Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 9/17/21

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The Wonder Years (CREDIT: Matt Sayles/ABC)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Blue Bayou (Theaters)
Cry Macho (Theaters and HBO Max) – MACHOOOOOOOOOO!
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Theaters)
The Nowhere Inn (Theaters and On Demand) – Carrie Brownstein and Annie Clark (St. Vincent) team up on screen.

TV
Sex Education Season 3 (September 17 on Netflix)
-Creative Arts Emmy Awards (September 18 on FXX)
-73rd Primetime Emmy Awards (September 19 on CBS)
Teenage Euthanasia Series Premiere (September 19 on Adult Swim) – Animated at a funeral home.
Alter Ego Series Premiere (September 22 on FOX) – The “world’s first avatar singing competition.”
The Conners Season 4 Premiere (September 22 on ABC) – Another live episode.
Dear White People Season 4 (September 22 on Netflix)
The Goldbergs Season 9 Premiere (September 22 on ABC)
Home Economics Season 2 Premiere (September 22 on ABC)
The Masked Singer Season 6 Premier (September 22 on FOX)
Star Wars: Visions (September 22 on Disney+) – Anime-style.
The Wonder Years Reboot Series Premiere (September 22 on ABC) – Don Cheadle takes over narrating duties from Daniel Stern.

Music
-Lil Nas X, Montero
-Lindsey Buckingham, Lindsey Buckingham

‘Blue Bayou’ Tells a Tender and Painful Tale of Deportation Limbo

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Blue Bayou (CREDIT: Focus Features)

Starring: Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Mark O’Brien, Linh Dan Pham, Sydney Kowalske, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Emory Cohen

Director: Justin Chon

Running Time: 112 Minutes

Rating: R for Adult Language and Up-Close Violence

Release Date: September 17, 2021 (Theaters)

Blue Bayou should spur many people to a very specific action: if you were born outside the United States and adopted by an American family, check your citizenship status as soon as you can! I doubt that you’re in as much danger as tattoo artist Atonio LeBlanc (Justin Chon, also the writer and director), but that’s not a risk worth taking.

As a message delivery system, Blue Bayou is clear and effective. But how does it work as an experience to be viewed and digested for a couple of hours? Well, that’s what I’m here to write about, isn’t it? I can tell you this for sure: Chon is a compelling screen presence. He’s been doing his thing on movies and TV for about a decade and a half, but I’m pretty sure this is my first time encountering him (save for a guest spot on an episode of New Girl, apparently). And it’s not hard to care about Antonio’s predicament, considering how blatantly unfair it is. He was adopted from Korea when he was three years old, making Louisiana very much the only home he’s ever known. But because of a quirk in American law, he’s not actually a citizen, and that combined with his criminal record suddenly makes him a target for deportation, thereby threatening to tear him apart from his pregnant wife Kathy (Alicia Vikander) and beloved stepdaughter Jesse (Sydney Kowalske).

A lot of Blue Bayou is powerfully painful, as Antonio is tortured not just by a racist bureaucracy, but also by the scars of his abusive foster childhood. Then there are also the other everyday stressors like a mother-in-law who thinks he’s too much of a burden for her daughter, as well as Sydney’s police officer dad Ace (Mark O’Brien), who’s trying to sneak his way back into the picture against everyone’s wishes. And on top of all that is Ace’s violently unpredictable partner Denny (Emory Cohen), who may just be the biggest threat of all.

Amidst all the instability (and humidity), some moments of the random beauty of everyday life manage to shine through. That’s certainly clear in Antonio’s tender relationship with Jesse, which is filled with motorcycle rides and traversing swampland. But what ultimately sets Blue Bayou apart as something truly unique are Antonio’s encounters with Parker (Linh Dan Pham), a woman dying of cancer who becomes an unlikely customer and confidant. She comes from a family of Vietnam War refugees, and she has plenty to teach Antonio about accepting his fate by virtue of simply being her openhearted self. To sum it all up, there’s a lot of empathy being generated by this movie, and that makes for a fulfilling viewing experience.

Blue Bayou is Recommended If You Like: The personal meeting the political

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Tattoos