#FIRSTLOOK: WHAT TO WATCH MAY 2021 – “MARE OF EASTOWN”, “THINGS HEARD & SEEN”, “THE CIRCLE SEASON 2”, “EAT WHEATIES”, “WITHOUT REMORSE”, “RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE DOWN UNDER”, “MYSTIC”, “THE DISCIPLE”, “STAND!”, “MONSTER”, “HALSTON”
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)