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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    We’ve already broke down all the goodness headed your way from Netflix in 2016, so now it’s time to turn our eyes toward the distinguished competition: Amazon and Hulu. Unfortunately, neither entity has been nearly as forthcoming when it comes to nailing down premiere dates for their 2016 lineup, but based on what did well in 2015 and what earned pickups from Amazon’s recent pilot seasons, it’s not hard to extrapolate what Amazon and Hulu’s 2016 will look like. And it starts with one of my favorite pilots in a long time…

    1) Mad Dogs (Amazon Prime, Jan. 22)

    TV vet Shawn Ryan (The Shield) headed up this Amazon remake of the British series of the same name, co-exec producing along with original series creator Cris Cole. Mad Dogs follows a group of middle-aged buddies who travel to Belize at the invitation of a mega-successful friend, only to soon find themselves entangled in a clusterfuck of deception, betrayal, and murder. The pilot was easily my favorite of Amazon’s fourth pilot season last year, thanks to a cracking-good script and a cast—including Michael Imperioli, Billy Zane, Steve Zahn, Romany Malco, and Ben Chaplin—that pulls off both the shocking and the silly moments well. The pilot episode leaves the friends in a seriously tight bind with no obvious way out, so I can’t wait to see where Mad Dogs twists and turns from there.

    2) 11/22/63 (Hulu, Feb. 15)

    Hulu unleashes its highest profile original project yet next month with this adaptation of Stephen King’s 2011 novel, which was executive produced by J.J. Abrams sometime in between helping relaunch the Star Wars universe and sneaking a possible Cloverfield sequel into the immediate future. James Franco stars as Jake Epping, a young teacher who discovers a portal into the past in the back of a diner… but it only leads to 1958. Jake soon embarks on an ambitious expedition hoping to change the world for the better by preventing one of its great tragedies: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. But since the portal only goes to 1958, Jake is going to have to get comfortable in the past before that fateful day rolls around, and the time-space continuum itself may not be happy about his meddling.

    3) The New Yorker Presents (Amazon Prime, Feb. 16)

    Amazon’s new docu-series The New Yorker Presents will serve up sketches, documentary segments, cartoons, and other content in keeping with the spirit of the award-winning magazine that inspired it. The New Yorker Presents will also deviate from the standard Amazon/Netflix model, rolling out one episode per week rather than posting the whole season all at once. The pilot episode, which rolled out as part of Amazon’s fourth pilot season last year, features “a doc from Oscar winner Jonathan Demme based on Rachel Aviv’s article ‘A Very Valuable Reputation,’ writer Ariel Levy interviewing artist Marina Abramovic, a sketch from Simon Rich and Alan Cumming, poetry read by Andrew Garfield, and cartoons by Emily Flake.”

    4) Bosch: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, March 11)

    Based on Michael Connelly’s novels, Bosch stars former Lost-ie Titus Welliver as LAPD detective Harry Bosch. Taking his name from 15th century painter Hieronymous Bosch—best known for his renditions of hell—Harry is the son of a murdered prostitute, bounced through a series of orphanages and foster homes throughout his childhood. That dark past played a major role throughout the first season, which saw Harry investigating the decades-old death of a young boy and chasing a serial murderer. Season 2 will loosely adapt three more of Connelly’s books: Trunk Music, The Drop, and The Last Coyote. Star Trek: Voyager’s Jeri Ryan will also join the cast in what Deadline described as a “noirish” role. I can see her giving good femme fatale.

    5) Catastrophe: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, April 8)

    Amazon nabbed exclusive U.S. rights to this British sitcom hit, which made its American debut on the streaming net last summer. Created by co-stars Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, the “anti-rom-com” Catastrophe finds American dude Rob hooking up with Irish lass Sharon while he’s on a business trip, only to have their weeklong fling entangle them a bit longer after she winds up pregnant. They decide to “do the right thing” and get hitched, which of course presents as many problems as it solves, if not more. Season 2 skips ahead several years, with the couple now expecting a second child together.

    6) Casual: Season 2 (Hulu, 2016)

    Hulu’s hit original comedy Casual comes from good stock: It was created by Jason Reitman, the bloke who directed Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and Young Adult. The show stars Michaela Watkins as Valerie, a recently divorced mom now living with her swinging bachelor of a brother (Tommy Dewey) and her teenage daughter (Tara Lynne Barr). Valerie now finds herself navigating not only single parenting, but the treacherous trenches of the modern dating world. Hulu renewed the show for a season season only a few weeks after it premiered this past October, so it’s likely it will return in late 2016.

    7) Deadbeat: Season 3 (Hulu, 2016)

    Tyler Labine has earned my undying loyalty simply for helping Tucker and Dale vs. Evil be a thing that exists in the world, so I’m mildly irritated that this Hulu original has flown utterly below my radar for two seasons already. Labine plays Kevin, a slacker (naturally) who can talk to ghosts (supernaturally), often enlisting the help of his dealer/best friend “Roofie” (Brandon T. Johnson) to help the troubled undead find their great reward—or at least move on and stop bugging him while he’s trying to get high. The past two seasons both aired in April, and the show’s third season was confirmed last May, so expect more Deadbeat this spring. In the meantime, check out this ’80s-tastic trailer:

    8) Difficult People: Season 2 (Hulu, 2016)

    In addition to Casual, Difficult People was the other Hulu original comedy generating solid buzz last year. Created by author/podcaster Julie Klausner, Difficult People stars Klausner and Billy on the Street’s Billy Eichner as as pair of cynical, self-absorbed comedians struggling to make it in New York City. The show premiered this past August on Hulu, and swiftly earned a second-season pickup after earning solid critical praise (it’s currently rated 85 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). If you’ve got a fondness for comedies anchored by hilariously unlikable characters, Difficult People shouldn’t be difficult for you to get into, and it will almost certainly be back in mid-2016.

    9) Good Girls Revolt (Amazon Prime, 2016)

    One of the greenlit shows from this past fall’s crop of new Amazon pilots, Good Girls Revolt is a 1970s newsroom drama that follows a group of female News of the Week researchers battling against entrenched sexism in their drive for equality in the workplace. Created by former journalist Dana Calvo, Good Girls Revolt was inspired by Lynn Povich’s book of the same name, which chronicled the real-life class action sexual discrimination lawsuit against Newsweek that helped change the face of the American workplace. If you’ve been suffering Mad Men withdrawals since last spring, Good Girls Revolt could be just the thing. Amazon has been averaging about a year’s turnaround time between pilot pickup and release, so Good Girls Revolt should be on track for a late 2016 release.

    10) Hand of God: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, 2016)

    Ron Perlman shook off the ghost of Sons of Anarchy’s Clay Morrow with this new Amazon series, in which he plays a corrupt judge who—depending on your point of view—either goes slightly crazy or receives a directive from God himself. After his son attempts suicide, Judge Pernell Harris believes that God has commanded him to find the man who raped his son’s wife and bring him to justice… and not in a “due process” kind of way. He enlists the help of a violent zealot (Garret Dillahunt) and sets out on a path of vigilantism that would put a smile on the Punisher’s face. Amazon renewed Hand of God this past September, shortly after its August premiere, so a late summer return is likely.

    11) Highston (Amazon Prime, 2016)

    The second pickup from Amazon’s fall 2015 pilot season, Highston is a charming comedy about Highston Liggetts (Lewis Pullman), a happy, friendly 19-year-old who has tons of celebrity friends. Unfortunately, they’re all in his head. The pilot has his well-meaning parents deciding whether or not it’s time to institutionalize their son, which leads to Highston staging a bold escape with the help of Shaquille O’Neal and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The show’s dynamite supporting cast also includes Chris Parnell and Mary Lynn Rajskub as Highston’s parents, and it should be great fun to watch the revolving door of celebs filling Highston’s headspace as the series progresses. Amazon picked it up in December, so it may or may not make it under the wire to a 2016 premiere date, but it’s not like it’s got an enormous post-production schedule or special effects to finish up, so a quick turnaround is certainly possible.

    12) The Man in the High Castle: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, 2016)

    This adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s legendary alternate history novel was one of Amazon’s most ambitious and high-profile projects yet, and it was the most-watched pilot to come out of Amazon’s pilot season program thus far. Given that, it was pretty much a shoo-in for renewal, and Amazon made it official in December. Executive produced by Ridley Scott and created by X-Files veteran Frank Spotnitz, The Man in the High Castle imagines a world where the Axis powers defeated the Allies in World War II, leaving the formerly United States divided between Germany and Japan. Set in 1962, the series follows a large cast to explore different pieces of this dark timeline and hinges upon a series of mysterious newsreels that depict an alternate reality—one in which Germany and Japan were defeated by the Allies. Expect The Man in the High Castle to return in the fall.

    13) One Mississippi (Amazon Prime, 2016)

    Comedian Tig Notaro already gave us one of our favorite streaming programs of 2015 in her Netflix documentary Tig, which chronicled her fight against cancer and her legendary set at Largo shortly after receiving her diagnosis. Now she’s given us something to look forward to in 2016. Based on Notaro’s real life, One Mississippi finds the comedian returning to her childhood home to deal with the death of her much-loved mother. Notaro navigates dysfunctional family dynamics, grief, and her own failing health as she tries to put her mother’s affairs in order. The show sounds bleak as hell from that description, and it often is, but it’s undercut by a gallows humor that finds the absurdity in even the most painful and tragic of moments. Louis C.K. executive produced the pilot, which Notaro co-wrote with Diablo Cody (Juno, Young Adult).

    14) Patriot (Amazon Prime, 2016)

    Amazon’s thriller/comedy/satire Patriot is hard to describe, but that’s only appropriate since it came from the mind of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty screenwriter Steve Conrad. It stars Michael Dorman as a U.S. intelligence officer assigned a most Bond-like task: nip Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the bud before they get a bomb. Unfortunately, the way he’s ordered to go about this is anything but glamorous. He’s dropped into a deep cover as a worker at an industrial piping firm… in Milwaukee. The rest of the pilot is just as ridiculous and counterintuitive as this plan, but in a good way, whipping back and forth between dark humor and more serious thriller elements. It’s weird as hell, but there’s not really anything else like it right now.

    15) Red Oaks: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, 2016)

    Amazon’s coming-of-age series was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2015, starring Craig Roberts as David, a young tennis player working at a prestigious New Jersey country club during summer break away from college in 1985. It combines two of my favorite guilty pleasures—the 1980s and teen coming-of-age flicks—so I was a sucker for everything Red Oaks was selling. It didn’t hurt that the pilot was directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Eastbound & Down) and that the cast includes both Paul Reiser, Richard Kind, and Jennifer Grey, but Red Oaks as a whole is just endlessly funny and charming. Season 1 unspooled this past October, so season 2 should be dropping sometime in fall 2016.

    16) Z: The Beginning of Everything (Amazon Prime, 2016)

    Of all of Amazon’s 2015 pickups, this one was the most surprising to me, simply because I was completely underwhelmed by the pilot. On paper, it sounds great to this former English major: a look at the early life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, future muse to F. Scott Fitzgerald and one of the defining personalities of the Jazz Age. Christina Ricci plays Zelda, Gavin Stenhouse plays the young, unpublished F. Scott, and the series was created by Tim Blake Nelson, based on a novel by Therese Anne Fowler. Amazon picked it up for a full first season in December, so expect to see more from Z in 2016.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    BY SAM GUTELLE

    Kevin Hart has new movie out, and as part of his promotional tour, he has come to YouTube. The actor and comedian, who appears alongside Ice Cube in the film sequel Ride Along 2, most recently appeared on Swedish YouTube channel IJustWantToBeCool, where he learned about Scandinavian customs and picked a fight based on cultural differences.

    In the video, Hart and his new friends discuss the upcoming holiday of Fettisdagen, which is the Swedish name for Mardi Gras. The celebration involves several traditional foods, and so Hart et al. find themselves in a bakery, where the American funnyman makes a scene. By the end of the video, Hart is fuming, pastries are flying, and the Swedes are keeping their emotions bottled up within.

    Hart has made several other stops around YouTube as he promotes Ride Along 2, which reached the top of the American box office during its first weekend. He hung out with vlogger Caspar Lee and joined co-star Ice Cube on the BuzzFeedVideo channel.

    Recently, film studios have deepened their understanding of YouTube as a promotional tool and have sent movie stars to the site in hopes of drumming up ticket sales. Ahead of the release dates of movies like The Interview and Trainwreck, their comedic stars traveled online, where they teamed up with some of the Internet’s most influential personalities. Like it or not, this trend is quickly becoming more popular, and for traditional media celebrities like Hart, it fosters an unlikely series of friendships–some of which span the Atlantic Ocean. 

    Screengrab via IJustWantToBeCool/YouTube 


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    Two years after it was the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year, vaping may have just hit the limelight in a major way, thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio's chill last night at the SAG Awards. 

    While the actual awards ceremony provided a much-needed diverse counterpoint to the #OscarsSoWhite Academy Award nominations, DiCaprio stole the show by casually puffing a vape pen—that's Advanced Personal Vaporizer to sticklers and "millennial bait" to the rest of us.

    The actor also won his first "Outstanding Performance" SAG award thanks to his Oscar-nominated leading role as real-life badass Hugh Glass in The Revenant. But instead of wondering whether this means Leo's Oscar curse will finally be broken, most of us were just divided about whether his vape pen is cool, romantic, or just plain douchey.

    Team romance had plenty of daydreaming to do:

    Team "Vaping Leo is Culturally Significant" also got plenty of cheerleaders:

    But Team Douchebag also got in plenty of jeering:

    While vape pens may be a very healthy alternative to smoking, they're mostly a perennial source for public mockery. It looks like not even DiCaprio's vape pen will be able to change that public perception. Maybe a few more vape-offs with Revenant and Inception co-star Tom Hardy will help?

    Still, it's nice to know that even if we lose the "Where is my Oscar?" Leo meme at the upcoming Academy Awards, "Where is my vape pen?" will be waiting in the wings.

    H/T Uproxx | Screengrab via Kjersti Flaa/YouTube


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    The Fine Bros., creators of a hugely popular YouTube franchise including the "Teens React" and "Elders React" series, are facing widespread backlash after announcing their new project, React World.

    React World expands the Fine Bros. brand worldwide, allowing other businesses and creators to post their own videos using the Fine Bros. format. The key word here is "allowing," because the Fine Bros. are attempting to trademark various video templates including Kids React, Lyric Breakdown, and Opinions.

    Fans and YouTubers were immediately concerned that the Fine Bros. would use their new trademarks to quash anyone using similar formats. And since reaction videos are a longstanding YouTube subgenre, many people felt that the Fine Bros. were trying to control and monetize something that didn't belong to them in the first place. Backlash poured in on Reddit and social media, and other YouTubers posted their own reactions and parodies of the enthusiastically corporate React World announcement video.

    The Fine Bros. responded Friday on Facebook, saying, "We do not own the idea or copyright for reaction videos overall, nor did we ever say we did." They assured their followers that React World would be "a voluntary program for people wanting direct support from us," explaining that they were only trademarking the specific format of their own React video series. Unfortunately for them, this failed to make a dent in the ongoing criticism from fans and YouTubers.

    All of the top comments on Friday's Facebook post are harshly negative, accusing the Fine Bros. of exploiting the YouTube community. Former fans are unsubscribing from the Fine Brothers Entertainment channel in droves, and entertainment lawyer Ryan Morrison announced that he would oppose the trademark application.

    Morrison, a well-known figure under his Reddit handle VideoGameAttorney, posted a video calling for content creators to help him prove that that "React" is a generic concept, and therefore shouldn't be trademarked. Writing on his law firm's website, Morrison compared the situation to Sony's failed attempt to trademark "Let's Play," accusing the Fine Bros. of misrepresenting their plans for their React World trademarks.

    "I’ve seen a lot of people arguing that this is just them protecting their brand, and that they would never go around bullying people. We’ve seen that’s blatantly false as they have issued a plethora of C&D’s (if the reddit users claiming to have received ones are to be believed, which I think they are), and have even sent their fans to brigade programs like “Ellen” for doing a similar reaction bit. I watched Kids Say the Darndest Things. These guys didn’t come up with the idea of filming funny reactions from kids. And they certainly don’t own an entire genre of YouTube videos. It wasn’t their idea, and it’s not theirs to own or police."

    As Morrison mentions, the Fine Bros. did publicly object to The Ellen DeGeneres Show filming a "kids react" video in 2014, calling out the show on Twitter. However, the actual TV segment bears little resemblance to the Fine Bros. brand. 

    On Sunday, the Fine Bros. posted a video update on the "confusion and negative response" to React World. The brothers reiterated what they already said on social media: They're not trying to trademark the entire reaction video genre, because their trademarks are only meant to cover the specific format they use for the Fine Bros. series. They also invited people to email them personally to discuss any concerns about React World.

    Once again, this unapologetic response backfired. The Fine Bros. channel is still hemorrhaging subscribers, and the YouTube community still hasn't warmed to the idea of React World. On Reddit, people are beginning to dredge up examples of the Fine Bros. allegedly shutting down videos that shared similarities with their brand. One such video, titled "Seniors React," was posted before the Fine Bros.' first Elders React video in 2012, but has since been removed from YouTube.

    Meanwhile on Twitter, Ryan Morrison remains unimpressed. He plans to go ahead with opposing the Fine Bros. trademarks. 

    Screengrab via Fine Brothers Entertainment/YouTube


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    Fox's long-awaited live performance of Grease airs tonight, but millions of Americans might be tuning in for an unexpected reason: to see how cast member Vanessa Hudgens pulls through just hours after the death of her father.

    Hudgens announced Sunday afternoon that her father, Greg Hudgens, who had spent the last several months battling cancer, had passed away. Tonight, Hudgens takes the stage as Rizzo in the much-anticipated production.

    Hudgens had announced in August that her father had been recently diagnosed with the final stage of the disease. She made the announcement while accepting an award from the Industry Dance Awards for her "triple-threat talent." Dedicating the award to both her father and boyfriend Austin Butler's late mother, Hudgens stated:

    This award, it means a lot to me but I dedicate it to my boyfriend’s mom, Lori, my dad, and to all the families out there who are struggling with this, because it really takes a strong person and a strong family to be able to help those out who are going through this.

    Tonight, Hudgens' sizable fanbase will see her own strength in action. An hour after tweeting the announcement of her father's death, Hudgens enthusiastically promoted the show: 

    In response, supporters flooded Twitter with condolences.

    The Fox production of Grease is a newly adapted hybrid of the original stage musical and the famed film adaptation. It stars Hudgens in the iconic role of Rizzo, the leader of the Pink Ladies girl gang. Musical theater star Aaron Tveit and Julianne Hough co-star as Danny and Sandy, with a turn from Carly Rae Jepsen as Frankie.  

    The rest of the Grease cast was reportedly pretty emotional heading into tonight's performance:

    Still, overall the outlook was positive:

    The Broadway community and fans of musical theater have spent the week gearing up for tonight's performance. Tributes have come from Hamilton cast members and BFFs Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jonathan Groff:

    And fellow Fox actors have also gotten in on the celebration, like Gotham's Catwoman, Camren Bicondova:

    The Fox production of Grease airs tonight at 7pm ET/6pm CT.

    Photo via Vanessa Hudgens/Instagram


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    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.

    February

    1) Better Call Saul: Season 1 (Feb. 1)

    Netflix is starting things off strong this month, finally letting the cord cutters of the world check out one of the most buzzed-about shows of 2015. Breaking Bad’s Bob Odenkirk returns as shady lawyer Saul Goodman in this prequel to Vince Gilligan’s brilliant AMC drama, but at this point in his life, he was still going by his birth name of Jimmy McGill, and he hadn’t yet found his niche as the go-to legal counsel for drug dealers, murderers, and other disreputable sorts. Better Call Saul introduces us to a Jimmy who can barely pay his rent, six years before a certain Walter White entered his life and set him on a path of destruction. Just as exciting as more Saul, we also get more of Jonathan Banks at his grumpy best as Mike Ehrmantraut, future bad-guy fixer but currently working as a parking lot attendant. How the hell did these guys get from point A to point B, where we met them? Let’s find out.

    2) Sin City (Feb. 1)

    Say what you will about Frank Miller’s harder-than-hard-boiled writing style, there’s no question that this adaptation of his acclaimed crime comics is visually stunning, contrasting stark black and white with splashes of strategic color. Miller co-directed with Robert Rodriguez, loosely adapting several of Miller’s neo-noir Sin City graphic novels to spin tales of cruelty, double-crosses, and the worst of human nature run rampant across an urban hellscape called Basin City. It doesn’t hurt that the cast includes Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Alexis Bledel, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rosario Dawson, Carla Gugino, Rutger Hauer, Jaime King, Michael Madsen, and Nick Stahl.

    3) Stardust (Feb. 1)

    This adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 1999 novel is criminally underrated, but the best compliment I can give to it is this: It’d make a really great double-feature with The Princess Bride. Sure, it’s not as good as that legendary classic, but it’s got laughs, romance, high adventure, evil witches, and sky pirates. What’s not to like? Eventual Daredevil Charlie Cox stars as Tristan Thorn, a simple lad who sets off to fetch a fallen star for the object of his affections, only to discover that the fallen star is a lot more feisty than he expected—and also looks like Claire Danes.

    4) I Love You, Phillip Morris (Feb. 1)

    Speaking of unlikely romances, this 2009 black comedy stars Jim Carrey as real-life con artist Steven Jay Russell, who gets thrown in the clink and promptly falls head-over-heels for fellow inmate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). Unfortunately, their nascent romance hits a speedbump when Morris is released from prison—so Russell decides to escape so they can be together again. Four times. Honestly, at that point just credit the guy for determination and put them in a halfway house together. Can’t the penal system make allowances for twue wuv?

    5) Love (Feb. 4)

    If you’re looking for something a bit more… nontraditional… in your love stories, Love might be your cup of tea. So long as you’re not enjoying that tea with, like, your parents or pastor in the room. Irreversible director Gaspar Noe helms this story of a couple in Paris who complicate their relationship by inviting another woman into their bed. Love got a lot of attention for its hardcore 3D sex scenes, but I don’t think Netflix has mastered 3D streaming yet. Still, feel free to watch the flick with 3D glasses on if that does it for you.

    6) Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado (Feb. 5)

    Comedian Hannibal Buress landed in the news in a big way last year, thanks to the increased media spotlight on the rape accusations against Bill Cosby… something Buress had very publically called out onstage in 2014. Thankfully Buress is really damn funny and insightful even without that historical footnote, but he does address it in this upcoming comedy special hitting Netflix in February, along with sillier things such as “zipper etiquette.”

    7) Mad Men: Season 7, Part 2 (Feb. 5)

    As a devout cord cutter, I’ve long since gotten used to being behind the curve on water-cooler television. Thankfully I’ll finally be able to binge all the way through Matthew Weiner’s brilliant Mad Men when the final episodes hit Netflix Instant in February. It’s always tricky to wrap up a show that’s become a legitimate pop-culture phenomenon, but by most accounts Weiner and company did a solid job giving closure to Dick Whitman/Don Draper and company, while simultaneously tying the show into one of the most famous ad campaigns of all time.

    8) Dope (Feb. 10)

    The 2015 coming-of-age drama Dope tells the story of Malcolm, a geeky young kid growing up in a bad neighborhood in Inglewood, California. He spends his days obsessing over ’90s hip-hop and dreaming of escaping his surroundings by landing admission to Harvard. An invitation to an underground party soon sends him and his friends on an adventure that will help him discover who he is… assuming he makes it out intact. Dope was executive produced by Pharrell Williams and Sean Combs, and it’s currently rocking an 88 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The soundtrack is also, dare I say it, dope.

    9) The Face of Love (Feb. 13)

    Annette Bening stars as Nikki, a woman still grieving over the loss of her husband, after his accidental drowning. Then she meets Tom (Ed Harris), a guy who looks uncannily like the aforementioned dead husband. Needless to say, that’s a helluva basis for a relationship, but the two soon become lovers nonetheless, which understandably freaks the hell out of her neighbor (Robin Williams), who is irked at her dating a dude who’s wearing her dead husband’s face (and not just because he himself also had romantic designs on her). Man, modern romance is complicated.

    10) The Returned: Season 2 (Feb. 17)

    Not to be confused with the short-lived American remake that aired on A&E, this is the French original, which follows the events in a small French town after dead people begin returning. But not in a “hungry undead” kind of way. They’re just back, with no idea how or why they’ve been brought back. The show explores both that mystery and the trials of the returned and their families as everyone tries to adjust to the “be careful what you wish for” scenario.

    11) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (Feb. 26)

    Another entry from the “Netflix Did What Now?” school of unlikely sequels and resurrections, Sword of Destiny follows up on Ang Lee’s acclaimed 2000 flick Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This time around Chinese martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-ping is in the director’s chair, with Michelle Yeoh returning from the original film and joined by Donnie Yen in a tale that finds a group of warriors fighting to protect a legendary sword known as “the Green Destiny.”

    12) Fuller House: Season 1 (Feb. 26)

    The other big Netflix original this month is just as unlikely a project as the Crouching Tiger sequel. Two decades after the sitcom wrapped up its run on ABC, Full House is returning on Netflix as Fuller House. Nearly all of the original cast will be back for further stories of the Tanner family. Just don’t expect to find any Olsens hanging around the joint, unless maybe Superman’s pal swings by for a visit.

    13) Finding Vivian Maier (Feb. 27)

    If you were frequenting the Internet in 2009, you’ve probably seen the work of Vivian Maier, even if you didn’t realize it. That’s when a Flickr gallery of her work introduced the world to the story of a Chicago nanny who was, unbeknownst to most of the world, also an extremely talented and prolific street photographer, taking more than 150,000 photographs over the course of her life. This 2013 documentary chronicles how collectors discovered her work and set about to learn the story of the woman behind the pictures.


    January 2016

    1) Constantine (Jan. 1)

    Vertigo Comics’ hit supernatural comic series Hellblazer became a surprisingly good but unsurprisingly short-lived NBC TV series this past year, but chain-smoking occultist John Constantine made the leap to the big screen a decade ago—even though he lost his accent along the way. Keanu Reeves stars in this 2005 outing directed by Francis Lawrence (the Hunger Games franchise), which sees Constantine caught between the machinations of heaven and hell, with his own soul on the line. The show was certainly a better adaptation of the comic than this film, but the movie has its charms, including Tilda Swinton as an androgynous angel Gabriel and Peter Stormare as a particularly slimy incarnation of Lucifer. It’s not enough to forgive an Americanized Constantine, but hey, Keanu did what he could with it.

    2) How to Change the World(Jan. 1)

    Director Jerry Rothwell (Deep Water) helmed this documentary look at the origins of the environmental activist organization Greenpeace. It all started in 1971 with a single fishing boat and a group of true believers determined to stop Richard Nixon’s atomic testing in Amchitka, Alaska. The film focuses particularly on Robert Hunter, whose long career includes stints in journalism and politics as well as eco-activism, and how he co-founded the often-controversial Greenpeace along with several others. How to Change the World won both the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing and the Candescent Award after its premiere at Sundance 2015. It’s currently rated 95 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

    3) Intolerable Cruelty (Jan. 1)

    Netflix is adding two Coen Brothers flicks this month, and while neither is anywhere near the best of the brothers’ works, they’ve still got their moments. In Intolerable Cruelty, George Clooney stars as hotshot divorce attorney Miles Massey, a guy so good at his job that they named an ironclad pre-nup after him. He winds up on the bad side of the beautiful Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones) after helping her philandering husband kick her to the curb and leave her nothing. She soon begins to hatch a long con to win Miles’ affections, the better to eventually nab his fortune. This is a Coen Brothers movie, however, so of course things soon get very complicated and very silly. Even though Intolerable Cruelty isn’t considered in the Coens’ top tier, it’s still rated a respectable 75 percent Fresh on RT.

    4) Meet the Parents(Jan. 1)

    In Meet the Parents (and its inferior sequel, Meet the Fockers) Robert De Niro leverages his tough-guy image to play the intimidating father-in-law every guy dreads of meeting. The man in his crosshairs (and outside his circle of trust) is Greg Focker (Ben Stiller), a well-meaning male nurse who tries and fails at every opportunity to impress De Niro’s Jack Byrnes, a gruff former CIA man who’s convinced Greg isn’t good enough for his daughter (Teri Polo). Greg tries everything he can to prove that he’s worthy and win the affections of his fiancée’s family, but whether it’s clumsily toppling a funeral urn or accidentally burning down a gazebo, the poor Focker just can’t catch a break. Meet the Parents is 84 perfecnt Fresh on RT, proving that they should have stopped while they were ahead. Meet the Fockers—which is also arriving on Netflix Instant and which introduced Greg’s parents in the form of Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand—rates only a 38 percent. (The less said about 2010’s Little Fockers, the better.)

    5) Stephen Fry Live: More Fool Me (Jan. 1)

    Brilliant British comedian, author, and actor Stephen Fry (Blackadder, A Bit of Fry & Laurie) recorded this stage performance as part of a 2014 book tour to promote the third volume of his autobiography, titled—you guessed it—More Fool Me. Both the book and this one-man show focus on Fry’s recollections of the tail end of the ’80s and early ’90s, when his career was already well established and the darker side of fame began to intrude, with glamorous parties and celebrity friends sending Fry down the path to excess and addiction. Thankfully, Fry made it out intact, so now he can look back on it all through the lens of his own cutting wit and a few decades’ hindsight, mixing readings from his diaries from that period with his latter-day insights.

    5) We Need to Talk About Kevin(Jan. 1)

    I always like to think this is a Home Alone sequel focused on a deeply troubled adult Kevin McCallister, but Macaulay Culkin already kind of made that. But no, it’s actually an acclaimed psychological thriller based on the 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver. Tilda Swinton stars as Eva Khatchadourian, a parent living out a nightmare after her troubled son committed a school massacre. The story unfolds as she remembers her son Kevin’s earlier life, and the various warning signs that the boy was not well. John C. Reilly stars as her husband, Frank, who repeatedly dismisses and downplays her concerns about Kevin (Ezra Miller). The film received critical praise, especially for Swinton’s performance, including from the late Roger Ebert, who gave it four stars and called it “a masterful film.”

    6) Training Day (Jan. 4)

    Denzel Washington brilliantly played against type in this 2001 crime thriller from director Antoine Fuqua, and his performance earned him an Academy Award for his role as dirty cop Alonzo Harris. Ethan Hawke was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor for his role as Jake Hoyt, a rookie LAPD narcotics officer spending the day training under the legendary and decorated Detective Harris. Hoyt is shaken as he learns how morally gray Harris’ world is, and how many compromises he’s made to navigate the dangerous world that is his day-to-day. Soon, however, the depths of Harris’ corruption become clear, and Harris begins to suspect Hoyt might be a liability he can’t abide.

    7) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 10 (Jan. 5)

    It’s hard to believe the crew from Paddy’s Pub have been sharing amoral adventures together for a solid decade at this point, but there you have it. Mac, Dee, Dennis, Charlie, and Frank’s 10th year finds them group dating, appearing on a gameshow, attempting to clear Mac’s dad of murder charges, and trying to beat Wade Boggs’ record for the most beers consumed on a cross-country flight. The 11th season of Sunny is scheduled to premiere Jan. 6 on FXX.

    8) New Girl: Season 4 (Jan. 5)

    On the slightly more twee/less deplorable end of sitcom, we have the Zooey Deschanel Fox sitcom New Girl, which drops its fourth season onto Netflix Instant this month. This outing sees Jess pining for a charming British teacher, Schmidt pursuing a councilwoman, and Cece still struggling with her maddening feelings for Schmidt. You even get to learn Jess’ middle name, which is apparently a whole big deal. The fifth season of New Girl premieres on Fox the same day this season hits Netflix, so you can catch up quickly with some judicious binge-watching and DVRing. (Fun fact: New Girl was developed under the working title of Chicks & Dicks, which they totally should have stuck with.)

    9) The Ladykillers (Jan. 12)

    The second of the lesser Coen Bros. flicks to hit Netflix Instant this month, The Ladykillers is actually a remake of a 1955 British film starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. Ladykillers was the Coens’ immediate follow-up to their previous flick on this list, Intolerable Cruelty, and features Tom Hanks doing his best Col. Sanders impression as Professor Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, an alleged linguist who’s actually a would-be criminal mastermind. He and his gang—including Marlon Wayans and J.K. Simmons—pose as a band of musicians and rent out the root cellar of an elderly widow for their “rehearsals,” as cover for their scheme to tunnel into the underground vault of a nearby riverboat casino.

    10) Parks & Recreation: Season 7 (Jan. 13)

    NBC’s hit sitcom starring Amy Poehler wrapped up its run with its seventh season last February, so as of Jan. 13, you’ll be able to binge your way through the entire series. The final year of the Emmy-winning show unfolds in 2017, with Leslie Knope (Poehler) working as Midwest Regional Parks Director and Ron Swanson having left the Parks department to start a construction company. As the season progresses, Leslie and Ron butt heads over her efforts to found a national park in Pawnee, and the emotional series finale flashes forward even further to show what happens to all the characters we came to know and love.

    11) Degrassi: Next Class - Season 1 (Jan. 15)

    The Canadian teen drama Degrassi has been unfolding in one form or another for over 35 years, beginning as a series of afterschool specials on CBC Television and spawning multiple spin-off shows over the years, including this latest installment. Degrassi: Next Class will feature ties to the previous incarnations but is aimed at being a standalone “soft reboot” of the show, which is easy to do when you’re telling stories about a high school, which has new crops of kids arriving every year. As with earlier versions of Degrassi, Next Class will tell stories that address issues and problems faced by modern teens, from cyberbullying to sexuality to drug use. All 10 episodes of Next Class’ first season will be available for streaming on Jan. 15.

    12) The Overnight (Jan. 15)

    Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) are new arrivals to Los Angeles, trying to find their place in a new city and new home. During a family outing to the park with their son, they meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godreche), a free-spirited hipster couple who invite everyone back to their house for a playdate with their own kid. As the grown-ups bond and the kids eventually go to sleep, it becomes clear that Kurt and Charlotte may have an entirely different kind of playdate in mind. The Overnight is certified 81 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics praising the talents of both the cast and of writer/director Patrick Brice.

    13) Chelsea Does (Jan. 23)

    Former E! host Chelsea Handler stars in this new four-part docu-series that will explore a different subject that Handler is interested in each episode: drugs, racism, marriage, and Silicon Valley. Each installment with Handler discussing the topic with a psychologist, then delving into the subject in a broader way. It’s definitely a departure from Handler’s typical image and material, so it’ll be interesting to see her showing viewers, in her own words, her “serious side.” It’s also not the last we’ll be seeing of Handler on Netflix: She has a talk show debuting on the streaming network later in 2016.

    December 2015

    Pick of the Month: A Very Murray Christmas (Dec. 4)

    One of the best parts of the holidays for cinephiles is revisiting the movies and shows that have become traditional viewing over the years, whether they’re officially “holiday movies” or not. I’ve got a friend who watches Blade Runner every Christmas Eve. For me, Edward Scissorhands has always felt very Christmas-y. Well, this year Netflix is looking to add another tradition to your queue, and it may just be the best present ever: It’s A Very Murray Christmas.

    The Murray in question is, of course, the only Murray that matters. Bill Murray headlines this musical/comedy special directed by Sofia Coppola and also featuring George Clooney, Amy Poehler, Chris Rock, Michael Cera, Maya Rudolph, and Miley Cyrus, to name but a few. The storyline focuses on Bill Murray making a TV show and worrying that no one will make it to the taping after a massive snowstorm buries New York. But honestly, does the storyline even matter? It’s Bill Murray, singing and generally being Bill Murray, which is awesome. I think I’ll save this one for Christmas Eve and double-feature it with Scrooged.

    Best of the rest:

    1) Broadchurch: Season 2 (Dec. 1)

    If you’re one of the folks who’ve encountered David Tennant for the first time as the sadistic Kilgrave in Marvel’s Jessica Jones, we highly recommend checking out his time as the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who. But watching him as a benevolent god might be a bit too jarring fresh off the trauma of Jessica Jones. So allow us to point to the excellent British crime drama Broadchurch as a palate cleanser that puts Tennant on the side of the angels. (Not the Weeping Angels.)

    Not to be confused with the American remake Gracepoint—which also starred Tennant—Broadchurch casts the Scottish actor as Alec Hardy, one of two detectives charged with investigating the murder of a young boy in a small British town. The show was created by Chris Chibnall, who previously worked on both Doctor Who and its Torchwood spinoff, as well as Law & Order: UK and Starz’s one-season King Arthur series Camelot. A third season of Broadchurch is scheduled to shoot next summer, but in the meantime the two eight-episode seasons will make for perfect holiday binge watching.

    2) The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (Dec. 1)

    With Vin Diesel having recently announced that he’s working on both a fourth Riddick film and a spinoff TV series set in the Riddick universe, now’s as good a time as any to revisit the hit-or-miss mythology Diesel and writer/director David Twohy have been spinning for 15 years now. That includes the solid 2000 cult classic Pitch Black; its two lesser sequels, 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick and 2013’s Riddick; the excellent Riddick video games, Escape From Butcher Bay and Assault on Dark Athena; and this 2004 direct-to-DVD animated flick that bridges the first two movies.

    Dark Fury picks up after Riddick, Jack, and the Imam escape the deadly world featured in Pitch Black, only to be picked up by a ship full of mercenaries. Unfortunately for Riddick, the ship’s captain has an odd hobby of literally collecting criminals, capturing them in suspended animation and using them as living artwork. Needless to say, Riddick isn’t amenable to this arrangement, which means motherfuckers gonna die. Dark Fury was directed by Korean-American animator Peter Chung, best known for creating MTV’s Æon Flux.

    3) Darkman (Dec. 1)

    Long before he bedeviled Batman as R’as Al Ghul, Liam Neeson played Dr. Peyton Westlake, a brilliant scientist on the cusp of perfecting a revolutionary type of synthetic skin to help burn victims. Unfortunately, after his lawyer girlfriend acquires documents that could incriminate a local crime boss, Peyton gets caught in the middle and blown the fuck up. He survives, just barely: He’s horribly disfigured, incapable of feeling pain, and now flirting with insanity. Fortunately, that’s a useful combination of qualities when you’re about to seek vengeance on a crime syndicate, especially if you’ve also got a synthetic skin formula that lets you disguise yourself. Let the games begin!

    A twisted chimera combining director Sam Raimi’s love of pulp heroes like the Shadow and classic screen monsters such as the Phantom of the Opera, Darkman didn’t reach blockbuster levels like Tim Burton’s Batman the year before, but it did become a cult classic that still gets watched and referenced some 25 years later. It also spawned a couple of direct-to-video sequels, several actual comic-book series, and a failed 1992 TV pilot, which you can watch on YouTube.

    4) Stir of Echoes(Dec. 1)

    We’re now one major holiday beyond peak horror season, but you can only take so much holiday cheer before you need a break. Even if there’s tinsel and colored lights everywhere, that chill in the air will still make for ideal viewing of this underrated ghost story starring Kevin Bacon, directed by David Koepp (War of the Worlds), and based on a novel by the (I am) legendary Richard Matheson.

    Bacon plays Tom Witzky, a telephone line repairman living with a pregnant wife and young son in blue-collar Chicago. While he and his friends are having a shindig, Tom makes the mistake of letting his wife’s sister hypnotize him. Unfortunately, the seemingly innocent party trick opens Tom up to something profound: He begins having violent visions of a young girl fighting for her life. Once he eventually learns that the girl from his dreams is a real local teen who vanished a few months earlier, Tom’s obsession with learning what happened to her threatens to tear his family apart.

    5) The Da Vinci Code (Dec. 14)

    It’s been 12 years, so it’s easy to forget how big a deal Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code was in 2003, managing to outsell every other novel of the year that didn’t have “Harry Potter” in the title. The blend of page-turning beach read and faith-baiting controversy was a powerful mix, so naturally Hollywood soon came a-calling, casting Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon, an expert in religious symbolism. After the curator of the Louvre is murdered, the authorities are convinced Langdon may have done the dirty deed, forcing him to try and uncover a centuries-old mystery to clear his name. And the secret involved is a whopper, involving the Catholic Church, the Holy Grail, and Jesus Christ himself. Also, Hanks has really weird hair in this, but that doesn’t seem to be part of the conspiracy, so far as I could tell.

    6) Helix: Season 2 (Dec. 16)

    Helix was one of the first shows out the gate under the current Syfy regimen, which seems genuinely committed to returning the network to its roots and embracing ambitious genre storytelling like it used to. And the show had a solid pedigree, with Battlestar Galactica’s Ron Moore on board as an executive producer. Unfortunately, Helix was a bloody mess: Season 1 started out as a riff on John Carpenter’s The Thing, then settled into extended wheel-spinning punctuated by batshit-crazy plot twists that would have been more shocking had they made any damn sense at all. There were viruses, silver-eyed immortals, pseudo-zombies, and frozen severed heads. You certainly couldn’t fault the show’s ambition.

    Season 2 leaves the arctic setting of its freshman year behind, following CDC disease expert Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell) and his team to a mysterious island populated by a creepy cult led by that guy from Wings. (No, the other one.) Syfy killed Helix after season 2, so don’t expect all the show’s questions to get satisfying answers.

    7) Black Mirror: White Christmas (Dec. 25)

    The critically acclaimed British anthology series Black Mirror is one of the best shows of the young century, and a worthy successor to the legacy of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. Created by Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror explores the darker aspects of of our relationship with technology in a brutal and insightful fashion that eschews easy answers. Netflix earned a collective high five from all of us earlier this year with the announcement that it’d be producing a third season of the show, but while we’re waiting for those new episodes to come down the pike, there’s still one you might not have seen yet. The holiday special “White Christmas,” starring Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, hasn’t previously been available on Netflix… but that’s about to change. “White Christmas” intertwines three different stories, including some of the show’s darkest material yet. This is not feel-good television, but we’ll celebrate its Netflix arrival as a Christmas miracle just the same.

    8) Maron: Season 3 (Dec. 28)

    Standup comedian/podcaster Marc Maron stars as a fictionalized version of himself, trying to balance his personal life and career against the constant realization that he’s usually his own worst enemy. In season 3, Marc struggles with success, invites his ex-wife onto his podcast, and dabbles with antidepressants. If you’re a fan of Maron’s standup or his long-running WTF Podcast, you’ll find plenty to like in Maron. The show has already been renewed for a fourth season on IFC, so expect more to come in 2016.

    9) Nurse Jackie: Seasons 1-7 (Dec. 31)

    Hulu launched a major partnership with Showtime this past summer, but Netflix continues to acquire the network’s shows as they wrap up, and at the end of the month Nurse Jackie will join Weeds, Dexter, and Californication in the Netflix queue. Jackie stars Sopranos alum Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton, a put-upon ER nurse who numbs the stress of her job with pills. Jackie earned critical praise for its dark humor and explorations of addiction, not to mention a Best Actress Emmy Award for Falco in 2010.

    November 2015

    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 ZathuraJumanji 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.

    Screengrab via amc/YouTube


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    BY AARON PRUNER

    In 2006, when Wisconsin was in the middle of the Teresa Halbach murder trial, Dateline NBC ran an expose on the case, exploring the conviction of Steven Avery and nephew Brendan Dassey in the allegedly grisly crime.

    It’s been a decade since the state’s biggest trial transpired and since then, Netflix’s Making a Murderer has placed new eyes on the case. Returning to Manitowoc County, the news series revisited the highly publicized trial of Avery and Brendan Dassey in Friday’s (Jan. 29) episode.

    RELATED: ‘Making a Murderer’ Season 2 is ‘unfolding’ at Netflix

    The entire episode is linked above, and the series presents an angle that mostly reaffirms the notion that Avery is guilty. Towards the end of the episode, Kathleen Zellner (Avery’s new lawyer) tells Dateline NBC’s Andrea Canning that there is new evidence that proves her client’s innocence.

    “Generally, since 2007, there have been significant advances in forensic testing … the clearest way to do this is with scientific testing,” Zellner says. “Am I going to tell you exactly what it is? I am not. But it’s been a long time. There was a lot of evidence that wasn’t tested.”

    Zellner goes on to explain her reasoning for buying a Toyota Rav4, similar to the one Halbach owned. She may not be on camera for long but her confidence seems to allude to something unexplored that will be presented to the court. It’s hard to get one’s hopes up, though, given the amount of issues exposed in the docu-series regarding the U.S. criminal justice system.

    There’s also the bevy of evidence Jerry Buting and Dean Strang had during the original 2006 trial that seemed to point to Avery’s innocence and everyone knows how that panned out.

    Will purchasing her own Toyota help in presenting this “new evidence” to the court? Is this evidence enough to raise an eyebrow and bring new scrutiny on the decade’s old case? One way or the other, Zellner definitely has her work cut out for her.

    Screengrab via Bob Enyart Lies/YouTube


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    Good news for American Girl fans!

    Amazon announced Monday that it's signed a four-special deal with Mattel to bring the iconic dolls to life in 2016. 

    Two of the specials will feature characters from the BeForever franchise (that's the recent branding for the historical dolls), and one will center on characters from their Girl of the Year franchise. The first special will premiere on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Austria later this year, though no date has been announced. 

    The deal also included the possibility of expanding the doll franchise into TV series in the future. According to Variety, "Amazon Studios has the option to produce multiple seasons of TV series with American Girl characters."

    Time to take your Samantha doll out of retirement and plan a viewing party.

    H/T Variety | Screengrab via Mashable/Twitter

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    You officially have one more reason to watch Larry Wilmore's The Nightly Show.

    YouTuber, comedian, and all-around cool lady Franchesca Ramsey announced on Twitter Monday that she'll be joining the Comedy Central show as a full-time writer and contributor:

    This job may mark Ramsey's big leap into television, but it's hardly her first time weighing in on the news with her comedy. In addition to running MTV's Decoded, a webseries about "race, pop culture, and other uncomfortable things," her personal channel is full of funny, culturally critical gems like "5 Tips for Being an Ally" and "Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls." So she should feel right at home in the writers' room.

    Ramsey has previously been on The Nightly Show as a panel member, and this new position guarantees her cool-headed, socially conscious voice will help shape the rest of Wilmore's segments too. 

    Screengrab via Franchesca Ramsey/YouTube


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    After a string of standup specials and a rebranded update on Mr. Show, Netflix is stretching into original sketch comedy. 

    Today the streaming site announcedThe Characters, a new series in which eight comedians are given their own 30-minute episode and permission to go wild. The gist:

    In Netflix Presents: The Characters, the next generation of comedians get a chance that only Netflix could offer: the opportunity to create their own 30-minute episodes and do whatever they want. No rules. No limits. Each comedian writes and appears in his/her episode, presenting a series of sketches that veer wildly from Bachelor parodies, to music videos, to biblical spoofs… all in the name of outlaw comedy.

    That "next generation" includes the eight primary comedians—Kate Berlant, Lauren Lapkus (Orange Is the New Black), Paul W. Downs (Broad City), John Early (Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp), Natasha Rothwell (Saturday Night Live), Dr. Brown, Tim Robinson (Saturday Night Live), Henry Zebrowski (Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell)—and cameos from Broad City's Abbi Jacobson, SNL's Cecily Strong and Bobby Moynihan, and more. 

    It will be interesting to see how Netflix ramps up its comedy content now that Seeso, NBCUniversal's new streaming comedy site, is live and pumping out more original series. The Characters debuts March 11. 

    H/T Splitsider | Photo by KC Bailey/Netflix 


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    When was the last time you actually paid for music? Sales across platforms are transforming, and how we listen has drastically evolved over the past 30 years. A chart released by NME Magazine shows just how much times have changed when it comes to music consumption.

    NME released the interactive pie chart on Facebook and Twitter Monday afternoon. The graph compared the market shares of platforms from 1980 to 2010.

    Vinyl records still dominated the industry in the early '80s until the cassette tape became more popular shortly after. Cassettes reigned until CDs took over toward the '90s. The Internet began to boom in 2005 and accounted for about 45 percent of music sales by 2010. 

    NME's illustrated evolution of music platforms stirred up the comments, particularly around the music sales predicaments of today. 

    It's become the era of Pandora and Spotify. But there are more fans relying on free streaming than those paying for subscriptions. Sales continue to matter, but the way they are measured isn't as cut and dry.

    Just last week, singer Rihanna made headlines when her highly anticipated album ANTI leaked on the streaming service Tidal. Although Billboard did not certify the album as platinum it did debut at No. 27, despite arriving at the end of the week. But the Recording Agency Association of America (RIAA) certified the album as platinum by counting streaming numbers: ANTI streamed more than 13 million times the night it was released.


    Music consumption has changed rhythmically by the decade, but what will surpass the Internet's all-access element?

    Screengrab via Rihanna/YouTube


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    Just a few days after they announced their new React World venture, the Fine Brothers have canceled the program and rescinded all their trademark claims for React.

    The Fine Brothers, who have more than 13 million subscribers to their channel, had aimed to institute a new channel that would license their React brand to any interested creators. It's something they likened to the way television develops shows across countries. 

    After making their announcement, the Internet fired back, calling into question the Fine Brothers' intention with the program. They pointed out that they have registered several trademarks across the React brand, including Teens React and Elders React, which commenters felt was in opposition to their claims that they didn't "own the React genre" as a defense for their move to promote React World licensing. This sparked discussion of trademark law as it relates to YouTube, saw their channels hemorrhage subscribers, and now the Fine Brothers have weighed in by canceling all their trademark claims and the React World program.

    "We realize we built a system that could easily be used for wrong," the Fine Brothers wrote on Medium. "We are fixing that. The reality that trademarks like these could be used to theoretically give companies (including ours) the power to police and control online video is a valid concern, and though we can assert our intentions are pure, there’s no way to prove them."

    They emphasized that the paperwork has been filed to cancel all trademarks, as well as released all past Content ID claims on the YouTube system that pulled down other React content.

    "The concerns people have about React World are understandable, and that people see a link between that and our past video takedowns, but those were mistakes from an earlier time," they wrote. "It makes perfect sense for people to distrust our motives here, but we are confident that our actions will speak louder than these words moving forward."

    Screengrab via Fine Brothers Entertainment/YouTube


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    Who won the Iowa caucus?

    Was it the Ted Cruz, who bested Donald Trump with a commending victory on the Republican side? Was it Trump himself, whose speech showed an unexpected degree of humility rendering him slightly less of a cartoon character and more a fully-formed human being? Was it Bernie Sanders, whose virtual tie with frontrunner Hillary Clinton showed the strength of his insurgent campaign? Was it Hillary, who at least did better then her 2008 Iowa caucus showing—a third place finish behind John Edwards? Or was Martin O'Malley and Mike Huckabee, both of whom quit the race to presumably start a chill neighborhood dad Doobie Brothers tribute band?

    Nah, the real winner was the kid with stickers on face in the background of Hillary's victory-ish speech.

    Sticker guy's name is Peter Clinkscales. He is a student at Drake University, where Clinton was speaking.

    Clinkscales told Mashable that he's still undecided about which candidate he supports. He simply saw that a presidential candidate was speaking at his university and felt that it was his civic duty to check it out.

    He added that he had initially planned on bringing a saxophone. Instead, he settled on eating a sticker, which is also an excellent option.

    Twitter immediately declared Clinkscales, aka “sticker kid” or "sticker guy," the political version of the left shark from Katy Perry's 2015 Super Bowl halftime show. This is the highest honor Twitter is capable of bestowing on anything.

    Clinkscales's reaction to his sudden and unexpected viral face was the best victory speech of the night.

    Image via Twitter.com/HunterSchwartz

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    Super Bowl week is upon us, and while the Panthers and Broncos continue preparations for their matchup this Sunday, it's also time for you to arm yourself with all the information you could possibly need. Whether it's so you can make the right kinds of gambling decisions this week or whether it's because you want to be the annoying dude who knows everything about everything, knowledge—and the knowledge of where to find that knowledge—is power.

    Zack de la Rocha said that once, so it's safe to assume that it's true. And that's why Twitter is so important this year. Sure, any old idiot can fill your head with observations that might or might not matter, but the people listed below are the true power brokers who can give you all the data you'll crave.

    Some of these accounts are entertaining, some are great tools for following the storylines and news of the week, and some probably will make you think about life in a different way. But all are accounts you should follow this week and beyond.

    Presenting, in no particular order, the top 10 Twitter accounts that will get you through the week of Super Bowl 50.


    1) Injury Expert

    Will Carroll's Twitter bio states: "I write about injuries." And that's pretty much what he does. Carroll isn't a doctor and he doesn't attempt to play one online. Instead, Carroll—who has written for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report, and FanDuel—sees himself as a translator and an educator. "I teach you what a sprained ankle is, and you'll understand it more and you can understand why your favorite player didn't come back from it today," Carroll told the Daily Dot last April. If you're hungering to know about the injury status of Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Injury Expert is the place to go.

    2) Pro Football Focus

    Who would have guessed a bunch of British bloggers would make such an impact in the way we study and think about the game? Not many, most likely. But now, PFF works with 19 NFL teams and likely will gain more in the future as the website's writers analyzes every game and every player in those contests. The info that comes from that work is delicious.

    3) Seth Payne

    Spending 10 years in the NFL as a defensive tackle for the Jaguars and Texans, Payne—who now works in radio and on TV in the Houston market—certainly has the insider knowledge. But he's also the funniest ex-player who's on Twitter, and his ability to make us laugh while teaching us something can be a rare quality.

    4) Football Zebras

    You want to know everything there is to know about the officiating crews who work in the NFL? This account is the account for you. Considering every officiating call is under intense review and because every review can be seen by about 35,000 different camera angles, those who make the judgments that can help determine the game are under more scrutiny than ever before. This account, which also breaks more refereeing news than anybody else, does a nice job of cutting through all the controversy to explain a decision and tells us referee logistics that we didn't know before.

    5) Matt Bowen

    If you're an average football fan who doesn't necessarily care about the intricate Xs and Os of the sport, you might not enjoy Bowen. But this guy knows his football. He spent seven years as a safety with four teams, and though many of his tweets are almost too technical for some to understand, his information and analysis is also so very interesting.

    6) Andrew Brandt

    The former Packers vice president used to negotiate contracts and manage Green Bay's salary cap, but now he's an analyst for ESPN and Sports Illustrated where he discusses the ins and outs of what's happening in the NFL and its teams' front offices.

    7) NYT 4th Down Bot

    The idea behind this account is simple: determine whether a team should go for it on fourth down, kick a field goal, or punt. Much of the time, teams do the opposite of what the bot believes is the most successful outcome, and much of the time, those teams are punished for it. As the New York Times writes, "To make its decision, NYT 4th Down Bot uses a model developed by Brian Burke, founder of AdvancedNFLStats.com. According to the model (and thus, according to NYT 4th Down Bot), coaches are much more conservative than they should be."

    8) Concussion Blog

    Perhaps not the most uplifting of Twitter accounts, this is still important nonetheless, as it tweets about the most pressing issue facing the NFL and its future success. The reason this knowledge is so important: The NFL last week said that reported concussions rose 58 percent during the 2015 season with 182 after 115 in 2014, 148 in 2013, and 173 in 2012.

    9) NFL History

    If you love learning about the NFL's history and how current-day games relates to that history, this Twitter account, run by Jon Zimmer in the NFL Communications office, is a goldmine. Are the tweets a little dry? Sure. Are the details inside those tweets fascinating? Absolutely.

    10) Son of Bum

    Though he probably won't be tweeting much this week, Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips—formerly the head coach of the Cowboys whose father was coaching legend Bum Phillips (hence the Twitter handle)—is the best NFL coach at tweeting. He's funny, self-deprecating, and knowledgeable, and if you're a player who wasn't given a job by him, you can have a Twitter conversation with Phillips about it. But forgive Phillips if he's stingy with his tweets this week. He's got to figure out a way for his defense—the best in the NFL this season, by the way—to help Denver win a Super Bowl.

    Photo via Sonny Abesamis/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy’s tumultuous relationship has played out between The Muppet Show, decades of movies, and the new series The Muppets, but what's less obvious is how he’s explained himself over the years.

    Thanks to Adam Schleichkorn and Vulture’s latest Muppet remix, we now have an idea. Some clever editing brings together Kermit and the Swedish Chef for a rendition of Shaggy’s classic “It Wasn’t Me,” and it’s pretty much perfect. It focuses more on earlier times than on Denise, Kermit’s new girlfriend in The Muppets, but there’s still plenty to incriminate Kermit in the eyes of Miss Piggy.

    How is Kermit going to wriggle his way out of this one?

    Screengrab via New York Magazine/YouTube


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    Good news for everyone still looking to fill the Jon Stewart-shaped hole in their hearts. 

    Dr. Bassem Youssef, often referred to as “the Jon Stewart of Egypt,” has signed a deal with Fusion for a new politically minded webseries called The Democracy Handbook. It’s part of a recently launched project called F-Comedy, a destination specifically geared toward original funny videos, and Youssef’s series is one of the first announced in the lineup. 

    Youssef, a former cardiac surgeon who retired after his political satire column landed him a TV deal in Egypt, is hoping that his outsider’s perspective on U.S. politics will bring something new to the table for American viewers. 

    According to a press release, the series “will follow Youssef as he comes to America to learn the lessons of democracy, so he can import them back to the Middle East—but learns our democracy isn’t quite as great as he thought.”

    The series will be available in this spring, and it will be followed by a corresponding TV special, but no details about release dates are available yet. 

    Youssef also announced this week that he’s signed with United Talent Agency in Los Angeles, so it’s safe to say this deal is only the tip of the iceberg for what the comedian has planned in the U.S. 

    Screengrab via Bassem Youssef/Twitter


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    If it’s hard for you to sit through an entire feature-length film, then Instagram may have the solution. With the launch of the serialized crime thriller, Shield 5, Instagram may change the way movies are distributed—15 seconds at a time.

    Directed by Anthony Wilcox (Hello Carter), Shield 5 will tell the story of John Swift, a security driver in trouble for his apparent involvement in a diamond heist and a colleague’s death, according to a press release from Lorton Entertainment. The scripted series will air over a 28-day period throughout February in 15-second doses (the maximum length for video on Instagram).

    Shield 5, co-created and written by Adam Dewar and Wilcox, is the latest in social platforms exploring new ways of creating and distributing original content.

    In January 2015, Snapchat launched its Discover feature, allowing magazines and media companies to air stories through the popular social platform. Shortform films on Vine were granted a heavy sense of validation in 2013 when the Tribeca Film Festival opened a category for the video app.

    Although it’s too soon to tell whether Shield 5 will be a success—the Instagram channel still only has about 6,700 followers—watching a thriller 15 seconds at a time will certainly leave viewers asking questions every day.

    Representatives from Instagram were not immediately available to respond to request for comment from the Daily Dot. 

    H/T CNET | Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    Last month, Puddle of Mudd frontman Wes Scantlin was arrested in front of his former house and charged with vandalism and trespassing. As seen in a TMZ video taken of Scantlin as he was being arrested at the Los Angeles home which he lost to foreclosure in 2015, the singer tried to plead with the police that it was actually his house.

    Last Saturday while playing a show with Puddle of Mudd at the Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta, Ohio, Scantlin halted in the middle of a song and accused an audience member of being the one who stole his house.

    In case you missed it, Scantlin—who also was arrested in December and charged with possession of a controlled substance, the fifth time he was arrested in 2015, according to Blabbermouth—said, "This motherfucker right here stole my motherfucking house and now he's standing right fucking in front of me laughing at me. And he fucking figures I'm a fucking joke. This motherfucker right here. This motherfucker right here. Get his ass on camera. Get his ass on camera. Get his ass on camera. This is the dog. Right here. This is the motherfucker right here. This guy stole my fucking house."

    And thus the show ended, forcing the concert venue to write this.

    The band hasn't commented on social media. But its next gig is in Kingsburg, California, on Friday night. A word of advice: If you are actually living in Scantlin's old house, it's probably a good idea not to attend.

    H/T Blabbermouth | Photo via DVIDSHUB/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    Coldplay’s Chris Martin is that much closer to performing at the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday, having hitched a ride from James Corden.

    Martin is the latest star to join Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, and the two sing some of Coldplay’s greatest hits while they drive north. But in between the belting, we get some insight into what Martin and Corden think “American football” is, as well as a Mick Jagger impression and a small cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes.”

    They really start to have fun once Martin brings out a portable keyboard and starts playing some songs, although he really hopes to use it to announce who’s winning during the game. Even though Coldplay is a divisive choice for the Super Bowl halftime show among music fans, Martin may end up being a more entertaining commentator than the people we’ll be watching call the game on Sunday.

    Screengrab via The Late Late Show with James Corden/YouTube


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    The Daily Dot is celebrating Woman Crush Wednesday, better known as #WCW on Twitter and Instagram, by highlighting female creators on YouTube whose work we admire.

    Long before Hey Fran Hey was even a glimmer in Francheska Medina’s eye, the NYC native had only one goal: to walk again. Post-college, Fran suddenly became ill as recurring kidney infections led to kidney stones, a blocked bladder, and such pain that she was unable to move from her bed for eight months. It was in these months that Fran began researching natural living. In three months, she had cured herself, crediting juicing for extracting all the toxins from her body.

    In 2012, Fran founded her YouTube channel and lifestyle blog, Hey Fran Hey, with the mission of sharing her natural hair, beauty, fitness, and health tips with viewers around the world. Fran became one of the first creators to champion the natural hair movement, and since then, has grown her channel into an all-encompassing lifestyle guidebook. Her video topics are diverse, covering oil cleansing and skincare, her travel adventures, mental health, fashion advice, and so much more.

    Her lifestyle is a developed art. Every day, she drinks at least 3 liters of water, sets daily intentions during her morning meditation, eats an enviable meal every three hours, works out around New York City, and continues her research on natural, healthy living. Her videos are an extension of her life, and they authentically and honestly provide guidance on living without “a number.”

    “I don’t believe in setting numbers because it can create a slight obsession,” Fran stated in a past interview with Simone. “I tell people get rid of your scales. I get naked too. Getting on a scale does not say anything. There was a girl recently at the park running way faster than me and she was much bigger than I am. It’s not about the number; it’s about your endurance and ability. All body shapes are awesome. Just focus on being healthy and everything else will come together.”

    Fans are equally obsessed with Fran’s words of wisdom, sharing their gratitude and questions with her constantly on Twitter:

    In the oversaturated ecosystem of YouTube beauty gurus, Fran stands out for not only what she says, but for the community she says it for. Unlike so many other creators, Fran is mindful of prices and gives advice on products and DIY projects that won’t require viewers to start working overtime. As for her community, Fran has helped developed a space for black beauty creators to thrive. Her tutorials answer basic questions for curly hair and celebrate the black female body with tutorials and style lookbooks celebrating this often overlooked and underserved community on YouTube. 

    So cheers to you Fran. Thank you for inviting us all into your life and making us a little stronger (and more loving of kale) along the way.

    Screengrab via Hey Fran Hey/YouTube 


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