Binge-r #132: Workin' Moms + Hereditary
WORKIN’ MOMS S1
Streaming Service: Netflix
Availability: All 13 episodes now streaming
“Having it all seems a little… impossible,” ventures Kate (co-creator Catherine Reitman) at the beginning of this Canadian comedy about a quartet of mothers heading back to work after maternity leave. Sundry offhand screw-tightening mishaps soon suggest Kate was right, beginning with a boss who plays her off against a fellow executive at their advertising agency by casually asking “you got somewhere to be?” when the working day should be done. At least she’s faring better than her mothers’ group pal, Frankie (Juno Rinaldi), a real estate agent who runs the worst open house ever and may have post-partum depression. It that a suitable subject for laughs? It is here, not only through the sarcastic, knowing snap of the writing but the realisation that if everything is going to weigh on you then you’ve got no choice in what you need to acknowledge.
A hit in Canada, the show is set in the middle-class and above environs of Toronto – none of the women have the problem of unemployment, and each has a partner and sometimes a nanny. It’s a different world to the everyday struggle and flights of fantasy that illuminate Stan’s SMILF, but there’s plenty here that resources can’t fix, and a willingness to twist around the privilege. Kate is torn between her alpha female ambitions and leaving her child with someone else, and there’s a great scene early on where her office banter with the boys has an unexpected diversion. The characters are neither perfect nor heroic: cubicle-bound Jenny (Jessalyn Wanlim) is attracted to her new boss, while Anne (Dani Kind) has a hair-trigger temper and a knack for expletive-laden tirades that are hilariously inappropriate (especially for a psychiatrist).
Canadian sitcoms has become a positive nook for Netflix over the last year, thanks to Schitt’s Creek [full review here] and Kim’s Convenience [full review here], with Workin’ Moms finding its own lane through a messy mix of black humour and astute self-awareness. The show is particularly good at bittersweet closings that actually feel connected to these unfiltered women, who talk about their bodies, partners and babies with amusing bluntness. The supporting cast is neatly sketched and believable in both their help and hindrance and beneath it all on this series is a refreshingly frank admission that sometimes running to merely stand still is enough of an achievement. As a comedy, this nearly has it all.
>> Old Show/New Season: If you’re a fan of actor Cillian Murphy’s menacingly icy blue eyes and/or period gangster shows, chances are you’ve already discovered the British drama Peaky Blinders. The fourth season of the crime saga has just reached Netflix, but if you’re new to the show start with my 2017 review of the first season [full review here].
NEWLY ADDED MOVIES
Hereditary (Netflix, 2018, 127 minutes): There are many scary things in this unnerving and deluged in dread horror film, including but not limited to maternal malevolence, distressing visions, family dinners, fear of mental illness, and inexplicable bodily violence. Ari Aster’s acclaimed debut features a family so close to fracturing that they’re too scared to cling on to each other: artist Annie (Toni Collette) is grieving for her long distant and now dead mother, her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne) despairs at finding a solution, 16-year-old son Peter (Alex Wolff) can’t self-medicate enough, and 13-year-old daughter Charlie (Milly Shapiro) has the distant stare of long-term trauma survivor. While there’s a ready link to the bedrock of modern horror filmmaking, such as the likes of Rosemary’s Baby, Aster is such a patient and observant filmmaker, letting you sense the off-balance mood and ashen skin and holding the camera in place instead of panning with menace. It makes the climactic last half hour a horrifying release, and deep down you may suspect that’s what Annie – a career-best Collette – ultimately foresaw.
New on Netflix: Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s Tully (2018, 95 minutes) also focuses on the demands of motherhood, with Charlize Theron as an exhausted parent who forms a bond with her night nanny (Mackenzie Davis); Daniel Day-Lewis reveals the personal limits and political guile of America’s Civil War President in Lincoln (2012, 150 minutes), Steven Spielberg’s epic paean to leadership.
New on SBS on Demand: The great French filmmaker Claire Denis teams with the exceptional Juliette Binoche for Let the Sunshine In (2017, 91 minutes), the story of a divorced Parisian woman and her experiences with a succession of men; more a real life courtroom drama than a study of extremism, Denial (2016, 109 minutes) headlines Rachel Weisz as an academic sued for libel by Timothy Spall’s Holocaust denier.
New on Stan: Boasting one of the all-time great movie star cameos, Zombieland (2009, 85 minutes) is a pithy depiction of life after an undead apocalypse that emphasises comic mishaps over personal loss with a cast led by Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and Jesse Eisenberg; Kate Beckinsale plays a leather-clad vampire who hunts werewolves in the original Underworld (2003, 117 minutes), the rare supernatural franchise with a female lead.
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