Tag Archives: movies to watch

Top 10 Underrated Gems on Netflix

Got decision fatigue? Here’s a list of underrated movies and TVshows from your fellow Longhorns to alleviate that fatigue and introduce you to some new favorites.

Kim’s Convenience

In need of a heartwarming show that will make you laugh until your sides hurt? This show portrays a Korean-Canadian family’s struggle to assimilate with the world around them without compromising their culture. The show captures a wide range of emotions from estrangement, generational guilt, and toxic masculinity while conveying peak comedy.

Courtesy of Polina Kovaleva 

A Simple Favor

Five words: Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively. A Simple Favor is a psychological thriller that will keep you on your toes and have you hooked with its sarcastic humor and effortless storytelling. Lively and Kendrick perfectly fit the roles of Emily and Stephanie. While Henry Golding’s Sean Townsend somehow seems like the manipulator and the victim simultaneously. This movie will have you question every single detail about the case and all I can say is Gone Girl, who?

Young Royals

Looking for a more dramatic teen show? Young Royals may be the show for you. The show portrays the complexities of a young LGBTQIA person’s life with picturesque scenes and dark undertones. Through all the royal scandal, the show makes an important point about the last vestiges of royalty desperately clinging onto heterosexual views rather than the reality of the society they rule over.

Courtesy of Steve Johnson 

Sex Education

Moordale Secondary School seems like a fever dream with its rambunctious students, questionable teachers, and on-campus sex therapist. But Sex Education is truly one of the best Netflix original shows you will come across. Characters like Otis and Maeve are flawed yet fully fleshed out and seem real. Eric’s coming-out story is genuine and not forced or cheesy. Mr. Groff finding happiness after a lifetime of upholding societal expectations is truly inspiring. Most importantly the show de-stigmatizes sex and its activities without hyper-sexualizing its characters.

Fractured

Our worst nightmares are the product of our own imagination. This psychological thriller makes you question who is telling the truth, and you find yourself sympathizing with the protagonist, Ray, or is he the villain? The movie makes you go back and forth between the two versions of reality until the horrifying truth is made evident. A thriller truly worth watching that will keep you at the edge of your seat the whole time.

Courtesy of Michael Burrows 

Atelier

Get ready to step into the world of fashion with this beautiful and Get ready to step into the world of fashion with this beautiful and entertaining show. Atelier is the story of Mayuko Tokita finding her way into the fashion scene of Tokyo’s infamous Ginza district. If you loved The Devil Wears Prada and enjoyed watching glamour and style, this is the show for you.

Derry Girls

The Northern Ireland conflict of the 1990s is the last place you think of when looking for the setting of a feel-good coming of age story. Derry Girls captures the trials and tribulations of school dances, no-good tattletales, and boy troubles. The show is able to avoid cliches and captures its audience’s heart with its authenticity and humor.

She’s Gotta Have It 

This comedy is a fresh take on the struggling artist by replacing the whining pseudo-intellect with a young woman full of life. Furthermore, the show depicts sexuality without bias and portrays a pansexual without judgment or value-calls.

Courtesy of Tamanna Rumee 

AlRawabi School for Girls

Standing up to your high-school bully can be a pinnacle moment and the shifting point in your journey to find your confidence, but what happens when it goes wrong? This show examines the fine line between a victim and a bully. In the words of the director Tima Shomali, the female-led cast gives a “female perception on their issues.” The show carefully avoids the usual tropes of mean high school girls but rather goes deeper and questions the motivations behind being a bully and how your circumstances can turn you into a monster without realizing it.

To the Bone

Eating disorders are often mocked and used for cheap laughs in entertainment. To the Bone is raw in its depiction of how pervasive an eating disorder can be and how the disorder is not superficial or for attention. While To the Bone is not perfect in its depiction of mental illness it is a step in the right direction.

Featured Image Courtesy of cottonbro

Always Be My Maybe Movie Review

After a long day, the lyrics from Harry Styles’ song Woman, “Should we just search romantic comedies on Netflix and then see what we find?” often come to mind. It’s a thought many of us have on nights when we feel like watching a comforting movie. 

The rom-com combines the best parts of a love story and all the laughs of a comedy, which makes for the perfect thing to watch to put you in a good mood. Rom-coms have captured our hearts for decades, but the shift in media content in the digital streaming era can make us wonder what can we expect from rom-coms in the coming years? 

Rom-coms in the 2020’s should take notes from the 2019 Netflix original film Always be my Maybe. The film wouldn’t have been possible without a few notable alumni from the hit ABC sit-com Fresh Off The Boat.  The creator of the show, Nanatchka Khan, directed the 2019 film. The film was also written by and starred Ali Wong, a writer for Fresh Off the Boat and Randall Park, a star on Fresh Off The Boat. Wong andPark have been close friends since their days at UCLA and the magic behind their duo is what made the movie such a special treat to watch— complete with a great story, well-executed comedy and a film with positive representation.

The story of Always Be My Maybe follows Sasha Tran and Marcus Kim, and their classic tale of childhood best friends who fell in love. The two grew up together in the Bay area in the 90s and Sasha grew close to Marcus’s mom since her parents worked a lot and his mom taught Sasha how to cook. The summer after they graduate high school, Marcus’s mom dies and it takes a toll on Marcus and the relationship he has with Sasha. The two reach a breaking point and don’t talk to each other for years. Fast forward to 2019 and the two reunite when Sasha, now a celebrity chef, spends time in San Francisco opening a new restaurant. Marcus and Sasha reunite after all those years and after some initial awkwardness ease into their friendship again. While the two are dating other people, have different career goals and live vastly different lifestyles, they realize that they want to be with each other no matter what it takes. By the end of the movie, they commit to one another and build a life together. 

The movie has excellent world building especially given its setting in San Francisco. The location is influential on the characters and situations in the movie and builds a world that depicts life and Asian-American culture in the context of the Bay Area. Both characters are from there so they are attached to the location,family and overall community it represents. 

The movie also has really good character building in that throughout the entire movie you get a sense of the characteristics of both love interests and how that dynamic changes over time. The movie also acknowledges the trauma each love interest has and how it’s affected their worldview, relationships, sense of family and lifestyle. But by acknowledging these flaws, they show the conflict the characters have and how the conflict gets resolved when the characters learn to overcome their flaws and heal from their traumas.  

Something about the storytelling in this film is so natural. The progression of events seems so smooth and effortless that you never have to question why something happens because each scene informs the next and builds off the one before. The plot of this film also seems natural in a way that accurately depicts real life situations and conflicts. Even though the story follows Sasha and Marcus, this could have been the love story of anyone. 

An aspect of the film that highlights its appeal is it’s comedy. For a rom-com this movie is equal parts romantic and comedic which is a ratio that’s often hard to come by. You have the comedic stylings of Wong and Park who also have amazing onscreen comedic chemistry. The movie has situational humor, jokes about the embarrassment of adolescence and humorous commentary on the current state of California and Asian-American cultures. 

Beyond a well-crafted film, the movie serves as a positive depiction of Asian-Americans and women. As a story written by Asian-Americans, the film has a natural perspective on what life is like for Asian-Americans. The movie depicts the identity struggles that can exist among Asian-Americans in addition to the ways in which they celebrate their culture and community. The movie also depicts women in a positive way by having the lead female love interest be a woman who is successful in her career and consciously does not shrink herself or her ambitions for love. 

Always Be My Maybe could easily be the blueprint for rom-coms in the streaming era because it has everything you could want in a rom-com and more. The film combines the elements of great storytelling and casting, humorous writing, cultural commentary and representation that make for an impactful movie that stays with you long after the movie’s over. 

Why “Judas and the black messiah” comes at a crucial Moment

In anticipation of their new film, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Warner Bros Studios held a summit discussing the legacy of Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party.  The film comes at a time of high racial tensions in the US comparable to what the Black Panthers, themselves, faced in the 1960s.

The summit featured panels with the actors from the film: Daniel Kaluuya, Dominique Fishback and LaKeith Stanfield. Kaluuya and Stanfield played the film’s leads, Chairman Fred Hampton and William O’Neal, respectively. Fishback starred as Fred Hampton’s partner, Deborah Johnson. The actors discussed the significance of the film and what it meant to play these historical characters.

Image from “Judas and the Black Messiah”

The first panel starred Kaluuya and Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., Fred Hampton’s only child. Baratunde Thurston moderated the panel. They discussed the legacy of the late Fred Hampton and the importance of bringing his story to the big screen.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” follows FBI informant William O’Neal, as he is tasked with infiltrating and destroying the Black Panther Party led by Fred Hampton.

Playing Hampton was an honorable and humbling experience, Kaluuya said during his panel. He says the film taught him the power of loving your community and gave him a chance to connect to the people involved in the story.

For Hampton Jr., this film was a chance to see his father’s story told correctly. For far too long the story of the Black Panther Party has been misconstrued and all but erased from history. Hampton Jr. and his mother, Mother Akua (a.k.a Deborah Johnson), sat down with the cast for seven hours to discuss their true intentions for making the film. In the end, they got the story that was supposed to be told from the beginning.

Thurston brought up a powerful saying during the panel – heightening the contradictions.

Heighten the contradictions of life, of society, of race in America. This year it couldn’t be more clear. 

In summer 2020, we saw the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests quickly turn violent. Police officers beat and ran over peaceful protestors, threw tear gas and arrested hundreds. Peaceful protestors stood in the streets with their hands up, posing no harm, and the government deployed the National Guard in minutes. Former President Trump called the peaceful protestors thugs.

On Jan 6, 2021, white supremacists stormed the Capitol Building. They chanted “hang Mike Pence.” They stole federal documents. They broke in and vandalized a federal building that held members of Congress. They killed a Capitol police officer. There are videos of police officers letting them in. The people who broke into the Capitol Building were walking around like they were on a field trip. It was hours before any law enforcement showed up to disperse the crowd, and there were hardly any arrests on site.

What were they protesting? False claims by former President Trump that Democrats stole the election.

The contradictions are staring us in the face hoping we are bold enough to open our eyes and see it. 

An insurrection and a peaceful protest are not the same, but we must address the glaring difference in government reaction.

Black people have to see the painfully apparent contradictions between how the government treats us and white supremacists. We have to see how the justice system works differently for us. We have to see how society treats us differently to know how much we truly matter.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” could not be more relevant. The Black Panther Party, an organization dedicated to liberating Black people from a system built against them. The government made them out to be an anti-white terrorist organization. 

White supremacists, a group of people who called for the murder of the Vice President; the former president called them special people.

Heighten the contradictions.

The third panel of the day starred Fishback and Mother Akua, Fred Hampton’s fiance. Fishback portrayed Mother Akua in the film, and she says the experience helped her grow as a woman.

Fishback also recalled a time when she and her castmates went bowling. A white man grabbed a fry off her plate, asking if he could have one. Kaluuya, Stanfield and others quickly came to Fishback’s defense before she could channel her inner Brooklyn fighter. 

Fishback says she came out of the film with a newfound trust in Black men.

For Stanfield, the job of portraying William O’Neal made him physically ill.

O’Neal is a stark contrast to Stanfield’s own beliefs, and it was difficult for him to get into that mindset. Once he did, he was so deep in that he felt he was betraying Kaluuya, and by extension – Fred Hampton. He remembers not being able to sleep before shooting certain scenes and getting emotional on set.

A testament to how brilliantly he played the character.

Stanfield’s panel ended the day, and he had one hope for what audiences take away from the film. The necessity of holding our government accountable. He says he’s glad the film touches on accountability and hopes audiences will see that “there is no justice for Black People.”

Black people are no more free than we were in 1968, Mother Akua pointed out. Not everyone is a revolutionary, you just have to do what you’re comfortable doing. Whether it’s spreading the word, donating or protesting, anything will help. The fight continues.

Photo by Kara Fields

5 Films to Add to Your Thanksgiving Celebrations

You could be like most Americans and watch the football game on Thanksgiving night, or you could watch a movie. But what if you’re not ready to get into the jolly holiday spirit? What can you watch? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, here are 5 films to consider watching while you gobble down that Thanksgiving turkey.

Ratatouille

Rated: G

Rotten Tomato: 96%

Stream: Disney+

Disney Pixar’s “Ratatouille”

A Pixar classic about a French rat cooking in a high-end restaurant. Why it’s the perfect Thanksgiving film, and I’m sure we can all relate to a rat learning to cook. 

“Ratatouille” follows the story of Remy, a rat who wishes to go against the social norms of rats and become a chef. Along with his human friend, Alfredo Linguini, he does just that. The film is all about cooking and how food is a labor of love that connects us all. Gather your friends, the kids, the grandparents, and settle in for the delicacy that is French cuisine.

Knives Out

Rated: R

Rotten Tomato: 97%

Stream: Amazon Prime Video

Lionsgate’s “Knives Out.”

This one is not for the children. This is for the adults and all those who love Chris Evans. What better time to watch a murder mystery than Thanksgiving? “Knives Out” takes its audience on a journey to find out who murdered the famous author, Harlan Thrombey. The film has a stacked cast with Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, and Lakeith Stanfield. It’s a wild ride sure to get you more riled up than any family drama can.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Rated: Not Rated

Rotten Tomato: 100%

Streaming: Apple Tv+ on Nov 22 2020 at 6:30pm CT

CBS’s “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.”

This is not technically a movie, but it’s a classic, so “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” has earned its spot. Watch this adorable 30 minute TV special following Charlie, Snoopy and the gang as they celebrate Thanksgiving. If 30 minutes is too short, no worries, you can add “The Peanuts Movie” to the watchlist. In this 2015 film, Charlie has a new crush, and Snoopy is off fighting in World War I. It is available to stream on Disney+.

Free Birds

Rated: PG

Rotten Tomato: 20%

Stream: Rent or buy on YouTube

Reel FX’s “Free Birds.”

Ok, this film was not a critical success. But, a movie about two turkeys going back in time to fix turkeys being the traditional Thanksgiving dish — it’s got to be worth checking out. The film stars Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler. It’s sure to be a fun way to laugh and waste an hour and thirty minutes while you ignore your relatives.

Addams Family Values

Rated: PG-13

Rotten Tomato: 77%

Stream: Amazon Prime Video

Paramounts’ “Addams Family Values.”

Our favorite odd family is not just a one-holiday-wonder; they dabble in Thanksgiving, too. In the film, the Addams children, Wednesday and Pugsley, aren’t too thrilled to have a younger sibling, so they try to get rid of them. They are not successful and thanks to their new nanny, they’re in for a glorious stay at summer camp. “Addams Family Values” is the perfect Thanksgiving film for those who still hold onto their favorite spooky holiday.

15 Nostalgic Movies to Binge Before Halloween

Spooky season is upon us. You know what that means: a little less studying and a little more movie marathons!

Here’s a list of Halloween movies from your childhood that you might’ve forgotten about but are a necessity to watch before October 31st creeps upon us.

The Halloweentown Franchise  (1998-2006)

If you were a kid in the late ‘90s or early 2000s, chances are that you’ve heard of this Disney Channel movie series. Throughout the entire series, we see the kids of the Piper family go from finding out about the magical wonders of “Halloweentown” to mastering their very own magical powers. If you want to spend all day binging one series of movies, then this is the series for you.

Where to watch: Disney+ (subscription), Hulu (premium subscription), Amazon Prime ($3.99/ea), YouTube ($5.99/ea), Google Play ($5.99/ea), Disney Now (free with cable)

Hocus Pocus (1993)

‘90s kids, this one is for you. The idea of old spirits having to acclimate to a more modern age of the 90s is always an interesting concept, and “Hocus Pocus” is no exception. A group of kids that save the day with some supernatural help? That’s everything a 90s movie needs! This film just hits you right in the nostalgia.

Where to watch: Disney+ (subscription), Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99)

Casper (1995)

Rewatch for the adventures, and weirdly enough, the puppy love that comes to flourish between Casper and Kat in this 1995 film. If you want a throwback to watching reruns of “Casper” during October when you were a kid, then here you go.

Where to watch: YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Now, we all know this classic, right? Watching this monster hunting quartet defeat some of the most iconic creatures in cinematic history is always a necessary watch for Halloween.

Where to watch: Hulu (premium subscription), Vudu ($2.99), Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Freeform (free with cable)

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Whether you consider this classic a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie (or both if you’re feeling crazy), that’s up to you. But, this remains a top contender for Halloween movies for me. It’s safe to say that this is an iconic movie for the 2000s kids.

Where to watch: Disney+ (subscription), Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99)

Coraline (2009)

I think that anyone who has ever watched “Coraline” is either in love with this film or completely terrified (or at least when they were kids). Personally, this is one of my favorite movies to watch (even when it’s not Halloween, sue me). It’s one of those oddball movies that both weird you out, but also make you reflect and learn something. Definitely a top-tier Halloween watch.

Where to watch: Hulu (premium subscription), Starz (subscription), Sling TV (premium subscription), Amazon Prime (premium subscription), YouTube ($2.99), Google Play ($2.99), Vudu ($2.99)

Twitches (2005)

If you were a fan of the Mowry sisters in the 90s and early 2000s, then you probably know this DCOM gem. The long-lost twin story where they come together to save the world, although probably overdone by now, was a crazy plot back in 2005. In this quirky movie, we see Tia and Tamera Mowry save the entire world from darkness on their birthday, October 31st. (I would also recommend watching this movie’s sequel, “Twitches Too” (2007).)

Where to watch: Disney+ (subscription), Google Play ($7.99), Hulu, (premium subscription), Amazon Prime ($3.99), YouTube ($5.99), Disney Now (free with cable)

Child’s Play (1988)

Okay, so this isn’t really a movie that we should’ve watched as kids, but we all did it anyway. This is one of those Halloween movies that we were terrified of when we were kids but laugh at now that we’re older. Also, the SFX of the late 80s is definitely something when you rewatch this movie. Although not really a feel-good movie, it brings back memories of watching this with your friends when you weren’t supposed to.

Where to watch: YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99)

My Babysitter’s a Vampire (2010)

Weirdly enough, I do think this movie warrants a spot on this list. The constant referencing other vampire-centric movies of the time (I’m looking at you “Twilight”) makes this movie a ton of fun to rewatch. Vampire movies are always great to watch, whether they’re more serious like “Twilight” or goofier like “My Babysitter’s a Vampire”.

Where to watch: iTunes ($7.99)

Corpse Bride (2005)

Ah, Tim Burton does it again. That man never really missed when it came to kinda odd, but kinda cute movies (animated or not). I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t watch “Corpse Bride” until a few years ago, but this is definitely one of Burton’s more romantic(ish) movies. This film, although living in the shadow of Burton’s more famous “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993), does hold its own if you give it a chance.


Where to watch: Hulu (premium subscription), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99), Freeform (free with cable)

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

“Hotel Transylvania” is one of those movies where you might’ve not watched it when it first came out. Maybe you thought you were “too old” to watch animated movies, but it’s actually a very enjoyable movie. Although a bit childish with some jokes, the overall concept of an overprotective dad wanting the best for his daughter will always resonate with the audience, no matter what age.

Where to watch: Hulu (premium subscription), Vudu ($2.99), Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Freeform (free with cable)

Scooby-Doo (2002)

I’m not sure if everyone has seen this oddly iconic movie, but this one is a very good representation of everything about the early 2000s. From the wonky CGI to the exaggerated personalities of the characters, “Scooby-Doo” is a trip and a half, to say the least. I would highly recommend watching this with friends who will probably just laugh along with the cheesy storylines and terrible CGI that scared us half to death as kids.

Where to watch: HBO Max (subscription), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99)

Spooky Buddies (2011)

Let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love puppies? Watching the Halloween installment of the “Air Buddies” franchise is perfect for Halloween spooky prep. As always, the pups get themselves involved in some mischief that causes problems that they eventually have to solve. If you want just a totally feel-good movie, then “Spooky Buddies” is the perfect match for you.

Where to watch: Hulu (premium subscription), HBO Max (subscription), Amazon Prime (premium subscription), iTunes ($2.99), Google Play ($3.99), YouTube ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99)

Beetlejuice (1988)

Being one of Tim Burton’s first movies as director, Beetlejuice marks the beginning of the odd and weirdly endearing movies for many. Definitely recommended for those who are more into the 80s Halloween movie vibe, but a great movie to watch to really get you into the creepy, spooky Halloween mood.

Where to watch: YouTube ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99), Vudu ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), Amazon Prime ($3.99)

Monster House (2006)

This movie, while still scary, has the feel-good messages that we all love in kids’ movies. Whether you watched this movie when it came out in theaters or when it was rerun on TV, you’ll love this one when you see it.

Where to watch: Vudu ($2.99), Amazon Prime ($2.99), YouTube ($3.99), Google Play ($3.99), iTunes ($3.99)

Featured image by the city of St. Helens, Oregon