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Succession TV Series (R) ★★★½ BlackBerry ★★★½

By May 21, 2023May 24th, 2023Backstage Pass

“Succession” season one aired in 2018 on HBO to rave reviews. It’s based on the famous, wealthy Murdock family. It stars Brian Cox (Logan Roy), the family’s patriarch; Jeremy Strong (Kendall), his son; Kieran Calkin (Roman), another son; and Sarah Snook (Shiv), his daughter. The story revolves around their company Waystar RoyCo and a global entertainment conglomerate, who are all bidding for the CEO job when their dad retires.

The series has been given high accolades and awards due to its script, acting, directing, production values, musical score, and the analysis of the varied family personalities. Some critics have called “Succession” the best TV show you can currently watch. The show is definitely for adults only; the language is unsuitable for teens or kids. The writing and acting are razor-sharp; the series is great to watch once you settle in and expect what’s coming.

Sarah Knight Adamson and Jeremy Strong Critics Choice Awards January 15, 2023.

The family patriarch, Logan Roy (Cox), is experiencing health issues. His four children, the estranged oldest son Connor (Ruck), power-hungry Kendall (Strong), flippant Roman (Culkin), and the politically shrewd Shiv (Snook) all have their own relationship with the company, aka dad. As they begin to contemplate a future minus their father, they all compete for status within the company, namely the top job. What is interesting to view is Logan Roy, as he sees right through his children and plays their game by privately telling each of them they will be the next CEO.

As the seasons progress, it becomes a game of cat and mouse with Logan and his children. Be prepared for rough language and shocking proclamations. The show has an addictive quality as one can’t help but see what transgressions will happen in the next episodes—season 4, Episode 10 “Eyes Wide Open, airs May 28, at 8:00. I’ll be watching along with everyone, and I can say I’m very interested to know how the show will conclude.

Creator: Jesse Armstrong, writer

Director: Season 4 Episode 10: Mark Mylod

Executive Producers: Jesse Armstrong, Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Frank Rich, Kevin Messick, Mark Mylod

Studio: HBO MAX Now known as MAX

Sarah Knight Adamson© May 21, 2023


Can you remember a time before your iPhone or hand-held phone? Going back to 2002, the first BlackBerry phone was launched. I didn’t have one, but my husband did. He used it mainly for texting; it was a large device, although it looked as though it was designed to fit inside of a men’s front shirt pocket. The new movie “BlackBerry” is out now and the film is great! The mixture of creativity, and humor with cut-throat business is an intriguing tale.

The year is 1996, in Waterloo, Ontario, a city in Canada. Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) and his business partner and best friend Douglas Fregin (Matt Johnson) are close to creating the world’s first smartphone. Struggling to keep their company in the business, Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton) agrees to join the company; as he sees the future with their new product, he also has the money and experience needed to create and sell a much-needed prototype of their invention. Most know the BlackBerry phone had a short run-life, yet most don’t know the entire story of its humble beginnings, the key players, the launch, and its growth to a billion-dollar operation.

Sadly, most know of the demise, as the Apple, iPhone, tweaked the idea several times, especially in size, to mainstream the product, thus seeing a rapid decline in BlackBerry sales. The film is directed by Matt Johnson, and co-written by Johnson and Mathew Miller, with beginnings in 2017 when asked by Niv Fichman, the President of Rhombus Media, created an adaptation of the bestselling book “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of Blackberry.” Johnson recalls, “The Blackberry was the status symbol of the early-2000s, and at the beginning of the social-media era, it made you part of a group. The BBM perfectly captured that, like you can’t talk to somebody on BBM unless you both have Blackberries, it opened up a new way of communicating before Instagram DMs or Snapchat.”

The more Johnson and Miller learned about the early days of Lazaridis’ company, Research in Motion, the more they came to identify with its culture and the environment the engineers worked in. When adapting the book, Johnson and Miller attempted to stay true to the story while also bringing their own unique storytelling perspectives and experiences to the film.

Recently, Matt was in Chicago with his film, “Blackberry,” which screened at the Music Box Theater on May 5, during the Chicago Critics Film Festival, of which I am a member. Matt spoke with me after he introduced the film. The link is

What struck a chord with me is that Johnson captured the creative genesis of problem-solving. Too often, we take how a product is put together for granted—with the hand-held phone race; we see how that process evolved up close and personal. As a former teacher of gifted students, I appreciate seeing that process portrayed in a film; it was fascinating to watch. For me, that is the film’s heart, is when they work together to reach a goal. Honestly, it is such a great feeling, and I created lessons so my students could experience the process. It also seemed more of a healthy environment, as Steve Jobs was a constant criticizer and somewhat of a bully at times. These guys were excited and reveled in each others’ success.

I highly recommend “BlackBerry” as Canada should get its due; check it out now.

Sarah Knight Adamson© May 10, 2023