This week’s On the Beat is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and when you hear some of the songs we’re spotlighting, you’ll probably want to strut round your kitchen… or maybe that’s just us? Either way, dive right in and enjoy.
1. WHAT TO WATCH FOR A GENUINELY HARROWING PERFORMANCE FROM BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
Airing Sunday night on PBS, this feature-length adaptation of Ian McEwan‘s bestselling novel is not for the faint of heart. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Stephen, a children’s book author whose life implodes when his daughter disappears during a seemingly routine trip to the grocery store. In the years following her presumed kidnapping, we see Stephen deal with an incredibly destructive combination of grief and guilt as his career falters and his marriage to Julie (Boardwalk Empire‘s Kelly Macdonald, also excellent) crumbles. It’s a devastatingly sad drama, but one that’s sensitively-told and imbued with touching glimmers of hope.
2. WHAT TO GO SEE THIS WEEKEND IF YOU NEED CHEERING UP
This British comedy film has a fairly predictable premise: after she discovers her husband has been unfaithful, uptight Sandra (Harry Potter‘s Imelda Staunton) goes to live with her free-spirited sister (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘s Celia Imrie) in a scruffy London tower block. Once there, she rediscovers her love of dancing at community classes where she meets a shy but kindhearted local widower (Mr. Turner‘s Timothy Spall). What happens next is pretty obvious, but even the film’s most clichéd moments have immense charm thanks to a fabulous cast which also includes Joanna Lumley as a lovable vamp. Opening in select theaters Friday, Finding Your Feet is a sweet, gentle and well-meaning treat.
3. WHAT TO MAKE THE SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR WEEKEND
This year is shaping up to be stellar for female pop singers. Following excellent LPs by Camila Cabello and Rae Morris comes this brilliant debut dropping Friday from L.A. native Hayley Kiyoko. Though she started her career in a teen-oriented girl band called The Stunners, Expectations is a sultry and sophisticated affair whose intriguing lyrics explore sexuality and ambiguous relationships. “You wanna be friends forever? I can think of something better,” Kiyoko sings on “Sleepover,” a cute tune about falling for a close friend. Other tracks experiment with unconventional song structures without skimping on the catchy hooks, making Expectations a very impressive debut indeed.
4. WHAT TO WATCH FOR TOP-CLASS PRODUCTION VALUES AND SIMMERING TENSION
Adapted from Dan Simmons‘ popular novel of the same name, this genre-busting horror series is based on a chilling real-life mystery. In 1845, a British naval ship disappeared without a trace while trying to navigate the treacherous Northwest Passage through the Arctic Ocean. The bodies of the 129 crew members weren’t found until 2014, but The Terror cleverly imagines what may have thwarted them when they sailed into unchartered waters all those years before. Debuting Sunday on AMC, it’s a sumptuous spook-fest with a superior cast led by Ciarán Hinds, Jared Harris, and Outlander‘s Tobias Menzies.
5. WHAT TO STREAM IF YOU ENJOY AN UNDERDOG STORY
While some of its big-budget movies have been disappointing, Netflix has found greater success with more modest, indie-leaning films. This beautifully-realized coming-of-age drama launching Friday is a case in point. Adapted by director Olivia Newman from her own short film, it follows a tough girl from the foster system girl (terrific rising star Elvire Emanuelle) as she joins a boys’ wrestling team so she can reconnect with her estranged father. Though First Match may mine somewhat familiar themes of identity, self-empowerment, and redemption, its story is told with such grit and intensity, it’s hard not to become fully invested.
6. WHAT TO READ WHILE YOU WAIT FOR THIS IS US SEASON THREE
Florida-born Chrissy Metz shines as This Is Us fan favorite Kate Pearson, a woman who battles her own body image and often feels as though she’s living in her mother’s shadow. Published Tuesday, her first book is a blend of memoir and self-help guide which offers an insight into Metz’s own trials and tribulations; though she’s now a bona fide TV star, she initially struggled just to land auditions in Hollywood. Her life advice may look a little corny to some readers, but this is still a warm, honest and relatable read.
7. WHAT TO PLAY WHEN YOU NEED SOME PEP IN YOUR STEP
Swedish singer-songwriter Seinabo Sey won props for 2015’s debut album Pretend, a sleek and soulful collection of electronic pop. But this taster from her upcoming second album is her most accessible and striking effort yet. “I owe you nothing, I be myself and I ain’t fronting,” she sings with cool confidence over swaggering beats. By the time the song reaches its gospel-tinged finale, you’re in no doubt over who’s in control here. Got a big presentation at work this week? “I Owe You Nothing” is the song to play to psyche yourself up.
8. WHAT TO TRY IF YOU’RE FEELING KIND OF NOSTALGIC
Two decades after bowing out, Roseanne returns Tuesday for a nine-episode revival series reuniting all the key members of the original cast. During its ’90s run, the ABC sitcom won praise for its salty humor and realistic portrayal of blue collar life; Roseanne Barr‘s title character was a spunky working-class matriarch with a tongue that could cut butter. Early reviews suggest this first episode shoehorns in some awkward political jokes in a bid to seem relevant (a mistake NBC’s Will & Grace revival also made in its first episode). But once Roseanne relocates its groove, it should be a pleasure spending some more time with the bickering, dysfunctional, but ultimately very loving Conner family.
9. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN A FAN OF ALTERNATIVE MUSIC
In 2018, we’ve become accustomed to having any music we like at our fingertips thanks to YouTube and streaming platforms like Spotify. But back in the early ’80s, it was a little trickier to discover new tunes. This brilliant documentary film tells the remarkable story of WLIR 92.7, a modest Long Island radio station which helped to introduce the new wave sound to mainstream America and launch the careers of iconic bands like U2, New Order, and The Cure. Premiering Friday on Showtime (and on demand), it’s an evocative glimpse into one of pop music’s most exciting periods.
10. WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE RECAPTURING SOME CHILDLIKE WONDER
Co-created by Bryan Cranston and Superbad director Greg Mottola, this new comedy series debuting Friday on Amazon promises to be both poignant and exciting. Inspired by Conn and Hal Iggulden‘s book of the same name, it follows a trio of young brothers as they deal with the death of their father by enacting a series of fantasies contained in an adventure book he left for them. With an adult cast that includes The Winner‘s Erinn Hayes as their mother and the always-superb Swoosie Kurtz as their grandmother, this looks like a fine, family-friendly treat.
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