Well, we still can’t go to the movies—it may be the least of our problems, but it still really sucks. So instead of my typical roundup of new theatrical releases, I’m using this space to write about what’s going on in the world of streaming, where approximately 98.87% of our entertainment now exists. This list will be updated each week with talked-about new film and TV releases, surprise hits, things to avoid at all costs, free stuff to catch while you can, and gems from back when movies and TV shows actually got made.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend Remember Bandersnatch? Netflix’s first foray into interactive shows was surprisingly divisive (I thought the story was classic Black Mirror stuff, and when you consider the added bonus of the novel format, I’m still not sure what some people’s problem was with it). But Netflix hasn’t given up on the idea. This time, the choose-your-own-adventure setup is being put to comedic purposes, basically giving Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt co-creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock free reign to come up with parallel universes for their writers’ endless punchlines. That’s good, since this cult favorite about Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) rebuilding her life in New York after being rescued from a Midwestern doomsday cult wrapped up its story pretty neatly, and by the fourth and final season was more about milking its wacky setups for jokes (a la 30 Rock) than worrying about what it was going to do with its characters. In this reunion movie, released May 12, Kimmy is set to marry British prince Daniel Radcliffe when she discovers her former cult leader (Jon Hamm, more determined than ever to make fun of himself) had a second bunker, leading her to drop everything, and search for his final captives. You choose how she goes about it, and unsurprisingly, when you make bad decisions, Titus Burgess yells at you. In a fun way tho! (Netflix)
CAPONE Remember that terrible Fantastic Four movie Josh Trank made? Well, he’s still angry about how it destroyed his career as a Hollywood director, and this super weird, almost David Lynchian biopic about the last days of Al Capone is his revenge on the rest of us. You gotta wonder just how happy Tom Hardy, who plays the dementia-addled gangster in the last year of his life, was when he got this script. He loves to be let off his chain, and this may be his most out-there role ever. “I get to poop myself? Twice? Yay!” said Hardy in my imagination. Love or hate Capone, released May 12, no one’s going to accuse Trank of backing down in the face of Hollywood pressure. Or of not being crazy! (VOD)
HOLLYWOOD Remember Ryan Murphy, the guy who brought you American Horror Story, The People vs. O.J. Simpson and The Assassination of Gianni Versace? Well, he’s indulging all of his obsessions with crime, fame, vintage style and the dark side of Tinseltown in this miniseries. Following a group of aspiring stars in post-WWII Hollywood, what has made it one of this month’s most talked-about releases is the way it bends, tweaks and reinvents real-life events and people to make its points. Controversial, but worth a look. (Netflix)
TRIAL BY MEDIA Remember how Netflix has been putting out a lot of compelling documentaries examining the breakdown of the American criminal justice system? No? Geez, we just talked about The Innocence Files last week! And it was so good! Whatever, anyway, this latest docuseries looks at the media’s influence on crimes like the “Jenny Jones murder,” Bernard Goetz’s subway shootings and the rape that inspired the movie The Accused. Does sensationalized coverage of these high-profile cases affect their verdicts? If there’s one guy who ought to know, it’s Trial By Media executive producer Steven Brill, who founded Court TV. You gotta wonder if this series is his own mea culpa. (Netflix)
TRIAL BY FIRE Remember how that last docuseries had “Trial” in the title? Well, so does this movie. And it’s also about the miscarriage of justice. This wrongful-conviction drama based on the tragic story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas for killing his three children (based on evidence of arson that has since been discredited), wasn’t widely seen when it came out last year, but it’s worth another look when it comes to streaming services May 19. Jack O’Connell and Laura Dern star. (Hulu, Amazon Prime)