Summer’s coming but it’s another busy week in the entertainment world. With this varied menu of pop culture morsels to choose from, there’s no excuse whatever to succumb to “June Gloom.”
1. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU COULD USE SOME SUMMER DESSERT INSPO
Last September, the internet suffered a minor meltdown when it emerged that The Great British Baking Show was changing networks in the U.K., and losing three of its stars in the process. But if you’ve only just caught on to this infectious cult cookery contest, don’t worry. The new season launching Friday on PBS actually aired in the U.K. back in 2013, so you can still enjoy generous helpings of pun-loving presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, and the show’s adorable matriarch, Mary Berry. As longtime fans will know, she never fails to spot a contestant’s “soggy bottom.”
2. WHAT TO TRY IF YOU LIKE COMEDY THAT’S ANYTHING BUT POLITE
Opening Friday, this female-led dark comedy film is packed with talent. Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz, and Ilana Glazer star as former college roommates who reunite 10 years later for a bachelorette weekend and accidentally kill a male stripper. It’s already being compared to The Hangover and Bridesmaids, which feels inevitable but also kinda lazy. Written and directed by Lucia Aniello, who’s a key player on TV’s excellent offbeat comedy series Broad City, Rough Night has the potential to mine some wild humor all of its own.
3. WHAT TO READ FOR A UNIQUE AND INSPIRING TAKE ON LIFE
Britain’s Eddie Izzard isn’t just an actor, comedian, and writer with a penchant for cross-dressing: he’s also a genuine original who once ran 43 marathons in 51 days for charity. Published Thursday, this memoir delves deep into his childhood, which was tinged with sadness, before telling the story of his remarkable career. Izzard says he hopes readers will think, “If that idiot transvestite can run a whole bunch of marathons, play the Hollywood Bowl and travel across France with a French-speaking tour, then what’s holding me back?” Fabulous stuff.
4. WHAT TO LISTEN TO IF YOU APPRECIATE POP MUSIC WITH SMARTS
Some rock critics focus on Lorde‘s age, but the 20-year-old New Zealander would be an uncommonly perceptive singer-songwriter even if she were 40. Dropping Friday, Melodrama is a loose concept album that tells the story of a single house party enjoyed in the wake-up of a break-up. It’s an intriguing framing device which Lorde uses to push her elegant and literate music in new directions: “Green Light” takes her to the dance floor, “Liability” is a plaintive piano ballad, and “Perfect Places” is pure wonderful pop.
5. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU’VE ALWAYS QUITE LIKED NAOMI WATTS
Despite scoring a couple of Oscar nominations, it still feels like Naomi Watts is slightly underrated. But this month brings a trio of high-profile roles for the Australian actress. She’s recently appeared in David Lynch‘s Twin Peaks revival series, and she’ll soon star in new Netflix drama Gypsy, which launches June 30. Opening Friday, this indie thriller directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurassic World) gives her another intriguing lead to sink her teeth into. Watts plays a small town waitress who helps her super-intelligent son enact a daring plan to rescue an endangered neighbor. Is it too soon to call it a “re-nay-sance?”
6. WHAT TO PLAY WHEN YOU NEXT HAVE SOME TIME TO YOURSELF
After starting her career as one half of ’80s duo Yaz, Alison Moyet returned to her synth-pop roots with a brilliant 2013 album, The Minutes. This follow-up due Friday, once again recorded with former Björk collaborator Guy Sigsworth, is another mesmeric electronic gem. The Englishwoman’s deep, bluesy voice remains astonishing, and her songs offer compelling tales of human frailty, confusion, and ultimately self-acceptance. Explaining the album’s title, Moyet says stirringly: “Some of us have always felt ‘Other.’ I no longer wish it were otherwise.” Preach.
7. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU’RE NOT A COMEDY SNOB
Forgive us for being blunt, but The Ranch attracts less buzz than most Netflix shows because it’s not very cool. This is an old-fashioned dysfunctional family sitcom with a ’90s-style laugh track, but don’t let that put you off too much. Former That ’70s Show co-stars Ashton Kutcher and Danny Masterson reignite their old chemistry as brothers who clash when running the family ranch, while Debra Winger and Sam Elliott provide excellent support as their separated parents. Launching Friday, season two (billed as “part three” after the initial season aired in two halves) features a hefty 20 episodes, so Netflix evidently has faith in this one.
8. WHAT TO STREAM FOR A TASTE OF THE THEATER AT HOME
When it played at NYC’s Lyceum Theater last fall, this whimsical comedy became such a hot ticket that Netflix taped one of the performances. Launching on the streaming service tomorrow, Oh, Hello on Broadway is a rare treat. The premise is simple: Nick Kroll and John Mulaney play a couple of crotchety old New Yorkers who love to share their strange, sometimes outrageous, and often very mistaken views on life. The two actors have honed these characters over years of stage and TV appearances, so their semi-improvised show is a pliable and vibrant delight.
9. WHAT TO WATCH IF TUPAC’S “CALIFORNIA LOVE” IS ALWAYS YOUR JAM
Following the success of 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, the excellent film about seminal rap group NWA, this biopic of Tupac Shakur has plenty to live up to. Fortunately, the early signs are promising: charismatic newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. stars as the late hip-hop icon, flanked by a strong supporting cast that includes The Walking Dead‘s Danai Gurira and The Wire‘s Jamie Hector. And there’s no denying director Benny Boom has a feel for the genre: he’s previously made music videos for 50 Cent, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Wayne. Hitting theaters Friday, All Eyez on Me should be essential viewing for music fans.
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR SUMMER BARBECUE PLAYLIST
Canadian indie crew Arcade Fire is known for being a bit unpredictable, but no one was expecting this from their comeback single. Where their last album, 2013’s Reflektor, was filled with dense and complex art-rock songs, this new tune is lithe and surprisingly light on its feet. In fact, its chintzy strings and toe-tapping beat could almost have been borrowed from an old ABBA single. Arcade Fire has hit the disco, basically, and it suits them rather nicely. (As long as they keep away from the flared pants.)
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