So Here’s What Happened in February

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Russian Doll

Thanks for tuning in for another episode of So Here’s What Happened!

On this episode, Carolyn and LaNeysha discuss their first top picks for February.

Without planning it, the ladies review and recommend some shows and film that share themes of loneliness, destiny, family,  and relationships that connect and anchor us.

Top Reads

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison 

This was a previous feature that was brought back in honor of Black History Month and Women’s History Month. Little Leaders educates and inspires readers by featuring the true stories of forty black women in American history. Since its release, Vashti Harrison has authored additional books that seek to shine a light and share the stories more women throughout history.

Top TV Shows

Russian Doll

Created by Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headlund, and Amy Poehler, Russian Doll is a series that explores the theory of alternative universes/timelines in a new and hilarious manner. After getting into a car accident on her 36th birthday, Nadia Vulvokov (Lyonne) wakes up to find herself repeatedly reliving her birthday. As she tries to find her way out of the loop Nadia meets Alan Zaveri (Charlie Barnett) and they realize the key to breaking the loop might be them learning about each other.

Nadia and Alan are at first glance what would typically be described as an “odd couple”, but in truth they are more perfectly suited to each other as friends (or lovers) than most people I’ve seen on screen in a while. Nadia is extremely blunt, but rather than coming off like a jerk, her frankness coupled with a biting and sardonic humor makes her extremely likeable. Alan on the other hand, is very cautious about what he says, to the point where he never says what he truly feels. His life is made up of shades of grey and lilac, while Nadia’s is deep burgundy, teal, and red.

One thing I found interesting is how their personalities are reflected in the way they handled and even approached their deaths. At every turn Nadia was trying to avoid the literal death traps the universe placed in her path, but Alan didn’t. Instead he seemed to have accepted this was the way things were…until Nadia. I truly enjoyed the dynamic between Lyonne and Barnett, and what they brought to their characters. Their differences compliment them, and actually serve as great anchor for the story when it feels like it’s about to spin out of control.

Major applause is to be given to Lyonne, Headlund and Jamie Babbit who all shared directorial duties for the series, and also to the production team. The directing kept the pacing of the show flowing evenly, and the casting of the supporting characters was spot on.

Umbrella Academy 

In 1989 a mysterious event occurs that causes 43 women to unexpectantly become pregnant and go into labor,  all in one day.  Each of the children from these women was born with amazing powers and abilities Seven of those gifted children were adopted and raised by a billionaire with the goal of creating a super-powered team that would one day save the world.

Now many years, reunited by the adopted father’s unexpected death, the siblings must uncover family secrets and try to stop the Apocalypse.

Top Films

Shoplifters

What makes a family, a family? Does giving birth to a child automatically manes a woman is meant to be a mother? These are some of the questions that writer and director Hirokazu Kore-eda asks in his latest award winning film Shoplifters. When Osamu Shibata (Lily Franky) and his wife Nobuyo (Sakura Andô)  find little Yuri (Miyu Sasaki) all alone, they take her into their home and family, forever changing their lives.

As the youngest in the family, Shota (Jyo Kairi) is reticent to accept Yuri, but as they grow closer, we learn more about the family and their lives, from their perspective. In ensemble films its’ not often that we see characters being given space to tell their own stories, but here each member of the family is highlighted, making you care about where their paths will lead them.

The way Hirokazu visually framed the family was a discussion in and of it self of what this family looks like, the isolation they felt as individuals and as a unit, was beautiful. Rather than feeling like an outsider looking in, he places the audience inside, and next to them. This sense of belonging allows us to relate to each person, and even understand why they do the things they do, even breaking the law. He makes you contemplate the grey areas of situations you would have seen strictly as black and white, because what good is the law if it ignores the will and wishes of children?

Alita: Battle Angel

Set hundreds of years in the future, a deactivated and abandoned female cyborg is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by, a caring cyber-doctor who repairs her and welcomes her as his family. Without any memory of her past, she sets out to embrace what the world has to offer and try to recover her memories and her identity along the way.