The other night, hubby and I finished watching a PBS docuseries titled The U.S. and the Holocaust. Directed by Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein, the series takes an unflinching look at the human toll of the Nazis’ “Final Solution” and how the United States, desperate to maintain neutrality in the early years of WWII, failed to do anything to help the millions of European Jews our government knew were in peril. The U.S. and the Holocaust makes excellent use of voiceover, not only the narration by Burns’ longtime collaborator Peter Coyote, but guest stars including Meryl Streep (who provides the voice for Eleanor Roosevelt), Paul Giamatti, Joe Morton, and Bradley Whitford. The series also incorporates stunning archival footage and interviews with Holocaust survivors such as Eva (Geiringer) Schloss, a childhood friend of Anne Frank’s. The U.S. and the Holocaust is not an easy watch, nor should it be. The series ends by convincingly connecting the dots between Nazi Germany and a recent rise in fascism and antisemitism here in the U.S. If you have access to PBS’s catalog, I highly recommend this series, which holds a 100% rating and an audience score of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.
I also just finished watching a Showtime true crime docuseries called Buried, which covers a case I was unfamiliar with. Twenty years after her best friend Susan Nason was murdered, Eileen Franklin suddenly remembered what her conscious mind had tucked away – that her father had committed the crime. The controversial case was the first instance of a recovered memory being used as evidence in a criminal prosecution. Buried is an absolutely fascinating look at generational trauma and the power of memory.
A Place in the Sun, directed by George Stevens and starring Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on this day in 1951. Based on the 1925 Theodore Dreiser novel An American Tragedy – and loosely based on the real-life 1906 murder of Grace Brown – A Place in the Sun went on to win six Academy Awards, including Best Director, as well as the first ever Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama.
Japanese electronic music pioneer and Oscar-winning film composer Ryuichi Sakamoto has died at the age of 71. His BAFTA-winning score for Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is a personal favorite of mine; he earned his Oscar four years later – along with a Golden Globe and a Grammy – for Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor. Among the other films Sakamoto scored are The Sheltering Sky, Little Buddha, Snake Eyes, and The Revenant. He also composed music for the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics.
On this day in 1965, the 37th Academy Awards were held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. It was the only time in Oscar history that three films were each nominated for at least twelve awards (Mary Poppins with 13, My Fair Lady and Becket with 12). My Fair Lady was the night’s big winner, with eight awards, but the highlight was Julie Andrews – who had originated the role of Eliza Doolittle on Broadway but was passed over for the film adaptation in favor of established star Audrey Hepburn – taking home the Best Actress prize for her debut, Mary Poppins (Hepburn, whose singing was dubbed by Marti Nixon without her knowledge, wasn’t even nominated).
Hulu’s Tiny Beautiful Things, based on the book by Cheryl Strayed, premieres this Friday. The glorious Kathryn Hahn stars as Clare, an advice columnist whose personal life is falling apart. Emmy winner Merritt Wever co-stars as Clare’s mom in flashbacks. I haven’t read the source material, but the series is getting fantastic reviews and honestly? I’d watch Kathryn Hahn in literally anything. I’m in.
Also coming soon (April 14th) is Apple TV’s The Last Thing He Told Me, which is based on the novel of the same name by Laura Dave and stars Jennifer Garner as a woman unraveling the mystery of her husband’s disappearance. The supporting cast includes Mare of Easttown‘s lovely Angourie Rice, Aisha Tyler, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Also arriving on the 14th is Universal’s Renfield, which puts Dracula’s (Nicholas Cage) long-suffering servant, played by Nicholas Hoult, front and center. Based on this gruesome, hilarious trailer, this flick is going to be entertaining as hell.
The second teaser and additional promotional materials have been released for the upcoming theatrical release, Barbie. Written by romantic partners Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, and directed by Gerwig, the film stars Margot Robbie as the iconic doll and Ryan Gosling as Ken, as well as a tremendous supporting cast that includes Issa Rae, Nicola Coughlan, Kate McKinnon, Simon Liu, Michael Cera, and many more (oh, and Helen Mirren narrates!). They can just take my money now because I will be the first in line for this.
And finally, Disney+ has released the first teaser for The Muppets Mayhem, a series that follows the iconic Muppets house band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, as they attempt to record their first album. I actually cancelled my Disney+ subscription a while back, but I’ll probably need to re-up for this one.