- Two takes on one pandemic: Tim Cogshell reviews a web series and a documentary made and set during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Summer Moore’s Pandemic Pillow Talk and Sasha Levinson’s Sylvie of the Sunshine State. Both titles are thoughtful and funny – though not at the same time.
The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired an online comedy series & a mother-daughter documentary: Pandemic Pillow Talk & Sylvie of the Sunshine State
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has given us pause to consider various conditions connected to our existence as a species. Some of us have made movies/series about them.
I caught two that I liked, a nine-episode web series and a documentary: Summer Moore’s Pandemic Pillow Talk and Sasha Levinson’s Sylvie of the Sunshine State. The former is funny and features a little star power; the latter is more introspective and features a cute nine-year-old girl and her equally cute 70-year-old grandmother.
Both are worth a watch.
The humorous pitfalls of modern dating in times of COVID-19
Available on YouTube, the nine-episode comedy web series Pandemic Pillow Talk is nutty fun.
Shot completely on iPhones mostly by performers who were sequestered as we all were, this series about modern dating during a pandemic – which, as it turns out, isn’t much different than just plain old modern dating – involves electronic devices as well as strong connections.
Laid out as a series of Zoom dates between a young woman, Mackenzie (creator/costar Summer Moore), and a number of would-be paramours, each Pandemic Pillow Talk episode features her meeting potential lock-down partners to feel each other out – since feeling each other up might be deadly.
Mackenzie’s Zoom dates are bombed by either her mother Bertha (Eliza Roberts) or her dad Buck (Star 80 and The Expendables veteran Eric Roberts), who generally get along with the various men better than their daughter does. At other times, her Zoom dates bomb her other Zoom dates. The results are often hilariously infectious if you’ll forgive the pandemic pun.
Pandemic Pillow Talk (2022–)
Creator: Summer Moore.
Screenplay: Summer Moore.
Cast: Summer Moore. Eliza Roberts. Eric Roberts. Joseph Scott Ford. Brian Gross. Taisha Monique Clark. Hank Doughan. Ali Zahiri. Kate Benton. Mark McClain Wilson. Matthew Palumbo. Jean-François Poirier.
The humorous difficulties of modern parenting in times of COVID-19
Sylvie of the Sunshine State is seen through the eyes of nine-year-old Sylvie, the subject of her filmmaker mother’s (commercial director Sasha Levinson) documentary made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The film offers a depiction of parenting on a number of levels, all under pressure by a pandemic that puts mother and child in close proximity for an extended period of time. The results include a lot of crying and a few tantrums, in addition to some unexpected behavior on the kid’s part.
Besides the time we spend with Sylvie – who doesn’t always like or want to be filmed, which might fairly be an issue for some viewers – Levinson turns the camera on her relationship with her own mother and stepfather. The couple are great “characters,” aware of Sasha and Sylvie’s foibles (e.g., Sylvie’s weight and Sasha’s parenting style) while being no less aware of their own eccentricities.
In all, Sylvie of the Sunshine State is a wonderful film – a meditation conveyed through a child’s unique perspective. One that is touching, revealing, and, I imagine, familiar to many parents who’ve parented through the pandemic.
Sylvie of the Sunshine State (2022)
Director: Sasha Levinson.
Screenplay: Sasha Levinson & Jonathan Sanford.
Cast: Sylvie Bellanca. Sasha Levinson.
“Pandemic Pillow Talk & Sylvie of the Sunshine State” endnotes
Pandemic Pillow Talk movie poster: Single and Ready to Mingle Productions.
“Pandemic Pillow Talk & Sylvie of the Sunshine State Reviews” last updated in May 2022.