Spring is here and so is some awesome Television for you to enjoy! Here are some recommendations what to watch this month!
STAGED (HOLLYWOOD SUITE)
BBC Lockdown Series STAGED centers on Michael Sheen and David Tennant playing fictionalized versions of themselves as they prepare for a stage protection over video conferencing. Time is ticking and Writer/Director Simon Evans (as himself) is losing faith as we see the two Actors banter, back and forth, their egos on full display in these exaggerated incarnations of themselves. In addition to their real-life spouses appearing as themselves, Anna Lundberg and Georgia Tennant, we also get appearances from Samuel L. Jackson, Adrian Lester and Judi Dench. The writing is smart, the acting is sharp and the episodes have been formatted in watchable less-than-30 minute morsels for us to enjoy. If you enjoyed Michael Winterbottom‘s The Trip franchise, this will be right up your ally. All the jabs, hypnotic conversation of that one, minus the gorgeous Mediterranean landscapes and cuisine. The Series was so well-received in its native UK that a second season followed. For now, we can enjoy the first six episodes of STAGED on Hollywood Suite in Canada beginning April 1, 2021.
DEADLY ILLUSIONS (NETFLIX)
If you love ’90s Thrillers with a dash of seduction, deception and bit of mind games, this is for you. I am not embarrassed to admit I loved DEADLY ILLUSIONS, written and directed by Anna Elizabeth James. The story centers on famed Writer Mary (Kristin Davis) who is experiencing a bit of pressure and writer’s block to follow-up on her successful Book Series. She hires a nanny named Grace (Greer Grammer, daughter of Kelsey) and everything seems to fall in place and is harmonious as Mary finally is able to focus on her book. Mary and Grace however, start getting really close and Tom (Dermot Mulroney) begins seeing Grace in a different way. Next thing we are caught in a deadly tale which gets a little risqué, but is 100% juicy and we’re on-board even if things at time feel a little predictable. We loved seeing Davis back on the screen and she is great, committed and in on some of the ridiculousness. Grammer also delivers a highly-entertaining performance in this ode to obsession that is some parts The Hand That Rocks the Cradle and some parts The Babysitter and we never, ever get bored of it! DEADLY ILLUSIONS streams now on Netflix.
CALLS (APPLE TV+)
I’ve always been of the school of thought that things are scarier when you can’t see them on-screen and CALLS absolutely is that. The Series, available now on Apple TV+ features a star-studded Cast including the likes of Nicholas Braun, Lily Collins, Ben Schwartz, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Judy Greer, Rosario Dawson, Aubrey Plaza, Riley Keough, Pedro Pascal and more. This story is told through interconnected phone calls and characters, who experiencing something disturbing and traumatic leading-up to an apocalyptic type-event. Through minimalistic visuals and phenomenal voice work and distortion, Director and Writer Fede Álvarez really creates a great sense of urgency, danger and intensity as the great threat looms closer and closer and these characters find themselves stick in their own mysteries. Because we can’t see visually what is going on, we are left with our own imaginations and this truly is eery and haunting. The Series features nine episodes, available now on Apple TV+!
FAKE FAMOUS (HBO/CRAVE)
This actually was released a while back but we finally got a chance to check out this Documentary by Nick Bilton, Technology Expert-turned-Filmmaker. Bilton uses his expertise on Advertising and Social Media and takes three everyday people and runs an experiment with a goal to construct them into Social Media stars by buying them followers to create the perception that they are famous. You’d be surprised at the results. One particular subject, an aspiring Actress named Dominique Druckman works in Beverly Hills at the back of the store fulfilling online orders till her world changes, getting caught-up in the chase. We see also how the Pandemic impacts the big picture as the experiment is halted somewhat and through all of this Bilton asks the question what being an influencer really means and why it is despite sketchy tactics being employed behind the scenes, why the system isn’t exactly driven to make ethical corrections. An engaging watch, available now on Crave with the HBO add-on.
Lena Dunham serves as Executive Producer of this inclusive Gen Z Dramedy Series, totaling seven episodes. Set on a group of teenagers pondering and exploring their sexuality, the Series takes a cue from HBO‘s acclaimed Euphoria, but with a very gawdy, in-your-face way about its humour. These teens are the very out-there personalities many of us wish we had the courage to be and if some kids take something from that and apply it to living as their more authentic selves, then something good has come of this. At the center of it all is the flamboyant and rebellious Chester (Justice Smith) who goes all in, but beyond the antics, he is a mature soul – even thought we wished the at-times-funny Screenplay give him more a chance to explore this and this Ensemble’s connections with meaningfulness than trying to push the envelope with shock. The Series has potential with three episodes available now on Crave with the HBO add-on, and we’ll be seeing more as the remainder of the episodes arrive later this year.
BAD TRIP (NETFLIX)
This normally isn’t my thing at all, but I got sucked-in just like Eric Andre‘s coveralls into the vacuum in this Prankster-Hidden Camera-Buddy Comedy which has him starring along Lil Rel Howery. Andre stars as Chris and Howery stars as Bud and they take the latter’s convict sister’s (Tiffany Haddish) car on a road trip to pursue Chris‘ high school crush in New York. The antics are unreal, over-the-top and to be honest, any laughs right now are welcome. The gags are gross, but I cannot deny I chuckled hard at some of the unsuspecting bystanders’ horrified reactions. This is a gutsy starmaking vehicle for Andre whose work I’ve only known from afar prior and Haddish is ferocious as loose cannon Trina, out to kill her brother and his buddy for taking her car. The Film’s crowning moment is their appearance a la White Chicks and a fundraiser, hi-jacking the stage!So ridiculous. BAD TRIP streams now on Netflix.
NAILED IT: DOUBLE TROUBLE! (NETFLIX)
I can never get sick of NAILED IT, this comedic reality baking competition Series which returns again with six new episodes amidst the pandemic. The twist this time around is that competitors are paired buddy teams, but the tasks if anything are even harder, i.e. jewelled broach cookies, a grandma cookie jar cake and more. The Series’ heart and soul, Host Nicole Byer is as funny and energetic as ever and while our judges are seated noticeably further away, all the camaraderie is still there. We live for these flips and can’t wait for more episodes. These six new episodes stream now on Netflix.
THE SERPENT (NETFLIX)
Before this Series, I knew little about international serial con man and killer Charles Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim) but after seeing it, I cannot forget him. The half-Vietnamese/Indian criminal along with his sidekicks Ajay Chowdhury (Amesh Edireweera) and Canadian girlfriend Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Jenna Coleman) were the subjects of an international manhunt in the late ’70s before finally mastermind Sobhraj was captured. Targeting “Hippies” for their transient lifestyle, they would lure them in with his claims as a gem or drug dealer, before drugging and killing their victims, taking their money and passports. While parts of the Series don’t quite jive logistically who Sobhraj managed to keep escaping capture, it really happened and all this is almost unbelievable. Rahim is great as the icy and ruthless Sobhraj, and Coleman is a real revelation learning French in a Québecoise accent for the role. I literally could not stop watching resulting in a punishing day after for me, but it was worth it! THE SERPENT streams now on Netflix.
THUNDER FORCE (NETFLIX)
Two childhood friends Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) and Emily (Octavia Spencer) reunite in the unlikeliest of circumstances as adults and they join forces to fight supervillains (Miscreants) taking over Chicago under the orders of The King (Bobby Cannavale). They are granted superpowers to fight and must navigate their new strengths to defeat the enemy. While it is a novel idea joining fan favourites McCarthy and Spencer together for laughs, the Film doesn’t quite make the mark on the Superhero front. In focusing on the outlandish laughs – yes there is a love storyline between a Crab (Jason Bateman) and McCarthy – we lose a bit of that momentum that should’ve drawn us into this underdogs versus the world story. The Cast is fantastic and the Film is entertaining enough if you’re in need of something light-hearted this weekend. THUNDER FORCE is out now on Netflix.
Well this was dark! We love Sarah Paulson. While she’s built a brand on quirky, dark and deranged, this is a cut from the same cloth as some of her work with Ryan Murphy. She plays the controlling single mother of a disabled teenager, Chloe (Kiera Allen) who makes a startling discovery one day that her loving mother might’ve actually been responsible for holding her back all these years. This is incredibly-twisted and while highly-implausible, the message to take away is to trust your instincts and to trust no one, which actually are sentiments that many can relate to amidst these strange times we’re living in.
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