From classy period drama to dark and edgy pop music, via a real-life sports story and a couple of rising star actors, this week’s On the Beat is definitely eclectic. Let’s get started, shall we?
1. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU’RE A BIG FAN OF DOWNTON ABBEY
This period drama opening in select theaters Friday reunites Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes with Elizabeth McGovern, the actress who plays Lady Grantham, and Michael Engler, director of several episodes of the TV series and its upcoming spin-off film. McGovern plays an affluent Kansas woman who accompanies a young Louise Brooks (Recovery Road‘s Haley Lu Richardson) to New York City to pursue her dreams of stardom. Brooks would become one of the most iconic silent film actresses of all, so The Chaperone‘s ending probably isn’t in doubt, but Fellowes should ensure it’s an entertaining and elegant take on her pre-Hollywood life.
2. WHAT TO READ IF YOU’RE A BIG FAN OF THE BOSS
This hardcover book published Tuesday promises to offer an insight into Bruce Springsteen‘s creative process through recollections from his collaborators and analysis of the social context in which his songs were written. “Born in the U.S.A.” may sound like a jubilant anthem, but it was actually the artist’s response to the fallout from the Vietnam War. Longtime Rolling Stone writer Brian Hiatt has interviewed Springsteen on five occasions over the years, and conducted new interviews with E Street Band members for this book, so it should be pretty definitive.
3. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU APPRECIATE AN EXPERIENCED ENSEMBLE CAST
Highly acclaimed at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, this indie drama opening in select theaters Friday is led by the reliably excellent Mary Kay Place. She plays a somewhat careworn woman living in rural Massachusetts who splits her time between helping at the local homeless shelter and tending to friends and her addict son (Girls‘ Jake Lacy). With a supporting cast of classy veterans including Estelle Parsons, Andrea Martin, and Glynnis O’Connor, this first feature film from writer-director Kent Jones promises to offer a nuanced take on getting older.
4. WHAT TO TRY IF YOU FIND MOST CHART POP TOO PERKY
At 17 years of age, L.A. native Billie Eilish already has eight Billboard Hot 100 hits to her name. Dropping Friday, this debut album should showcase the dark, dramatic, and relatively edgy pop style that’s made her stand out. Eilish says she and brother Finneas, with whom she makes her songs, “try to write what everyone is thinking, but no one says.” So far, this policy has resulted in intriguingly unique tunes such as “Bury a Friend,” told from the perspective of a monster hiding under Eilish’s bed, and “Wish You Were Gay,” inspired by a crush who wasn’t interested in her. She’s a new artist who’s definitely worth investigating.
5. WHICH PODCAST TO TRY IF YOU’VE KIND OF ALWAYS WANTED TO WRITE A MOVIE
Scriptnotes bills itself rather modestly as “a podcast about screenwriting, and things that are interesting to screenwriters.” But actually, its appeal is a little broader: if you’re interested in how stories are told, or have any screenwriting aspirations of your own, it’s definitely worth a listen. Hosts John August and Craig Mazin are both in-demand screenwriters – August’s credits include Guy Ritchie‘s upcoming Aladdin; Mazin co-wrote two of the Hangover movies – and they’re often joined by fellow Hollywood scribes such as The Devil Wears Prada‘s Aline Brosh McKenna.
6. WHICH MULTI-TALENTED ACTRESS TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM
So far, 2019 is shaping up to be a banner year for Zawe Ashton, the British writer-actress best known for her role in the sitcom Fresh Meat, and who briefly appeared in the Doctor Who episode ‘Into the Dalek.’ Velvet Buzzsaw, a dark art world satire in which she co-stars opposite Jake Gyllenhaal, launched on Netflix in February; she’s currently appearing with Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Cox in a West End revival of Harold Pinter‘s play Betrayal; and next month will bring her first book, Character Breakdown, described as a “unique look at life, work and the absurdities of contemporary life.” So, why not give her a follow on Instagram for an insight into her many interesting creative endeavors.
7. WHAT TO PLAY FOR AN EARLY BLAST OF SUMMER
You might know a couple of Naughty Boy tracks without realizing it. The British DJ-producer (whose real name is Shahid Khan) teamed up with Sam Smith for 2013 smash “La La La” and Beyoncé for 2016’s stirring “Runnin’ (Lose It All).” His new single is a catchy slab of dancehall-pop featuring vocals from soulful Brit Calum Scott and Jamaican rapper Shenseea; it’s catchy and contemporary enough to give this somewhat underrated artist another radio hit.
8. WHAT TO GO SEE EVEN IF YOU’RE NO SPORTS OBSESSIVE
This sports documentary opening in select theaters Friday delves into the doping scandal that ripped through Major League Baseball in 2013. But, like the famous clients of steroid peddler Anthony Bosch, whose supposed “health clinic” in south Florida is the story’s focal point, director Billy Corben doesn’t exactly take the sober approach. According to its official blurb, Screwball “plays like a madcap Floridian crime comedy in the vein of Elmore Leonard or the Coen Brothers while it raises serious questions about the ethics of professional sports.” Even if it’s not quite a home run, this film sounds like a lot of fun.
9. WHAT TO PLAY WHEN YOU’RE FEELING WISTFUL
British pop singer Will Young made his name by winning Pop Idol – the U.K.’s equivalent to American Idol – back in 2001. Though he’s never broken through in the U.S., he’s built an enduringly successful career at home, and this lovely comeback single shows why. An elegant slice of melancholy electro-pop, “All the Songs” finds Young battling through a break-up’s emotional aftermath. “Can’t escape from these chains, all the songs remind me of you,” he sings affectingly on the chorus. It’s classy, classic-sounding stuff.
10. WHICH RISING STAR TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM
Thanks to his roles in the Kingsman movies and charming Brit biopic Eddie the Eagle, Taron Egerton is already one of the U.K.’s hottest young actors. But his next project – long-promised Elton John biopic Rocketman, in which he stars as the piano man himself – is surely his most anticipated yet. Frankly, if it becomes even half as successful as last year’s Queen movie Bohemian Rhapsody, you’ll want to follow Egerton now before he goes supernova.
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