His Dark Materials (HBO/BBC)
I was both excited and nervous when I heard that BBC and HBO would be releasing a miniseries adaptation of my favorite book series, “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman. As a longtime fan, I was hoping it would at least improve on 2007’s “The Golden Compass” (an adaptation of the series’ first book). Thankfully, I was not disappointed.
The story follows a young girl named Lyra who lives in a world parallel to ours; similar but not quite the same. Lyra becomes the center figure in a struggle crossing multiple worlds—one that has the potential to change the very nature of humanity.
The adaptation is beautiful, with a strong cast (Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy and Lin Manuel-Miranda are just a few), and fantastic effects. It does justice to the text’s deep philosophical and theological themes, though I do hope more of the story’s complex subjects will be explored in future seasons. So far, the series has impressed me enough to keep tuning in.
Schitt’s Creek (Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, others)
The first season of the Canadian sitcom “Schitt’s Creek” premiered on CBC Television five years ago, and I was none the wiser of it until a friend recommended it late last year.
Boy, was I missing out. The series, created by Eugene Levy and his son, Dan Levy follows a formerly wealthy family who are forced to relocate to Schitt’s Creek, a small town they once purchased as a joke. A show about a rich family dealing with not being rich is not something I would immediately jump on watching. But “Schitt’s Creek” shines because of its characters. The writers have a knack for making you care about the family while also shaking your head along with the other residents of the town.
The show starts out a bit slow, but as seasons progress things just keep improving. It’s sharp wit and tackling of important social issues, while also not taking itself too seriously is an enjoyable combination.
The show’s final season is airing now and is streaming on various platforms.
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (Now available for digital purchase)
I have not stopped singing praises for “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” since I saw it in theaters last month. The film tells the story of Harley Quinn, the ex-girlfriend of The Joker, nemesis of Batman in Gotham City. Quinn (Margot Robbie) is on the run—after the break-up, she is suddenly a target of revenge for people across the city. She and three other women, who for much of the film are at odds, team up to save a young girl from narcissistic crime lord Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).
The hilarious yet heartfelt film had me hooked from start to finish, with its playful choreography, costumes and cinematography, and overarching theme of redemption and female empowerment.
The film’s digital release date was pushed forward to this past Tuesday and I for one am excited for a rewatch.
The Outsider (HBO)
Top-notch cast? Check. Incredible cinematography? Check. Rousing pacing and story? Check.
“The Outsider,” an adaptation of Stephen King’s 2018 novel of the same name, is a superbly done 10-episode series that sinks its teeth into you—pun intended—with its procedural, who-done-it beginnings and then makes you question reality with a twist all too common for the legendary horror wordsmith.
Ben Mendelsohn (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Ready Player One”) plays the role of everyman detective fantastically and his supporting cast, including Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”) and Mare Winningham (“St. Elmo’s Fire”), matches him step for step.
It’s Bruno (Netflix)
If there was ever a quarantine palate cleanser it would be this short, funny and easily digestible story of a man and his cute little dog, Bruno. Starring relative newcomer Solvan Naim, “It’s Bruno!” is an adaptation and expansion of his well-received 2015 short of the same name.
Naim, playing Malcom in the eight-episode series, walks the streets of Brooklyn with his adorable companion. They aren’t looking for trouble, but trouble, it would seem, finds them during their everyday visits to the grocery story and surrounding parks.
Dog lovers beware, this series might cause small bursts of anxiety.
Frances Ha (Netflix)
This movie is a gem. It can be broken down scene by scene in a film school course about character building, and it is also a rewatchable masterpiece about 20-somethings that fills a room with levity. Gretta Gerwig (“Lady Bird,” “Little Women”) and Noah Baumbach (“Marriage Story,” “While We’re Young”) co-wrote “Frances Ha.” Gerwig also stars as the titular character and Baumbach is behind the camera as the director. That pairing makes this film feel extremely personal. It’s as if one was reading their daily journal entries from their times as struggling artists in the fast-paced, nobody-gives-you-anything entertainment scene in New York.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Netflix)
Looking for something that you can throw on while cooking dinner or having your breakfast? It doesn’t get better than this. “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is a free flowing one-on-one interview show starring Jerry Seinfeld, who, as the title would suggest, drives around in whimsical, exotic cars with various comedians to go grab a cup of joe.
There are 84 episodes—all around a half-hour or so—featuring entertainers such as Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle, Seth Rogen, Martin Short, Larry David, John Mulaney, Kate McKinnon and John Oliver, just to name a few. This show is a fantastic watch because you can leave it running in the background while you’re folding clothes or cleaning the house and listen to it as a podcast, or you can watch it attentively and see some of the world’s top out-of-the-box thinkers and storytellers talk about today’s issues.