Let’s be real. Life is kind of hectic, and we all have a lot on our minds right now. But it’s important to unwind and nourish our cultural sides, too. So here are 10 ways to do just that between now and Sunday night.
1. WHAT TO SEE TO GIVE YOUR WEEKEND A TOUCH OF CLASS
This period romance opening in theaters Friday has real pedigree: The Other Boleyn Girl‘s Justin Chadwick directs, and Oscar winner Sir Tom Stoppard wrote the script based on a bestselling novel by Deborah Moggach. Set in 17th century Amsterdam at a time of “tulip mania,” the story follows a lowly artist (Dane DeHaan) who falls for a married woman (Alicia Vikander) when he’s commissioned to paint her portrait by her much older husband (Christoph Waltz). The film’s impressive ensemble cast also includes Zach Galifianakis, Jack O’Connell, and Anglophenia favorite Dame Judi Dench, who plays the imperious-sounding Abbess of St. Ursula.
2. WHAT TO LISTEN TO WHEN YOU’RE CRAVING SOMETHING INTENSE
Since emerging in 2012, this British singer-songwriter has built a loyal following with music that’s pleasingly difficult to pigeonhole — elements of folk, jazz, indie, and gothic rock all blend to form the Nadine Shah sound. Dropping Friday, this third album is Shah’s most expansive yet as she eschews her usual relationship songs for music that aims to “take account of the world at large.” The result is a powerful, provocative listen topped off by Shah’s wonderfully smoky voice, a real show-stopper.
3. WHAT TO WATCH FOR AN INSIGHT INTO A POP MUSIC ICON
When Whitney Houston died on February 11, 2012 at just 48 years old, she had sold an estimated 170 million records worldwide and become the most awarded female artist in history. Premiering Friday on Showtime, this feature-length documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney; Sarah Palin: You Betcha!) tells the story of her incredibly successful career and tragic demise. Broomfield’s film would have benefited from greater input from the singer’s closest friends and family, but it’s still a moving and revealing portrait of an extraordinary talent who lived a very complicated life.
4. WHICH SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS POP VIDEO TO CHECK OUT
British artist-producer MNEK is a rising star to keep an eye on: he’s already worked with Madonna and Beyoncé, and teamed up with Swedish singer Zara Larrson for the 2015 hit “Never Forget You.” This new single is an affecting midtempo pop gem built around an imaginative sample from Ultra Naté‘s ’90s club classic “Free.” The video, which juxtaposes utopian visuals with images of police brutality, makes its point elegantly and effectively. Overall, the 22-year-old Londoner should congratulate himself on a job well done.
5. WHAT TO WATCH FOR A COMPLETELY LEGAL HIGH
This new Netflix sitcom was co-created by Chuck Lorre, the driving force behind Mom and The Big Bang Theory, so it’s superficially a little old-fashioned: 22 episodes are already in the can, and there’s a laugh track. But the premise is perhaps a little edgier than other Lorre shows. Kathy Bates stars as a longtime legal marijuana advocate,6 who’s now living her dream by running an L.A. cannabis dispensary with her son (Chelsea Lately‘s Tone Bell) and his college pals. It launches Friday, and looks more addictive than you’ll probably care to admit.
6. WHAT TO WATCH EVEN IF YOU’VE SEEN IT BEFORE
Released in 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day is widely recognized as one of cinema’s greatest action flicks, and a rare sequel that actually improves on the original. To mark the 25th anniversary — OK, slightly belatedly — director James Cameron has overseen the film’s digital remastering and conversion into 3D so it looks sharper and shinier than ever before. He’s also corrected a few niggling continuity errors. The redux version hits select theaters this Friday — well, didn’t Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s title character say he’d be back?
7. WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR MOTIVATIONAL PLAYLIST
OK, so she’s never been the trendiest or edgiest of pop stars. But since she broke through in 2000, Pink has definitely been among the most reliable. “What About Us,” the lead single from a new album due in October, is a typically tuneful comeback effort from the PA native. “We are billions of beautiful hearts, and you sold us down the river too far,” she sings regretfully, hinting at something political without getting party-specific. Set to swelling club beats and chiming synth sounds, it makes for a supremely stirring return.
8. WHAT TO WATCH WHEN YOU FANCY A BLAST OF DARK DRAMA
Debuting Friday on Netflix, this supernatural horror movie based on a Japanese manga comic book has already weathered a whitewashing controversy. “There is no conspiracy to remove Japanese culture from Death Note,” director Adam Wingard recently wrote on Twitter. “It’s a fresh version of the story set in Seattle. Also see The Departed.” That story follows a high school student (The Fault in Our Stars‘ Nat Wolff) who comes across a magic notebook that gives him the power to kill any person simply by writing their name on its pages. It’s a brilliant premise, so let’s hope Death Note is a more satisfying manga adaptation than this year’s disappointing Scarlett Johansson vehicle Ghost in the Shell.
9. WHO TO FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM FOR PRESTIGE TV TEASERS
Does Ryan Murphy ever sleep? Next month, the writer-producer-director will launch the latest season of American Horror Story, which is subtitled Cult, while continuing to prep two of 2018’s most anticipated shows: American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace and a new season of Feud focusing on the fractious relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana. He’s known for sharing set photos and casting news on his Instagram, so if you’re a fan of his witty and inventive brand of TV drama, he’s well worth a follow.
10. AND FINALLY, WHAT TO WATCH SO YOU CAN DISCUSS IT AT WORK ON MONDAY MORNING
MTV’s annual Video Music Awards — or VMAs to just about everyone — has a reputation for being the most eventful awards show of the year. This is the bash where Madonna kissed Britney Spears, and Miley Cyrus twerked with a foam finger. Airing live on Sunday night, this year’s ceremony is hosted by Katy Perry and features performances from Kendrick Lamar, Lorde, Ed Sheeran, and a returning Ms. Cyrus. If something scandalous happens, which it probably will, expect Twitter to erupt.
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