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.
On the list this week: A new Dave Chappelle standup special, season 2 of Fargo, and a beautiful film from Terrence Malick.
The Age of Spin: Dave Chappelle Live at the Hollywood Palladium
After walking away from his incredibly popular sketch comedy show, Dave Chappelle took a long hiatus from the public eye. In the past couple years, the incendiary comedian has staged an escalating comeback, doing some light touring and now releasing two new standup specials on Netflix. The first of these, The Age of Spin, shows that the comic has not lost any of his talent — nor his ability to outrage — in his time away from the mic. The subject matter explores race and celebrity — a running joke explores the four times Chappelle has met O.J. Simpson over the years — as well as other political issues that have become notable since Chappelle’s Show ended. Chappelle’s takes on topics like feminism and transgender don’t shy away or tread lightly, which may make some viewers uneasy, but those who missed his caustic humor and commanding stage presence will cherish his return.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Based loosely on the life and work of marine explorer Jacques Cousteau, Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is a strange tale of revenge and aging, rife with the director’s noted deadpan humor, brilliant soundtrack, and kitschy set pieces. The film follows Zissou (Bill Murray), an oceanographer and once-acclaimed documentarian. His latest films have received middling reviews, and during the filming of his latest work, a shark eats his right-hand man, Esteban. In a surreal twist on Moby Dick, Zissou decides that his next documentary will chronicle his quest to find and kill the shark. Along with his crew, including his distant wife, Eleanor (Anjelica Huston); loyal first mate, Klaus (Willem Dafoe); and possible long-lost son, Ned (Owen Wilson) Zissou sets out in search of his nemesis. Like Anderson’s other films, The Life Aquatic shows off the director’s charming visual style with intensely formal composition and colorful imagery.
Fargo season 2
A spiritual successor to the film of the same name, Noah Hawley’s Fargo anthology series channels the wit and fatalistic philosophy of the film, but is able to stand on its own thanks to brilliant ensemble storytelling. Each season follows a different set of characters in a different time period, all linked by a common setting: The frigid plains of the Midwest. Set in 1979, season 2 follows a collection of interweaving stories about murders and a feud between crime syndicates. Characters include Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) and Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons), a working-class couple trying to cover up a hit and run; the Gerhardts, a close-knit family of drug traffickers facing an invasion by a gang from Kansas; and Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), a state trooper caught in the middle of it all. Dark, violent, and often funny in an oddball way, season 2 of Fargo solidifies the show as one of the best dramas on television.
The Venture Bros. seasons 1-6
Adult Swim’s long-running animated series — it has been airing on and off since 2003 — follows a family of adventurers in the mold of Jonny Quest, whose extraordinary adventures are juxtaposed with real-life issues such as aging, failure, and financial difficulties. It’s simply one of the most complex animated shows around. The central family consists of brothers Hank and Dean, their father, Dr. Thaddeus “ Rusty” Venture (James Urbaniak), a former child adventurer living in the shadow of his legendary father, and their bodyguard, killing machine and classic rock fan Brock Samson (Patrick Warburton). They go on various adventures in a world populated by eccentric characters. Unlike many Adult Swim shows, The Venture Bros. isn’t a series of random scenes and punchlines; the show has gradually developed a deep mythology and vast cast of characters, giving it a sense of scale and pathos that few animated shows can boast.
Knight of Cups
Terrence Malick’s brand of dreamy, poetic filmmaking has made him one of the most divisive directors in recent years. Some see his films as philosophical, visual poems that ponder life’s great questions; others simply see them as ponderous. His 2015 film, Knight of Cups, will only reinforce a viewer’s opinion of him. The film centers on a successful screenwriter, Rick (Christian Bale), who is grappling with interpersonal problems and an overwhelming feeling of emptiness. The film is divided into eight chapters, each focused on Rick’s relationship with a particular person (all but one of them represented by a tarot card). Like Malick’s recent masterpiece, The Tree of Life, Knight of Cups defies narrative conventions, eschewing plot to focus on character, and the mercurial emotions that drift through a person’s mind. It is a beautiful film, comprised of stunning images linked through Emmanuel Lubezki’s flowing cinematography.