Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Florida Project, Alto’s Odyssey, and More – The Weekend Chill

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Last Friday, we got confirmation that Amazon had officially fired Jeffery Tambor from its original series Transparent, after completing an internal investigation into charges of sexual misconduct. Tambor had seemingly announced his departure as early as November, but Amazon had yet to comment on the matter, which it now has.

On Sunday, the 2018 BAFTAs – the British version of the Oscars – took place. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri took place the award for Best Film, while Guillermo del Toro won Best Director for The Shape of Water.

Monday gave us a look into the weekend box office collections for Black Panther. The latest Marvel film pulled in $192 million during the first three days, making it the fifth-biggest opening-weekend grosser in the US. Black Panther is expected to cross $500 million by end of week one.

On Wednesday, HBO released a new trailer for Silicon Valley season 5, which starts March 25. Netflix provided a second trailer for Jessica Jones season 2, which premieres March 8. Later the same day, Netflix released the first look of its 60s sci-fi reboot, Lost in Space. You can check out a teaser and photos at the link. The first season of Lost in Space flies in April 13.

On Thursday, Universal set a release date for Jurassic World 3: June 2021, and a new co-writer, Emily Carmichael. It’ll close out the new trilogy devised by Colin Trevorrow, which gets its second chapter – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom – later this year.

Rumours around James Bond’s next outing started to swirl again this week, with Danny Boyle – director of Slumdog Millionaire – reportedly high on MGM’s list to helm a 007 movie. The only way it’ll happen though, it seems, is if his Trainspotting writer John Hodge is able to hash out a good script of his specific idea.

Amazon has acquired global rights to Iain M. Banks’ first book in his Culture series, Consider Phlebas. It continues CEO Jeff Bezos’ new mandate of pursuing epic fantasy stories, in a bid to get its own Game of Thrones. Channel 4 conspiracy-thriller Utopia writer Dennis Kelly is on board to adapt.

Netflix had multiple deals of its own this week. Firstly, it has a four-picture deal with the Duplass Brothers, a new animated comedy – Tuca & Bertie, starring Tiffany Haddish – from the team of BoJack Horseman, and three new original series from India: Ghoul starring Radhika Apte, Leila based on a book of the same name, and a YA murder-mystery Crocodile set in Goa.

That’s all the entertainment news for this week. Welcome back to The Weekend Chill, your one-stop destination for what to watch, play, or listen to this weekend. Here are the best picks:

TV:
Seven Seconds
Veena Sud, the Toronto-born writer who adapted Danish series Forbrydelsen to make The Killing starring Joel Kinnaman in the US, has brought her remaking talents to Netflix. This time, she’s working off the 2013 Russian film, The Major, with Regina King in an important role. Seven Seconds will be an anthology drama, so the cast and story will change with every season.

Set in Jersey City, New Jersey, the first season begins with an African-American teenager being critically injured after he is accidentally run over by the car of an white officer (Beau Knapp), who flees from the scene. His superior Mike DiAngelo (David Lyons) makes things worse by trying to cover it up, and the show explores racial tensions that flare up soon after.

“Seven Seconds does keep you in suspense with the expectation that bad things will happen, and they do,” LA Times’ Robert Lloyd said in one of few positive reviews. “Nevertheless, the series is more hopeful than not.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Dan Fienberg said the show “is full of good performances and interesting, rarely fully developed, ideas”.

How to access: Netflix
Time commitment: 10 hours

Movies:
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Angry over the lack of progress in her daughter’s murder investigation, Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) rents out three abandoned billboards leading into her town of Ebbing, directing controversial messages at the revered chief of police, William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson).

After his second-in-command Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an immature mama’s boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards was the biggest awards-getter at the 2018 Golden Globes, and has seven Oscar nominations.

Critics have been praising it since its Venice debut. Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson said its “characters, and conversations are pure, inky black comedy. Absurdity makes for good humour, and the screwed-up world in which these characters live is nothing if not absurd.”

The Atlantic’s Christopher Orr said it “continually complicates and recomplicates itself, denying viewers the comfort of easy moral footing. It is by turns heart-breaking, harrowing in its violence, and very, very funny, and it features Oscar-level performances by McDormand, Harrelson, and Rockwell.”

How to access: Out in cinema halls
Time commitment: 1 hour and 55 minutes

The Florida Project
One of our favourite films in 2017, The Florida Project is centred on six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her rebellious mother Halley (Bria Vinaite), who barely get by financially at “The Magic Castle,” a budget motel managed by Bobby (Willem Dafoe), whose stern exterior hides a deep reservoir of kindness and compassion.

Moonee’s life is surrounded by problems, but her mother helps her make the most of everything in life, spending the endless summer afternoons making mischief across the motel area, with help from kids her age, including a new arrival who becomes her best friend. Co-written and directed by Sean Baker (Tangerine), the film hasn’t gotten as many nominations as it deserves, except nods for Dafoe.

Critics haven’t shied away from heaping praise. Empire’s Helen O’Hara noted it’s “empathic towards its subjects but fiercely critical of the system that victimises them. The performances of Vinaite, Dafoe and Prince will stay with you.” The New York Times’ A.O. Scott said it “accomplishes something almost miraculous — two things, actually. It casts a spell and tells the truth.”

How to access: Amazon US, Amazon Video US, Google Play US, iTunes US, or YouTube US
Time commitment: 1 hour and 51 minutes

Game Night
Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman star as a couple Annie and Max in this multi-genre film – it’s a mix of comedy, action, and thriller – from two of the co-writers of Spider-Man: Homecoming, John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, now in the director’s seat together. Their weekly couples game night moves up a gear after Max’s brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) arranges a murder mystery party, which involves fake thugs and police officer.

Of course, things start to go panicky from there, as Brooks gets kidnapped. Is it part of the game, or something more? Annie and Max will figure that out, and a lot more over one night, alongside an ensemble cast that includes Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods), Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe), Jesse Plemons (Fargo), Michael C. Hall (Dexter), and Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine).

Game Night has been a hit with most critics, scoring an 85 percent fresh rating on reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, where the review consensus reads: “With a talented cast turned loose on a loaded premise — and a sharp script loaded with dark comedy and unexpected twists — Game Night might be more fun than the real thing.”

How to access: Out in cinema halls
Time commitment: 1 hour and 40 minutes

Other mentions:
The third season of Ash vs. Evil Dead begins Sunday in the US. Here’s the description for the new season: “Ash returns to his hometown to discover he has a high-school aged daughter. Kelly comes to tell him and Pablo that Ruby may be back to her evil ways in the third season.”

Meanwhile, Thor: Ragnarok is now available on Google Play Movies in India, ahead of the film’s Blu-ray release in two weeks.

Altered Carbon, Mute, On Body and Soul, and More on Netflix in February

Amazon Prime Video had some good additions of its own in the past week, including A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe as late mathematician John Nash; Sergio Leone’s epic Once Upon a Time in America, starring Robert de Niro and James Woods, and the 2013 sci-fi thriller Gravity from Alfonso Cuarón, which won seven Oscars, including Best Director.

Video games:
Alto’s Odyssey
Nearly three years to the day Alto’s Adventure hit the iPhone, indie developer Snowman is back with a follow-up: Alto’s Odyssey. Alto leaves the snow-clad plains of the first game for a majestic, vast, unexplored and endless desert, so naturally the sport is now called sandboarding. You’ll get to “soar above windswept dunes, traverse thrilling canyons, and explore long-hidden temples”.

New game mechanics include wall-riding, rushing water, tornadoes, falling platforms, a new power-up, and balloon bouncing. There is a total of six characters, each with their own attributes and abilities, and 180 goals to complete – safe to say, you’ll hours of gameplay ahead of you. Zen Mode is back from the beginning this time, where you don’t have to worry about scores and such.

The first game won a lot of praise for its environments and feel, and most reviews point to a similar win with Alto’s Odyssey. Plus, there are no annoying in-app purchases, so sit back and enjoy the full game once you pony up the initial fee. And don’t worry if you never played the original, Alto’s Odyssey is a standalone experience.

How Team Alto Designed Alto’s Odyssey to Be a ‘New Experience in the Same Universe’

How to access: App Store
Time commitment: As much as you want, really

Music:
Twin Fantasy by Car Seat Headrest
Fresh off their success with Teens of Denial, Car Seat Headrest founder Will Toledo has gone back to reimagine the album that launched him into indie rock success. A complete re-recording and reworking of the 2011 original, Twin Fantasy has gone from being crafted on a cheap laptop to a full-band creation with studio polish.

You can notice the improvements across the album. The amps on My Boy (Twin Fantasy) is more refined, though it still has the same lo-fi sound. Sober to Death benefits from vocal clarity, while Nervous Young Inhumans now feels like a punchy pop hit. It’s well-worth revisiting for the dedicated CSH bunch, and a must-listen for alt fans.

It’s getting the reviews it deserve from the press, too. The Guardian said “Car Seat Headrest increasingly feel like a significant band, and Toledo like an unusual and compelling voice”, while Consequence of Sound called it “a neat inversion that yields some of the most thrillingly ambitious indie rock compositions of this decade”.

How to access: Apple Music, or Spotify
Time commitment: 1 hour and 11 minutes

In a Poem Unlimited by U.S. Girls
Meghan Remy, who started the solo project U.S. Girls back in late 2007 in Philadelphia, has been through some big changes in her style of music over the years, moving from darkly moody distorted vocals and harsh drum machines to a traditional live band-style recording. That continues on the latest album, In a Poem Unlimited, which is infused with more pop.

Co-produced with Steve Chahley, Remy brings a sharp bite to the lyrics, tackling subjects ranging from domestic violence, abuses of power, and US foreign policy by way of stories, dialogues, and allegories. Genre-wise, it offers a bit of everything, with glam rock and soul on Velvet 4 Sale, disco on M.A.H., and symphonic pop on Rosebud.

In a Poem Unlimited has received much praise from critics. Pitchfork said: “Each of its songs evokes an individual voice, an individual woman, an individual context and though their stories burn in different colours, each contains an ember of catharsis, a feeling that lasts throughout the album. It is the rare political pop record that looks toward the future and offers us something new.”

How to access: Apple Music, Google Play Music, or Spotify
Time commitment: 37 minutes

Other mentions:
There was a lot of good music released last week. If you want slightly heavier alt-rock, check out What A Time to Be Alive by Superchunk, their 11th full-length studio release, featuring guest appearances from David Bazan, Katie Crutchfield, Sabrina Ellis, Skylar Gudasz, and Stephin Merritt.

You should also try Canadian post-punk outfit Ought’s third album, Room Inside the World. And lastly, New Zealand singer-songwriter Marlon Williams has a new pop/rock alt-rock album called Make Way for Love.

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