Flicks With Nicki – Hidden GemsNicki Salcedo. Photo by Fox Gradin.
Believe it or not, I only spend two hours a week watching TV. I do get more time when I travel. Airports mean waiting. I usually have something downloaded on my phone, just in case. Airplanes mean time to watch movies. Hotels mean access to cable channels that I don’t normally subscribe to.
It’s good to watch the big shows and blockbuster movies, but sometimes the quiet films sneak by us, and little-known TV shows go unnoticed. When people see me around town, they skip the small talk and get right to the important things, like what I’m watching and what they’d recommend.
Here are some of the hidden gems I’ve stumbled upon or found, thanks to my friends. These are some of my favorites. I would watch any of these movies or shows again.
“After Life” (UK)
When newspaper writer Tony Johnson (Ricky Gervais) loses his wife to cancer, he struggles with life and decides to do and say whatever he wants. Content warning. Death, grief, suicidal ideation, and drug use as a form of self-harm. This is a raw and often grim comedy, but the laughs are real, and so is the pain. Healing gem. Grade B+
“After Yang” (US)
A family struggles when the robotic companion for their daughter becomes unresponsive. My favorite kind of sci-fi is what I call “near sci-fi” or “lite sci-fi.” Most of the drama is related to our human responses to technology and the impacts of it on our family lives. This was a strange and beautiful gem from A24 productions. Grade B-
Recommended to me by Mickey Dubrow. A woman discovers that she can see demons and meets another who trains her how to hunt, so they can save the world. A six episode horror-comedy, that deals with the supernatural and also family, friendships, and love. Resolution was a bit weak, but the ride was fun. Quirky little gem. Grade B-
“Jodhaa Akbar” (India in Hindi language)
Recommended to me by Nalini Singh. Y’all, this movie has everything. Everything! A Hindu Princess, Jodhaa Bai, must marry Muslim Emperor Akbar for political reasons. It is three hours plus of intrigue, battle scenes, slow burn romance, deception, family lies, religious reflection, truth, compromise, and dancing. There must be dance sequences. If you are in the mood for an epic Bollywood drama, this is it. Sword-fighting gem. Grade B+
“Love Between Fairy and Devil” (China)
Recommended to me by Trish Milburn and Seressia Glass. The title says it all. A sweet fairy with no status accidentally releases the world’s most powerful demon. They become connected and the adventure begins. There are a lot of episodes, different kingdoms, subplots, and drama. This is a fantasy. This is a comedy. I wasn’t expecting the humor, and yet I found myself really laughing. Every so often, they body swap! It is hilarious. If you don’t take this one too seriously, you might enjoy this cuteness overload gem. Grade B-
Recommended to me by Bob Climko. A fisherman named Syracuse (Colin Farrell) pulls a woman from the ocean who might be a selkie. She calls herself Ondine, and when she sings, his nets become full of fish. Mythical and real. We see the pain of alcoholism and illness, and the belief in love and second-chances. Quiet and still, a magical gem. Grade A-
“The Promised Neverland” (Japan)
Recommended to me by Ann Michelle Harris. Based on a popular manga. Children in an orphanage discover that they aren’t being adopted by human families, but rather are being raised as food for demons (monsters). No, really, the monsters eat kids. WTH. The first episode was so good, I binged the whole thing. There is a problematic portrayal of the Black schoolmarm mid-season 1. This would not fly in the US, but I was already so horrified about so many other things, I let it slide. Horror adventure gem. Grade B+
“RRR” (India in Telugu language)
A tribal leader and a member of the British Raj should be enemies, but fate creates an unlikely friendship between these two men based on real historical figures in the era of pre-independent India. This is another three-hour long epic. Long fight scenes, daring rescues, the value of friendship, and the power of fighting back when you feel powerless. Note: that while it is unlikely that you will see an onscreen kiss, you may get a 15-minute beating scene that gave me flashbacks to “The Passion of the Christ.” This is a trigger for me. You will know when to close your eyes. At times gruesome and other times silly, “RRR” takes you on a wild ride. Loved loved love the friendship and portrayal of the main two characters. A brotherhood gem! Grade B+
“The Witch Part 1: The Subversion” (Korea)
Recommended to me by Adrienne Mishel. An orphan girl enters a singing contest, only to discover that a mysterious government agency has been looking for her. This has a few twists. Action, sci-fi, paranormal. The best part about watching movies from around the world is that you really have no idea where the story is going. That makes for a fun ride. Twisty gem. Grade B-
So, Decaturish readers, what are you watching? What would you recommend to me? What movie or show should I review? Please don’t say “Black Adam.” Please.
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a writer, story consultant, and working mom.
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