We recommend: The best new movies and TV series
Merry Christmas: One of the most anticipated collaborations of the year is here—starring a mix of unusual suspects Katrina Kaif and Vijay Sehtupathy, along with small roles from Sanjay Kapoor, Vinay Pathak, Pratima Kazmi and Radhika Apte. Set in 1980s Mumbai and following a Hitchcockian tone, the story starts with Maria (Katrina Kaif) and her daughter Annie (Pari Maheshwari Sharma) meeting Albert (Vijay Sethupathi) for the first time on Christmas eve. The two strangers share a strange connection that unfolds into an even stranger night involving a homicide. FYI: The film is helmed by ‘Andhadhun’ director Sriram Raghavan.
The reviews are good, as expected. The Quint says “Merry Christmas isn’t nearly as nail-biting as Andhadhun but something about the simplicity of this thriller keeps you hooked.” Indian Express is in all praise: “Merry Christmas delivers what it promises — an aching mix of nostalgia and romance, intrigue and suspense — in a solid start to the new year.” Our take: Needless to say, we are intrigued and cannot wait to catch it in theatres.
Killer Soup: We are absolutely thrilled about this growing repertoire of Indian black comedies. ‘Killer Soup’ stars the fantastic Manoj Bajpayee and Konkona Sensharma as the leads, along with Nasser, Sayaji Shinde and Mohan Lal! The plot revolves around Swathi Shetty—an aspiring home chef, conspiring to replace her husband with her lover. FYI: It is directed by Abhishek Chaubey—best known for ‘Udta Punjab’ and ‘Ishqiya’.
The reviews are a little disappointing TBH. Indian Express wasn't impressed and called it a “bland broth” with “writing that’s mostly flat and occasionally convoluted.” Film Companion is much nicer and says: “The ride of Killer Soup has ups and downs, convolutions and indulgences, good scenes and flabby episodes.” Our take: The cast is enough of a reason for us to watch. You can stream it on Netflix.
Boy Swallows Universe: Here’s a sweet coming of age story based on the book of the same name by Trent Dalton. It is set in 1985 suburban Brisbane and tells the story through the eyes of teenager Eli Bell (Felix Cameron and then Zac Burgess) and his mute brother Gus (Lee Tiger Halley), who are raised by their birth father (Simon Baker) a recovering addict mum (Phoebe Tonkin), a heroin dealer for a stepfather (Travis Fimmel). The show uses magical realism to narrate the difficult upbringing of the kids.
The reviews are quite nice. The Guardian notes that the ending is “jarring” but “when it’s good, this series can be very, very good: a one-of-a-kind Australian period piece.” Slant Magazine writes: “As a piece of social commentary on working-class life in suburban Australia, Boy Swallows Universe is hair-raising and charming in equal measure.” Our take: We are definitely putting this one on our watchlist this weekend. The seven-episode show dropped on Netflix yesterday.
Captain Miller: For people looking for another periodic action drama, this Kollywood release might fit the bill. Starring Dhanush, this is a story set during the colonial era. Analeesan “Eesa” (Dhanush) is a former military officer in the British Army, but soon decides to become a revolutionary and fight against the colonial powers that be. Sounds a bit familiar, remember ‘RRR’?
The reviews mostly have positive things to say. The Hindu praises Dhanush’s performance and calls the movie “mostly-engaging”. The Indian Express says the film moves with “incredibly lucidity” and audiences will enjoy umpteen moments. Our take: We’re big fans of Dhanush and haven’t watched a good action drama in a while. The movie came out in theatres yesterday.
Criminal Record: This British show is one popper suspenseful crime-drama. It stars Peter Capaldi in the lead as Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Hegarty and Crush Jumbo as Detective Sergeant June Lenker. The duo work together on a new case that opens a closed investigation from years ago solved by Chief Inspector Hegarty and uncovers racials biases in the police department and the system.
The reviews are great! Variety calls it “captivating and deeply disturbing” and concludes that it is “a thrilling exploration of our preconceived notions, the human obsession with power and legacy and what we’re willing to do to cling to the narratives we’ve created about other people and the world around us.” The Guardian is in all praise of the leads saying: “Together, squaring off as adversaries, they are mesmerising.” Our take: We love a good story that highlights prejudices in the system and demands for justice. The best part: It is only eight hours long. Watch the show on Apple TV+.
Echo: Another year, another Marvel show release. This one is probably darker than other superheroes, much like ‘Daredevil’. We got introduced to Maya Lopez aka Echo (portrayed by Alaqua Cox) in the ‘Hawkeye’ series in which she is the Deaf commander of the Tracksuit Mafia but leaves them at the end. This 5-episode spinoff traces her childhood and her Native American heritage.
The reviews are promising. Deadline gave it a rave review: “Dark and bloody physically and psychologically, as well as action-filled, Echo is rooted in the near-numbing grief of pain, loss and betrayal, as well as the history of the Choctaw people.” Empire writes: “Though inconsistently paced and lacking in character development, Echo is still an interesting look at a pretty remarkable hero, with some thrilling fights.” Our take: Regardless of being a Marvel fan, the show brings two communities together that normally don't get the spotlight shown on them. And for that reason, we shall watch it. It dropped on Disney Hotstar on Wednesday.
Role Play: Here is an unexpected flick starring ‘The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco and British actor and director David Oyelowo who played Martin Luther King Jr in the 2014 critically acclaimed film ‘Selma’. The story revolves around the couple Emma and David who have two kids and have a peaceful life in the suburbs of New Jersey. The only fun they have is when they role play on their dates. But David discovers that his wife is a contract assassin. How will their life change after this revelation? Fair warning: The trailer reveals the whole plot.
The reviews kinda meh. New York Times says that the “story often stretches credulity” and that “‘Role Play’ merely spins its wheels.” Our take: We are intrigued by the casting choices and are excited for a ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’ like movie. It was released on Prime Video yesterday.
Here’s a new chapter…
Break Point Season 2: This is a docu-series featuring the world's top tennis players who talk us through the prep and pressures of the Grand Slam. This one has six episodes for six remarkable players—Taylor Fritz, Nick Kyrgios, Tommy Paul, Holger Rune, Ben Shelton, Frances Tiafoe and Alexander Zverev. You can catch it on Netflix.
Fresh off the big screen…
Killers of the Flower Moon: This Martin Scorsese collab with Leonardo DeCaprio and Robert De Niro has finally come to our home screens. The film is based on the true events concerning the brutal murders of members from Osage Nation—a group of Native Americans in 1920s Oklohoma who became rich overnight owing to oil fields in the region. Stream it on Apple TV+.