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Casual Recs – November 18th

Ahh yes, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Football season is on the back nine, it’s finally getting cold outside, and you’re probably starting to regret committing to one too many Friendsgiving dinners. For those of us who just want to curl up and slam pumpkin beer before one of the busiest weeks of the year here are some great TV and movie recommendations across the streamiverse.

Netflix

Film Rec: Collateral (2004) – A taxi driver (Jamie Foxx) unknowingly picks up a hitman (Tom Cruise) and is forced to assist in a crime spree around Los Angeles.

I feel like this movie rarely gets mentioned when talking about great movies from this era. I saw it a few years after it came out but recently gave it a second viewing a few months back and was shocked I forgot how good it was. Tom Cruise gives one of the best performances of his career in a rare turn as a bad guy and people forget that Foxx was also nominated for an Academy Award for this in the same year he won for Ray. It’s from director Michael Mann and it very much fits that grainy, shaky-cam-style action movie he’s made a career out of. It also features supporting roles from Mark Ruffalo, Javier Bardem, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Bruce McGill.

TV Rec: The Good Place (2016-2020) – Four recently deceased people learn the ins and outs of the afterlife and try to learn what it truly means to be good.

Not a new show by any means but one I feel is still criminally underseen by the masses. The big names in the cast are Kristen Bell and Ted Danson but the show also launched the careers of William Jackson Harper (Midsommar), Jameela Jamil (She-Hulk: Attorney at Law), Manny Jacinto (I Want You Back), and most importantly, D’Arcy Corden (Barry, A League of Their Own). The show comes from Michael Schur (The Office, Parks and Recreation) and very much fits the mold of a feel-good half-hour ensemble comedy. With four seasons and 50 total episodes this is a very easy show to breeze through. Everyone in the cast is hysterical and the show does a great job of trying new things each season and never overstaying its welcome. Corden is absolutely amazing in this show as Janet, earning herself a well-deserved Emmy nom in the final season.

Hulu

Film Rec: Prey (2022) – A young Comanche woman (Amber Midthunder) fends off a Predator from her tribe in the wilderness.

This film came out of nowhere over the summer and if you missed the initial buzz for this film it completely deserves all the praise it received as one of the year’s best action films. This Predator prequel not only gives us an exciting action/horror hybrid but does so in a setting that we normally don’t get to see on film. There aren’t many action films out there featuring Native Americans as protagonists, let alone one led by a young actress. One of the cool things that’s been happening this year is a boom of great Native American led content including this, Dark Winds on AMC, and a new season of Reservation Dogs, also available on Hulu. Plus this film clocks in at just over 90 minutes so it’s a great late night popcorn movie.

TV Rec: What We Do In The Shadows (2019-Present) – A mockumentary following the everyday lives of a Staten Island home filled with vampires.

I haven’t finished this show yet, I just wrapped up the second season last night, but this has got to be one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. The show is based on the film of same name from Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement and features an outstanding cast including Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillen, and Mark Proksch, who steals every scene he’s in. The jokes are rapid fire, the premises are silly, and everyone is cast perfectly. There’s also a great rotation of recurring guest stars. There’s four seasons, with a fifth one on the way, with 10 episodes that clock in around 30 minutes apiece. This has become my go-to late night show over the last week or so and I can’t recommend the first two seasons enough.

Amazon Prime

Film Rec: Thirteen Lives (2022) – A rescue mission is put together in Thailand after a youth soccer team becomes trapped in a cave following a monsoon.

I vaguely remember this story in the news back in 2018 but seeing Ron Howard’s re-telling of the events was one of the most powerful experiences watching a film I’ve had this year. This film probably won’t be for everyone, it takes a little patience and at points is very claustrophobic and anxiety inducing but the cinematography, editing, and production designs are unlike anything I can remember seeing on film. Colin Farrell, Viggo Mortensen, and Joel Edgarton highlight the cast but it’s actually a fairly large ensemble featuring a bunch of European and Asian actors that all do a tremendous job. You’ll likely end up diving down (pun intended) a rabbit hole on the Tham Luang cave rescue. This is probably Howard’s best movie since 2013’s Rush and is in my current Top 10 for the year.

TV Rec: Reacher (2022-Present) – Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) arrives in a small town while a series of murders start to take place. Initially arrested by police, now they need his help.

This is phenomenal late night turn-your-brain-off TV. Alan Ritchson (Blue Mountain State) is a serious upgrade from the Tom Cruise films and fans of the Jack Reacher books, hand up I’ve never read one, should get a kick out it. It features lots of great-to-absurd fight scenes while managing to keep a light tone that never takes away from the story. Reacher is a great character in the sense that his detective skills are so over the top good that it actually becomes comical at points how he’s able to figure out half the things he does. This isn’t high brow television by any means but was one that I enjoyed thoroughly without needing to binge the eight, hour-ish long episodes.

HBO Max

Film Rec: From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) – Sibling fugitives Seth (George Clooney) and Richard Gecko (Quentin Tarantino) kidnap a family and head to Mexico before winding up at a bar filled with vampires.

A second vampire rec! Tarantino’s been in the news lately so I figured I’d bring up some of his early stuff. The film was directed by Robert Rodriguez and features an all-star 90’s cast including Clooney, Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, Juliette Lewis, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Selma Hayek, and a character named Sex Machine. It features classic Tarantino dialogue, Rodriguez’ trademark over the top action scenes, and lots of cheesy characters in the best way possible. Lots of blood, guts, and weapons in this one and is a true late-night classic. This film also came in the middle of Robert Rodriguez’ run of El Mariachi, Desperado, Spy Kids, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico which is one hell of a decade.

TV Rec: The Other Two (2019-Present) – Two siblings (Helene York, Drew Tarver) of teenage pop star Chase Dreamz (Case Walker) try to make it in the entertainment industry while living in their brother’s shadow.

This show is the hidden gem of the week. It answers the important question of “What is it like to be Justin Bieber’s older siblings?” There’s several belly laughs in every episode and the show parodies everything from show business, influencers, sexuality, celebrity, and everything in between. The jokes are non-stop and Walker and York are hilarious together in addition to Molly Shannon as their mother and Ken Marino as their brother’s desperately clingy manager. There’s currently two seasons each with ten episodes and its really easy to hammer through. Give it a watch and thank me later.

Apple TV+

Film Rec: Causeway (2022) – A woman (Jennifer Lawrence) returning home after suffering a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan befriends a mechanic (Brian Tyree Henry) as they lean on one another for help with their P.T.S.D.

You can check out my full review of this one here but I wanted to give it another shoutout. Jennifer Lawrence is really good in this and it’s probably Henry’s best film work to date. This film isn’t nearly as somber as it looks on paper but it’s certainly not a fun movie by any means. If you’re looking for a short, well-acted drama with a unique perspective on a familiar topic than I’d highly recommend this film. Not a date movie though.

TV Rec: Severance (2022-Present) – A company that programs its employees to have different personalities at work from their normal lives begins to crack when several employees begin nosing around as to what they’re really doing there.

I admit I wasn’t super high on this show when it came out. In fact it took me almost two months to get through because I would watch it and then move on to something else but the first season definitely ended on a high notes. It’s a fairly standard sci-fi allegory about a group of people who realize their reality is not what it seems though its very well acted. Led by Adam Scott, the cast also includes Patricia Arquette, Brit Lower, John Turturro, Zach Cherry, Tramell Tillman, and Christopher Walken, with Tillman and Lower standing out. The reason I recommend it is that Season Two is a few months away and it’d be wise to hop on this bandwagon now rather than trying to catch up when the second season drops. It’s very slow at points so it’s not something I would say is particularly binge-worthy but if you stick with it ending pays off while setting up the next season pretty flawlessly. The hardest part to get through is definitely how old Adam Scott is looking nowadays.

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