This week’s On the Beat is so packed with pop culture goodies, you’d be forgiven for wanting to take an impromptu summer “staycation.” But that’s probably a little O.T.T., so why not plan a few deliciously lazy evenings instead?
1. WHAT TO WATCH FOR TOP-NOTCH WRITING AND ACTING
Former Doctor Who showrunner Russell T Davies scripts this miniseries based on a famous British political scandal. Hugh Grant stars as Jeremy Thorpe, a prominent Member of Parliament who embarks on an affair with Norman Scott (Ben Whishaw), a stable hand and model, in the early ’60s when homosexuality was illegal. Nearly two decades later, he’s accused of conspiring to murder Scott, resulting in a high-profile court case that seriously damages his reputation. Grant and Whishaw both deliver brilliant performances, and Davies’ handling of the source material is witty and sensitive. The result, debuting Friday on Amazon, is a riveting three-parter that’s also surprisingly moving.
2. WHAT TO WATCH FOR ITS FANTASTIC FEMALE-LED CAST
This addictive comedy-drama series offers a fictionalized take on cult ’80s wrestling troupe the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (GLOW). Though leads Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin shine as rival actresses who find unexpected success in the ring, GLOW blossomed during season one to become a true ensemble piece. Premiering Friday on Netflix, season two promises to balance moments of high comedy with more serious storylines exploring sexual harassment and the racial stereotypes adopted by some wrestlers for the camera. Expect a bright, bold, and involving watch.
3. WHAT TO GO SEE FOR A STORY YOU COULDN’T MAKE UP
This riveting documentary film opening in select theaters Friday is somewhat darker than it initially seems. BAFTA-nominated director Tim Wardle tells the remarkable true story of identical triplets from New York who were separated at birth and briefly became minor celebrities when they were reunited by chance in the ’80s. Three Identical Strangers doesn’t just explore the siblings’ fascinating relationships with each other after the reunion; it also delves back to reveal the slightly sinister reason they were split up in the first place. It’s a doc you’ll be thinking about for days afterwards.
4. WHAT TO TRY IF YOU’RE MISSING BLACK MIRROR
Co-produced with U.K. network Channel 4, this dark drama series launching Friday on Netflix cleverly mixes live action with CGI. Tallulah Haddon (Taboo) stars as Leila, a lonely teenager seeking solace in an idyllic virtual reality world called Azana. When she befriends fellow player Tess (The Night Manager‘s Simona Brown), she discovers that Azana is so well-developed it even allows her to experience real-life pleasure and pain. Adapted by Skins creator Bryan Elsley from Lottie Moggach‘s popular young adult novel, Kiss Me First offers a bleak and intriguing weekend binge-watch.
5. WHO TO PUT ON WHEN YOU’RE DOING SOME COOKING
Australian pop singer Troye Sivan says his new single is about realizing you and your partner don’t fancy going out because staying home and cooking dinner “sounds like a much, much better alternative.” So, it makes sense that “Dance to This” is a lovely, laid-back pop track that feels balmy rather than brash and bombastic. Some typically angelic guest vocals from Ariana Grande vocals complete a perfect pop package.
6. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU LIKE CRIME DRAMA THAT KEEPS YOU GUESSING
Though it’s based on revered Scandinavian crime series The Bridge, The Tunnel has forged its own distinct identity. Initially, it stood out for being bilingual, with dialogue in both English and French, but over time it’s built a reputation for clever, intricate plotting and compelling performances — Stephen Dillane and Clémence Poésy are fantastic value as equally troubled British and French detectives. Premiering Sunday on PBS, this third and final season begins with a stolen French fishing boat found on fire in the English channel, and proceeds to explore post-Brexit tension and the European refugee crisis. It’s safe to say the twists and turns will be savage.
7. WHAT TO LISTEN TO WHEN YOU NEED A QUICK PICK-ME-UP
After climbing the charts with infectious singles “Here” and “Scars to Your Beautiful,” Canada’s Alessia Cara duly scooped the Best New Artist prize at this year’s Grammys. “Growing Pains,” the first track from her upcoming second album, showcases Cara’s knack for writing soulful pop songs as catchy as they are relatable. “I’ve always been a go-getter, there’s truth in every word I write,” she sings. “But still, the growing pains… they’re keeping me up at night.” Even if it’s been years since you experienced growing pains of your own, this is lovely, life-affirming stuff.
8. WHAT TO WATCH FOR AN INSIGHT INTO A COMPLEX AND SENSITIVE ISSUE
This documentary film debuting Monday on HBO follows Dan Reynolds, frontman of rock band Imagine Dragons, as he explores how the Mormon Church’s attitude towards homosexuality impacts its LGBTQ members. Though director Dan Argott sometimes focuses a little too closely on Reynolds, Believer is most compelling when it spotlights LGBTQ people negatively affected by the church’s stance. At a time when suicide rates in this community have risen sharply, Argott’s film definitely feels timely and important.
9. WHO TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM FOR LOADS OF HIGH-FASHION GLAMOUR
With 30 years as a supermodel under her (super-stylish) belt, Naomi Campbell knows about photos. Her Instagram is an entertaining blend of classic fashion snaps, glimpses of her jet-setting lifestyle, and a surprising array of famous faces: in recent weeks, she’s posted pictures of herself hanging out with everyone from pop singer Boy George to U.K. politician Boris Johnson. Some people’s feeds can feel a bit repetitive, but Campbell’s is truly unique.
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU ENJOYED THE ORIGINAL
Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049), 2015’s Sicario was a muscular crime thriller that became a deserving sleeper hit. This sequel, opening in theaters Friday, shouldn’t be a retread: rising star Stefano Sollima replaces Villeneuve in the director’s seat, and Emily Blunt will not be reprising her role from the original. But, Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro are both back as CIA operatives trying to second-guess Mexican drug cartels on the U.S. border, and Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan has once again written the script. Can it come close to matching the brains and brawn of the first film? Let’s stay cautiously optimistic.
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