This week’s On the Beat is full of pop culture that’s classy but accessible – just the way we like it. Let’s dive right in!
1. WHAT TO WATCH FOR LEAD CHARACTERS YOU’LL REALLY CARE ABOUT
Plenty of TV shows claim to be “groundbreaking,” but SundanceTV’s This Close really is. Created by and starring Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman, both of whom are deaf, it’s a beautifully-observed comedy-drama that puts a pair of deaf characters right at the heart of the action for a change. Stern and Feldman play Kate and Michael, best friends navigating their twenties in L.A. who begin this second season trying to rebuild their relationship following events at the end of the first. Guest stars lined up across the season, which premieres with back-to-back episodes Friday at midnight/11c, include Marcia Cross, Margaret Cho, and Marlee Matlin, the first (and to date only) deaf performer to have won an Academy Award.
2. WHAT TO GO SEE FOR A HEARTWARMING REAL-LIFE STORY
This feature-length documentary tells an incredible true story of human kindness and solidarity. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town of Gander in northeastern Canada, leaving 6,500 travelers stranded in a town with a population of just 9,000. Gander’s citizens rallied immediately, welcoming the marooned travelers in their homes, schools, and churches for the next five days, creating a close-knit temporary community that inspired the hit Broadway musical Come From Away. You Are Here: A Come From Away Story Movie plays in theaters for one day only on Wednesday, September 11, the 18th anniversary of the attacks.
3. WHICH EXCITING BROADWAY DEBUT TO KEEP AN EYE ON
This deliberately ambiguous play by French writer Florian Zeller earned rave reviews when it opened in London’s West End last year, so its Broadway debut is definitely a bit of an event. Dame Eileen Atkins and Jonathan Pryce – both revered British stage actors – reprise their lead roles as a couple looking back on their 50-year marriage and grappling with the fact that it may not have been as perfect as it appeared. Previews begin Tuesday at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, so look out for critics’ reviews and social media reactions over the next couple weeks.
4. WHAT TO TRY IF YOU LIKE YOUR POP MUSIC CUTTING EDGE
British singer-songwriter Charli XCX has established herself as one of pop’s most compelling renegades. Sometimes she crashes the charts – she sang on Iggy Azalea‘s number-one hit “Fancy,” after all – but often her super-glossy, ultra-modern pop tunes are slightly too offbeat for mainstream radio. Dropping Friday, this third album has already yielded the brilliant singles “1999,” “Blame It on Your Love,” and “Gone” – collaborations with Troye Sivan, Lizzo and Christine and the Queens respectively – and promises to be one of the year’s most exciting long-players. Bring it on!
5. WHAT TO GO SEE FOR A ROUSING STORY OF FEMALE EMPOWERMENT
This stylish-looking comedy-drama directed by Lorene Scafaria (The Meddler) is based on a fascinating 2015 New York magazine article by Jessica Pressler. Opening in theaters Friday, it follows a group of New York City strippers who hatch a scam to steal from their wealthy male clients when the late-noughties financial crisis threatens their livelihoods. Reviews from this weekend’s Toronto International Film Festival suggest Hustlers is a powerful exploration of female solidarity performed by a crack cast that includes Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Scream Queens‘ Keke Palmer, Julia Stiles, and music stars Cardi B and Lizzo.
6. WHAT TO LISTEN TO IN AN EMOTIONAL MOMENT
Dutch-Kurdish singer-songwriter Naaz may have appeared on Holland’s Got Talent, but her music is much quirkier than most talent show singers. Her latest track “damage :-(“ is an elegant, gently swelling electro-pop song about accepting that sometimes you reach rock bottom and just have to get on with it. It’s melancholy, but laced with optimism: “I hope I’ll be a sweet daughter, hope I’ll become a sweet mother,” Naaz sings on the bridge. Don’t be surprised if you find it all kind of moving.
7. WHICH DOCTOR WHO FAVORITE TO CATCH UP WITH
Can you believe it’s been six years since Billie Piper‘s final (to date) appearance as Rose Tyler? Since she said goodbye to her beloved Doctor Who companion, the British actress’s career has continued to flourish on stage and screen – she won a Laurence Olivier award for her role in 2017’s London revival of classic Spanish play Yerma, and gave another fan favorite performance in Showtime’s stylish horror drama Penny Dreadful. Her quirky-looking directorial debut Rare Beasts, which she also stars in, recently debuted at the Venice International Film Festival, so now is an excellent time to reconnect with her on the ‘gram.
8. WHAT TO PLAY IF YOU AREN’T READY TO SAY GOODBYE TO SUMMER YET
Cuban-American singer-songwriter Camila Cabello provided one of the songs of summer 2019, “Señorita,” a seductive duet with Shawn Mendes which reached number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. Now she’s keeping the good times going into fall with “Liar,” an excellent trailer for her upcoming second album Romance. Built around a nostalgic sample from Ace of Base‘s ’90s pop-reggae hit “All That She Wants,” it’s an infectious, feather-light ska-pop tune that should brighten up even the dullest September commute.
9. WHAT TO GO SEE IF YOU LIKE A PRESTIGIOUS LITERARY ADAPTATION
Some fans of Donna Tartt‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Goldfinch worried that her sprawling coming-of-age story might lend itself better to a miniseries than this movie adaptation opening Friday. Still, there’s no doubting that her stellar source material has attracted some serious talent. Brooklyn‘s John Crowley directs from a screenplay by Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) which follows Theo (Baby Driver‘s Ansel Elgort) as he attempts to recover from an early personal tragedy, often seeking solace in a painting of a tiny bird chained to its perch (“The Goldfinch”). The impressive supporting cast includes Nicole Kidman as Theo’s initially chilly mother figure, plus Sarah Paulson, Westworld‘s Jeffrey Wright and American Horror Story‘s Denis O’Hare.
10. AND FINALLY, WHICH UNLIKELY INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT TO CHECK OUT
Strange as it sounds, Twitter has just joined rival social media platform Instagram, and it’s clearly there to have fun. The @Twitter Instagram account has the matter-of-fact bio “screenshots of tweets,” and launched with a panel of posts (pictured above) which pokes playful fun at its competitor. The novelty of seeing Twitter tease Instagram on its own site could soon wear off, but for now it’s a lot of fun – just ask the 630,000 folks who’ve already hit “follow!”
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