Black Panther, Mozart in the Jungle, and More – The Weekend Chill

Last Friday, The Hollywood Reporter brought word of Facebook venturing further into original content for its own platform, Facebook Watch. Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Infinity War) will star in and co-produce a half-hour dramedy series from Kit Steinkellner (Amazon’s Z: The Beginning of Everything), with James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) directing a few episodes.

Monday gave us the first trailer for A Series of Unfortunate Events season 2, with a focus on Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) and his theatre troupe who help him in his mischief-making. New cast members include Nathan Fillion, Tony Hale, Sara Rue, Lucy Punch and Roger Bart. Later that day, a new report claimed that Michael Fassbender (X-Men) is set to star and produce a feature-length remake of Kung Fury, the crowdfunded over-the-top action short that came out of a love of 80s action movies. David Hasselhoff will reportedly co-star.

Star Wars: Episode IX has brought Paul Inglis on board as art director, as the film rolls towards production. Inglis has previously worked on Blade Runner 2049, Skyfall, Game of Thrones, Prometheus, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, and Children of Men. J.J. Abrams’ concluding chapter is slated to release in December 2019. According to Variety’s sources, Activision Blizzard is in talks with Sicario 2 director Stefano Sollima to helm a Call of Duty adaptation. There are no plot details, but the studio wants it to become a cinematic universe on course with Marvel and DC. Doesn’t everyone at this point?

On Wednesday, Netflix confirmed that it had struck a deal with prolific producer Ryan Murphy, creator of shows such as American Horror Story, American Crime Story, and Feud. The New York Times first reported on the deal, revealing it amounts to $300 million (about Rs. 1,918 crore). Later that day, Disney released a new teaser trailer for The Incredibles 2, giving us a peek at the superhero family and what they’ll be up to.

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:

Mozart in the Jungle
Mozart in the Jungle may not receive as much love as Amazon’s other dramedies Transparent and the Golden Globe-winning The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, but something must be said of it being one of only four original comedy series that haven’t got the axe from Amazon since its shift to higher-visibility programming mandate (à la Lord of the Rings).

Mozart’s fourth season – arriving after a longer gap than usual – finds Rodrigo De Souza (Gael García Bernal) and Hailey Rutledge (Lola Kirke) taking their relationship public, while the latter struggles to prove herself in a conductor competition in Japan. Thomas (Malcolm McDowell), meanwhile, joins a start-up orchestra in Brooklyn that challenges Gloria (Bernadette Peters).

The new season, available Friday on Amazon, has received good reviews. EW’s Chancellor Agard said it sometimes “lacks dramatic drive, but that’s a small complaint when a show this whimsical treats the characters’ struggles seriously while maintaining an infectious joie de vivre”. As always, expect more ghosts of dead composers.

How to access: Amazon Prime Video
Time commitment: 5 hours

Black Panther
Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returns home to Wakanda, the technologically advanced African nation that poses as an agrarian nation to its neighbours. Now king after the death of his father, he finds his rule being challenged by factions within Wakanda, who seek to overthrow him.

Black Panther must work with members of the Dora Milaje, Wakanadan special forces, and CIA to prevent his country from being dragged into an all-out war. In addition to Boseman, the film stars Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. As always, Stan Lee has a cameo.

Directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed), the film has received stellar reviews from critics, including us. Thanks to an impressive cast, three-dimensional characters (plus a great villain), stellar writing and direction, resonating themes, and a soundtrack like no other Marvel film, Black Panther is likely the best of the MCU lot.

Black Panther Is the King of Marvel Movies

How to access: Out in cinema halls
Time commitment: 2 hours and 14 minutes

If there’s one thing that’s clear from the trailers, it’s that Wonder – based on R.J. Palacio’s best-sellin novel – looks mawkish. But the full product, from Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), is surprisingly restrained, and bolstered by strong performances from a terrific cast – Owen Wilson, Julia Roberts, and Jacob Tremblay – plus a wonderful message.

Tremblay plays Auggie Pullman, a young boy with facial differences who needed multiple surgeries and treatments to fix. After being home-schooled, his parents enter him into school in fifth grade, so he’ll know how the world works. As you’d expect, kids are cruel to him, but he eventually makes friends. Wonder also packs in tales of the people around Auggie.

Wonder has a nomination at next month’s Oscars, and has been praised by most critics. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers said it has “surprising dimension and delicacy”, while Variety’s Owen Gleiberman called it “a drama of disarmingly level-headed empathy that glides along with wit, assurance, and grace, and has something touching and resonant to say about the current climate of American bullying”.

How to access: Amazon US, Google Play IN, or iTunes IN
Time commitment: 1 hour and 53 minutes

Other mentions:
The show’s best days have long been behind it, but Homeland hasn’t given up yet. The seventh season began earlier this week, which finds Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) going up against the new administration of President Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) after the arrest of 200 intelligence officers, including her favourite Saul (Mandy Patinkin). It’s available on Hotstar.

It hasn’t been a fun week for Netflix subscribers. There’s Love Per Square Foot, the first mainstream Indian original, which isn’t very good. There’s a new 90s nostalgia-bait drama called Everything Sucks!, which isn’t very good either. There’s something interesting for football fans though; First Team: Juventus provides an inside look at the club’s success.

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

If you enjoy buying collector’s edition of classic films, you’ll be interested in Criterion Collection’s new 4K restoration of The Silence of the Lambs, starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. It’s got audio commentary tracks from director Jonathan Demme, Foster and Hopkins, 38 minutes of deleted scenes, four documentaries with hours of cast and crew interviews, and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Video games:
In development since 2007, platforming adventure Owlboy finally released late 2016 on Windows, garnering positive acclaim from nearly all critics, for its mechanics, its story, its graphics, its music, and its impressive cast. And over a year later, the game’s indie developer has managed to bring it to consoles, starting with the Nintendo Switch.

In Owlboy, the player controls a boy named Otus, a member of an owl-human hybrid race called the Owls who live in the land of the sky. When your village is attacked by a band of pirates, Otus must set out to save his people. His abilities include flying (well, he’s half-owl), and he gains allies on his journey, all of whom have their own abilities.

The game’s Switch version has been received favourably as expected. Gamespot called it “consistently charming and surprising, and when its final act doubles down on every front, it’s bittersweet to see it end”. Look no further for your next Switch title.

How to access: Nintendo Switch
Time commitment: 8 hours

Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Drawing on real events, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is set in 15th-century Bohemia, whose rightful ruler – King Wenceslaus IV – is kidnapped upon the orders of the Holy Roman Emperor Sigsimund, the King of Hungary and Croatia, plunging the country into civil war as a resistance movement brews against this invasion.

You play as Henry, the son of a blacksmith who manages to escape death in a mercenary raid on your home and mining village Skalitz, and joins the resistance movement to vow justice for his murdered family. The game is the debut effort of Prague-based Warhorse Studios, founded by former 2K Czech writer-game designer Daniel Vávra, and former Codemasters producer Martin Klíma.

The critical response to Kingdom Come: Deliverance has been mixed. We think it’s a half-baked product, on account of unpolished gameplay mechanics, multiple bugs, and an inconsistent frame rate, but other reviewers have had better experiences. You’re probably better off waiting, though.

How to access: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Steam for PC
Time commitment: 40 hours

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