A24 has announced that former teen idol/vocal bible Brandy “Impossible Things Are Happening Every Day” Norwood will star in The Front Room, a psychological-horror film directed by The Eggers Brothers. Before I finished reading the press release, I had to open up my 400th tab to see if they were related to the “Spielberg of A24” and found out they are!
A lil rundown on the Brothers Eggers: Max and Sam are twins, and The Front Room is their directorial debut. They have pretty sparse IMDB pages, with a major credit a piece. (Sam co-wrote the 2018 doc Olympia — about Dukakis — and Max co-wrote The Lighthouse with older bro Robert Eggers.)
Adapted from a short story by Susan Hill, The Front Room follows a newly pregnant couple who invite their estranged ultra-religious grandmother to move into their home and are forced to deal with the consequences of this act of charity.
At the top of 2022, I proudly declared that I would not add another streaming platform to my roster. Four months later, I caved in after seeing a preview for a new Ben Whishaw medical series—think if House was a depressed, thirty-something British OBGYN working at a county hospital where both gut-wrenching and darkly funny shit happens. Unfortunately for me, the show was on a platform that wasn’t dinging my account on the reg. I made a compromise with myself and decided to sign up for the platform’s seven-day free trial—which would be more than enough time to watch the series before canceling my subscription before the first charge. Seconds after signing up I forgot about unsubscribing, as I am wont to do. Too lazy to go through the cancellation process, I figured I’d just see if there was anything worth watching.
The platform has a decent-ish amount of content, much of which is pretty good. Horror fans can watch every episode of The Walking Dead and its 4,000 spin-offs and post-shows and pre-shows and behind-the-scene shows. There’s also Mad Men, the Breaking Bad universe, a ton of BBC series including Killing Eve and The Watch, and original content like Kin (an Irish crime drama starring Mr. Daredevil himself) and classic American-action flicks like Young Guns.
So in an effort to turn lemons into lemonade, I have compiled a list of AMC Plus shows that you, too, should check out when you forget to unsubscribe. In no exact order:
The North Water
Starring Colin Farrell, Stephen Graham, Jack O’Donnell
5 episodes/about 50 to 60 min a pop
Whale hunting fucking sucks, or so is the case in this thriller miniseries starring a spectacularly scruffy and grumbly Farrell and a typically gruff Graham. The five-part series follows an ex-army surgeon who winds up joining a whaling expedition through the Arctic in the mid-1850s. The motley crew aboard the good ship is as ultra-violent as they come — they’d be right at home in a Westeros-like situation. Farrell turns in a Tom Hardy—inspired performance full of grunts and violence and stalking about, imposing their grown-man forged from steel attitudes on their prey.
Lil’ fun fact: The show was shot on location in The Arctic, which wound up helping the actors get deeper into character. “[It was a] very harsh environment indeed, it had to be,” O’Connell told Newsweek. “I don’t think any of the characters we’re playing have an easy time of it. So, for me it was an absolute pleasure to have that factor of the character already taken care of. Just being able to react to what we’re dealing with.”
This Is Going To Hurt
Starring Ben Whishaw, Ambika Mod, Michele Austin, Rory Fleck Byrne
7 episodes/about 45ish minutes a pop
Based on the Adam Kay’s 2017 book, This is Going to Hurt is a medical dramedy that follows the daily lives of junior doctors who work in a maternity ward at a National Health Service hospital. The equally hilarious and gut-wrenching series highlights the horrific working conditions that many health care professionals endure with little-to-no support.
Whishaw shared some insights about the role with Radio Times. “The thing that the show has done for me in terms of opening my eyes is just the sheer levels of exhaustion. It shouldn’t be shocking because it’s so obvious if you think about what these people are actually doing and dealing with every day. But I don’t think we’re encouraged to reflect on that. I think we take it for granted, actually.”
Watching the characters work never-ending shifts while dealing with actual matters of life or death is second-hand exhausting in a way but the humor throughout does a good job of giving us a break from the heaviness. The heart of the show lies in its two leads: Whishaw’s Adam and Ambika Mod’s breathtaking performance as Shruti, a student doctor that gets thrown into the deep-end. Nervous but dedicated to making her parents’ proud, Shruti is forced to learn on the job with little help from her wisecracking, disinterested mentor Adam. And thanks to Mod’s haunting and authentic portrayal, Shruti becomes the one that audiences root for—though Adam is the series’ hero.
Lil aside: Since Perfume, Ben Whishaw—affectionately known in the Bowie household as “Whishees”—has been my eye-acting king. He has a few signature eye quirks and looks that evoke so much empathy in me as a viewer. He’s also the only actor who consistently makes me want to give their character a hug. They’re often so stressed and lovelorn and well-intentioned! More rom-coms for Ben please. Some lighter fare for my tortured British thespian prince!
Stuff to Watch
AMC Plus, like Netflix and Prime, has a function that allows users to save the shows/movies they want to watch. It’s called My Stuff, and here’s a lil peek into mine:
Gangs of London
I love a good British gangster drama and this title card suggests that things are about to go down in jolly ol and the dude from Peaky Blinders is big stressed about it.
Spin Me Round
Allison Brie always chooses such interesting roles (justice for Glow!) and Spin Me Round may be no exception. To my complete delight, this trailer is a study in controlled chaos and then Aubrey Plaza shows up talking shit in Italian, so it’s a must-watch at this point.
This innovative sketch show centers on a fictional music variety hour – a la Soul Train – hosted by Sherman McDaniels, a Don Cornelius—type showman. Luckily for me and this AMC Plus subscription that I’ve allowed to stay on my bulging streaming roster, I get to check out the new season of Sherman’s Showcase when it debuts on the platform on October 26. According to Variety, a slew of guest stars are slated to appear in the new season: Issa Rae, Demi Adejuyigbe, Desi Banks, Laci Mosley, Dewayne Perkins, and Jay Pharoah.
Fans of Kenan’s “What Up With That” SNL sketch will likely love the hell out of this series. Catch the first season of Sherman’s Showcase on Hulu (unless they’ve pulled it by the time you read this. Them’s the digital breaks.)
*** As you may have guessed by the “quality” of this post, this is not an ad for AMC Plus — but man, my bank account would be happier if it was.
I came across this jewel of a trailer and needless to say I was extremely titillated. The moody, Refn-like trailer showcased the ever-beefy, bespectacled, former Game of Throner stepping into a Mad Max-esque landscape complete with a Keanu Reeves villain with a bad cop-stache and my forever beloved Giovanni Ribisi. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Keanu go full villain so it will be lovely to see him embrace his inner-Nic Cage acting nuttiness.
Bad Batch has locked down my actor crushes from the past and present so super kudos to the casting director and agents that made this visual fantasy possible. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that the female lead (model-turned-actress Suki Waterhouse) is not reduced to a half-naked accessory piece. Not a great sign that the trailer starts off with her being kidnapped and abused but I will reserve judgment until it gets to theaters on June 23rd and I can see the whole film.
Who would’ve ever thunk a tweet from 2013 would come back to haunt little ol’ me? Well, I certainly did. When my best good friend told me that my tweet was featured in a Tom Hardy post that had 10,000 shares. If Beyoncé has the Beyhive and so on, what are Tom Hardy lovers called?? (Besides people with good taste.) I need to figure it out so I can embrace the hell out of that.
On a somber note, we all made Myspace mistakes, Tom. We must all be a little more careful in what we post on the web because you never know if it will come back to bite you in the ass 7 years later when you’re one of the biggest actors in the world.
I awoke this morning to the news that Ava DuVernay, a brilliant and talented director of many amazing films (who happens to be an African-American woman) was nominated for a Golden Globe. I have followed Ava’s directing career since the release of her documentary, This is the Life. She provided an insight into hip-hop culture that I had never seen before—she opened my eyes to all the cinematic possibilities. I have eagerly watched her talents blossom and her scope widen over the years. With the release of Selma next month, DuVernay stands to break even more ground by becoming the first African-American woman to receive an Oscar nomination and, God willing, an Oscar in March 2015. It will not be a “pity-Oscar” or an “affirmative action Oscar,” no, she will win because she provided the best direction of a film and because she is one of the best working directors in the world today—male, female, white, black, or otherwise.
I floated while eating my bowl of oatmeal this morning. She’s one step closer. I was a proud fangirl flipping through my tablet to see what other movie news had transpired when I came across this headline:
“Scott Rudin Apologizes After Leak Of Sony’s Hacked Racially Insensitive E-Mails On Barack Obama”
Racially insensitive? Nice wording. That’s the tidiest PR way of saying:
“Hey guys, the execs of our billion dollar company just got caught insulting the leader of the free world with some blazing hot racism and we’re kind of hoping an apology will shut up all YOU PEOPLE who might take offense at our casual racism and continue to give us your hard earned dollars for such upcoming gems as “Jump Street Meets the Men in Black” and “Spiderman Reboot #4.”
And below that headline was the statement that Rudin released:
“Private emails between friends and colleagues written in haste and without much thought or sensitivity, even when the content of them is meant to be in jest, can result in offense where none was intended,” he told Deadline. “I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive — and not funny at all. To anybody I’ve offended, I’m profoundly and deeply sorry, and I regret and apologize for any injury they might have caused.”
Things are a bit too racially charged in this country for us to pretend that the email hacking is a bigger deal than the content of the email. Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin just got Donald Sterling’d. We took The Clippers away from him, post-haste, so why should Pascal and Rudin not feel some heat? I wonder if they were thinking of the fact that some of the biggest grossing releases for their studio are movies with African-American leads like Kevin Hart, Jamie Foxx, and Denzel Washington.
If you operate so casually using the company email, I’d hate to hear the punch lines of your dinner party conversations. You are in positions of power, not as great as Obama, but positions that affect the public’s entertainment. I wonder how long you’ve been scared that this info would be released? Was it an afterthought? Is the worst yet to come? I shudder on your ignorant behalf.
The recent candid interviews from Chris Rock have only shown a brighter spotlight on the race problem in Hollywood. He doesn’t believe that things will change in our lifetime, but I hold onto hope. As long as the DuVernay’s and Shonda Rhimes’ of the world continue to dominate and uplift then we may actually seem some change. It doesn’t matter that commercial Black films are making big money and that the Black movie-going audience is growing. There is an appalling lack of respect for us that is ubiquitous in Hollywood. We don’t only watch “Black movies” we watch movies, in general. We support “our movies” as it is the only chance we have to see people who look like us represented on the big screen. I’m going to watch “Top Five” tomorrow and I’m going to buy 2 tickets because I want more movies like that to get made.
We are not just the reflection that reality TV has created of us. We are not just looters on the nightly news. We are not illiterate. We are not only knowledgeable about our own cultures. We are innovative, intelligent beings who balance the immeasurable eternal weight of negative public perception on our backs. Like every culture, our people are bad, good, and in between.
Amy and Scott, like my beloved sitcoms from the ‘80s and ‘90s, I want to end with this personal anecdote that doubles as a moral conclusion. Cue the saxophone slow-riff.
I’ve kept a journal since I was 9 years old. One day, I was writing a very explicit paragraph chastising my mother for not letting me watch “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” (I wanted to watch a non-minority movie * gasp *) until I finished watching the dishes. My dad (Yes, my dad, stereotype de-mythed!) walked into the room to talk to me and I threw my journal to the opposite side of the room.
“Why’d you do that?” he asked me. “I don’t know.” My general response to all potentially bad situations when I was 9.
He walked over to the journal and picked it up as my heart nearly thumped out of my chest. I looked around feverishly. I could probably jump out of the window and make a run for it.
He passed the journal back to me and said, “I know you like to write but don’t write things you wouldn’t want others to read. You never know who your audience might be.” I shook my head in understanding and he walked out of the room. I cried because I thought about how my mom might feel if she had read the terribly defamatory things I wanted to write about her. This was 1991, long before the days of social media and NSA wire-tapping. My empathy wrecked me. I’m not sure if my dad’s advice applies to all situations (I actually think he may have been admitting to reading my journal) but it definitely always makes me think of others before I character assassinate.
Today, I operate under the notion that my words could be read by the Queen of England or the head of Sony Pictures. This keeps the writing honest and responsible. Be responsible and leave the jokes to the comedians. Outrage is so exhausting. I wish we could have a break.
It’s almost 2015—can we just try to do better?
*This article by Danger Bowie was previously ran on blackgirlnerds.com on December 12, 2014*
I’ve been a Chris Rock fan since I was a young teen. The scream cadence and repetition of his all-too-familiar voice has always brought me laughs. I can remember going to the theater to see “Head of State” and his other various films on the day of their release and tomorrow will be no different. My excitement has only increased after reading a string of press interviews Rock has done over the last 2 weeks.
Here are a few unforgettable and poignant Rock quotes:
“I’ve got artsy taste, which is great and not great at the same time. I’d rather work with Wes Anderson, but I don’t look like Owen Wilson. I’d love to work with Alexander Payne and Richard Linklater. But they don’t really do those movies with black people that much.” —Rolling Stone
“There are almost no black women in film. You can go to whole movies and not see one black woman. They’ll throw a black guy a bone. OK, here’s a black guy. But is there a single black woman in Interstellar? Or Gone Girl? Birdman? The Purge? Neighbors? … I go to the movies almost every week, and I can go a month and not see a black woman having an actual speaking part in a movie.” —The Hollywood Reporter
“I don’t want to [act] in anything that [takes place] before the Jackson 5. Anything before them is just black misery. Everything before the Jackson 5 is essentially slavery, or close to it. So as far as I’m concerned, Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine and Jackie ended slavery.” —Rolling Stone
I wish he’d write another memoir or a political humor book, like Bill Maher. His last book, “Rock This!” was written in the late ’90s.I don’t always agree with everything he says but his thought process and the way he breaks down ideas is bar none. Warm it up, Chris!
Christian Bale, equal parts attractive and terrifying, has decided not to play the iconic face of Apple, Steve Jobs, in yet another movie about the unique mogul’s life. While I was very interested in what kind of method actor ridiculousness Bale was going to pull out of his bag of tricks to portray the now deceased Apple CEO, there are a few actors that I think should be in the running to replace him.
If Wes Anderson decided to direct this project then Jason Schwartzman would be the perfect Steve Jobs. Mannerisms and acting aside, he looks exactly like Jobs did in his late 20s/early 30s. I think Anderson would make this one of the most highly-anticipated biopics of 2015.
Corey Stoll’s career is on fire right now. His masculine bravado and chameleon acting abilities would make for an interesting take on Jobs. And I didn’t just pick him for his bald head likeness. Have you seen the man on House of Cards/The Strain/Midnight in Paris? He’s frickin’ electric.
Now, Ethan Hawke may seem like a controversial pick to play the late Jobs but if you look at his long line of roles, you’ll see he has played a lot of different characters, ranging from jerks to romantics and has very rarely misstepped. His calm, intensity could serve the role in ways we hadn’t imagined.
A relative newcomer to the American cinemascape, Tom Hiddleston is well-known for his portrayal of Loki, the rambunctious evil brother of the beefcake Thor. But Hiddleston possesses much more than the role of Loki showcase. His turn as a vampire lover to Tilda Swinton in Only Lover’s Left Alive” suggests that Hiddleston is harboring a deep darkness that needs further exploration. Perhaps, playing Jobs would allow us to see the various talent that Hiddleston has waiting under the surface.
Michael Fassbender. What can I say? I have been wooed by Fassy since I first saw him in The Hunger and every movie he has been in since. His ability to take a role like Brandon from Shame or The Counselor and show us a hidden darkness, strength, and desperation without knocking us over the head with a hammy performance makes him one of my favorite actors to watch. He is a slow burn, unpredictable, charming, and just slightly menacing. I would like to petition for him and Steve R. McQueen to take this biopic and make it legendary.
“Life’s barely long enough to get good at one thing. So be careful what you get good at.” -Detective Rust Cohle.
Matthew McConaughey is good at acting. The man knows how to deliver a line and a great Oscar speech. He also plays a mean bongo drum. Let us celebrate the birth of the man who gave us 12 months of tremendous performances in gems like Interstellar, True Detective, Dallas Buyers Club and the most parodied Lincoln car commercial in the history of car commercials. May the McConaugh-ssance continue for years to come.
I look forward to September and October because of the impending indie movie season. And every year, I am always pleased with what indie filmmakers are putting on the table. This year has been no different. Whiplash is the most intense movie I’ve seen this year (even more tense than The Rover, The Drop and Fury). JK Simmons has officially crossed over into the “You were a little too good in that role and now I can’t trust you in real life club.” This club includes Laurence Fishburne for his depiction of Ike Turner, Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear, Christian Bale in, well everything, Edward Norton in Primal Fear/American History X, Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers and The Other Sister, Keith David in Requiem for a Dream, Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown, Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, and lastly, Giovanni Ribisi. I love him in most everything but he’s just a notch too slick. It’s kind of inexplicable.
I digress, Whiplash not only has the best and most surpassing trailer of the year, it emotionally lives up to its name. It tells the story of Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller), a talented young jazz drummer, who attends a prestigious music conservatory. Andrew is obsessed with making it into the top jazz ensemble in the school, led by Terrence Fletcher (shudder, as played by JK Simmons) Fletcher is notorious for pushing his students to the max for great performances. Nonetheless, Andrew wants in, even though it may cost him more than he could ever imagine.
Now this setup may seem light and mundane, but trust me, it is not. Teller, who usually plays either cuddly, teen protagonists (Spectacular Now) or the mildly dickish antagonist (Divergent) has really stepped up his game as Andrew. Watching him punch a hole through a snare drum and play so hard that his hands become bloody mush as tears trail down his defeated face has made me a believer in what this kid is selling the world. But it is without a doubt, Simmons, who showed up to steal the movie and the Best Supporting Actor Oscar 2015. The nuanced, subtle, over the top, disappointed father/abuser-type performance that he portrayed was nothing short of breathtaking. And just as the movie seemed to be heading toward a predictable ending, director/screenwriter Damien Chazelle, lifted the curtain for one of the most finely shot musical denouements I have ever witnessed.The acting, musical cues, cinematography, instrumentation, and visual execution make this a must-see movie for any lover of film. Bravo, Simmons. Encore, Chazelle.
I watched Nightcrawler at 11am on Halloween morning and I sit here, three days later on Monday night, still thinking about Jake Gyllenhaal’s vicious characterization of antagonist/protagonist, Louis Bloom. Aside from Jake delivering, what I think, is the performance of his career, the movie is a beautifully shot, sick love-letter to the greater city of Los Angeles. As a native, I was thrilled to see some well-known spots (Dinah’s!) and freeways (105!) showcased under the brilliant cinematography of Jake Gyllenhaal’s real life godfather, Robert Elswit (who is also the DP of the upcoming and highly anticipated, Inherent Vice). As a jaded Los Angeles native, I have never seen my city presented in such a bizarre and sexy manner.
Nightcrawler tells the story of Lou Bloom, a late twenties, sweet-talking yet mildly threatening, gaunt, poster-child for entrepreneurship in the digital age. Lou is well-read and forever waiting for the opportunity to make the proper pitch or sell a compliment. We watch with baited breath as Lou plots, devises, steals, and manipulates his way to get any and everything he wants as Gyllenhaal delivers some of the most memorable lines of evil dialogue with the scariest twinkle in his bulging eyes. I don’t think it’s always called for to pull a Christian Bale but the 30lb weight loss that Gyllenhaal pulls off completely serves the character and the performance.
You wait tensely in the audience for the invisible leash, that holds Bloom back from destroying everyone, to snap. In the midst of all the chaos, there is a sick dark humor that lends itself to nearly every scene, including one of the most soul piercing scenes, namely the ones with Rene Russo, in a comeback role as the desperate News Director in a fledgling time slot. Hey Hollywood- Russo still has it and needs more roles. Enough with the age obsession, I want to see some more seasoned actresses holding their own.
After spending so many years sitting on the proverbial fence about Gyllenhaal’s career path, I am so happy that I decided to give Nightcrawler a shot. It is a return to glory from the fantastic actor who gave us such memorable characters as Donnie Darko, Jack Twist (Brokeback Mountain), Detective Loki (Prisoners), and Anthony Swofford (Jarhead). I only hope that when award season rears its head, Gyllenhaal makes off with a top prize so that more movies like Nightcrawler can be made.