Online streaming is bigger than ever, and with so many streaming services adding new shows and movies every week, it can be nearly impossible to sort through the good and the bad. If you need something to watch and don’t want to wade through the digital muck that washes up on the internet’s shores, follow our picks below for the best new shows and movies worth a watch.
This week: a new British mystery, a cult-classic action film, and Quentin Tarantino’s stylish revenge epic.
Marcella season 1
Those who watched The Bridge may notice several recurring traits in screenwriter Hans Rosenfeldt’s new show, Marcella. Like Rosenfeldt’s previous work, Marcella follows a troubled detective, Marcella Backland (Anna Friel), who comes out of retirement to hunt a serial killer she had investigated years before. It’s a cliched set-up, but like The Bridge, Marcella weaves in thread after thread, as what seems like a simple case dramatically expands. The plot is muddled even further by Marcella’s psychological problems; prone to blacking out and occasionally waking up covered in blood, Marcella’s own actions can be as much a mystery as the killer’s.
Big Trouble in Little China
The action movie market is so strangled by media empires like Marvel and Star Wars these days, it’s hard to remember a time when movies like Big Trouble in Little China could get the green light. Directed by John Carpenter (Halloween, Escape From New York), Big Trouble follows truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) and his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) as they try to rescue Wang Chi’s sister from a Chinese street gang. Their rescue attempt is complicated by the appearance of Lo Pan (James Hong), an ancient sorcerer, and his army of monsters, prompting Jack and a group of allies to venture into the mystical underworld beneath Chinatown. A colorful love letter to martial arts films, Big Trouble’s rich cast of characters and campy action scenes remain fresh decades after its release.
Before Batman Begins made him one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, Christopher Nolan worked his way up with more intimate psychological thrillers like Insomnia. Following the murder of a teenager in Nightmute, Alaska, two LAPD detectives, Will Dormer (Al Pacino) and Hap Eckhart (Martin Donovan) are dispatched to the remote town to aid in the investigation. The murderer is no mere predator, however; he wants to get under Dormer’s skin and corrupt him, and the distant wastes of Alaska provide a fitting backdrop for their spiritual battle. Nolan’s direction takes advantage of the beautiful, haunting setting, and Pacino, along with co-stars Hilary Swank and Robin Williams, deliver magnetic performances that strengthen this character study.
Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
In 2004, at the height of his popularity, comedian Dave Chappelle made the very odd Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, a documentary directed by Michel Gondry that follows Chappelle as he organizes a block party in Brooklyn. The party features performances from Chappelle as well as numerous hip hop artists, including Mos Def, The Roots, and Kanye West. It’s a lively concert film, and Chappelle’s charisma keeps things interesting between performances. If nothing else, the film is worth watching for a rare performance by the defunct reggae/rap group The Fugees.
Kill Bill vols. 1 and 2
Quentin Tarantino has never been known for restraint, and all his glorious excesses are on display in his two part revenge film Kill Bill. The film — it really is one film released in two chunks — follows The Bride (Uma Thurman), a pregnant assassin beaten, shot, and left for dead on her wedding day by her former associates, the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, led by her ex-lover, Bill (David Carradine). Waking up from a coma four years later, The Bride plans to hunt down and kill her former compatriots, now scattered around the world. Tarantino has always drawn on his favorite films and genres for inspiration, and Kill Bill is a stylish pastiche of samurai and Western films; the iconic fight between The Bride and The Crazy 88s (a gang of 88 Yakuza members) is Tarantino at his best, with limbs flying and blood spurting in a ballet of violence.