Don’t be too sad summer is coming to an end, because fall generally brings the biggest movies, TV shows, and pop albums. And this week, there’s definitely plenty to sink your teeth into.
1. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU APPRECIATE A SUMPTUOUS COSTUME DRAMA
It’s difficult not to compare this handsome period drama to Downton Abbey, not least because it stars Hugh Bonneville as a slightly bewildered patriarchal figure. He plays Lord Mountbatten, the British diplomat tasked with overseeing the division of British India into two independent states: India and Pakistan. Though director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) offers a rather manicured account of the 1947 Partition process, there’s no denying she’s made an elegant and compelling film. Opening in select theaters Friday, Viceroy’s House also features fine performances from Gillian Anderson as Lady Mountbatten and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Manish Dayal as an ill-fated manservant.
2. WHICH SURPRISING COMEBACK SINGLE TO CHECK OUT
Taylor Swift tells us the old her is “dead” on this bracing trailer single for Reputation, her new album due in the fall. That’s not just hyperbole: “Look What You Made Me Do” definitely introduces a spikier and feistier Swift than we’ve seen in the past. “I’ll be the actress starring in your bad dreams,” she warns an unnamed rival who fans are speculating could be her old adversary Kanye West. This isn’t her most elegant songwriting moment, but there’s no denying that it makes an impact.
3. WHAT TO WATCH FOR A HUMOROUS TAKE ON THE HOSPITALITY TRADE
This underrated British sitcom is the latest addition to Acorn TV, the excellent streaming service that specializes in small-screen imports from the U.K., Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Launching today, the six-part series stars Jonathan Creek favorite Alan Davies as a fictional chef who could have become the next Gordon Ramsay, but has instead settled for an unchallenging role in a cozy hotel kitchen. Whites is well-performed by a troupe of British comedy regulars and benefits from a superior attention to detail: before shooting, the cast trained under real-life chefs at one of Jamie Oliver‘s London restaurants.
4. WHAT TO ENJOY WITH A BIG BOWL OF MICROWAVE POPCORN
Horror comedy is a tough genre to pull off, but this film’s writer-director Eli Craig has form: he previously made Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, a 2010 cult favorite that’s both pretty funny and pretty scary. Here, he casts Adam Scott as an ordinary guy called Gary who’s delighted to have married a woman who seems like an ideal partner (Evangeline Lilly), only to find that her son — uh oh — may be the Antichrist. Premiering Friday on Netflix, Little Evil should offer thrills, spills, and lots of very silly fun.
5. WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST TO KEEP THE SUMMER PARTY GOING
“Despacito,” the Puerto Rican pop jam remixed to feature Justin Bieber, has now become the most streamed song ever. So, it was inevitable that record companies would start seeking out more Latin-to-pop crossover hits. “Reggaetón Lento” has already been a radio smash in several territories for CNCO, the boyband formed on Simon Cowell and Ricky Martin‘s TV singing contest La Banda. This remix adds additional vocals from British girl group Little Mix to create a catchy, sun-dappled soundtrack to the last days of summer. It’s cynical, sure, but also supremely effective.
6. WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU’RE CRAVING INSPIRATION
Opening in select theaters Friday, this feature-length documentary tells the remarkable story of civil rights activist Dolores Huerta. Having co-founded the first farm workers’ union in the ’60s, she later became a tireless advocate for women’s rights, and successfully sued the San Francisco Police Department after being severely beaten by police officers during a peaceful 1988 protest. Director Peter Bratt captures her fierce commitment to the cause with revealing archive footage, interviews with Huerta herself, and glowing testimonies from friends including Gloria Steinem and Hillary Clinton. It’s an illuminating portrait of a somewhat unsung American hero.
7. WHAT TO WATCH FOR A GENUINELY CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE
Written and directed by Steven Spielberg, 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind is widely acknowledged as a landmark sci-fi movie. It tells the story of Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), an ordinary blue-collar worker from Indiana whose life is transformed when a dazzling UFO flies right over his truck and lightly burns his face. To mark the 40th anniversary, Spielberg’s classic is getting a very welcome theatrical re-release this Friday. If you know the film well, it’s an opportunity to savor Spielberg’s stunning visuals and haunting storytelling on the big screen. And if you’ve never seen it, Close Encounters will probably blow you away.
8. WHICH UNDER-THE-RADAR DANCE ALBUM TO CHECK OUT
Formed in 2004 by Denver-born DJ-producer Andy Butler, Hercules and Love Affair is a constantly evolving musical collective that specializes in cool and credible modern disco music. Dropping Friday, the group’s new album arrives a few years after Butler beat drug addiction, something he confronts directly on standout track “Fools Wear Crowns.” Elsewhere, a palette of talented vocalists including indie queen Sharon Van Etten and soulful diva Rouge Mary add plenty of emotion to Butler’s impeccable and often reflective beats. The results are rarely less than life-affirming.
9. WHAT TO TRY WHEN YOU’RE FEELING INQUISITIVE
In recent years Netflix has become best known for commissioning zeitgeisty original series like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. But the streaming giant has also built a fine library of factual programming. Debuting Friday, this feature-length documentary offers an insight into several nonprofit organizations which are using surfing and ocean therapy to help military veterans who are suffering from various physical and mental traumas. It’s an emotional, eye-opening, and ultimately uplifting watch.
10. WHICH WHITE-HOT ACTRESS TO ADD TO YOUR TWITTER FEED
This British actress is enjoying a stellar 2017. You probably know her as Game of Thrones‘ formidable Brienne of Tarth, but this fall she’ll also be seen in Jane Campion‘s excellent new miniseries Top of the Lake: China Girl. Then in December, Gwendoline Christie will reprise her role as Captain Phasma in a little film called Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Factor in some rock-solid fashion credentials — Christie has walked the runway for iconic designer Vivienne Westwood — and she becomes a very cool person to follow indeed.
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