Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 2/3/23

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Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
80 for Brady (Theaters)
Knock at the Cabin (Theaters)

TV
Not Dead Yet Series Premiere (February 8 on ABC) – Gina Rodriguez is back!
South Park Season 26 Premiere (February 8 on Comedy Central)

Music on TV
-65th Annual Grammy Awards (February 5 on CBS)

Music
-John Frusciante, . I : and : I I .

Podcasts
Drifting Off with Joe Pera – The star of Joe Pera Talks with You helps you fall asleep in audio form.

Sports
-2023 Pro Bowl Games (February 5 on ABC, ESPN, and Disney XD) – They’re playing flag football this year, so I might check it out.

The ‘Knock at the Cabin’ Comes for All of Us

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Knock Knock (CREDIT: Universal Pictures/PhoByMo)

Starring: Dave Bautista, Ben Aldridge, Jonathan Groff, Kristen Cui, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Abby Quinn, Rupert Grint

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Running Time: 100 Minutes

Rating: R for Bloody Fights with Medieval-Looking Weaponry and Tense Profanity

Release Date: February 3, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and Eric (Jonathan Groff) thought they were going to have a nice vacation in their cozy remote spot in the woods with their young daughter Wen (Kristen Cui). But then a group of unexpected visitors arrive, and they … well, it’s right there in the title. Second-grade teacher Leonard (Dave Bautista), nurse Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird), short-order cook Adriane (Abby Quinn), and gas company employee Redmond (Rupert Grint) claim that they’re on a mission to prevent the looming apocalypse. The four of them have been haunted by the same visions that have led to an inescapable conclusion: Andrew, Eric, and Wen must choose to kill one member of their family, or else everyone else in the world will die. Whoever is sacrificed cannot die at his or her own hands, nor can Andrew and his associates carry out the act. Andrew and Eric are naturally incredulous, believing it’s much likely that this is an elaborately staged homophobic attack. But a series of catastrophic coincidences – not to mention the trauma of being trapped in a confined space – leads them to at least consider the possibility that something profoundly cosmic could be happening.

What Made an Impression?: Every movie that M. Night Shyamalan has made since The Sixth Sense has been burdened by the expectation of “Can he pull off another twist like THAT again?” And he’s pretty much embraced that reputation, with a seemingly endless series of attempts to gobsmack us at the end. It’s never been as phenomenally successful as the ghost tale that made his name, and in fact a few times it’s gotten more than a bit silly. But ever since getting back to basics with 2015’s The Visit, he’s displayed a much more consistently deft touch with his conclusions.

Knock at the Cabin‘s premise certainly invites speculation about a potential twist ending. Is the apocalypse realer than we could have possibly imagined? Or will it be revealed as something else entirely once our perspective is adjusted? Without spoiling anything, I’ll note that this is Shyamalan at his most challenging (rewardingly so, if you can get on the film’s wavelength).

What struck me the most about Knock at the Cabin is its plausibility. Leonard’s evidence of the apocalypse are events that you can find on real world newscasts just about every single day: earthquakes and tsunamis, a new deadly disease, planes malfunctioning in mid-air. And Bautista, who’s always been a reliable screen presence, is an absolute revelation here, delivering a series of monologues with quietly passionate, tenderly direct conviction.

Knock at the Cabin left me with a truth that I already fully bought into, but that I’m seeing now more clearly than ever: The world is a scary place, and the family unit often bears the brunt of that cruelty. And sometimes we have to make impossible decisions for the love that binds us to carry on.

Knock at the Cabin is Recommended If You Like: The Box, Shyamalan-ian close-ups and flashbacks, Daddies

Grade: 4 out of 5 Sacrifices

jmunney’s Top Cinematic Choices for February 2023

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Welcome to M’s Nightmare (CREDIT: Phobymo/Universal Pictures)

They keep making new movies, and some of them are even worth watching. Here’s what’s at the top of the slate for February 2023:

Knock at the Cabin: M. Night Shyamalan gets all apocalyptic. The premise sounds like The Box, except that the reward is saving humanity instead of a million dollars.

Knock at the Cabin arrives in theaters February 3.

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’80 for Brady’ Could… Go… All… The… Way!

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Go for 2. (CREDIT: Paramount Pictures)

Starring: Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Tom Brady, Billy Porter, Rob Corddry, Alex Moffat, Guy Fieri, Harry Hamlin, Bob Balaban, Glynn Turman, Sara Gilbert, Jimmy O. Yang, Ron Funches, Matt Lauria

Director: Kyle Marvin

Running Time: 98 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Saucy Seniors and One Signature F-Bomb

Release Date: February 3, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: There’s a reason why the Super Bowl MVP says “I’m going to Disney World!” and not the other way around. The NFL championship game and Mickey Mouse’s theme park complex are both eternally popular, but the former tends to be a far more expensive proposition for most potential attendees. But some people refuse to back down from steep odds, even if society insists they’re better off just staying home. In the based-on-a-true-story 80 for Brady, four longtime friends and New England Patriots superfans decide that the 2017 big game is their last best chance to see their hero quarterback in person, so they get up and make their way down to Houston. Here’s the tale of the tape for the starting lineup: ringleader Lou (Lily Tomlin), a cancer survivor who knows a thing or two about beating the odds; recently divorced Trish (Jane Fonda), who’s made a name for herself with her Rob Gronkowski-based fan fiction; recently widowed Maura (Rita Moreno), who’s basically the star of the local retirement home; and statistics-obsessed Betty (Sally Field), who could really use a break from her adorable but needy husband (Bob Balaban).

What Made an Impression?: Circa 2017, I believed that Tom Brady was, if not quite a cheater, still all too willing to bend the rules as far as they could go in his favor. Now in 2023, I think he should retire for the sake of his family. So while it can be thrilling to witness record-setting athletic excellence, I’m not exactly rooting for him to keep adding to his long list of accomplishments. In other words, I’m not exactly the ideal viewer for a movie in which Tom Brady plays himself and all the main characters treat him as the most lovable quarterback ever.

But when the movie in question stars these four ladies, the formula is a little different. If the promise of a Tomlin-Fonda-Moreno-Field roster has your heart aflutter, then you’ll be glad to know that 80 for Brady delivers a touchdown or four. And you don’t need to be a fan of football or the Patriots in particular to appreciate it. In fact, it’s probably better if you aren’t, so that you don’t have to fight through any preconceived biases.

This is the sort of movie that is filled with scene after scene that’ll make you object, “There’s no way it could possibly work that way,” while also forcing you to concede, “But I don’t care! Everyone’s having too much fun!” This is a silly adventure where everything works out a little too perfectly, but because of the camaraderie on display, you’re all too happy to allow it.

80 for Brady is Recommended If You Like: Septuagenarian, Octogenarian, and Nonagenarian Queens

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Super Bowls

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 1/27/23

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You’ll have to speak up – you’re ‘Shrinking’! (CREDIT: Apple TV+)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Infinity Pool (Theaters)

TV
Shrinking Series Premiere (January 27 on Apple TV+) – Harrison Ford and Jason Segel finally team up!

Music
-Sam Smith, Gloria

Best Movies of 2022

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CREDIT (Clockwise from Top Left): Christopher Moss/A24; NEON; Paramount Plus/Screenshot; A24)

Hello, fellow movie lovers! I saw a lot of new movies in 2022. AS USUAL! Anyway, I figured I might go ahead and rank my favorites. And I’ll also provide a quick summary of the falling-in-love journey I went through with each one of them.

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‘Infinity Pool’ Doubles Down on Every Single One of Its Indulgences

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I Love You Times Infinity (CREDIT: NEON)

Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth, Cleopatra Coleman, Jalil Lespert, Thomas Kretschmann, Amanda Brugel

Director: Brandon Cronenberg

Running Time: 117 Minutes

Rating: R for Nearly X-Rated Levels of Nudity, Sadistic Violence, and Hard Drug Use Amidst a Series of Potentially Seizure-Inducing Flashing Lights

Release Date: January 27, 2022 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Writer James Foster (Alexander Skarsgård) and his rich wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman) are on vacation at some resort, where everything seems just a little bit … off. ATVs zip around with impunity, capturing a slight hint of lawlessness. But strap in tight, because soon enough, everything will feel completely off and there will be an all-encompassing specter of lawlessness. James and En are guided down this path by fellow vacationers Gabi (Mia Goth) and Alban (Jalil Lespert), who promise them fun, but instead lead them right into the crosshairs of the law. A horrible accident has James facing the death penalty, but he’s offered an out. You see, on this resort, cloning technology exists, so instead, James can witness (and revel in) the execution of his double. It’s an easy choice, but soon enough, he finds himself caught within a labyrinth of doubles that it might be impossible to escape from.

What Made an Impression?: “Infinity Pool” sounds like a brand of hot tub, doesn’t it? And that’s appropriate, because Infinity Pool the movie feels like something that was cooked up by someone who fell asleep in a hot tub for a whole night (or maybe a whole year). But knowing writer-director Brandon Cronenberg, this mindfuck energy is just a fundamental part of his DNA. (It runs in the family.) The whole affair is an orgy of blood flashing lights (as well as a literal orgy) that may very well also be a dream. A deep, nightmarish, wonderfully satisfying dream. Every twist and turn regarding James and his doubles paradoxically feels like both a relief and a further descent into madness.

Serving as the ringleader of this twisted paradise, Cronenberg has opted for the perfect muse in the form of Mia Goth. Fresh off the one-two 2022 punch of X and Pearl, she’s been set loose once again on an unsuspecting public. Her wails of “Jaaaaaaaaaaaaames!” as she leans out the side of a convertible is the freshest earworm of the moment.

There were times during my journey through Infinity Pool that I was hoping for a logical explanation of what exactly was going on. Had James secretly planned this all from the beginning? Was it some sort of simulation? It’s a tricky task to nail that sort of reveal, but when done right, it’s immensely satisfying. But Cronenberg is much more interested in nailing the vibes of it all, and understandably so, because the vibes that he conjures are unforgettable. Infinity Pool is not for the faint of heart, or the faint of libido, or the faint of anything really, but when it all comes together, it’s also oddly serene. I emerged from a new cocoon disturbed, but also comforted.

Infinity Pool is Recommended If You Like: Resident Evil (The clone parts), The Game, Masks, Blinding colors

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Doubles

‘Aftersun’ After Thoughts

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HEY, Macarena! (CREDIT: A24)

Starring: Paul Mescal, Frankie Corio

Director: Charlotte Wells

Running Time: 101 Minutes

Rating: R

Release Date: October 21, 2022 (Theaters)

My favorite part of Aftersun is the “Macarena” performance, and I wish the entirety of the movie had just been a series of folks singing that and other danceable hits of the 90s. Of course, Charlotte Wells had something very different in mind, so I don’t fault HER for not making the entirety Macarena-centric. I just wanted to make sure I let everyone know where my head was at. Anyway, should I now sing “Macarena” at karaoke? Should Sophie have sung “Macarena” at karaoke? YOU make the call.

Grade: I Didn’t Lose My Religion, But I’m Not Sure Where I Left It

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 1/20/23

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How do you wake up Lady Gaga? (Credit: Peacock/Screenshot)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Missing (Theaters)

TV
American Auto Season 2 Premiere (January 24 on NBC)
How I Met Your Father Season 2 Premiere (January 24 on Hulu)
Poker Face Series Premiere (January 26 on Peacock) – Courtesy of Rian Johnson and starring Natasha Lyonne.

Music
-Måneskin, Rush!

‘Living’ Review: Is It a…?

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Bill Nighy the Living Guy (CREDIT: Sony Pictures Classics/Screenshot)

Starring: Bill Nighy, Aime Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, Tom Burke

Director: Oliver Hermanus

Running Time: 102 Minutes

Rating: PG-13

Release Date: December 23, 2022 (Limited)

Before I saw Living, I’d never before ordered anything from the cafe at the Angelika Film Center in SoHo, NYC. But since you can take the cafe food into the theaters and I’m not a huge fan of traditional concession stand options, it was a no-brainer to finally change that! As for what I actually ordered – a piece of peanut butter cake – it sat a little heavy in my stomach. And that didn’t really pair well with the movie on screen. In general, that’s the case with an overly quenched appetite, but especially so this time, as Living is meant to be light on its feet as Bill Nighy tries to go off and have a laugh at life. Of course, in contrast the cancer diagnosis hangs heavy. So does this movie make me go “It’s a living!”? No, but in retrospect, maybe it should have.

Grade: 3 Shocked Reactions at a New Hat

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