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AMERICAN GIGOLO (NEON)
Jon Bernthal directs this eight-part contemporary update of the 1980 cult film starring Richard Gere.
Julian Kaye (Bernthal), released after 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, tries to reintegrate into society while heaving the shards of his complicated relationship with his former lover (Gretchen Mol), his worried mother and the rest picking up people who betrayed him. The cast also includes Wayne Brady and Rosie O’Donnell.
Led by a charismatic – and muscular – Bernthal, Gigolo is an addictive drama packed with memorable characters, visually arresting imagery and plenty of narrative twists to keep you on your toes.
With a sun-soaked setting that belies this sometimes dark history, American Gigolo is doing well as a appointment viewing this spring.
Sacrificing himself to ensure the Rebels get the Death Star plans at the end of Rogue One didn’t stop Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) from getting his own 12-episode series.
Of course, before the deadly mission of the thief-turned-spy, after Scarif, events centered on the formation of the rebel alliance against the Galactic Empire take place.
Created by Rogue co-writer Tony Gilroy, the show’s cast also includes Stellan Skarsgard, Denise Gough, Adria Arjona and Fiona Shaw.
Bold and ambitious, Andor is also a refreshing old-school action-thriller that, unlike recent Star Wars series, takes its time introducing its players and their backstories, and – at this point – doesn’t just aim to do more Puzzles to complete Jigsaw pieces you didn’t know you needed all about the all-consuming Skywalker saga.
Eight great shows to stream this weekend.
* Five fabulous, underrated performances by Melanie Lynskey (and where to watch them)
* No, Disney+’s Bullet Train and Prey are among the must-see movies of August
* “The Return of the Crown, Yellowstone, Handmaid” is among the remaining TV must-sees of 2022
Season 2 of The Capture is now available to stream on TVNZ+
THE PRISON (TVNZ+)
Detective Chief Inspector Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) and the rest of her colleagues were a hit when they first released in 2019 and are back with another slick six-part cutting edge British crime thriller.
This time, unseen assassins are stalking London, and Carey and company become involved in a case involving an aspiring politician that carries greater risks than they first imagined.
“The Capture shows how much is forgiving when a show is backed by an intelligently crafted story,” wrote Dan Einav of the Financial Times.
COBRA KAI (NETFLIX)
After framing John Kreese (Martin Kove) for an attack he didn’t commit, Terry Silver plans to franchise his dojo (Thomas Ian Griffith) in Los Angeles as the 10-episode fifth season of this mega-popular The Karate Kid -off begins.
However, he will face opposition from Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), who is unhappy with Silver’s aggressive teaching tactics. Support for his cause comes from an unlikely source – former rival Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto).
“You have to accept the cheese in Cobra Kai because that’s half the fun. And to put it bluntly, the show is great fun,” wrote Nina Metz of the Chicago Tribune.
The Empress is now available to stream on Netflix.
THE EMPRESS (NETFLIX)
Six-part German historical drama about the love affair between Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary and the rebellious Bavarian Princess Elisabeth von Wittlesbach – the sister of the woman he is to marry.
Their marriage, which throws the balance of power at the Viennese court completely out of balance, means that Elisabeth has to assert herself against her mother-in-law Sophie and Franz’ brother Maxi, who also wants the throne – and against her.
“Ultimately, not only does the series emphasize modern themes, but ‘The Empress’ does what only the very best movies and television shows can – transport you to another time and place,” wrote MN Miller of Ready Steady Cut.
GASLIT (PRIMAL VIDEO)
Julia Roberts plays Martha Mitchell in this eight-part dramatization of some of the lesser-known stories surrounding the early 1970s Watergate scandal that brought down President Richard Nixon’s administration.
Inspired by the first season of Slate’s Slow Burn podcast, it specifically describes how Mitchell, an acclaimed socialite and wife of Attorney General John N. Mitchell, was one of the first people to sound the alarm about the President’s involvement in the notorious events cover up.
As in the early seasons of Homeland and Billions, showrunner Robbie Pickering brilliantly directs his scene and fills his impressively assembled cast with fabulous character actors like Dan Stevens, Betty Gilpin and Shea Whigham. The production design and costumes are top notch, while Sean Penn’s prosthetics (which it took him three and a half hours to put on every day) are really something else.
The focus, however, is Roberts. Cheeky, shrill in her opinions and second to none, her Margaret is an compelling presence whenever she is on screen. While she’s missed out on an Emmy nomination, don’t be surprised to see her among the nominees at the upcoming Golden Globes.
Elle Fanning’s title is The Plainville Girl.
THE GIRL FROM PLAINVILLE (FIRST VIDEO)
Elle Fanning, Chloe Sevigny and Colton Ryan star in this eight-part true crime series.
As the tagline suggests, it’s inspired by “the case that shocked the nation” when Michelle Carter was charged with “involuntary manslaughter” as part of an inquest into the death of fellow teenage boy Conrad Roy III.
“The series is impressively well done and a serious look into adolescent culture of cultivating tragic love,” wrote The Globe and Mail’s John Doyle.
RESERVATION DOGS (DISNEY+)
As the 10-episode second season of this award-winning and critically acclaimed US teen comedy co-created by our own Taika Waititi, the gang is scattered and Elora (Devery Jacobs) and Jackie (Elva Guerra) are headed for California and the others at various locations around the reservation.
However, one member is convinced that all of her unhappiness is the result of a curse she committed – something she is now desperate to fix.
“It blends silly jokes, smart jokes, satire, pathos, social realism, magical realism and tribal lore — not to mention American Indian history — into a series that’s fresh, funny and heartfelt,” wrote NPR’s John Powers .