We recommend: The best new movies and TV series
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: Here we go again, another Hunger Games movie? Nope. This is the highly anticipated prequel to (now) a cult favourite franchise. It is set 64 years before Katniss' storyline and centred on one of the villains President Snow’s days of youth. Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) is assigned to mentor a tribute from district 12 Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler). Lucy’s charm captivates the audience of Panem while Snow has to battle his own demons.
Reviews are great. IndieWire writes: “‘The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes’ is the rare prequel that manages to stand on its own two feet and still feel taller than the other stories it’s ultimately meant to support.” Variety says the film “feels like a natural extension of the saga, balancing blood sport, endangered young love and a heightened level of political commentary”. But The Guardian wasn’t impressed, calling it “a pointless new iteration”. Our take: We love the franchise and cannot wait to catch this one. You can watch it in your nearest theatres.
The Railway Men: This is Yash Raj Films first foray into a web-series and it is set during the time of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy which led to the death of thousands of people. The show is about the employees of the Indian Railway who were very important in the rescue efforts after the tragedy. The show features R Madhavan, Kay Menon, Babil Khan and Divyenndu who play different roles as railway employees.
No reviews are out yet. Our take: We are very excited for this show. It has a good cast, and the Bhopal Gas tragedy is an underexplored story in modern television, despite being important. The show was released today on Netflix.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off: Cult movies fans, rejoice! The much awaited anime adaptation of ‘Scott Pilgrim’ is here. For those who are not familiar, ‘Scott Pilgrim’ is a coming of age comic book by Bryan Lee O’Malley where the titular character plays bass guitar and has to battle his new crush’s seven exes in order to date her. The comics were also made into a live action feature by Edgar Wright in 2010. Our fave bit: The eight-episode anime reunites the original movie cast—Michael Cera as Scott, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers, Kieran Culkin as Scott’s pal Wallace Wells and Chris Evans and Brandon Routh as two of the former flames.
Reviews are decent. Slant Magazine concludes: “[W]hile Scott Pilgrim Takes Off does offer a surprisingly fresh and funny take on its source material, the pieces don’t fit together as neatly as they should.” Our take: This is a great way to get introduced to the quirky world of Scott Pilgrim which explores awkwardness and absurdity of teenage life. The series dropped on Netflix yesterday.
Rustin: Based on the real-life icon Bayard Rustin—a lesser-known champion of Civil Rights who was a close adviser to Martin Luther King Jr, this film chronicles the events leading up to the iconic 1963 march in Washington—and thereby pays tribute to the man himself. Directed by George C Wolfe and starring Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin, the historical drama also features an all-star cast including Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Jeffrey Wright and Audra McDonald.
Reviews are great. New York Times is charmed by the lead actor Colman Domingo and has this to say: “It’s such a lucid, persuasive, outwardly effortless performance that you may not even notice he’s carrying this movie almost by himself.” Our take: We love that more and more champions of Civil Rights are getting their stories become mainstream and accessible. You can watch the movie on also on Netflix.
Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 story: Here’s a sweet crossover no one expected. Keanu Reeves—who is a Formula 1 fan—presents the story of Brawn—the racing team headed by Ross Brawn that was made from scratch as Honda let them off following the 2008 global economic crisis. The Brawn GP—driven by Jenson Button—won the 2009 Grand Prix race and five of the next six, changing the power dynamics of the sport.
Reviews are great as expected. The Guardian notes: “The actor’s lack of experience as an interrogator is apparent, but he gets his interviewees to open up.” AV Club concludes: “Brawn, like the best achievements in sports, offers a good showcase for why people are cool.” Our take: We love that the sports story has more heart than just persona. The four part docu series is on Disney+ Hotstar.
A Murder at the End of the World: Another week, another Agatha Christie-esque crime-drama. This one follows Darby Hart (Emma Corrin) who is dubbed as the “GenZ Sherlock Holmes” as they solved a murder and wrote a book about it. They are invited by a tech billionaire to a remote house in Iceland and bodies start piling up.
Reviews are good. USA Today praises the young leads—Emma Corrin and Harris Dickinson—and concludes “the formula of locking a bunch of characters in a house (or billion-dollar hotel) and setting a murderer loose on them remains a winning drama.” Mashable says: “If you're looking for a chilly mystery with which to weather out the winter, make it ‘A Murder at the End of the World’.” Our take: We never pass up on the opportunity of watching whodunnit stories and this one is no different. All seven episodes dropped on Disney+ Hotstar yesterday.
In Love and Deep Water: Another whodunnit mystery but this one is in Japanese. It is a multi-genre thrilling comedy written by famed Japanese writer Yuji Sakamoto who had previously won Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival for Hirokazu Kore-eda’s 2023 film Monster. The plot is set around a guest who mysteriously turns up floating dead in the pool of a luxurious cruise ship.
Our take: Japanese comedy is not everyone’s cup of tea but we are but we are intrigued by the plot. The film is available to stream on Netflix.
Here’s a new chapter…
The Crown Season 6: The Crown is the drama based on the British royalty—which even the royal family has confirmed to watch! The series is heading towards its final season and will cover the end of 1990s and early 2000s—including a recreation of Princess Diana’s fatal car crash in 1997 which shook the world. The new episodes dropped yesterday on Netflix. Fair warning: Many of the reviews are terrible. The Guardian offers an entertaining takedown of what it describes as “so bad it’s basically an out-of-body experience.”