Russian Doll: The Perfect Weekend Binge

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A cynical person is compelled to relive a certain day in repeat, over and over again and stuck in a time loop.

Of course, you have. Because this is the exact same premise for a whole host of movies and TV series episodes. For example, Groundhog Day, Source Code, Edge of tomorrow and even recent Black Mirror event, Bandersnatch to a certain degree.

So can the same plot, that’s been done so many times over be any good or entertaining? In the case of Netflix’s new comedy-drama “Russian Doll” very much so.

Produced and co-written by Amy Poehler of “Parks and Recreations”, Russian Doll, as the show itself describes itself, “a long story involving multiple deaths.”

Minor Spoilers for the 1st and 2nd episode.

It starts off with Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne), a cynical New Yorker who is seen at her 36th birthday party thrown by two of her closest friend at their apartment.

Nadia happens to be a chain-smoking, alcoholic, video game programmer with a self-destructive nature and pretty bleak outlook on life. After an accident involving a local deli cat, Nadia is run over by a speeding taxi and is killed on the spot on the night of her birthday.

Russian Doll a bingeworthy netflix show

But surprising enough she’s transported back to the where the episode started off. At birthday party her friend threw for her, giving her the worst case of Déjà vu. Although writing it off as her imagination and side-effects of the narcotics she took at the party, she realized that the loop she’s in is very real after she ends up dying a few more times. Nadia is left to figure out how to free herself from this never-ending loop or if it’s even possible to free herself at all.

What makes it binge-worthy

Even with the worn out plot, Russian Doll has a lot going for it in term of making it one the most binge-worthy shows out there. For one, with having just eight episodes and a runtime less than 4 hours, it hits the sweet spot in terms of keeping the audience glued to their screens as the show keeps peeling off its different layers.

On the topic of different layers, the show is very smart right down to its characters. Dark humor and how it portrays it and handles heavy subject matter and even the theory of relativity at one point. The title of the show itself is a reference to depression and mental health which gets more prominent as the story progresses.

Russian Doll a bingeworthy netflix show.

The protagonist Nadia Vulvokov is a great reason to watch Russian doll in itself. The deaths were comically hilarious and some hilariously dark but the drama of the show was very genuine and heartfelt. Being funny, brash, cynical, and hedonistic from the beginning to the revelation of her troubled back-story and characters growth, she is the life of the show. Although the show can get a bit confusing and disjointed at times, everything comes together beautifully by the end of the final episode.

Verdict

Overall, Russian Doll is a solid show to watch with enough twists and turns and character development to keep the audience hooked. Although its overused plotline might turn away some initially, you could do much worse than giving it’s a shot and hopefully love it by the end.

Komola rocket: the floating montage of misery, lust and greed

Komola Rocket, the Bangladeshi drama film entirely shot in a vintage steamer, has landed on Netflix earlier this year. As a ferry vessel enthusiast, the film was a long overdue one for me. Here’s my two cents about this 112 minute feature film that have made its way to international film festivals and earned accolades as well.

The brilliant minds behind

Based on short stories (‘Moulik’ and ‘Cyprus’) by esteemed writer Shahaduzzaman, Komola Rocket is the debut directorial venture of Noor Imran Mithu. Mithu previously worked with Mostofa Sarwar Farooki as an assistant director and was the lead actor in ‘Pipra Bidya’. Mithun merged two stories of his favourite writer and turned it into a script for Komola rocket. As interesting as it may sound, the film was shot in a century-old steamer and locations range from Sadarghat to the river beds of Khulna.

The plot

(SPOILERS AHEAD)

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Rocket, a very old steamer where queen Elizabeth once onboarded (not kidding), starts its journey from Sadarghat towards Khulna. With a crazy mix of passengers, rocket moves toward Meghna river. We see a packed vessel where every passenger has a story worth listening.

From circus freaks to corrupt business magnate, the stark contrast in social class is the heart of Komola rocket.

Atik, an idiosyncratic man is going to Khulna on a hideout to spare himself from an arson conspiracy. He meets a dysfunctional family he would rather not involve with. The family consists a couple with a child and a young woman. Atik, ever so edgy, also stumbles upon a weirdo called Mofizul. Camouflaging as a poet and kabiraj, Mofizul runs a prostitution ring in the steamer. Atik is bewildered when Mofizul mistakes him for a client, but he gets used to his fawning.

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We see a narcissist young girl who secretly mates with her boyfriend, not knowing Atik is right beside her room. Atik seems uninterested. His only concern is to withdraw insurance money for fire attack at his factory. It is clearly implied that Atik is the mastermind behind this sabotage. Fatefully enough, a distraught man named Monsur also onboarded rocket with a corpse. His wife was burnt alive at a factory fire tragedy and he’s going to bury her at their native village. Monsur meets Atik, not knowing he’s the owner of the very factory where his wife died.

The subtle messages

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There are other supporting characters who appear once in a while, aptly reflecting our social conscience.

Unemployment, cheating husband, rotting dead bodies- Komola rocket explores it all.

In the final act of the film, the steamer gets stuck in a ridge and it stands still in the middle of the river. Food supplies in the rocket shrinks soon. people from VIP cabin to freeloaders- all stand in line with a hungry stomach to eat overpriced dinner. The movie ends on a depressing note. We don’t see where the characters end up; we only see their misery, lust and greed.

What works and what doesn’t

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Komola rocket sees Tauqir Ahmed and Mosharraf Karim sharing the silver screen for the second time. Atik and Mofizul are played by Tauqir and Mosharraf respectively. Samia Syed, a Lux-Channel I superstar contestant appears as the narcissistic girl. Other acting credits include Joyraaj, Sheoti, Dominic Gomez etc. One thing I have to highlight about this film is the pristine cinematography. There are several drone shots of the rocket which I significantly liked. Noor Imran Mithu gets a pass for his first direction. If I have to nitpick anything about Komola rocket, then it should be the dialogue. I think the dialogues could have been a bit relevant and matured with the context. Overall, Komola rocket should be on your watchlist as one of the few decent Bengali language movies out there.

Check out other Bangladeshi films streaming on Netflix. ‘Television’ and ‘Pipra bidya’ are some of the popular titles you will currently find on this website.