Whether you’re in the mood for carefree escapism or a deep dive into edgier territory, this week’s super-varied On the Beat surely has you covered.
1. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU WANT TO BE FRIGHTENED JUST A LITTLE BIT THIS WEEKEND
This film’s appeal can be summarized in six words: Helen Mirren in a horror flick. She stars as Sarah Winchester, a gun mogul’s widow who becomes convinced that her sprawling mansion is haunted by the ghosts of people killed by her late husband’s rifles. It’s a juicy premise based on a true story, and Mirren is flanked by a capable supporting cast that includes Zero Dark Thirty‘s Jason Clarke and rising star Sarah Snook. Opening in theaters Friday, Winchester certainly looks like a superior kind of spook-fest.
2. WHAT TO WATCH FOR HUMOR AND HOME TRUTHS
Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson have been spotlighting marginalized comedians on their hugely popular 2 Dope Queens podcast since 2015. Now they’re adapting the format into four hour-long HBO specials beginning Friday. They’ve already revealed that special guests including Jon Stewart, Tituss Burgess, and Sarah Jessica Parker will be joining them to discuss conversation topics ranging from “New York” to “hair” to “Black Nerds” a.k.a. “Blerds.” Meanwhile, comedians including Rhea Butcher and Aparna Nancherla will be on-hand to deliver stand-up sets. Tune in for an entertaining blend of jokes, anecdotes, and knowing social commentary.
3. WHAT TO READ FOR NO-HOLDS-BARRED REVELATIONS
Rose McGowan is known for her unflinching honesty, so this “memoir/manifesto” published Tuesday should be a must-read. Though she initially found fame with high-profile TV and movie roles in Charmed, Scream and Grindhouse, she’s now best known as a whistleblower committed to exposing Hollywood’s endemic sexual abuse problem. Brave promises to document her journey from actress to activist, while also recounting an unusual upbringing spent in a quasi-religious cult. McGowan fans can also tune into her new E! documentary series, Citizen Rose, which launches Tuesday to coincide with the book.
4. WHAT TO WATCH BECAUSE IT HAS THREE FABULOUS FEMALE LEADS
This U.K. comedy-drama series from Kay Mellor, who also created last year’s Ashley Jensen vehicle Love, Lies & Records, centers on three women from the so-called “sandwich generation” — meaning, they have responsibilities to both grown-up kids and elderly parents. Downton Abbey‘s Phyllis Logan, Harry Potter‘s Miranda Richardson, and Doctor Who‘s Zoë Wanamaker star as longtime friends who find that life only gets more complicated as they venture deeper into middle age. Debuting Tuesday on the Acorn TV streaming sergice, Girlfriends has a few trite and unsubtle moments, but the glorious cast are reason enough to give it a go.
5. WHAT TO LISTEN TO WHEN YOU’RE FEELING NOSTALGIC
In the U.S., Kylie Minogue is a cult favorite who’s scored the odd huge hit like 2001’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” But in the U.K. and her native Australia, she’s a superstar who’s often hailed as the “Princess of Pop” to Madonna‘s “Queen.” This first single from her upcoming 14th album, due March, shows why Minogue’s career has now lasted over 30 years. Cleverly introducing a hint of country to her usual electro-pop sound, it’s a wistful midtempo tune with deceptively simple lyrics that work on several levels. “When I go out, I wanna go out dancing,” she sings in the chorus, and it’s just so easy to relate to.
6. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU APPRECIATE A STORY THAT’S GRITTY BUT UPLIFTING
Opening in select theaters Friday, this Chilean drama has deservedly been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film prize at this year’s Academy Awards. Break-out star Daniela Vega plays a young waitress called Marina, who finds herself ostracized by her boyfriend’s family when he dies unexpectedly, largely because she’s a trans woman. Battling against their ignorance and prejudice, Marina gradually begins to assert herself, gaining confidence along the way. Driven by Vega’s riveting performance, this is an inspiring film about identity, self-respect and personal growth.
7. WHO TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM AS THE OSCAR RACE HEATS UP
Timothée Chalamet has just earned an Academy Award nomination for his heartbreaking portrayal of first love in Call Me by Your Name. The NYC-born actor also has a key supporting role in another Oscar-nominated film, Greta Gerwig‘s Lady Bird, making him one of awards season’s major players. He’s been documenting the whole thing charmingly on his Instagram, so he’s well worth adding to your feed as the big day at L.A.’s Dolby Theatre approaches. Really, can you resist a young actor who took his mom as his date to the SAG Awards?
8. WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR WORKDAY PLAYLIST
British pop star Rae Morris isn’t well-known in the U.S. yet, but her new album is definitely worth a listen when it’s added to streaming platforms Friday. Led by the excellent singles “Reborn” and “Atletico (The Only One),” it’s a collection of elegant and catchy electro-pop tracks with lyrics that really strike a chord. If you’re pushed for time, head straight to “Dancing with Character,” a moving and beautifully-observed song about an older couple whose relationship has stood the test of time.
9. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU LOVE A SLOW-TO-UNRAVEL MYSTERY
Former Castle actress Stana Katic takes the lead role in this intriguing thriller series premiering Friday on Amazon Prime. She plays a former FBI agent who seemingly vanishes while trying to track down a notorious Boston serial killer. Six years after being presumed dead, she’s found in a cabin in the woods with no memory of what happened, and evidence linking her to a string of murders. It’s a meaty role well-suited to Katic and she’s supported by a strong cast that includes Game of Thrones‘ Ralph Ineson and Downton Abbey‘s Cara Theobold.
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO STREAM BECAUSE HE NEARLY ALWAYS DELIVERS
When he shared the title and suitably bucolic artwork for Man of the Woods, his first album in four and a half years, some JT fans were a little confused. Had he abandoned his usual pop-R&B stylings for a more rootsy, folk vibe? Well, recent teaser tracks suggest otherwise: “Filthy” has sleek electro-funk beats and “Supplies” is a minimal trap jam produced by Pharrell Williams. But the full album dropping Friday unfolds over a leisurely 16 tracks, so there’s plenty of room for the former *NSYNC singer to experiment with his sound. Either way, it’s bound to be an interesting listen.
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