As we close in on the holidays, here are some shows and movies to ease into your rest and relaxation break. And once you see all these, run (and I mean book it) to a theater to see Drive My Car.
And Just Like That…: Series Premiere
It was only a matter of time, and finally the Supreme Goddess has blessed us with more Sex And The City that is not a movie. Could us Sexists (that’s what SATC fans are called, right?) have lived off of the first six seasons for the rest of eternity and still endlessly debated over the validity of literally any man that appeared on camera during its initial 94-episode run? Absolutely. And that will not change, as And Just Like That… feels like a different show already. That’s not even just from the name change (they’re still in the titular City, and I presume they’re still having the titular Sex, so why change a good thing?). We’ve lost Kim Cattrell, who plays Samantha–for anyone who is magically still reading this paragraph and not a Sexist (again, that’s a SATC fan). The ladies are older, they’ve changed, y’know, not only physically, but mentally. I’m sure Carrie, like, totally has it together. Do we still think she believes bisexuality is fake? Guess we’ll have to tune in to find out. 12/9 on HBO Max.
Landscapers: Series Premiere
HBO’s newest straight-to-Monday-night series hit the platform earlier this week. I’m surprised Landscapers got the second-tier Monday night slot as opposed to its grander Sunday sister. An Olivia Colman vehicle straight to Mondays… HBO executives, I will be reaching out shortly. Will Sharpe’s latest directorial offering (he most recently wrote and directed The Electrical Life of Louis Wain on Amazon Prime and the fantastically dark series, Flowers, streaming on Netflix–also starring Colman) retells the story of the infamous 1998 murders of William and Patricia Wycherley in Nottinghamshire, England. According to NPR’s Eric Deggans, Landscapers “offers a wonderfully inventive look at a bizarre case, with top-notch acting and direction.” Will it get us to fall in love with criminals? Debatable. But, c’mon, it’s Olivia f’ing Colman. 12/6 on HBO.
Abbott Elementary: Series Premiere
Quinta Brunson finally gets her own series. It’s been seven years since she started posting on Instagram, namely her “Girl Who Has Never Been on a Nice Date” series. Viewers were drawn to her instant likability, it’s such a surprise it took so long for her to reach primetime (she’s been a regular writer and performer on A Black Lady Sketch Show, and she did have a failed CBS pilot in 2018). In Abbott Elementary, which premiered this week on ABC (yes, broadcast!), we have a group of Philly teachers coalescing to help their students be the very best they can be. Critics agree that the premise is a bit been there/tried that, but regardless, Abbott “feels like a reliable source of laugh-out-loud moments, thanks to sharply drawn characters and a winning cast, [and a] precise sense of comic timing means the show often dishes out jokes before we even know to expect them” (Angie Han, Hollywood Reporter). 12/7 on ABC, next day on Hulu.
Aliens are simply having the opposite of a moment right now. The summer brought The Tomorrow War, an unsavory retread of Edge of Tomorrow, a movie that simply cannot be matched by anything headlined by Chris Pratt (Pratt, if you’re reading this, @ me). Fast forward to the fall, and we get Apple’s event series Invasion, and an event it surely was not. Now, cue the newest attempt at an extraterrestrial breach: Encounter. Encounter does have a lot going for it both behind and in front of the camera. Director and co-writer Michael Pearce (fresh off his really great 2018 debut film, Beast) tells the story of a man (Riz Ahmed, my choice for last year’s Best Actor) trying to protect his two kids during an alien invasion. Okay, so it’s War of the Worlds. It’s Bird Box. It’s A Quiet Place. We’re not necessarily breaking new ground here, and while there are reasons to tune in (the acting, for one), it “ironically misses the mark by not going deep enough — in either of its dueling approaches,” flipping between drama and sci-fi thriller, according to Los Angeles Times. 12/10 on Prime Video.
This is going to be a tough sell, but here we go. America’s sweetheart, Sandra Bullock, plays a woman recently released from prison after serving time for a violent and brutal crime. We love seeing someone step out of their comfort zone into darker territory, but let’s also not forget we’re basically crushing and snorting true crime at this point. This needs to do something new. Let’s quickly turn our attention to the Showtime/BBC One series Back To Life, which tells of the exact same premise more or less, but adds a layer of humor and levity against its dreary narrative center. And The Unforgivable has its roots in television as it’s based off of the 2009 British miniseries, Unforgiven, starring Suranne Jones (watch Doctor Foster for the love of god, please!). But that series, as I’ve been told by the Internet, was able to root its darkness a bit more in emotion and story over its three episodes. Here, with Sandy, it’s just too darn heavy with no real purpose. Roxana Hadadi for the L.A. Times claims the film is “imbalanced and [..] sidesteps questions of race and class that would have complicated this narrative and brought it closer to reality.” If the darkness is what draws you, feel your oats and schedule that long-awaited appointment with your therapist. I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear from you. 12/10 on Netflix.
Last and First Men
Okay, Last and First Men. I’m giggling a bit because this movie is so, so specific, and I’ve been waiting so long to get people on board to watch it. One of my personal favorites from the year is beginning to stream on Metrograph At Home (it’s a Virtual Theater). The late Jóhann Jóhannsson (composer for films like Mandy, Sicario, and Prisoners) directed what I can only classify as an art piece based off of the 1930 sci-fi novel of the same name by Olaf Stapledon, documenting the future history of humanity spanning two billion years and eighteen human-to-humanoid species. Over its breezy 70-minute runtime, we listen to Tilda Swinton describe the multiple rises and falls of, well, us. All the while, we’re treated to gorgeous futuristic, black-and-white sculpture porn. No on-screen actors, no dialogue, no surprises. Just Tilda lulling you with a great and epic story with a fantastical score. Fans of Dune, rise up! It’s not like Dune, but it’s adjacent, like a third cousin or something. 12/10 on Metrograph.
Bloods and Creamerie: Season 1
If American television just isn’t doing it for you anymore, we have two foreign comedy imports landing on Hulu this week. The first, Bloods, hails from the UK and stars Samson Kayo and Jane Horrocks as an EMT team as they face medical emergencies and butt heads along the way. Ha! Great comedy fodder. The Independent raved that while its playpen is often grim, it’s “leavened by some skilfully crafted scripts and superlative performances,” later claiming writers Nathan Bryon and Paul Dolan have created something “greater than the sum of its parts.” Across a few ponds, we have Creamerie coming from New Zealand. Very ironic that Hulu is importing a show about 99 percent of the male population being wiped out by a plague when they just canceled their own show about, well, a plague wiping out the entire male population. Roseanne Liang (last year’s okay Shadow in the Clouds) creates what essentially is Y: The Last Man but with a different Instagram filter. Years after all men are wiped off the face of the earth, three Asian-kiwi dairy-farm-owning women run into the last surviving male… and hilarity ensues. Talk about Four’s Company, am I right? I can’t even play though. That does sound pretty good. Both series premiere 12/9 on Hulu.
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