By Anne Brodie One of the many pleasures of the weighty and entertaining Nobody is witnessing Bob Odenkirk’s Hutch emerging from a self-created shell of restraint. He’s a family man with no hand with his wife (Connie Nielsen) or son (Gage Munroe) but adored by his daughter (Paisley Cadorath). He’s the guy garbage trucks bypass while flipping him the bird each week, he doesn’t do well in traffic, guys at work call him names -he’s always going to take the path of least resistance. A nobody. A bore. When thieves rob his house one night, he lets them, much to the chagrin of his family. He’s on a bus as little indicators of societal breakdown occur when thugs – who turn out to be Russian mobsters – harass a woman. He finally does something, he comes to her defence, kicking ass, rising to the moment and wipes them out, alpha male-ing himself into a world of pain. Thing is, he’s been hiding a secret for years about his true identity. The mob is after him and he’s galvanised, and hasn’t felt so good in years – at home, it’s sex and bacon sandwiches galore. But now he must keep his family and his father (Christopher Lloyd) in a nursing home safe. The thugs show up and guns blaze, but Hutch vanquishes them, knowing he’s only buried himself deeper. The script is bracing and unexpected, poignant and witty and there’s a kitten. Nobody also stars RZA as Hutch’s brother, who with his father have special gifts to help. From director Ilya Naishuller based on Odenkirk’s idea. Odenkirk trained two years to prepare for the film; there are crew and music connections to John Wick which makes so much sense. Great story, pacing and soundtrack and Odenkirk is phenomenal. TVOD and select theatres
Kate Winslet executive produces and plays the titular role in HBO Max‘ seven-part limited series Mare of Easttown, starting Sunday. She’s Mare Sheehan, a hard-edged small-town Pennsylvania police detective, with an equally harsh US New England accent and a former high school basketball star. She’s complicated, she’s mourning the suicide of her son, her ex and his fiancée bought the house behind her, she’s about to enter a custody battle and her caseload just got a lot heavier. She’s assigned to resume work on the year-old disappearance of a high schooler when the girl’s mother shames the police on TV, but almost immediately, another teenager, a mother in a bad situation disappears. Mare’s daughter may have been present when the girl was attacked. A priest and deacon are questioned, a new detective comes in to assist Mare, there is so much going on in this small town, complications seem endless and cases unsolvable. Considering the pressures she’s facing Mare starts to drop those plates she’s been spinning for so long. Very cool character. Interesting, and further proof of Winslet’s extraordinary versatility. Directed by Craig Zobel.
MLK/FBI from Sam Pollard, explores the extremes of harassment against civil rights leader Martin Luther King by Federal Bureau of Investigation chief G. Edgar Hoover and his cabal of Commie-hating, racist policymakers. A preacher like his father, King was a charismatic, religious man who had the ear of southern Blacks. He preached nonviolent activism, civil disobedience and love, returning white hatred with love and moving toward equal rights for all. It’s a tough watch; Hoover seems obsessed with King, who knows he is under constant surveillance. The more popular King became the more intense was the FBI campaign against him. They recorded his extra-marital encounters and sent them to his wife, and he received an anonymous note suggesting he kill himself. All Hoover. The FBI’s anti-Communist propaganda concerning King’s connections “justified” them, but at its heart, it was a racist smear campaign meant to render King powerless. Hoover’s greatest fear was said to be the rise of a Black Messiah, so imagine how he must have felt when King won the Nobel Prize. This disturbing doc on one of the most shameful chapters in American government history is based on newly declassified FBI files on MLK. TVOD.
HBO Max Original documentary series Wahl Street, is a slice of life of actor, businessman and entrepreneur Mark Wahlberg in 6 – 20-minute episodes. It’s no joke the guy’s a machine whose businesses include Municipal, an activewear line, a gym studio, F45; restaurant chain Wahlburgers, sports nutrition supplements, multiple production companies and a car dealership. And he’s still acting, although, notes of one of his associates, it’s kind of drying up. He’s focused and smart, able to switch gears in seconds, and thrives on a hectic sked. A fun moment has him driving up to a mass of screaming fans awaiting him outside the theatre where Spenser: Confidential is to premiere. He’s talking business on the phone, locating a sharpie to sign fan photos, chatting with his son, his brother, and getting things done. He steps outside and he’s suddenly a movie star. Long-time pals from the Funky Bunch days accompany him on a multitasking visit to London where he shoots Infinite with Antoine Fuqua, checks on local Wahlburgers and see if he likes Municipal’s first edition – he doesn’t- and is talked out of a studio chain. His is a busy life, and he’s a sweet guy, but I’m not sure six eppies of his business problems and wealth is for me.
A new and free streaming service called Freeform is available in Canada and Cruel Summer, an original teen series executive produced by Jessica Biel launches Tuesday night with a two-hour event. It’s a tightly woven psychological mystery about illusion and reality that follows popular girl Kate and fringe-y nerdy Jeanette. Kate shows Jeanette every kindness and invites her into the “cool girl” circle; Jeanette’s appearance changes; she’s wearing fashionable clothes, makeup and contact lenses and her attitude has changed. One day Kate goes missing and suspicion falls on Jeanette because they were involved with the same guy but there is more to consider. Episodes switch back and forth between Jeanette’s birthdays in 1993, 1994 and 1995, as she transforms from outlier to popular to depressed and lonely; it’s a clever setup, the flashback and forth is well handled (for once) and each year is well represented in the pop culture Kate and Jeanette knew. So, what did Jeanette know about Kate’s disappearance? And if she knew something, why didn’t she report it? Kate isn’t what she seems to be, the girls’ parents aren’t what they seem either, far from it, so there is a lot to work through. The filmmakers do a remarkably good job of telling this wild story cohesively, built on the often problematic flashback and forward framework. Due to the subject matter, Freeform provides trigger warnings for young viewers. Also premieres on ABC Spark in Canada on April 20.
Sundance Now has Secrets of a Psychopath a three-episode true crime series set in Dublin, Ireland concerning childcare worker Elaine O’Hara. She went missing without her phone in August 2012 and a year later her remains were found in a wooded area outside the city. The series opens with texts she sent asking a man not to hurt her and admitting she was afraid of him. Investigators found a cache of BDSM sex toys, masks and restraints in a river about 19 km away from where she was found, evidence that linked her to a local architect named Graham Dwyer. O’Hara was born to a wealthy family and suffered from personality disorders for which she was often hospitalized. She fell under Dwyer’s thrall who she called Sir and signed a slavery contract. She seemed keen until he escalated but lacked the “psychological template” to handle it. Her sad tale of being at the mercy of this married father of two was to be the death of her in what was the most notorious murder case in modern Irish history. Details of the investigation are illuminating. The subject matter is extremely unpleasant in this cautionary piece.
Time for a big belly laugh, no? Two of Brendan Gleeson’s four sons, Domhnall and Brian launch Frank of Ireland, a delightfully funny six-part series about a couple of ageing millennials, Frank (Brian) living in Dublin at home with his mother and his best friend Doofus (Domhnall) who has big dreams and no success. The series is original and fresh, laced with profanities and lots of heart. The boys decide to go to the bow and arrow range to let off steam, after leaving dog doo on the doorstep of Brian’s ex’s new love. It’s about revenge and saving Frank’s face as they plot his next moves to win his love back. He lives in a fantasy world in which he is a big shot and endlessly interesting while Doofus is his sidekick, cheerleader, masseur, his partner in petty crime and in the new American Drama Society production of 12 Angry Women. But Frank has misunderstood and prepared for A Few Good Men, so there are lots of laughs as they attempt to stage the thing and a near murder. Brendan Gleeson shows up at son Frank’s birthday party/intervention; he’s quirky! All good cheeky fun, way off-kilter in the most appealing way and highly recommended. Amazon Prime Video.
Disney+ and National Geographic‘s Earth Moods team up again to take us to the remote corners of the planet for soothing, breathtakingly beautiful natural vistas, blue glaciers, arid deserts, lush rainforests, and metropoles, from up in the air, on the ground and under the water. What makes it special is that each “chapter” has a different mood, enhanced by a well-curated soundtrack from Massive Attack’s Neil Davidge, featuring collaborations with Snoop Dogg and David Bowie. Each “mood” offers gentle visual, aural and mental calm as we fly around the world from the couch. What a planet home this is!
Disney+ National Geographic also co-pro Secrets of the Whales premiering Sunday, more insights into the nature of animals and their capacity for emotion, curiosity and connection. Brian Skelly has followed whales for forty years, with 10 thousand hours spent underwater with his camera. The four-part series shot in 24 locations around the world, is astonishing revealing. Five whale species are studied – the Orca, the Humpback, Belugas, Narwhals and Sperm whales along with their distinct stories. Once-in-a-lifetime moments, including six Humpbacks breaching the Alaskan waters by the boat, at once, and then again. Off New Zealand, a curious Orca offers Skelly a manta ray to eat! Among his discoveries, whales hand down information from generation to generation, mourn their dead, give themselves names, have special dialects, raise cherished newborns as a community, and elders train others to take their places. They use unique dialects, have rich cultures, education, sophisticated communication and cognition, and social friendships. And some sing beautifully. Executive produced by James Cameron and narrated by Sigourney Weaver the series begins streaming on Earth Day, April 22. Skerry’s book Secrets of the Whales, with a foreword by Cameron, is available for sale here https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Whales-Brian-Skerry/dp/1426221878 and National Geographic’s Ocean issue is on stands and online now.
Apple TV+ celebrates Earth Day with three documentaries on April 16. David Attenborough narrates The Year Earth Changed, shot around the world during the pandemic and showing the natural world’s response to reduced human traffic. Deserted towns are the source of birdsong, a young man is able to the neighbouring Himalayas for the first time in his life, wildlife large and small strolls city streets, marine life returns to previously polluted waterways – all this from changes in human behaviour.
Tiny World finds the little things in life matter, and they are fascinating. Paul Rudd narrates this documentary series culled from over 3000 hours of footage, edited down to the tiny details of the lives of 200 species from around the world. Meet the Etruscan shrew, known to be the hungriest mammals on earth, and here I was thinking it was me. Plenty of adorability and wonder.
Earth At Night In Color is shot entirely in the dark with high-tech gear to illuminate the nocturnal lives of creatures great and small. The series is in its second season, narrated by Tom Hiddleston bringing to us never before seen animal behaviours under cover of night and just the light of a full moon. Elephants battle hyenas, kangaroos embrace, and pumas, polar bears, manta rays and tiny plankton strut their stuff. What a world!
More comfort viewing! Antiques Roadshow Season 40 is available on BritBox on April 20. Twenty-six new hour-long eppies take us to the stately homes of Britain to pore over people’s treasures and discover their value. The season starts at Castle Howard in Yorkshire for eye-popping valuations and items and then it’s off to the next signature “grand location”. Among items on display this season are a possible Renoirs sketch, a letter written by Charles Darwin and precious diamond drop earrings nearly lost in the mail, and a medieval sword found in a pond. A special episode marks the 65th anniversary of the HM Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, with mementos brought in by ex-staff of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Host Fiona Bruce brings her signature sense of humour and curiosity to the programme.
It’s heeeere! April 21st marks the 8th Annual National Canadian Film Day #CanFilmDay #JourCinéCan offers a day crammed with awesome films and TV shows made by our own artists! Nationwide watch parties, Q&As, and a long list of titles are at your fingertips. Given the kind of year we’ve had, the lineup focuses on “feel-good films, or films that offer inspiration for a better future” says Sharon Corder, Artistic Director. “More than 40 film festivals throughout Canada are hosting national screenings and Q&As with filmmakers and stars. Anadditional150+ community watch parties are being planned and more than 30 international events in countries around the world will be connected through this cultural event. Most of the nation’s major broadcast and streaming channels are running special programming on the day”. Eleven short films make up the Light at the End of the Tunnel series, with 15 culturally and regionally diverse rising stars sharing their vision.
Bill Murray’s iconic Meatballs gets an airing, Christopher Plummer is remembered in Silent Partner, a dozen indigenous made films, the heartwarming You Are Here: A Come from Away Story, marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Special guests include Patricia Rozema, Philippe Falardeau, Don McKellar, Bruce MacDonald, Anne Émond, Charles Officer, Kathleen Hepburn, Jason Eisner, Rob Cotterill, Matthew Rankin, Jason Ryle, GarviaBailey, Tantoo Cardinal, Joyce Wong, and Karen Lam. The films will be available on a dozen major broadcasters and on TV, computer, and wireless devices. And get this – it’s a worldwide event so that our bounty can be seen and appreciated everywhere! www.canfilmday.ca plus, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @CanFilmDay, and #CanFilmDay. All this from our friends at Reel Canada.