We’re into May and we’re springing ahead with some great new programming to stream at home. HBO never disappoints, hitting us hard with Kate Winslet-starring MARE OF EASTOWN which just premiered at the end of April and we’re already hooked. If you love Reality Television, we’ve got some recommendations for you, among other eclectic options!
MARE OF EASTOWN (HBO/CRAVE)
Kate Winslet. Is there any other reason more to sell you on this new HBO Series? Set in a small town where Detective Mare (Winslet), our central character, is set on solving a murder, but also trying to save her life from falling in shambles. She’s divorced and everyone around her, including her Mom (Jean Smart) is celebrating her ex-husband’s new engagement. She meets Writer Richard (Guy Pearce), in-town on a teaching assignment and things develop quickly but things are complicated. Winslet once again shows her incredible versatility, truly disappearing here into Mare. We love that she is tough and a real boss, but not totally convinced of it. While not seen long, Cailee Spaeny as a teen mother Erin who is coping with bullying from the jealous girlfriend of the father of her child. A barely-recognizable Evan Peters as an eager-to-please detective who comes in to help Mare is quite a revelation. We can’t wait to see where this Series takes us over seven episodes. Don’t let the smalltown vibes fool you, this is something rich and complex. New episodes arrive 10 PM ET Sunday nights on HBO/Crave with HBO add-on.
THINGS HEARD & SEEN (NETFLIX)
An Artist-turned-Professor named George (James Norton) moves to a new town with his wife Catherine (Amanda Seyfried) and daughter. They purchase a new home, but sooner after, strange occurrences begin to happen. This leads Catherine to find out some dark, disturbing things about its history and its inhabitants, which George keeps from her. She then realizes there might be more about her husband that she wasn’t aware about as layers are unpeeled off George. Based on the Novel All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, the Thriller goes a slightly different route than the norm where spirits are out to do sinister things. Our interest was held most of the way even when the Film lands on shaky footing late as George‘s world unravels. Seyfried as often, is great as the troubled wife who gives up her life to help her husband live his life. THINGS HEARD & SEEN arrives on Netflix Friday, April 30, 2021.
THE CIRCLE SEASON 2 (NETFLIX)
We admit we eye-rolled our way through Season 1 of this Reality Competition, but we’re back! The Series sequesters its contestants in their own apartments, having them communicate through a Social Media chat portal – the most popular contestant (who might not actually be who they claim to be) going on to win top prize as contestants get blocked on the weekly. We meet a whole new set of personalities, including one who impersonates Lance Bass, and Too Hot To Handle‘s Chloe also surfaces here as a contestant too. Four new episodes surface weekly till the end of April on Netflix and once again we find ourselves taking delight at the manipulation and deception!
EAT WHEATIES! (leveFILM)
After making its way around the Festival circuit, quirky Canadian Comedy EAT WHEATIES! arrives on-demand and digitally. Starring Tony Hale as Sid, the story follows a man with a decent job, whose world unravels after he’s accused of stalking college buddy Elizabeth Banks on Facebook. Is he just painfully unaware or was he legitimately friends with her and way too eager about proving it? Hale is absolutely charming as always and this really gives him an opportunity to shine. He manages to take Sid’s obsessive-compulsive mannerisms and make being a loser lovable. The Film is adapted from the Novel The Locklear Letters and updated. Hale is supported by great Cast including Danielle Brooks, Alan Tudyk, Robbie Amell, Paul Walter Hauser and Toronto’s Elisha Cuthbert. This was a pleasant surprise. This is available May 4, 2021.
WITHOUT REMORSE (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
Michael B. Jordan makes his foray into the Tom Clancy universe playing Sr. Chief John Kelly, a former Navy SEAL whose pregnant wife is murdered by a squad of Russian soldiers as revenge for an operation he led. He is supported by fellow SEAL (Jodie Turner-Smith) and CIA Agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell).Kelly struggles with honouring his country and personal ties as it is learned that a bigger forces are at work resulting possibly in a war between Russia and America. Directed by Sicaro 2: Soldado‘s Stefano Sollima, Jordan once again is fantastic here, as is Turner-Smith who shockingly was pregnant while filming this, requiring some demanding fight choreography. While this doesn’t offer anything particularly new to the Spy-Thriller genre, it definitely is worth a watch if this is your thing! WITHOUT REMORSE streams now on Amazon Prime Video.
So cool we got to attend a Virtual Premiere of the Film where its stars actually showed up to the Afterparty. There were games and a live DJ too!
We’re thrilled to hear Crave will be streaming this latest addition to the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise which takes us to Australia as we meet their pool of talent! We already have withdrawals from Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race ending last week and can’t wait to meet these new Queens. We’re so intrigued by Karen from Finance whose self-proclaimed aesthetic is “Corporate Queen”! The name alone is everything. And Taika Waititi appears as a guest judge on episode one! I can’t even. Tune-in Saturday on Crave as new episodes arrive weekly and regular judge Michelle Visage appears on this Series, another win.
MYSTIC, based on the Novel Series Pony Club Secrets by Stacy Gregg, centers on 14-year-old Issie (Macey Chipping) whom with her mother Amanda (Laura Brown), relocates from London to Kauri Point in New Zealand. They leave behind the life they once knew, with her father having passed away a few years prior. In addition to coping with this, she is trying to adjust to her new surroundings. A horse keeps crossing paths with her and she sees both this horse which needs her help, and also a vision of a white horse which only she can see. She names the troubled horse Blaze and begins to find herself in the horse and also the horse she sees in her visions, Mystic, finding a true attachment to the new place she calls home. This, while the threat of industrial expansion threatens to ruin their way of life, land and resources. Issie forms friendships (and maybe a frenemy) with some local teens who like herself, bonded by their affection for horses and then try to save Kauri Point. While on the surface it is a Young Adult Series about a girl finding herself in spirit animals, it goes much deeper than that, examining grieving, sexuality and coming-of-age with a twist of suspense as Issie learns and continues to improve as a rider. The series is shot gorgeously, unfolding over 13 30-minute episodes. It premieres Sunday, May 16, 2021 at 8pm ET on Super Channel Heart & Home and surfaces on Super Channel On Demand the next day.
THE DISCIPLE (NETFLIX)
Premiering at TIFF ’20 and winning the Amplify Voices Award, this Drama written/directed/edited by Chaitanya Tamhane has received universal acclaim through its festival circuit run. Above this, Alfonso Cuarón produces. Not all stories of aspiring to achieve musical success result in sold-out arenas and private jets. This story told in Marathi, centers on Sharad (Aditya Modak) whom under the tutelage of a guru and his father, aspires to be a successful classical music vocalist. The Film is an honest journey and Modak plays Sharad with great sincerity, well aware he’ll never be on Indian Idol, gaining the adoration of millions. He sings in small venues and is concerned with authenticity and integrity and like any other struggling Artist, wonders if anyone even cares about his work and if he’s on the right path in life. Clocking-in at over two hours, this is a Movie you need to really put everything aside to absorb and be transported into these meditative scenes which are given room to breathe. THE DISCIPLE streams now on Netflix.
STAND! (VORTEX MEDIA)
This Musical recalls the 1919 Winnipeg protests and while there was upheaval, many important changes resulted as a result of striking. At the center of the Film by Robert Adetuyi is a romance between immigrants set against a backdrop of great unrest where those not born in Canada were made to feel unwelcome and seen as a threat, working for reduced pay to survive. STAND! stars Marshall Williams (“Glee”) and Laura Slade Wiggins (“Shameless”) who along with a talent Support Cast tell the struggles of past (and present still, sadly) in Contemporary, uplifting and empowering music and what it means to be resilient in what is right and fair. While it is a look at the past, there is something we still can take away from this today as we strive towards gender and racial equity. Vortex Media release STAND! on-demand and digitally May 18, 2021.
A phenomenal Cast highlights this Courtroom Drama, which centers on Honours Film School Student Steve Harmon (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) who has a bright future ahead of him until he gets caught-up with the wrong crowd and is on trial for murder. Directed by Music Video visionary Anthony Mandler, the Film examines in a timely manner, the justice system, young black men and the presumption of guilt. Steve is humanized through a fantastic and empathetic performance by Harrison, but in doing so, the Film misses some of the marks of intensity that films of the genre possess. That is, we don’t doubt his innocence nearly enough. Jennifer Ehle also is great as his lawyer Katherine, as is Jennifer Hudson as his mother, plus memorable turns from Jharrel Jerome as Osvaldo and John David Washington as Bobo. MONSTER is out May 7, 2021 on Netflix.
This five-episode Limited Series centers around American fashion icon Halston (Ewan McGregor) who rose from a hatmaker to a heading one of the country’s top fashion houses in the ’70s. Directed by Daniel Minahan, this Ryan Murphy production contains many elements that are expected of Murphy, exploring juicy subject matter and feeling at times hyper-sexualized. We witness Halston rise the ranks out of financial struggle with the help of his team including Elsa Peretti (Rebecca Dayan), Joe Eula (David Pittu) and confidante Liza Minelli (Krysta Rodriguez). But with his troubled relationship with Victor Hugo (Gian Franco Rodriguez) leads him to make bad choices and almost as quickly as he climbs the ranks, his world comes crashing down. McGregor flourishes in the role, particularly where Halston is salty, but takes his character on a real journey and by the end of it, we feel something for him despite having been arrogant, stubborn and repugnant for much of the way. Krysta Rodriguez does a fantastic job embodying Minelli, who is one of the few characters who doesn’t suffer Halston‘s wrath. A very quick and easy watch which is rather enthralling and at times shocking, which is exactly what we signed-up for. HALSTON is out now on Netflix.
(Photo/video credit: Netflix/HBO/levelFILM/Crave/Super Channel/Amazon Prime Video/Vortex Media)
The most wonderful thing about this time of year is that we get to catch-up on TV. While we spend much of the year seeing theatrical releases, we regret missing some great Television so these past few weekends we’ve found out what the buzz is all about with some recent Golden Globe Award winners and nominees, plus also some new releases. Without going too much into detail, we’ll give you our thoughts on some shows that absolutely are worth your while! We hope you get some inspiration in your own winter watching!
THE MORNING SHOW (APPLE TV+)
This ten-episode Drama Series starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston helped launch subscription service Apple TV+ back in December. It surfaces in a timely manner as we enter this post-#MeToo era, exploring the aftermath of taking action on Sexual Misconduct in the workplace and healing some aged wounds. It definitely veers on the melodramatic and is a bit too passionate for its own good, but no one can deny the phenomenal work here by Witherspoon and Aniston, who play-up dueling female competitor tropes. It takes a while to get going, but proves worthwhile the deeper you go.
YOU – SEASON TWO (NETFLIX)
Joe (played masterfully by Penn Badgley) comes back as Will in the second season of this failed Lifetime Series which gained a massive following after surfacing on Netflix. Serial killing and stalking has never been as seductive as this and although You is all sorts of wrong, we were just as obsessed with this season which manages to be just as messed-up as its predecessor. Joining the Cast is Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting of Hill House) as Love and in her Will finally has met his match. James Scully is grating and unpredictable as Love‘s twin brother, but what Psychological Thriller is complete without an unstable twin? Teen Actress Jenna Ortega as a wise-beyond-her-years Ellie and Carmela Zubado as Delilah are welcome additions to the Cast and Gotham‘s RobinLord Taylor is unrecognizable in a surprise turn as a hacker who knows too much, also named Will. You Season 2 quashes the perception that follow-ups and sequels suck.
THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL – SEASON THREE (AMAZON PRIME VIDEO)
Season three of this Golden Globe and PrimetmeEMMY Award-winning Series continues putting its star Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) front and center and she once again proves outstanding. The eight-episode season sees her character supporting Singer Shy Baldwin (LeRoy McClain) on-tour and we see her go from Las Vegas to Miami fighting to win herself some new fans. All the while, she navigates her split from ex-husband Joel (Michael Zegen) and custody of their children. Her eccentric parents (Marin Hinkle and Tony Shalhoub) shine also as they cope with having to downsize and sell their beloved family home. We also see charismatic manager Susie (Alex Borstein) cope with her gambling addiction and balancing having to oversee Midge‘s career and that of competing funnywoman Sophie Lennon (Jane Lynch). Things get a bit messy and we’re here for it, leaving us on a bit of a cliffhanger.
FLEABAG – SEASON 1&2 (AMAZON PRIME)
I admit it, I zipped through this quick watch and wasn’t sold on Season One at all. I didn’t get it. I found Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) grating and irresponsible, feeling little empathy for her. Season Two took this Series to a high point and I absolutely got it! I enjoy Waller-Bridge’s ability with lightning-fast ability to break the Fourth Wall with us and soon I found myself connected intimately with her. And “Hot Priest” (Andrew Scott) is so worth the wait and her bond with on-screen sister Claire (Sian Clifford) make this all so magical. Here for this, and sad there won’t be a third season.
DON’T F**K WITH CATS: HUNTING AN INTERNET KILLER (NETFLIX)
I am a bit queasy with True Crime stuff and remember as a kid torturing myself watching Unsolved Mysteries alone at home and being messed-up for days after. Repeat weekly and you’ll understand why I have issues. The three-part Netflix series centers on the capture of Canadian murderer Luka Magnotta with the help of some savvy internet crime solvers hot on his trail, piecing the clues which took authorities on an international manhunt. Especially eery that some of this hits close to home with Toronto being where Magnotta once lived and their insistence on looping over and over real footage of Magnotta murdering kittens, with the gory bits kept off-screen. It is hard not to get caught-up in Mark Lewis‘ relentlessly-intense storytelling and the access he gets us whether it be Magnotta‘s mother or his actual interrogation after being caught and brought back to Canada.
KILLER INSIDE: INSIDE THE MIND OF AARON HERNANDEZ (NETFLIX)
While we know only bits and pieces of disgraced Football star Aaron Hernandez‘s story, this three-part Docu-Series gives us some insight to the circumstances surrounding his conviction and eventual suicide. Director Geno McDermott takes us on a gripping ride as we go right inside the courtroom and literally right into Hernandez’s brain as we see the impacts of his Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. We also get never-seen-before interviews with those from his past including a lover, suggesting that Toxic Masculinity and a deep-fear of his sexuality being uncovered may have played a role in his downfall as well. We found ourselves asking more questions than before we started and get the bigger picture in this great American tragedy.
SPINNING OUT (NETFLIX)
Filmed right here in Toronto, this Figure Skating Drama series takes bits from Black Swan, bits from Riverdale and mixes it into the world of competitive Figure Skating. The Series sees fallen Kat (Kaya Scodelario) make her way to a comeback, this time as a Pairs Skater, but not without some domestic drama. Scodelario navigates the mental struggles her character faces and handles the athleticism of her role with prowess. While the Series is not without its melodrama and goes the route of scandal for shock value more than it needed, there is enough to go on to keep fans engaged for ten episodes.
While it’s not for everyone, this hyper-sexualized Drake-produced Teen Drama Series explores some of the issues facing teens today. Several topics like drugs, toxic masculinity, same-sex relationships, being transgender are taboo still but Sam Levinson isn’t afraid to go there and for that we applaud this fresh take on the genre. These eight episodes are shocking and hypnotic and this is Zendaya‘s big moment, delivering a phenomenal breakthrough performance as central character Rue, a teen girl battling drug addiction. We were unable to keep our eyes off of newcomer model/actress Hunter Schafer, who possesses an ethereal beauty and magnetism, making her a name to look-out for. We cannot wait for Season Two, which is rumoured to begin production soon.
SEX, EXPLAINED (NETFLIX)
Janelle Monáe narrates this quick watch which gives adults a quick five-episode refresher on Sex Education, a spin-off of Netflix‘s Explained series. A vast array of taboo topics are explored with a diverse group of participants talking about things like attraction, fetishes, birth control and childbirth. New data is thrown at us quickly giving new insight into matters which have impacted humans since the beginning of time. Fun and informative.
SUCCESSION – SEASONS 1 & 2 (HBO)
Never before have we hated characters as much as The Roys in HBO‘s critical hit Succession and we kinda love it! And the fact that we couldn’t stop zipping-through 20 episodes is a testament to how masterfully-crafted it is. The second season of the Drama centering on an ailing patriarch of a media empire and his thirsty children who are eager to assume the throne, finished airing in the fall. While we were a bit late catching-on, we are seeing many people on the same boat who too are learning what Succession is all about after its Best Television Series – Drama win at the Golden Globes. We despise this Family, played with gusto by an Ensemble including 60-year screen veteran Brian Cox in the patriarch role, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Snook and Kieran Culkin. We want them to basically go to hell and go bankrupt in the process! Give us season three!
THE CIRCLE (NETFLIX)
We listened to the recommendations of our friends on Social Media and began streaming this 12-episode Reality Series based on a British series of the same name. And we were seriously annoyed! The Series takes a group of millennial men and women, putting them together in one building in Manchester and they are to interact only via a Social Media portal where some of them are “catfishing”. Some are exactly as they present themselves to one another via their portal profiles. They compete for a prize of $100k, but must avoid being eliminated by Influencers who earn that title each episode and are given the power to decide who gets eliminated or “blocked”. They never get see each other except for the eliminated entrant at the end of each episode getting to meet one player of their choice. Sometimes there are major shocks when the eliminated player realizes the one person they chose to meet, looks nothing like the person whom they projected themselves as on the portal. While we appreciate the Series’ premise of encouraging people to let their true selves shine and stop judging one another by their appearances, it all feels forced and we aren’t sure it accomplishes exactly that through some of the artifice and all the “Yo Bruh!”. That being said, we vowed to stop watching after episode one but found ourselves finishing season one quickly, powered by our sheer drive to want to throw things and scream at our TV.
We were so genuinely-touched and invested in this six-episode Docu-Series by Greg Whiteley, which just got released on Netflix. We know nothing about Cheerleading but quickly found ourselves in-love with these Corsicana Community College athletes who are competing for glory at the NCA College Nationals in Daytona. The heart and soul of the Series is Coach Monica Aldama, whom despite having business acumen has chosen a career in Cheerleading, running a tight ship, leading the college to victory many times in the past and its standing as the best in class. We see how these young adults, many who come from troubled pasts, have found themselves in Cheerleading, under Aldama‘s meticulous guidance. The setbacks are painstaking and we see how much danger these athletes put themselves through in the name of perfection and loyalty to the enchanting Aldama. These are compelling stories and the thrills are tear-inducing, making us sad we had to say goodbye at the end of it.
Besting its predecessor, Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 follows in the leading footsteps of the franchise’s 2014 debut with a $145 million opening from 4,347 theatres across North America. The previous Film opened with $94.3 million. Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 84% on the Tomatometer, while Audiences gave it an A CinemaScore.
In second is three-week champion THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS with $9.3 million for Universal Pictures, just surpassing $200 million domestically this week.
THE BOSS BABY is in third with $5.9 million for 20th Century Fox, a six week total of $156 million.
HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER, which has yet to open in Canada, lands in fourth with $4.8 million in its second week out. It stars Eugenio Derbez, Salma Hayek, Rob Lowe and Kristen Bell and has made a total $20.2 million thus far for Lionsgate Films.
THE CIRCLE is in sixth with $3.5 million for STX Entertainment, a two week total of $15.2 million.
BAAHUBALI 2: THE CONCLUSION earns $4.2 million for Great India Films, good enough for seventh in its second week.
Rounding-out the Top Ten is SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE with $1.7 million. It has grossed $40 million over five weeks.
Despite a tepid weekend at the Box Office, THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS still is going strong to hold on a third week at number one with $18.5 million for Universal Pictures, from 4,077 theatres. In its domestic run it has grossed $191.8 million.
In second is HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER with $11.3 million from 1,118 theatres for Lionsgate Films. It gets 51% on the Tomatometer.
Debuting in third is THE CIRCLE starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson, which despite some major star power could only muster $9.1 million from 3,163 theatres. It gets 17% on the Tomatometer and a D+ CinemaScore for Elevation Pictures/STX Entertainment.
BAAHUBALI: THE CONCLUSION debuts in fourth with $8.6 million from 405 theatres only.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is in seventh in its seventh week out for Disney, with $6.3 million, bringing its domestic tally to an outstanding $480 million.
Disney’s BORN IN CHINA rounds-out the Top Ten with $2.3 million from 1,508 theatres, a two-week tally of $8.7 million.
Filled to the brim with starpower, THE CIRCLE is on our spring Must-Watch List!
When Mae (Emma Watson) is hired to work for the world’s largest and most powerful tech & social media company, she sees it as an opportunity of a lifetime. As she rises through the ranks, she is encouraged by the company’s founder, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks), to engage in a groundbreaking experiment that pushes the boundaries of privacy, ethics and ultimately her personal freedom. Her participation in the experiment, and every decision she makes begin to affect the lives and future of her friends, family and that of humanity.
See the Trailer:
Elevation Pictures release THE CIRCLE Friday, April 28, 2017.