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: the return of BoJack Horseman, a British satire, and some classic horror films.
BoJack Horseman season 3
When you have money and fame, what more could you possibly need? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs would posit that one needs love, respect, and self-actualization, all of which is in short supply for BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett), a has-been actor trying to figure out what’s next in life. Once the star of a hit sitcom, BoJack is an alcoholic with few friends and fewer prospects. Eager to make a comeback, he hires ghostwriter Diane Nguyen (Alison Brie) to pen his biography, and the two grow close as BoJack tries to work through his issues. Despite the colorful, surreal animation, BoJack Horseman is a distinctly black comedy, mining much of its humor from neuroses, substance abuse, and the cruel gyre of celebrity culture. The show balances humor and drama well, and Arnett’s performance is a key part of that, as he slowly reveals the pain beneath BoJack’s bravado.
There are few sports narratives as timeless as the underdog story, and while Ron Howard’s Cinderella Man doesn’t throw any twists into its David vs. Goliath premise, it does show the director’s ability to highlight the humanity at the core of a subject as brutal as boxing. The film follows James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe), a former boxer who retired after breaking his right hand in the ring. Struggling to find work during the Great Depression, Braddock returns to the ring for a night and finds that he can win despite using his left hand. Braddock’s return leads to a fight against Max Baer (Craig Bierko), a juggernaut who has killed two men in the ring. Although boxing is Braddock’s trade, the film is as much about his relationship with his wife Mae (Renée Zellweger) and their financial troubles.
Somewhere along the line, horror became a maligned genre, pulp fiction for actors and directors who need a job. It’s hard to believe that some of the greatest talents in filmmaking used to dabble in horror. One such luminary was Roman Polanski, whose 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby won acclaim from critics and kicked off a wave of Satanic horror stories that would dominate the ’70s. The film follows Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and her husband Guy (John Cassavetes), a young couple who have moved into a new apartment. Although friendly, their new neighbors are a bit strange, and life in the apartment only becomes more stressful after Rosemary becomes pregnant. Soon, she is haunted by dreams of demonic presences, and displays unusual symptoms. Rosemary’s Baby is a taut exercise in suspense, driven by atmosphere and tension rather than shocks and gore.
In the Loop
A film spin-off of the popular British satire The Thick of It, In the Loop skewers Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War. The film follows Minister of Internal Development Simon Foster (Tom Hollander) and Director of Communications Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) as they try to manage the government’s messaging ahead of the invasion. Matters are complicated by Simon’s repeated gaffes in the media, while Malcolm wrestles with the Assistant Secretary of State, Linton Barwick (David Rasche). In the Loop offers no pleasantries as it mocks the political machinery on both sides of the Atlantic. Capaldi’s Tucker is particularly crass, with plenty of inventive, quotable insults.
Based on the novel by Stephen King and directed by Stanley Kubrick, The Shining has an impressive pedigree. It’s a great example of how different mediums can interpret a story, as Kubrick’s direction plays with the audience’s view, emphasizing the otherworldly nature of the setting. The film opens with the Torrance family — Jack (Jack Nicholson), Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and Danny (Danny Lloyd) — moving into the Overlook Hotel, where Jack will act as caretaker during the winter. As the weeks pass by, the family encounter the ghosts of past residents, and Jack begins to behave erratically. The Shining is a masterfully composed ghost story, exploring the darkness of the human mind through cinematic trickery and an iconically deranged performance by Nicholson.