Checkmate: Film Critic Harlan Jacobson Checks Out “On The Rocks” and “The Queen’s Gambit”

Like most of us who are trying to ride out the pandemic without catching the virus, we’ve been staying home and finding entertainment via books, music, and TV. I am very picky about what I watch – as I’ve aged, I prefer to spend my TV watching evenings on uplifting shows. No vampires, no slasher films or horror movies. And nothing boring or depressing. I watched – and loved – both programs reviewed here by Harlan Jacobson for

Bill Murray’s movie, “On the Rocks,” was great because Murray seldom disappoints. And due to the chemistry between him and Rashida Jones, who plays his daughter. The shots of the two of them ricocheting down darkened New York City streets in what I think is an MGB-GT are fun.And the film is expertly written and directed by Sofia Coppola who probably knows a thing or two about sticky father-daughter relationships.

As for the seven part mini-series, “The Queen’s Gambit,” this time we’re looking at an evolving mother-daughter relationship. It’s a fascinating one, because Anya Taylor-Joy plays orphaned Beth Harmon who has become wise beyond her years due to life “in the system,” (where she was befriended by teenaged Jolene – long-term “unadaptable” orphan, expertly played by Moses Ingram) is adopted by a couple named Harmon. And her new mom Alice, portrayed by Chloe Pirrie, is a stereotypical 50’s housewife, placid and unassuming, merely sleepwalking through life as the story begins. I’m only halfway through watching “Gambit,” but I can’t wait to see where it goes. This mini-series is based on the 1983 American novel by Walter Tevis.

If you haven’t yet seen those shows, please check out Harlan Jacobson’s review below, and then add them to your “must see TV” list.

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