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    Who Says There’s Nothing to Watch?

    By Jan Wahl–

    From theatrical releases to Netflix to everything available by asking YouTube or Google, there are wonderful choices for quality, fun, or incredibly cool entertainment. Here are just a few on various platforms that I’ve enjoyed and want to recommend to you.

    I follow everything Eddie Izzard does. From the first time I saw his one-man show in San Francisco to his amazing portrayal of Charlie Chaplin in the under-rated Peter Bogdanovich film The Cat’s Meow, this gifted and highly original actor and comedian is amazing. Now he has co-written and stars in Six Minutes to Midnight, acting alongside another heavy hitter:  Judi Dench. We go to the year 1939. The movie is based on a true story of a British seaside boarding school where top Nazi officials have sent their daughters. Who knew? It is well-paced, exciting, tense, and enough to send me to the computer to find the actual place. It fits with Izzard’s passion for world history, and in it he reminds us of his talent and range as an actor.

    Once in a while a movie fills us with wonder and lessons to hold on to the rest of our lives. It happens with Audrey, a documentary recently released by Netflix. This is not your standard biopic of a movie star. Audrey Hepburn had a complicated life, with the best by far her final chapter. Many of us are aware of her upbringing during the war, her Oscar-winning role in her first movie, her relationship with clothes, and image. But this film goes deeper, taking us inside the memories and nightmares. I found the lesson to be learned from this wonderful documentary is that it is by giving back that one often finds joy and release from the past. It is not only for movie fans, but also for anyone interested in a life well lived.

    Well, here’s an admission: I loved The Book of Mormon. Everything about this musical worked for me and I saw it a number of times. But I also am interested in the church itself, its beliefs and stories. I am a fan of comparative religion in general, and it doesn’t get more dramatic than this one! So, along comes a three-part series (again from Netflix) called Murder Among the Mormons. It’s a true crime documentary about a rather brilliant man obsessed with Mormon documents and historical artifacts.  I wish reviewers and my colleagues would not give away too much about the story, since the surprise elements of what this man accomplished is important to the enjoyment of this wild ride. 

    Let’s visit the Wild West with News of the World. Directed and cowritten by Paul Greengrass, the film stars Tom Hanks as a war veteran determined to take the news to small towns in the West, from Texas to Missouri and beyond. He reads the newspaper to these towns and as a lifelong journalist I love the expressions on the folks hungry for information. He is forced to take care of a young, abandoned girl (Helena Zengel), and what happens with her is one of the many reasons I like this movie.  The other is Hanks, and also the villains and chases as we root for our leading players. This film has a very satisfying ending, something we don’t experience often enough.

    In 2015 Women He’s Undressed came out and the world got to know one of the great costume designers in cinema history.  His name was Orry-Kelly. He won three Oscars, but should’ve won more for films like Auntie Mame, The Seven Year Itch, Now Voyager, and Some Like It Hot (to name a few.) Director Gillian Armstrong lends her own unique touches to this story of an Australian man who moves to New York and lives with the young Cary Grant. Orry-Kelly ends up in Hollywood and his career goes from normal to remarkable. Once you see this imaginative film, find the Orry-Kelly book of the same title. It has great details, including sketches. Thank you, Australia, for this immense talent.

    There are always classic movies or YouTube moments to see … too much to watch is actually what’s happening!                      

    Jan Wahl is a Hollywood historian, film critic on various broadcast outlets, and has her own YouTube channel series, “Jan Wahl Showbiz.” She has two Emmys and many awards for her longtime work on behalf of film buffs and the LGBTQ community. Contact her at www.janwahl.com

    Published on April 8, 2021