"Scrambled may be the start of something special," said Adam Graham in The Detroit News. Writer-director Leah McKendrick also stars in her "lively, lived-in" debut comedy, playing a hard-partying 34-year-old who suddenly hears the ticking of her biological clock and decides to borrow $13,000 to freeze her eggs. As McKendrick's Nellie hooks up with various immature dude-bros while also shooting herself with hormones to prepare for the egg retrieval, Scrambled "stays grounded in reality without sacrificing laughs or heart."
Aimless, unattached, and employed only by her own middling Etsy business, Nellie is a Millennial stereotype, said Laura Bradley in The Daily Beast. Yet McKendrick "never lets her character turn into a two-dimensional punch line." Though I sometimes wished McKendrick had allowed herself space for a deeper performance, she does bring out how ready friends and parents are to question Nellie's choices. Doing so "drives home one of the most frustrating aspects of having a uterus: Not only does it make your life a living hell once a month before it decides to 'diminish,' but for some reason, way too many people seem to believe that they know better than you do how you should be using it." The ending won't surprise viewers, and "at times, Scrambled feels like a TV show," said Samantha Bergeson in IndieWire. That "isn't a bad thing at all," though. "The film has quick quips, good timing, and tight pacing," and the payoff is as satisfying as any you'd get after six seasons of a favorite comedy series.
Vince Staples might just be the Larry David of hip-hop. In this new limited series, the Long Beach, Calif., rapper stars as a fictionalized version of himself: a man just trying to get through each day while living on the fringes of wealth, fame, and criminality. Expect Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Atlanta, with random misadventures that include a beef with a mascot, a short stopover in jail, and frustrations at a takeout counter. Thursday, Feb. 15, Netflix.
Frozen waffles have come a long way since 1953, said Gina Badalaty in Tasting Table. No longer just for breakfast anymore, they're used for pressed sandwiches and all-day snacking, and options have proliferated. In our recent taste test, the waffle that started it all finished high, but not quite on top.
Nature's Path Organic Chia Plus Frozen Waffles ($5) Our No. 3 finishers are gluten-free and packed with nutritious chia seeds. More importantly, they have "a bold, malty flavor and the ideal amount of crunch."
Eggo Homestyle Waffles ($3) Created by a California inventor in '53 and distributed by Kellogg's since '68, the OG frozen waffles were our runners-up. They, too, have a perfect crunch, and we love the "mildly sugary" flavor.
365 Organic Homestyle Waffles ($3) Taste-wise, Whole Foods' waffles are "exactly as good" as Eggo's best. But they're made with healthier ingredients, and each packs extra protein.
Jonathan Blitzer's new history of the crisis at America's southern border "begins the reckoning we desperately need," said Fernanda Santos in The Atlantic. The New Yorker staff writer isn't describing a problem that's entirely self-made, but before it can be solved, the U.S. needs to take responsibility for its role in seeding the turmoil in Central America that prompts so many people to seek asylum here. Throughout the Cold War, when Washington was intent on thwarting communism's spread, "the U.S. supplied arms, trained soldiers, and dispatched its own covert troops to support merciless government repression in the region, creating a chain reaction that is still being felt today." Want to know why more than 2 million migrants arrive at the border seeking entry every year? By revisiting history, Blitzer's book revisits the crucial history, and "shows all the ways our immigration system is in shambles."
Blitzer brings to the task "a keen eye for individual lives," said Hamilton Cain in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "We meet Juan, a cardiologist from El Salvador tortured by right-wing extremists, and Keldy, a Honduran ripped from her teenage sons after they all were found wandering amid a New Mexico desert." Blitzer also trots out "a rogues' gallery of villains," from famous Washington operatives such as Elliott Abrams and Stephen Miller to corrupt profiteers throughout Central America. U.S. presidents from both parties, including "deporter in chief" Barack Obama, have been complicit in enabling the rule of death squads, militaries, and murderous criminal gangs in places such as El Salvador and Honduras. But for all Blitzer's willingness to hold our leaders accountable, "perhaps his most damning argument is how oblivious Americans have been, and still are, to widespread suffering committed in our name."
"The indomitable humanity of many migrants is an inconvenient fact for xenophobic politicians," and Blitzer's approach brings out the grit and grace of several individuals, said Gus Bova in the Texas Observer. Juan, the cardiologist, was tortured because he'd provided medical aid to activists brutalized by El Salvador's soldiers, and when he escaped, he set up a Latino community health center in Washington, D.C. At times, Blitzer's history is "character-driven to a fault," giving too much space to U.S. bureaucrats whose personal details prove distracting. Even so, "Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here is a welcome intervention in a toxic discourse." It "unveils the ties that bind our artificially fractured hemisphere."
Like his most famous character, Carl Weathers was far more than a chiseled torso. After a brief stint as an NFL linebacker, Weathers scored a breakout acting role in 1976's Rocky, playing Apollo Creed, a motormouthed heavyweight champ inspired by Muhammad Ali. Originally Rocky's nemesis, Creed becomes a friend and trainer to Sylvester Stallone's character over three sequels. Weathers continued to flex his muscles in Predator, opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, but showed a softer side playing a golf instructor in Adam Sandler's comedy Happy Gilmore and an acting coach on the sitcom Arrested Development, and, more recently, voicing characters in Disney's The Mandalorian and Toy Story 4. Yet his acting career had nearly been derailed by a self-inflicted blow. After a lackluster Rocky audition, Weathers blurted, "I could do a lot better if you got me a real actor to work with! " He hadn't realized his line-reading partner was Stallone, the film's writer and star, who found the outburst appropriately Creed-like.
Born in New Orleans, Weathers called acting his first love, said The Washington Post, but pursued football to impress girls. He earned a scholarship to play at what is now San Diego State University, hustling between football practice and Shakespeare rehearsals. The 6-foot-2 Weathers joined the Oakland Raiders in 1970 but was cut the following season, said The Times (U.K.), because legendary coach John Madden deemed him "too sensitive. " Weathers was both hurt and inspired by the criticism. "As a professional football player, the last thing you want to hear is that you're too sensitive, " he said. "On the other hand, without that sensitivity, how could I be an actor? "
His turn as Creed culminated in Rocky IV, in which he's bludgeoned to death by Soviet villain Ivan Drago, said The New York Times. The movie, with Creed dressed like Uncle Sam, "seemed at the time to be an apotheosis of the morning-in-America pop culture patriotism of the Reagan era. " Weathers was afraid that he'd be forever typecast, though he didn't apologize while continuing to appear in action flicks. "For the time being, cars flipping in the air and assault rifles going off are what does it, " Weathers said after starring in 1988's Action Jackson. "The Sun Also Rises or adaptations of Molière don't. You have to give the people what they want. "
Sunday Shortlist was written and edited by Susan Caskie, Ryan Devlin, Danny Funt, Scott Meslow, Dale Obbie, Rebecca Nathanson, and Chris Mitchell.
Image credits, from top: Lionsgate; Netflix; Reuters; Getty Images
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