We recommend: The best new movies and TV series
Animal: The trailer of this movie has generated a lot of buzz already. Starring the likes of Ranbir Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Rashmika Mandanna and Bobby Deol, this film follows Arjan Vailly Singh (Ranbir Kapoor) and his complicated relationship with his father Balbir Singh (Anil Kapoor). Arjan’s obsession with getting his father’s approval and attention leads him to become a dangerous criminal, and he is on a quest for vengeance when his father gets attacked. BTW: It has been written and directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga—who is best known for ‘Arjun Reddy’ and its equally controversial Hindi remake ‘Kabir Singh’.
The reviews aren’t good. The Hindu writes that the movie is filled with contradictions and suffers by being unable “to tell a controlled coherent story”. The Indian Express notes that “there’s nothing to this pointless, vile tale”. Our take: Depictions of dysfunctional families in films often are entertaining, and this one also promises to be an action-packed thriller. Don’t expect us to take kids along to the movie though. You can watch the movie in theatres now.
Sam Bahadur: This is a biopic on Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw—who was the first Indian soldier to be promoted the highest rank in 1973. FYI: The only other officer with the highest rank was Field Marshal Kodandera M Cariappa. The film chronicles Manekshaw’s (Vicky Kaushal) career in the army which spanned over four decades and five wars and especially dramatises how he led India to victory in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Other actors in prominent roles include: Fatima Sana Shaikh as late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Sanya Malhotra as Silloo, Sam's wife. It is directed by Meghna Gulzar who had previously directed ‘Raazi’.
Reviews praise Vicky Kaushal but overall call the film mid. Indian Express writes: “[T]he film suffers from being excessively declamatory, with the background music overpowering the momentous events and the towering individuals on screen.” FilmCompanion found it “disappointing” and critiques: “The biopic makes the mistake of conveying him through the lens of modern nationalism. It believes in what he stands for but only talks the walk.” Our take: We normally don’t watch war movies but we loved Meghna Gulzar’s ‘Raazi’ so are hoping it isn’t another jingoistic film. You can watch it in theatres.
Family Switch: Holiday time is here and we have one of the first parent-children body switch movies of the season! Mom Jess (Jennifer Garner) is a hotshot architect waiting to be made partners at her big firm while Dad Bill (Ed Helms) is a school band teacher. As for the kids, CC (Emma Myers) is such a gifted soccer player and Wyatt (Brady Noon) is a genius ninth-grader.
The reviews are okay. The Guardian finds the film “overstuffed” but writes: “No doubt, countless households will give this Cringe-mas comedy a shot over their winter breaks.” Hollywood Reporter says: “If you’re just looking to fill a movie-shaped hole in your holiday plans, that might make it passable enough.” Our take: Jen Garner playing a teenager just like in 13 going on 30 unlocks a core memory for us. We will definitely watch this one, cozying up under the blanket! Stream it on Netflix.
Welcome to Samdal-ri: This is a slice of life Kdrama recommendation. The drama focuses on Cho Yong Pil (Ji Chang Wook who recently starred in ‘The Worst of Evil’) and Cho Sam Dal (best known for her recent releases ‘Mr. Queen’ and ‘See You in My 19th Life’ )—are former lovers who grew up together on Jeju Island. Sam-dal is a well-known photographer who returns to her hometown after a burnout while Yong-pil remains in the village and becomes a weather forecaster. Love blooms again as the two get back together after a long separation.
No reviews are out yet. Our take: We are tuning in for the laid back plot which reminds us of hits such as ‘Hometown Cha Cha Cha’ and ‘Summer Strike’. The first episode dropped on Netflix yesterday.
Shehar Lakhot: Here is a crime-comedy web series directed by Navdeep Singh best known for ‘Manorama Six Feet Under’ and ‘NH10’. The quirky show follows a Dev Tomar (Priyanshyu Painyuli from ‘Mirzapur 2’ fame) is sent to his hometown Lakhot to help a client. But bizarre circumstances get him into run-ins with kidnappers and the police where he is framed for murder.
Reviews are decent. Scroll says: “Shehar Lakhot cruises along because of its patches of wicked humour and a compelling cast.” NDTV praises the performances and deems “the fusion of crime, politics, police work and family dynamics… and the evocation of a lawless town in flux combine to make Shehar Lakhot watchable for the most part.” All eight episodes have dropped on Amazon Prime.
The Shepherd: This is a 40-min short film about a young English pilot Freddie Hooke (Ben Radcliffe), flying home across the North Sea on Christmas Eve. On the way, his plane malfunctions as his radio stops working. He is about to give up home, when an older pilot played by John Travolta guides him to safety.
No reviews are out yet. Our take: We cannot say no to a John Travolta movie even though it is a short film. You can stream it on Disney+ Hotstar.
Here’s the next chapter…
Slow Horses Season 3: If this is not your favourite British spy thriller already, it should be. 'Slow Horses' follows a team of mismatched agents who have made a career altering mistake and are given another chance in the MI5 department known un-affectionately as Slough House. In the upcoming season, Jackson Lamb (played by the academy award winner—‘The’ Gary Oldman) and his team go on a mission to retrieve rogue agents. FYI: The reviews are great. Washington Post says: “It’s still a fun, drab, smelly, unexpected watch.” The first two episodes out of six dropped on Apple TV on Wednesday.
Sweet Home Season 2: Here’s an anticipated sequel of the Kdrama that shot Song Kang to fame. The lead actor plays Cha Hyun Su—a high school student who moves into an apartment complex called Green Home after his parents’ death. He wants nothing more to do with life but finds himself in a survival battle against neighbours-turned-monsters, joined by four other residents played by Lee Jin Wook, Lee Si Young, Go Min Si, and Park Gyu Young. The second season will deviate from the webtoon and has a more grim plot, featuring new characters and monsters. The first episode dropped on Netflix yesterday.
Fresh off the big screen…
Zara Hatke Zara Bachke: This movie starring Vicky Kaushal and Sara Ali Khan is a rom-com that revolves around their story from marrying as college sweethearts to becoming each other’s mortal enemies who wish to get a divorce. This family watch is now available to stream on JioCinema.