There’s something for everyone in this week’s On the Beat, but if you’re looking to be spooked, or maybe to indulge your romantic side, you’re definitely in luck.
1. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU’RE FASCINATED BY THE LAWS OF ATTRACTION
This romantic drama film opening in select theaters Friday revolves around an intriguing moral dilemma: how can you be sure someone’s your soulmate if you’ve never dated anyone else? Parade’s End star Rebecca Hall and Downton Abbey‘s Dan Stevens play a couple in a long-term relationship who are persuaded by her brother (The Gift‘s David Joseph Craig) to “test-date” some other people before they settle down. This could have been a recipe for sitcom-style broad comedy, but writer-director Brian Crano prefers a more subtle approach, making Permission a perceptive and provocative insight into human bonding.
2. WHAT TO WATCH SO YOU CAN FIND OUT WHAT IT’S ABOUT EXACTLY
The third show created for HBO by Alan Ball — after Six Feet Under and True Blood — looks likely to maintain his sky-high standards. Oscar winners Holly Hunter and Tim Robbins star as heads of a proudly liberal multi-racial family whose lives aren’t quite as idyllic as they seem. In the trailer, one of their adopted kids, Daniel Zovatto‘s Roman, says “something is trying to communicate with me,” teasing the show’s mysterious supernatural element. Debuting Sunday, Here and Now has all the right ingredients to become TV’s next big buzz show.
3. WHAT TO READ IF YOU FEEL LIKE PONDERING THE STATE OF THE WORLD
Novels such as White Teeth and On Beauty have made Zadie Smith one of her generation’s most revered literary voices. Published Tuesday, her new book collects recent essays the British writer has contributed to The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. The range of subjects is pretty varied — Smith analyzes Facebook’s blind spots with the same vigor as she celebrates public libraries — but her observations and insights are consistently witty, affecting, and compelling.
4. WHAT TO WATCH AFTER DARK, WITH YOUR LIGHTS DIMMED DOWN
Premiering Friday on Netflix, this British horror film is based on Adam Nevill‘s award-winning novel of the same name. The plot follows four male friends in their thirties as they embark on a hiking trip to northern Sweden. When one member of the party sustains an injury, they’re forced to take a shortcut through a dense and dark-looking forest that gives each of them the creeps. Horror connoisseurs won’t find the plot twists too shocking, but The Ritual still manages to build tension, driven by a fine performance from Rafe Spall (One Day, Life of Pi) as a man hiding unprocessed guilt behind his somewhat cocky persona.
5. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU FIND MOST ROMANTIC COMEDIES TOO FORMULAIC
Stand-up comedian and 2 Broke Girls co-creator Whitney Cummings has chosen some unusual source material for her directorial debut. Opening in select theaters Friday, The Female Brain is adapted from Louanne Brizendine‘s nonfiction book of the same name, which argues that women’s behavior is often different from men’s due to hormonal differences. Cummings translates Brizendine’s arguments into four self-contained rom-com stories exploring relationships at different stages of development. The result is a slightly uneven but often wryly amusing movie, which benefits enormously from its strong ensemble cast led by Cummings, Sofia Vergara, Toby Kebbell, and Jane Seymour.
6. WHAT TO LISTEN TO WHEN YOU’RE FEELING EMOTIONAL
Lady Gaga‘s latest album, Joanne, was named after her aunt who died from lupus at a tragically young age. To coincide with the start of her rescheduled tour dates, the flamboyant pop singer has released a new, stripped-down version of the affecting title track, and made a donation to the Lupus Research Alliance. “Joanne” was always a poignant and streamlined song, but this piano-led version places even more emphasis on Gaga’s devastating vocal. It’s a welcome reminder that terrific singing is at the very core of her appeal.
7. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU COULD USE SOME LIFESTYLE INSPO
A decade after its original run on Bravo ended, Netflix has revived the Emmy-winning reality show in an effort to “make America fabulous again.” Debuting Wednesday, the Queer Eye reboot will introduce a brand new panel of LGBT experts advising a range of makeover candidates on fashion, grooming, food and wine, interior design, and culture. It’s always been a show predicated on a stereotype — namely, that gay men have “better taste” than their straight counterparts — so the new series’ success will likely depend on whether Queer Eye can subtly update its own style to fit the times.
8. WHAT TO TRY IF YOU’RE MISSING AMERICAN HORROR STORY
Syfy’s underrated horror anthology series returns Wednesday for a third installment based on a “creepypasta,” or internet-spread short story. It Follows star Olivia Luccardi and Teen Wolf‘s Holland Roden stars as a couple of interdependent sisters who move to a new city and discover that something mysterious and menacing is preying on the locals. It’s a premise filled with intrigue — could the “butcher’s block” in the title be some kind of clue? As an added bonus for genre fans, Blade Runner legend Rutger Hauer co-stars in a flashback-based role as a wealthy businessman who disappeared after his daughters were murdered.
9. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU’VE ALWAYS ADMIRED HIS GUITAR CHOPS
Eric Clapton approved this feature-length documentary about his life and career, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that it doesn’t delve too deep into his psyche. But it’s still an enjoyable and informative film that doesn’t shy away from discussing Clapton’s battles with drug and alcohol addiction, and the tragic death of his young son, alongside insights into his incredibly successful recording career. Debuting Saturday on Showtime, it’s a real treat for fans of rock and blues music.
10. AND FINALLY, WHICH INSTAGRAM TO SCROLL THROUGH IF JESSICA FLETCHER IS YOUR STYLE ICON
Dame Angela Lansbury played Jessica Fletcher, Cabot Cove‘s tireless mystery writer and amateur detective, for more than 250 Murder She Wrote episodes over 12 years. In that time, she rocked a lot of different looks, but this throwback Instagram account collects only her nattiest outfits and most dramatic facial expressions. Lansbury’s signature role was often rather prim and proper, but as the account highlights, she definitely had a more playful side too. Remember the time Jessica danced in front of a jukebox, or the time she drank a little too much? @murdershelook most certainly does!
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