There are plenty of tasty new pop culture morsels to sample over the next seven days, and it also feels like a banner week for LGBTQ inclusion. So, tuck in!
1. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU FANCY SOMETHING FEEL-GOOD THIS WEEKEND
Adapted from a popular young adult novel by Becky Albertalli, this glossy teen movie feels significant because it places an LGBTQ character front and center rather than on the peripheries. Jurassic World‘s Nick Robinson stars as a high school student trying to hide his sexuality from his peers and parents while forging an email friendship with an anonymous classmate who says he too is gay. Robinson brings immense warmth to an emotionally complex role and he’s ably supported by a crack cast that includes Jennifer Garner, 13 Reasons Why‘s Katherine Langford, and X-Men: Apocalypse‘s Alexandra Shipp. Opening in theaters Friday, Love, Simon is a coming-of-age movie with real charm and lots of heart.
2. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU DON’T MIND BEING SHOCKED
Debuting Tuesday on Netflix, this stand-up special recorded on his first world tour in seven years finds The Office co-creator in fine form. “Humanity” is actually a pretty loose theme which allows Gervais to riff on everything from his own childhood to animal cruelty to the pitfalls of social media. Gervais has long maintained that nothing is off-limits when it comes to comedy, so expect some of his jokes to push the boundaries of good taste right to the limit.
3. WHAT TO PUT ON TO WHEN YOU REALLY NEED TO SET THE MOOD
Director Ava DuVernay scored quite a coup when she persuaded Sade to contribute to her A Wrinkle in Time soundtrack. “Flower of the Universe” is the elusive singer’s first new song in seven years. Typically sultry and unhurried, it’s an elegant and reflective ballad which builds to an intriguingly spooky and suitably cinematic finale. Throughout, Sade’s glorious voice sounds as menthol-cool as ever. Fingers crossed we don’t have to wait another seven years for her next offering!
4. WHAT TO BINGE-WATCH IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED THIS WEEKEND
After premiering to positive reviews at January’s Sundance Film Festival, this gripping six-part documentary series arrives on Netflix Friday. Directed by brothers Chapman and Maclain Way (who previously made sports doc The Battered Bastards of Baseball), it recounts the fascinating true story of Rajneeshpuram, a proto-utopian city built by controversial guru Bhagwan Rajneeshin in ‘80s rural Oregon. Featuring intimate archive footage and contributions from locals who were incensed by the project, plus the late guru’s still-loyal private secretary, Wild Wild Country gives an insight into a seismic and deeply weird culture clash that almost feels like something out of a movie.
5. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU FEEL LIKE SINKING YOUR TEETH INTO A NEW MURDER MYSTERY
Alan Cumming was so brilliant as scheming politico Eli Gold in The Good Wife that it’s great to see him leading this police series debuting Sunday on CBS. Adapted from a novel by James Patterson, Instinct revolves around Dylan Reinhart (Cumming), a CIA agent-turned-writer who’s lured back to detective work when a serial killer begins using his book as inspiration. Cumming’s character also happens to be gay, making Instinct the first ever hourlong network drama to feature an LGBTQ lead. Shameless‘s Bojana Novakovic, Lost‘s Naveen Andrews, and the inimitable Whoopi Goldberg pepper a strong supporting cast.
6. WHAT TO LISTEN TO WHEN YOU’RE FEELING KINDA INTROSPECTIVE
This second taster track from Chvrches’ upcoming album Love Is Dead is more subdued than the first, January’s “Get Out.” Here, the Scottish synthpop outfit team up with Matt Berninger from Cincinnati indie band The National for a dark and downbeat love song; “My Enemy” pivots on the idea that there’s a fine line between someone becoming your “remedy,” or your “enemy.” Berninger’s murky verses give way to glistening choruses sung by Chvrches frontwoman Lauren Mayberry, making this an appealing exercise in musical light and shade.
7. WHAT TO WATCH EVEN IF YOU NEVER CAUGHT THE ORIGINAL DOCS
Premiering Friday on Showtime, this documentary is actually a follow-up to two separate films about the transgender experience that aired in 2004. Beyond the Opposite Sex reintroduces us to Rene and Jaime 13 years after they underwent gender affirmation surgeries, illuminating the fact that gender transitioning is an ongoing process, not a destination. As well as giving an insight into their personal journeys, Beyond the Opposite Sex also explores the progress made (and still to be made) by the trans rights movement.
8.WHAT TO LISTEN TO WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE DANCING AROUND THE KITCHEN
This British singer-songwriter-producer has co-written hits for Beyoncé and Madonna, and also cracked the charts with 2016’s “Never Forget You,” a duet with Swedish star Zara Larsson. But “Tongue” sees him step squarely into the spotlight. Underpinned by atmospheric synth sounds and a pulsing beat, it’s a pert and playful dance cut about the difficulty of saying “I love you” to someone for the first time. MNEK’s debut album is due later this year, but for now “Tongue” is a delectable appetizer.
9. WHAT TO TRY FOR AN INSIGHT INTO CONTEMPORARY IRISH LIFE
This Irish drama series has a pretty familiar-sounding premise: after discovering her fiancé has been unfaithful, Dublin lawyer Tara Rafferty (Cold Feet‘s Amy Huberman) ditches her wedding plans and sets up her own law firm — one populated with somewhat unconventional co-workers. But Striking Out rises above legal procedural cliché because its appealing cast breathes life into characters who are more three-dimensional than they initially appear. Launching Friday on the Acorn TV streaming service, season two also benefits from the presence of Maria Doyle Kennedy (a.k.a. Orphan Black‘s Siobhan Sadler), who joins the cast as a very no-nonsense attorney.
10. AND FINALLY, WHICH INSTAGRAM TO FOLLOW TO IMPROVE YOUR FEED’S AESTHETICS
Director Wes Anderson is known for his instantly recognizable visual style: with films like The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel, he creates pastel-colored, super-stylized, and almost perfectly symmetrical mini-worlds. Curated by Anderson superfan Wally Koval, this account shares images of real-life buildings and scenery that look like stills from an Anderson movie. Koval says he gets thousands of submissions a week, so the quality control is sky-high. In fact, if you Photoshopped an Anderson regular like Owen Wilson or Bill Murray into any of these photos, it would probably pass for the real thing.
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