The Luzhin Defence (2000)

Medium: Movie (Netflix DVD)

Rating: 3.5/5 triumph and tragedy on the same stick

Reviewer: Data Golem

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

I believe actors are at their best when cast to play themselves. By that standard, John Turturro might be the most famous idiot savant you've ever heard of. He does a great job of selling the role of a chess genius who can beat all of China at a sitting, but still has to read the directions when making a packet of Kool-Aid. The characters are likeable except when they aren't supposed to be, but the story doesn't exactly make for white knuckles. It does have it's high points though, mainly the end. If you're not sure if you like John Turturro or a young Emily Watson, this will settle that bet.

La Piovra/The Octopus (1984-2001)

Medium: TV (Amazon Prime Video)

Rating: 4/5 slightly dated and melodramatic, but worth watching for fans of crime shows

Reviewer: Welp

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

The Octopus is an Italian television series about the Mafia and one cop who sacrifices everything in his fight to bring them down. For some reason, maybe the 1980s production values, maybe the melodramatic plot elements, 'Dallas' keeps coming to mind when watching this.

The Mafia in this show is not the one we usually see. Instead of a powerful family, this Mafia is made up of politicians and businessmen. It's a dark, violent story of institutionalized corruption that feels true to life despite the staggering body count.

Magic (1978)

Medium: Movie (Multiple)

Rating: 3.75/5.0 who's the dummy, schmucko?

Reviewer: lyger

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

First, I will say this: the TV commercial for "Magic" started showing in 1978. I was alone in the house, sitting 6 inches away from the TV as always, and just from that 30 second trailer I locked up. I literally could not breathe, and as a kid I had nightmares for the next couple of years. That was just from the trailer.

The top three actors in the film are Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, and Burgess Meredith. A ventriloquist has a break from reality and becomes dependent on Fats, his "dummy," as a friend but with many twists involving deception and murder. It may sound like Jekyll and Hyde, but I don't see it that way. "Magic" is not very violent... unless someone else is living in your head, but it's not you... but it is. That is more violent than any imagery in the movie, and you may never hear the harmonica the same way again, Schmucko. Recommended.

How to Build a Girl (2019)

Medium: Movie (Multiple)

Rating: 4/5 A coming of age fantasy for weird girls everywhere

Reviewer: Odd

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

I didn't expect much of this (having hated the audiobook due to a terrible narrator) and mostly watched because Beanie reminds me of my high school best friend, but I came away from it pleasantly surprised. It almost falls into the category of movies I feel were made just for me, but it would have hit the center bullseye if I'd seen it as a teenager. As a perpetually awkward individual who spent my formative years feeling either invisible or like I had a target on my face, and who's made more than my share of missteps along the way to adulthood, I winced with recognition more than once and even succumbed to the feel-good ending because the fantasy of someday finding my footing refuses to truly die.

It's not a perfect movie, but it has its charm, and I think it's going to resonate with a fair number of people if it ever gets enough momentum to find its audience.

Sorry For Your Loss (2018-19)

Medium: TV (Facebook Watch)

Rating: 5/5 Outstanding

Reviewer: martums

Reference(s): IMDB Listing || Trailer

Speaking of diamonds in the rough, what's an excellent series regarding grief and loss that too many have not seen? How about this: Cast and crew should be out shopping for industrial-strength shelving for a mountain of awards and recognition that, according to IMDB, has been largely ignored for this excellent series, which was originally released on and available to watch on... the evil website of which we do not speak of (no, the other one).

Disney+ recently dropped the season finale of WandaVision, which has rightfully received lots of praise and attention. (It's currently 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, those miserable, soulless bastards...). WandaVision was also not the first time Elizabeth Olsen shone in a role of a grieving widow/partner. Libby Hill wrote about this eloquently. It's beyond criminal how cast & crew of Loss have not yet been buried in a mountain of awards and statuettes for this series. Highly recommend moving this to the top of your list. Bonus: watch with ice cream, (or booze).

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