), but a deal couldn’t be reached and Tatum was cast. IMO, Tatum is a better actor than Reynolds. The said the nude scene where Bullock pulls leaches off Tatum’s nude body was shot on the 2nd day of filming. They barely knew each other and he joked w/ her that they were about to get to know each other very well- LOL! They had to shoot it 50 times b/c Tatum kept laughing at the line: “They’re sucking on my butt like a Jamba Juice.” I liked their dance scene in the 3rd act, BUT I thought the romance was a BIT forced. These characters had more friend chemistry.

This movie needed more of Pitt (as MANY critics have said)! Bullock and Pitt became friends after they acted together in Bullet Train (2022). Pitt’s character- Jack Trainer- is a nod to the film that this is a loose remake of- Romancing the Stone (1984). In that film the male lead (played by Michael Douglas) was named Jack Colton; Mary Ellen Trainor (wife of director Robert Zemeckis) had a small role. The name of Loretta’s book tour is Romancing the Page– another callback to the 1984 movie. You can see this on Amazon Prime (Paramount+ Channel).

Loretta: How do they keep finding us?

Alan [pointing out her purple/sequined jumpsuit]: You’re basically a walking disco ball.

[1] Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum can play these characters in their sleep, and to their credit, they both seem engaged and willing to put forth the necessary effort. Tatum especially embraces the duality of a preening cover boy and the sensitive type out to prove he has substance.

[2] The Lost City has pieces that work and pieces that don’t. Placing pretenders into an actual adventure is good for laughs and heart, yet much of this script is generic. Unimaginative MacGuffins, flat villains, and predictable romances are individually forgivable, but together, they override the premise’s charm. Furthermore, the dialogue, humor, and plot devices are subpar.

[3] In the end, The Lost City is exactly what I think moviegoers need right now. Nothing too serious or weighed down by heavy drama. This is a good old-fashioned, silly comedy/romance that I feel works for what it is. It’s not going to be the type of comedy that a lot of people are going to watch over and over again, at least I don’t think, but the heart of the film is in the right place and it never takes anything too seriously.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Bull Durham” (1988) starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, & Tim Robbins

A Major League Love Story in a Minor League Town. -Tag line for the movie

It’s the start of the baseball season, and Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), for whom baseball is a “religion,” is in the process of choosing one player on the Durham Bulls (her home team in the Carolina League) who she’ll take under her wing. This player has always gone on to have the best year of his career. She has narrowed her choices to Ebby Calvin LaLoosh (Tim Robbins)- the young/undisciplined pitcher- and veteran catcher- Crash Davis (Kevin Costner)- brought in to improve Ebby’s game. Ebby is V eager to “hook-up” w/ Annie when she offers, BUT Crash takes himself out of the running (b/c he doesn’t see “matters of the heart” as a game). It’s obvious that Annie and Crash are attracted to each other. First thing, Annie gives Ebby a nickname- Nuke- which helps boost his confidence. Thus begins Annie, Crash and Nuke’s complicated relationship!

Annie: Right, honey, let’s get down to it. How was Ebby Calvin LaLoosh?

Millie [younger friend/fellow baseball groupie]: Well, he f***s like he pitches – sorta all over the place.

The writer/director, Ron Shelton, was a former minor league baseball player; he played 5 seasons in the Baltimore Orioles farm system. The highest level Shelton reached was w/ the Rochester Red Wings in the Triple-A International League. Kurt Russell helped Shelton develop the script and was slated for to play Crash. After the film was made, Russell was so impressed, he wrote fan letters to Costner and Shelton! Orion Pictures gave Shelton a mere $9M budget (w/ cast members accepting lower salaries than usual b/c of the strong material), an 8-wk shooting schedule, and creative freedom. The film’s box-office success caused Hollywood to produce several more baseball-centered movies over the next few yrs. Though it is meant to be set over a hot/humid Summer, Bull Durham was actually filmed on location in North Carolina in October and November of 1987. The grass had to be touched up w/ green paint and the breath of the actors can be seen in many night scenes.

Crash [giving advice to Nuke during a game]: Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.

Producer Thom Mount (part owner of the real Durham Bulls) hired Pete Bock (former semi-pro baseball player) as a consultant. Bock recruited minor-league players, ran a tryout camp (to recruit an additional 40-50 players), hired several minor-league umpires and conducted two-a-day workouts/practice games w/ Robbins pitching and Costner catching. Bock made sure the actors looked/acted like ballplayers and that the real players acted convincingly in front of the cameras. Shelton decided to cast Costner b/c of the actor’s natural athleticism. The actor was a former HS baseball player and hit 2 home runs (while the cameras were rolling). According to Shelton, Costner insisted “on throwing runners out even when they [the cameras] weren’t rolling.” The actor is also “a switch hitter” (Crash is shown hitting both left and right-handed).

Annie [in voiceover re: Nuke]: The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self awareness.

There are many LOL (or V amusing) moments in this movie. The cute/funny dance scene w/ Nuke and several actresses in the bar was choreographed by Paula Abdul. On my re-watch, I noticed that Annie’s first dress (black top, wide red belt, & black/white checkered skirt) is V similar to the one worn by dancer/actress Vera Allen in White Christmas. As Karina Longworth explained, the R-rating comes more from the profane language rather than the love scenes (NOT daring by today’s standards). These elements are rare for a mainstream/Hollywood film: Annie and Millie are never “slut-shamed” (as they go after what they want); the ballplayers (young/fit) are objectified perhaps more than the women.

This near pitch perfect movie (pun intended) has great dialogue and sparkling chemistry btwn its 3 co-leads. Now, you don’t have to be a fan of baseball or even Costner (who I don’t think has much range) to enjoy this movie. After I saw Costner opposite Sean Young in No Way Out (1987), I thought maybe he has some appeal. The role of Crash suits Costner (33 y.o.) V well; I’m assuming his acting is improved b/c he gets so many great lines. Jeff Bridges turned down the lead, BUT I think he’d have done a fine job. Costner plays well off both Sarandon (confident/mature at 42 y.o.) and Robbins (enthusiastic/boyish at just 30 y.o.) In their different ways, Annie and Crash both serve as mentors to Nuke (who has potential to go to “the big show”- major league). This is where Sarandon and Robbins first met and fell in love. I was surprised that I got a bit emotional in a scene (near the end)!

[1] This film is not only a great sports film, but it is one of the great all around films I have ever seen. This film has it all from romance to comedy to witty dialogue. Susan Sarandon, Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins all brought Ron Shelton’s script to life and the three of them displayed some of the greatest chemistry ever captured on film. This film is a timeless classic.

[2] It is nice to see a movie that attracts more than one kind of audience. This is a comedy, then again a love story. This can be placed in the baseball genre, as well as a coming of age drama. Most movies claim to be one or the other and sometimes fail to be. Then again, when a good movie hits a home run it can not only become a money maker and a box office smash, it can also become timeless. Before they became giants of Hollywood, Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins stars in this great movie as some of the most interesting, yet simple characters. […] Together, the three introduce three different worlds upon the audience. Each are believable characters even though they are in a way, fantasy like. A great story with a perfect ending, Bull Durham is one of those hard to find movies that is a crowd pleaser with just about every audience out there.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Girls” (HBO): Season 2

Season 2 of the controversial (yet unique/fascinating) show returned in JAN 2013. Lena Dunham would direct 4 eps and write 7 eps in this season. The show may NOT have always had a huge audience, BUT it was written about by many journos, pop culture critics, and haters. Zosia Mamet recalled (at The Hollywood Reporter comedy actresses roundtable in 2014) that “in S1, we were shooting in Tompkins Square Park, and nobody knew who were were. Then we go back there for S2- paparazzi everywhere! It’s not just taking pictures- they’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen in the storyline.”

You feel like you are doing something that spurs a conversation, whether it’s for good or for bad. This is the first time that this has ever happened to me. It’s an amazing thing. -Adam Driver (2013 interview, Flaunt Magazine)

E1: It’s About Time

Hannah throws a housewarming party with brand-new roommate- Elijah, but it’s hard to move on when she’s still playing nurse to Adam. Marnie gets bad news at work and a visit from her mom; Shoshanna avoids Ray at the party; and sun-kissed Jessa returns from her honeymoon.

The story takes place several weeks after the S1 finale. Hannah is seeing a young Black man, Sandy (Donald Glover- before he became famous), who she seems V excited about. As some of you may know, Dunham received a LOT of criticism for her show being “too white.” Hannah is helping Adam out (his right leg is in a cast); she does errands for him, though he wants her around a LOT more. She tells him that their relationship is over; he doesn’t take it easily. We meet Marnie’s mom, Evie (Rita Wilson- wife of Tom Hanks), for the 1st time. She’s worried b/c now Marnie isn’t w/ a bf, was let go from her gallery assistant job, and her appearance isn’t up to par (“you look 30”)- yikes! Evie had to raise Marnie on her own after her ex-husband left the family; she works/lives in New Jersey (and looks to be doing well).

E2: I Get Ideas

Hannah gets unsolicited musical attention from heartbroken Adam and displeasing opinions on her writing from Sandy. Elijah questions his sexuality; Marnie makes a career compromise when her curatorial dreams are crushed; Jessa revels in married life; Shoshanna and Ray make magic; and Elijah and Marnie harbor a secret.

This ep opens w/ Hannah and Elijah listening to songs by Adam; he is shirtless (of course) and playing a guitar. They BOTH look concerned as they hear this music, wondering IF Adam really is a “sociopath.” On my recent rewatch, I had to LOL at such a funny (yet awkward) situation. Sandy breaks up w/ Hannah after she makes some “ignorant” comments re: race; Dunham said that Glover contributed lines in this scene. Hannah spends some time w/ Jessa; they catch-up and play w/ puppies in the park. When she goes to a gallery for an interview, Marnie gets shot down by the owner, Patricia (Laurie Simmons- Dunham’s mother/a painter). Dunham joked that her mom “changed all her lines” and also “chose her own costumes.” Marnie (seeing no better option) takes a job as a hostess at a men’s club; she has to wear a skimpy uniform. She and Elijah are BOTH feeling down and lonely, so they decide to hook-up (super awkward)! Late at night, Adam comes into Hannah’s apt (he has a key for emergencies). She’s (obviously) surprised and tells him to leave; Adam refuses and she gets scared!

That scene was so fun to film b/c it was a sort of a real Adam Driver tour-de-force, going from terrifying to sweet, to about to cry, to raging out. I mean, the amount of emotional territory he covers in that scene is- to me- mind-boggling. -Dunham re: the pivotal scene (that ends w/ Hannah calling the cops on Adam)

E3: Bad Friend

Hannah gets a new freelance gig, and her editor suggests that she should try cocaine for the first time to write about her experience. In the process, she gets to know her downstairs neighbor, Laird. Meanwhile, Marnie meets her old artist flame, Booth Jonathan, who takes her home to show her his studio.

Hannah starts writing for a hip/young blog that wants content that pushes the boundaries. IF you were shocked by Hannah’s revealing clothes before- this ep MAY be too much. In the party scenes (filmed at Greenhouse- a SoHo nightclub) she wears a yellow mesh tank top. Hannah and Elijah do lines of coke off a toilet lid (ewww)! Then Hannah and Marnie have a big fight re: which on of them is a worse friend; MANY viewers commented that they related to this scene. Hannah turns to Laird (who has a BIT of a crush on her); she’s hooking up w/ him for the experience (so she can write about it). Putting herself in danger is NOT new for Hannah; this ep makes us worry about her perhaps a BIT more than usual!

E4: It’s a Shame About Ray

Elijah moves out, and Hannah invites a group including Charlie, Audrey and Marnie to dinner. Jessa meets Thomas-John’s parents, which finally prompts a confrontation between husband and wife. Shoshanna discovers that Ray may be living with her.

Hannah: You can’t just be a girl in this city and expect to get your way!

Marnie: But we are girls in this city!

Hannah: Not the right kind of girls!

Marnie: Girls none the less!

This is one of the highest-rated eps of S2; a LOT of stuff happens. At a steak dinner w/ Thomas-John’s WASP parents (played by veteran theater actors- Griffin Dunne and Deborah Rush), Jessa ends up revealing some dark facts (incl. her previous addiction to heroin). She lashes out in anger when she feels judged by these (passive aggressive) people. Back at their high-rise condo, we see that Thomas-John is NOT amused; they get into an ugly argument!

Dunham’s (real-life) BFF plays Charlie’s petite/bohemian gf, Audrey (Audrey Gelman). Marnie is upset/jealous seeing how close her ex and his new lady have gotten (in such a short time). Audrey and Marnie get into a big fight! Shosh and Ray have been gotten V close for the past few eps; she says: “I’m starting to fall in love w/ you” (as they wait for the subway). Rannells (already a Broadway star) left the series at this point to front his own comedy series- The New Normal (2012). This was canceled after one season, so he returned in the second half of S3.

E5: One Man’s Trash

A man comes to the coffee shop to complain to Ray that someone is leaving trash in his trash cans. Hannah follows him to his brownstone to confess and ends up spending the rest of the day, and the next day, with him.

This is the (much talked about) ep focused on Hannah’s weekend hookup w/ a handsome/older doctor, Joshua (Patrick Wilson- who lives w/ his fam in Greenpoint IRL). It’s basically a mini-movie starring 2 characters; many viewers loved it and others hated it (calling it implausible). There is a sort of hazy (dream-like) quality to this ep; one of the regular directors (Richard Shepard) did an esp. fine job here. According to Dunham, the idea for the ep and a great deal of the text came to her during a fever dream. While some viewers thought that this was unreal, others pointed out that some men would take the chance of a carefree hookup w/ a younger/willing woman. What happened to Joshua? Wait and see…

The relationship between Hannah and Joshua is quick, but I quite enjoyed it because of Dunham’s writing and chemistry with Wilson. Near the end of this affair we learn more about Hannah emotionally, as she breaks down in front of Joshua, because he has such a good life at his age while she seems to be stuck at her young age. […] Writing was strong and focusing on only this relationship was great to watch a big move, showing this show truly is special. -Excerpt from IMDB review

When Hannah walks away from his home at the end, all I could think was how similar this episode was to Woody Allen’s style of writing. A realistic fairytale that you relate to in a way that you can’t quite put your finger on. -Excerpt from IMDB review

E6: Boys

Hannah is hired to write an e-book, but has trouble finding inspiration. Booth asks Marnie to host a party with him for a gallery opening. Ray goes to see Adam, and they end up traveling to Staten Island to return a stolen dog.

This is the first ep in the series to have a solo writing credit to a man (Murray Miller); he is a problematic creative behind the show (as I noted in my S1 review). It focuses on my 2 fave characters (Adam and Ray); they’re opposites in some respects, BUT walk to their own drummer. Ray goes to Adam’s apt. (Brooklyn Hts) to get his copy of Little Women (which Hannah had left behind). There is a big/angry dog in the bathroom- yikes! Adam explains that he stole the dog b/c he thought the owner wasn’t treating him well. Ray convinces Adam to return the dog (he has tags); they travel via ferry (which I never did when I was in NYC) to Staten Island. I enjoyed seeing the (quirky) chemistry between Adam and Ray; they get to know each other, then get on each other’s nerves.

Adam: She’s like a carnival game, you know? It all seems so simple, but you can’t get the ring on the bottle, because it’s f*****g rigged so you try and try and try until you drive yourself nuts. Then, finally, when you walk away you realize you didn’t even want the crappy prize to begin with. I realize that’s what Hannah is: a giant Tweety doll I would’ve been stuck carrying around the carnival all night.

After Booth fires his assistant, Soojin, he asks Marnie to help host a party for his friends. Marnie is V happy to do this, thinking it’s a big step in their relationship. It turns out that Booth doesn’t think of her as his gf (ouch)! Of course, Marnie is NOT alone- there are MANY women who have been treated in the same way.

E7: Video Games

Hannah accompanies Jessa on a visit upstate to see Jessa’s estranged father, his new-age wife and Frank, their virginal teenage son.

We learn more about Jessa’s (troubled- no shock there) family when she and Hannah travel to upstate NY. Jessa’s estranged father, Sal, is played by Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn (who later made a big impression on the Netflix show- Bloodline and played a villain in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). Jessa’s hippie stepmom, Petula, is played by a veteran Hollywood actress- Rosanna Arquette. Jessa felt physically/emotionally abandoned by her father; she tells him that she needed someone on her side when a teen (and going through a difficult time w/ her mom). Hannah is hurt and angry when Jessa leaves w/o her; she calls her parents from the train station to thank them for their support (aww). This was Kirke’s final appearance in S2 (as she was pregnant w/ her second baby). It was tough to feel empathy for Jessa until I saw this ep; her father is selfish and unreliable.

E8: It’s Back

I feel like in the second series, things start to get a little deeper into that, but he’s not someone who’s willing to share. I feel like he’s guarded on it and wouldn’t allow himself to explain himself. He always has this thing going on that he doesn’t need to explain himself at any point. -Driver on Sackler being a recovering alcoholic

Hannah tries to hide mounting anxiety about her book from her visiting parents. Meanwhile, Marnie is stunned by news that Charlie has started a successful app company; Adam gets set up on a date; and Ray’s misanthropy gives Shoshanna pause.

We learn a LOT more re: Hannah and Adam here! Hannah’s OCD resurfaces; she was affected w/ it back in HS. I learned (on the Good Friend podcast hosted by Jamie Lee Curtis) that Dunham also suffers from OCD. The ep opens w/ us seeing Hannah’s various OCD behaviors (so we glimpse into her mindset)! She is having writer’s block, though she has a deadline coming up soon. Also, her parents are coming to NYC to see singer Judy Collins (who plays herself).

After several eps, Adam is back- YAY! He shares his story at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting; he starts talking re: quitting booze, then it turns to his breakup w/ Hannah. A petite/feisty lady named Cloris (veteran comedian Carol Kane) comments to him: “I was very impressed by your honesty.” She also asks Adam how tall he is (6′ 3″). Cloris gives Adam her daughter’s phone number, much to his chagrin. The phone call scene is cute and funny; Adam describes himself as “tall and kind of dashing.” At the dinner date, Adam and Natalia (Shiri Appleby) have fun and (obvious) chemistry.

The unexpected moment of the episode for me was Hannah having OCD which, when I think back on the show, seems to be a bit obvious how she has acted in life. It showed that the Dunham is taking risks to make the character of Hannah more interesting… -Excerpt from IMDB review

E9: On All Fours

[Sackler is] someone who follows his emotions and doesn’t pause and reflect. He’s always following an impulse and is aware of something that he’s lost – it jars with how unsettled he is. The more he tries to gain control, the more things get out of control. -Driver re: his character

The episode was so awkwardly comedic and dark in nearly everything the characters did which is what I really love about the show… -Excerpt from IMDB review

Pressure from Hannah’s aggressive publisher (John Cameron Mitchell) and a looming deadline further jeopardize Hannah’s mental state. Adam and his new girlfriend have their first misunderstanding. Marnie makes an awkward step in following her dreams.

Hannah is stressed out b/c of a deadline, so she sticks a Q-tip TOO deep into her ear (yikes)! FYI: The bemused ER doc who treats her is Ranjit Chowdhury (an Indian actor/ veteran of indies). Shosh tries to be caring gf to Ray, showering him w/ attention. Marnie decides to sing at a party at Charlie’s start-up; it’s V awkward. Adam and Natalia go to her friend’s engagement party at a bar; Angie is played by Dunham’s friend IRL- Amy Schumer. When he steps out for a moment, Adam sees Hannah walking home from the hospital (wearing just a long tee, no pants); they both look affected by their awkward conversation. This is perhaps the MOST controversial ep of the series, as it brings up the issue of consent (or perhaps more accurately- dubious consent). James Poniewozik, reviewer for TIME, called it “the most uncomfortable half hour of television of the year.” We see a dark side (pardon the Star Wars connection) of Sackler! Did you see this ep, and if so, what did you think?

E10 (Season 2 Finale): Together

In order to avoid being sued by her publisher, Hannah must write her book in a single day. Marnie misinterprets Charlie’s intentions; Ray makes a career move which he hopes will impress Shoshanna.

Adam: Is this f*****g Face Space or some s**t?

Many of Hannah’s friends and acquaintances are at a crossroads. Marnie and Charlie will find out if they’re on the same page (after several casual hookups together). Shosh isn’t sure if she can handle Ray’s negativity anymore; he sees this as critical thinking. Ray decides to be more ambitious; Hermie says he can manage the 2nd branch of Grumpy’s in Brooklyn Hts. Adam and Natalia are still together, BUT Adam is trying too hard to fit in w/ what she wants (can’t be himself). Hannah’s life is getting out of control; David threatens to sue, if she doesn’t produce her e-book (after getting an advance). Unable to reach Jessa, Hannah leaves a sad/angry voicemail. Finally, she gives Adam a call; he is breaking down some stuff (angrily) at his apt. Adam notices her OCD behavior and the (uneven) haircut she gave herself. He runs (shirtless- of course) to Hannah’s apt, kicks open the door (after she hides under the covers), and picks her up in his arms. When I saw this the first time, I thought it was quite a rom com type of ending. On my rewatch, I realized that maybe they aren’t good for each other (BUT need each other in this difficult moment).

Maybe not as good as last season’s finale, but still a great episode of TV’s best comedy. The season was less strong then the first season but still great, funny and even more dramatic as this women really faced real life problems. Dunham really showed this season she is a great actress, as well as everything she does for the show. All the women were strong… -Excerpt from IMDB review

“Girls”: Season 2 – Guys On “Girls”
Lena Dunham at Golden Globes (2013)
Dunham and cast at Golden Globes (2013) Q&A

Quick Reviews of Recent Views (2021-2022)

And Just Like That (2021): HBO Max

This is the much-talked about (and criticized) sequel to SATC; writer Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), lawyer Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon), and stay-at-home mom Charlotte York-Goldenblatt (Kristin Davis) are now in their mid-50s. Of course, publicist Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall) is NOT on the show; many fans objected to how her character was handled. At the start of the show, ALL the pals seem happily married; we see John AKA Mr. Big (Chris Noth), Steve (David Eigenberg), and Harry (Evan Handler). Anthony (Mario Cantone) and Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) are married, BUT don’t look too happy. As for the teens, they’re annoying AF; Miranda’s 17 y.o. son Brady behaves V disrespectfully; Charlotte’s kids- 14 y.o. Lily and 12 y.o. Rose- are spoiled and uncompromising. Why spend SO much time on kids- it’s supposed to be about adults!? Carrie is one of the regular guests on a podcast hosted by a bisexual/non-binary comedian, Che Diaz (Sarah Ramirez).

I mainly tuned in to see Carrie’s realtor-turned-friend, Seema (Sarita Choudhury) who appears starting in E4; she’s mainly a theater/indie film actor; I saw her at a play reading in NYC in 2008 (and she is gorgeous IRL). Choudhury starred opposite a young Denzel Washington in Mira Nair’s indie/drama/romance Mississippi Masala. Seema’s mom is played by veteran/international actor/chef/author- Madhur Jaffrey. Miranda’s prof, Dr. Nya Wallace (Karen Pittman), and her jazz musician hubby, Andre (LeRoy McClain), are trying to have a baby w/ IVF. Lisa Todd Wexley AKA LTW (Nicole Ari Parker) is the mom of 3 young kids; Charlotte becomes her friend (after they meet while organizing school events). LTW’s hubby Herbert is played by Hamilton actor Chris Jackson; he (sadly) doesn’t have much to do. Where is the fun (I barely cracked a smile; don’t recall LOLs), fashion (Miranda’s wig and outfits don’t suit her at all), and romance!? IF you’re a fan of the original series, I suggest avoiding this one!

Bridgerton (Season 2): Netflix

Everybody (and their mom) has an opinion on the show- LOL! Almost ALL my friends (IRL/online) were talking/messaging/tweeting about it (some more than 2 wks before S2 dropped). Since I’ve gotten a LOT more active on Twitter lately (and have some new connections), I couldn’t avoid the jokes, memes, etc. You have to shut-off your brain to enjoy shows like this (NO offense); it’s been compared to Jane Austen fan fiction and an alternate universe (AU) of Regency era England. MANY women of color (of all ages) esp. liked seeing the Indian (South Asian) representation in the Sharma sisters (played by Brits: statuesque Simone Ashley and petite Charithra Chandran)! I liked the “slow burn” romance (Anthony and Kate), the fam scenes of the Bridgertons (who all have great chemistry together), and (light-hearted/funny) scenes w/ the artist/bohemian bro, Benedict (Luke Thompson). I think the acting is stronger in this season; S1 didn’t impress me that much. There is one V powerful/emotional scene (S2 E3) that is unlike ANY I’ve seen in a period drama!

The Chair (2021): Netflix

This show was tweeted about by MANY women/POC/academics I follow, so I watched it when it came out last Fall. Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim (Sandra Oh) is the new Chair of Humanities at a small/fictional university (Pembroke); she is the 1st woman and person of color (POC) to hold this post. Ji-Yoon is single (by choice) and the adoptive mom to a bright/challenging young daughter, Ju-Hee. The “old guard” at this school are played by veteran actors: Bob Balaban, Holland Taylor, and David Morse. Ji-Yoon’s closest friend/potential love interest, Bill Dobson (Jay Duplass), lost his wife a few years ago and his 18 y.o. daughter leaves for college in the 1st ep.

This comedy/drama series (6 eps; 30 mins/ea.) was filmed on-location in Pittsburgh and nearby areas. To create Pembroke’s campus, the show used Washington & Jefferson College and Chatham University. Annie Wyman (co-creator/co-writer) was actually an academic in an English department; she earned a PhD in English Lit from Harvard). David Duchovny (playing a version of himself) earned a Master’s in English Lit (Yale); he started (but didn’t complete) his PhD. If you (or your fam/pals) have connections to academia, you’ll esp. relate to this show!

The Gilded Age (2022): HBO Max

This is the show for ALL you Downton Abbey fans; it was also created by Julian Fellows, BUT he had several others collaborating w/ him (incl. prof/historian/co-executive producer- Erica Armstrong Dunbar). Another producer (who also directed some eps) is Salli Richardson-Whitfield; most will know her from her acting days. The setting is NYC in the 1880s where “old money” (the Van Rijans/Brooks) and “nouveaux riche” (the Russells) are nabes, BUT def NOT pals! There are MANY theater actresses (over the age of 40) who appear on this show: Cynthia Nixon, Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald (who I saw once on Broadway), Celia Keegan-Bolger, Debra Monk, Kelli O’Hara, and Donna Murphy. We also see more well-known movie actors (incl. Jeanne Tripplehorn and Nathan Lane) in small (yet pivotal) roles.

In his January 2022 NYT article The Gilded Age’ Finally Arrives on HBO, Dave Itzkoff reported that the long filming hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic allowed actress Denée Benton (who plays Peggy Scott) “to seek refinements of [her role] to better reflect [her] understanding of history. Benton said she urged the creative team to provide more ways to show that there were Black people like her character, Peggy, who lived in their own affluent and educated communities. I didn’t find Louisa Jacobson (who plays Marian Brook; one of Meryl Streep’s daughters) that compelling; MANY viewers agreed w/ me on this point. Peggy is much MORE interesting than Marian. I thought that George Russell (Morgan Spector- husband of actress Rebecca Hall) was better written than his wife Bertha (Carrie Coon). Coon was written as TOO strident (as some viewers noted online). George’s full beard was quite popular on Twitter- LOL! This is a period/costume drama, BUT it also has some brains (and is somewhat educational also).

Mare of Easttown (2021): HBO Max

If you like domestic drama mixed w/ a cop/mystery show (such as Happy Valley or Broadchurch), then check this out! A detective, Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet in an Emmy-winning role), in a small Pennsylvania town investigates a murder of a teen girl while trying to keep her fam/personal life from falling apart. I thought almost ALL of the actors did a terrific job; they seemed like real/unglamorous/flawed people. There was even a (spot-on) sketch about the show on SNL. Much has been talked about re: the complicated relationship between Mare and her funny/acerbic mom (played by veteran actress Jean Smart); these ladies had great chemistry together! I was also impressed by Evan Peters (who plays the naive/younger cop- Colin Zabel); it’s rare to see a police officer w/ doubt and vulnerability. You can also check him out in S1 of Pose. Guy Pearce (who acted w/ Winslet in HBO’s take on Mildred Pierce in 2011) plays Mare’s love interest; he is a writer-turned-prof who is in town as an adjunct. The creator/writer of this show, Craig Zobel, also wrote the recent movie The Way Back (starring Ben Affleck); it received some critical acclaim also.