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Articles on this Page
- 05/05/16--17:42: _Slender Man is goin...
- 05/05/16--17:45: _After recruit decom...
- 05/05/16--20:26: _James Blake's 'The ...
- 05/05/16--20:59: _Louis C.K. says he'...
- 05/05/16--22:10: _Is Justin Timberlak...
- 05/06/16--04:00: _Kate Micucci on Gar...
- 05/06/16--04:36: _At NewFronts, YouTu...
- 05/06/16--11:07: _Radiohead debuts 'D...
- 05/06/16--11:17: _Nash Grier to relau...
- 05/06/16--12:59: _Review: 'Grace and ...
- 05/06/16--15:18: _Review: Netflix Fre...
- 05/07/16--09:15: _The best new movies...
- 05/07/16--12:05: _Radiohead fans devo...
- 05/07/16--14:27: _Austin punks A Gian...
- 05/08/16--07:14: _The 'SNL' Church La...
- 05/08/16--10:30: _Radiohead releases ...
- 05/08/16--19:04: _Review: Radiohead's...
- 05/09/16--05:00: _The best new movies...
- 05/09/16--09:39: _HBO releases powerf...
- 05/09/16--12:00: _Netflix ordered a c...
- 05/05/16--17:42: Slender Man is going from meme to horror movie
- 05/05/16--20:26: James Blake's 'The Colour in Anything,' reviewed
- 05/05/16--20:59: Louis C.K. says he's quit the Internet
- 05/05/16--22:10: Is Justin Timberlake's new single any good?
- 05/06/16--04:36: At NewFronts, YouTube flexes its streaming muscle
- 05/06/16--11:07: Radiohead debuts 'Daydreaming' video, announces album release date
- 05/06/16--12:59: Review: 'Grace and Frankie' season 2
- 05/06/16--15:18: Review: Netflix French drama 'Marseille'
- 05/07/16--09:15: The best new movies and shows on Netflix
- 05/07/16--12:05: Radiohead fans devour photos of Thom Yorke to commemorate new album
- 05/08/16--07:14: The 'SNL' Church Lady sits down with Donald Trump
- 05/08/16--10:30: Radiohead releases new LP, 'A Moon Shaped Pool'
- 05/08/16--19:04: Review: Radiohead's 'A Moon Shaped Pool'
- 05/09/16--05:00: The best new movies and shows on Amazon and Hulu this month
- 05/09/16--09:39: HBO releases powerful teaser for Quincy Jones's 'Burning the Light'
The circle of meme life is complete: The story of Slender Man is being turned into a horror film.
Mythology Entertainment is reportedly in talks with Screen Gems to produce a feature-length film based on the Internet-bred story.
The disturbing, mysterious meme, which allegedly originated in a 2009 Something Awful forum, has seen a fascinating and tragic trajectory. It was originally a Photoshop gag that showed an obscure, dark figure lurking in the background of two photos of kids, and it implied that it was responsible for awful things happening to the children.The webseries Marble Hornets further explored the Slender Man myth, and a film based on the series was expected to be released in 2014. That same year, two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls were charged with first-degree attempted homicide after they stabbed a friend 19 times as an apparent offering to Slender Man. They'd discovered him on the website Creepypasta, a repository for scary stories that often become Internet lore. Just days after the Wisconsin case, an obsessed 13-year-old from Ohio stabbed her mother in a Slender Man-related assault.
Slender Man also bled into popular culture: It was referenced in a 2014 American Horror Storypromo and a Law and Orderepisode. A documentary about Slender Man and the 2014 Wisconsin incident is set to debut on HBO this year.
Mythology has launched an official store, so the branding of Slender Man is in full swing. (Get your mom a cute tote for Mother's Day!) This latest film, which does not appear to be related to the Marble Hornets project, will likely be a more straightforward horror film in line with Screen Gems' roster, with a script from David Birke (13 Sins). It's slated to be released in 2017.
Texas A&M wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead heard the news that one of his team's prized recruiting possessions had decided he no longer would attend the school, and apparently, he couldn't help himself.
Moorehead went straight to Twitter and went on a rant that might have cost his program more top-notch recruits and certainly produced plenty of embarrassment for the Aggies program.
And though Moorehead's social media snafu made big headlines Thursday—and forced Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin to address it on the Southeastern Conference media teleconference—recruiting analyst Brian Snow doesn't expect Moorehead's mistake to have a lasting effect on the Aggies program. But he also said participating on social media sites are a fine line for coaches to walk.
"This is unfair to the coaches, because they're not allowed to have a voice [in the recruiting process, due to NCAA rules]," Snow, a recruiting analyst for Scout.com, told the Daily Dot on Thursday. "But you have to know this is part of the deal, that you can't say what he said on Twitter."
This was certainly an embarrassment for Texas A&M.
It began Wednesday night when a high school quarterback named Tate Martell—the country's top-rated "dual-threat" quarterback who had originally committed to play collegiately at Texas A&M in August—changed his mind.That apparently is when Moorehead logged onto Twitter. Clearly, Moorehead should have known better. He's a former NFL receiver who went through the recruiting process when he was in high school and before he committed to Illinois, and as a college football coach, he surely understands that it's not uncommon for 17- and 18-year-old kids who have committed to a school to change their minds.
Also, it should be noted that Moorehead has had three jobs in six years as a college coach, slightly tarnishing his Twitter tutorial on team loyalty.
But since the Aggies have struggled recently and considering two highly recruited quarterbacks who already were on the roster have transferred out of the Texas A&M program, the loss of Martell's commitment must have stung the staff. But for Moorehead to express his frustration on Twitter was obviously a mistake.
"It's just not a good look," Snow said. "I'm sure if he could have it back, he'd take it back. But in this day and age, you can't have it back. He's going to pay the piper on that one."
The real damage, though, came in the aftermath of Moorehead's original rant.
SB Nation wrote, "Two of the top three recruits in the state of Texas responded with laughter emojis [and] blue-chip Texan Eno Benjamin [said] A&M will be 'trash' without Martell (all since deleted)."
Highly ranked receiver Mannie Netherly decommitted, saying he no longer wanted to play for Moorehead.Tyjon Lindsey, considered the nation's fifth-best high school receiver who wasn't necessarily expected to join his friend Martell on the Aggies roster anyway, tweeted that he also no longer was considering Texas A&M.
On Thursday morning, Moorehead—who, through a Texas A&M spokesman, declined comment to the Daily Dot—backtracked.Asked about Moorehead's original rant on Thursday's SEC media teleconference, Sumlin, via the Dallas Morning News, said " Let me say, this: I was made aware of it. I have addressed it with Aaron. We're still working through that. He's taken responsibility for his actions and we'll move on from there. Basically, that discussion has been had. Obviously, Aaron has taken responsibility from what he did. "
As for the social-media policy of his coaches?
"It's America," Sumlin said. "Our policy has been, 'Abuse the privilege, lose the privilege.'"
Still, Snow doesn't expect Moorehead's comments to have long-term damage.
"There's the reality that, as a society, we forget things in, like, two seconds," Snow said. "Seventeen-year-olds are even less than that. Starting tomorrow, I bet this is a non-story. Kids won't think twice about it. You just look like a buffoon in the moment, and then you move on to something else."
While these kinds of coaches comments are rare, social media is still an important tool and they continue to need to hone their approaches to Twitter. After all, decommitting from social media is not an option.
"Coaches will get more experience using it," Snow said. "They'll learn the boundaries better. The more you deal with it, the more familiar you get with it. ... [But] kids are on social media. Even though it might be a fake relationship, if this kid follows you on Twitter and feels like he knows you on social media, he feels like he knows you, period. And recruiting is all about relationships. If a 5-star quarterback is following a coach on Twitter and he says, 'That coach seems like a cool guy,' that's only going to help you."
At midnight in the U.K., English crooner and producer James Blake released his latest project, the expansive and lovesick The Colour in Anything. If you ask Twitter, it’s a home run—straight into center feels.
And if you’re not moved by this album, you probably haven’t been in a relationship involving feelings.
Blake initially broke into the British scene via his electronic production—brilliant in hindsight—by releasing three strong EPs: The Bells Sketch, CMYK, and Klavierwerke. The projects would ready his audience with the sonically diverse foundation he’s known for, taking some pressure off the angelic voice that carried the Mercury Prize-winning Overgrown.
Thursday's Colour features famed rock and rap producer Rick Rubin on the boards. Blake flew to New York to work with the legend, in an attempt to restart his engines. Eventually Frank Ocean, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, and Kanye West became names attached the project.billboards in New York and London going up, Blake confirmed the midnight release of this unexpected gift on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 program Thursday. Along with posting the setlist on Instagram, he debuted a piano-trap ballad, “Radio Silence,” and the Vernon-assisted “I Need A Forest Fire.” And then it all hit Spotify.
It was a tough first listen. It's a potentially great record. But it gets you. Here are five big takeaways from the first spin.
1) Best track: “Love Me In Whatever Way”
Sampling Donny Hathaway’s “Giving Up,” and possibly borrowing from Bhagavata Purana, a sacred Indian love story, an impassioned Blake informs his love of his commitment to meet her where she is emotionally, against a busy cityscape. It's heart-wrenching and visceral.
2) Most important track: “Modern Soul”
Through his yearns and wails, he acknowledges difficulty in how his significant other has asked him to push on, and to love her, without rehashing a difficult past. Representing R&B’s way forward—where similar minds like Montreal producer Kaytranada and others utilize the empty spaces, creating just as much weight as where the note strikes—Blake's stabbing piano doubles as flare and foundation.
3) As great as James Blake is, there is a such thing as too much James Blake
Though there’s little fat on the 17-cut listing, it was likely worth cutting anyway—“Waves Know Shores,” “Always,” and “Meet You In The Maze” are fine as B-sides.
4) Once again, Blake works less with differentiation from his prior work, and delves deeper into subtlety and sonic gradients
He already knows what he likes, but constantly desires pulling from different angles, and in additional dimensions.
5) There’s a classic album hidden in plain sight
However, its length—at least on first listen—prohibits focus, as he’s spread his three-dimensional net so wide and deep to start. Love—even if only partially requited—reigns in Blake’s heart, and perhaps for that reason the difficulty of reigning in emotions led his decisions. Overgrown was a project of personal assurance in emotional and sonic extremes. Colour confirms and solidifies Blake’s uniqueness in displaying emotional poignancy and candor. For him, there’s valor in laying yourself completely bare for someone, knowing only uncertainty awaits.
But on Conan Thursday night, C.K. took it a step further, telling the show's host that he simply didn't like being distracted by the Internet on his phone when he was supposed to be spending time with his kids.
So, for the past month, C.K. said he's quit the Internet.This is what C.K. said on The Opie Show when he originally quit Twitter: “It didn’t make me feel good. It made me feel bad instead. So I stopped doing it.”
Two emails to C.K.'s website were not immediately answered at press time regarding what this self-imposed hiatus means for his booming listserv.
In plenty of ways, C.K.'s reasons for quitting the Internet mirror his explanation on why he got off Twitter. But it sounds like this particular rationale was even more personal.
Ah, the things we do for our kids.
Perennial headliner Justin Timberlake offered up the first resounding brick of his pop career Thursday night as his wedding-season snoozer "Can't Stop the Feeling" made its iTunes debut. The single also landed on YouTube, in a celeb-fueled video full of—what else—lip-syncing.
Before you groan at your desk, remember that this is a song for children.
The single made a mild Web thud upon its landing, too. According to Spredfast analytics, Timberlake tweets (just north of 12,000) were overshadowed by tweets about British singer-songwriter James Blake (20,000-plus) as of midnight ET; Blake likewise surprised the Internet with new music on Thursday.
But "Can't Stop the Feeling" fails to stick and move because of its reverse-engineered gloss and its lack of setting. It boasts lyrics about sunshine in pockets and a pun about soul in feet as old as time. The disco bass line crawls at the same pace as another Martin smash, last summer's "Can't Feel My Face." The claps and keyboard flurries exist for international, interchangeable clubs.
Good Morning America hosts will dance to it. And you'll be tempted to at the next wedding when the goodwill is flowing like champagne in plastic, toast-specific flutes. Stay true to your instincts, however—this is opportunistic and cheap.
Correction: Timberlake is executive music producer of Trolls.
For their first-ever comedy special, musical duo Garfunkel and Oates inverted the model and did things their way: They made a comedy special about trying to fund a comedy special.
Trying to be Special follows up Elliott Morgan and Bianca Del Rio’s Vimeo projects, as the platform readies its next round of original content. It finds the duo—made up of Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome—performing for an audience in Seattle to try to raise money for a special, complete with an oversized telethon thermometer to measure their “success.” Comedian Anthony Jeselnik introduces the two, playing a heightened version of his onstage persona.
“Are you guys big fans of Garfunkel and Oates or just the same song 100 times?” he asks by way introduction.
There are catchy songs about handjobs and anal sex, but Micucci and Lindhome offer a richer subtext. In the first scene, Lindhome sits on a bed and surveys their lives: no kids, no husbands, no real jobs in their mid-30s.
“Our lives are amazing!” she enthuses.
The hour-long Special sticks to this theme: Women of a certain age facing the expectations or uncertainty of their lives, their bodies. The first song, longtime favorite“Pregnant Women Are Smug,” sets the tone, but there’s been a subtle shift in their material. Elsewhere, they consider careers and creative pursuits above romantic entanglements. “I didn’t give up my dreams for a man because here we are,” Micucci deadpans.
By phone, Micucci explains that they’re at a place where they’re legitimately excited about what they’re doing professionally. One of the newer songs in the special explores how Lindhome froze her eggs, and the two sing a lullaby about a theoretical “frozen egg baby.” Inspired by her musical partner, Micucci also just froze her eggs. It’s something a lot of women are forced to contemplate.
“It’s kind of cool that we can talk about it, in a way, and also sing about it,” she says.
Micucci relates that Vimeo gave them the freedom to make the special how they wanted, and that obviously includes songs about ass-fucking and egg-freezing. “We really wanted to capture the show that we’ve been touring with for so long,” she explains.
Garfunkel and Oates’s videos found a sweet spot on YouTube. Back in 2008, it was still more of a platform for sharing clips, and many of their early videos were filmed in a living room with one static camera, as Lindome and Micucci sit on a couch and sing short, made-to-share songs about gay marriage and women accidentally having orgasms.
Micucci says YouTube pushed them to pursue what they were doing more seriously, after the song “Fuck You” started getting clicks in 2009. Word of mouth got them fans and more views. It’s those organic success stories that are so hard to replicate—let alone sustain—now. Micucci’s appearance in the TV show Scrubs also brought more attention to the group.
“I don’t think Garfunkel and Oates would exist without YouTube,” she says.
Eventually they got their own IFC show, but it was canceled last year after one season. They kept working: Micucci stars in Mike Birbiglia’s upcoming film Don’t Think Twice, and Lindhome is filming the next season of Comedy Central’s Another Period. They released their latest album, Secretions, last fall.
Garfunkel and Oates are a Swiss Army knife, at a time when artists often have to be many things to stay afloat. This special is just one of the blades. And by the end of their meta journey, we see just how soul-sucking making a special—or any art, really—can be. But they did it their way.
YouTube’s NewFronts focused on its breadth and dominance in the market for delivering entertainment of all forms, even if many of those in attendance had never seen the Web-famous stars onstage.
“There are perspectives and opinions we can not get on TV,” said YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki at the Javits Center in New York Thursday night.
The celebs that other media brands trot out for their NewFronts would turn heads if they were caught getting their own drink at the bar, at YouTube’s event several top stars were milling about without anyone paying attention. Brands might know that YouTubers are some of the top talent for teens and tweens (even reporters gasped when Wojcicki revealed that now eight of the top 10 celebrities to tweens and tweens are YouTubers), but they might not be able to pick them out of a lineup.
And the streaming giant didn’t stop there: YouTube reaches more 18-49-year-olds than any network on mobile, cable, or broadcast, and more during prime time than the top 10 TV shows combined. (YouTube is reportedly toying with branching into live TV, though this rumor went unaddressed Thursday evening.)
The big sell was from media companies and brands like Toyota taking to the stage to encourage everyone to move media buys to digital. The big news was the move of $250 million in TV spent to online video from Interpublic, which buys for clients like Coca-Cola and Johnson & Johnson. At Toyota, it’s moved YouTube to its core set of advertisers, a shift from treating the platform as a “risk.”
Lilly Singh played host to the night, with the required mix of comedy and inspiration that marks some of the biggest YouTube sensations. She talked about making a community with her fans, and how that helps brands like Coca-Cola that partner with her.
“They don’t turn my videos on as background noise,” Singh explained of her brand. “They choose me.”
She then introduced someone everyone was familiar with: Big Bird, who introduced a segment on YouTube kids that touted how they wanted to help create the next generation of Sesame Street on YouTube.
While the younger set gets most of the shine for YouTube fame, there’s also an older generation. When YouTuber Mindy McKnight took the stage and explained how her girl’s hair tutorials enabled her husband to quit his full-time job to help with the channel, advertisers murmured about the unlikelihood of that. It was a clear reminder of the mainstream’s misunderstanding of YouTube professionals.
“I know that many of you in this room may still think YouTube is a platform for people barely old enough to drive,” McKnight said. “But I’ve found YouTube is for everyone.” McKnight explained her expansion to a Millennial Moms channel aimed at the aging digital set.
Sports were another topic for YouTube, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver explaining his league’s embrace of the platform when many other publishers were blocking their content.
“We created our own channel, we also saw it as an opportunity to talk to our fans,” said Silver. “We saw that 60 percent of our 100 million views were coming from fans outside the United States. We firmly believe that the business that are popular globally tomorrow are the ones popular on social media today.”
Silver announced a deal to make all their NBA footage available on the YouTube Preferred advertising network, and explained their excitement about 360 video’s integration with sports content.
YouTube then circled back to entertainment, showcasing the late presence on the platform, as well as music like a performance from Andra Day, and teasing a later live performance from Sia.
"That's the thing about platform: You just can't predict what the next best thing is going to be,” said Wojcicki. “Every day we have a new video that catches fire around the world.”
The presentation wrapped with a call out to Silento’s “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” the biggest viral video of 2015, to show how YouTube can seed a worldwide craze. When Silento himself rode out onstage in a mini pink jeep, the crowd may have been impressed the rock star. But patrons might not have realized the young girl with him, Heaven King, was the real architect behind the craze with her dance cover.
Oh, and then Big Bird, Elmo, and Cookie Monster got in on the viral dance.
Radiohead just released its second video of the week, which finds Thom Yorke opening and closing a bunch of doors.
It’s a bit different from “Burn the Witch,” the ominous claymation video the group released earlier this week. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, “Daydreaming” is six minutes of Yorke being propelled through a series of doors by a simple, elegant piano progression.It’s notable that this video and “Burn the Witch” are on YouTube. Yorke aired his grievances with the video platform last year, stating that it’d seized control of people’s art much like the Nazis did in World War II. “Burn the Witch” now has more than 8 million views.
The single also appeared on Spotify, iTunes, and Tidal earlier this week, and Yorke’s now-famous 2013 allegation that Spotify is the “last desperate fart of a dying corpse” is now under renewed scrutiny. That’s one long fart.
It was also announced today that Radiohead’s upcoming album, the title of which is still a mystery, will be released digitally May 8 on XL Recordings. We’ve reached out to Spotify to see if it will be hosting the album.
BY GEOFF WEISS
In a nine-minute-long sketch last month, Nash Grier announced he was relaunching his YouTube channel. “After a lot of soul-searching,” he said in the clip, which alluded to a new creative direction and more polished approach, “I want to tell stories that exploit the truth — that use the highest quality cinematic filmmaking … I want comedy, I want action, I want thrill, I want drama, fantasy, romance — I want a damn silent film. I want it all.”
Now, it looks like the tides are turning. The 18-year-old influencer is set to collaborate with 25-year-old filmmaker Jonah Feingold to create a five-episode scripted series on his channel, debuting in June. Titled Confessions Of A Teenage Cupid, Grier will play a high school student who acquires magical powers on prom night in the vein of cupid — the mythological god of desire. The comedy series will reportedly explore modern dating tropes and notions surrounding first love.
Each of the five-minute episodes will feature guest appearances by Grier’s social influencer friends from YouTube and Vine.
Feingold, a USC grad and alum of Buzzfeed’s Producer Fellowship Program, has created work for CNN’s Great Big Story, Elite Daily, and Refinery29. He is repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Grier, who is repped by UTA and Legacy Talent and Entertainment, recently joined the Awesomeness Films feature You Get Me — a thriller about two women competing for the same man. He is also set to headline DigiTour’s first tour in Central and South America, The Wave, which kicks off on May 11.
Love isn’t always about romance. Sometimes it’s a purely platonic matter. Often it has to be kept secret for many years.
This much became clear in the first season of Frankie and Grace, the Netflix comedy written by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris, and starring the indelible Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston.
Season 1 of Grace and Frankie followed two women, Grace (Fonda) and Frankie (Tomlin), longtime friends whose marriages have ended because their husbands announced that they’ve not only been working together but sleeping together for the past 20 years. Suddenly the two single, well-to-do women need each other. They form a funny pair—Grace is a control freak while Frankie is a chilled-out artist/hippie (she refuses to wash her car because of the drought, for example) into jokes, smoking weed, art, and, well, chill (which leads us to believe she could be great at Tinder, where apparently there are plenty of men her age).
There are some strong moments in season 1 that really gave us the feels, like when Grace and Frankie tried to buy cigarettes at a health food store in West Los Angeles and realized that they’re pretty much invisible to men now. It’s a sad reminder of the reality of what it’s like to grow older as a woman in America.
The show is centered around two women who realize that they’re stuck together—for better or worse. Mostly they have accepted that they need each others’ love and support. In season 1, they both have a few forays into the world of social media and Internet dating, as pretty much everyone in L.A. does. Since season 1 was such a romp through the initial plot points and character development, we were pumped to see where things would go in season 2.
The strange thing about Frankie and Grace, however, is that it really doesn’t seem like a Netflix show.
It is not binge-worthy. I tried to watch season 2 like I did Mad Men, Orange Is the New Black, or even the uninteresting show Love, but it didn’t work. Nothing edges the plot forward at the end of each episode; nothing leaves the viewer on the edge of a cliff, wanting more, more! Instead each episode ends like a weekly network sitcom of days past, or like an Amazon Prime TV show you’ve never heard of.
Truly, female best friendship isn’t just a thing of Sex and the City.
That doesn’t mean this show can’t work, however. Season 2 starts with a conflict that seems like it could ruin Saul and Richard’s freshly minted partnership. The relationships shift a bit, in that Frankie actually helps Saul get back into reality about the mess he's made, and Grace rushes to Robert’s side during a medical emergency. No one feels great about these sort of enmeshments, however, and season 2 sees both Grace and Frankie get honest again about how their long-term husbands are now basically just friends—but not gay besties by any means.
Frankie’s yam lube business, which she kicked off last season, starts gaining traction—and so does a romance that’s been boiling for her underneath the surface. Frankie also dispenses some great lines, like her comment about how “Sock Full of Cocaine” would be a great band name in front of Grace’s prude friends. Grace stays sage, cynical: “I don’t need your hope. Hope is overrated.” She says this at a time when they’re both rocketed back into reality after taking a strange trip out of L.A. Their ideas of friendship are tested, too; Grace decides to hang out with some friends she had through her previous, country club, heteronormative, married life. Her big takeaway is just how important her friendship with Frankie truly is.
At one point in season 2, we see the full reveal of their friendship when the two of them skip through a DMV parking lot and Frankie squeals “Best friends!” Grace responds, “Kill me now.” The episode ends with this moment, which again is not conducive to Netflix binging. It’s more like, “Hey, you got your fill for the week, now think about it more until next week’s episode rolls in.” That’s a harder sell to younger, millennial audiences who, believe it or not, would be interested in this show if it had slicker positioning.
Frankie’s two sons, Bud (Baron Vaughn) and Coyote (Ethan Embry), remain consistently bizarre. Coyote is a sensitive, recovering addict, and Bud is a misplaced son who has some choice, funny lines about racism. It’s a pleasure to watch them as a pair navigate through awkward family situations. Bud and Coyote also provide comic relief during the dramatic moments between Robert and Grace, and Frankie and Saul.
For a show that’s named after two older women who are trying to figure things out, season 2 is reassuring. Truly, female best friendship isn’t just a thing of Sex and the City, and it’s both heartwarming and obnoxious to see two women who are in their late ‘60s/early ‘70s form an organic bond.
This reminds me of a recent story in the New York Times that made a case for strong (straight) female friendships, wherein married or single middle-aged women realize that so much of their emotional fulfillment can come through close friendships rather than romantic partners. So it is in Grace and Frankie. The second season of this show leaves viewers wondering about where things could go for these characters who attempt to remain as honest as possible amid constant, trying situations. In this feel-good comedy, it’s about turning lemons into lemonade, smoking some weed on the beach, and calling it a day.
Season 2 of Grace and Frankie premieres May 6 on Netflix.
Marseille is prestige television for idiots.
Created by novelist Dan Franck, the Netflix original series is only original by virtue of branding: It’s virtually a carbon copy of the streaming platform’s own House of Cards, except with a French twist. Both are shows about cutthroat politicians who make seedy backroom deals and will do just about anything in order to gain and maintain power. Both also feature award-winning actors in roles that attempt to redefine their beloved image. Taking the place of Kevin Spacey is Gerard Depardieu, known to Americans for the romantic comedy Green Card. He plays the titular city’s morally conflicted mayor, Robert Taro. Taro loves his town so much that he’s willing to do anything to protect it, including betray those closest to him.
This includes his protege, Lucas Barres (Benoit Magimel), who turns on his mentor, well, because the script requires him to. After years of serving at Taro’s side, Barres gets his shot at the mayor’s office after his predecessor decides to step down. This has been the plan for some time; Barres has long been groomed for the position. The young politician, however, throws a wrench in things by voting against a casino that was designed to be built along the city port. The revitalization was Taro’s passion project, and the mayor views this as a clear betrayal—because it is. Barres repeatedly reminds him so. To strike back, Taro decides that he might not abdicate his position after all.
This is but one of Marseille’s many, many plots, not a single of which lands. Taro’s daughter, Julia (Stéphane Caillard), is a prospective reporter who wants to write about the problems facing the city’s low-income housing projects. In the grand tradition of female reporters in pop culture, Julia wears loose-fitting button-up shirts and spends more time hopping in and out of her subjects’ beds than she does on her laptop. She must have studied at the Kate Mara School of Journalism. Eric (Guillaume Arnault) is a childhood friend who lives in the slums of Marseille and is mixed up with the mafia. Julia has eyes for his sultry associate, Selim (Nassim Si Ahmed), but Eric won’t accept that. He repeatedly tries to coerce her into sex.
Vanessa’s only character trait is that she possesses a limitless amount of black corsets.
Marseille has a pervasively rapey vibe, as if the show were written by Robin Thicke. Julia’s best friend, Barbara (Carolina Jurczak), is a bisexual flirt who enjoys the promiscuous life, but the Julia just thinks she needs to “find the right man.” Barbara believes she has. Because Marseille apparently takes place in a post-apocalyptic environment where there are only eight people left on Earth, Barbara just so happens to be Barres’ assistant, and the two are having an illicit affair. When the two aren’t having almost-kisses, Barres instructs her not to wear sneakers in the office—but if she did, you know, she could get away with it because she has a pretty face. In another scene, a journalist expounds his belief that “equality is fine by me, unless is comes from the bedroom.”
Everyone in the show speaks this way, like a caricature of boardroom executive meetings from the ‘60s. Because all the characters spend a great deal of time weaving a very tangled web, Barres is also shtooping the wife of a former politician, Vanessa (Nadia Fares), who is frequently described as sleeping her way to the top. Vanessa’s only character trait is that she possesses a limitless amount of black corsets. After her husband retired, she chose to pursue her own political ambitions, and he is under no illusion that this wasn’t the goal all along. “Traitors are all the same,” he comments. “They suck you off and then they kill you.” Franck, a first-time television writer, regards these nasty exchanges as much cleverer than they actually are. It’s doubtful the show is an endorsement of sexism, but it isn’t much of a critique either.
The show inundates its viewers with countless subplots in order to distract from the fact that nothing actually happens. The camera is constantly moving in order to suggest action, but Marseille is about as suspenseful as waiting on your party’s name to be called at Bennigan’s. While the show badly wants what David Fincher is having, its structure is more similar to American reality television shows than a taut, tense political thriller. To wit, Marseille is surprisingly reminiscent of MTV’s The Hills. Something of vague interest will happen, and then the characters will spend the next three scenes talking about how utterly unbelievable it all was: “Quel shock!” It would be if you couldn’t see every twist coming an episode away.
The writing has an irritating O. Henry quality where a character’s defining quality will inevitably be the thing that comes back to haunt them; cosmic irony appears to be on speed dial. For the non-spoiler averse among us, let’s employ a minor example: Taro has a pretty wife who is a gifted musician. She’s so good that she can play a Sam Smith song on the cello from memory, without even having rehearsed the tune. After doing some research to dig up dirt on Taro, Barres finds out someone in the family has serious health issues. Could it be that his wife is battling a debilitating illness that will slowly paralyze her and keep her from ever playing another note? And could it also be that Taro has yet to inform her of her condition? In Marseille, these are the clichés of our lives.
The show’s soap opera aspects aren’t helped by the fact that its actors are bathed in an overhead lighting that gives them a waxy quality. Magimel is best known as the teenage pupil opposite in Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher, who becomes the object of an older woman’s (Isabelle Huppert) erotic obsession. He’s a decent actor and a household name in his native country, but you wouldn’t be able to tell in Marseille. He has a pinched expression that lends his performance a Madame Tussauds quality, as if he were constantly attempting to read very fine print. The dependable Depardieu is a bit better as his adversary, but there’s little convincing tension between the two men. It feels like they are a firm handshake away from resolving whatever got them into this mess to begin with. It’s doubtful they remember.
The show inundates its viewers with countless subplots in order to distract from the fact that nothing actually happens.
The trouble with Marseille is that its producers believe that bad people are inherently interesting. That’s not the case. Otherwise, we’d all be watching C-SPAN. To become invested in their dark deeds, the villainy of these men has to be compelling or even pleasurable. In the 1990 BBC miniseries on which House of Cards is based, Francis Urquhart (Ian Richardson) is a thoroughly horrendous man, willing to lie, cheat, and even murder in his pursuit of power. He’s also delicious. Clearly having the time of his life, Richardson plays Urquhart with a devilish smirk, like a cat that just swallowed a mouse. No one in the deadly serious Marseille, however, would dare crack a smile. They appear to be under contract to frown as much as possible. For audiences, that spirit will likely prove infectious.
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.
Pick of the Month: Bloodline: Season 2 (May 27)
Created by the team behind the critically acclaimed Damages, Bloodline earned Emmy nominations for actors Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn last year, but still somehow managed to remain below the radar for many Netflix viewers. Season 1 opened with elder son Danny (Mendelsohn) returning home to the seaside hotel the Rayburn clan run in the picturesque Florida keys. Danny had dangerous friends and a troubled history—troubled enough that many of his siblings (played by Chandler, Linda Cardellini, and Norbert Leo Butz) didn’t want him around.
Spoiler alert: Before long, Danny was dead at the hands of one of his siblings. The rest were left to deal with the fallout.
Season 2 is when that fallout comes home to roost. Dead bodies tend to attract attention, and the police investigation into the murder tears at the already fraying threads of the Rayburn family even further. As the official synopsis puts it, “With their backs against the wall, good people may have to do some very bad things.”
Bloodline returns for a 13-episode second season at the end of the month, with John Leguizamo joining the cast as a dangerous figure from Danny’s past—one who’s looking to collect on debts owed. If you haven’t given Bloodline a shot yet, now’s the perfect time to get binging.
2) Ava’s Possessions (May 1)
Most “demonic possession” movies revolve around the actual possession itself, or the exorcist’s attempts to boot the invader out of the innocent host. The 2015 horror/comedy Ava’s Possessions picks up after all that, with young Ava (Louisa Krause) undergoing a sort of rehab after from a month under the control of a dark entity. With no intact memories from that time, she attempts to piece together what happened, who she hurt, and how she became possessed in the first place—all while beginning to realize that the ordeal might not yet be over.
3) Bring It On (May 1)
A Bill Clinton-era classic: Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku star as members of the Toros, a champion high school cheer squad who discover that their former captain stole all their lauded routines from a lesser-known East Compton school. With their reputation on the line, Torrance (Dunst) and her crew must come up with a routine to prove their can hold their own, on their own. Meanwhile, the Clovers, led by Isis (Gabrielle Union) are determined to take the title the Clovers stole from them. Fun fact: Bring It On director Peyton Reed went on to direct last summer’s hit Marvel flick, Ant-Man.
4) I Am Road Comic (May 1)
This 2014 documentary explores the trials and tribulations of the stand-up comic on the road. It’s a rite of passage most comics have to endure, and a regular career staple for some. In addition to his previous 2010 documentary I Am Comic, director Jordan Brady previously helmed Maria Bamford’s The Special Special Special!, so it’s not surprising that Bamford puts in an appearance here. Other featured comedians include Marc Maron, T.J. Miller, Jim Norton, Doug Benson, Nikki Glaser, W. Kamau Bell, Pete Holmes, Judah Friedlander, and Kyle Kinane, to name a few.
5) Pleasantville (May 1)
David (Tobey Maguire) is a shy young teen who spends all his free time watching old television, in particular a 1950s sitcom called Pleasantville, following the adventures of a picture-perfect nuclear family who would give the Cleavers a run for their money. After a strange TV repairman gifts David with an unusual remote control, both David and his popular-girl twin sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) find themselves transported into the world of Pleasantville—complete with a monochromatic color scheme. David couldn’t be happier, but Jennifer begins chipping away at Pleasantville’s innocence, bringing both unfamiliar concepts (like sex) and a literal dose of color into the world.
6) Sixteen Candles (May 1)
Sixteen Candles kicked off writer/director John Hughes’s run of beloved teen comedies that helped define the ‘80s, continuing in The Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. In Sixteen Candles, Samantha Baker’s (Molly Ringwald) 16th birthday starts off with a depressing bang as her entire family forgets the occasion. To make matters worse, a private note between friends—detailing, among other things, the fact that she’s still a virgin—has found its way into the hands of the the boy she’s crushing on. She soon crosses paths with Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), a geeky young lad who’s pining hard for Sam, and who has made an ill-considered bet with his friends that he’ll be able to sleep with her. It may not be as timelessly brilliant as The Breakfast Club, but Sixteen Candles is still one of Hughes’s best.
7) To Catch a Thief (May 1)
Cary Grant and Grace Kelly star in this classic Alfred Hitchcock film about an ex-criminal forced back into the game against his will. Grant plays a one-time master cat burglar whose skills didn’t extend to clever nicknames (he went by “The Cat”). His quiet life in the French Riviera is interrupted when the local police suspect he’s behind a series of recent robberies that smack of his old m.o. To prove his innocence, he’ll have to nab the copyCat who’s thrown a wrench into his retirement. Step one: Befriend a likely mark and her spoiled but beautiful daughter (Kelly). Is there any doubt she’ll be more of a handful than he bargained for?
8) Marseille (May 5)
Gerard Depardieu stars in this French series for Netflix, playing the long-time mayor of the titular city. Robert Taro (Depardieu) has been the big kahuna in Marseille for two and a half decades, but now his storied reign is imperiled by his former protege (Benoît Magimel), who plans to unseat him in the upcoming election. Netflix has already proven a knack for political drama with House of Cards, so it’ll be interesting to see if Taro proves as adept as lies, double crosses, and doing whatever it takes to maintain power as Cards’ Frank Underwood. Daily Dot contributor Nico Lang, however, thought the show was a comprehensive failure.
9) Grace and Frankie: Season 2 (May 6)
Co-created by Marta Kaufman of Friends fame, Grace and Frankie stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as a polar-opposites pair whose friendship is sparked in the most unlikely of ways: By learning that their respective husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) are in love with each other, and would like a divorce so they can be together. As season 2 begins, things are even more complicated, with both a heart attack and infidelity in the mix, all of which leaves Grace with conflicted feelings toward her former husband. Daily Dot contributor Alicia Eler loved what it had to say about female friendship.
10) Lady Dynamite: Season 1 (May 20)
Following in the footsteps of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Louie, and Maron, Lady Dynamite is loosely based on the real life of and comedy of standup Maria Bamford. The show was created by Arrested Development’s Mitch Hurwitz, and Bamford will play a fictionalized version of herself “as an actor on the rise, during her hospitalization for bipolar disorder, and through her present life in LA, where she’s reached a middle ground and found love.” Expect appearances from tons of Bamford’s standup buddies, including Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, and Tig Notaro, as well as Mira Sorvino, Jon Cryer, and both Brandon Routh and Dean Cain (and if those two aren’t involved in some sort of plotline involving Superman jokes I will be both astonished and disappointed).
11) The Last Man on the Moon (May 26)
It’s been more than four decades since we last landed a human on the Moon, and astronaut Eugene Cernan was the last human to step foot on it before we left. Before climbing the ladder back into the Apollo 17 module in December 1972, he left his daughter’s initials carved into the lunar dust. This documentary explores the life, career, and turbulent family life of Cernan, a member of one of the most exclusive clubs on the planet—those who have been not only into space, but who have set foot on a hunk of rock that isn’t our homeworld.
12) The Do-Over (May 27)
Adam Sandler’s four-movie Netflix deal continues with The Do-Over, an R-rated action comedy starring Sandler and David Spade as a pair of hard-luck losers who decide to start over by faking their deaths. Unfortunately, the new identities they take on belonged to a couple of guys who had even bigger problems. The flick has been described as in the vein of Midnight Run and Pineapple Express, but given that this is a Sandler joint, I’ll believe it when I see it. Hopefully it’ll at least be better than The Ridiculous 6.
1) Special Correspondents (April 29)
Ricky Gervais wrote, directed, and co-stars in this upcoming satire that remakes a 2009 French comedy. Eric Bana plays a struggling New York radio journalist who hits upon a clever scheme to drum up ratings. He begins faking “front-line reports,” pretending he’s bringing listeners breaking coverage from the middle of a war zone… when in actuality, he’s embedded above a Spanish restaurant in Queens. Which could be equally harrowing, I suppose, depending on if the restaurant has run out of paella. In the French original, the journo’s fake narrative spirals so far out of control that his native country is calling for a rescue mission to save him from captivity in Iraq, but there’s no telling where Gervais’ version will go. The cast also includes Vera Farmiga, Kevin Pollak, America Ferrera, and Benjamin Bratt.
Netflix is continuing its expansion into producing original films in a big way this year, with the Brad Pitt political satire War Machine due out later in 2016. Special Correspondents looks to be another worthy addition to Netflix’s film slate, following up on last month’s Pee-wee’s Big Holiday; February’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel; and last year’s critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation. It’s certainly gotta be better than Ridiculous 6...
2) 2001: A Space Odyssey& A Clockwork Orange (April 1)
We don’t normally do this in this column, but we’re going to suggest a rather excellent double feature from this month’s Netflix additions. This month is packed with a much more solid movie selection than we’ve seen recently, including these two undisputed late ’60s/early ’70s science-fiction classics from director Stanley Kubrick. One stretches from prehistory to a future that never came, chronicling mankind’s interactions with—and manipulation by—an inexplicable alien force represented by the mysterious, iconic monoliths. The other is an unblinking look at madness, ultra-violence, and questionable remedies thereof, starring Malcolm McDowell as a gleeful thug named Alex in a dystopian London where milk plus is the drink of choice and beating people to death is always better when accompanied by classical music. We’ll leave it to you to decide which one you want to watch first…
3) Chaplin (April 1)
Robert Downey Jr. won a BAFTA for his performance as legendary silent film actor/comedian Charlie Chaplin in this Richard Attenborough–directed biopic. Adapted by William Boyd, Bryan Forbes, and William Goldman from a pair of Chaplin biographies, Chaplin has the aged actor recollecting his groundbreaking career through a series of flashbacks, from his difficult childhood to his Hollywood golden years to his persecution by FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The stellar supporting cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Kline, Dan Aykroyd, and even a pre-X-Files David Duchovny. A standout role for an actor who has since become one of the biggest stars on the planet.
4) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (April 1)
The movie side of Netflix streaming has often been a dumping ground of bad horror flicks and stuff that once would have languished in Best Buy discount bins. But this month all is forgiven, because they’ve added some genuine classics like this one. Steven Spielberg’s beloved tale of a boy who befriends a wayward stranded alien is a defining childhood movie for many, and one which still holds up beautifully some three and a half decades after its original release. It’s got heart, it’s got laughs, it’s got thrills, it’s got genuinely frightening moments, and it’s got that extra dose of trauma that all the best ’80s kids’ flicks inflicted upon us. Be goooooood and show it to your kids if they haven’t already seen it.
5) Explorers (April 1)
It’s definitely no E.T., but I’ll always have a soft spot for this lesser ’80s kids’ classic from director Joe Dante. Explorers was the film debut of both Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix, who, alongside Jason Presson, star as friends who build a ramshackle but functional spacecraft after mysterious recurring dreams implant the designs in the mind of young Ben Crandall (Hawke). Before you can say “hover conversion,” the trio are slipping the surly bonds of Earth and headed for a rendezvous with whoever—or whatever—had made contact with them. The mystery is a lot more compelling than the execution of the answers, so this is one childhood favorite where I’d actually be OK with a remake. But it’s still good fun nonetheless.
6) Mystic River (April 1)
Hollywood has raided author Dennis Lehane’s bibliography several times over the past decade and a half (see also: Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island) but it all started with the Oscar darling Mystic River back in 2003. Sean Penn and Tim Robbins both took home Academy Awards for their roles as the grieving father of a murdered girl (Emmy Rossum) and his childhood friend/possible suspect, respectively. The film itself also earned the Big Three trifecta of Oscar noms: Best Picture, Best Director (Clint Eastwood), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Brian Helgeland), as well as a Best Supporting Actress nod for Marcia Gay Harden. Kevin Bacon also stars as another childhood friend of Penn and Robbins’ characters, now grown into a cop investigating the girl’s death.
7) The Princess Bride (April 1)
Based on the 1973 novel by William Goldman—well, the “good parts version,” anyway—The Princess Bride is an epic tale of adventure, derring-do, and true love between the beautiful Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) and a dashing man in black (Cary Elwes) determined to rescue her from betrothal to the evil Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). The marvelous supporting cast includes the lovable Andre the Giant, the weaselly Wallace Shawn, a nigh-unrecognizable Billy Crystal, and Mandy Patinkin in a star-making turn as Inigo Montoya. There is swordplay and there is silliness; there are battles of wits and rodents of unusual size; there is even one of the all-time great kisses. Feel like doing nothing this weekend but watching this movie over and over and over again? As you wish.
8) The Ranch, Part 1 (April 1)
With a catalog that includes Lillyhammer, Sense8, and Fuller House, one thing nobody could accuse Netflix’s original programming of being is predictable. That trend continues with The Ranch, a sitcom starring That ’70s Show alums Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson alongside Sam Elliott, Debra Winger, and Elisha Cuthbert. Kutcher stars as a failed pro football player who returns home to help run the family ranch with his brother (Masterson) and father (Elliott). It has the look of your standard multicamera sitcom, but without any censors to call foul whenever somebody decides to drop an F-bomb or two. The show is also departing from the standard “here’s a season, binge it all” Netflix model. This isn’t “season 1” but rather “part 1.” Part 2, also consisting of 10 episodes, will debut later this year.
9) The Shawshank Redemption (April 1)
If Netflix wants to get on my good side, it couldn’t do better than adding this, my favorite movie of all time, to its streaming catalog. Masterfully adapted by Frank Darabont from a Stephen King novella, The Shawshank Redemption is a the story of one man’s wrongful incarceration and decades-long struggle to cling to hope—and maybe even scratch out victory. Tim Robbins is sublime as Andy Dufresne, an innocent banker sentenced to life inside Shawshank State Penitentiary after the murder of his wife. He soon befriends Red (Morgan Freeman), a long-timer who “knows how to get things.” As the years drag on, Andy tries his best to make things better for himself and his friends, and to remind them that hope is a good thing—perhaps the best of things. I’ve watched this movie a thousand times, and I’ll watch it a thousand more, and I still won’t tire of that ending.
10) Sunset Boulevard (April 1)
Billy Wilder directed and co-wrote this classic black comedy about a struggling screenwriter (William Holden) whose life is flipped-turned-upside-down after a chance meeting with the once-great Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson), an aging former silent film star lurking in a decaying Hollywood mansion and dreaming of a comeback. Figuring her comeback could be his big break—or at least a decent paycheck—Joe Gillis (Holden) convinces her to hire him to rewrite the dreadful script she’s cobbled together, and they’re off to the races. Unfortunately, since the film opens with Gillis floating facedown and dead in Norma’s swimming pool, it’s safe to say this is one writing assignment that goes terribly awry.
11) V for Vendetta (April 1)
If you’ve ever wondered why Guy Fawkes masks are the fashion of choice for the hacktivists of Anonymous, look no further than this 2006 dystopian thriller based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Natalie Portman stars as Evey, a young woman living in an oppressive, fascist future England in which propaganda is rampant and “undesirables” regularly vanish in the night. After she’s rescued from thugs by a mysterious masked vigilante calling himself V, Evey begins to question the quiet life she’s lived and realize that the inaction of good people such as herself is what has led the world to such a dire circumstance. It’s worth watching for Hugo Weaving’s masterful performance alone, imparting V with fury, compassion, and wit, in spite of being trapped behind an expressionless mask the entire time.
12) Look Who’s Back (April 9)
Whoever you might be guessing is back, there’s a good chance your answer wasn’t “Hitler.” Nevertheless, that’s the concept behind this bizarre 2015 German satire in which the Führer himself awakens in a vacant lot in Berlin, some 70 years after taking his own life at the climax of World War II. Borrowing a page from Sacha Baron Cohen, Look Who’s Back then mixes scripted sequences with improvised content wherein Hitler (actor Oliver Masucci) interacts with random Germans. To borrow a phrase from Fawlty Towers, don’t mention the war!
13) Turn: Washington’s Spies – Season 2 (April 11)
With popular and critical hits such as The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul hogging the spotlight, it’s understandable if this AMC historical drama has flown below your radar. Since it’s returning for a third season at the end of this month, however, now is the perfect time to binge. Turn follows the history of the real-life Culper Ring, an organization of spies working under the command of General George Washington during the war that birthed our nation. Jamie Bell stars as Abraham Woodhull, a young New York farmer who becomes a key figure in the intelligence ring. Intrigue, assassinations, and a Revolutionary War setting? Sounds like a better version of Assassin’s Creed III.
14) Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 2 (April 15)
The adorable Ellie Kemper returns for a sophomore year as Kimmy, a former cultist now living large in the Big Apple after years of being stuck in a bunker with a lunatic who’d convinced her she survived the end of the world. Co-created by Tina Fey, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has plenty to offer for anyone who still misses 30 Rock, from the same kooky sense of humor to appearances by Rock vets such as Jane Krakowski and Fey herself. Season 2 will see Kimmy reconnect with her estranged mom, plenty of guest stars, and Kemper in an elf costume. It’s frankly impossible to dislike this show, and if you even try, you should feel bad.March
Pick of the Month: Marvel’s Daredevil: Season 2 (March 18)
Marvel and Netflix kicked off their ongoing partnership with a bang last spring, finally giving the devil his due in the form of a Daredevil TV series that was as smart, dark, and brutal as the character deserved. Thanks to the brooding performance of lead Charlie Cox and the behind-the-scenes talents of tag-team showrunners Drew Goddard and Steven S. DeKnight, all those bad memories of Ben Affleck in red leather were forgotten. We also got a truly terrifying Kingpin courtesy of Vincent D’Onofrio and an overall worthy launch of Marvel and Netflix’s roadmap toward the eventual Defenders miniseries.
For season 2, there’s even more to be excited about, because the Punisher is coming to Hell’s Kitchen. The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal joins Daredevil as a ruthless vigilante who’s willing to take his war on crime a lot further than old hornhead, and who serves as a reminder of just how far down the abyss Matt Murdock might fall if he’s not careful. As if the Punisher didn’t complicate things enough, Matt will also have to deal with his old flame Elektra (Élodie Yung) reentering his life. Fans of the comics know that she brings more baggage with her than your average ex… and the bags are all filled with knives.
2) Adult Beginners (March 1)
The League’s Nick Kroll stars as a former hotshot Manhattan entrepreneur whose company takes a nosedive on the eve on its launch. His life in disarray, Jake (Kroll) is forced to move in with his pregnant sister (Rose Byrne) and brother-in-law (Bobby Cannavale)… and to get a taste of real responsibility as nanny to his 3-year-old nephew. Reviews were mixed, but I’m a fan of Kroll so I’ll give it a look-see regardless. Wait, or was it Krull I liked?
3) Before We Go (March 1)
Captain America himself took a break from bouncing his adamantium shield off the face of bad guys long enough to helm this romantic drama. Cap actor Chris Evans made his feature directorial debut on Before We Go, in which he also co-stars as a man who gets swept up into a long overnight adventure with a beautiful stranger (Alice Eve) after she misses her train at Grand Central Station. Brooke desperately needs to get home to Boston by morning, so she and Nick (Evans) embark on a series of romantic mishaps trying to figure out how to get her where she needs to go.
4) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (March 1)
After the controversial Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious franchise director Justin Lin is taking the helm for the next sequel, Star Trek Beyond. Meanwhile, Trek is due to return to the small screen next year with a new series headed for CBS’s exclusive streaming service and with Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) serving as showrunner. Thankfully, whatever happens with the future of where no man has gone before, we’ll always have Trek’s finest hour to return to, and you can enjoy it again on Netflix this March. Clear a couple of hours to rewatch Wrath of Khan for the umpteenth time, or check out the epic battle between the crew of the Enterprise and genetically engineered madman Khan for the first time if you’ve never seen it. But remember a blanket; it is very cold in space.
5) House of Cards: Season 4 (March 4)
Netflix’s flagship political drama returns with the duplicitous Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) still ensconced in the White House and enjoying the fruits of many decades’ worth of scheming, deceit, and betrayal. Unfortunately, he may have to enjoy that power without the one person who has been his partner in crime from the start. Last season’s shocker of an ending saw First Lady Claire (Robin Wright) finally fed up with Frank’s disrespect, declaring she was leaving him—leaving Frank, for once, unsure what to do. Safe to say the fourth season will focus heavily on the crumbling of Frank and Claire’s relationship, as well as the fact that Frank is in the midst of an election year. But honestly, what could the House of Cards writers possibly come up with that will be more outlandish than this real-world election cycle?
6) Louie: Season 5 (March 4)
It’s hard to believe that Louis C.K.’s brilliant semi-autobiographical TV series is already five seasons deep, but that just serves as the perfect excuse for a binge watch. The fifth season is a bit shorter than previous outings, clocking in at eight episodes of the usual vignettes focusing on a fictionalized Louie’s career, family drama, dating disasters, and general existential neuroses. The guest list for the season is as impressive as always, featuring appearances by Matthew Broderick, Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Michael Cera, Jimmy Fallon, and Charles Grodin, as well as comedians Steven Wright, Todd Barry, Jim Norton, and Nick DiPaolo.
7) Cuckoo: Seasons 1-2 (March 7)
In this 2012 British sitcom, young Rachel (Tamla Kari) returns home to Staffordshire after a year abroad, stunning her parents when she introduces American Dale (SNL’s Andy Samberg), a free-spirited American friend… who also happens to be Rachel’s new husband. Surprise! Samberg’s schedule didn’t permit him to return to the U.K. for season 2, so he was replaced with a new character, played by Twilight’s Taylor Lautner. Andy Samberg, Taylor Lautner—yeah, that’s pretty much a one-for-one switch, right? Fun fact: NBC ordered a pilot based on Cuckoo this past March, with Michael Chiklis and Cheryl Hines playing the put-upon parents.
8) Hateship Loveship (March 9)
It’s been fascinating to watch Kristen Wiig’s career arc post-Bridesmaids. She’s about to star in the Ghostbusters reboot, which could be a huge blockbuster or a massive flop. But in the meantime, rather than just cranking out easy studio comedies, she’s continued to work on interesting little smaller flicks such as Welcome to Me, The Skeleton Twins, and Girl Most Likely. Add to that roster Hateship Loveship, based on a 2001 short story by Alice Munro. Wiig plays a nanny to a teenage girl and her elderly grandfather. Teen Sabitha decides it would be funny if she tricked the nanny into thinking her recovering addict father (Guy Pearce) is interested in her, kicking off an elaborate ongoing ruse that soon turns into something more.
9) Flaked: Season 1 (March 11)
Arrested Development alums Will Arnett and Mitch Hurwitz reunite on Netflix for this new comedy series in which Arnett plays“a self-help guru named Chip who’s struggling to stay a step ahead of his own lies.” You had me at “Will Arnett as a self-help guru,” but the role looks to be considerably more earnest than AD’s GOB. Ruth Kearney stars opposite Arnett as a waitress and love interest named London. I’ll watch the hell out of anything with Mitch Hurwitz’s name on it, and the trailer below looks pretty great. The first season will run for eight episodes, making it a perfect bite-size palate cleanser between House of Cards and Daredevil.
10) Pee-wee’s Big Holiday (March 18)
It’s been nearly 30 years since we last got a Pee-wee movie (1988’s Big Top Pee-wee, for the record), but that long drought is about to be over. Star Paul Reubens and producer Judd Apatow teamed up for this month’s big Pee-wee return outing, in which the goofy manchild takes a trip that becomes an “epic story of friendship and destiny.” Director John Lee (Broad City) helms a script co-written by Reubens and Paul Rust (who also stars in and co-created Netflix’s recent rom-com series Love with Apatow and Lesley Arfin). The cast also includes True Blood’s Tara Buck and Joe Manganiello, with Manganiello playing Pee-wee’s best friend. Let’s just hope he doesn’t say the secret word.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.
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.
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.
Being a Radiohead fan means living your life in a state of constant surprise and confusion. Notoriously press shy frontman Thom Yorke and his ragtag crew of virtuoso musicians appear even more perplexing and mysterious in the age of social media.
That was reaffirmed last weekend when cryptic flyers began appearing in the U.K. Then the band began deleting their social media presence with seemingly no explanation. For many, this was a clear sign that Radiohead was about to drop their ninth album.
Many legions of fans were unconvinced, however. Reddit user InsanityDefinition swore to eat a photo of Yorke if the band's new album was released this week and recruited others to join in the effort. Lo and behold, Radiohead announced on Friday that they would digitally release a yet-to-be-named album on Sunday.
InsanityDefinition copped up to the error in judgement, detailing how they'd eat the photo on Reddit:
I will personally be printing off an image onto regular paper. The image will probably be from the new singles' video because Thom looks like a stud in it. Can't do a regular photo sheet as that may actually be very unpleasant to eat. I'll probably rip the picture into small, small pieces and combine it with a couple of cups of a soda or some other beverage, as eating a half sheet of paper without anything else may actually prove detrimental to my health.
While this particular redditor is waiting until the new album's release to go through with the bizarre meal, other fans have already bitten the bullet.
Here's video evidence below:One Radiohead fan even consumed his photo with a bowl of cereal and milk. Truly, a breakfast of champions. The gesture evokes 2003's "Where I End and You Begin," a song from the band's Hail to the Thief LP. Its repetitive chorus has Yorke proclaiming, "I will eat you alive, I will eat you alive, I will eat you alive, I will eat you alive."
Here's to eating your words. Literally.
A Giant Dog is in a good place. The Texas punks are signed to perennially credible Merge Records. Their new album, Pile, is out today after 23 months of dust and logistics. The band is even set to embark on a 22-date national tour this weekend.
But without the benefit of a Tidal exclusive or a Zane Lowe interview on Beats 1 Radio to signal an online arrival, the indie band had to do something special to get the word out about their third LP. For this, the punks decided to post the entire record to Bandcamp a week prior to its release.
“It's a sneak peak, kind of like sending somebody a nude selfie with a dildo but suggesting that that dildo could be you," singer Sabrina Ellis tells the Daily Dot.
“I can say that Bandcamp's the only thing we've made money from aside from vinyl since we've started,” guitarist Andy Bauer adds. “It'll probably be what we make the most money off of digitally.”
The Bandcamp stream goes dark next week. You’re welcome to stop right now and listen before it's too late.
Pile is a speedy, shimmering glam-punk romp about sex, lost youth, and investing your 20s in a haze of marijuana smoke. Spoon’s Britt Daniel drops in to sing an acoustic ballad, lending the album even more heft. Ellis is surprisingly specific about its sonic parameters, describing the music as “Shaun White on a snowboard holding two tampons in each hand.”
Onstage, the band has the luxury of being even more powerful than that imagery implies. Ellis howls and storms with the urgency of a high school theater kid who can’t wait to graduate.
The five-piece band is talking after a rehearsal in North Austin, two days before Saturday’s release concert downtown at Barracuda. Ellis is vaping and enjoying her Snoop Dogg-edition pen; as the band’s larger-than-life centerpiece, she seems tired but sharp enough to quip.
“This is his signature pen so it's got blue marijuana leaves and it's just really deluxe. As we make this a career, I’m trying to be more career-minded,” she deadpans. “Since the Internet isn't going to give us any money, we just follow Snoop's lead as best we can: Do gangster shit to get money.”
Ellis notes that the way musicians thrive in the digital age is to feed their enterprise with licensing deals. And she’s clear that the band aims to land corporate sponsorships—“ideally somebody who makes video games or cookies.”
As for Bandcamp, the band members seem in universal agreement that it’s the choice digital medium for independent punk rock.
“It's pretty reassuring to get emails like every couple of days, almost every day, about somebody purchasing [our] music,” bassist Graham Low says.
Singer and guitarist Andrew Cashen sums up the love best: “It's a platform that people go to when they want to know that their money is getting back to the artist.”
According to Billboard, Bandcamp has paid artists $150 million throughout its eight-year history. The Sea Ranch, California-based music bazaar takes 15 percent of digital sales, and 10 percent of physical goods.
All things being equal, the band would prefer fans shelled out for the vinyl version of Pile. According to Bauer, it’s the most bottom-line surging transaction. He adds that Merge, a crown-bestowing label that’s worked with the likes of Arcade Fire and Bob Mould, began its promotional push for Pile three months ago. A Giant Dog is certainly not beholden to traditional metrics of success, however.
After holding out for “fair” record deals in the wake of 2013’s breakthrough second album, Bone, that gamble appears to have paid off.
“We were just really hard-headed and, in that way, we're kind of entering it as a career with the groundwork laid for whatever happens to happen in a fair way,” Ellis says of the band’s partnership with Merge, before feeling self-aware about the business-minded answer. “I'm being boring,” she laments.
On Friday, Pile also landed on free streaming giant Spotify. Fans can skip the vinyl edition, or not bother to purchase a digital copy at all. The band feels a little weird about this but are more than happy to attract listeners no matter the price point.
“I had no problem with free music, there's no other real way to get our band name out there,” Cashen says. “My opinion might change as we venture into this being a career.”
For now, the feeling of love is mutual between A Giant Dog and its adoring listeners. The band certainly won't be changing their tune when it comes fan appreciation anytime soon.
If the current state of the GOP doesn't have you praying already, Saturday Night Live's "Church Lady" open might inspire you yet.
Even a "Lucifer in the flesh" like Cruz is a little too religious for the devout Church Lady. To Carvey's character, Cruz is just a tad "preachy." She quickly reveals her skepticism over whether or not it was truly God's plan for the quitter to get humiliated. Certainly, the lord works in mysterious ways.
Soon after, the "Tangerine Tornado" known as Trump pops in for some Bible chat. Turns out his favorite books in the Holy Scripture include "2 Genesis 2 Furious" and the part where Jon Snow comes back to life. Hey, that's one thing we can agree with Trump on.And if Trump's awful enough to scare off Satan back to the depths of hell, we're all screwed if he wins.
Radiohead fans were treated to an early surprise on Sunday when the band's ninth LP suddenly appeared on Google Play well before its rumored 2pm ET release.
Also included is the live staple "Identikit," which finally makes its way to a Radiohead record. The track debuted in 2012, with the band performing it in Miami as they kicked off their world tour. "Identikit" has since delighted fans at festivals like Coachella as well as at copious other venues.
Similarly, "Burn the Witch" has appeared in various incarnates over the years, allegedly having been written over a decade ago.Many Radiohead fans have been skeptical that a follow-up to 2011's King of Limbs would finally hit airwaves, to the point that they were willing to eat photos of Thom Yorke were an album to be released.
Those fans are now eating their words and their favorite frontman, undoubtedly grateful that the rumored LP9 wasn't some type of publicity stunt.
A Moon Shaped Pool was previously available for purchase on Google Play but has since been taken down. It is, however, on iTunes, Apple Music, and Tidal and is set to be released in physical formats on June 17.
Update 2:21pm CT, May 8: This article has been updated to include additional availability information for A Moon Shaped Pool.
Correction: Radiohead will be making its debut Austin City Limits Festival performance in 2016.
With a little confusion—mostly via Google Play’s gun-jumping gaffe—English rock band Radiohead released its latest and ninth studio album on Sunday.The life-giving and gorgeous A Moon Shaped Pool landed on Tidal, iTunes, and Apple Music. It instantly drew noise from social media.
The five-piece would divert from straightforward rock sensibilities—diving headlong into mixtures of Autechre-influenced electronics, jazz, and classical—with Kid A and its kid brother, Amnesiac. 2007’s In Rainbows featured a return to smoother textures. The King of Limbs, an angular and loopy mutiny of sounds, gained mixed reactions upon its 2011 release.
Leading to the announcement of LP No. 9, Radiohead dumped all of the band’s Internet presence recently, setting pretext and anticipation for an imminent release. There was a somewhat-disturbing claymation video and a song for “Burn the Witch.” The Paul Thomas Anderson-directed visual for “Daydreaming” came next.
The London Contemporary Orchestra-accompanied “Burn the Witch, “ first played onstage 10 years ago, provides one of the Radiohead’s trademarks—a string-driven, forever-advancing brood, tethered to Yorke’s towering vocals. However—as with most Radiohead bombast—there’s head-nod bounce underneath, as underpinning to the flightier elements. The piano-led “Daydreaming” has Yorke floating through a stringing haze, settling into an inevitable despair.
Exactly where you’d expect the band to lean into a full-tilt rock (or electronic) affair, they double down on the meditation. The slow-burning “Deck Dark” actually starts with the full chorus, then goes into the verse as it boils into a bluesy, spaced-out groove.
But, just in time, the boys raise the angst and anguish levels. Says a blaming Yorke: “You really messed up everything,” as he delivers on the album’s best track “Ful Stop.” It’s a fully textured Krautrock stalker, featuring second drummer Clive Deamer of Portishead for additional structure.
The classical and psyche-jazz thunderstorm “Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief” breathes and rumbles sounds into all discernible aural dimensions and directions. Closing strong as usual, and sure to please hardcore fans with its presence, “True Love Waits” is reimagined as an arresting, swan-graceful ultimatum from Yorke. It's a song the band has performed since 1995, featuring biting lyrics like “I'll drown my beliefs to have your babies... just don't leave.”
A Moon Shaped Pool is a mostly beautiful album, intensely intricate and full. There’s a wistfulness, and particular sonic familiarity in its whole, while leaving room for additional experimentation. (Check the bossa nova and folk tones on “Present Tense.”) The only nostalgic qualities missing are the hard-charging, guttural efforts found on favorites like “Electioneering” from OK Computer, or “2+2=5” from Hail to the Thief.
The anticipation and accompanying flourish of A Moon Shaped Pool is signal and sign that a band can maintain release revelry based solely on the assumption of inherent greatness. At a handful of listens in the few hours since its release, it’s too early to affix Pool’s notch alongside or between any two album in Radiohead’s indomitable and still-listenable catalog. However, as it stands today, it should finish among the year’s best.
We here at the Daily Dot love our streaming TV and movies, but we also know how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the massive lists of comings and goings on streaming platforms each month. Here’s our curated take of what’s new on Amazon and Hulu this month.
Check our for Netflix list for more streaming picks.
Pick of the Month: Amazon’s HBO Lineup Gains Mr. Show
Amazon’s deal with HBO still won’t net you more recent hits such as Game of Thrones or True Detective, but Amazon Prime customers will be getting some true gems later this month. First and foremost, as of May 21, Prime subscribers will be able to stream all four seasons of Mr. Show with Bob and David. Mr. Show stars Bob Odenkirk and David Cross recently reunited for Netflix’s W/ Bob & David, but this show is the reason anybody gave a crap about that reunion in the first place. Alongside a crew of collaborators that includes Jack Black, Brian Posehn, Sarah Silverman, and Paul F. Tompkins, these two gave the world some of the best sketch comedy ever aired (see the “Pre-Taped Call-In Show,” below).
Also on deck this May: Boardwalk Empire: Season 4, Life’s Too Short: Season 1, Tell Me You Love Me: Season 1, True Blood: Season 6, and the one and only season of Louis CK’s earlier, less-acclaimed show everybody forgot about, Lucky Louie. It definitely didn’t approach the brilliance of his FX show, but it remains a fascinating and often funny pop culture relic.
2) Bond… James Bond (Amazon Prime/Hulu, May 1)
If HBO’s grab-bag of goodness has you impatiently counting the days until May 21, how about a Bond marathon? Both Amazon Prime and Hulu have added a ton of classic 007 flicks for your streaming enjoyment. Mix up some martinis, practice your favorite double-entendres, and settle in for the likes of Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, Die Another Day, Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, Live and Let Die, Octopussy, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Living Daylights, and Never Say Never Again.
3) Airplane! (Amazon Prime/Hulu, May 1)
Still one of the best spoof films of all time nearly 40 years after its original release, the classic comedy from the team of Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, Airplane! remains endlessly quotable, delightfully silly, and just plain goddamn funny. I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley. (Prime customers can also stream the lesser follow-up, Airplane II: The Sequel).
4) Election (Amazon Prime/Hulu, May 1)
Director Alexander Payne teamed with co-screenwriter Jim Taylor to adapt Tom Perrotta’s 1998 novel about a vicious political political power struggle… that just happens to be unfolding in a suburban high school in Omaha, Nebraska. Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon) is a snooty overachiever who thinks she’s got the student council presidency all locked up. Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) is an otherwise good teacher with a personal vendetta against Tracy. Unlikable sociopaths and emotions trumping common sense? Sounds like politics to me.
5) Ghost World (Amazon Prime/Hulu, May 1)
Long before she was kicking ass as Black Widow, a young Scarlett Johansson starred alongside Thora Birch in this adaptation of Daniel Clowes’ acclaimed graphic novel. Enid (Birch) and Rebecca (Johansson) are best friends, a pair of odd ducks who never fit in in high school and who are now navigating the murky road beyond it. After responding to a personal ad as a joke, they befriend a lonely middle-aged music lover named Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a relationship which will irrevocably change both their friendship and their lives.
6) Incident at Loch Ness (Amazon Prime/Hulu, May 1)
In this 2004 mockumentary, acclaimed director “Werner Herzog” (played by acclaimed director Werner Herzog) and crew set out to investigate the legend of the Loch Ness monster. Surrounding the fictional film within a film is another fictional film within a film, as “Werner Herzog” is constantly followed around by a film crew making a documentary about Herzog’s life and career. To make matters more complicated, one of the producers might be trying to fake a sighting of the creature to make for a better movie, but then it looks like they begin encountering the monster for real, and by this point it’s all metafictional enough to give even Nessie a headache.
7) In the Flesh: Seasons 1 & 2 (Hulu, May 1)
The Walking Dead has occasionally touched on the idea of sympathy for the poor, shambling undead, but the British series In the Flesh takes that empathy to a whole other level. Set in a small English town in the aftermath of a massive zombie outbreak, In the Flesh follows young Kieran Walker (Luke Newberry), a reanimated corpse who has been rehabilitated thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, and who now just wants to live his (after)life. Wracked with guilt over the violence he committed while in his mindless state, Kieran also faces understandable prejudice from the living who lost friends and family during the “Pale Wars” against the undead.
8) Mystery Team (Amazon Prime/Hulu, May 1)
Before most of us got to know him as Troy from Community or "Childish Gambino" on the stage, Donald Glover was part of the Internet sketch comedy troupe Derrick Comedy. They reunited in 2009 to produce this comedy about a team of wide-eyed "boy detectives" whose whole Encyclopedia Brown act isn't nearly as endearing now that they're old enough to go to college. Determined to prove to the world that they can be "real" detectives, they decide to graduate from finding missing bikes to solving something a little more grown-up—a double homicide.
9) Creative Control (Amazon Prime, May 12)
Amazon snatched up the rights to this American/French sci-fi satire at South by Southwest last year, and it will get both a theatrical and streaming release this month. Shot in stark black and white, Creative Control follows an ad executive who gets hooked on a new type of experimental augmented reality glasses that add a “magical layer” on top of mundane everyday life. Things get even more complicated when he begins using the glasses to carry on a virtual affair with an avatar of his buddy’s girlfriend.
1) Batman (Amazon, April 1)
Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight is currently dividing critics but brutalizing the box office in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but if that film left you with a craving to see the Waynes murdered onscreen one more time, now you can revisit Tim Burton’s dark, twisted take on Batman courtesy of this 1989 outing. Michael Keaton pulls off a surprisingly effective turn as the Caped Crusader, while Jack Nicholson chews scenery like popcorn as The Joker. Now we can all get back into those arguments about who’s the best version of the Clown Prince of Crime, just in time for Jared Leto to enter the equation in this summer’s Suicide Squad.
This 1997 Canadian horror thriller features a killer high concept and a jaw-dropping opening that brilliantly sets up the diabolical fun that’s to come. Several strangers awaken inside a maze of cubical rooms, each seemingly identical and yet hiding both secrets and deadly traps. The group must work together to survive, try and figure out why they’ve been kidnapped and dropped into the labyrinth, and find a way to the exit—assuming there is one. Skip the subpar sequels and stick with this fiendishly clever original.
3) E.T. the Extra-terrestrial (Hulu with Showtime, April 1)
For our full write-up, see this month’s Netflix picks.
Everybody needs to call in sick once in a while, but few have done it with as much style as the titular Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) in the classic 1986 American comedy that bears his name. High schooler Bueller decides it’s simply too perfect a day to waste learning algebra, so he plays hooky in grandiose fashion, bringing along his reluctant sadsack best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and the beautiful Sloane (Mia Sara). Forever dogging his steps is Principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), who’s determined to catch Ferris in the act.
5) Gremlins (Amazon, April 1)
1) Don’t expose it to bright lights. 2) Don’t get it wet. 3) Don’t feed it after midnight. Those are the three rules the mysterious owner of a Chinatown shop imparts when Randall Peltzer purchases a most peculiar Christmas present for his son Billy. It’s called a “mogwai,” and this furry little ball of adorableness looks like it couldn’t harm a fly. And it couldn’t… as long as you follow the rules. Is there any doubt that somebody’s going to break the rules? Of course they’re going to break the rules. Christmastime chaos soon reigns in this classic Joe Dante horror/comedy, but the best gift of all would be if they never get around to that remake…
6) Lucky Number Slevin (Hulu with Showtime, April 1)
In spite of his mouthful of a name, Slevin Kelevra (Josh Hartnett) is just an ordinary dude, in town to visit a friend in New York City. Unfortunately, that friend—Nick Fisher—is nowhere to be found, and even more unfortunately, bad people keep showing up and assuming Slevin is Nick. Before he can even find a proper change of clothes, Slevin is caught up in a long-running war between two mob bosses (Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley), neither of whom is willing to listen to Slevin’s tale of mistaken identity. He’s forced to play along with their schemes or wind up six feet under, but it turns out there’s a lot more going on here than even the crime bosses realize.
7) Risky Business (Amazon, April 1)
This 1983 romantic comedy helped propel Tom Cruise toward Hollywood superstardom, and his iconic underpants/sock slide to the tune of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” is one of those immortal movie moments people will be parodying for decades to come. Cruise stars as Joel Goodson, a promising high school student with his sights set on attending Princeton. After his parents take a trip out of town, Joel goes a bit off the rails, hiring and then befriending a beautiful prostitute named Lana (Rebecca De Mornay). That’s just the first domino in a series that knocks Joel down a path of dire circumstances, unexpected business opportunities, and unfriendly pimps.
8) Swimming With Sharks (Amazon, April 1)
Kevin Spacey may have scenery-chewing down to an art in Netflix’s House of Cards, but this 1994 black comedy proves he was picking splinters out of his teeth long before he went to Washington. Frank Whaley stars as a naive kid who lands a job as personal assistant to the ruthless Buddy Ackerman (Spacey), a coarse, take-no-prisoners Hollywood studio exec with a talent for brutal insults and no tolerance whatsoever for mistakes on the part of his underlings. It might seem like Frank Underwood is unstoppable on House of Cards, but I think Buddy Ackerman might have a shot if given the chance.
9) The Big Lebowski (Amazon, April 1)
The Coen Brothers may have made better movies before or since 1998’s noirish stoner comedy The Big Lebowski, but there’s no question that it cast ripples throughout the pop-culture pond that are still jostling the shore. Jeff Bridges kills the role he was born to play as The Dude, a congenial slacker and bowling aficionado who is mistaken for somebody else and caught up in a tangled web involving kidnappings, extortion, rug theft, pornography, nihilists, and severed toes. Endlessly quotable, gleefully ridiculous, and a pitch-perfect satire of Raymond Chandler-style hardboiled detective fiction, The Big Lebowski gets better with every viewing. But that’s just, like, my opinion, man. (Coen fans with a Prime membership can also check out Fargo, Blood Simple, Intolerable Cruelty, and The Hudsucker Proxy.)
1) Bosch: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, March 11)
Lost alum Titus Welliver returns for a second season as Los Angeles police detective Harry Bosch in this series based on the novels of Michael Connelly. Just as last year’s freshman season loosely adapted three of Connelly’s novels, season 2 will tackle another trio: Trunk Music, The Drop, and The Last Coyote. In addition to Bosch’s ongoing personal problems, this season will explore corruption within the police force and domestic terrorism, all of it kicked off with a dead body in a trunk and what at first appears to be a straightforward mob hit. The first season of Bosch was perfect binge-fodder, with multiple cases interweaving in a way that kept you interested in all of them but still provided enough variety and twists to keep you guessing. Connelly’s novel series is up to nearly 20 books, so hopefully Welliver will be playing Harry Bosch for a long time to come.
2) Ghostbusters/Ghostbusters II (Amazon Prime, March 1)
It’s going to be a big year for Ghostbusters, one way or another. The reboot starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones, and directed by Paul Feig, is due out this summer. Whether fans will accept a new spin on such a beloved classic remains to be seen, but the nice thing is that, even if the new Ghostbusters is a complete trainwreck, we’ll always have the original. Having just rewatched it recently, I can confirm that Ghostbusters holds up brilliantly, every bit as charming, quotable, and hilarious now as it was in 1984. Ghostbusters II… well, less so, but I think it gets an unfairly bad rap. How else would we have known that the world was going to end this past Valentine’s Day?
3) American Psycho (Amazon Prime, March 1)
Long before Christian Bale was playing a crazy, violent rich guy in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films, he was playing a crazy, violent rich guy in Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 thriller/black comedy novel. But this crazy, violent rich guy is less about punching people while wearing elaborate costumes and more about hooker threesomes and axe murder. Bale plays Patrick Bateman, a narcissistic investment banker who loves pop music and the finer things in life. And also killing people (or fantasizing about killing people, depending on your interpretation of the film). Just remember: If you go to someone’s house and they have plastic covering the floor, you should pay attention to your surroundings.
4) Damages: Seasons 1-5 (Hulu, March 1)
Glenn Close stars as ruthless but brilliant lawyer Patty Hewes in this critically acclaimed legal drama from Daniel Zelman and Glenn and Todd A. Kessler (who later went on to create Netflix’s Bloodline). Rose Byrne stars as Ellen Parsons, a recent law school graduate who is swept into a world of moral compromise as Hewes’ protégée. Unlike most legal shows, each season of Damages follows a single case from start to finish. The show earned Close a pair of Emmys for her performance, and Damages attracted a genuinely gobsmacking lineup of acting talent over the years, including John Goodman, Lily Tomlin, Ted Danson, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, and Martin Short, to name just a few.
5) Dawson’s Creek: Seasons 1-6 (Hulu, March 1)
Hulu is unleashing a pair of major nostalgia bombs onto ’90s kids like myself this month. First up is Dawson’s Creek, Kevin Williamson’s ode to teenage longing and James Van Der Beek’s enormous forehead. The Beek stars as the titular Dawson Leery, aspiring filmmaker and full-time romantic, who is frequently crushing on girl-next-door Joey Potter (Katie Holmes), with bad(der) boy Pacey (Joshua Jackson) and Jen (Michelle Williams) tumbling around in the romantic mix as well. It’s painfully earnest and eminently mockable, but damned if it didn’t break a lot of hearts back in high school. The music! The hair! The heartstrings!
6) Party of Five: Season 1-6 (Hulu, March 1)
Speaking of ’90s melodrama, it didn’t get much more melodramatic than Party of Five, which starred eventual Lost leading man Matthew Fox as 24-year-old Charlie Salinger, an immature ladies’ man forced to take on real responsibilities after his parents are killed by a drunk driver. He becomes the de facto head of the Salinger household, overseeing 16-year-old Bailey (Scott Wolf), 15-year-old Julia (Neve Campbell), 11-year-old Claudia (Lacey Chabert), and infant Owen. Over the course of six seasons, the Salinger clan faces down just about every dramatic development you could think of, from cancer to drug addiction to the ongoing trauma of losing their parents. Binge it back to back with Dawson’s Creek and your closet’s flannel content will spontaneously increase by at least 300 percent.
7) Gattaca (Amazon Prime, March 3)
Andrew Niccol’s hugely underrated Gattaca is set in a future that seems increasingly plausible, one where prospective parents are able to custom-design their children, screening out any inherited flaws or harmful mutations. In a world of perfect people, Vincent Freeman (Ethan Hawke) is a natural-born “in-valid,” doomed by his genetics to menial jobs and discrimination. Vincent dreams of traveling into space, so much so that he works as a janitor at the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation, just so he can be a little closer to his aspirations. But when he concocts a plan to fool the system and pose as someone else, Vincent puts himself square in the crosshairs of a system designed to suppress anyone who refuses to stick to their proper roles within society. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, inspirational, and absolutely a classic that more people should know about. Give it a watch.
8) Louie: Season 5 (Amazon Prime/Hulu, March 4)
See our write-up in this month’s Netflix column for details.
9) The Comedians: Season 1 (Hulu, March 9)
Developed by Billy Crystal, Larry Charles, Matt Nix, and Ben Wexler, The Comedians stars Crystal as a fictionalized version of himself who is forced to pair up with young comedian Josh Gad in order to get his new late-night comedy sketch series made. The partnership is an ungainly, Frankenstein’s monster of a collaboration, but the two struggle both on and off the job to find common ground and bond so they don’t wind up killing each other. In the tradition of shows like The Larry Sanders Show and Curb Your Enthusiasm, celebs regularly turn up playing versions of themselves, including Mel Brooks, Rob Reiner, and even Larry Charles himself. The show only lasted one season, so enjoy.
10) Orphan Black: Season 3 (Amazon Prime, March 27)
BBC America’s brilliant clone drama returns for a fourth season on April 14, which will give you plenty of time to catch up now that Amazon Prime is adding the third season. Actress Tatiana Maslany continues to give a freaking master class in acting by portraying multiple different clones, each with their own distinct look, voice, personalities, and quirks. Honestly, if they ever need to trim the budget, Maslany could probably hold down this entire show by herself, and I would absolutely watch that. In season 3, the clones continue to try and dig into the mystery of their origins and the Dyad Institute, but things become considerably complicated with the revelation that there is another project out there that’s been churning out male clones. Let the clone-on-clone (on-clone-on-clone-on-clone) action commence…February
1) 11.22.63 (Hulu, Feb. 15)
What if you found a time portal? What if you found it in the back of a diner? Weird, right, but still pretty cool. Less cool: if it only takes you to the same day in 1958, so checking out the dinosaurs or visiting the future are off the table. But when teacher Jake Epping (James Franco) finds himself in just that situation, he decides to try and change one of the great focal points of the 20th century: He will travel into the past and try to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But again, the portal only links to 1958, and since JFK was murdered in 1963, Jake is going to have some time to kill. Then again, he might just need it, since figuring out how to prevent an event that people are still arguing the true nature of even 50 years later is probably going to take some planning. 11.22.63 is based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel, and the miniseries was executive produced by J.J. “Star Wars, yo” Abrams.
2) Amy (Amazon Prime, Feb. 1)
This Oscar-nominated documentary traces the life and death of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning at the young age of 27 in 2011. The five-time Grammy winner’s problems with substance abuse were no secret—how could they be when one of her most famous songs was about not wanting to go to rehab?—but the film explores those struggles in detail, as well as including tons of interview footage and previously unseen performances. It won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar this year.
3) Grease Live! (Hulu, Feb. 1)
The trend of staging live musicals on network TV continues with Grease Live! (exclamation point theirs). Fox is taking viewers back to Rydell High for one night only, with Julianne Hough taking the role of Sandy, Aaron Tveit as Danny, and High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens as Rizzo. Those names don’t mean anything to me since I’ve never sat through Grease and have no intention to, but I’m sure there are plenty of cord-cutters out there who will be excited to see Grease Live! on Hulu the day after it airs on Fox. It’s the one that you want.
4) The Kings of Summer (Amazon Prime, Feb. 1)
Sick of their parents and the mundanity of everyday life, three teenage friends set off to build a house in the woods and live off the land over the course of one long summer. The Kings of Summer was the debut feature film for director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and the first produced film for screenwriter Chris Galletta, and the result is an endearing, sun-dappled coming-of-age flick that’s perfect viewing if you’re currently snowed in and freezing. Parks & Rec’s Nick Offerman also co-stars as the lead’s struggling single father.
5) Nintendo Quest (Amazon Prime, Feb. 1)
This 2015 documentary follows a pair of game lovers as they embark on a road trip with one goal in mind: finding and buying a copy of every single game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System—all 678 of them. They’ve got 30 days, and they’re not allowed to order any of them online. Double-feature this one with that documentary about the E.T. video-game landfill and you’ve got yourself the makings of a good time. Along the way, the pair also delve into plenty of history and trivia about probably the best-known video game company of all time.
6) UnREAL: Season 1 (Hulu, Feb. 3)
You have to think that the behind-the-scenes reality of most “reality” shows is far more interesting than the heavily edited final product, so I’m surprised we haven’t seen more shows that take the next incestuous metafictional leap into showing us what goes into the “reality” we see on screen. The Lifetime series UnREAL takes that concept and makes it even more confusing by fictionalizing it, starring Shiri Appleby as a reality TV producer returning to her popular dating show after having a breakdown the previous season. The show earned solid critical reviews and was the co-brainchild of former Buffy-verse alum Marti Noxon, so consider me sold.
7) Chi-Raq (Amazon Prime, Feb. 5)
Amazon unleashes its first original feature film with this new Spike Lee joint, which hit theaters in early December and becomes free for Amazon Prime subscribers in February. Riffing on the classical Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, Chi-Raq has a group of Chicago women hitting upon an unusual plan to curb gang violence. To wit, until the menfolk knock it off with all the shooting, they won’t be getting any good times from the ladyfolk. The flick is 82 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and features a cast that includes Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Dave Chappelle, and Samuel L. Jackson.
8) Girls: Season 2 (Amazon Prime, Feb. 11)
Amazon Prime’s partnership with HBO offers up tons of the cable network’s back catalog, but is a lot stingier with current content such as Game of Thrones or True Detective. Also on the no-fly list has been everything beyond the first season of HBO’s hit comedy Girls, created by Lena Dunham. Thankfully the slow rollout will continue in February, with the second season becoming available on the 11th. And if you don’t want to wait another few years to get seasons 3 and 4, there’s always HBO Now… (And look, it’s Kylo Ren!)
9) The Americans: Season 3 (Amazon Prime, Feb. 15)
Still firmly on the “criminally underrated” list after three seasons, FX’s The Americans is the Cold War family spy drama you never knew you needed. Keri Russell and Philip Jennings are two KGB operatives embedded in American suburbia, posing as a married couple and raising two kids who haven’t a clue about their parents’ true loyalties. They also happen to be neighbors with an FBI counterintelligence agent, so… awkward. It’s prime—and Prime—binge-watching material if you haven’t given it a shot, and you’ll be surprised at how badass the girl who was Felicity can be. Season 4 premieres March 16 on FX, so catch up while you can!
10)The New Yorker Presents (Amazon Prime, Feb. 16)
Amazon’s new docu-series brings the long-running magazine to the screen with a mix of cartoons, documentary shorts, silly sketches, and tons of other material. Unlike most of Amazon and Netflix’s shows, this one also has a more traditional format, rolling out one 30-minute episode per week just like caveman television. You can go ahead and watch the pilot on Amazon as we speak (hit the link above), which features a documentary segment directed Jonathan Demme and sketch starring Alan Cumming.
11) Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon (Hulu with Showtime, Feb. 20)
This is a great month for fascinating documentaries on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, so we’ll close out this month’s entry with this look at the history of the infamous comedy magazine that spun out of the equally legendary Harvard Lampoon. From the magazine’s heyday in the 1970s, through the launch of the production company that gave us many memorable Vacations, up through the publication’s eventual decline, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead kicks open all the Lampoon’s closets to air out the skeletons, featuring tons of never-before-seen footage. The documentary includes appearances from a who’s who of Hollywood talent, including Judd Apatow, Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo, John Goodman, Christopher Guest, John Landis, and Bill Murray.January 2016
1) Fear the Walking Dead (Hulu, Jan. 26)
There are no doubt quite a few cord-cutters out there who’ve been eagerly waiting for the chance to see the much-hyped Walking Dead spinoff/prequel series Fear the Walking Dead, and now your chance is finally on the horizon. Love or hate its parent series, there’s no question that Fear the Walking Dead had big shoes to fill, and even the mixed reviews that accompanied its run this past summer likely won’t be enough to keep curious Dead fans from wanting to judge for themselves—me included, since I haven’t watched it yet. Fear the Walking Dead is set during the earliest days of the undead outbreak that brings down civilization, following a Los Angeles family as the world begins to crumble around them. And at a brief six episodes long, the first season will make for easy bite-sized bingeing.
2) Scrooged (Hulu, Jan. 1)
Talk about bad timing. It would have made a lot more sense to have Scrooged available for streaming before the holidays were over, but such are the vagaries of entertainment contracts. Still, there’s no bad time to watch or rewatch Bill Murray’s darkly hilarious spin on Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Directed by Richard Donner, Scrooged stars Murray as Frank Cross, a humbug-y TV exec staging a ridiculous live production of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, even though that means forcing his staff to work through the holiday. Just like Scrooge before him, Frank is due for a lesson in the holiday spirit, courtesy of three holiday spirits.
3) 1408 (Amazon Prime, Jan. 5)
Based on one of my favorite Stephen King short stories, 1408 stars John Cusack as Mike Enslin, a writer who’s built a career investigating haunted houses despite being a dyed-in-the-wool nonbeliever. An anonymous postcard tips him off about New York’s Dolphin Hotel, and one particular room—1408—which is supposedly a hotbed of paranormal activity. Enslin is determined to spend the night in the room, ignoring the warnings of the hotel manager (Samuel L. Jackson). After Enslin sets up camp in 1408, he soon learns that his lifelong search for proof of the supernatural is about to reach a terrifying conclusion.
4) Bone Tomahawk (Amazon Prime, Jan. 1)
This horror/Western from writer/director S. Craig Zahler is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Kurt Russell stars as Sheriff Franklin Hunt, who leads a mission to rescue several kidnapped locals from a band of cannibalistic cave-dwellers dubbed “Troglodytes.” In spite of warnings from a Native American familiar with the savage group, Hunt assembles a posse to head into the hills in search of the missing settlers. Unfortunately, they find the Troglodytes, and they prove to be even more brutal than expected, setting up one of the goriest and most disturbing death scenes of 2015. Bone Tomahawk definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of both the the horror and Western genres, it will ensure you never want to venture into a cave again in your life.
5) Goodnight Mommy (Amazon Prime, Jan. 9)
Speaking of scary, this disturbing German horror flick was selected as one of the top five foreign language films of 2015 by the National Board of Review. Goodnight Mommy has a mother (Susanne Wuest) returning home to her twin sons after facial reconstruction surgery, her face draped in bandages. The twins soon become convinced that the woman beneath the bandages is not their mother, but rather some other impostor, and they set out to force her to confess the truth...whatever it takes. Playing on dueling universal fears of something being wrong with your parents or your children, Goodnight Mommy is an unsettling, slow-burn descent into terror, full of surprising twists and with nary a punch pulled.
6) Billions: Season 1 (Amazon Prime with Showtime, Jan. 17)
“What’s the point of having fuck-you money if you never say fuck you?” This new Showtime series stars Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti as a powerful hedge fund king and the determined U.S. Attorney on a collision course with him, respectively. Exploring the world of high finance—and the abuses therein—Billions was created by Ocean’s 13 co-writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien, along with journalist/Too Big to Fail author Andrew Ross Sorkin. Lewis was one of the best parts of Showtime’s Homeland even when it went off the rails, and Giamatti is always a hoot even when he’s in subpar material. Thankfully, Billions looks to offer meaty roles to both of them—and the chance to see the two of them going head-to-head and trying to outsmart each other. Even if you aren’t springing for the Amazon/Showtime package, you’ll be able to watch the premiere episode of Billions Jan. 1 on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Hulu, Roku, and others.
7) Baskets: Season 1 (Amazon Prime, Jan. 22)
This new FX series will be premiering Jan. 21 and then hitting Amazon Prime the following day, with future episodes set to follow that same one-day delay pattern. Created by Louis C.K., Zach Galifianakis, and Jonathan Krisel, Baskets stars Galifianakis as Chip Baskets, a man chasing his dream of becoming a professional clown (apparently there’s more to it than just buying a squeaky nose and some oversized shoes). Unfortunately, that dream took a hit after Chip failed to gain admission to a prestigious French clown school (apparently there are prestigious French clown schools), so now he’s working in the somewhat less prestigious role of “rodeo clown” in Bakersfield, California.
8) Mad Dogs: Season 1 (Amazon Prime, Jan. 22)
Mad Dogs was one of my favorite Amazon pilots I’ve seen, so I’m thrilled the black comedy is dropping its first full season this month. Adapting a 2011 U.K. series of the same name, Mad Dogs follows a group of 40-something friends reuniting at their rich buddy’s posh Belize villa, only to see things take a bloody turn after a series of bad decisions leaves one of them dead and the rest under the thumb of some very bad people. Cris Cole, who created the British original, helped adapt it for Amazon alongside TV vet Shawn Ryan, whose résumé includes The Shield, The Unit, and a pair of my underrated favorites: the short-lived Terriers and Last Resort. The cast is great across the board, including Billy Zane, Ben Chaplin, Michael Imperioli, Steve Zahn, and Romany Malco. The pilot was funny, shocking, and thoroughly addictive, so bring on the rest!
9) Black Sails: Season 3 (Amazon Prime with Starz, Jan. 23)
One of the perks of the Showtime and Starz Amazon subscriptions is that, unlike Amazon’s deal with HBO, they’ll get you access to new episodes as they premiere on their home networks. So that means you won’t have to wait for new episodes of Starz’s pirate drama Black Sails when it returns for its third season on Jan. 23, even if you have bailed on cable and satellite. And if you haven’t checked out Black Sails, this is the perfect time to dive in, since the Amazon membership also gives you access to the first two seasons. The show is actually a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic adventure novel Treasure Island, set two decades before the events of the book and mixing fiction with real-life during the so-called “Golden Age of Piracy.” Lost treasure, swashbuckling, naval battles, and shivered timbers: Black Sails is the most pirate-related fun you can have without Johnny Depp and a bottle of rum.
Pick of the Month: Transparent: Season 2 (Amazon, Dec. 11)
Amazon’s slate of original programming finally found its flagship success with Transparent, which stars Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) as the patriarch of a family who announces to his grown kids that he’s transgender and will begin living as a woman. The series explores both Maura’s transition into living out what she always felt to be true, and her kids—played by Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, and Gaby Hoffman—dealing with the changes. The show boasts a ridiculously impressive 98 percent Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes, and it has picked up a slew of awards, including an Emmy for Tambor’s performance and a Golden Globe for Best TV Series – Musical or Comedy. The show is already renewed for a third season as well.
Best of the rest
1) Dr. No (Hulu, Dec. 1)
Last month Hulu added a motherlode of James Bond movies, adding damn near the entire pre-Brosnan run of agent 007’s adventures. One notable absence, however, was the movie that started it all (setting aside the non-canonical original Casino Royale). Now that oversight has been remedied, as Hulu added 1962’s Dr. No on the first of the month, ensuring you can begin your holiday Bond binge with Sean Connery’s very first outing as the debonair spy with the license to kill. After all, it just wouldn’t be a proper Bond-athon without Ursula Andress emerging from the surf in that white bikini.
2) Friday the 13th series (Hulu, Dec. 1)
Speaking of long-running movie franchises, Hulu’s also ringing in December with a very different killer. I’m not sure who’s got the higher body count, James Bond or Jason Voorhees, but I’m pretty sure Bond wins in the “flagrant womanizing” department. We all know Jason’s aversion to people having sex, after all… December is a weird time to stock up on slasher movies, but if you’re in the mood for a seasonally dissonant bloodbath, Hulu’s got your back, stocking the streaming catalog with the first eight Friday the 13th movies—well, seven. For some reason Friday the 13th – Part V: A New Beginning is missing. Maybe it’ll pull a Dr. No and show up next month. Slay bells ring, are you listening…
3) Good Morning, Vietnam / Good Will Hunting (Hulu with Showtime, Dec. 1)
The holidays are often a mix of the merry and the melancholy, and few actors have ever brought to life both ends of that spectrum as well as the late, much-missed Robin Williams. However your holiday season is playing out, Hulu with Showtime has left a wonderful present under the tree: two of Williams’ best films. And hey, they both start with “Good,” so it’s a natural double feature. In Good Morning, Vietnam, Williams plays an Armed Forces radio DJ in 1965 Saigon whose on-air antics inspire the troops but put him increasingly at odds with his superiors. In Good Will Hunting, Williams gives an Oscar-winning performance as a therapist trying to crack the affected apathy of the brilliant but troubled math genius Will Hunting (Matt Damon). Watch ’em both and raise a glass in Robin’s honor.
4) Young Sherlock Holmes (Hulu, Dec. 1)
Even though it was released in 1985, Young Sherlock Holmes would fit right in with today’s crop of films. It’s a prequel, it’s about an iconic pop-culture character during his younger years—hell, it even has cutting-edge CGI special effects! Well, they were cutting edge at the time. The film explores the first meeting between Sherlock (Nicholas Rowe) and John Watson (Alan Cox), who encounter each other at school and are soon swept up in a mystery involving poison darts, an ancient cult, and good old-fashioned human sacrifice. Barry Levinson directed YSH, from a script by Chris Columbus.
5) Man Seeking Woman: Season 1 (Hulu, Dec. 7)
Jay Baruchel, (Undeclared, How to Train Your Dragon) stars in this FXX sitcom about a young man navigating the perils and pitfalls of trying to find love after a breakup from his longtime girlfriend. That sounds like a thousand other disposable sitcoms you’ve seen before, but this one at least has the advantage of a singular creative vision guiding it. It’s based on Simon Rich’s 2013 book of short stories, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, and Rich serves as showrunner on the series. The show’s featured some noteworthy guest stars in its 10-episode run thus far, including Bill Hader, Sarah Silverman, and Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan, and it’s currently rocking an 81 percent Fresh rating on RottenTomatoes. It’s due to return for a second season on FXX on Jan. 6, 2016.
6) Interstellar (Amazon/Hulu, Dec. 12)
Christopher Nolan’s space epic was one of the most anticipated films of 2014 before it came out… and one of the most controversial and divisive afterwards. Visually stunning and unquestionably ambitious, the film becomes either more interesting or a complete mess in the third act, depending on who you ask. Matthew McConaughey stars as Joe Cooper, a widowed NASA vet living on a dying Earth that’s running out of natural resources. Through a weird set of circumstances related to the aforementioned bonkers third act, Joe winds up enlisted in a secret last-ditch mission to travel through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new planet for humanity to colonize. Taking the mission could literally mean saving the species, but it will also mean he’ll have to leave his young daughter behind, where, thanks to the vagaries of physics, she’ll keep getting older while he stays the same age.
7) Mozart in the Jungle: Season 2 (Amazon, Dec. 30)
Transparent isn’t the only Amazon Original returning for a second season this month. Created by Paul Weitz (About a Boy), Roman Coppola (The Darjeeling Limited), and Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore), Mozart in the Jungle takes viewers inside a world of “sex, drugs, and classical music.” The behind-the-curtain look at modern classical music is revealed through the eyes of Gael García Bernal as composer Rodrigo and Lola Kirke as young oboist Hailey. Like Transparent, Mozart received rockstar critical ratings, currently sitting at 95 percent Fresh on RottenTomatoes, even if it didn’t get nearly the same level of spotlight as Tambor’s show.November 2015
Pick of the Month: The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime, Nov. 20)
The Man in the High Castle is Amazon Studios’ most ambitious project yet, a much-anticipated adaptation of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick’s infamous novel of alternate history. Set in a divergent 1962 in which the Axis powers won World War II, The Man in the High Castle imagines an America under the bootheel of Japanese and German forces. That status quo is threatened by the appearance of a film titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, said to have been created by the mysterious so-called “Man in the High Castle” and depicting a very different America—our America. Is it merely anti-authoritarian propaganda, a postcard from a different reality, or something else entirely?
The Man in the High Castle was executive produced by Ridley Scott, a bloke who knows a thing or two about successful adaptations of Dick, having given us the best of the best in the form of Blade Runner. It was written by X-Files veteran Frank Spotnitz, with a cast that includes Alexa Davelos, Rupert Evans, Rufus Sewell, and DJ Qualls, to name a few. The pilot was the most-watched since Amazon began its “pilot season” system of development and audience voting, and it’s already been renewed for a second season.Best of the rest
1) Bond. James Bond. (Hulu, Nov. 1)
Agent 007 returns this month with the much-anticipated Spectre, and if Bond’s latest adventure leaves you craving more, Hulu has got your back and then some. Continuing a press to beef up its movie catalog, Hulu has snagged streaming rights to the mother lode of classic Bond. While it doesn’t have the entire Bond catalog—Daniel Craig’s modern era is missing, as are the Pierce Brosnan years—you can still watch three decades’ worth of licensed killing for your streaming enjoyment. Clear your schedule and you’ll be able to watch From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Never Say Never Again (1983), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985), The Living Daylights (1987), and License to Kill (1989).2) Adventures in Babysitting (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
Chris Hemsworth may be perfectly cast as Marvel’s Nordic beefcake God of Thunder, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Thor’s appearance in Christopher Columbus’ 1987 directorial debut, Adventures in Babysitting. OK, so he isn’t really Thor, but it was still his most noteworthy live-action appearance until the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe. Elisabeth Shue—cementing my childhood crush begun in The Karate Kid—stars as Chris Parker, a teenage girl who gets stood up, takes what should be a simple babysitting gig, and winds up having a night of crazy adventures across Chicago.3) Arachnophobia (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
If you’ve got a thing about spiders, there’s a very good chance you won’t survive viewing Arachnophobia. After a rare and deadly Venezuelan spider hitches a ride to the States, the creepy crawly and its offspring begin terrorizing a small California town. Jeff Daniels is a local doctor trying to figure out what’s causing all the mysterious deaths, and he’s increasingly paralyzed by his crippling fear of spiders. Come for the ookiness, stay for John Goodman as no-nonsense exterminator Delbert McClintock.4) Exists (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
Back in September in this column we profiled Bobcat Goldthwait’s found-footage Bigfoot flick Willow Creek. Behind that movie, Exists is probably the second-most noteworthy of the recent trend of Bigfoot horrors. Directed by Eduardo Sánchez—one of the men responsible for kickstarting the modern found-footage genre with The Blair Witch Project—Exists opens with a standard horror setup, with a group of friends venturing into the woods for some fun. Unfortunately, strange noises escalate to mysterious damage to their car, and the friends soon realize there’s something menacing stalking them. Exists only has a 35 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but fans of Sanchez will likely enjoy the ride.5)Grosse Pointe Blank (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
Martin Blank (John Cusack) is a professional killer, but his personal life is more of a mess than his crime scenes: He’s bored, depressed, and in therapy years before Tony Soprano got the idea. After fouling up a hit, he takes a job in his hometown to appease his irate client, attend his 10-year high school reunion, and hopefully reconnect with the girl he stood up at prom a decade earlier (Minnie Driver). Grosse Pointe Blank is an eminently rewatchable flick, and the blending of rom-com tropes with edgier scenes like Martin killing a guy with a ballpoint pen in the hall of his high school perfectly mirror Martin’s internal crisis. Bonus points for Dan Aykroyd’s role as a rival “professional” who’s determined to put Martin in the ground.6) Out of Sight (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
Say what you will about J-Lo, but her onscreen chemistry with George Clooney is electric in this Elmore Leonard adaptation directed by Steven Soderbergh. Clooney is a professional bank robber named Jack Foley; Lopez is U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco. The pair meet-cute while crammed inside a trunk during Foley’s escape from prison, and after that she’s determined to take him down. But is she really pursuing him for the right reasons? The rest of the top-tier cast includes Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, and Albert Brooks. The script by Scott Frank is one of the best Leonard adaptations ever, and the flick is worth watching for the nonlinear love scene alone.7) Turner & Hooch (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 1)
I’m a sucker for a Tom Hanks ’80s comedy—The ‘burbs is unapologetically one of my favorite movies—and watching him play straight man to an oversized canine with a drooling problem sounds like a great way to kill an afternoon to me. Hanks is a Scott Turner, a neat-freak cop forced to take the slobbery Hooch into his life after the dog is the only witness to his owner’s murder. Hooch proceeds to eat more or less everything Turner owns, but damned if he doesn’t start growing on the reluctant cop. Half the fun is watching Hanks interact with the dog, but Turner & Hooch also has heart to spare. That heart is just covered with ropes of dog saliva.8) The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (Amazon Prime, Nov. 5)
Star Heath Ledger died a third of the way through filming on Terry Gilliam’s fantasy film, but his friends rose to the occasion, with Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell all stepping in to play different incarnations of Ledger’s character. It was a clever solution to a heartbreaking problem, but also a lovely tribute to a powerhouse talent taken far too young. Ledger & co. headline a tale of a travelling theater troupes, magic mirrors, and outsmarting the Devil himself.9) Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened? (Hulu with Showtime, Nov. 6)
Superman Lives has become one of the most notorious failed productions in Hollywood history, thanks in no small part to Kevin Smith’s accounts of his time on the project, not to mention those pictures of long-haired Nic Cage in the Superman costume. Death of ‘Superman Lives’ dives deep into the history of the doomed project, which was set to be directed by Tim Burton but was canceled three weeks before filming was set to begin in 1998. The documentary includes interviews with Burton, Smith, writer Dan Gilroy, and producers Jon Peters and Lorenzo di Bonaventura.10) Ex Machina (Amazon Prime, Nov. 14)
Alex Garland has been the screenwriter on some of the best and most intriguing genre films of the young century, from 28 Days Later and Sunshine to Never Let Me Go and Dredd. He finally made his feature directorial debut with Ex Machina, a critically acclaimed science-fiction thriller about a Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a programmer invited to the home of his wealthy, eccentric employer (Oscar Isaac) to investigate a breakthrough: an android named Ava who may be the first example of true artificial intelligence. The more Caleb interacts with Ava (Alicia Vikander), the easier it becomes to forget that she’s machine, but it soon becomes clear that his boss’ motivations may not be as clear-cut as they first appeared. Ex Machina has been almost universally praised, currently rocking a 92 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.October 2015
Pick of the Month: The Back to the Future trilogy (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)
This year rings in the 30th anniversary of Robert Zemeckis’ beloved Back to the Future trilogy, and in fact we’re only a few weeks away from “Back to the Future Day”—Oct. 21, 2015, the date Marty arrived in the future in BTTF2. There are plenty of crazy celebrations going on this month, from this cheeky fake trailer for Jaws 19 to the sudden appearance of Pepsi Perfect. But the very best way to celebrate the adventures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown is to rewatch them, and Amazon Prime customers can do just that throughout the month of October. Amazon Prime has added all three Back to the Future movies to the streaming catalog, so now’s the perfect time to play hooky from work, school, or family commitments and settle in for six hours or so of pure time-hopping, hover-boarding, paradox-inducing, “Great Scott”ing, 1.21 gigawatting awesomeness. Our real-life hoverboards may still not be as cool as the movie version, but at least we have the Back to the Future trilogy on-demand for our marathoning delight. This is heavy.
The best of the rest:
1) Blood Simple (Hulu, Oct. 1)
The Coen Brothers have been a pair of the most fascinating filmmakers in the industry for the past three decades, but it all started here, in 1984’s bleak noir crime thriller Blood Simple.
Small-town Texas bar owner Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya) hires a private dick (M. Emmet Walsh) to investigate his wife (Frances McDormand), whom he suspects is cheating on him. That simple act is the beginning of a long, crooked road full of bad turns and dead bodies. In addition to marking the Coen Brothers’ directorial debut, Blood Simple also kickstarted the careers of cinematographer (and later director) Barry Sonnenfeld and actress Frances McDormand. Blood Simple is currently rocking a 94 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
2) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)
Jim Carrey mostly makes the news these days for being a vocal anti-vaxxer, so it’s easy to forget just how good he can be when paired with the right material. He’s never been better than in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, written by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and directed by Michel Gondry. Carrey plays Joel Barish, coming off a bad breakup with the former love of his life, Clementine (Kate Winslet). He hires a mysterious company to erase all memory of his relationship with his ex… but then changes his mind halfway through. Unfortunately, the procedure has to be done while the subject is sleeping, so Joel is left fleeing through the landscape of his subconscious, clinging to a memory of Clementine and trying to save her from the encroaching darkness. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind won the 2004 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and is rated 93 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
3) The Expendables 3(Hulu, Oct. 1)
Sly Stallone managed to resurrect both of his iconic ’80s franchises with 21st century installments of Rocky and Rambo, so it made sense when he eventually put together a series designed to bring every last aging action relic of the Reagan years back to the big screen. In the third Expendables outing, merc badass Barney Ross (Stallone) and his crew face off against one of the group’s co-founders (Mel Gibson), an arms dealer who’s nursing a grudge and determined to make the Expendables live up to their name. The cast for this go-round also includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Jet Li, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, and… Kelsey Grammer?
4) Girl Most Likely (Hulu, Oct. 1)
Imogene (Kristen Wiig) is a failed playwright struggling with writer’s block, working a crappy job at a New York magazine to make ends meet. After a failed suicide attempt in hopes of luring back her ex, she winds up in the custody of her mother (Annette Bening), who frankly would rather be gambling. After inadvertently discovering that her long-thought-dead father is actually alive and living in NYC, Imogene enlists her friends and brother to help track him down, and along the way falls for a charming Backstreet Boys cover band performer.
Girl Most Likely got nailed with negative reviews, but Wiig and Bening’s performances were singled out for praise. If you’re a Wiig fan, double-feature it with Welcome to Me over on Netflix, or wait around for another Wiig entry further down this list.
5) The Innkeepers (Hulu, Oct. 1)
Director Ti West has established himself as one of the most talented young horror directors in the game with flicks such as The House of the Devil and The Sacrament, as well as segments in the V/H/S and The ABCs of Death anthologies. The Innkeepers is by far my favorite thing he’s done thus far, a good old-fashioned ghost story buoyed by charming performances from Sara Paxton and Pat Healy.
They star as the last two remaining staff at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a historic hotel that’s about to close its doors permanently. With the building mostly abandoned, the pair set out to try and gather tangible evidence of the spirits said to haunt its hallways, and what unfolds bounces between funny, tragic, and slow-burn terrifying. If you like the cut of West’s jib, The House of the Devil is also available on Hulu, and The Sacrament is on Netflix Instant. The Innkeepers has a 79 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
6) Joe (Hulu, Oct. 1)
In recent years, David Gordon Green has mainly been on a comedy run with things like Pineapple Express and HBO’s Eastbound & Down, but he returned to his drama roots with 2014’s Joe. Nicolas Cage stars as the titular Joe Ransom, an ex-con who runs a tree-removal crew in rural Texas. He hires and then befriends 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan), a good kid with a particularly bad dad (Gary Poulter). That friendship will put Joe on a path for either redemption or destruction… maybe both.
With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 86 percent Fresh, Joe earned praise from critics for both Green’s direction and Cage’s performance, and god knows it’s nice to see Cage actually being good in something these days. One tragic and morbid footnote: Actor Gary Poulter, who played the alcoholic father in Joe—who was homeless in real life when he was cast—was found dead before the film even made it to the festival circuit.
7) Much Ado About Nothing (Hulu, Oct. 1)
Joss Whedon has spent the past several years earning Disney billions of dollars with the juggernaut Avengers franchise, but he cleansed his palate between them with Much Ado About Nothing. A modern-day remake of Shakespeare’s beloved proto-screwball comedy, Whedon’s Much Ado enlists several of his regulars, including Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, and Tom Lenk. The reunion of Acker and Denisof in a romantic pairing—playing Beatrice and Benedick, respectively—should be more than enough to lure in Angel fans still stinging from the respective ends of Fred and Wesley, but the film was well received overall, currently sitting at 84 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It even earned a Guinness World Record, courtesy of a Blu-ray commentary track that crammed in a whopping 16 members of the cast and crew.
8) Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (Amazon Prime, Oct. 1)
Paul Reubens is on the cusp of resurrecting Pee-wee with the help of producer Judd Apatow and Netflix, but in the meantime you can re-experience one of the best iterations of Reubens’ hyperactive manchild. In Big Adventure, Pee-wee sets out cross-country in search of his stolen bicycle, along the way encountering hobos, biker gangs, and “Large Marge,” a creepy trucker who single-handedly soiled the pants of my entire generation thanks to one iconic close-up. Scripted by Reubens with Michael Varhol and the late Phil Hartman (Simpsons, NewsRadio), Pee-wee’s Big Adventure also marked the feature directorial debut of Tim Burton and the first of many collaborations with composer Danny Elfman.
9) The Skeleton Twins (Hulu, Oct. 1)
Kristen Wiig’s second appearance in this month’s list is in another movie that, weirdly enough, also involves a suicide attempt as inciting incident, just like Girl Most Likely up top. In The Skeleton Twins, Maggie’s (Wiig) attempts to end it all are interrupted by a phone call notifying her that her estranged twin brother Milo (Bill Hader) also just tried to kill himself. She travels to Los Angeles to visit him in the hospital and eventually convinces him to return to their hometown and stay with her a while. The pair’s mutual brush with death proves to be the unlikely catalyst for their own reconnection and discovery of reasons to keep on keeping on. The Skeleton Twins is rated 87 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so if you’re only going to watch one streaming Kristen Wiig suicide comedy this month, it should probably be this one.
10) The Wolf of Wall Street (Hulu, Oct. 1)
Hulu just snatched a ton of content from Netflix after the latter ended a multi-year deal with the cable net Epix, and one of the big fish switching ponds is the award-winning Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio joint The Wolf of Wall Street.
Based on the memoir of ruthless former stock trader Jordan Belfort, Wolf follows Belfort’s (DiCaprio) rise and fall on Wall Street, earning millions through crooked business practices before eventually being brought down by the feds. The cast is stellar across the board, including DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler, and Rob Reiner, and screenwriter Terence Winter’s adaptation of Belfort’s book is by turns funny, infuriating, and profane. But poor old Leo still didn’t get to take home an Oscar…
11) They Came Together (Hulu, Oct. 1)
There’s plenty to mock in modern romantic comedies: the cliched twists and turns, the tired formulas, the inevitable comic misunderstandings. All of that is grist for the mill in They Came Together, a sharp satire of everything rom-com starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler, directed by David Wain from a script by Wain and fellow Stella comedy group veteran Michael Showalter. Molly (Poehler) runs a small candy shop. Joel (Rudd) is the head of a massive candy corp that wants to shut her doors permanently. Naturally, they hate each other. But wait...maybe they actually love each other? Because that’s how it works in these things.
12) You’re Next (Hulu, Oct. 1)
If you still haven’t seen Adam Wingard’s acclaimed post-modern slasher flick You’re Next, this will make perfect viewing for the Halloween season. Like Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, You’re Next is best approached with as little foreknowledge as possible, so suffice to say it involves a family gathering that goes sideways when masked figures start trying to kill everyone in the house. Where it goes from there… Well, just watch and know that You’re Next ably mixes scares, gore, pitch-black humor, and a star-making performance by Sharni Vinson. It’s rated 75 percent Fresh on RT, but horror fans can easily add another 10-15 percentage points onto that score. Also be sure to check out Wingard’s The Guest on Netflix Instant, which reunited the director with You’re Next screenwriter Simon Barrett, to good effect.
13) American Horror Show: Freak Show (Amazon Prime/Hulu, Oct. 6)
The fourth season of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s FX horror anthology series unfolds in 1950s Florida, set in and around “Fräulein Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities,” one of the last surviving “freak shows” in America. As with previous seasons, much of the earlier cast recurs in new roles, including Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Emma Roberts, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Gabourey Sidibe. Even more intriguingly, several other actors, including James Cromwell, actually reprise their roles from season 2’s Asylum, strengthening theories that all of these stories are unfolding within the same narrative universe. Also, there’s a scary-ass clown, because of course there is.
14) Casual (Hulu, Oct. 7)
Jason Reitman has racked up the résumé over the past decade, including Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air, and Young Adult. He also directed several episodes of the American incarnation of The Office, and now he’s diving back into television with Hulu’s Casual, which he created.
Michaela Watkins (SNL) stars as Valerie, a newly divorced therapist and single mom who moves herself and her 16-year-old daughter (God Bless America’s Tara Lynne Barr) in with her bachelor brother (Tommy Dewey), who runs a dating site. Hijinks will undoubtedly ensue.
15) Red Oaks (Amazon Prime, Oct. 9)
Amazon’s much-anticipated Philip K. Dick adaptation The Man in the High Castle is due to arrive next month, but in the meantime they’re serving up another new original series—and this one’s a bit less heavy than “What if the Axis powers won WWII?”
Red Oaks is set at the prestigious Red Oaks Country Club in 1985, following a young college tennis player named David (Craig Roberts) who is working a summer job there. It’s a coming-of-age tale blended with a workplace comedy, with a dash or two of familial dysfunction thrown in for good measure. Red Oaks was created by Joe Gangemi and frequent Steven Soderbergh collaborator Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL). Soderbergh also executive produced the series, with David Gordon Green (see also Joe) directing the pilot. Red Oaks’ 10-episode first season features a cast that includes Paul Reiser, Richard Kind, and Jennifer Grey.
16) Camp X-Ray (Hulu with Showtime, Oct. 17)
Kristen Stewart continues carving out a post-Twilight career with this drama set at the infamous Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. Stewart plays a guard at the facility, spending her days watching over the prisoners designated “enemy combatants” as part of America’s ongoing war on terror. Both the prisoners and her fellow soldiers are frequently hostile toward her, but she befriends one man in particular, who has been incarcerated in Guantánamo for eight long years. That relationship causes her to begin questioning her convictions. Camp X-Ray earned a 73 percent Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, with critics singling out the performances of Stewart and co-star Peyman Moaadi.
17) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (Amazon Prime/Hulu, Oct. 23)
Hollywood will be in need of a new reigning young adult movie franchise to milk after The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 hits theaters on Nov. 20. The fourth film in the franchise will wrap up the big-screen adaptation of author Suzanne Collins’ best-selling YA book series, with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) determined to take down the oppressive government of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) once and for all.
But before then, both fans and newcomers alike will get the chance to revisit the path that led Katniss from simple small-town girl to revolutionary. The original Hunger Games flick isn’t available on any of the core trio of streaming services, but Hulu already has Catching Fire, and the third film is coming to both Amazon Prime and Hulu later this month.
18) While We’re Young (Amazon Prime, Oct. 23)
While We’re Young is one of the latest from writer/director Noah Baumbach, who previously gave us indie hits such as Frances Ha, Greenberg, and The Squid and the Whale. While We’re Young reunites Baumbach with his Greenberg leading man, Ben Stiller, with the actor this time playing a New York City documentarian named Josh, alongside Naomi Watts as his wife Cornelia. Their marriage is on the rocks, and Josh has been struggling to complete his latest film for years. Their lives are energized after befriending a younger couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried), but they soon learn that sometimes something that looks too good to be true, is. While We’re Young is currently sitting at 83 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.19) Danny Collins (Amazon Prime, Oct. 30)
Screenwriter Dan Fogelman’s (Crazy, Stupid, Love) feature directorial debut stars Al Pacino as an aging ’70s rock icon named, well, Danny Collins. Based loosely on the real life of folk singer Steve Tilston, Danny Collins has the titular rocker reexamining his life after discovering a 40-year-old letter written—but never delivered—to him by the late John Lennon. He moves into a hotel in Jersey, tries to start a relationship with the grown son he’s never met (Bobby Cannavale), and tries to reconnect with the creative fire he lost somewhere along the way. The flick is rated 77 percent Fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, with Pacino’s lead performance earning much praise, alongside a dynamite cast that also includes Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, and Christopher Plummer as Collins’ long-time manager who discovers the Lennon letter.Illustration by Max Fleishman
When a Kickstarter was launched in February to fund comedian Quincy Jones's dying wish, he couldn't have foreseen that three months later, he'd be on HBO.
It's been a wild ride for the L.A. comedian, who was diagnosed with stage IV mesothelioma last summer. The Kickstarter to fund the special, launched by his friend and fellow comedian Nicole Blaine, blew past its modest goal. Then there was his appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, when the host revealed to Jones that HBO would air his special. On Sunday, HBO offered a teaser for Burning the Light.
The trailer goes deeper into Jones's goal for the special: When you're a comedian performing on stage and it's time to wrap up your set, you get a light. Jones paralleled that with his cancer prognosis, which initially gave him a year to live. "Burning the Light is seeing the light, acknowledging it, and ignoring it, and going further," he says.
Back in March, Jones was of a similar mindset. He told the Daily Dot: "The doctors could give you a prognosis, but it’s up to you if you want to accept it." Last week, Jones shared on Facebook that he's eligible for a surgery to debulk his cancer.The special is set to debut June 2.
The show is called Ultimate Beastmaster, and that over-the-top title is a reference to an obstacle course called "the Beast" that contestants will have to conquer.
Competitors in the 10-episode event will hail from the United States, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Germany, and Japan, with each country getting a version of the show in their national language. U.S. viewers will see Terry Crews and Charissa Thompson hosting the episodes.
There will be 108 competitors in total, with 18 from each country.According to Variety, "The athletes will run a demanding new obstacle course known as 'The Beast,' and each episode will crown a 'Beastmaster,' with the nine individual winners competing against each other in the final episode of the season for the chance to become the Ultimate Beastmaster."
Ultimate Beastmaster marks Stallone's first foray into this kind of TV project, but he's partnering with The Biggest Loser executive producer David Broome to do it, so that bodes well.
No release date has yet been announced.