End-of-September streams: Shots of nostalgia and a bucket of wisdom

Published September 28, 2020, 4:48 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

With a number of prestige projects slated for October release (“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “Rebecca,” “The Haunting of Bly Manor,” and “MANK”), the last week of September was about streaming shows that either binged on nostalgia, or came up ‘trumps’ (pun intended) on the way social media is ‘played’ today, and affects elections. And new episodes for a wonderful culinary show.

“The Social Dilemma” (Netflix USA) – You take the founders, CEO’s, and heads of monetization of today’s tech and social media giants, and you ask them if they have any regrets about how the businesses they’ve been involved with have become the ‘monsters’ of today. That pretty much sums up the treatment of this chilling documentary.

Directed by Jeff Orlowski (who I caught guesting as a resource speaker on CNN the other night), this docu-drama hybrid, has to be an eye-opener to the unsuspecting public on just how much control and manipulation is exercised by these tech giants in our everyday life.

Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google is just one of the eloquent talking heads ready to open our eyes to just how insidious social media has become. It’s all about Engagement, Growth, and Monetization, with the data gathered then turned into knowledge tools for influencing and manipulating us in very subtle ways.

As one speaker says – If the product is being given for free, then you are the product.

It’s your likes, dislikes, predictive behavior that the platform is selling to those who advertise on their assets. What’s craziest, is how willing we are to be part of all this because it’s so well-disguised.

“Father of the Bride 3(ish)” (Facebook, Netflix and YouTube) – The first two films came out in 1991 & 1995, so you have to wonder if this was just pandemic-motivated, along with how so many shows or movies from the 90’s staged online reunions during the last six months. But to their credit, while this “FotB3(ish)” does stick to a Zoom format, and bring back the original cast some 25 years later, it made the effort to come up with an original story – a flimsy, original story, but at least, it’s not a case of reading some pilot script, or just having us stare in wonder at the age lines, or commenting on who has aged well.

There’s even a surprise cameo appearance that I won’t spoil here. And the marketing geniuses behind this film have simultaneously released it on Netflix, YouTube and Facebook.

It runs for some 26 minutes so it doesn’t outlive it’s welcome – and true to form of the films, it puts Steve Martin and Diane Keaton‘s characters as the real stars of the whole exercise.

It’s a precious shot of nostalgia, and I know so many welcomed the opportunity to bond again with all their favorite characters from the films.

For true blue Steve Martin fans, he’s collaborated on a book of New Yorker type cartoons, coming out in November.

“The Chef Show” (Netflix USA) – Ever since Jon Favreau came out and starred in the film “Chef,” it seems we just can’t get him out of the kitchen.

If you recall, it was chef Roy Choi who consulted on the film, and brought out this late blooming love for things culinary in Favreau.

Netflix has just released 5 new episodes of the “Chef Show,” and true to form, it’s Favreau giving us a tour of what’s happening in the LA food scene, and how they’re coping with the pandemic.

Christina Tosi of the famous Milk Bar, Italian dishes c/o Roy, a James Beard Award-winning chef in Jessica Largey, Chad Robertson and Chris Bianco on their artisan bread making, and the late night burger of Holeman & Finch, plus the perfect grilled cheese sandwich, and a special dessert of Nina Subhas – these make up the five new episodes.

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love these new adventures into territory both familiar and exotic. And Jon is an excellent guide, bringing us back to shows that really are about cooking, and not just about the lifestyle of the chefs and neighborhoods.