Let us help with a selection of new movies and TV shows, plus something from the archives with a similar vibe.
SOMETHING WITH ARSE-KICKING SUPERHEROES
The anticipated second season of Batwoman will introduce a new actor to wear the cowl after Ruby Rose’s public break-up with the series. For many, the decision to cast Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder, the new Batwoman, is both momentous and overdue.
Leslie, a black bisexual woman, is an opportunity for the series to explore the specific experiences of someone from a marginalised background and a difficult upbringing in becoming a superhero. Stream it: Binge/Foxtel Now
Surly, unapologetic and packing a mighty punch, Jessica Jones blazed Netflix screens in the streamer’s early days of original content, as part of a series of Marvel “street-level” heroes. But what made Krysten Ritter’s reluctant superhero distinct that, especially the first season, the show was more about the trauma of rape and abuse than it was about kicking bad guys across a room. Stream it: Netflix
The directorial debut from actor Dave Franco, who’s helming from a screenplay he co-wrote with mumblecore king Joe Swanberg, The Rental is a romance-horror hybrid, a movie that melds the darkest aspects of our relationships with literal horrors.
It’s centred on four people who rent a house for a getaway and start to suspect they’re being watched. Stream it: Amazon Prime Video, from Friday, January 22
CABIN IN THE WOODS
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True horror fans have probably seen Cabin in the Woods half a dozen times since its release in 2012, but the it wasn’t a massive release so for many movie lovers, this is a gem still to be discovered.
A group of attractive teens head into the woods for a weekend of frivolity, sex and uninhibited behaviour at an isolated cabin – what could go wrong?
Zombies soon emerge and bloodcurdling screams puncture the air, but Drew Goddard’s dark comedy is not your average slasher, there are literally other layers going on. Cabin in the Woods is a clever spin on a well-worn genre. Stream it: Stan
SOMETHING ABOUT GREED
Paranoia, backroom deals and a potentially murderous plot in the world of high finance sounds a lot like all the other shows about the world of high finance. But for Grey’s Anatomy fans, this series has a particularly irresistible incentive, Patrick Dempsey.
The series is focused on an ambitious trader who thought he was the shoo-in for a promotion from his mentor. But then that job goes to someone – someone who is soon found dead. Intrigue ensues. Stream it: Binge/Foxtel Now
Starring Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield, the less flashy (than The Big Short) 99 Homes came out in the wake of the GFC, among the score of Hollywood projects seeking to probe the human greed and corrupt systems that led to such a bruising financial collapse.
Set in the years after American families were turfed out of their homes due to unscrupulous financial cowboys, the film tells the story of a young dad who, out of desperation, ends up working for the man who evicted them. It’s smart, insightful and heartbreaking. Stream it: SBS On Demand
SOMETHING WITH A CAT-AND-MOUSE GAME
In this Israeli psychological thriller, Alice is a 48-year-old filmmaker trying to break back into the business after raising her family. When she meets a screenwriter half her age, she becomes seduced by the femme fatale’s allure in a neo-noir series that promises, among other things, a Faustian bargain. Stream it: Apple TV+, from Friday, January 22
If there was one woman who knew how to seduce others to do her bidding, it’s Glenn Close’s Marquise de Merteuil in Stephen Frears’ adaptation of a classic 18th century French novel that was later adapted into Cruel Intentions.
Close’s noblewoman exercises power in the only way she knows how in a society that condemns her sexual desires, through the manipulation of others. Stream it: Binge/Foxtel Now
SOMETHING WITH A RAGS-TO-RICHES TALE
THE WHITE TIGER
Adapted from a best-selling book by Aravind Adiga, it stars Priyanka Chopra (who is also an executive producer) and relative newcomer Adarsh Gourav, the latter of whom stars as a young man who starts as a chauffeur to a wealthy family and eventually becomes highly successful. The journey will also look at the gaping chasm between India’s haves and have-nots. Stream it: Netflix, from Friday, January 22
The classic ’80s comedy starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy – in case you haven’t seen it – swaps two men in very different circumstances (a street hustler and a posh banker) in this screwball take on the Prince and the Pauper.
A hilarious revenge story, it showcases the comedic talents of two screen legends, even if it’s not quite the eviscerating take-down of capitalism and privilege. Stream it: iTunes/Google Play
STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS
The world of Star Trek tends to play in a sandbox with grand, morally upstanding bridge crew, the most important people in the Star Fleet doing extremely important things. But what about everyone else, the ones who do essential but unglamorous jobs like waste removal?
This animated series follows the plebs on the least important ship in the fleet as they juggle their work, ambitions and relationships. Stream it: Amazon Prime Video, Friday, January 22
A former TV horse with alcoholism and depression, a high-strung, high-powered cat and a human writer, all in animated form, doesn’t sound like it should work but it does – it really, really does.
The genius of Bojack Horseman isn’t that its animation and absurdist premise allows it to explore things live-action shows couldn’t – such as an underwater episode – it’s that it was willing to go there and everywhere, whether that was when it was goofy, morose, deep or the gazillion other emotional truths it hit on.
One of the boldest, strangest and smartest shows of the past decade. Stream it: Netflix
SOMETHING WITH A WESTERN VIBE
Obviously any revisit of the Walker, Texas Ranger series couldn’t really include Chuck Norris because as meme-worthy he is, he’s also a bit of a crazy person, though maybe not by 2021 standards. Still, Norris retains ownership over the concept so had to give his blessing, which he did to this reboot starring Jared Padalecki as a single dad who joins the rangers after the mysterious death of his wife. Stream it: Stan, from Friday, January 22
HELL OR HIGH WATER
There are bank robbers who do it for fun and then there are those who do it out of desperate necessity, like the brothers in Hell or High Water, played by Ben Foster and Chris Pine.
This is the movie that really showcased Pine’s dramatic chops beyond being a matinee idol with a dazzling smile. Swathed in shades of grey, the film captures the bleakness of West Texas where the choices vary between crappy and kinda-crappy. Stream it: Stan
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