So you wanna watch something...
Spiderhead: Based on a George Saunder’s short story, the film follows prison inmates (Miles Teller, Jurnee Smollett, and others) who volunteer for an experimental drug trial run by an eccentric scientist, Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth). They are pumped with various drugs that elicit extreme responses. “Darkenfloxx” creates terrifying thoughts, while “Phobica” reduces someone to behaving as if a stapler is the most frightening thing in the world etc. This is a dark comedy and thriller in turns—and difficult to classify.
IGN calls it an “an enjoyable bait-and-switch, lulling you into a false sense of comfort before things begin flying off the rails.” Hollywood Reporter finds the ending “all too familiar” but says “it’s imaginative fun along the way, thanks to the audacious premise and a clever screenplay.” We think the film will make for a great weekend watch and plan to check it out. ‘Spiderhead’ drops today on Netflix.
Lightyear: An animated spin off of the ‘Toy Story’ franchise, the film tells the story of Buzz Lightyear—the real-life hero who inspired Andy’s beloved toy. We see the legendary Space Ranger (voiced by Chris Evans), his best friend, officer Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba), and their crew try to find their way back home after landing on a hostile planet thanks to Buzz’s miscalculations. The movie is about Buzz trying repeatedly to get his crew off the planet—even as a mysterious craft presided over by a horned megabot, the Emperor Zurg (James Brolin) hovers over them.
Variety describes the film as “a winning diversion”—if a bit formulaic. CNET, OTOH, thinks ‘Lightyear’ is a “genuinely fun way to spend time at the cinema…and ultimately, if it gives another generation reason to fall in love with Buzz, that's all that matters.” Releases in theatres today.
Suzhal: The Vortex: This eight-part series follows the investigation into the disappearance of a young woman from a small town in Tamil Nadu—and the chaos it threatens to unleash on the town and its residents. All this is set in the backdrop of the festival of Mayanakollai, where devotees revel in a graveyard. Amazon Prime’s first Tamil series has a stellar cast—including Kathir, Aishwarya Rajesh, Sriya Reddy and Radhakrishnan Parthiban—and is directed by Pushkar and Gayathri. The details of the series are scarce, but you can check out this interview with the creators—or read five reasons why The News Minute is looking forward to its release. ‘Suzhal’ drops on Amazon Prime Video today and is available in 30 languages.
By Mistake: Splainer subscriber Urvashi Goverdhan stars in this off-beat Kannada series about roommates Bharath and Mythri who are forced to deal with an unexpected pregnancy after a drunken hookup. This light-hearted take on corporate life in Bangalore promises to be funny and very relatable. Times of India praises the storytelling—and Urvashi’s performance—and calls the series “worthy of a one-sitting binge watch.” We’re definitely excited about this one. Check out ‘By Mistake’ on Voot Select.
A list of good reads
- The Atlantic has an excellent read on the benefits of being a potty mouth—as long as you do it right.
- Bloomberg News looks at the scary rise of murder-suicides by airline pilots.
- Outlook magazine tells the story of how the Bombay Talkies—jointly founded by the first power couple of Indian cinema, Devika Rani and Himansu Rai—bagged the first-ever cricket broadcast rights in India.
- Scroll reports on how women in Maharashtra are reclaiming the art of Warli.
- Founding member Basreena Basheer recommends this delightful—and on point—illustrated essay titled ‘Where does the river flow’.
- Vinepair explains why you should drink your red wine chilled.
- Stylist has an interesting piece on “decolonising” yoga—and saving it from its own wild success among white people.
- Speaking of colonialism, BBC News revisits the Ayah’s Home—which housed Indian nannies abandoned by their British employers in London.
- Baffler has the fascinating story of how Hollywood took Graham Greene’s ‘The Quiet American’ and turned it on its head—into a celebration of the very American arrogance he was critiquing.
- We see a lot of talk on Indian Twitter about the benefits of taking melatonin. But Slate offers a precautionary tale on the dangers of overuse.