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- 11/05/15--04:44: Aziz Ansari brings Bobby Jindal to 'The Tonight Show'
- 11/05/15--05:55: Country musicians sit down for a post-CMAs edition of Mean Tweets
- 11/05/15--09:13: The best new movies and shows on Netflix
- 11/05/15--11:10: Toddler has the most adorable reaction to Adele's 'Hello'
- 11/05/15--11:23: Hunting down the stars of 'Too Many Cooks,' one year later
- 11/05/15--12:08: Here's the trailer for Smosh's debut sitcom, 'Part Timers'
- 11/05/15--13:20: Someone posted every page of the Fat Jew's new book
- 11/05/15--13:28: 89-year-old Chuck Esterly is your new comedy hero
- 11/05/15--14:28: Teens react to classic hits from the '80s
- 11/05/15--19:17: YouTube stars join forces to launch trivia gaming app
- 11/06/15--06:00: As Fun Fun Fun Fest grows, so does its sense of humor
- 11/06/15--06:23: Wake up in the video game with new webseries 'AFK'
- 11/06/15--07:32: You need to hear this unreleased demo of Nirvana's 'Been a Son'
- 11/06/15--09:56: Why you should be watching Aziz Ansari's 'Master of None'
- 11/06/15--10:57: The best new movies and shows on Amazon and Hulu this month
- 11/06/15--11:04: Adele's team has a system for ensuring she doesn't drunk-tweet
- 11/06/15--12:41: Lionsgate doubles down on YouTubers with new prankster movie
Bobby Jindal is finally getting the TV portrayal he deserves.
Jimmy Fallon, whose Donald Trump impression is only getting better, brought on Aziz Ansari to play the Louisiana governor, and, well, he’s just excited to be here. He’s finally getting on national television, he’s polling at two percent—a 100-percent increase from where he used to be—and he’s just thrilled not to be talking to C-SPAN at 2am. You know, right before those Nutribullet infomercials start running.
As "Jindal" put it, even people who originally thought he was actually on The Big Bang Theory support him now.
It’s all coming up Bobby—at least, according to Jindal.With 14 GOP presidential candidates remaining in the race, Fallon is quickly creating his ownSaturday Night Live-like rotation of comedic guests portraying the politicians. And while he could probably borrow some folks from Studio 8H, we can’t wait to see who comes on next.
Screengrab via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/YouTube
The Country Music Awards might be over, but that doesn’t mean the musicians are immune to being taken down a few notches by their fans.
Some of country’s biggest stars showed up for a post-CMAs edition of Mean Tweets, and it’s full of garbage and insightful thoughts, just like you’ve come to expect from this segment. Twitter users attack everything from the sound of their music to their faces to how they look and sound onstage. Some of the musicians give the camera dirty looks, but others can hardly keep it together while reading the criticism.
In some cases, the performers even admit that Twitter has a point. Brett Eldredge sees how someone could believe that he would get arrested for doing someone dumb at Walmart, while Willie Nelson doesn’t even seem mad about the tweets aimed at him.Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube
We here at the Daily Dot are big fans of streaming TV and movies, but we also know how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the massive lists of Netflix’s comings and goings each month. Here’s our curated take of what’s new on Netflix this month.
1) Jessica Jones: Season 1 (Nov. 20)
With Jessica Jones (formerly A.K.A. Jessica Jones), Marvel is doing the same thing it did with flicks like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man: taking risks. Marvel made a massive small-screen success out of Daredevil, a character that had been languishing in big-screen development hell for years. So next up? An obscure Marvel character all but the most die-hard fans probably haven’t even heard of. And it’s not a traditional superhero tale and it’s incredibly dark material and it’s got the most generic title since John Carter. You certainly can’t accuse Marvel of playing it safe. Thankfully, there’s every reason to be optimistic that Jessica Jones will carry on the solid momentum built by Daredevil and further flesh out this seedy little corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the path toward Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the eventual Defenders Netflix miniseries.
So who the hell is Jessica Jones? Well, she was a costumed superhero for a hot minute, until that career… ended badly. The man responsible for that end was Kilgrave, a sociopath with the metahuman ability to make people do whatever he tells them to. It’s not hard to imagine how that sort of power could be abused, and abuse it he does. (With Doctor Who’s David Tennant in the role of Kilgrave, there are sure to be a lot of traumatized Whovians if the show goes half as dark with his storyline as the comics did.) Now Jessica (Krysten Ritter) works as a private investigator, deeply scarred by her past and just trying to get by. Along the way she meets Luke Cage (Mike Colter), another mysterious figure with powers of his own, including a powerful romantic connection with Jessica. Jessica Jones was created and developed by Melissa Rosenberg (Dexter), based on the critically acclaimed comics by Brian Michael Bendis, and the pilot episode received a rousing reception at New York Comic-Con a few weeks back. Fingers crossed that this show keeps up Marvel’s winning streak.
2) The 100: Season 2 (Oct. 31)
Based on the series of young adult novels by Kass Morgan, The 100 is set a century after a global nuclear war wiped out most of humanity. Thankfully some small percentage of mankind was living aboard 12 space stations orbiting the planet. They unified as “the Ark” and spent the next 97 years cobbling together a makeshift society… but one that’s on the verge of disaster, thanks to failing life support. Out of desperation, the Ark’s leadership conjures up a truly crazy plan: Drop 100 expendable juvenile delinquents back to the surface to see if the planet can support human life yet. But Earth has become a dangerous place in all those long years, and it harbors many secrets. If you get hooked on The 100 after a Netflix binge, the series will return for a third season in 2016.
3) Last Days in Vietnam (Nov. 1)
Rory Kennedy (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib) directed this documentary look at the dire final weeks of the Vietnam War. With the local citizenry desperate to escape as the North Vietnamese army inched ever closer to Saigon, United States forces were ordered to evacuate themselves and any American citizens—but only American citizens. Last Days in Vietnam examines the closing act of a war that defined a generation through archival footage and interviews with those who were there. Kennedy’s documentary currently boasts an impressive 95 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.4) Twinsters (Nov. 1)
There are plenty of fascinating things to discover on YouTube, but Anais Bordier found something wholly unexpected: a twin sister she didn’t know she had. A French fashion design student living in London in 2013, Anais had the no-doubt surreal experience of seeing a video online featuring American actress Samantha Futerman...who looked exactly like her. A bit of Googling and social networking later, Anais contacted Samantha and the pair became convinced they’d been separated at birth. The Kickstarter-funded documentary Twinsters follows the stranger-than-fiction tale of their meeting and burgeoning relationship. Moral of the story: Maybe don’t ignore all those emails from names you don’t recognize.5) The Midnight Swim (Nov. 3)
Few horror movies have ever hit me in the gut as strongly as Lake Mungo, and I’m intrigued by the creepy, understated trailer for The Midnight Swim because it gives me the same kind of vibe: an aura of sadness and unsettling strangeness, the sense both of something bad having happened and something worse yet to come. Similar to Lake Mungo, The Midnight Swim is set in motion by a death—in this case, the death of a mother, who vanishes while diving in the notoriously deep Spirit Lake. Her three daughters, one a filmmaker, return home to grieve and deal with her affairs, but strange occurrences drag them deeper into the mysteries of the lake. The Midnight Swim has received strong critical praise for its story and performances, currently holding an 83 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.6) Master of None: Season 1 (Nov. 6)
Netflix has been building a solid catalog of diverse, original comedies over the past couple of years, from BoJack Horseman and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to Grace & Frankie and the Wet Hot American Summer prequel. Landing a new series from popular comic and Parks & Recreation vet Aziz Ansari was a major get. Ansari co-created Master of None with Parks & Rec producer Alan Yang, and Ansari stars as Dev, a 30-something actor navigating family, relationships, and generally trying to make a go of it in the Big Apple. Treat yo’self to all 10 episodes of the first season when it premieres this month.7) With Bob and David: Season 1 (Nov. 13)
I would have thought Netflix had exhausted its comedy miracles with its seven-years-later resurrection of Arrested Development. But it trumped that feat entirely by getting the principals behind HBO’s brilliant Mr. Show back together for With Bob and David. In addition to Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, the new Netflix sketch comedy series also reunites much of the Mr. Show writing team, including Brian Posehn and Dino “Star-Burns from Community” Stamatopoulos. Mr. Show has justifiably ascended into the holy pantheon of comedy in the 20 years since it aired on HBO, so the show has a high bar to clear. But if there’s a chance it could give us even one sketch as good as “Pre-Taped Call-In Show,” there’s more than enough reason to be giddy.8) Blue Caprice (Nov. 14)
Sadly, there have been so many horrific headlines in the years since, many of us have probably all but forgotten about the Beltway Sniper shootings of 2002. Director Alexandre Moors’ Blue Caprice tells the story of John Muhammad and Lee Malvo, who killed 17 people and injured more in a crime spree that stretched across several states before culminating in the Washington murders that captured the world’s attention. Named after the modified vehicle from which they fired their shots, Blue Caprice examines Muhammad (Isaiah Washington) and Malvo’s (Tequan Richmond) twisted father-son relationship and the unsettling banality of evil.9) Continuum: Season 4 (Nov. 15)
As a fan of both Rachel Nichols and time-travel stories done well, I was intrigued by Continuum when the Canadian series popped up on Syfy a few years back. However, I soon got sidetracked and never returned to the show after midway through its first season. I’ve had multiple friends who stuck with it singing its praises to me nonstop pretty much ever since, insisting that the series soon became bold and unpredictable in much the same way shows like Fringe and Person of Interest eventually blew past the limitations of their first impressions. Nichols stars as Kiera Cameron, a cop from a corporate-controlled 2077 Vancouver who follows several “freedom fighters”/terrorists back in time to 2012, where she must track down the fugitives, try and get home, and struggle with the realization that her very actions may already have cut off any access to her own time—or permanently rewritten it. All four seasons will be available streaming by mid-month.10) Soaked in Bleach (Nov. 15)
It’s been over two decades since the death of legendary Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, who took his own life on April 5, 1994. Like many fallen celebrities before him, however, his death has become a nexus of conspiracy theories for those who won’t, or can’t, believe the official explanation. Mixing dramatizations with interviews and documentary footage, Soaked in Bleach explores the persistent theories that Cobain’s death wasn’t actually a suicide. It revisits the events through the eyes of private investigator Tom Grant, who was hired by Cobain’s wife Courtney Love to track him down in the weeks before his death. Unsurprisingly, Soaked in Bleach has aroused plenty of controversy, with Love’s lawyers sending out cease and desist letters to theaters and detractors trying to sabotage its Rotten Tomatoes rating before it was even released.11) The Red Road: Season 2 (Nov. 23)
Most people know Jason Momoa from his role as Khal Drogo on HBO’s Game of Thrones, and he’s going to spend the next decade or so immersed in the big-screen DC Cinematic Universe in the role of Aquaman. In between those two life-changing events, Momoa played a heavy in Sundance’s original scripted series The Red Road. Martin Henderson plays Harold Jensen, a recovering alcoholic sheriff in a fictional Jersey town called Walpole. After a cover-up involving his mentally ill wife, Jensen is forced into an alliance with Phillip Kopus, an unsavory member of the local Ramapough Mountain tribe. With its mix of crime, corruption, and Native American politics, it reminds me a bit of Longmire. The series received decent reviews, but it was canceled after its second season. Still, that makes for perfect bite-size binge-watching. If you dig it, definitely also check out Sundance’s Rectify.12) Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (Nov. 29)
The Cannon Films logo was a persistent presence in the B-movie circuit throughout the 1980s, often attached to movies starring Sylvester Stallone (Cobra) or Chuck Norris (Missing in Action), as well as Tobe Hooper’s cult classic “space vampire” flick Lifeforce. They also gave us some of the decade’s easiest punchlines, such as the Stallone arm wrestling movie Over the Top, the Masters of the Universe movie, and the flick which gave both this documentary its title and the internet one of its favorite memes: the mock-worthy breakdancing sequel Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. Director Mark Harley’s 2014 documentary examines the rise and fall of the notorious Cannon Group featuring interviews with the likes of Tobe Hooper, Richard Chamberlain, Bo Derek, Elliott Gould, Dolph Lundgren, and Molly Ringwald, to name a few.October 2015
Pick of the month: Beasts of No Nation (Oct. 16)
Having established a solid foothold in the world of streaming television with shows like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Daredevil, now Netflix is stepping into the world of film with Beasts of No Nation. Written and directed by Cary Fukunaga (HBO’s True Detective, season 1), Beasts stars Idris Elba and Abraham Attah in a story about civil war and child soldiers in an unnamed African country. Attah plays Agu, a young boy who is recruited into the rebel forces of the NDF after his family is executed. Elba is the Commandant, both commander and twisted father figure to Agu as he serves as a pawn of the forces ripping his homeland apart. Netflix released Beasts simultaneously on streaming and as a limited release in theaters, continuing to shift the dynamics of the media landscape in a way that has some theater owners irked (four theater chains, including AMC and Cinemark, are boycotting the film for violating the traditional 90-day theatrical release window). Both Elba and Attah have received tons of critical praise for their Beasts performances, and there’s already potential Oscar buzz for the both of them. Netflix has already acquired a shelf full of Emmys, so can an Academy Award or two be far behind?Best of the rest
1) Batman Begins (Oct. 1)
While Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is a true masterpiece, Batman Begins is arguably a better realization of Batman/Bruce Wayne himself, if only because it doesn’t have Heath Ledger’s iconic portrayal of the Joker to steal the spotlight. Bale’s gruff Batman voice may still be an easy punchline, but his haunted, determined portrayal of the crimefighter is still one of the best, and the script by Nolan and David S. Goyer actually makes the concept of a rodent-dressed vigilante scaring the shit out of hardened criminals grounded and believable. If somebody really was going to become Batman, it would pretty much have to happen like this. (Except for maybe the fear gas and the ninjas.)
2) Boogie Nights (Oct. 1)
I’ll always have a special soft spot for Magnolia (that montage!), but Boogie Nights rivals it for the position of my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson flick to date. Mark Wahlberg stars as doofy high school dropout Eddie Adams, who is reborn as “Dirk Diggler” after porn director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) discovers him and his star-making schlong. In between all the boot-knocking, Dirk finds a new dysfunctional family in his porn crew, but his cockiness (ahem) paves the way for his own eventual downfall. The amazing cast also includes Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, William H. Macy, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, to name a few.
3) The Bourne Identity/The Bourne Supremacy (Oct. 1)
It’s a little frustrating that The BourneUltimatum wasn’t included with Netflix’s October update, but even two-thirds of one of the best action franchises of all time is still plenty to be excited about. Matt Damon sells both the badassery and the tortured humanity as a former covert agent with a Swiss cheese memory and loads of people who would really prefer he be dead now, thanks. And if you want to finish out the trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum is available from Amazon and other digital retailers.
4) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Oct. 1)
You have to admire the gumption of director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp for thinking they could improve upon Gene Wilder’s iconic performance as mysterious confectioner in 1971’s WIlly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Actually, no, you don’t, it was a terrible idea. Still, if you liked the story of Wonka and Charlie but thought it needed a less charismatic lead and a bunch of the same schtick Burton has been serving up for the past several decades, help yourself. Me, I’ll stick with the creepy-ass boat ride and the sheer, pitch-black brilliance of Wilder-Wonka. Good day, sir!
5) Million Dollar Baby (Oct. 1)
Hilary Swank earned her second Best Actress Academy Award for her performance as an underdog amateur boxer who is taken under the wing of a weary trainer haunted by his past (Clint Eastwood). Baby also earned trophies for director Eastwood and supporting actor Morgan Freeman—oh, and it nabbed the Best Picture Oscar for 2005. The flick is based on the short stories of fight manager Jerry Boyd, so it’s certainly not lacking for verisimilitude. Adapted for the screen by Paul Haggis (Crash), it’s a powerful and emotional story of redemption and tragedy, but it’s also depressing as all hell. Don’t watch it unless you’re ready for a downer.
6) The Nightmare (Oct. 1)
Wes Craven soiled the pants of an entire generation with his stories of teenagers being tormented in their dreams by a vicious, knife-fingered psychopath who could kill you while you slept. If Freddy Krueger ever frightened you, the documentary The Nightmare will likely scare the snot right out of you, because it examines the very real phenomenon known as “sleep paralysis,” a condition where the sufferer experiences vivid, frightening dreams or hallucinations while incapable of moving or waking up. It would be a very bad idea to watch this before bed time … which I wish someone had told me before I made that very mistake. The Nightmare was directed by Rodney Ascher, who previously earned both attention and critical acclaim for 2012’s Room 237.
7) Reign: Season 2 (Oct. 2)
The CW’s period drama is currently chugging through its third season, continuing the net’s history of letting shows grow and find their audience even if they aren’t breakout hits. Created by Laurie McCarthy and Stephanie Sengupta (Ghost Whisperer), Reign explores the early life of Mary, Queen of Scots. In season 2, King Henry II is dead, and Mary and her husband Francis have ascended to the throne of Scotland. Unfortunately, the land has been devastated by a plague, religious discord is rife, and politics continues to be deadly. (Reign airs Friday nights at 7pm CT on the CW.)
8) iZombie: Season 1 (Oct. 6)
Based on the Vertigo comic-book series by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, iZombie stars Rose McIver as Olivia “Liv” Moore, a morgue worker who regularly “samples the merchandise.” She’s a zombie, and she has to eat brains both to survive and to be able to pass as the living. But all that noshed gray matter has some gnarly side effects, allowing her to see flashes of the dearly departed’s lives and deaths. Being a civically minded zombie, Liv poses as a psychic and uses her abilities to help the local cops solve the murders of those on her menu. iZombie was adapted for TV by Diane Ruggiero-Wright (Bates Motel) and Rob Thomas, the genius who gave us Veronica Mars. iZombie’s second season is currently airing Tuesday nights at 8pm CT on the CW.
9) The Flash: Season 1 (Oct. 6)
DC may be trying to rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe with next year’s Batman v Superman, but I’m far more interested in the shared TV mythology it created with Arrow and expanded with the breakaway CW hit The Flash. Grant Gustin is perfect as speedster Barry Allen, a crime scene investigator haunted by his mother’s murder by a superfast mystery man. After being granted powers of his own by a freak accident, he struggles to defend his home of Central City against a rogue’s gallery of villains, as well as to solve the mystery of his origins and clear the name of his father, who’s in jail for the murder of his mom. The Flash is action-packed, funny, earnest, and charming as hell, a perfect slice of Silver Age comic-book fun updated for the smartphone era. You can keep your brooding Dark Knights and even your Men of Steel; I’ll stick with the Fastest Man Alive, thanks. (Season 2 of The Flash is currently airing Tuesday nights at 8/7c on the CW.)
10) Arrow: Season 3 (Oct. 7)
Of course, there would be no Flash without the show that spawned it, the CW’s take on DC’s emerald archer, the Green Arrow. After being lost on a remote island for years, aloof playboy Oliver Queen learned the skills and the drive to return to his home of Starling City and take down all the crooks and corrupt officials who have “failed this city.” In season 3, Oliver and his team of noble vigilantes faces his most overwhelming foe yet: the nigh immortal Ra’s Al Ghul and his League of Assassins. Arrow has had its ups and downs over the years, but its strength has always been its charismatic cast, including Emily Bett Rickards as adorable tech expert Felicity Smoak, David Ramsey as stalwart badass John Diggle, and Stephen Amell as the wounded but well-intentioned Oliver. Arrow airs Wednesday nights at 7pm CT on the CW.
11) Legends: Season 1 (Oct. 7)
Sean Bean—he of the frequent onscreen expirations—headlines this TNT thriller series as Martin Odum, a crack undercover FBI man who can become damn near anybody but whose revolving door of identities leaves him questioning both his sanity and his own real identity. Based on an award-winning novel by Robert Littell, Legends was adapted for television by Howard Gordon (24, Homeland), Jeffrey Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow), and Mark Bomback (The Divergent Series: Insurgent). Legends will return for a second season on TNT beginning Nov. 2.
12) Supernatural: Season 10 (Oct. 7)
Carry on, my wayward sons, indeed. Supernatural is one of the shows that helped build The CW, so it’s not surprising that the network has continued to return that support, allowing the show to build a large and loyal following over the past decade. Brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) have a lot of bad road behind them, having faced down creatures from every corner of your nightmares and lost pretty much everyone they care for along the way. In season 10, Dean has fallen prey to a terrible darkness, and Sam works to try and find a way to bring him back from the precipice before he does something unforgivable. Supernatural’s 11th season is currently airing Wednesday nights at 8pm CT on the CW.
13) Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (Oct. 9)
In addition to becoming a power player on the original scripted drama front, Netflix has been racking up quite a track record for acquiring top-notch documentaries, including What Happened, Miss Simone? and Mitt. That trend continues with Winter on Fire, which delves into the protests and civil unrest that rocked Ukraine in 2013, eventually resulting in the Ukrainian revolution the following year. As the official synopsis puts it, “The film captures the remarkable mobilization of nearly a million citizens from across the country protesting the corrupt political regime that utilized extreme force against its own people to suppress their demands and freedom of expression.”
14) Jane the Virgin: Season 1 (Oct. 12)
Adapted from a Venezuelan telenovela, Jane the Virgin is the story of a devout young Latina woman who is saving herself for marriage … until a doctor mistakenly artificially inseminates her during what was supposed to just be a checkup. As if that’s not awkward enough, the father of her new aspiring bundle of joy is 1) married, 2) her former teenage crush, and 3) the owner of the hotel where she works. That’s one helluva triple-whammy. Actress Gina Rodriguez won a Best Actress Golden Globe for her performance as Jane, and the series also earned both a Peabody Award and an AFI Award. Jane the Virgin returned for a second season on Oct. 12, and new episodes air Mondays at 8pm CT on the CW.
15) Circle (Oct. 16)
The 2015 horror/sci-fi flick Circle begins with a simple but intriguing premise: 50 people awaken to find themselves in a strange room with no memory of how they got there. They are arranged in a circle, and very soon, something unseen begins killing them. Every two minutes, another person dies, but the group soon realizes they can control the carnage … to an extent. They can’t stop it, but they can decide who dies next, through an act of collective will. So how do you direct a chain of death that very well may kill all of you? Who deserves to live the longest, or maybe even to be the last man standing? The Hollywood Reporter described Circle as “Twilight Zone-y” in its generally positive review, and that’s certainly good company to be in.
16) Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (Oct. 18)
Ruth (Rooney Mara) and Bob (Casey Affleck) are a pair of wannabe Bonnie and Clydes for whom one job goes very bad indeed. Their buddy Freddy is killed, Ruth shoots a sheriff, and Bob decides take the fall for the whole mess so the pregnant Ruth can raise their child. Years later, Bob escapes from prison and hopes for a happy reunion with the mother of his child, but his oncoming presence could collapse the lie that has permitted Ruth a somewhat normal life while he was in the clink. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints was written and directed by Texas filmmaker David Lowery, who’s currently working on Disney’s remake of Pete’s Dragon.
17) Hemlock Grove: Season 3 (Oct. 23)
Just in time for Halloween, Netflix’s horror/thriller series is returning for a third and final season. If you’ve been curious about the show are a horror junkie, this will be the perfect excuse for a binge-a-thon. The series, executive produced by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel), centers on a fictional Pennsylvania town plagued by violence, supernatural goings-on, and Famke Janssen. Season 3 promises more monsters, more gore, and possibly even the “end of days.” Sadly, the most carnage involving the show may have come from the critics savaging it for the past two seasons. Still, they’re called “guilty pleasures” for a reason.
17) Manson Family Vacation (Oct. 27)
Reconnecting with the brother you never really got along with is a noble enough goal. Unfortunately for Nick Morgan (Jay Duplass), all his estranged brother Conrad (Linas Phillips) wants to do during his visit to Los Angeles is tour the Manson Family murder sites. Well, they always say the family that becomes just a little too interested in a bunch of homicidal psychopaths together, stays together… right? The film began life as a Kickstarter project, and it’s currently rocking a damned impressive 100 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
18) The Gunman (Oct. 28)
Sean Penn tries to follow in Liam Neeson’s footsteps on the “respectable older actor tries out the action-hero thing” path. Penn is Jim Terrier, a veteran black-ops merc who left the soldier’s life behind after successfully assassinating a government official in Africa. Years later, he returns to the “scene of the crime” for nobler purposes, serving as a charity worker. Unfortunately, his dark past catches up with him when he’s attacked, forcing him to go on the run in search of the truth about who wants him dead—and why.September 2015
Pick of the Month: The Walking Dead: Season 5 (Sept. 27)
Fellow cord-cutters, rejoice! The long weeks spent plugging your ears and avoiding social media are drawing to a close, and if you’ve managed to remain unspoiled about The Walking Dead’s most recent season this long, you’ve only got a little while longer to remain in self-imposed exile. Season 4 was a long walk toward the uncertain destination known as “Terminus,” and that supposed safe haven proved about as hospitable as the name suggests. Season 5 finds Rick and his fellow survivors fighting to escape from their (latest) captors and once again in search of sanctuary in a world that seems determined to bury them in a steady torrent of blood and bad days. The Walking Dead has always been uneven, but season 5 is a welcome return to form in just about every way imaginable, and it’s a helluva lot more entertaining than the misguided (and unfortunately named) prequel series, Fear the Walking Dead. (It even includes the return of one fan favorite from the show’s earliest days.)
Best of the rest
Lawrence of Arabia: Restored Version (Sept. 1)
Based on the larger-than-life story of British archaeologist and soldier T.E. Lawrence, this 1962 classic follows Lawrence’s World War I adventures across the Arabian Peninsula, during which he first fought against and eventually found himself sympathizing with the various local tribes. The film won a whopping seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. It’s also jaw-droppingly, eye-gapingly gorgeous, so you’ll want to view it on the biggest screen possible. I personally am planning on breaking into AT&T Stadium and borrowing the Jumbotron.
The League: Season 6 (Sept. 1)
Even if you don’t give a fig about football—of either the fantasy or the IRL varieties—there’s plenty to love about FX’s The League. The show is about a group of friends who compete in an aggressive fantasy league, battling each other for “The Shiva,” an eyesore trophy named for their high school valedictorian. Football may be the ostensible focus of the show, but really it’s just an excuse to watch this crew lie, cheat, manipulate, and screw each over in their dogged pursuit of victory at all costs.
Masters of the Universe (Sept. 1)
Oh lordy, I love it when Netflix drags out a relic like this one. It’s been three decades since I’ve seen this thing, but I’m going to go ahead and guess it doesn’t hold up without the nostalgia filter dialed up to 11. Thankfully, my nostalgia filter is strong, so I’m looking forward to introducing my kids to the musclebound He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), who finds himself transported to Earth
to keep the budget down in order to retrieve the magical Cosmic Key before Skeletor (Frank Langella) and his minions can get to it. Also enjoy an embarrassing early-career appearance by a pre-Friends Courteney Cox. Hopefully the new movie will be better....
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (Sept. 1)
Netflix continues its plan to assist me in my master plan to get my kids hooked on every educational staple of my own childhood. First they added episodes of Bill Nye, the Science Guy to the Instant catalog, then Reading Rainbow. Now the gentle, sweater-wearing Presbyterian minister who taught so many of us not to be dicks is available for streaming. The beloved PBS children’s program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood aired from 1968 to 2001, and this first Netflix “volume” includes 20 episodes from the series’ long history. Hopefully there will be many more to come.
The Monster Squad (Sept. 1)
Ask someone to list off great ’80s kids’ films, and you’ll get stuff like Goonies, Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal. The Monster Squad may not make the top 10 lists as often as those undisputed classics, but it deserves more love than it gets, both because it pits a group of horror-movie-loving kids against versions of Universal’s classic movie monsters and because it gave us the immortal line “Wolfman’s got nards!” Monster Squad was co-written by Fred Dekker, who also penned the ’80s cult classic Night of the Creeps, and Shane Black, who became one of the most highly paid screenwriters of all time with flicks such as Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. Black has staged a major comeback in recent years with flicks like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3, and he’s recently reunited with Dekker for the Amazon Western pilot Edge.
Our Man in Tehran (Sept. 1)
Most people had probably never heard of the events of the so-called “Canadian caper” until Ben Affleck’s Argo brought the daring rescue mission back into the public consciousness. That flick was a rousing good time, but for anyone curious to learn more about the real-life CIA-backed mission to rescue U.S. diplomats from the midst of the Iran hostage crisis, look no further than Our Man in Tehran. The 2013 documentary focuses on the heroic actions of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor and his staff, who put their own lives at risk to shelter six American diplomats and cooperate in a scheme to smuggle them out of Iran.
Person of Interest(Sept. 1)
What if you had a machine that could predict violent crimes before they could happen? That’s the high concept behind Person of Interest, CBS’ sci-fi procedural created by Jonathan Nolan, brother and frequent collaborator of Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan. What began as a relatively boilerplate sci-fi procedural has evolved into a fascinating exploration of morality and artificial intelligence. Lost’s Michael Emerson stars as Harold Finch, a reclusive billionaire and software genius who created the Machine. Jim Caviezel plays John Reese, a troubled Special Forces/CIA veteran recruited by Finch to be the means to his ends. Seasons 1-3 are currently streaming on Netflix Instant, and season 4 will be available beginning Sept. 22. The show’s fifth season will premiere on CBS this fall.
The Rambo Trilogy (Sept. 1)
Netflix added the first five Rocky movies a while ago, and now it’s lined up Sylvester Stallone’s other huge ’80s franchise. Beginning with 1982’s First Blood, Stallone introduced the world to John Rambo, a battle-scarred Vietnam vet trying and failing to move beyond his traumatic experiences in the war. Based on the novel by David Morrell, the first Rambo movie is a bit less cartoonish than the ones that followed, pitting Rambo against unfriendly small-town cops when he just wants to be left alone. First Blood Part II sends Rambo back to Vietnam to rescue POWs, and Rambo III drops him into Afghanistan to retrieve his friend Col. Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna), who has been captured by Soviet soldiers. (The 2008 follow-up, titled simply Rambo, isn’t currently available on Netflix.)
Sleepy Hollow (Sept. 1)
Tim Burton’s spin on Washington Irving’s spooky 1820 short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow envisions the Headless Horseman as a former Hessian mercenary turned supernatural killing machine, and Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) as a cowardly but brilliant New York police constable sent to the titular village to investigate a series of brutal murders. Give it a watch and see if you can erase the memory of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Dark Shadows.
Up in the Air (Sept. 1)
George Clooney plays a corporate “downsizer” named Ryan Bingham, a man whose life consists of airplanes and airports, traveling from one city to the next so he can deliver terrible news to people who are suddenly without a job. His comfortable life on the go is threatened by Natalie (Anna Kendrick), a new hire with a plan to replace Ryan’s job with videoconferencing. To make matters worse, he’s assigned the indignity of “showing her the ropes,” a task—along with his relationship with fellow frequent flyer Alex (Vera Farmiga)—that soon has Ryan questioning his whole philosophy on life. (For more from Up in the Air co-writer/director Jason Reitman, check out Men, Women & Children on Amazon Prime beginning Sept. 12.)
Zathura (Sept. 1)
Zathura is based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg, the same guy who wrote Jumanji, so calling Zathura“Jumanji in space” isn’t just easy shorthand. Much like in Jumanji, the events of Zathura are driven by a mysterious board game discovered by curious kids, but in this case the game in question unleashes meteor showers and hostile aliens rather than monkeys and Robin Williams. Apparently Chris Van Allsburg was seriously traumatized by a board game at some point in his life. Zathura was directed by a post-Swingers, pre-Iron Man Jon Favreau, so it’s got a good pedigree, if nothing else.
Madam Secretary: Season 1 (Sept. 4)
Tea Leoni stars as Dr. Elizabeth Faulkner McCord, a former CIA analyst and college professor turned United States Secretary of State. Wings alum Tim Daly plays her husband, Cheers’ Bebe Neuwirth her chief of staff, and Keith Carradine stands in as POTUS Conrad Dalton. Madam Secretary follows McCord’s struggles to balance her personal and family life against the demands of one of the nation’s highest offices. The political drama was created by Judging Amy/Joan of Arcadia veteran Barbara Hall, and the show will return for a second season on Oct. 4.
Longmire: Season 4 (Sept. 9)
Fans rallied to try and save Longmire after A&E canceled it last year, and thankfully Netflix eventually agreed to pony up for a fourth season. Based on Craig Johnson’s series of “Walt Longmire Mysteries” books, Longmire stars Robert Taylor as Sheriff Walt Longmire, a gruff and laconic lawman who keeps the peace in the fictional Absaroka County, Wyoming. Walt is still grieving the death of his wife, which was a lot more complicated than the “cancer” explanation he told their daughter, and the truth about what really happened to her forms an ongoing arc as the series progresses. Battlestar Galactica fan favorite Katee Sackhoff co-stars as Victoria “Vic” Moretti, Walt’s deputy and a former Philadelphia homicide detective with skeletons of her own. Lou Diamond Phillips recurs as Henry Standing Bear, owner of the Red Pony Cafe, Walt’s best friend, and a frequent middle man between Walt and the local Native American population. Season 4 will pick up right where season 3 left off, with Walt bent on revenge after having learned the truth about who was responsible for his wife’s death.
The Bank Job (Sept. 14)
I’m a sucker for a good heist flick, and The Bank Job has the added appeal of being based on a real-life robbery from which the stolen goods were never recovered. Jason Statham stars in one of his less punchy roles, playing Terry Leather, a car salesman whose friend talks him into mounting a “foolproof” bank robbery, unaware that his seemingly benevolent friend (Saffron Burrows) has secret motivations of her own. The target is a roomful of safety deposit boxes filled with money and jewelry… but the contents of one of those boxes will put Terry and his crew in the crosshairs of powerful people.
Moonrise Kingdom (Sept. 15)
Wes Anderson’s movies can definitely be love-them-or-hate-them affairs, with his style sometimes hovering right near the border of self-parody. Still, nobody else makes movies quite like him these days, and as long as he keeps attracting casts that include the likes of Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman, I’ll keep on coming back. In Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson conjures an eccentric vision of a 1960s New England summer camp, two smitten 12-year-olds who run away together, and how their disappearance turns the local community on its ear. Moonrise Kingdom was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay award in 2013, and it’s currently boasting a 94 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The Blacklist: Season 2 (Sept. 15)
James Spader is at his best when he’s chewing scenery as the smartest man in the room who also knows he’s the smartest man in the room and who is eager to remind the rest of us that we’re a bunch of dolts. That description more than fits Raymond “Red” Reddington, the brilliant criminal mastermind at the heart of The Blacklist. This month Netflix will be adding season 2 of the NBC hit, in which Red continues to assist the FBI—and young profiler Liz Keen (Megan Boone) in particular—in tracking down some of the most dangerous crooks on the planet. It’s pure popcorn television that steps back and lets Spader shine, and you’ve got a few weeks left to binge before the show returns for a third season on Oct. 1.
Keith Richards: Under the Influence (Sept. 18)
Academy Award–winning director Morgan Nevilla helms this documentary look at the iconic Rolling Stones guitarist, currently enjoying his 72nd trip around the sun. Under the Influence follows Richards as he works on Crosseyed Heart, his first solo album in over two decades, and will include interviews, archival material, and “both new and beloved music.” Richards’ new album will release the same day Under the Influence hits Netflix, so Stones fans will have plenty to look forward to. You can listen to “Trouble,” a track off Crosseyed Heart, below.
Gotham: Season 1 (Sept. 21)
Gotham was simultaneously one of the biggest hits and one of the most frustrating viewing experiences of the 2014-2015 TV year. Robin Lord Taylor gave a breakout performance as a cowardly, manipulative young version of Batman villain the Penguin, but too often this “pre-capes” prequel felt like an exercise in pointless wheel-spinning, a never-ending parade of “Hey, look who it is!” without many compelling reasons to actually give a shit about these characters. Still, I’d be lying if I said the show didn’t have its moments—many of them involving Donal Logue’s morally flexible Detective Harvey Bullock—and young David Mazouz does far better with the thankless role of a pre-pubescent Bruce Wayne than anyone could have expected. Am I damning with faint praise? It’s only because you should be watching Arrow/The Flash instead. Gotham season 2 premieres on Fox the same day this hits Netflix, which is decidedly binge-unfriendly.August 2015
Pick of the Month: Reading Rainbow: Volume 1 (Aug. 1)
The beloved children’s program was back in the news last year after host LeVar Burton launched a massively successful Kickstarter campaign to both resurrect the show and bring it to as many schools as possible, free of charge. Now Netflix is bringing the classic original series to its streaming catalog, hopefully exposing a whole new generation to Burton’s infectious love of reading. Between this and the May arrival of Bill Nye, the Science Guy, Netflix seems to be making a run on the educational shows of my youth, and I couldn’t be happier. My kids are just getting old enough to have an interest in storybooks, so I can’t wait to work through the Reading Rainbow catalog with them. This first “volume” includes such classics as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare,” along with 23 other episodes.
Best of the rest:
This 2014 documentary follows five Israeli high school graduates as they transition into their compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces’ army paratrooper brigade. For those unfamiliar, citizens of Israel are required to serve in the military after reaching the age of 18 (although there are exceptions), often for three years or more. Beneath the Helmet is presented as a coming-of-age story, exploring the lives of an Ethiopian immigrant, a female sergeant, a Swiss volunteer, a soldier descended from Holocaust survivors, and the unit’s commander, all struggling to balance their service with their personal lives and family commitments. It doesn’t look like Beneath the Helmet has a Rotten Tomatoes page at the moment, but it’s currently rocking an impressive 9.4 user rating on IMDb.
2) Chronic-Con, Episode 420: A New Dope (Aug. 1)
In 2003, documentarian Morgan Spurlock subjected himself to ungodly amounts of McDonald’s for his movie Super-Size Me. Stoner comedian Doug Benson responded in 2008 with Super High Me, which was sort of the same thing but with Benson consuming enough marijuana to give most of the West Coast the munchies. Now Benson is nipping at Spurlock’s heels again with Chronic-Con, Episode 420: A New Dope, which riffs on Spurlock’s 2011 flick Comic-Con: Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope. Chronic-Con follows the comedian through a hazy landscape of cosplayers, fans, and celebs, including Spurlock, Joe Rogan, Brian Posehn, and fellow stoner Kevin Smith, to name just a few. Having been several times over the years, I can only imagine the surreal experience of Comic-Con is even weirder when viewed through an ever-present fog of pot smoke. I just hope Benson brought his own snacks; convention center food is crazy expensive.
3) Dogs on the Inside (Aug. 1)
Netflix is kicking off the month with several intriguing new documentary additions, and this one is pretty much guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings of any animal lover. Dogs on the Inside explores a program that pairs abandoned rescue dogs with inmates at a Massachusetts prison. It’s about more than just companionship: Many of the dogs have been abused or mistreated, so their new human partners must first earn the animals’ trust, a commodity unquestionably in short supply behind bars. The inmates help save dogs that would otherwise likely be euthanized, and both human and canine partners help rehabilitate each other and hopefully put their darker times behind them. Honestly, I can already tell you I won’t be making it through this one without choking up a little.
4) Enemy at the Gates (Aug. 1)
Set during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II, Enemy at the Gates stars Jude Law as Vassili Zaitsev, a former shepherd serving as a sniper in the Russian Army. After saving the life of one Commisar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes), Vassili becomes a propaganda tool for Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev, with the army newspaper spinning tales about the young marksman’s heroic exploits against the invading Nazis. The Germans soon take notice and deploy their own lethal sniper, tasking Major Erwin König (Ed Harris) with putting a bullet through Vassili’s brain. Loosely based on the experiences of the real-life Vassili Zaitsev, Enemy at the Gates follows the dueling snipers as they lead each other on a game of cat-and-mouse against the backdrop of one of the bloodiest battles in history.
5) The Hurt Locker (Aug. 1)
From the rubble of World War II-era Stalingrad, venture forward 60 years and into another war entirely. Written by Mark Boal, a journalist who was embedded with an Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit in Baghdad in 2004, The Hurt Locker follows Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner), a veteran assigned to lead a bomb disposal team after his predecessor is killed by an IED. His maverick—or reckless—approach to an inherently dangerous job does little to endear him to his new squad, who are convinced he’s more interested in chasing an adrenaline high than trying to keep them all alive. The Hurt Locker took home six Academy Awards in 2010, including Best Motion Picture and Best Director for helmer Kathryn Bigelow.
British comedian/author/activist Russell Brand is a love-him-or-hate-him personality on the best of days, but even if you have no patience for his politics, there’s no question that he’s got some valuable insights when it comes to addiction. Brand has talked extensively about his struggles with substance abuse—and the fact that he knows he could very easily slip back into it at any time, even after over a decade of sobriety. Brand explores society’s attitudes and approaches to the problems of substance abuse—and substance abusers—in a pair of BBC Three documentaries hitting Netflix in August. In End the Drugs War, Brand explores how various countries handle the problem and questions whether criminalization is the answer. In From Addiction to Recovery, Brand shines a light on his own troubled past, including his addiction to heroin and the death of his friend, performer Amy Winehouse.
7) Welcome to Me (Aug. 6)
Kristen Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a TV-obsessed woman with borderline personality disorder who spends most of her money on lottery tickets. Except she actually beats the odds and wins, netting an $86 million jackpot. She celebrates by moving into a casino hotel, but after she gets booted off the news right in the midst of delivering a speech she’d prepared—one that inexplicably includes mention of masturbation—Alice decides she wants her own show, so she can say whatever she wants to say. In addition to the always wonderful Wiig, Welcome to Me’s stellar cast includes Wes Bentley, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Robbins, and Alan Tudyk.
8) HitRECord on TV: Season 1 (Aug. 7)
Actor/director Joseph Gordon-Levitt has forged a career as one of the most interesting young performers of his generation in movies such as Brick, (500) Days of Summer, and Looper, but since 2005 his passion project has been the website/collaborative production company he founded with his brother, Dan. HitRECord on TV is the culmination of that work, a series that premiered on Pivot last year and which compiles user-contributed short films and performances, with each episode’s content focused on a particular theme. The eight-episode first season includes explorations of fantasy, trash, space, games, money, patterns, and more. The show just aired its second season on Pivot last month, so expect it to show up on Netflix eventually. In the meantime, there’s plenty more to explore on the HitRECord website.
9) Doctor Who: Season 8 (Aug. 8)
For the fourth time in Doctor Who’s “modern era,” a new actor stepped into the TARDIS and the iconic role of the nigh-immortal Time Lord. And new lead Peter Capaldi was a very different Doctor indeed than David Tennant or Matt Smith: darker, less given to whimsy, and at times much colder than his recent regenerations. This is a Doctor who describes his companion Clara as his “carer”—she cares so he doesn’t have to—and while he’s not nearly as callous as he pretends to be, Clara’s doubts as to whether she can trust the Twelfth Doctor underscore the entire season. Capaldi’s Doctor is set to return for a new season of adventures in September, so now’s the perfect time to jump aboard if you’ve ever been curious about what all the fuss is about. If nothing else, watch “Listen,” arguably one of the finest episodes of Doctor Who ever.
10) Two Days, One Night (Aug. 11)
The talented Marion Cotillard landed a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance as Sandra, a worker at a solar-panel factory in Belgium. After a nervous breakdown forces her into a brief leave of absence, she returns to work to discover that she’s been rendered redundant: management is paying her co-workers a significant bonus to pick up a few extra hours so they don’t have to keep her on. With a family to care for and desperate not to lose her job, Sandra spends the weekend appealing to each of the 16 co-workers who hold her future in their hands. But she’s got a hard sell: Times are tough, and all of them could use that extra money. If the synopsis doesn’t win you over, listen to the Tomatoes: Two Days, One Night is rocking a damned impressive Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97 percent Fresh. That’s even Fresher than Will Smith during the Bel-Air years.
11) Alex of Venice (Aug. 15)
Because one dynamite female lead performance deserves another, we recommend following up Two Days, One Night with Alex of Venice. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, probably best known as the crushworthy Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, stars as the Alex in question, a workaholic lawyer whose life is thrown for a loop after her stay-at-home husband bails on her. Now she must reinvent her life while caring for and reconnecting with both her young son and ailing father (Don Johnson). With the exception of interesting highlights such as Scott Pilgrim and Death Proof, Winstead has usually been better than the material she’s been cast in, so it’s great to hear so many critics singling out her performance in Alex of Venice, with Variety calling her “extraordinary.”
12) Byzantium (Aug. 27)
We just recently broke down some of most interesting vampire movies currently available on Netflix and Hulu, and if Neil Jordan’s Byzantium had already been up, we definitely would have included it. Byzantium stars Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as a mother and daughter pair of vampires who have been alive since the Napoleonic era. Byzantium unfolds both in modern day and through flashbacks, exploring how the two became immortal bloodsuckers, and their pariah status within the secretive echelons of the vampire elite (there’s always a vampire elite, isn’t there?). The flick got mixed reviews, currently sitting at 63 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes, but critics praised its moody atmosphere, and frankly, I’d watch Ronan in damn near anything.
13) Narcos (Aug. 28)
Netflix has had a busy few months, introducing two new series in the form the sci-fi epic Sense8 and the Wet Hot American Summer prequel First Day of Camp, not to mention returning favorites Orange Is the New Black and BoJack Horseman. Now the streaming giant is wrapping up the summer with a bang, courtesy of Narcos, a new crime drama centered around Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and law enforcement’s attempts to curb the flow of cocaine into the United States in the 1980s. Created by Chris Brancato (Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU), Narcos will trace the rise of the Medellin Cartel, an empire that eventually made Escobar one of the wealthiest criminals in history. Even better, the series is being directed by José Padilha, best known for the Elite Squad movies and the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be RoboCop remake.
1) An Honest Liar (July 1)
Stage magician James Randi has spent the last several decades using his knowledge of illusion and deception to debunk self-proclaimed psychics, faith healers, and other con artists who use their skills to prey on the emotionally vulnerable. An Honest Liar chronicles Randi’s long career as an icon of reason and skepticism, including his frequent appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and his crusading attempts to make life difficult for people like spoon-bending celebrity psychic Uri Geller. In addition to the main attraction of Randi himself, the filmmakers also interview luminaries from the worlds of magic, science, pop culture, and skepticism, including “Science Guy” Bill Nye, MythBuster Adam Savage, illusionists Penn & Teller, and rock legend Alice Cooper.
2) Set Fire to the Stars(July 1)
British TV helmer Andy Goddard (Torchwood) makes his feature directorial debut with Set Fire to the Stars, which stars co-writer Celyn Jones as legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. (One of Thomas’ best-known works was “Do not go gentle into that good night,” which featured prominently in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.) Elijah Wood co-stars as John Malcolm Brinnin, a meek poetry professor who gets the chance to host his literary hero, Thomas, during a weeklong visit to the States. Brinnin’s uptight nature clashes with Thomas’ heavy drinking and larger-than-life hedonism, and the trip soon becomes an object lesson in why it’s sometimes best not to meet your idols.
3) Knights of Sidonia: Season 2 (July 2)
Netflix boasts a decent selection of anime, but in 2014 it expanded the variety of its Netflix Originals catalog with Knights of Sidonia, based on the manga series by Tsutomu Nihei. Knights is set in the year 3394, a millennium after the Earth was obliterated by a race of giant alien monsters and the remnants of mankind regrouped and fled, Battlestar Galactica–style. The Sidonia is the last-known surviving ship of this exodus, a massive vessel populated by over 500,000 people. Having grown to adulthood living in the bowels of the ship and training on a mech simulator, the heroic Nagate Tanikaze is perfectly suited to join the fight when the deadly Gauna creatures threaten his home once again.
4) Faults (July 3)
Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a strong-willed cult member kidnapped and forced into a round of deprogramming at the behest of her desperate parents. Her guide back to “normality” is Ansel Roth (Leland Orser), one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of mind control. Suffice to say, Claire isn’t giving up her convictions without a fight, and the power struggle between the two makes Faults both funny and ferocious. Faults premiered at South by Southwest in 2014 and balances dark humor and satire against more serious commentary about manipulation and brainwashing. Winstead in particular has been singled out for giving perhaps the best performance of her career thus far. It currently holds an 88 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
5) Monsters: The Dark Continent (July 9)
Gareth Edwards’ understated creature flick Monsters posited a world where huge, tentacled alien beasts had overtaken much of Mexico, forcing the country into military quarantine. Monsters was a deliberately paced, ground-level look at fantastic events, even holding off the really good looks at the creatures until the film’s climax (a trick he repeated with Godzilla). This sequel runs counter to that philosophy in just about every way. Set 10 years after the first Monsters, The Dark Continent takes a more action-oriented approach that drops four soldier friends into a Middle East positively swarming with the alien creatures. So long, character work and nuance; hello, explosions and monster stampedes.
6) Serena (July 9)
Based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Ron Rash, Serena stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as a pair of newlyweds running a timber company in Depression-era North Carolina. Anyone who saw Cooper and Lawrence’s chemistry in Silver Linings Playbook would be excited to see the actors playing an on-screen couple again, but unfortunately the pair’s performances are one of the only things critics praised about Serena. It’s rocking a cringe-inducing 20 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment, so if you’re curious, watch it for Cooper and Lawrence and moderate your expectations appropriately. (Fun fact: Serena was originally going to be directed by Darren Aronofsky and star Angelina Jolie.)
7) Creep (July 14)
The found-footage horror/comedy Creep stars co-writer director Patrick Brice as a videographer who answers a cryptic Craigslist ad from Josef (co-writer Mark Duplass), a terminally ill man who wants someone to film him in a series of videos for his unborn son. The situation soon takes a turn for the, well, creepy when it becomes clear that Josef may be… shall we say “less than stable.” Creep scared its way to a 91 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, earning positive reviews from outlets such as the Hollywood Reporter and Indiewire. Bonus points if you pretend Duplass is playing his character from The League the whole time.
Director Richard Stanley was fired by New Line a mere three days into filming his 1996 attempt to bring H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau to the big screen. Things didn’t get any better from there. John Frankenheimer stepped into the vacated director’s chair, but he faced a sea of troubles that included script problems, production delays, and a pair of uncooperative egos named Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer. The end result is one of the worst movies ever made...which, thankfully, makes for a fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary. In addition to revisiting the shitshow that was The Island of Dr. Moreau’s actual shoot, Lost Soul examines Stanley’s original vision for the film, including his plans for Bruce Willis to play the role that eventually went to Val Kilmer.
9) Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (July 15)
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus tells the story of Dr. Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams), a respected anthropologist who is inflicted with a hunger for blood after an encounter with a cursed African artifact. Director Spike Lee actually turned to Kickstarter to fund Da Sweet Blood of Jesus—a first for Lee—and the movie was filmed in only 16 days.
Lee describes this particular “joint” as being about “Human beings who are addicted to blood. Funny, sexy and bloody. A new kind of love story (and not a remake of Blacula).” It received a VOD release this past February, just in time for Valentine’s Day. And am I the only one disappointed that it isn’t a remake of Blacula though?
10) Changeling (July 16)
Based on strange-than-fiction real-life events, Changeling stars Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins, a woman in 1920s Los Angeles whose son vanishes. Her relief when the LAPD announces they have found him is soon dashed by the discovery that the kid they bring forward isn’t actually her boy—even if they keep insisting he is. Soon the scandal-plagued department is trying to shut her up and brush the case under the rug, but Collins never gives up hope or stops trying to find her son. Writer J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Netflix’s Sense8) spent a year researching the real-life Collins case, and even included newspaper clippings in copies of the script to remind people that this bleak and bizarre story was based on true events.
12) BoJack Horseman: Season 2 (July 17)
Easily the weirdest original show in Netflix’s stable, BoJack Horseman stars Will Arnett as the titular Horseman, a washed-up sitcom star in a world where humans share the planet with anthropomorphic animals who are apparently not very creative when it comes to choosing last names. BoJack is eager to try and rekindle his fame, just like any other has-been celebrity—horse-headed or neigh. In addition to Arnett, BoJack Horseman’s impressive voice cast includes Amy Sedaris, Paul F. Tompkins, Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, Patton Oswalt, Stanley Tucci, J.K. Simmons, and Community’s Alison Brie as BoJack’s ghostwriter/love interest. Season 2 also adds Friends star Lisa Kudrow into the mix.
13) Tig (July 17)
On Aug. 3, 2012, comedian Tig Notaro walked on stage at Largo in Los Angeles and opened her set with these words: “Good evening, hello, I have cancer. How are you?” The crowd laughed, expecting a bit. Instead, Notaro delivered a set that has become justifiably legendary in the standup world, with the comic opening up about her diagnosis, only days before, of invasive stage II breast cancer. The documentary Tig explores Notaro’s fight against her illness, her reignited career in the wake of that unforgettable Largo set, and even her finding love in the wake of a dark and difficult time. On a related note, you should definitely listen to Tig’s bit about how she is cosmically bonded to former ’80s teen pop icon Taylor Dayne.
14) Teacher of the Year (July 23)
“Surrounded by the eccentric faculty of Truman High School, Mitch Carter wins the California Teacher of the Year award and immediately receives a tempting offer that may force him to leave his job.” Key and Peele’s Keegan-Michael Key co-stars as a character named Ronald Douche (pronounced “doo-shay”), so on the surface this flick could easily be a trainwreck. However, Teacher of the Year did well on the festival circuit, the reviews currently listed on Rotten Tomatoes are mostly positive, and the trailer actually looks like this one might be worth your time. Honestly, I’d check it out for Key’s presence alone, but throwing the Sklar Brothers into the mix just cements the deal.
15) The Guest (July 25)
Director Adam Wingard gave the world the outstanding 2011 slasher flick You’re Next. With 2014’s The Guest, Wingard reunited with You’re Next screenwriter Simon Barrett for a thriller about a family mourning the loss of their oldest son, Caleb, a soldier who died in Afghanistan. When a stranger named David shows up claiming to be a friend of their late son, the family embraces him and welcomes him into their home. David is polite, helpful, and seemingly a great guy… but events soon begin to suggest that he harbors dark secrets and a violent streak that could put the entire family in danger. (July 25 is a long way away, so we highly recommend checking out Wingard’s You’re Next in the meantime if you haven’t already.)
16) Comet (July 28)
I’m a sucker for Emmy Rossum, but ever since Tusk, I can’t see Justin Long without subconsciously superimposing the walrus mustache back onto his upper lip. That’s bound to interfere with my enjoyment of this high-concept romantic comedy/drama that explores a six-year star-crossed relationship in non-linear fashion. Writer/director Sam Esmail received a “story by” credit on the 2014 found-footage horror flick Mockingbird, and more recently he created the thriller series Mr. Robot for USA. If nothing else, the fact that this isn’t a guy I’d expect a rom-com from intrigues me, and Comet looks to be playing with stylistic and narrative flourishes that could be interesting. Plus, let’s be honest: I’ll follow Emmy anywhere.
17) Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (July 31)
Wet Hot American Summer was a flop when it was released in 2001, but it’s since become a cult classic thanks to a script that deftly skewers ’80s teen sex comedies and a dynamite ensemble cast that includes Paul Rudd, Janeane Garofalo, Elizabeth Banks, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Molly Shannon, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Poehler, to name just a few. A decade and a half later, Netflix is taking viewers back to Camp Firewood in this prequel series. And yes, you can be sure there will be plenty of jokes about the fact that the “teenage” cast is now several decades past their first pimple. First Day of Camp is set earlier in the same summer explored in the original movie, and includes appearances by Jon Hamm, Chris Pine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristen Wiig, Judah Friedlander, Michael Cera, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.Screengrab via samfuterman/YouTube
BY TODD LONGWELL
The shake-up in the New York Times’ video unit has gotten shakier. Back in July, general manager of video Rebecca Howard announced her departure from the paper and the video unit’s managing editor Bruce Headlam transitioned to a “senior role” in the newsroom.
This week, Times executive editor Dean Baquet sent a memo to video staffers informing them that they are all eligible to apply for a buyout and those who don’t could possibly face a layoff.
At the same time, the Times will be replenishing the video unit with what Baquet characterized as “targeted hiring to add the kinds of deep experience, news judgment, and creativity we believe essential to take our video to a higher level.”
Last month, the Times released a report titled “Our Path Forward” that, among other things, outlined plans to expand its branded content studio, T Brand Studio, into a standalone agency. The paper also praised itself for its video efforts, pointing out that its video unit has been nominated for and won more Emmys than any publisher in the last several years. But, it added, “we must expand our investment and refine our approach in these areas [live events, as well as video] and we will be sharing more about our plans for elevating both operations in coming months.”
While the video unit’s employees contemplate buyouts and pink slips, the Times is prepping a major promotion for its 360-degree video efforts.
On the weekend of Nov. 7-8, it will be including more than one million Google Cardboard viewers in copies sent to home delivery subscribers. The giveaway will coincide with the debut of the Times’ new VR film The Displaced, produced by filmmaker Chris Milk and his company VRSE, capturing the resilience of three children from south Sudan, eastern Ukraine, and Syria, uprooted by war.
The film will be viewable via the free Times VR app, developed in collaboration with the virtual reality studio IM360, which will be available for download in the Google Play and iOS App Stores beginning Nov. 5. The Times’ 360-degree videos will also be available on the Times’ YouTube channel and youtube.com/360.
Screengrab via The New York Times/YouTube
The deal will bring all Disney- and ESPN-owned channels, ABC-owned local stations, ABC Family (which will be known as Freeform starting in January), Fusion, and many other channels for viewers. ABC primetime shows will become available as part of multichannel packages, and affiliate stations can opt in to the service.
PlayStation Vue launched earlier this year without ESPN, but getting it added was only a matter of time for Sony.
“This deal demonstrates our continued commitment to offer the best content on TV to PlayStation Vue users,” Dwayne Benefield, VP and head of PlayStation Vue at Sony Network Entertainment International, said in a press release.
“PlayStation Vue provides a unique way to engage with our content and an opportunity to reach a segment of viewers who want a different kind of television experience,” added Justin Connolly, Disney and ESPN Media Networks’ executive vice president of Affiliate Sales & Marketing. “The addition of our content to the PlayStation Vue platform will make the offering more compelling as consumers navigate their video options.”
Subscribers will be able to watch shows within three days of airing without needing to access PlayStation Vue’s DVR and watch content across multiple devices both in and out of the house.
There’s currently no indication of how much a TV package from Disney and ESPN would cost per month, but for comparison, PlayStation Vue offers Showtime for $10.99 a month, Fox Soccer Channel for $14.99 a month, and Machinima for $3.99 a month along with different levels of access ranging from $49.99 to $69.99 a month. And while Sing TV also offers ESPN, PlayStation Vue will have more channel options for potential subscribers.
PlayStation Vue already has dozens of networks including CBS, Fox, NBC, AMC, FX, and MTV in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. For some people in those cities, PlayStation Vue might be a viable option instead of paying for cable.
H/T The Verge | Illustration by Max Fleishman
When Hijaz realized his vine was getting popular, he worried that he should've used more hashtags so Adele might have noticed:But it's gone full-viral since then, making appearances on the Huffington Post, EllenTube, and BuzzFeed: Something tells us Adele will see it. H/T Buzzfeed | Screengrab via Nasser Hijaz/Vine
BY LARRY CARROLL
One year ago Thursday (Nov. 5), a video was uploaded to YouTube that would slice through pop culture’s collective conscience like a sharpened machete through a tennis-playing yuppie. It was called “Too Many Cooks,” and it was simultaneously familiar and unlike anything ever seen before. The New Yorker praised it as “a postmodern satire of television and Web culture,” The Boston Globe compared it to food poisoning—and of course, both were right.To celebrate the one-year anniversary of this inescapable earwig of entertainment, Zap2it hunted down the Cooks like a demented killer hiding behind the sofa. Collectively, their stories tell a fascinating tale of modern viral fame—and living with the consequences.
“The set itself was really cool because it was designed to look like a home from the 1980s,” says Morgan Burch, the child actor who appears at 0:21 (like all the “TMC” actors, her real name was used in the credits). “I never saw the entire script, so watching the show was a surprise for me.”
“We were all laughing our a**es off when we were shooting a bunch of different make-out configurations,” recalls Mary McGahren, whose part at 1:25 was listed as “Mom 2” when they filmed. “They had me making out with a princess, she was making out with a lizard.”
Like many of the people on camera, Burch and McGahren were aspiring actors in the Atlanta area who took occasional work as an extra—typically, a non-speaking background face. Most of them were clueless as to what they were filming and couldn’t conceive that more than a year later millions would watch them, celebs like Zooey Deschanel and Billy Eichner would post video of themselves singing their theme song, and Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn would fanboy all over their work.
“It absolutely blew my mind when it started receiving millions of hits,” marvels Marc Farley, the sadsack office worker getting dumped on at 1:54. “It was really cool being a small part of a big viral phenomenon.”
“Psychologically it was a real boost, since I had been auditioning with my first agent for a few months at that point and had invested a lot in classes a couple years prior, as well as headshots, nonpaying jobs, films that never get made or get made badly and you can’t use; all the stuff actors have to do,” explains McGahren. “It was truly fantastic to see that something like this could happen… It gave me a sense of legitimacy, because so many people knew about it.”But another thing that many of the actors didn’t know was how violent, twisted, and absurd the end result would become. “There is one scene I am in with the killer, and even I didn’t know he was right beside me until I watched the show,” marvels Burch, praising the Adult Swim mastermind who wrote and produced the project. “Casper Kelly is a creative genius.”
“No one knew what it was except for me,” adds William Tokarsky, the machete-wielding killer who filmed his role in three 12-14 hours days. “It was unreal as to the creative drive on set.”
“I ran so much,” remembers Katie Adkins, who at 4:41 has perhaps the most prominent role in “Cooks” as the “victim” who runs for help from Tokarsky before making the ill-advised decision to hide in a closet. “First I was too fast, then I was too slow, and I had to adjust to this weird half-jog thing I was doing, which was probably why I looked so weird running.”Out of all the “Cooks,” perhaps the most successful in the past 12 months has been Katelyn Nacon (the headphones-wearing daughter at 0:15), who has a recurring role on one of TV’s biggest hits. “I got the audition before ‘Cooks’ even aired,” she says, insisting that the viral hit didn’t impact her subsequent success. “I was already filming on set for The Walking Dead when [‘Cooks’ came out], so it didn’t play a part in me getting the part of Enid on the show.”
Burch, meanwhile, has filmed a recurring role on The Astronaut Wives Club and a part in the upcoming Jennifer Garner film Miracles From Heaven, both jobs that she credits to her “Cooks” visibility. Adkins and Foley, however, say that their careers haven’t changed much. Most of these aspiring actors have continued reaching for fame, although they sometimes find it as elusive as Smarf’s quest to push that red button.
“I had a director on a project last summer come find me on set to tell me how much he loved ‘TMC’ and was so excited to have me there,” says McGahren. “Oddly enough, there was another guy from ‘TMC’ on set as well.”
“It sure as hell did not hurt my acting career,” explains Tokarsky. “I know there is an MTV show out there for me, about some high school students with this creepy old janitor lurking behind the lockers with potential mayhem in his mind. Typecasting does not scare me.”
“I think of it as a funny footnote in my career,” says Victoria Sun, the topless victim of a Peeping Tom at 1:48. “I am extremely grateful for its overnight success.”But even those Cooks who haven’t lined up starring roles in major films admit that the unorthodox project gave them something nearly as good: the kinds of stories they’ll someday be telling their grandkids.
“I was visiting some friends in Orlando and they invited me to a party,” remembers Adkins. “One guy there recognized me from ‘TMC,’ and then everyone freaked out on me. The guy shouted ‘Oh my God, I have a machete in my car. Can I take a picture with you?'”
Trying to oblige a fan, Adkins soon found herself sitting in a closet with various strangers, each threatening her with a deadly weapon. “He brought out a legit machete and had me pose,” she laughs. “People took turns taking photos with me in the closet.”“My fanbase is in a much younger generation than the normal folks I hang out with,” explains Tokarsky. “The people I go to [senior citizen exercise class] Silver Sneakers with at the gym have never heard of ‘Too Many Cooks’ and pay no attention to me at all. But the pretty young lady that teaches the classes makes sure that she and I are never alone in the gym.”
“I’ve become a household word among the stoner set,” he adds. “I was a living meme before I even knew what a meme was.”“A fan from Paris messaged me, telling me that his professor was talking about the show in class,” Burch recalls. “He said they spent the entire class time talking about ‘Too Many Cooks.'”
But one additional, unexpected thing has also occurred in the past year. Interviewed separately for this story, almost every “Cooks” actor went out of their way to say they had created lasting friendships on that unorthodox Atlanta set. Check out many of the actors’ Facebook pages, and you can see them regularly interacting—and actively dismissing a key lyric in their impossibly-catchy theme song.
“The majority of the castmates have become sort of a family. I love how this brought about the most unlikely friendships and lasting ones,” says Sun. “Too many cooks does not spoil the broth.”
Screengrab via Adult Swim/YouTube
Creators Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox star in Part Timers, which follows the employees of a Chuck E. Cheese-like pizzeria and arcade called Pork E. Pine's. The series explores the friendships of a group of misfits as they work for minimum wage, but end up having the best time.
“Ten years ago we started this incredible journey with YouTube that has allowed us to create, do what we love every day and grow SMOSH beyond our wildest dreams," said Padilla and Hecox via press release. "Part Timers is an important next step for us as we continue to expand creatively and build on our brand with programming that connects with our audience in new ways. We’re excited to embark on this next phase.”
The trailer promises us a creepy mascot, ugly purple uniforms, an a lot of potentially inappropriate touching between co-workers.
While the series is supported by YouTube as part of its commitment to original programming, it's not part of the YouTube Red original content initiative. That means Part Timers will live on ad-supported YouTube, not on the subscription-based model the company detailed last month. With Smosh's 21 million subscribers, they're poised to reach more viewers than traditional cable networks with the show.
The series, produced by DEFY Media, will also get additional support in the form of a branded partnership with Schik Hydro, a razor line. That means there will be integrations of Schik products into the story, as well as off-shoot bonus scenes and clips around the razors.
“SMOSH presented an exciting opportunity for Schick Hydro to connect with its core audience – who are just like this group of guys - through the creativity and humor that Anthony and Ian bring to every episode,” said Edgewell Personal Care Senior Brand Manager Anastasia Tobias in the press release. “We’ve enjoyed seeing how SMOSH’s lighthearted nature brings our brand to life and are excited to see the Part Timers series debut.”
The series premieres Jan. 11 on the Smosh cannel.
Screengrab via Smosh/YouTube
Twitter user @updog7 gave the Fat Jew a taste of his own medicine Thursday by tweeting a photo of every single page of his new book.
The Fat Jew, whose real name is Josh Ostrovsky, has made a lot of waves in the comedy community for stealing jokes, stripping them of credit, and posting them as his own to Instagram, where he has 6.5 million followers. So when his new book dropped Nov. 3, @updog7 saw the opportunity to do a little performance art.
@updog7 has also made the photos available in PDF form on Google Docs if that's more your style. It's so elegant it's beautiful.
Dad humor is having a moment, but what about granddad humor? Meet Chuck Esterly.
The 89-year-old recently took the stage at Go Bananas Comedy Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, for his very first standup set. If you’ve ever done standup, you know so many elements have to be in place: timing, flow, energy, pacing, confidence. It’s not easy, but Esterly performs like he’s been doing this for years.
The video was uploaded to YouTube by Mark Chalifoux almost a month ago, but since the seven-minute clip hitReddit yesterday, Esterly’s become a viral star. Chalifoux was one of Esterly’s teachers at a standup comedy class at the Sycamore Senior Center in Cincinnati and told Splitsider he was the only student to actually perform his set in front of an audience:
I’ve seen a lot of open-micers at Go Bananas before, but he was calmer and more collected than all of them and it was a delight to watch him destroy on stage. He really killed it, and totally won over the audience and staff there alike.
As a standup, you write from experience, and Esterly takes us on a real journey: There are jokes about death, amorous widows, penis enlargers, frequent urination. He even has a fan page already.H/T Splitsider | Screengrab via MarkChalifouxComedy/YouTube
Want to get in touch with your mortality? The latest Teens React video tests their knowledge of '80s hits, and guess what, they don't recognize them all.It's very cool to see what their frames of reference are, though.
Most of the kids who recognized "Come on Eileen" knew it because of the soundtrack to The Perks of Being a Wallflower. One girl recognized A-ha's "Take on Me" from playing Just Dance.
Good work, teens.Screengrab via React/YouTube
A group of the Web’s biggest online video stars, led by musician Chester See, Rhett McLaughlin, and Lincoln Neal, are coming together to enter the mobile gaming space with the trivia app, Trivy.
Trivy covers general knowledge topics such as science, entertainment, and current events. The added value comes from downloadable expansion packs featuring questions from a collection of 64 recognizable online stars from platforms including YouTube, Snapchat, and Vine. The questions are crafted by the stars themselves, giving players a more personal experience with their favorite Web stars. The game’s creators are hoping that their combined power of more than 175 million social media followers can propel the app to the top of the charts.
For See, McLaughlin, and Neal the venture is a departure. Although all three have a wealth of experience creating content in the digital space, mobile gaming is new territory. In a statement, See noted the contributions of Adbul Khan, an entrepreneur and partner in the Trivy venture: “We teamed up with tech entrepreneur and former venture capitalist Abdul Khan, who has been behind companies like Pandora and Ancestry.com, to create a game that transcends the current benefits of the direct to consumer model by introducing a new way of engaging with fans.”
The mobile app space has been appealing to digital creators for some time. With their highly engaged audiences demanding a constant stream of content, as well as personalized access to YouTube, Vine, and other social media, online stars have long looked for ways to leverage their fanbase and own more of their audience rather than sharing it with platforms like YouTube. Services like Victorious have capitalized on this desire by building bespoke apps for YouTube stars to access their fans directly. However, this is the first attempt to harness a large segment of the YouTube community collectively to launch a gaming brand.
The full list of creators involved in the project includes several YouTube and Vine A-listers, as well as top-200 creators.
Illustration by Max Fleishman
They might be young (and ineligible to vote in 2016), but some of the discrimination we see in adults is already built into their minds. Some of them believe that women are too weak to be president, or that they’ll paint the White House pink and make it “girly.” But Clinton pointed out that, before we could make such judgments, we should elect one and see what happens.
“Is it hard?” one of the kids asked her.”
“It’s really hard,” Clinton replied.
Working with them might prove to be much easier than dealing with Congress.Clinton also sat down for a regular chat with Kimmel, where they touched on Jeb Bush’s campaign hiccups, what Bill Clinton would do if he were allowed to run for president again (and who’d win if they ran against each other), and, of course, Donald Trump.
Would Clinton watch his turn hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend?
“That I might do, actually. That I might do,” she said. “Because, you know, I think he watched me.”Screengrab via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube
In 2013, I watched Bridget Everett drink booze from a paper bag, motorboat a man, and lower herself onto an audience member’s face at Fun Fun Fun Fest. I’d never heard of her before that day, but I was nonetheless drawn into the tent where she was performing, first by her voice and then by the awe-inspiring mechanics of her body. The audience member next to me breathlessly read my mind:
“Who is this?”
This is the response one hopes for in the comedy tent at Fun Fun Fun Fest. Since comedy started being a featured part of the annual Austin festival in 2009, it’s seen headliners like Sarah Silverman, Fred Armisen, Patton Oswalt, and David Cross, as well as lesser-known acts that fall in line with the fest’s cool-nerd vibe.
“In 2009, we decided to add a fourth stage for more stripped-down artists,” said Graham Williams, one of Fun Fun Fun Fest’s founders. “Quieter acts: comedy, spoken word, poets, video, acoustic music. Basically, acts that needed a more intimate setting and felt a little weird on a giant stage at a festival in between sets of two loud bands. We’ve stuck with that model, for the most part, and our Yellow stage has hosted a lot of different acts, but mostly comedy.”As the festival celebrates its 10th year, Fun Fun Fun Fest’s Yellow stage is headlined by Tig Notaro, who’s seen both a Netflixdocumentary and an HBO standup special this year. But the fest has also become a place where you can walk into the tent and see a comedian you don’t know or an unconventional performance, like this year’s discussion by Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA on the “science of hip-hop.” And there’s the always-popular Air Sex Championship.
“When it comes to national comedy, we tend to bring down comics that we feel really match the vibe of the festival,” Williams said. “Progressive, smart comedians that are in line with our bands in some ways.”
The comedy stage this year is sponsored by JASH, the online network devoted to original comedy content. Fun Fun Fun Fest has always embraced the Internet to keep fans engaged year-round (Bill Nye further illustrated that this year) and seek feedback: This year, when the band Desaparecidos dropped out, the fest asked fans for alternative suggestions for fill-in bands on its social media accounts. Fun Fun Fun Fest comedy booker Chris Trew of Austin/New Orleans theatre the New Movement says a comedian’s Web presence is integral to exposure but not essential to landing on the lineup.
“It’s essential in that it can increase the likelihood of someone being a part of the festival,” Trew said, “but we have acts every year that will really shine bright on the Yellow stage that don’t necessarily have a killer Web presence.”Rather, comedians’ presence and command on stage is crucial. Comedy doesn’t always translate at a music-heavy fest, and in past years, the Yellow stage has often been overtaken by waves of feedback or sound-bleed from other stages, with fans straining to hear jokes above the din.
“We're looking for acts that will embrace the environment,” Trew said. “Everyone wants to see their show listed on the poster for an outdoor music festival, but not everyone is willing to truly embrace the elements. There will be bands playing at the same time as you, there will be planes flying overhead… We want to book shows and people that can handle those things and not be so eager to abandon their material because they are out of their comfort zone.”
“We try to book shows and people that can adjust, grow, and meld with a taco cannon and the bass drum coming from all sides,” added Lisa Friedrich, another FFFF comedy booker from the New Movement. “The energy has to be higher, which I think some performers aren't ready for.”
Friedrich pinpoints another eternal obstacle: “comics stealing all the free beer.”
The comedy festival as a standalone event has exploded in popularity: Austin’s yearly Moontower Comedy could be seen a companion piece to FFFF. Funny or Die’s Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival has become a massive touring enterprise. FFFF 2015 performer Eugene Mirman even started his own comedy festival. “Every comedy scene needs a flagship event or two to act as ‘trophies’ to reach for,” Trew said.
Both Friedrich and Trew have watched the comedy portion evolve as the fest—and Austin’s ever-growing comedy scene—has too; FFFF is as much a channel into Austin’s comedy scene as it is about mainstream acts. And the fanbase has grown, too: Friedrich adds that “By Sunday, I usually see a couple of people who have been there the whole weekend and have just decided the Yellow tent is their home base.”
A handful of local acts this year are New Movement-related performers, which could narrow the focus a bit in a comedy scene as vast as Austin’s. Is there a concern that there’s not enough representation? Trew says they're “always open to non-TNM programming” that fits the stage.
“It's important to us that we highlight as much [of] Austin as we can while also delivering on our goal to have the most dynamic comedy programming at an outdoor festival.” he said. “That's why there's shows like Air Sex, Live Action Battle Rap, and ATX Comedy Hour that are TNM shows, but featuring talent from all over the city.”
This year, the Yellow stage is also hosting NASA scientist Dr. Scott Bolton, the more free-form comedy of Eric Andre, 10-year-old Internet-famous comic Saffron Herndon, rapper Lil Freckles, and Austin comedy cabals like Bad Example and Greetings From Queer Mountain. There’s still an effort to draw you in to ask “Who is this?”
“Standup is absolutely the most logical form of mainstream comedy to put up at the festival, and we want to do that too,” Trew said. “We just want to maintain that experimental vibe at all times as well.”
Photo via Fun Fun Fun Fest
It’s got to be the dream, right? The reason why millions immerse themselves in online role-playing games or LARP out with their swords out. The end point. Actually being in the game. Imagination can take you far, and an IPS screen with a 144 Hz refresh rate will take you further but you’ll still be short the visceral thrill of actually sliding your pig sticker through the rib cage and then looting the corpse.
But bar some frightening social regression a life in Azeroth seems unlikely. Some will say this is probably for the best, that gamers may not be the best suited for this rough world. But you know what? Screw them. Keep the dream alive.
And to that end we have AFK, a webseries out of New Zealand which plays upon that very idea—tracking a group of gamers who wake up within the game that they’ve been playing. But dream scenario or not, writer and director Peter Haynes has to side with the naysayers regarding the likelihood of the transferal of skills from PC to battlefield.
“Well, for a start, I think a lot of people would be totally lost!” Haynes told the Daily Dot via email. “Part of the inspiration for AFK was the idea that people spend hours building up their skills in a virtual world, increasing their abilities in swordplay, archery, blacksmithing and the like by clicking a mouse, but if you handed them a real sword they might stab themselves in the foot with it.”
These thoughts could suggest that AFK is a vehicle to ridicule those that play these games but in fact it’s an affectionate, if slightly critical take on this universe and the efficacy of a game as a simulacrum for reality. Haynes is a gamer himself, a recovering World of Warcraft addict who sees this series as an attempt “to justify the amount of time I spent playing that game.”
What strikes in watching the first two episodes is the friction between the virtual and the real. Because the nature of the game in which the players find themselves reflects reality in some ways—there are no food vendors or other “non-playing characters,” so mere survival is a physical challenge—many of the skills developed from gameplay are redundant.
What emerges then is a conflict between pure gamers and those who are also LARPers (live action role players), two pastimes that outsiders often equate with each other: “Our hero is Q, who is a LARPer and medieval re-enactor in the real world, and because of this she has actual practical skills that might seem unusual or even 'nerdy', but they give her a distinct advantage in the world of the game,” Haynes explained.
“And while there’s a lot of crossover [between gamers and LARPers] there are plenty of 'hardcore' gamers who probably look down on LARPing. We have one of them in our series, Jack the Rogue, who only gradually comes to learn the values of practical skills over virtual.”
This may all sound a little niche for those not already enamored with the scene but Haynes is quick to point out that although there is plenty of gaming-specific humor there are entry points for those just looking for an adventure series. For example, as an explanatory device for novices one of the leads is a “noob” or beginner, so that there is nothing narratively inconsistent about educating him on the ins and outs of the role-playing world. “It has been a bit of a challenge actually,” he conceded, “because a lot of our cast and crew are gamers as well, and it’s easy to forget that a lot of the references we use aren't actually common knowledge.”
It’s a fine-looking series, shot with a backdrop of the lush visuals of New Zealand’s non-Hobbit North Island, all on a Kickstarter-funded $10,000 budget. And after being picked up to premiere on a Kiwi cable sci-fi channel the series has begun to get traction within its home country—something the creator hopes to build on with the Web release. My guess is that there'll be a great uptake—after all this is the dream of millions.
Photo via AFK
The slow trickle of previously unreleased Kurt Cobain demos continues.Montage of Heck, the Cobain documentary by director Brett Morgen. When the Daily Dot spoke to Morgen in March after the SXSW debut of the film, he said he wanted to release Cobain's home recordings—he happened upon 108 cassette tapes in a storage unit in 2007—as a compilation.
Not only were there hours upon hours of Cobain material, a lot of which was in a completely different style than I’d experienced with Nirvana. It was a lot of beautiful, acoustic music that we used as a sort of score throughout the movie.
That's true of Cobain's cover of the Beatles' "And I Love Her," which floated online back in April, before the HBO premiere of Montage of Heck. That track will be released as a 7-inch with "Sappy" on Nov. 20.
You’re having sex with a stranger and the condom breaks: What do you do?
This is one of the first questions we have to consider in Master of None, as we quickly and intimately get to know the show’s protagonist, Dev, a 30-year-old struggling actor living in NYC. A new 10-episode Netflix show created by Aziz Ansari and former Parks and Recreation producer Alan Yang, Master of None is certainly one of the more diverse shows Netflix has released. Dev is a channel for Ansari’s experience, one that’s fleshed out by his circle of supportive friends: Denise (Lena Waithe), Brian (Kelvin Yu), and Arnold (Eric Wareheim). Most of their convos happen in cool bars or clubs; drinking is the social lubricant of choice.
If you watched Ansari’s Netflix standup special, you’ll recognize a couple of repurposed bits in Master of None. One, about his generation being selfish and ungrateful, in contrast with the struggle of his immigrant parents (who are played by Ansari’s real parents), provides the foundation for episode 2, in which the backstories of Dev and Brian’s Indian and Taiwanese fathers are paralleled. “Fun is a luxury only your generation really has,” Dev’s dad says.
The other is a bit about how text messaging has made us flaky, especially in terms of dating; this shows up in episode 3, which is based on a story by late Parks and Recreation producer Harris Wittels. Master of None is also an extension of Modern Romance, Ansari’s recent book on dating, which he co-wrote with sociologist Eric Klinenberg. Ansari got called out for writing a book about modern romance without ever having tried online dating, but he still manages to add a sense of dread to scenes where he’s desperately awaiting a text from a potential date while making it all about him. Later in the series, we see a year in the life of Dev and his love interest, Rachel (Noël Wells, formerly of SNL), told entirely through a series of morning interactions. It’s sweet and sad and real, and it’s exciting that a half-hour sitcom is playing with format like that.This is a show with a man’s point of view about love and sex and dating, but Rachel provides a much-needed window into women’s experiences (as does Denise, a lesbian who’s far more successful at dating than Dev). Rachel’s smart and funny and calls out Dev on clueless-guy shit (an education about Instagram comments was particularly memorable). There’s one episode devoted to women’s perspective: In “Ladies and Gentlemen,” a fellow actor friend of Dev’s is shown walking home at night, terrified of who might be following her, while Dev and Arnold practically skip home—an experience that allegedly came from women in the writers’ room. Later, ladies gather around Dev at a bar as he commiserates with one woman who was told to “smile more” on the street: “Why should you smile more?” he asks. “Because women get paid 23 cents less on the dollar than men do? Because the government’s trying to regulate your body?” (Props to whoever included X-Ray Spex’s “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” in the end credits.)
While Ansari has embodied the “nice guy” in his standup and on Parks and Recreation, that lady-ally chorus gets a little loud in parts—he quotes The Bell Jar in a later episode. But “Ladies and Gentlemen” shows a man at least trying to put feminism into action, even if it doesn’t go that well; it’s Rachel who later points out the clueless-guy shit, after the director of a commercial Dev’s in introduces himself to all the men at a table, and ignores the women.
The show is more powerful when it tackles experiential issues—fame, racism in Hollywood, Dev’s relationship with his parents—and when it poses big questions: Is there such a thing as ethical cheating? Do we settle for the lover we have or hold out for something better? Why can’t there be two Indian characters on a TV show? Is “Lose Yourself” told from the perspective of Eminem or his 8 Mile character?
The one series-long thread in Master of None involves Dev’s role in a blockbuster action movie—a “black virus movie,” as he calls it—but the show doesn’t hinge on throughlines. Rather, Dev’s questions about how we should be and react push each story forward, and every episode stands as its own lesson.
Ansari’s had good luck with Netflix, and the company was smart to bring in a semi-autobiographical, personality-defining sitcom, à la Louie; it’s a nice contrast to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Hulu’s Difficult People, and Amazon’s Catastrophe. Master of None isn’t heavy on punchlines, favoring conversation instead, observational standup writ large. It has some weak spots early on, but it gives us a lot consider by the end.
Photo by K.C. Bailey/Netflix
We here at the Daily Dot love our streaming TV and movies, but we also know how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the massive lists of comings and goings on streaming platforms each month. Here’s our curated take of what’s new on Amazon and Hulu this month.
Check our for Netflix list for more streaming picks.
Pick of the Month: The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime, Nov. 20)
The Man in the High Castle is Amazon Studios’ most ambitious project yet, a much-anticipated adaptation of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick’s infamous novel of alternate history. Set in a divergent 1962 in which the Axis powers won World War II, The Man in the High Castle imagines an America under the bootheel of Japanese and German forces. That status quo is threatened by the appearance of a film titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, said to have been created by the mysterious so-called “Man in the High Castle” and depicting a very different America—our America. Is it merely anti-authoritarian propaganda, a postcard from a different reality, or something else entirely?
The Man in the High Castle was executive produced by Ridley Scott, a bloke who knows a thing or two about successful adaptations of Dick, having given us the best of the best in the form of Blade Runner. It was written by X-Files veteran Frank Spotnitz, with a cast that includes Alexa Davelos, Rupert Evans, Rufus Sewell, and DJ Qualls, to name a few. The pilot was the most-watched since Amazon began its “pilot season” system of development and audience voting, and it’s already been renewed for a second season.Best of the rest
1) Bond. James Bond. (Hulu, Nov. 1)
Agent 007 returns this month with the much-anticipated Spectre, and if Bond’s latest adventure leaves you craving more, Hulu has got your back and then some. Continuing a press to beef up its movie catalog, Hulu has snagged streaming rights to the mother lode of classic Bond. While it doesn’t have the entire Bond catalog—Daniel Craig’s modern era is missing, as are the Pierce Brosnan years—you can still watch three decades’ worth of licensed killing for your streaming enjoyment. Clear your schedule and you’ll be able to watch From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Never Say Never Again (1983), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987), and License to Kill (1989).2) Adventures in Babysitting (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
Chris Hemsworth may be perfectly cast as Marvel’s Nordic beefcake God of Thunder, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Thor’s appearance in Christopher Columbus’ 1987 directorial debut, Adventures in Babysitting. OK, so he isn’t really Thor, but it was still his most noteworthy live-action appearance until the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe. Elisabeth Shue—cementing my childhood crush begun in The Karate Kid—stars as Chris Parker, a teenage girl who gets stood up, takes what should be a simple babysitting gig, and winds up having a night of crazy adventures across Chicago.3) Arachnophobia (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
If you’ve got a thing about spiders, there’s a very good chance you won’t survive viewing Arachnophobia. After a rare and deadly Venezuelan spider hitches a ride to the States, the creepy crawly and its offspring begin terrorizing a small California town. Jeff Daniels is a local doctor trying to figure out what’s causing all the mysterious deaths, and he’s increasingly paralyzed by his crippling fear of spiders. Come for the ookiness, stay for John Goodman as no-nonsense exterminator Delbert McClintock.4) Exists (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
Back in September in this column we profiled Bobcat Goldthwait’s found-footage Bigfoot flick Willow Creek. Behind that movie, Exists is probably the second-most noteworthy of the recent trend of Bigfoot horrors. Directed by Eduardo Sánchez—one of the men responsible for kickstarting the modern found-footage genre with The Blair Witch Project—Exists opens with a standard horror setup, with a group of friends venturing into the woods for some fun. Unfortunately, strange noises escalate to mysterious damage to their car, and the friends soon realize there’s something menacing stalking them. Exists only has a 35 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but fans of Sanchez will likely enjoy the ride.5)Grosse Pointe Blank (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
Martin Blank (John Cusack) is a professional killer, but his personal life is more of a mess than his crime scenes: He’s bored, depressed, and in therapy years before Tony Soprano got the idea. After fouling up a hit, he takes a job in his hometown to appease his irate client, attend his 10-year high school reunion, and hopefully reconnect with the girl he stood up at prom a decade earlier (Minnie Driver). Grosse Pointe Blank is an eminently rewatchable flick, and the blending of rom-com tropes with edgier scenes like Martin killing a guy with a ballpoint pen in the hall of his high school perfectly mirror Martin’s internal crisis. Bonus points for Dan Aykroyd’s role as a rival “professional” who’s determined to put Martin in the ground.6) Out of Sight (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
Say what you will about J-Lo, but her onscreen chemistry with George Clooney is electric in this Elmore Leonard adaptation directed by Steven Soderbergh. Clooney is a professional bank robber named Jack Foley; Lopez is U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco. The pair meet-cute while crammed inside a trunk during Foley’s escape from prison, and after that she’s determined to take him down. But is she really pursuing him for the right reasons? The rest of the top-tier cast includes Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, and Albert Brooks. The script by Scott Frank is one of the best Leonard adaptations ever, and the flick is worth watching for the nonlinear love scene alone.7) Turner & Hooch (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
I’m a sucker for a Tom Hanks ’80s comedy—The ‘burbs is unapologetically one of my favorite movies—and watching him play straight man to an oversized canine with a drooling problem sounds like a great way to kill an afternoon to me. Hanks is a Scott Turner, a neat-freak cop forced to take the slobbery Hooch into his life after the dog is the only witness to his owner’s murder. Hooch proceeds to eat more or less everything Turner owns, but damned if he doesn’t start growing on the reluctant cop. Half the fun is watching Hanks interact with the dog, but Turner & Hooch also has heart to spare. That heart is just covered with ropes of dog saliva.8) The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Amazon Prime, Nov. 5)
Star Heath Ledger died a third of the way through filming on Terry Gilliam’s fantasy film, but his friends rose to the occasion, with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell all stepping in to play different incarnations of Ledger’s character. It was a clever solution to a heartbreaking problem, but also a lovely tribute to a powerhouse talent taken far too young. Ledger & co. headline a tale of a travelling theater troupes, magic mirrors, and outsmarting the Devil himself.9) Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 6)
Superman Lives has become one of the most notorious failed productions in Hollywood history, thanks in no small part to Kevin Smith’s accounts of his time on the project, not to mention those pictures of long-haired Nic Cage in the Superman costume. Death of ‘Superman Lives’ dives deep into the history of the doomed project, which was set to be directed by Tim Burton but was canceled three weeks before filming was set to begin in 1998. The documentary includes interviews with Burton, Smith, writer Dan Gilroy, and producers Jon Peters and Lorenzo di Bonaventura.10) Ex Machina (Amazon Prime, Nov. 14)
Alex Garland has been the screenwriter on some of the best and most intriguing genre films of the young century, from 28 Days Later and Sunshine to Never Let Me Go and Dredd. He finally made his feature directorial debut with Ex Machina, a critically acclaimed science-fiction thriller about a Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer invited to the home of his wealthy, eccentric employer (Oscar Isaac) to investigate a breakthrough: an android named Ava who may be the first example of true artificial intelligence. The more Caleb interacts with Ava (Alicia Vikander), the easier it becomes to forget that she’s machine, but it soon becomes clear that his boss’ motivations may not be as clear-cut as they first appeared. Ex Machina has been almost universally praised, currently rocking a 92 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.October
Pick of the Month: The Back to the Future trilogy (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)
This year rings in the 30th anniversary of Robert Zemeckis’ beloved Back to the Future trilogy, and in fact we’re only a few weeks away from “Back to the Future Day”—Oct. 21, 2015, the date Marty arrived in the future in BTTF2. There are plenty of crazy celebrations going on this month, from this cheeky fake trailer for Jaws 19 to the sudden appearance of Pepsi Perfect. But the very best way to celebrate the adventures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown is to rewatch them, and Amazon Prime customers can do just that throughout the month of October. Amazon Prime has added all three Back to the Future movies to the streaming catalog, so now’s the perfect time to play hooky from work, school, or family commitments and settle in for six hours or so of pure time-hopping, hover-boarding, paradox-inducing, “Great Scott”ing, 1.21 gigawatting awesomeness. Our real-life hoverboards may still not be as cool as the movie version, but at least we have the Back to the Future trilogy on-demand for our marathoning delight. This is heavy.
The best of the rest:
1) Blood Simple (Hulu, Oct. 1)
The Coen Brothers have been a pair of the most fascinating filmmakers in the industry for the past three decades, but it all started here, in 1984’s bleak noir crime thriller Blood Simple.
Small-town Texas bar owner Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya) hires a private dick (M. Emmet Walsh) to investigate his wife (Frances McDormand), whom he suspects is cheating on him. That simple act is the beginning of a long, crooked road full of bad turns and dead bodies. In addition to marking the Coen Brothers’ directorial debut, Blood Simple also kickstarted the careers of cinematographer (and later director) Barry Sonnenfeld and actress Frances McDormand. Blood Simple is currently rocking a 94 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
2) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)
Jim Carrey mostly makes the news these days for being a vocal anti-vaxxer, so it’s easy to forget just how good he can be when paired with the right material. He’s never been better than in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and directed by Michel Gondry. Carrey plays Joel Barish, coming off a bad breakup with the former love of his life, Clementine (Kate Winslet). He hires a mysterious company to erase all memory of his relationship with his ex… but then changes his mind halfway through. Unfortunately, the procedure has to be done while the subject is sleeping, so Joel is left fleeing through the landscape of his subconscious, clinging to a memory of Clementine and trying to save her from the encroaching darkness. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won the 2004 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and is rated 93 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
3) The Expendables 3(Hulu, Oct. 1)
Sly Stallone managed to resurrect both of his iconic ’80s franchises with 21st century installments of Rocky and Rambo, so it made sense when he eventually put together a series designed to bring every last aging action relic of the Reagan years back to the big screen. In the third Expendables outing, merc badass Barney Ross (Stallone) and his crew face off against one of the group’s co-founders (Mel Gibson), an arms dealer who’s nursing a grudge and determined to make the Expendables live up to their name. The cast for this go-round also includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, and… Kelsey Grammer?
4) Girl Most Likely (Hulu, Oct. 1)
Imogene (Kristen Wiig) is a failed playwright struggling with writer’s block, working a crappy job at a New York magazine to make ends meet. After a failed suicide attempt in hopes of luring back her ex, she winds up in the custody of her mother (Annette Bening), who frankly would rather be gambling. After inadvertently discovering that her long-thought-dead father is actually alive and living in NYC, Imogene enlists her friends and brother to help track him down, and along the way falls for a charming Backstreet Boys cover band performer.
Girl Most Likely got nailed with negative reviews, but Wiig and Bening’s performances were singled out for praise. If you’re a Wiig fan, double-feature it with Welcome to Me over on Netflix, or wait around for another Wiig entry further down this list.
5) The Innkeepers (Hulu, Oct. 1)
Director Ti West has established himself as one of the most talented young horror directors in the game with flicks such as The House of the Devil and The Sacrament, as well as segments in the V/H/S and The ABCs of Death anthologies. The Innkeepers is by far my favorite thing he’s done thus far, a good old-fashioned ghost story buoyed by charming performances from Sara Paxton and Pat Healy.
They star as the last two remaining staff at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a historic hotel that’s about to close its doors permanently. With the building mostly abandoned, the pair set out to try and gather tangible evidence of the spirits said to haunt its hallways, and what unfolds bounces between funny, tragic, and slow-burn terrifying. If you like the cut of West’s jib, The House of the Devil is also available on Hulu, and The Sacrament is on Netflix Instant. The Innkeepers has a 79 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
6) Joe (Hulu, Oct. 1)
In recent years, David Gordon Green has mainly been on a comedy run with things like Pineapple Express and HBO’s Eastbound & Down, but he returned to his drama roots with 2014’s Joe. Nicolas Cage stars as the titular Joe Ransom, an ex-con who runs a tree-removal crew in rural Texas. He hires and then befriends 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan), a good kid with a particularly bad dad (Gary Poulter). That friendship will put Joe on a path for either redemption or destruction… maybe both.
With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 86 percent Fresh, Joe earned praise from critics for both Green’s direction and Cage’s performance, and god knows it’s nice to see Cage actually being good in something these days. One tragic and morbid footnote: Actor Gary Poulter, who played the alcoholic father in Joe—who was homeless in real life when he was cast—was found dead before the film even made it to the festival circuit.
7) Much Ado About Nothing (Hulu, Oct. 1)
Joss Whedon has spent the past several years earning Disney billions of dollars with the juggernaut Avengers franchise, but he cleansed his palate between them with Much Ado About Nothing. A modern-day remake of Shakespeare’s beloved proto-screwball comedy, Whedon’s Much Ado enlists several of his regulars, including Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, and Tom Lenk. The reunion of Acker and Denisof in a romantic pairing—playing Beatrice and Benedick, respectively—should be more than enough to lure in Angel fans still stinging from the respective ends of Fred and Wesley, but the film was well received overall, currently sitting at 84 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It even earned a Guinness World Record, courtesy of a Blu-ray commentary track that crammed in a whopping 16 members of the cast and crew.
8) Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)
Paul Reubens is on the cusp of resurrecting Pee-wee with the help of producer Judd Apatow and Netflix, but in the meantime you can re-experience one of the best iterations of Reubens’ hyperactive manchild. In Big Adventure, Pee-wee sets out cross-country in search of his stolen bicycle, along the way encountering hobos, biker gangs, and “Large Marge,” a creepy trucker who single-handedly soiled the pants of my entire generation thanks to one iconic close-up. Scripted by Reubens with Michael Varhol and the late Phil Hartman (Simpsons, NewsRadio), Pee-wee’s Big Adventure also marked the feature directorial debut of Tim Burton and the first of many collaborations with composer Danny Elfman.
9) The Skeleton Twins (Hulu, Oct. 1)
Kristen Wiig’s second appearance in this month’s list is in another movie that, weirdly enough, also involves a suicide attempt as inciting incident, just like Girl Most Likely up top. In The Skeleton Twins, Maggie’s (Wiig) attempts to end it all are interrupted by a phone call notifying her that her estranged twin brother Milo (Bill Hader) also just tried to kill himself. She travels to Los Angeles to visit him in the hospital and eventually convinces him to return to their hometown and stay with her a while. The pair’s mutual brush with death proves to be the unlikely catalyst for their own reconnection and discovery of reasons to keep on keeping on. The Skeleton Twins is rated 87 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so if you’re only going to watch one streaming Kristen Wiig suicide comedy this month, it should probably be this one.
10) The Wolf of Wall Street (Hulu, Oct. 1)
Hulu just snatched a ton of content from Netflix after the latter ended a multi-year deal with the cable net Epix, and one of the big fish switching ponds is the award-winning Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio joint The Wolf of Wall Street.
Based on the memoir of ruthless former stock trader Jordan Belfort, Wolf follows Belfort’s (DiCaprio) rise and fall on Wall Street, earning millions through crooked business practices before eventually being brought down by the feds. The cast is stellar across the board, including DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, and Rob Reiner, and screenwriter Terence Winter’s adaptation of Belfort’s book is by turns funny, infuriating, and profane. But poor old Leo still didn’t get to take home an Oscar…
11) They Came Together (Hulu, Oct. 1)
There’s plenty to mock in modern romantic comedies: the cliched twists and turns, the tired formulas, the inevitable comic misunderstandings. All of that is grist for the mill in They Came Together, a sharp satire of everything rom-com starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, directed by David Wain from a script by Wain and fellow Stella comedy group veteran Michael Showalter. Molly (Poehler) runs a small candy shop. Joel (Rudd) is the head of a massive candy corp that wants to shut her doors permanently. Naturally, they hate each other. But wait...maybe they actually love each other? Because that’s how it works in these things.
12) You’re Next (Hulu, Oct. 1)
If you still haven’t seen Adam Wingard’s acclaimed post-modern slasher flick You’re Next, this will make perfect viewing for the Halloween season. Like Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, You’re Next is best approached with as little foreknowledge as possible, so suffice to say it involves a family gathering that goes sideways when masked figures start trying to kill everyone in the house. Where it goes from there… Well, just watch and know that You’re Next ably mixes scares, gore, pitch-black humor, and a star-making performance by Sharni Vinson. It’s rated 75 percent Fresh on RT, but horror fans can easily add another 10-15 percentage points onto that score. Also be sure to check out Wingard’s The Guest on Netflix Instant, which reunited the director with You’re Next screenwriter Simon Barrett, to good effect.
13) American Horror Show: Freak Show (Amazon Prime/Hulu, Oct. 6)
The fourth season of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s FX horror anthology series unfolds in 1950s Florida, set in and around “Fräulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities,” one of the last surviving “freak shows” in America. As with previous seasons, much of the earlier cast recurs in new roles, including Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Gabourey Sidibe. Even more intriguingly, several other actors, including James Cromwell, actually reprise their roles from season 2’s Asylum, strengthening theories that all of these stories are unfolding within the same narrative universe. Also, there’s a scary-ass clown, because of course there is.
14) Casual (Hulu, Oct. 7)
Jason Reitman has racked up the résumé over the past decade, including Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and Young Adult. He also directed several episodes of the American incarnation of The Office, and now he’s diving back into television with Hulu’s Casual, which he created.
Michaela Watkins (SNL) stars as Valerie, a newly divorced therapist and single mom who moves herself and her 16-year-old daughter (God Bless America’s Tara Lynne Barr) in with her bachelor brother (Tommy Dewey), who runs a dating site. Hijinks will undoubtedly ensue.
15) Red Oaks (Amazon Prime, Oct. 9)
Amazon’s much-anticipated Philip K. Dick adaptation The Man in the High Castle is due to arrive next month, but in the meantime they’re serving up another new original series—and this one’s a bit less heavy than “What if the Axis powers won WWII?”
Red Oaks is set at the prestigious Red Oaks Country Club in 1985, following a young college tennis player named David (Craig Roberts) who is working a summer job there. It’s a coming-of-age tale blended with a workplace comedy, with a dash or two of familial dysfunction thrown in for good measure. Red Oaks was created by Joe Gangemi and frequent Steven Soderbergh collaborator Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL). Soderbergh also executive produced the series, with David Gordon Green (see also Joe) directing the pilot. Red Oaks’ 10-episode first season features a cast that includes Paul Reiser, Richard Kind, and Jennifer Grey.
16) Camp X-Ray (Hulu with Showtime, Oct. 17)
Kristen Stewart continues carving out a post-Twilight career with this drama set at the infamous Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. Stewart plays a guard at the facility, spending her days watching over the prisoners designated “enemy combatants” as part of America’s ongoing war on terror. Both the prisoners and her fellow soldiers are frequently hostile toward her, but she befriends one man in particular, who has been incarcerated in Guantánamo for eight long years. That relationship causes her to begin questioning her convictions. Camp X-Ray earned a 73 percent Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, with critics singling out the performances of Stewart and co-star Peyman Moaadi.
17) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (Amazon Prime/Hulu, Oct. 23)
Hollywood will be in need of a new reigning young adult movie franchise to milk after The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 hits theaters on Nov. 20. The fourth film in the franchise will wrap up the big-screen adaptation of author Suzanne Collins’ best-selling YA book series, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) determined to take down the oppressive government of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) once and for all.
But before then, both fans and newcomers alike will get the chance to revisit the path that led Katniss from simple small-town girl to revolutionary. The original Hunger Games flick isn’t available on any of the core trio of streaming services, but Hulu already has Catching Fire, and the third film is coming to both Amazon Prime and Hulu later this month.
18) While We’re Young (Amazon Prime, Oct. 23)
While We’re Young is one of the latest from writer/director Noah Baumbach, who previously gave us indie hits such as Frances Ha, Greenberg, and The Squid and the Whale. While We’re Young reunites Baumbach with his Greenberg leading man, Ben Stiller, with the actor this time playing a New York City documentarian named Josh, alongside Naomi Watts as his wife Cornelia. Their marriage is on the rocks, and Josh has been struggling to complete his latest film for years. Their lives are energized after befriending a younger couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), but they soon learn that sometimes something that looks too good to be true, is. While We’re Young is currently sitting at 83 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.19) Danny Collins (Amazon Prime, Oct. 30)
Screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s (Crazy, Stupid, Love) feature directorial debut stars Al Pacino as an aging ’70s rock icon named, well, Danny Collins. Based loosely on the real life of folk singer Steve Tilston, Danny Collins has the titular rocker reexamining his life after discovering a 40-year-old letter written—but never delivered—to him by the late John Lennon. He moves into a hotel in Jersey, tries to start a relationship with the grown son he’s never met (Bobby Cannavale), and tries to reconnect with the creative fire he lost somewhere along the way. The flick is rated 77 percent Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, with Pacino’s lead performance earning much praise, alongside a dynamite cast that also includes Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, and Christopher Plummer as Collins’ long-time manager who discovers the Lennon letter.September
Pick of the Month: Hand of God (Sept. 4, Amazon Prime)
Hand of God is the latest original series from Amazon Studios, and it landed a helluva lead in Ron Perlman, fresh off making us love to hate him for five years on FX’s Sons of Anarchy. In Hand of God, he’s on the other side of the law… or, at least, he starts out that way. Perlman plays Pernell Harris, a morally flexible judge who suffers a mental breakdown and becomes convinced that God is “compelling him onto a path of vigilante justice.” (I’m guessing his vigilante career won’t involve any tights, but you never know.) The series was created by Ben Watkins, whose primary previous credit was working on Burn Notice, but Hand of God definitely looks to be darker fare than USA’s fun-loving spy drama. While Amazon hasn’t received quite as much attention as Netflix, it has some solid original content in their lineup, including the award-winning Transparent and the upcoming adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. With a meaty role for Perlman to chew on and a cast that also includes Dana Delany and the ridiculously talented Garrett Dillahunt (Deadwood, Raising Hope), Hand of God should definitely be on your must-see list.
Best of the rest:
1) The Blair Witch Project (Sept. 1, Amazon Prime)
“In October of 1994 three student filmmakers disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, while shooting a documentary… A year later their footage was found.” It’s hard to believe it’s been over 16 years since The Blair Witch Project was unleashed on the world, igniting a found-footage horror trend that continues to this day. Blair Witch was a viral marketing hit before social media made such things commonplace, and it played the whole “is it real?” card better than any of the imitators that have followed in its shaky-cam footsteps. Filmmakers have been trying to find new ways to bend, twist, and evolve the found-footage genre ever since, but The Blair Witch Project’s simplicity is also one of its strengths: Kids go into the woods looking for a monster, bad shit happens, and the cameras keep on rolling…
2) Elementary: Seasons 1 - 3 (Sept. 1, Hulu)
At the time it premiered, Elementary played second fiddle to the more critically admired British Sherlock series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, but over the ensuing three seasons, CBS’s modern take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s consulting detective has built its own loyal following. Johnny Lee Miller stars as a Holmes who relocated to the States after a stint in rehab, and Lucy Liu plays Dr. Joan Watson, the “sober companion” assigned to Holmes by his father. Together the pair assist the NYPD in solving crimes that leave the police stumped, as well as interacting with retrofitted Doyle icons such Rhys Ifans as brother Mycroft Holmes and Natalie Dormer as a gender-swapped version of Holmes’ archenemy, Moriarty. Elementary returns for a fourth season on CBS this November, so there’s plenty of time to binge.
3) Hannah and Her Sisters (Sept. 1, Amazon Prime)
Thanksgiving is still a few months away, but you can get an early jump on the holiday with Woody Allen’s 1986 comedy, which is bookended by a pair of Turkey Day gatherings hosted by the titular Hannah (Mia Farrow). Hannah used to be married to neurotic TV writer Mickey (Allen), but now she’s married to Michael Caine’s Elliot, who is developing a crush on one of her sisters. People are sleeping with people they’re not supposed to be, people aren’t sleeping with the people they are supposed to be, and all the relationship drama unfolds using flashbacks and the two holiday gatherings, set two years apart, as narrative anchor points. The excellent cast also includes Max Von Sydow, Barbara Hershey, Carrie Fisher, future Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and even perpetually angry Daily Show contributor Lewis Black. Hannah and Her Sisters was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won three, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Caine and Best Original Screenplay for Allen.
4) Killer Klowns From Outer Space (Sept. 1, Amazon Prime)
Everybody knows clowns are creepy, and Tim Curry in particular traumatized my entire generation as the demonic Pennywise in the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s It. The killer clowns in Killer Klowns are more goofy than nightmare-inducing but still just as homicidal. It all begins with a mysterious object falling out of the sky into a field. But instead of a smoking crater, it leaves behind a big-top tent and a mess of murderous clown-like aliens. There are toy ray guns that will really kill you. There are acid cream pies that will melt your face off. There’s even a puppet show.
Nobody’s suggesting this is high art, but it is art you should watch while high, preferably with a room full of buddies to make clown-related puns the whole time. (Believe it or not, there’s actually a sequel in pre-production: The Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space in 3D is tentatively slated for release in 2016.)
5) Pitch Perfect 2 (Sept. 1, Amazon Instant)
The 2012 musical/comedy hit ricocheted off the popularity of Glee, introduced the world to Rebel Wilson, and further cemented the general awesomeness of Anna Kendrick. This year’s sequel picks up four years after the Barden Bellas a cappella group won the nationals, but their fame hits a serious roadblock after a disastrous performance at President Obama’s birthday gala. Bellas leader Beca Mitchell (Kendrick) sets her sights on restoring the group’s reputation by winning an international a cappella competition that no American group has ever won. Directed by Elizabeth Banks, Pitch Perfect 2 hit a high note of $285 million worldwide box office, making it the highest grossing musical comedy of all time, dethroning School of Rock.
Correction 7:13am, Sept. 2: While Pitch Perfect 2 is newly available on Amazon for streaming, it is not one of the selections Prime users can watch for free.
6) Popeye (Sept. 1, Amazon Prime)
And on the less auspicious end of the musical-comedy spectrum, we’ve got Robert Altman’s 1980 outing Popeye, based on E.C. Segar’s beloved comic strip (and the cartoons that followed). Popeye was never exactly begging for a live-action adaptation in the first place, but that didn’t stop Altman and stars Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall from giving it their best shot. Well, a shot, anyway. It’s not the finest hour for anyone involved, but it’s almost worth a watch for the surreal train-wreck factor alone. To the film’s credit, Duvall makes a shrilly pitch-perfect Olive Oyl, and if ever there was a human capable of pulling off the lead role while saddled with a permanent squint and comically oversized prosthetic forearms, it was Robin Williams. Also, at one point he punches out an octopus.
7) Willow Creek (Sept. 2, Showtime with Hulu)
There’s been a run of found-footage Bigfoot movies in the last couple of years, but few were as interesting as Willow Creek, which earned indie cred by being written and directed by standup comedian turned filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait. His résumé includes such controversial flicks as Sleeping Dogs Lie, in which a woman admits to her fiancé that she once dabbled in bestiality. Willow Creek isn’t nearly as provocative as all that, but it’s no less fascinating simply because it’s not the sort of material you’d expect to see Goldthwait tackle.
The flick follows a couple as they venture into the California wilderness in search of the location where the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film was shot. Needless to say, they find more than just a guy in a gorilla suit. Willow Creek doesn’t do anything earth-shattering with the material, but it’s worth watching for a standout sequence that wrings serious tension out of nothing more than spooky noises and a long shot of two people cowering in a tent. It’d make a solid double feature with The Blair Witch Project, actually. (Note: Willow Creek is only available to customers with the Showtime with Hulu package.)
8) That Guy Dick Miller (Sept. 3, Hulu)
So who is Dick Miller? As this documentary’s title suggests, he’s one of the many “that guy” character actors who has appeared in countless films over the years, the sort of person you would instantly recognize but could never name. A quick perusal of Miller’s IMDb page reveals appearances in The Terminator, both Gremlins movies, General Hospital, two Star Trek series, and—my personal favorite—The ’Burbs, to name just a few. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign, That Guy Dick Miller examines Miller’s long career, which includes roles in over 100 films and television shows, and features interviews with Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Fred Dekker (who directed Miller in Night of the Creeps), and of course Miller himself. That Guy Dick Miller is currently rocking a 77 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so it’s worth checking out this Dick.
9) Dear White People (Sept. 4, Amazon Prime)
Writer/director Justin Simien’s social satire follows the lives of several black students at an Ivy League college. Samantha “Sam” White (Tessa Thompson) hosts a controversial radio show where she unloads truth bombs such as, “Dear White People, the amount of black friends required not to seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, your weed man Tyrone doesn’t count.” The campus’ already simmering racial tensions reach a boil after Kurt, the white son of the school’s president, hosts a blackface party. Dear White People stirred up plenty of positive buzz at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, and it boasts an impressive 91 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. A glance at the evening news on any given day confirms that Dear White People is all too timely, but thankfully it handles its hot-button issues in a way that’s intelligent, honest, and funny.
10) I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (Sept. 5, Amazon Prime)
After joining Jim Henson’s Muppeteers in 1969, Caroll Spinney helped launch Sesame Street and bring to life two of its most iconic characters: Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. He’s a figure who’s been an integral part people’s childhoods for over four decades, but there’s a good chance most of those people couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. Hopefully I Am Big Bird will fix that. Like That Guy Dick Miller, I Am Big Bird was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, so kudos to crowdfunding for continuing to assemble interesting projects that otherwise might not have come together. Having been a staple of the pop-culture landscape for 40 years, Spinney has no shortage of ripping yarns to tell, from the time he was almost killed by a trash-can fire to how Big Bird nearly went into space aboard the Challenger space shuttle.
11) St. Vincent (Sept. 5, Showtime with Hulu)
Bill Murray can pretty much do no wrong at this point in his career, but so long as he keeps picking roles like St. Vincent, he won’t have to coast solely on goodwill anytime soon. In writer/director Theodore Melfi’s theatrical debut, Murray plays Vincent MacKenna, a cranky Vietnam vet whose hobbies include gambling, alcoholism, and hating people. He meets his new neighbors—single mother Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her 12-year-old son, Oliver—after they accidentally damage his car, which isn’t exactly an ideal introduction. Nevertheless, Vincent soon reluctantly allows Oliver to start staying at his house after school, and Maggie and the boy slowly drag him out his self-imposed social cocoon and reveal the beating heart lurking underneath all that misanthropy. Murray is outstanding as always, and McCarthy seriously impresses in a more complex role than she’s usually given, one that lets her be funny but also do more than just mug and pratfall. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on director Melfi’s career from here on out. (Note: St. Vincent is only available with the Showtime with Hulu package.)
12) The Awesomes: Season 3 (Sept. 8, Hulu)
Hulu is a distant third behind Netflix and Amazon when it comes to earning buzz for its original programming, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some gems in its lineup. If you’ve already binged through BoJack Horseman and are looking for a new animated series to dive into, Hulu is launching the third season of The Awesomes on Sept. 8. Created by Saturday Night Live alum Seth Meyers and Mike Shoemaker, The Awesomes tells the story of Professor Doctor Jeremy “Prock” Awesome (voiced by Meyers), the son of legendary superhero Mr. Awesome. After Mr. A retires, it’s up to Prock to take the reigns of his dad’s team—which, in practice, means recruiting a bunch of second-tier capes and hoping they don’t screw things up too bad. Together they’ll face supervillains, bad press, and their incompetence. The voice cast includes tons of SNL vets, including Meyers, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Will Forte, and Amy Poehler.
13) Men, Women & Children (Sept. 12, Amazon Prime)
Director Jason Reitman gave us Thank You for Smoking, Juno, and Up in the Air. That alone should be reason enough to give Men, Women & Children a look-see, even if it didn’t fare enormously well among critics. But Reitman’s latest also has an added sheen of timeliness thanks to the fact that it includes the Ashley Madison infidelity website as a plot point in its web of stories about various sorts of online addiction and dysfunction. Adam Sandler and Rosemarie DeWitt star as a married couple each trying to cheat on the other—her through Ashley Madison, him through an escort service. Their teenage son is hooked on increasingly extreme pornography. Teenage Hannah (Olivia Crocicchia) posts salacious pictures of herself online… on a site maintained by her mother (Judy Greer). You might have guesses this isn’t exactly a “feel-good” kind of movie…
Pick of the Month: Curb Your Enthusiasm (Aug. 6, Amazon Prime)
Amazon Prime has added the full run of the HBO classic to its streaming catalog. That’s eight seasons of crankiness and misanthropy from and starring Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld. Just as Jerry Seinfeld did in that legendary series, David plays a fictionalized version of himself in Curb: a retired TV writer/producer whose hobbies include social anxiety and being irritated at everything everyone around him does at all times. Cheryl Hines co-stars as his wife, and Jeff Garlin plays his manager Jeff. The show was heavily improvised and—also in the spirit of Seinfeld—features a revolving door of celebrity cameos, including Mel Brooks, Martin Scorsese, Ben Stiller, and Ricky Gervais, to name a few, not to mention all four Seinfeld leads: Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards.Best of the rest:
1) Difficult People (Aug. 5, Hulu)
Hulu has been running a distant third behind Netflix and Amazon; it has yet to find its House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, or Transparent. Hopefully Hulu will get a little time in the spotlight with the new Amy Poehler-produced comedy Difficult People, which earned a straight-to-series order from Hulu after USA passed on the pilot. Created by author/performer/podcaster Julie Klausner, Difficult People stars Klausner alongside Billy Eichner (Funny or Die’s Billy on the Street) as a pair of struggling New York comedians “who hate everyone but each other.” Klausner cites the aforementioned Curb Your Enthusiasm as a major influence on the show, and also describes it as “Will and Grace, if one was a six and the other was a seven.”2) 52 Tuesdays (Aug. 6, Hulu)
Shows such as Transparent, Orange Is the New Black, and Sense8 have all featured transgender characters prominently, shining a light on a community that is still widely misunderstood and discriminated against. For those seeking another intelligent and insightful exploration of the topic, look no further than the acclaimed Australian coming-of-age drama 52 Tuesdays. Tilda Cobham-Hervey stars as Billie, a teenager whose lesbian mother Jane (Del Herbert-Jane) announces her plans to transition to a male. She sends Billie to live with her uncle (Mario Späte) during the transition process, and for the next year, Jane/James and daughter see each other only on Tuesday evenings, a situation that further strains their already troubled relationship. 52 Tuesdays premiered to much critical acclaim at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize and earned director Sophie Hyde the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award.3) A Most Violent Year (Aug. 7, Amazon Prime)
Rising star Oscar Isaac stars as Abel Morales, an immigrant in 1981 New York City who is building the American dream, having taken his father-in-law’s heating oil business to the heights of success. Even more impressively, he’s done it all honestly and above-board in the midst of an industry with a substantial criminal element. Now a new business deal could expand the family business even further, but a series of robberies and attacks of Abel’s workers could threaten that future. To make matters worse, Abel’s father-in-law didn’t run nearly as clean a ship as Abel does, and now the company is being targeted by an assistant D.A. eager to root out corruption. Abel tries to save his company without sacrificing his ethics, but even his own wife (co-star Jessica Chastain) believes they need to do whatever it takes to protect what’s theirs. Critics praised both Isaac and Chastain’s performances, and A Most Violent Year currently sports an impressive 90 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.4) Doctor Who: Season 8 (Aug. 8, Hulu)
See our recommendation from this month’s Netflix picks.5) You’re the Worst: Season 1 (Aug. 10, Hulu)
Continuing the “cranky people doing cranky things” trend of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Difficult People, we come to FX’s You’re the Worst. Created by former Orange Is the New Black/Weeds producer Stephen Falk, You’re the Worst explores the relationship between writer Jimmy (Chris Geere) and PR exec Gretchen (Aya Cash). Jimmy excuses his assholish nature as blunt honesty, and Gretchen is determined to self-destruct in a variety of creative ways. The pair meet-cute as he’s being kicked out of a wedding and she’s sneaking out with a food processor stolen from the bride’s gift pile—it’s a match made in self-obsession. Critics praised the show’s writing and the chemistry between the two leads, and You’re the Worst will return for a second season on FXX Sept. 9.6) Misery Loves Comedy(Aug. 16, Amazon Prime)
Curb Your Enthusiasm, Difficult People, You’re the Worst… The strange truth of the matter is, unhappy people can generate some of the best comedy. Given the inclusion of those shows on this list, it’s oddly appropriate that we round out the month with this Kickstarter-funded documentary, which asks the question: Do you have to be miserable to be funny? Directed by comedian Kevin Pollak, Misery Loves Comedy enlists a ridiculous lineup of talent to dissect that central question, including Judd Apatow, Janeane Garofalo, Kevin Smith, Jon Favreau, Stephen Merchant, Jason Alexander, Lewis Black, Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Gaffigan, Paul F. Tompkins, Christopher Guest, Bob Saget, Martin Short, Marc Maron, Penn Jillette, and (bringing it full circle) Larry David. And that’s not even close to everybody involved. This is pretty much a must-see for comedy fans.Illustration by Max Fleishman
Apparently, one too many drunk tweets from the singer convinced her team to revoke her tweeting rights. She still writes everything herself, but her tweets now pass through several filters.
Adele explained the situation during a recent appearance on the BBC's The Graham Norton Show.
"Rumour has it, you're not allowed access to your own Twitter account," a member of the audience said.
"That is true, yeah, ha ha ha," Adele answered. "I'm not a drinker any more, but when Twitter first came out I was drunk tweeting and nearly put my foot in it quite a few times. So my management decided that you have to go through two people and then it has to be signed off by someone. But they're all my tweets. No one writes my tweets. They just post them for me. So yeah, that's very, very true."
The good news is, with an upcoming album to promote, she's been on her best behavior and tweeting some really good stuff lately.Good work, Adele.
announcing a feature-length movie starring YouTubers Grace Helbig, Hannah Hart, and Mamrie Hart.
Basically, it's a good time to be a YouTuber who knows someone at Lionsgate.