The Grand Tour, Twin Peaks, The Crown, and More – The Weekend Chill

Last Friday, Netflix announced that it had picked up Riverdale spin-off Sabrina the Teenage Witch to series, giving an order of two 10-episode seasons. Both seasons will be shot back-to-back, and will be released on the streaming service a year apart. The reason Netflix acquired the drama was because Riverdale has been a huge hit internationally. Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has written the script.

On Monday, Stranger Things was officially confirmed for a third season by Netflix on Twitter. Given the show’s popularity, and the talked-about plan to have four seasons by the Duffer Brothers, this was pretty much a set thing. It’s just “official” now.

Later that day, Netflix revealed that House of Cards would resume production in January 2018 without Kevin Spacey, who was ousted after a series of sexual misconduct allegations. The sixth and final season will focus instead on Robin Wright’s character, who plays the wife of Spacey’s character. Given the production delay, expect a similar delay in the release of the show.

And in even more Netflix news, we got a teaser trailer for an extravagant new sci-fi drama called Altered Carbon, which is set 300 years into the future where consciousness can be transferred into another body, allowing rich people to live forever. It stars Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs, a former soldier tasked with solving the murder of a wealthy man’s last body. Altered Carbon is out February 2.

On Tuesday, a report from Deadline said that Quentin Tarantino has come up with “a great idea” for Star Trek, which he hopes to direct. He’s already talked with producer J.J. Abrams, who directed the first two chapters of Trek reboot trilogy, and a writer’s room is being assembled. The film will be rated R, as are all Tarantino films, Deadline’s sources said later in the week.

Disney and Fox’s discussions for the takeover of latter’s film and TV business are reportedly back on, with the former “closing in on a deal”, according to CNBC. Fox’s assets are said to be worth over $60 billion (about Rs. 3.87 lakh crore). While this deal would result in job losses at the two companies, it could likely give fans an Avengers and X-Men crossover.

Netflix finally gave us a release date for Black Mirror season 4 on Wednesday: it’s out December 29. All six new episodes of Charlie Brooker’s anthology sci-fi series will be out the last Friday of 2017, from directors such as actress Jodie Foster, Tim Van Patten (Game of Thrones), and David Slade (American Gods) among others. Here’s our review of the show, if you’re interested.

The live-action Pokemon film – Detective Pikachu – has snapped up Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds to voice everyone’s favourite Pokemon. He joins Justice Smith (Paper Towns) and Kathryn Newton (Big Little Lies). Filming begins next month in London.

EW gave us a first look at Sophie Turner’s (Game of Thrones) Jean Grey in the new X-Men movie, X-Men: Dark Phoenix on Thursday, alongside Jessica Chastain’s shapeshifting villain, a funeral being attended by Professor X and others, and the X-Jet in space. X-Men: Dark Phoenix is slated to release November 2, 2018.

The disappointment of Justice League has pushed Warner Bros. to shake-up its production division, with executives being shuffled around. Producer Jon Berg has been removed from his position at the head of the table, with the studio looking to bring in someone new to lead DC Films. WB President Toby Emmerich is also considering moving DC Films into the main production stable, like with Sony and Fox.

J.K. Rowling has defended the casting of Johnny Depp in her Fantastic Beasts universe, after fans voiced concern over his troubling split with ex-wife Amber Heard, amid growing social movement to punish perpetrators of sexual and physical misconduct in the wake of Harvey Weinstein accusations. Rowling said she can’t openly address concerns due to agreements in place “to protect the privacy of two people”, but that she was “not only comfortable sticking” with Depp, but “genuinely happy”.

After a week of marketing, the first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom arrived early Friday morning. It shows Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) convincing Owen (Chris Pratt) to rescue the dinosaurs on Isla Nublar, where an imminent volcanic eruption puts the remaining creatures under threat.

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:

The Crown
The second season of Netflix’s lavish multimillion-dollar production will enter the second decade of Queen Elizabeth II’s (Claire Foy) reign, from the Suez Crisis in 1956 to the Profumo affair scandal in 1963, which led to the resignation of the Queen’s third Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan. Between that, she’ll meet US President Kennedy (Michael C. Hall), and First Lady Jackie.

Meanwhile, her sister Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) will meet her future husband Tony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode). The Queen’s husband Philip (Matt Smith) will continue to struggle for autonomy, and life on his own terms. This will also be the final season for Claire Foy’s portrayal of the Queen, who will be replaced by Olivia Colman for the next two years.

Early reviews paint a highly favourable view of The Crown season 2, praising the work of Foy, and the execution of vision and the quality of writing from creator and writer Peter Morgan. Vulture’s Jen Chaney says: “On every level, The Crown is deserving of praise. But it’s that subtle emphasis on the idea that even the most stubborn among us can at least try to evolve that makes it vital end-of-2017 viewing.”

How to access: Netflix
Time commitment: 10 hours

The Grand Tour
The trio of former Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May return for a second season of their new motoring show on Amazon, which finds them on yet another globe-trotting adventure, from snow-clad peaks, and open plains, to the desert of Mozambique. Locations also include Croatia, Dubai, Spain, Switzerland, Colorado, and New York.

This year, the studio scenes involving the tent have been shot in the Cotswolds in England. And thankfully, The Grand Tour has cut back on some of the useless bits, turning the Celebrity Brain Crash into Celebrity Face Off, where celebrities actually race each other instead of dying in various silly ways.

The first episode, available Friday worldwide, takes place in Switzerland. The cars being compared include Lamborghini Aventador S, a Honda NSX, and Rimac Concept One, an all-electric Croatian supercar. Celebrities for the episode are Ricky Wilson (The Voice UK), and David Hasselhoff (America’s Got Talent).

The Grand Tour Is Great Because It Stole the Best Thing About Top Gear

How to access: Amazon Prime Video
Time commitment: 1 hour

Twin Peaks
When a spirit in the image of Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) told FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in the season two finale that she would see him again in 25 years, no one – including creators Mark Frost and David Lynch – could’ve imagined that it would actually happen. But with Twin Peaks’ return as many years earlier this year, it did.

A third season, of 18 episodes, picked up the story of Cooper 25 years on, with the man still stuck in the parallel dimension called the Black Lodge. When he does get out, he becomes a diminished version of himself called Dougie Jones. For all those years, Cooper’s other self – inhabited by the evil spirit BOB – has been roaming the country, killing as he pleases.

The show’s revival was nothing like the original, and unlike anything else on TV. Unconstrained by any network ideas, Lynch – who directed all 18 episodes – doubled down on his ideas in the era of TV auteurs. Twin Peaks was still as surreal and suspenseful as it was, and more interested in delivering an experience than plot and closure.

Twin Peaks: The Return is now available on Blu-ray, which brings eight hours of bonus features, including several in-depth behind-the-scenes featurettes, a trio of making-of featurettes, a collection of promos produced by Lynch, and more. There are 10 half-hour documentaries that provide a look at Lynch’s direction.

Photo Credit: Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks’ Return Is Even More ‘Lynchian’ in the Era of TV Auteurs

How to access: Amazon US, Hotstar, or Showtime
Time commitment: 15 hours and 30 minutes

City of Ghosts
When ISIS took over the city of Raqqa, Syria, a handful of anonymous activists came together to create “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently”, a citizen’s journalism movement that aimed to inform the world of the atrocities being committed behind the blackout laid down by the terror group. Soon, ISIS put a bounty on the heads of RBSS, torturing and executing them and their families if they were caught.

City of Ghosts – a documentary from Matthew Heineman, the film-maker behind the award-winning drug problem doc Cartel Land – follows the journey of these brave Raqqa citizens, from their early days at home to being on the run undercover, in southeast Turkey across the border from Syria, or departing for Germany after ISIS came for them in Turkey too.

With deeply personal access, City of Ghosts is a must-watch look at those willing to stand up against one of the greatest evils in the world today. It has received praise from all corners, with LA Times’ Kenneth Turan noting: “City of Ghosts demonstrates, in Hamoud’s phrase, that “the camera is more powerful than a weapon,” but it also shows the horrible price it extracts from those who wield it.”

How to access: Amazon Prime Video
Time commitment: 1 hour and 32 minutes

Other mentions:
Multiple films under Aamir Khan Productions are now on Netflix, including Lagaan (2001), Taare Zameen Par (2007), and Delhi Belly (2011). Dangal was already on the platform, if you’re wondering.

The third season of Angie Tribeca, the cop procedural parody from Rashida Jones, has arrived in full on Amazon Prime Video.

For more streaming choices, check out our monthly guide for Netflix. The 2015 biopic Steve Jobs with Michael Fassbender, and Amy Poehler-Tina Fey comedy Sisters are out this weekend.

88-year-old cult auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky’s autobiographical film, Endless Poetry (Poesía Sin Fin), about the years he spent as an aspiring poet in Chile, has now arrived on Blu-ray and rental.

So has the Israeli comedy The Women’s Balcony (Ismach Hatani) – Amazon Video, iTunes, and Blu-ray – which focuses on a group of women who rebel against their new rabbi and his ultra-traditionalist message.

Video games:
A Hat in Time
Funded off a Kickstarter in 2013, indie 3D platformer A Hat in Time arrived this week on consoles after its PC release back in October. The game stars Hat Kid, a space-farer who comes across a mafioso during her travels. Refusing to pay the toll he demands for crossing their town, she loses the Time Pieces that power her ship, and now must head down to the planet.

Split into four different chapters that take place in heavily varied worlds, A Hat in Time builds on its platforming mechanics with a lot of charm, eye-popping colour, and hat-crafting. The latter is crucial to Hat Kid building out her repertoire of attacks, with hats giving her the power to sprint faster, repel attacks, or use a grappling hook.

In our review of the game, we praised the game’s infectious personality, the option to craft new hats, and colourful environment, while noting its boss fights, and introductory chapter as issues. If you enjoy platformers, A Hat in Time is worth a shot.

How to access: PlayStation 4, Steam for Windows and macOS, or Xbox One
Time commitment: 15 hours

Reigns: Her Majesty
Building on the success of Reigns released last year, this standalone spin-off makes you a queen trying to keep a kingdom in check. The gameplay is still the same: it’s a cross between Tinder and a deck of tarot cards. You’ve to manage four variables: the Church, people, military, and finances. Each of those has a gauge, and if either one becomes full or empty, you’re dead.

Being a queen is tougher than a king, since you’ve to deal with complications that men aren’t bothered with. How you dress will attract comments from the clergy, who will try to prove witchcraft, and your faithfulness to your husband will be questioned. Reigns: Her Majesty avoids being in your face, but neatly weaves commentary on sexism through the game. How you navigate these personal and political quagmires will define your reign.

The decisions you take with one queen will also affect the next ruler, such as sending out explorers to search for undiscovered lands, or aligning yourself to a cult. Reviewers are praising the new game for improving upon the original, being simple enough for newcomers, and still providing depth for long sessions.

How to access: Android, iOS, or Steam for Windows, macOS, and Linux
Time commitment: As much as you want, really

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