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: Some impressive literary adaptations, a famous sales speech, and a surprisingly decent horror movie.
Girlboss season 1
Based on the autobiography of controversial ecommerce entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso, Netflix’s Girlboss follows Sophia Marlowe (Britt Robertson), a young twentysomething who trawls vintage clothing shops looking for rare items to sell on eBay. Together with her friend Annie (Ellie Reed), Sophia tries to build a brand in the untamed country of the internet. Amoruso’s brand — her own image is inseparable from that of her former startup, Nasty Gal — is built on rebellious imagery and quasi-feminist sloganeering, and Girlboss employs that sort of millennial-punk attitude, with snarky humor and a protagonist who is quick with insults and low on self-awareness.
Christopher Nolan’s adaptation of the acclaimed fantasy novel The Prestige is the story of two magicians, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale). The two men begin as aspiring magicians working under an older illusionist. When one of Borden’s tricks results in the death of Angier’s wife, Julia (Piper Perabo), Angier seeks revenge, beginning a years-long rivalry as both magicians try to upstage the other. The Prestige isn’t just a tale of revenge and competition, though. The film also explores the nature of magic tricks, and why they compel audiences so much. By the end, the film reveals that it has been playing a trick of its own on the audience.
Author Philip Roth is a tough act for any director to adapt; so much of the power of Roth’s work lies in his lively prose, which does not translate to the screen. The 2016 film Indignation — an adaptation of Roth’s novel of the same name — doesn’t necessarily capture Roth’s voice, but director James Schamus does treat the themes of his work with the gravity they deserve. Set in the 1950s, the film focuses on Marcus (Logan Lerman), a young man from a working-class, Jewish family. Marcus attends a college in Ohio, where he starts dating a woman named Olivia (Sarah Gadon); despite their infatuation, the relationship strains under the pressures of Marcus’ observant family and Olivia’s psychiatric issues. Indignation is an immaculate period piece, and a distressing coming-of-age tale.
The Last Exorcism
The world probably didn’t need another found-footage horror film, but The Last Exorcism stands a head above many of its peers thanks to surprisingly good execution and a strong lead performance. The film is framed as a documentary about preacher Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), an exorcist who lost his faith following the death of his son. Determined to prove that exorcisms are fake, Marcus invites filmmakers Iris (Irish Bahr) and Daniel (Adam Grimes) to follow him as he accepts a request to help a young girl named Nell (Ashley Bell), who has been killing her family’s livestock and blaming it on demonic possession. The investigation leads the crew into some disturbing circumstances, and horror fans should enjoy the film’s constant atmosphere of satanic dread.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Although he only appears for one scene, Alec Baldwin’s speech from Glengarry Glen Ross is probably one of the most famous monologues in American cinema; lines like “Coffee’s for closers!” may elicit cheers from viewers, or groans from actual salespeople forced to hear their own bosses quote the scene to drum up productivity. Although Baldwin steals the show, the rest of the film is superb, a taut adaptation of David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The story centers on four real estate salesmen who, having failed to produce, are given an ultimatum: At the end of the month, the two lowest-performing members of the team will be fired. Under the pressure, the salesmen start to crack, and make some desperate moves to save their jobs. Mamet’s dialogue is powerful and laced with profanities, with each word lunging furiously. The incredible cast — which also includes Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, and Kevin Spacey — delivers every line with gusto.
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