So you wanna watch something…
The Chestnut Man: Based on a novel by Søren Sveistrup (of ‘The Killing’ fame), this is a six-episode psychological thriller that follows two detectives Naia Thulin and Mark Hess in search of a serial killer. All they have is their calling card: little chesnut men left at the scene. Forbes says, “All the ingredients of a great Nordic noir are there: violent and gruesome serial murders, a work-obsessive female detective, an initially-hostile detective partnership, and a dark grizzly, in this case autumnal, mood pervading throughout”. Stream it on Netflix.
Britney vs Spears: Yes, Britney Spears documentaries are dime a dozen now—just in time to cash into the huge success of the New York Times’ ‘Framing Britney Spears’. This Netflix version is more of a fan letter and doesn’t expose any bombshells. It focuses instead on the woman—“her triumphs and her foibles and her desperate attempts to escape her situation.” Vanity Fair says “those who deeply care about Britney and her well-being may feel closer to her”—while The Guardian calls it “irresponsible, boring and a waste of everyone’s time.” Guess it really all depends on how you feel about Britney.
Maid: The series follows a 25-year old single mother—with a manic mom (the amazing Andie McDowell)—as she tries to make a living as a maid. Based on Stephanie Land’s memoir, this is less a sociological portrait of poverty than the moving story of one woman’s struggle to support her little girl, and make sense of her own pain and that of others. There are no clear heroes or villains here. Washington Post offers an extended, positive review if you need more to make up your mind. Available on Netflix.
A list of good reads
- CNN Travel looks at the nuclear-powered mega-yacht of the future: Earth 300—which at 984 feet, would dwarf even the world's largest superyacht, and be planet-friendly to boot. Or so its creators claim.
- Meher Mirza in Food52 pens a wonderful essay on native cuisine ‘infected’ even the all-white bastion that was the British colonial club.
- A must read from The Atlantic: Why consent is about a lot more than just sex—as the pandemic reminds us.
- The Guardian offers an excellent profile of the controversial and highly popular psychologist Steven Pinker—and his meteoric rise to fame/infamy.
- Popular Science offers a fascinating read on the nature of spiciness—including the fact that it is not in fact a taste like ‘sweet’ or ‘sour’.
- Also in Popular Science: A clear-eyed, detailed case against going on a diet.
- Priyanka Pulla in Mint reports on the appalling lack of safety standards in the pharmaceutical industry in India—and why little children are dying from drinking adulterated cough syrup.
- Also in Mint: Sandip Roy’s thoughtful tribute to Lil Nas X and his joyful activism.
- This one’s behind a paywall, but if you do subscribe to Times Prime, do enjoy Santosh Desai’s manly rant against the tyranny of slim fit.
- The Atlantic takes a balanced look at the new leaked documents that seem to suggest that the coronavirus was engineered in a lab.
- NewsLaundry takes a critical look at the fawning media coverage of PM Modi’s US trip.
- Always an excellent bet: Manu Pillai in BBC News—where he shreds the image of Indian maharajahs as lavish-living reprobates “more interested in frivolous sex and fancy dress than in government.”
- Psyche explores: What do Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist tell us about talking to strangers?”
- For the art-minded, Vogue looks at how artists are reinventing the tradition of plein air painting—or painting outdoors.
- The Verge reports on Amazon’s over-hyped personal assistant robot Astro—which is apparently “terrible” and will ‘throw itself down stairs.”