It was difficult to find anything to watch even a fraction as good as the second season of The Bear. I rarely review a second season if I wrote about the first, but the latest installment of the FX/Hulu show is so beautiful, well-written, and tense that I cannot stop thinking about it.
The second season picks up with chefs Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) and Sydney (Ayo Adebiri) trying to turn The Beef into a new, upscale restaurant, The Bear. With business help from Carmy’s sister, Sugar (Abby Elliott), the pair struggles with renovations, permits, and personal lives. Carmy’s cousin, Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) tries to find purpose while Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas) shines under new responsibilities and Marcus (Lionel Boyce) balances family loyalty with a new adventure.
Much of this season takes place outside the kitchen as Carmy and Sydney send their dedicated staff members out to other restaurants or culinary school, getting them trained in a higher professionalism than The Beef demanded. Although the frenetic energy of the first season was exciting, the calmer, quieter tone this year allowed the actors to dig into the emotional lives of their characters. The resulting performances were captivating. I especially loved Tina and Richie’s redemption arcs. To me, the best part of the series is the dignity with which the writers and actors treat the characters, creating full people with lives we only see a snapshot of. In this tight group with so much baggage, the evolving relationships and senses of self set the stakes high. “Every Second Counts” was the season’s theme, but the writing also dwells on the idea that it is never too late. After an explosive finale, I wonder how those two concepts will continue to weigh on the characters.
The Bear was created by Christopher Storer. It runs for 10 episodes on Hulu and is rated TV-MA for language.
On Netflix, Run Rabbit Run adds another title to the Mommy Horror subgenre as Sarah (Sarah Snook) struggles with the unnerving demands her seven-year-old daughter, Mia (Lily LaTorre), makes about her estranged or deceased family members. While Mia lurks around in a creepy handmade bunny mask, Sarah’s psyche crumbles under grief and guilt about long-kept secrets.
Run Rabbit Run combines some of the best elements of prestige horror movies. Set in Australia, the sunny landscapes contrast with dreary interiors. Muted colors create a moody background for haunting images and nightmares, beautifully composed and photographed.
Opposite each other, Sarah Snook and Lily LaTorre keep the tension ratcheted up. Snook conveys how children can kind of make you feel like you’re losing it, playing up that classic trope about a woman who might be going mad or may be victim to otherworldly forces. Ultimately, however, the beauty of the production and the strength of the performances cannot fully balance how the screenplay fails to provide enough substance to hold all the great parts together. This horror movie is well-crafted but forgettable. Well, aside from the bunny mask, which is creepier than seems reasonable.
Run Rabbit Run was written by Hannah Kent and directed by Daina Reid. It runs for 100 minutes and is rated TV-MA.
On Max, Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed tells the story of the cinema icon’s career and his shocking death in 1985 from AIDS. If, like me, you only know the big bullet points about Hudson’s life, this documentary provides a much fuller picture, putting his experiences in the context of the studio system and the broader culture. Although Hudson’s death is only part of the story, knowledge of what’s coming in the end looms over much of the story. To balance that sense of doom, the production cheekily uses clips from Hudson’s movies out of context to comment on the issues Hudson faced in real life. This documentary tells the story concisely and compellingly, making salient points about the mismanagement of the AIDS epidemic and the systems that kept Hudson closeted. My only regret is that the film came so late that many of Hudson’s costars, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Doris Day, have also passed away, and their contributions only come via archival footage.
Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed was directed by Stephen Kijak and runs for 104 minutes on Max. It is rated TV-14.
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