Whether your July is starting off bright and breezy, or leaning toward intense and stressful, we’re confident this week’s On the Beat has something for you.
1. WHAT TO WATCH EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT THAT INTO SPORTS
In 2015, Andy Samberg teamed up with Girls producer Murray Miller to make 7 Days in Hell, a riotously funny one-off tennis mockumentary. For this follow-up, premiering Saturday on HBO, they’ve turned to the dope-ridden world of professional cycling. Sure, that’s kind of an easy target, but this pair know how to extract maximum value from an already absurd situation. They’re helped by a frankly incredible cast of co-conspirators including Kevin Bacon, Danny Glover, Maya Rudolph, Jeff Goldblum and John Cena. Oh, and they’ve somehow persuaded Lance Armstrong to make a cameo, too.
2. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN FASCINATED BY THE AFTERLIFE
Opening Friday, this indie film’s matter-of-fact title isn’t misleading at all. A Ghost Story paints a small-scale portrait of a young couple dealing with death. After C (Casey Affleck) is killed in a car crash, his spirit returns to the home he shared with M (Rooney Mara) so he can watch over her. It’s a deliberately slow-moving and contemplative effort which rewards patient viewing – director David Lowery devotes an entire four-minute scene to the sight of Mara’s character eating a grief-numbing pie. Think of it as a super-low-key alternative to Ghost, the old Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore classic, and you won’t be disappointed.
3. WHAT TO PLAY ON YOUR NEXT ROAD TRIP
San Fernando Valley sisters Alana, Danielle, and Este Haim impressed us with 2013’s Days Are Gone, a debut album of sun-dappled guitar-pop that often evoked Fleetwood Mac. Dropping Friday, this follow-up effort offers no radical reinvention: sleek lead single “Want You Back” has echoes of another classic California band, Wilson Phillips. But the trio’s wistful pop melodies, lovely vocal harmonies, and subtle production flourishes remain infectious, making Something to Tell You another summer charmer.
4. WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU’VE OVERDONE THE SUMMER SUNSHINE
Co-created by Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton, this 10-part drama offers a fictionalized account of the crack cocaine epidemic that swept through ’80s L.A. Premiering Wednesday on FX, it’s a consistently gritty affair that attempts — and generally manages — to juggle multiple competing storylines and character arcs. As a naive 19-year-old dealer sucked into a crack ring, young British actor Damson Idris delivers an especially captivating breakout performance. If you need a something a little darker to sink your teeth into this summer, Snowfall is the one.
5. WHAT TO LISTEN TO NEXT TIME YOU FEEL EMOTIONAL
U.K. electro group Clean Bandit have recently cracked the U.S. top ten with “Rockabye,” a socially-conscious tropical pop song featuring vocals from rising star Anne-Marie and dancehall legend Sean Paul. For this new single, they’ve joined forces with underrated Welsh singer-songwriter Marina “and the Diamonds” Diamandis. Buoyed by silvery strings and an emotive performance from Marina, “Disconnect” is a gorgeous dance ballad that succeeds because it has sense of restraint. It’s super-classy and very stirring stuff.
6. WHAT TO CONSIDER ADDING TO YOUR POP CULTURE BOOK SHELF
Described by their drummer Butch Vig as a “little club of misfits,” Garbage were one of the ’90s’ most distinctive bands. Their blend of grunge-style guitars and fierce electronic beats still sounded bracing on last year’s Strange Little Birds album, and singer Shirley Manson always writes lyrics that go darker and deeper than her contemporaries. Co-written by the band, this fancy coffee-table book tells their story with loads of candid anecdotes and intimate behind-the-scenes pictures. It’s essential for fans, and a real treat for anyone who appreciates the ’90s alternative scene.
7. WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU REALLY NEED A BELLY LAUGH
Though Spike are calling this celebrity special airing Sunday a “comedic tribute,” it’s essentially a good, old-fashioned roast. Alec Baldwin‘s career is enjoying yet another revival thanks to his hilarious Trump impersonations, but Robert De Niro, Julianne Moore, and his old 30 Rock co-stars are queuing up to take him down a peg. Baldwin’s daughter Ireland also delivers some zingers, referring to her dad as “the cranky, pudgy guy who moves like SpongeBob from the TV show with Tina Fey.” Ouch.
8. WHAT TO WATCH IF YOU COULD USE SOME SERIOUS BUSINESS MOTIVATION
Beginning Sunday on HBO, this four-part documentary tells the story of an initially unlikely (but ultimately very successful) music industry partnership. In 2006, rapper-turned-mogul Dr. Dre teamed up with producer and record exec Jimmy Iovine to form Beats Electronics, a company best known for its high-end headphones. Eight years later, they sold the brand to Apple for $3 billion. As befits the two men’s legendary status in the biz, the list of talking heads is incredible: Snoop Dogg, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Bono, and Eminem all share their stories of “The Defiant Ones.”
9. WHO TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER FOR (VERY) DISTINCTIVE DAILY INSPIRATION
Once unfairly derided, Yoko Ono‘s influence as a musician and artist seems to grow with every passing year. Last month, she was finally credited as the co-writer of “Imagine,” her late husband John Lennon‘s most famous song, over 45 years after it was released. So it’s a nice time to check out her very unique Twitter feed, a treasure trove of random but always accurate aphorisms. “How lucky are you that you only have small stuff now,” she tweeted a couple weeks back. “Big stuff will hit you one day, and you will miss the small stuff.” Well, she’s not wrong, is she?
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO TRY IF YOU DON’T HAVE SUPERHERO FATIGUE JUST YET
After three Spider-Man movies with Tobey Maguire, and another two starring Andrew Garfield, you’re forgiven for thinking, “Really? Again?” But this reboot fronted by young British actor Tom Holland is building huge pre-release buzz. It’s the first Spidey flick connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, meaning Robert Downey Jr.‘s Iron Man gets to co-star, and the tone is said to be reminiscent of classic John Hughes movies like Weird Science and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Opening Friday, it’s surely destined to become one of this summer’s must-see blockbusters.
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