Streaming Surprises, Volume 30

Our “Streaming Surprises” series calls attention to good movies new and old that our board members are watching. Titles are available from various streaming services.


Submitted by CINDY PETERS DUZI. Streaming on Netflix.

Jean has been living and working as an interior designer in Sweden for the past three years. Her focus is on minimalism, a simple aesthetic she compares to Buddhist philosophy. She returns to her family home in Bangkok where her mother and brother still live, determined to tackle its cluttered interior in an effort to create an office space for her design work. She initially meets with apathy from her brother, although after reading Marie Kondo’s book and watching her television show “Tidying Up” he is inspired to say thank you and goodbye to possessions that no longer spark joy for him. However, Jean’s mother, who is damaged and angry from her husband’s abandonment of their family, remains resolute that nothing in their home be thrown away. Her refusal to make any changes to her life prevents her from moving past her pain to find happiness. Like her mother, Jean also suffers from the hurt of her father’s desertion. Her cold, academic outlook on life is simply a cover for her suffering. Is Jean Thailand’s emissary to the Kondo approach of letting go, or has she simply found a way to shut herself off from human emotion? As with many good films, we are not offered a tidy ending, but we are given much to consider. Facing pain and learning to let go is an integral part of the human experience, and this contemplative film from Thailand beautifully expresses both the heartache and release that come with confronting our feelings.


Submitted by CINDY PETERS DUZI. Streaming on Netflix.

As in many cultures, it is common in Georgian society for multi-generational families to live under one roof. Manana lives in tight quarters with her husband, her parents, and her adult children. We watch her drowning beneath the expectations others have for her: wife, daughter, mother. Her husband appears disinterested in her life, her mother is critical of her behavior, her children are self-absorbed and unproductive, and her extended family members are a constant annoying presence in her life. Early in the film we see Manana choose to eat a piece of cake, while her mother harps on her to first eat her dinner. She is denied the right to enjoy small pleasures peacefully and is even pressured to celebrate a birthday she would prefer to ignore. Manana unravels before our eyes, and one day quietly and calmly packs a suitcase and tells her family she has rented her own apartment. This is a pivotal moment in the film, fraught with her emotion and internal anguish. Who hasn’t experienced even brief moments when they are desperate to escape the often-overwhelming weight of relationship and family obligations? Manana settles quietly and comfortably into her new life, yet she never manages to extricate herself from her family’s needs or problems. Her attempt to take back her own life falters, yet she refuses to give up on her vision for her future. Many would argue she has no right to live a solitary life, that her duty to her family should take precedence over her own happiness. The film offers us no answers to this dilemma, because the solution comes down to personal choice. How Manana will choose to live out her life remains ambiguous, which imbues the film with an intense honesty and palpable sense of melancholy.

A retired high school English teacher, Cindy Peters Duzi serves on the Filmworks board as venue director. She blogs about current cinema on her INSTAGRAM.