Safety Not Guaranteed (Netflix)

To me, acting falls into two categories: transformational and charismatic.  Transformational performances are those where the actor becomes another person, undergoing significant physical changes to convince us that they have become someone else.  Examples of this would be Charlize Theron in Monster, Gary Oldman in Churchill and Renee Zellweger in Judy.  The physical transformations typically include weight gain or loss, application of makeup, and an uncanny impersonation of vocal and other mannerisms.  These performances are usually tagged as “Oscar bait”, universally applauded and admired as feats of skill.

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Greyhound (AppleTV+)

When you have been a consumer of movies and television for a long time, eventually you get to play the “remember when” game with your favorite actors and actresses.  Case in point:  Tom Hanks.  Remember when he starred in a TV show that was a riff on Some Like it Hot?  (That was Bosom Buddies, which ran from 1980-82.)  Remember when he starred in an adult sex comedy? (Bachelor Party in 1984.)  Remember when he played a thirteen year-old kid transported into a thirty year-old body in Big (way back in 1988)?

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Palm Springs (Hulu)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  Man finds himself reliving the same day until he finds a way to escape the loop.  You may have immediately thought of Groundhog’s Day, the Bill Murry classic.  That movie came out in 1993.  Since then there have been other films that have utilized the concept, including Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow, Happy Death Day in 2017 (and its sequel, Happy Death Day 2U in 2019).  Recent TV shows have also followed this pattern, from Westworld (where the hosts relive the same pre-programmed day until they revolt) to Upload (Amazon Prime), Undone (also Amazon Prime) and After Life (what’s up over at Amazon Prime, anyway?).  I could go all the way back to the Greek legend of Sisyphus, but then we would be heading into TL;DR territory.  (TL;DR: “too long; didn’t read”)

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Unsolved Mysteries – Season 15 (Netflix)

No, that’s not a typo.  There are currently fifteen seasons of Unsolved Mysteries. I’ll admit that I was never a regular watcher of the series when it ran on broadcast TV.  (It has aired on NBC, CBS, Lifetime and Spike.)  To me, the series had a stodgy feel to it, as if it was something your parents or grand-parents would watch on a Friday or Saturday night, while you were out getting into trouble.  I remember watching it a few times late at night over the past twenty years, when battling insomnia.

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