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 comedy series, a rock documentary from Jim Jarmusch, and more.
Crashing season 1
The format of this artsy, autobiographical comedy series is nothing new — Louis C.K. and Larry David have been portraying dark versions of themselves on television for years now. The new HBO show Crashing, starring Pete Holmes, follows their lead. In the show based on the comedian’s personal life, Holmes plays “Pete,” a man who decides to become a stand-up comic after he discovers his wife (Lauren Lapkus) is having an affair. Crashing on couches as he tries to build a career, Pete gets help from other comedians — Artie Lange, Sarah Silverman, and T.J. Miller all play themselves — and tries to bounce back from his failed marriage. What sets Crashing apart from similar shows like Louie is its steady optimism — this is a show that always leaves you feeling like better days are just around the corner.
The Stooges were probably one of the most overlooked bands of the 1960s and ’70s, which is a shame, as they are also one of rock music’s most important. Forming in the late ‘60s, the band’s raw sound and intricate compositions did not lead to instant fame, but their influence can be felt in the generations of punk and alternative bands that followed. It is only fitting that director Jim Jarmusch, famous for his powerful, minimalist filmmaking, would direct Gimme Danger, a documentary exploring the personalities behind the band. Using a mix of archival footage and interviews with band members in the present, the film explores the short, turbulent career of these talented musical provocateurs. Gimme Danger does not break new ground in rock documentaries, but it is undoubtedly a passion project, lovingly crafted and refreshingly earnest.
Samurai Gourmet season 1
Based on a manga by Masayuki Kusumi, this strange live-action series follows a retired businessman named Takeshi Kasumi (Naoto Takenaka), who, freed from his duties as a salaryman, finds satisfaction in wandering and eating at various restaurants. Imagining himself as a modern day ronin, Takeshi undergoes a radical transformation. Samurai Gourmet revels in gustatory pleasures, with long, loving shots of pork grilling and beer pouring. At times, one might mistake it for a cooking show like Chef’s Table, rather than an offbeat comedy.
Archer seasons 1-6
After a string of short-lived but well-liked shows on Adult Swim, Adam Reed found mainstream success with Archer, a long-running and acclaimed animated series on FX. The show follows a spy named Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), a narcissistic, alcoholic playboy who always manages to get the job done. Archer and his fellow agents — originally employed at an organization called ISIS, before real life events rendered the name a bit awkward — carry out missions around the world. The show is funny and often surprisingly smart — how many cartoons are clever enough to include a joke about non-diegetic music? One of the most remarkable things about the show is how it has been able to experiment with genres and frequently reinvent itself; beginning as a straightforward James Bond parody, Archer has become one of the most adventurous shows on television.
If one knew nothing else about Coraline, the pedigree behind the film would be enough to recommend it. Director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) and animation studio Laika adapted the film from the novel by Neil Gaiman, and the result is one of the best — and most disturbing — animated films in recent memory. The movie follows a young girl named Coraline (Dakota Fanning), who moves into a new house with her parents, who areintensely focused on their work. Wandering the house, Coraline finds a portal to another world, where she meets doppelgängers of her parents, who have black buttons where their eyes should be. Although the people of this other world dote on her, she soon learns they have sinister intentions. While many animated films draw on fairy tales for inspiration, Coraline channels the darkness of those old stories, making for a creepy, cautionary tale that can unsettle even adults.