Hopefully your week ahead is looking kind of quiet, because there’s a lot to sink your teeth into over the next seven days. Let’s get started, shall we?
1. WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU’RE FEELING REFLECTIVE
Premiering Friday on Netflix, this investigative documentary can’t help feeling searingly personal. Twenty-five years after his brother was brutally murdered in the Long Island suburbs, filmmaker Yance Ford examines the systemic racism that prevented his African American family from obtaining justice. But as he delves deeper into the incredibly painful events of the time, and his devastated family’s years of grief, Ford also uncovers greater truth about the nature of race in America, making Strong Island one of 2017’s most powerful and poignant documentaries.
2. WHAT TO TRY IF YOU ENJOY A TV SERIES THAT REALLY LOOKS POSH
Though it’s being billed as “created by Neil Jordan,” the Oscar-winning writer of The Crying Game has distanced himself from this glossy new drama series, claiming his episodes were re-written. Premiering Thursday on SundanceTV’s streaming service, it follows a newlywed woman (Julia Stiles) living on the French Riviera as she slowly uncovers the messy truth behind her billionaire husband’s death. Some of the dialog is little stiff, but strong performances from Stiles and co-stars Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones) and Adrian Lester (Merlin) keep it compelling. If you can’t resist a show that’s sumptuous and soapy, definitely give this a go.
3. WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR EMOTIONAL SONGS PLAYLIST
This British soul singer touched a lot of people with his debut album, In the Lonely Hour, a collection of (mostly) sad love songs which won four Grammys and sold nearly seven million copies worldwide. Every artist worries about the dreaded “sophomore slump,” but this taster for Sam Smith‘s upcoming second album suggests he’s in no danger. “Too Good at Goodbyes” is a classy and gorgeously-sung gospel-pop song that will strike a chord with anyone who’s ever been unlucky in love. Welcome back, Sam.
4. WHAT TO SEE FOR SERIOUS FRIGHTS (OF SOME KIND)
This psychological horror movie arrives in theaters Friday on a tidal wave of hype, partly because director Darren Aronofksy (Black Swan, The Fighter) has warned that it’s a “very intense ride” without telling us what it’s actually about. The plot details that have been shared are intriguingly vague: Mother! centers on a young couple (Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem) whose tranquil life at their upscale country home is interrupted by the arrival of a mysterious older couple (Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris). Aronofsky has yet to make a dull movie, and he’s assembled quite a cast here, so Mother! has real potential to be a dark and dazzling treat.
5. WHAT TO BUY FOR A TASTE OF A HUGE POP CONCERT IN YOUR OWN HOME
Madonna‘s most recent album, 2015’s Rebel Heart, was hardly her most focused and cohesive, but the accompanying tour was a gutsy triumph. If you weren’t lucky enough to catch it at the time, this Blu-ray/CD package released Friday is a real treat. Her visuals and staging are as theatrically provocative as ever — watch out for the pole-dancing nuns! — while the set list includes classic hits like “Holiday,” “Material Girl,” and “Music.” Madonna’s hold over the charts may have waned in recent years , but on stage, she’s still very much the Queen of Pop.
6. WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU’RE CRAVING A LITTLE BAD BEHAVIOR
If you haven’t investigated Broad City yet, it’s definitely time to start. Created by and starring Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, this cult Comedy Central sitcom follows the (mis)adventures of a couple of Jewish American women trying to make it in New York City. Brilliantly written, it’s frequently surreal yet strangely relatable — one episode saw our heroines trying to sell stolen office equipment so they could buy tickets to a rap show. Season four debuts Wednesday and includes guest appearances from RuPaul, Wanda Sykes, and Shania Twain. Heaven knows what they’ve persuaded Shania to do!
7. WHAT TO READ FOR AN INSIGHT INTO A RELATIVELY UNKNOWN STRUGGLE
Though it affects an estimated 300,000 Americans a year, there isn’t much dialog about Lyme disease, a bacterial infection that can attack a person’s nervous system, paralyze the facial muscles, and lead to long-term chronic fatigue. So this memoir by Yolanda Hadid, a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast member, and mother of supermodels Gigi and Bella, is very welcome indeed. Published Tuesday, it offers a frank and affecting account of a disease that can be especially destructive because so few people understand it.
8. WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU CAN GIVE IT YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION
Premiering Friday on Netflix, this harrowing biopic is based on the memoir of human rights activist Loung Ung. Growing up in ’70s Cambodia under the oppressive and deadly Khmer Rouge regime, Ung was near-starved, separated from her family, and forced to train as a child soldier at just seven years old. Sareum Srey Moch portrays Ung as a little girl, with this being her film debut and first acting role. A passion project from Angelina Jolie, who directs and co-wrote the screenplay with Ung, this is a powerful and often shocking biopic that deserves to find a wider audience.
9. WHAT TO REVISIT EVEN IF YOU SKIPPED THE LAST COUPLE SEASONS
After five years and a mid-run move from network to streaming, it’s sadly time for Mindy Kaling‘s infectious sitcom to say goodbye. Debuting Tuesday on Hulu, this sixth and final season sees Chris Messina return as Dr. Danny Castellano, the former colleague, frenemy, and sometime love interest of Kaling’s Manhattan OB/GYN, Dr. Mindy Lahiri. Many fans will be hoping they end up together, but clearly, the show’s cast and creative team are giving absolutely nothing away.
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO WATCH BECAUSE IT’S BEEN A PEACH OF A YEAR FOR TV
Chances are, no one will be happy with this year’s Emmy results. HBO’s sci-fi smash Westworld and NBC’s revitalized Saturday Night Live are the most-nominated shows, but the talent-packed acting categories look too close to call. Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch faces competition from Robert De Niro, Ewan McGregor, and Riz Ahmed for the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie prize. Meanwhile, four Oscar winners compete for the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie trophy: Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Lange, and Susan Sarandon. Watch live on CBS Sunday night, and be prepared to argue hard on Twitter if one of your favorites doesn’t win.
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