"Fair Play" is a good example of a movie genre that used to be popular and, back in the day, almost always starred Michael Douglas - the erotic thriller. The premise of "Fair Play" is that a young couple that works at a high-pressure New York City hedge fund has kept their relationship a secret for fear of violating company policy and losing their jobs. Then, two things happen almost simultaneously - they get engaged, and one of them gets promoted, which creates an uneven power dynamic.
The tension comes from the fact that it is Emily (Phoebe Dynevor) who gets the promotion, while Luke (Alden Ehrenreich) remains in his old role. Luke's problem is that he expected to get the job, felt entitled to it, and is intensely jealous and suspicious when Emily ends up supervising him.
"Fair Play," which comes in at a crisp and tense one hour and 53 minutes, has something serious on its mind - the fact that in many companies, many women have to subjugate their ambitions to those of the men around them. That reality stress tests Emily and Luke's relationship when life takes things another way; to be honest, there were moments when I was watching "Fair Play" on Netflix that I had to hit pause and walk away for a moment to compose myself. The pacing by writer-director Chloe Domont was so taut, and the actions by the lead characters so misguided that I just couldn't watch. Except that it was so good that I kept going back to it.
Dynevor and Ehrenreich are excellent, and I have to point out that while the movie is both erotic and thrilling, it is not exploitive, especially not of Emily - that, I think, is a result of "Fair Play" being made by a woman. (It would have been a completely different movie if it had been directed, say, by Paul Verhoeven. God help us.)
"Fair Play" is tough stuff, but it is a very good movie. I highly recommend it. (Just keep the remote handy so you can use the pause button when necessary.)
"Frasier" is back, revived 20 years since the original series went off the air, for Paramount+, and I have mixed emotions. Having watched the first two episodes, I found that there were moments that seemed less than inspired and more like they simply aspired to recapture two-decade-old magic rather than coming up with anything fresh.
That said, there also were moments when I laughed out loud, and Kelsey Grammer brings with him an enormous amount of audience good will. His Frasier Crane always has been a singular creation, a pompous aesthete who manages to retain some level of relatability, perhaps because he often is such a dolt when it comes to personal relationships. And while the cast and characters surrounding him in this new version can't match the original, I have a suspicion that over time they'll become more individualized as the actors grow and settle into their roles.
I'm going to give this new "Frasier" a ride. Perhaps because I was such a fan of the original, and perhaps because like many series, it simply is going top take time to find its legs, and I suspect the result will be worth the effort.
I have three wines to recommend to you this week…
• 2017 Poderi Oddero Gallina, a wonderful Italian red that is great with pasta and a thick, rich sauce.
• 2019 Sebastiani Red Wine blend from Sonoma, which I enjoyed with a burger crafted from ground filet mignon, served with a crisp slice of bacon and a slice of cheese.
• 2021 Podere La Berta Sangiovese Superiore, an Italian red that which went great with tortellini and a nice vodka sauce.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.