What to watch at home this week? Which is the best series to watch? What about the movies to watch this weekend? Which are the best TV shows to binge? NOW STREAMING makes your search simpler.
What: Chef’s Table
Who: There are four episodes of the new sixth season of the Emmy Award-winning series but even if you can’t make time for all of them, even if you haven’t seen any Chef’s Table episode ever, you have to make time for the Asma Khan episode. Born and bred in Kolkata, Asma, who runs the Indian restaurant Darjeeling Express in London’s Soho, is the first British chef to feature on the show. After having moved to the UK with her husband and completing her PhD in British Constitutional Law, Asma started hosting private supper clubs at her home which became famous in the London culinary circles and ultimately paved the way for a full-fledged restaurateur plunge for her.
Why: Celebrating the success of Asma is not just about celebrating a woman in the largely male-dominated professional kitchen but also celebrating the blooming of an immigrant, of a Muslim wife in the UK. It’s such a personal journey and yet so universal. “If you think that you are unwanted, that you are not equal, that you won’t be allowed, you can do anything,” she says.
Asma’s account is also a delightful mother-daughter story because it was her mother, who used to run a catering business in Kolkata in the 1980s and had first planted the seeds of cooking in her. “My mother cried at my birth. I can’t wipe those tears. But what I can do is being pride into my mother’s eyes.”
What’s more, Asma heads an all-female team at Darjeeling Express and the recently opened Calcutta Canteen. Hailing from Nepal and Mumbai and Darjeeling, none of these women are professionally trained chefs but just talented home cooks who have found their expression in the kitchen, just like their boss. “This is what happens to women when other women stand by them,” says Asma.
What: Isn’t It Romantic
Who: A tongue-in-cheek satire on the rom com genre directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson (A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas), Isn’t It Romantic has a down-and-almost-out New York architect (Rebel Wilson) getting mugged in the subway and then waking up to find herself in a super-cliched romantic comedy. The good looking rich guy (Liam Hemsworth), the best friend (Adam DeVine), his hot girlfriend (Priyanka Chopra) and an unholy quadrangle.
Why: It’s a very clever idea of turning the quintessential rom com idea on its head and yet make one at the same time. The familiar tropes are made fun of in a delightful way and Wilson is the perfect bewildered vehicle to take this wild ride. The most hilarious scene comes when she repeatedly tries to have sex with Hemsworth only to discover that they are inside a PG-13 movie and they have to skip the act. Hemsworth himself plays the white billionaire popping in and out of limousines with the kind of one-dimensional sugary charm that would make Hugh Grant proud.
Why Not: Even as you enjoy the rom com parody, you know exactly where Isn’t It Romantic is headed story-wise and the predictability is a big downer. Also, the core love story of the film is not strong enough to root for. And that it never quite jumps out of the genre it is taking potshots at, is disappointing.
Whee: Priyanka as yoga ambassador Isabella is a sight for sore eyes. And her fake English accent is completely gone now. Phew!
What: Ocean’s 8
Where: Amazon Prime Video
Who: An offshoot of sorts of Steven Soderbergh’s successful Ocean’s Trilogy, this one has Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), estranged sister of Danny, putting together a team of ladies-only crooks to steal a 150-million-dollar necklace from the New York City’s annual Met Gala. The film, directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games), has an incredible ensemble cast comprising Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter and Mindy Kaling.
Why: Sit with a big bowl of popcorn and watch the stars feed off each other. The film not only ticks all the boxes you expect in an Ocean’s franchise film but also has fresh twists and turns till the very last shot. The women’s empowerment message is subtle and beautifully woven into the heist plot. Blanchett and Bullock are terrific in the Clooney-Pitt jugalbandi mode and it’s so much fun watching Rihanna as the no-nonsense hacker Nine Ball and Helena Bonham Carter as the forgetful has-been fashion designer. As Marie Kondo would say, Ocean’s 8 “sparks joy” right through its running time.
Did You Know
The original 1964 version of Mary Poppins, with Julie Andrews in the title role, is now streaming on Netflix.
All episodes of Season 2 of Tin Star, starring Tim Roth, are now streaming on Hotstar Premium.
All four seasons of the TV series Casual, starring Michaela Watkins, are now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Deepa Mehta’s adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children is now streaming on Netflix.