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What To Watch

If you’ve burned through Netflix’s one-of-kind documentary Tiger King in two or three days (do you know anyone who hasn’t?), and are caught up on your favorite shows, it might be time to sign up for one of the free streaming trials (here’s a list, that ranges in everything from Disney Plus, Hulu, Netflix and Prime to vast libraries of old films.

But what to watch?

Your tastes may have changed in isolation. I know that I have absolutely no desire to watch the zombie movies I used to love, and I’m even having a hard time keeping up with TWD (and the Kardashians, who might as well be zombies). I’m not interested in Hallmark romances or romantic comedies right now, because my mind keeps on floating to the question of what would a post COVID-19 romance be like and if there is such a thing as a coronavirus meet cute?

But historical romances work for me now. Portrait of a Lady on Fire is now on Hulu. This was the lesbian film of the year (last year). It tells the story of an artist who is sent to a small French seaside town in the 18th century to paint the portrait of another woman who is betrothed to a noble man in Milan who has previously been engaged to her sister, who has committed suicide instead of getting married. The woman whose portrait is to be painted refuses to sit for the portrait because it is essentially an advertisement for her wedding, but she falls in love with the artist as she surreptitiously paints her.

But the movie is so much more than the story of two women falling in love.

It manages to be a sweeping indictment of the omnipresent patriarchy while still being empowering. It is also an amazing visual and thematic discourse on the arts, freedom and sacrifice. And there is a powerful subplot on abortion that I never could have imagined seeing in a French film set in the 1700’s. This is such a feminist film!

It won best screenplay at Cannes in 2019, and should have been France’s submission for Best Foreign Film for the Oscars.

If after watching Portrait of Lady on Fire, you are still in the mood for subversive French women’s history, I have it on very good authority that the Netflix series Bonfire of Destiny, which is set in Paris in 1897 and examines the lives of three very different women after the Paris fire, is compelling. So pour yourself a glass a wine and press play.

But if that doesn’t work for you, you can also stream Little Women or Emma on Video on Demand.

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