Monthly Archives: November 2022

Hammer Time: “Violent Night” movie review

Santa Claus comes to the rescue in ferociously entertaining home-invasion Christmas action-comedy

Violent Night
Starring David Harbour, Beverly D’Angelo, John Leguizamo & Leah Brady
Directed by Tommy Wirkola
Rated R

See It: In theaters Friday, Dec. 2

Here comes Santa Claus, pissed off and swinging a sledgehammer. In the inventively wicked, ferociously entertaining Violent Night, a world-weary St. Nick (David Harbour) comes to the aid of a New England family when a gang of ruthless mercenaries overtakes their home on Christmas Eve. They’re looking for millions in stashed loot, but the bad guys soon find something else—all their names on Santa’s naughty list.

This home-invasion action-comedy romp is a head-bashing, face-smashing holiday highball as Santa turns a Christmas tree topper, ice skates and candy canes into lethal weapons, then uses a tool shed sledgehammer to channel some of his murky past as a Viking plunderer, raider and warrior.

Harbour, best known for playing the sheriff in Stranger Things, has a ho-ho-ho hoot as the grizzled, tattooed Kris Kringle, who loves beer, misses his wife when he’s away and laments the greed, ingratitude and crass commercialization of the holiday. It’s enough to drive a saint to drink, which he does. (This Santa also has a muddy, bloody back story that may even connect him to a certain legendary Norse god.) And the Christmas magic that lets him zip up a chimney or endlessly pull presents from his bottomless bag? He admits that even he doesn’t quite understand it. The mojo just comes with the gig.

John Leguizamo (right) plays a bad guy on Santa’s naughty list.

Veteran actor John Leguizamo has some juicy, grinch-y glee as the hiss-ably villainous leader of the thieves. Beverly D’Angelo (from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and other flicks in the Vacation franchise) plays a flinty, foul-mouthed, filthy-rich matriarch. Young Leah Brady is as sweet as a homemade Christmas cookie as the little girl who really, truly believes in Santa Claus and Christmas—and becomes Santa’s little helper with a thing or two she’s learned from watching another Christmas movie, Home Alone.

Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola previously turned Nazis into zombies (Dead Snow) and made the fairytale couple Hansel and Gretel into swaggering witch hunters. So maybe it’s no surprise that he’d put a similarly gonzo, gutsy spin on Santa. It’s hyper-violent, caustically funny and a million mayhem-ic movie miles away from the genteel balms of It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf or A Christmas Story. But Violent Night certainly has its own kind of unfathomable Christmas magic; you just have to believe, and steer clear of that sledgehammer. If you miss it in theaters, you better not pout, and you better not cry—because it’s likely going to become a cable/streaming perennial, a ballsy antidote to the sugary overdose of other Christmas programming. So, ho, ho, holy sh*t—I’m a believer.

The Entertainment Forecast

Nov. 25 – Dec. 1

Top picks for TV, streaming, home entertainment & more!

Omari Hardwick & Marsai Martin star in ‘Fantasy Football.’

FRIDAY, Nov. 25
Fantasy Football
Family sports comedy film, set in a fictional world around the Atlanta Falcons, stars Marsai Martin as a young woman who can magically control the moves of her father (Omari Hardwick) on the gridiron. With Kelly Rowland (Paramount+)

Stepping into the Holidays
Mario Lopez stars as a former Broadway idol who returns to his hometown for Christmas after being fired as the host of a TV dance competition. Can he help the owner of the local dance studio (Jana Kramer) revive the burg’s annual holiday show? What do you think? (8 p.m., Lifetime).

The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Chris Pratt, Karen Gillan, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper and Dave Bautista reprise their movie roles in this merry Christmas adventure about the Guardians’ mission to make this Christmas an unforgettable holiday (Pratt) (Disney+).

Robbie the Reindeer
Animated special about a reindeer in training for the “reindeer games” to determine the coveted spots on Santa’s sleigh team (8 p.m., CBS).

Soul Train Awards
All aboard! This present-day awards event preserves the cultural legacy of the landmark 1970s series with appearances from some of the brightest stars in Black entertainment (8 p.m., BET, MTV2, VH1). 

SUNDAY, Nov. 27
Christmas Cooking Challenge
In tonight’s episode, hosts Ree Drummond and Eddie Jackson oversee talented cookie makers all trying their best to end up on Santa’s good list and go home with a $10,000 prize (8 p.m., Food Network).

A Christmas…Present
After multiple projects for the Hallmark network, Full (and Fuller) House star Candace Cameron Bure branches out as producer and star of this new holiday movie, on a new network, about a harried real estate agent who learns to value the reason for the season (Great American Family).

MONDAY, Nov. 28
The Great Christmas Light Fight
The search is on for season 10 and more homes with extravagant holiday lighting and over-the-top decorations (10 p.m., ABC).

Pitch Perfect: Bumper in Berlin
New installment of the PP franchise stars Adam Levin reprising his movie role as Bumper Allen, now venturing to Germany when one of his songs becomes a big hit there. With Sarah Hyland (Peacock).

Kids Baking Championship: All Star Holiday Homecoming
Hosts Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli welcome back four previous winners to show off their holiday-cheer kitchen skills (9 p.m., Food Network and Discovery+).

TUESDAY, Nov. 29
Reindeer in Here
New animated holiday original—following tonight’s 1964 classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer—is about a young reindeer and his friends who band together to save Christmas. Of course! (9 p.m., CBS).

Casey Anthony: Where the Truth Lies
True-crime lovers will love this: For the first time, Casey Anthony sits down to answer questions in this three-part limited-series event, sharing her side of the story about her culture-defining trial for killing her own child—and her subsequent acquittal—11 years ago (Peacock).

Live-action fantasy adventure series—based on the 1988 movie—features an international cast on an epic adventure set in a magical world with brownies, sorcerers, trolls and other mythical creatures—and a young girl destined to unite the realms, defeat an evil queen and bring light to the doom-y darkness (Disney+)

A criminal mediator from Chicago is forced to flee for his life and hide out in a small Australian coastal community while posing as the community’s new reverend. Starring Colin Donnell, PJ Byrne and Ed Oxenbould (Peacock).

New series about a sex and relationship “fixer” (Joyful Drake) who becomes the gatekeeper and problem solver for rich and famous clients who don’t want their between-the-sheets secrets airing out in public (ALLBLK).

Inside the Black Box
New season of the interview series spotlighting artists of color, from producers, directors and writers to musicians, as they reflect on how their complexions have impacted their journeys to success (Crackle).

Zion Morino and Savannah Lee Smith bring the glitter to ‘Gossip Girl.’

Gossip Girl
It’s back to school time tonight for season two of the rebooted series based on the novels of bestselling author Cicily von Giegzesar, about the juicy goings-on at an exclusive Manhattan academy (HBO Max).

Dolly Parton’s Magic Mountain Christmas
The country queen stars in this new holiday special—as herself, putting together a Christmas TV special about the Tennessee “mountain magic” at her theme park, Dollywood. With guest appearances by Willie Nelson, Jimmy Fallon, Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus and more (8 p.m., NBC).

Read all about it in Totally Wired (Thames and Hudson)—author Paul Gorman’s epic account of how once-thriving “music journalism” became a force through magazines like Rolling Stone, Creem, Crawdaddy, Melody Maker and a plethora of smaller, niche ‘zines), giving rise to a pop-cultural explosion of writers, photographers and print outlets. 

How powerful is the influence of entertainment? Pretty potent, according to Entertainment Nation (Smithsonian), an engrossing dive into the wide-ranging effects of movies, TV, music and spectator sports. The handsome volume includes 225 photos of artifacts from the Smithsonian’s pop culture collection, including Frank Sinatra‘s bowtie, Cyndi Lauper‘s dress and a costume from The Handmaid’s Tale.

Prepare to enter a suburban dystopia in Don’t Worry Darling (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment), a psychological thriller about a young housewife (Florence Pugh) who comes to realize something is seriously wrong with the idealized life she’s made with her husband (Harry Styles). Maybe the creepy CEO of her hubs’ company (Chris Pine) has something to do with it….


Hey, hey, it’s the Monkees! The new Headquarters: Super Deluxe Edition (Rhino) features four CDs and a 7” vinyl. It’s a treasure trove of previously unreleased tracks, early demos, alternative takes and remixes, which provide a soundtrack for the made-for-TV ensemble’s struggle for creative control of their music with their music supervisor, Don Kirschner—and a snapshot of the group’s enthusiastic emergence as a “real band.”

Fine Young Cannibals: “Bones and All” review

They’re just a couple of kids in love…who love eating other people

Bones and All
Starring Taylor Russell & Timothèe Chalamet
Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Rated R

See it: In theaters Wednesday, Nov. 11

Lee and Maren seem like a lot of young couples. They drive around, listen to music, have some tiffs with their parents. And when they grab a bite, well, it’s likely not from Chic-fil-A.  

You see, they’re cannibals. Yes, they eat people.

On one level, this insanely, savagely original young-love story is about a couple of outsiders in a harsh world that doesn’t understand or accept them. We can all relate to that, right?

What sets Maren and Lee apart, though, is the compulsion—the craving—they have for human flesh. It’s an acquired taste, we learn, one that’s rooted in both heredity and environment. They find out they’re not alone; they’re part of a gritty, grimy subset of other cannibals. They’re all outcasts, society rejects who refer to each other as “eaters.” The most, ahem, committed of eaters talk of going all in, dining on “bones and all.”

And Lee and Maren feel desperately fated, destined for a life that makes their road a rough, hardscrabble—and often horrific—one.

It’s a weird movie, crazily and often conversely beautiful and romantic, about two 1980s kids living outside the norms of convention—way outside. There’s blood and guts, as you might imagine, but that’s only one element of the bigger story, about a pair of ruggedly attractive castaways wrestling with who they are, and why. And Lee and Maren aren’t particularly happy about what they’re driven to do. But the rush it gives them—like a drug—is a hard habit to kick.

Taylor Russell (who played Judy Robinson in the Netflix reboot of the space sci-fi series Lost in Space) is Maren, abandoned by her father (Andre Holland) after she turns 18. On a quest to learn more about her family, particularly the mother she never knew, she hooks up with a lanky drifter (Timothèe Chalamet), and off they go in search of answers…and their next meal.  

The movie reunites Chalamet—who’s received acclaim (and awards nominations) for his work in Lady Bird, Little Women and Dune—with Italian filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, who directed him inCall Me by Your Name. Guadagnino is a “painterly” director, known for his lush visuals, and the movie even begins with a series of oil renderings depicting serene pastoral scenes that we’ll later see in the film. They “paint” the way for Lee and Maren’s journey, seeking some peace in their unsettled—and unsettling—lives, like the tranquility in those picture-perfect paintings. But they’ll always be outsiders looking in, hunted and haunted.

Rebels on a road trip—if James Dean had a copious amount of blood soaked into his white T-shirt, plus a quirk of dining on carnival workers in an Iowa cornfield, well, he might have fit right into this cannibal club.

It’s a wild ride, for sure. Mark Rylance (below right) is an older, creepy cannibal who teaches Maren how to use her nose to sniff out fresh food. Michael Stuhlbarg and David Gordon Green play a pair of odd-couple “eater” buddies. Chloë Sevigny has a shocker of a scene, as a patient in a mental institution.

Maren, especially, contemplates the larger complexities and the implications of feeding her eating habit. Even cows in a slaughterhouse, she notes, have family, and maybe even friends. She advocates no-kill meals, dining on people who have already died. It may sound like a small distinction, but hey, some cannibals have principles.

The movie doesn’t really have a message, as such. But its depiction of cannibalism as addiction, as fate, as a consumptive lifestyle “appetite” alongside other hungers, like sex, lust and love…well, let’s just say I’ll never hear “Lick It Up” the same way again after watching the way that rockin’ KISS hit animates Lee.

Riding a wave of film-festival praise, Bones and All gnaws its way into theaters the day before Thanksgiving. It’s probably not exactly what most people have in mind for a celebratory family feast. But if you’ve got an appetite for the unusual, the unsettling, and for a gutsy spin on being young, angst-ridden, adrift in America and in love, well, lick it up.

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Whodunnit? “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” movie review

Daniel Craig’s Southern-fried detective returns for another delightfully fun romp

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Starring Daniel Craig, Janelle Monet & Edward Norton
Directed by Rian Johnson

See it: In theaters Nov. 23, on Netflix Dec. 23

Daniel Craig’s master detective, Benoit Blanc, returns to the screen in this frisky, twisty, turn-y followup to the 2019 whodunnit hit. It’s murder mystery time again, as a new group of characters assembles on a zillionaire’s posh private Greek island for a weekend retreat of shocks and surprises—and Benoit is there to sort out the dishy, devilishly clever details when things take a deadly detour.

A multi-layered, whiz-bang gizmo of a movie, this one stars Ed Norton, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Janelle Monae, Outer BanksMadelyn Cline, and Game of ThronesJessica Henwick. And of course, everyone becomes a suspect—well, almost everyone, except the victim.

Or the victims.

Director Rian Johnson returns behind the camera, engineering another delightfully fun, deliciously detailed romp as Blanc pieces together a mosaic of puzzling clues to a real murder mystery inside a fake one. Or is it a fake one, inside a real one? Maybe it’s both. Don’t worry: You’ll eventually be led to the truth, motives will be revealed, character flaws become exposed, and Benoit (pronounced Ben-wah) puts it all together. There’s even a McGuffin, a red herring, to distract and misdirect, and a hefty dose of social satire, skewering mega-rich one percenters, clueless celebrities, loony megalomaniacs, macho gun clods and self-serving politicians.

It all owes a big nod, sure, to Agatha Christie, the queen of the murder mystery who developed the time-honored template for the format in her many novels. But this is world-building a modern world away from the Brit-centric manners of Christie’s classics. Glass Onion glitters with snappy celebrity cameos by Ethan Hawke, Hugh Grant and Serena Williams. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (the star of one of director Johnson’s other films, Looper) isn’t seen, but he’s heard—his voice is the booming, recurring “dong” of a chiming clock. Jeremy Renner might not have his own brand of hot sauce, and Jared Leto’s “hard kombucha” might not be a real thing, but here, they’re part of the movie’s rich tapestry of pop-culture in-jokes. CNN’s Anderson Cooper also gets named-checked; supposedly, he throws some wild, way-out parties.  

Craig, recently retired from playing James Bond in the latest chapters of the super-spy franchise, settles into his new role—as the “world’s greatest detective”—with smooth, comedic ease, flexing hammy chops of loquacious, Southern-fried, cigar-smoking hokum that were never part of his arsenal as OO7. It’s easy to imagine a wider Knives Out world, more movies revolving around the dapper Blanc, who lives for the game, the hunt, the thrill of a mystery just begging to be solved. Soaking in a bathtub, holed up in his COVID bubble, playing online games with Angela Lansbury, Natasha Lyonne and Stephen Sondheim, just doesn’t cut it for Benoit. He longs to be out there, doing his thing, connecting the dots, cracking crimes. Hopefully he’ll get to do even more of it.

And what do a cocktail napkin, the world’s most iconic painting, rhinoceros-horn boner pills, Google alerts, sweatshop sweatpants, a Bach fugue, old-school fax machines and a glittering crystal of pure, clean energy have to do with it all? Look into the layers of this Glass Onion, as the Beatles song instructs, and oh, yeah—what was complex becomes clear, and you might find what was always there, hiding in plain sight.

The Truth is Out There: ‘She Said’ Movie Review

How two crusading reporters brought down a grotesque Hollywood Goliath

Reporters Megan Twohey (Carey Mulligan) and Jodi Kantor (Zoe Kazan) collaborate on a New York Times blockbuster story in ‘She Said.’

She Said
Starring Carey Mulligan & Zoe Kazan
Directed by Maria Schrader
Rated R

See it: In theaters Nov. 18

A pair of New York Times reporters digs into a bombshell story of sexual assault in this intimate and powerful drama about the downfall of Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor, the two real-life journalists who doggedly pursue the rumors of Weinstein’s “problematic behavior” that lead them into a toxic swamp of wide-ranging, systemic misconduct.

“The wrongdoing in Hollywood,” says Kantor, “is overwhelming.”

Basing her film on the book Twohey and Kantor later wrote, German director Maria Schneider (who won an Emmy for the Netflix series Unorthodox) bores down into the intense investigative legwork—the nuts and bolts of how the newspaper approached such an explosive story. Weinstein, the head of the film company Miramax, became Hollywood kryptonite after Twohey and Kantor’s expose ushered in a chorus of more than 80 women to raise their voices in allegations against him, leading to his eventual conviction as a sex offender. Although the list of his victims included dozens of well-known actresses, plus assistants and former employees, the movie focuses on a just a handful (including Ashley Judd, who plays herself) telling the reporters their wrenching experiences.

It’s a serious story about a sordid affair, and it’s galvanized by the gravity of its two leads. Mulligan, the British Oscar nominee who dealt a previous blow to caustic masculinity in Promising Young Woman, brings emotional heft to her role as Twohey, balancing the rigors and stress of her job with her responsibilities as a new mom. Kazan, granddaughter of acclaimed director Elia Kazan, is an Emmy winner also playing another working mother. Both Twohey and Kantor have young daughters, and the film suggests the two hard-working reporters aren’t just chasing down leads, tracking decades of non-disclosure agreements and million-dollar settlements, glued to their iPhones talking to sources, and burning the midnight oil for a story. They’re making the world safer for a younger generation of women.

Kantor, Twohey and editors (Roy Tolan and Patricia Clarkson) prepare their bombshell story for print.

Patricia Clarkson plays their steely, seasoned, sure-handed editor, Rebecca Corbett. Andre Braugher is Dean Baquet, the Times’ managing editor, who’s dealt with Weinstein before—and doesn’t take any of his grandstanding b.s.

This saga of fiercely dedicated female empowerment is a solid journalistic “procedural” about the vital role of the press to find and present the truth. But it doesn’t sensationalize; we only get a brief glimpse of Weinstein (played by Boardwalk Empire’s Mike Houston) late in the film. But She Said draws a through-line, connecting the monstrous acts of the movie honcho to a much more pervasive network of abuse, allegations, deniers and enablers. Remember Bill O’Reilly at Fox News, and the 26 women who accused Donald Trump of kissing, groping or raping them?

The week of the movie’s release, Weinstein is facing even more charges, released from prison to stand trial in Los Angeles.

An important film with an impactful message, She Said spotlights how the journalistic sling of two women helped bring down a Hollywood Goliath. But it shows that Weinstein is only the ugly, exposed tip of a much bigger iceberg, one that had been submerged far too long. “If this can happen to Hollywood actresses, who else can it happen to?” asks Kantor rhetorically.

Who else, indeed? She Said says it could be anyone, anywhere, anytime, and reminds us that fighting sexual abuse is an ongoing battle—for everyone.  

The Entertainment Forecast

Nov. 18 – 24

Top picks for TV, streaming, music, home entertainment & more!

An Allison Janney wedding, a Mickey Mouse tale & Elton John’s Dodger Stadium reunion

FRIDAY, Nov. 18
The People We Hate at the Wedding
Skeletons some tumbling out of the comedy closet (above) when two American siblings (Kristen Bell and Ben Platt) agree to accompany their mother (Allison Janney) to attend the wedding of their estranged, wealthy half-sister (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) in the English countryside (Prime).

Jason (Aquaman) Momoa, Kyle Chandler and Chris O’Dowd star in this surreal new network movie, about a little girl (Marlow Barkley) who follows a secret map into a world of dreams…and nightmares (Netflix).

Mickey: The Story of a Mouse
The entertainment world’s most famous rodent is having a birthday (his 100th!) and this new documentary examine the creation and ongoing cultural relevance of Walt Disney’s most iconic and enduring creation (Disney+).

Santa Bootcamp
The legendary Rita Moreno (West Side Story) stars in this fanciful tale as the drill sergeant in charge of a young event planner’s search for the perfect Santa. With Emily Kinney and Ed Mancini (8 p.m., Lifetime).

SUNDAY, Nov. 20
2022 American Music Awards
The world’s biggest fan-voted awards event returns to honor the top achievements in rap, rock, R&B, country music and more in this live, star-studded event from Los Angeles and hosted by comedian Wayne Brady (8 p.m., ABC).

Elton John: Farewell From Dodger Stadium
Get your crocodile rockin’ for this hit-packed concert film, about the British rock superstar’s triumphant return to the venue that launched his career almost half a century ago (Disney+).

MONDAY, Nov. 21
Celebration of Angela Lansbury
Programming tribute to the late, great, beloved actress includes a full day and night of her films, including National Velvet, The Three Musketeers, The Manchurian Candidate, Sweeney Todd and Gaslight (TCM).

TUESDAY, Nov. 22
Welcome to Chippendale’s
Kamal Nanjinai stars in this new true-tale series as an Indian immigrant who becomes the unlikely founder of the world’s most famous male-stripping empire—and who let nothing stand in his way of success (Hulu).

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On
Documentary chronicles the remarkable story of indigenous singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie, who rose to prominence in the folk scene of New York’s Greenwich Village in the 1960s, blazing her path to becoming an Oscar-winning performer, social activist and artist (9 p.m., PBS).

Good Night Oppy
Watch this and look to the skies: This inspirational true story follows Opportunity, a rover nicknamed “Oppy” that was sent to Mars for a 90-day mission but ended up surviving for 15 years, forging a remarkable bond with its human “team” millions of miles away (Prime Video).

King Tut: Allies and Enemies
Timed with the 100th anniversary of the opening of King Tut’s tomb, this new doc explores the many mysteries that swirled in its wake of the discovery mania about Egypt’s “Boy King” (8 p.m., PBS).

Baking All the Way
An accomplished Chicago pastry chef (Cory Lee) heads to a small town’s famous bakery to complete her Christmas cookbook. But the bakery’s charming owner (Yannick Bisson) isn’t so welcoming when it comes to sharing his recipe secrets (8 p.m., Lifetime).

Justin Hartley stars in ‘The Noel Diary.’

The Noel Diary
Justin Hartley (of This is Us fame) stars in this heart-tugging holiday film as an author who takes a Christmas trip home to settle his deceased mother’s estate, discovering in the process a diary that may hold secrets to his past (Netflix).

Criminal Minds: Evolution
An elite team of profilers is back on the case tracking twisted psychopaths in this new spinoff of the popular procedural, starring franchise all-stars Joe Mantagna, Kirsten Vangsness, Aisha Tyler and Paget Brewster (Paramount+).


Everybody loves Betty White…even kids! But White’s grownup fans especially will dig Betty White: Collector’s Edition, the new Little Golden Book bio memorializing the late Mary Tyler Moore and Golden Girls actress, animal-advocacy crusader and TV pioneer, who passed away Dec. 31, 2021.


The enduring pop career of the late, great Olivia Newton-John is celebrated in a deluxe remastered re-release of her double-platinum album Olivia Newton John’s Greatest Hits. The new two-color vinyl collectors’ edition, available exclusively at Target, features 20 tracks, including her smashes “Let Me Be There,” “I Honestly Love You,” “Please Mister Please” and “Come On Over.”

The career-spanning, 23-track Dolly Parton—Diamonds and Rhinestones: The Greatest Hits Collection draws from the decades, as well as various record labels for which Parton recorded. Songs include performances with Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette, soundtrack tunes from her films 9 to 5, Rhinestone and Dumplin’, and “When Life is Good Again,” her 2020 musical message of hope during the dark days of COVID.

Get your “Purple Haze” on with Jimi Hendrix Experience: Los Angeles Forum April 26, 1969, a recently released album featuring live remastered recordings that capture the guitar legend and his band at the height of their fame (and their flame) during a tour stop in Los Angeles. The release is timed just ahead of what would have been Hendrix’s 80th birthday on Nov. 27.

The Entertainment Forecast

Nov. 11 – Nov. 17

Top picks for TV, home entertainment releases & more!

James Cordon is a ‘Mammal,’ Sly Stallone’s a mobster & Martha’s in the kitchen

James Corden stars in Mammals

FRIDAY, Nov. 11
James Cordon, Sally Hawkins, Henry Lloyd-Hughes and Melia Kreiling star in this six-episode relationship comedy with a whodunnit twist (Prime Video).

Circuit Breakers
Futuristic family-friendly anthology series tackles kid-relatable issues through a sci-fi lens, which reveals that things are not always as they seem, often leading the characters into chaos (Apple TV+).

Play-Doh Squished
Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland hosts this new competition based the hit holiday special of last year, in which celebrity judges oversee inventive creations made with the iconic kids’ crafting compound (Amazon Freevee).

Wanna see some real-life TV actors up close? Then head to the annual Days of Our Lives fan event at Xbox Plaza in Los Angeles, where on Nov. 12 dozens of stars from the long-running daytime soap will be on hand to meet their admirers.

Reindeer Games Homecoming
The sparks fly at an annual Vermont fundraising event when a bookish biology teacher (Sarah Drew) meets a fading Hollywood star (Justin Bruening) who happens to be her old crush! (8 p.m., Lifetime).

Sylvester Stallone plays a Midwest mobster in Tulsa King.

SUNDAY, Nov. 13
Tulsa King
Sylvester Stallone—yes, of Rocky and Rambo fame—comes to the “smaller screen” as a New York mobster sent to run Midwest operations in this new streaming series premiering tonight following an all-new episode of Yellowstone (Paramount+).

Real Life Nightmare
Former Cold Case investigator Paul Holes joins season four of this series about longstanding unsolved mysteries, including airplane disappearances, murders and kidnappings (9 p.m., HLN).

Celebrity Wheel of Fortune
Comedians Paul Scheer and Luenell join actress Mary Lynn Rajskub taking spins for charity with host Pat Sajak (9 p.m., ABC).

Get ready to rock, on a big scale. Actress Rita Ora and actor-director Taika Waititi host this global music awards event live from Dusseldoft, Germany (MTV).

Monday, Nov. 14
Martha Cooks
Join Martha Stewart in this new series from her farmhouse kitchen in Bedford, N.Y., as she shares and prepares recipes (and reveals her three favorite cookies of all time). (Roku Channel).

TUESDAY, Nov. 15
Once Upon a Time in Londongrad
Craving a deep-dish dive into the dark international cloak-and-dagger world? This documentary series explores a series of mysterious deaths in the U.K., with alleged connections to Russia, stretching across two decades (Peacock).

Happy Birthday, Martin Scorsese
What does the famed director (Raging Bull, Casino, Goodfellas), one of the world’s most acclaimed filmmakers, want for his 80th, on Nov. 17? How about for you to see four of his favorite films, and hear how they influenced him? You got it, Marty! (begins 8 p.m., TCM).

Beat Bobby Flay: Holiday Throwdown
Get in the food mood for the most wonderful time of the year with this new series in which the celebrity chef competes against other Food Network personalities (9 p.m., Food Network).

Florence Pugh (with Kila Cassidy) stars in The Wonder.

The Wonder
Florence Pugh stars in this psychological thriller, set in 1800s Ireland, about a nurse called in to observe a little girl who may be the living manifestation of miracle…or perhaps something more ominous (Netflix).

Master of Light
Compelling documentary about a classical painter who learned his craft while incarcerated in federal prison on narcotics charges, now hoping to break into the ranks of non-white artists and heal wounds from his past (8:30 p.m., HBO).

Fleishman is in Trouble
Jesse Eisenberg and Claire Danes star in this miniseries, based on a 2019 novel, about the downfall of a couple’s marriage, as narrated by his college friend (Lizzy Caplan) (Hulu).


The trippy Three Thousand Years of Longing (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) stars Idris Elba as a genie-like Djinn who grants three wishes to a skeptical academic (Tilda Swinton) in exchange for his freedom. But one of her wishes surprises them both!

The legendary, shape-shifting glam rocker David Bowie is the subject of Moonage Daydream (Neon Home Entertainment), a cinematic documentary that explores his life, career and spiritual evolution—and features rare performances of “The Jean Jeanie,” “Heroes,” “Changes,” “Modern Love,” “Let’s Dance” and more.

Horror fans will freak (in a good way!) for Pearl (Lionsgate Home Entertainment), the bloody backstory to a killer character who made her debut in the acclaimed slasher film X. Starring Mia Goth.

Hallelujah! The praise-worthy 10-CD collection Amazing Grace: Country Stars Sing Songs of Faith and Hope (Time Life) includes hits and deep tracks from Loretta Lynn, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Dolly Parton and many, many more…plus a 36-page booklet with photos and liner notes, two bonus DVDs of Opry Gospel Classics, interviews with performers and other bonus content.

Back in Black

‘The Black Panther’ find its superhero footing after Chadwick Boseman

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Starring Letita Wright, Winston Duke, Lupita Nyong’o & Angela Bassett
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Rated PG-13

Angela Bassett reprises her role as Queen Mother Ramonda.

See it: In theaters Friday, Nov. 11

The specter of Chadwick Boseman looms large over this highly anticipated superhero sequel to the 2018 blockbuster.

Boseman, who starred in Black Panther as the first Black comic-book character to get a Marvel movie, died in 2020 of colon cancer. But his legacy endures, in more ways than one.

Wakanda Forever opens with the funeral of his character, the beloved King T’Challa, who became the crusading, wrong-righting Black Panther, the champion of his people, donning a sleek black bodysuit super-powered by a rare metal called vibranium.

T’Challa’s death is an emotional, gut-punch wallop to his mother, Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), and his scientist sister, Princess Shuri (Letita Wright). It also creates a power vacuum in the isolated kingdom, which has become a global superpower. The rest of the world wants what it’s got—the unique metal that’s made Wakanda the most technologically advanced place on the planet. Just think what other countries—and their military programs—could do with the wide-ranging wonders of vibranium.

And without the Black Panther to protect it, how can Wakanda defend itself?

That’s a question the movie takes nearly three hours to answer, as it constantly reminds us that Boseman’s T’Challa isn’t around anymore. The arrival of a strange visitor (Tenoch Huerta), a “merman” mutant who can zip through the air like a bug and live underwater like a fish, poses a new, existential threat: What it vibranium exists elsewhere, other powers use it for less-than-noble purposes, and Wakanda gets blamed for it?

Can the women of Wakanda rise to the challenge? Oh, yeah.

Director Ryan Coogler, who also wrote the story, returns to his role after the 2018 film, which was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture (losing, if you’re keeping score, to Green Book). Coogler seems to understand that the absence of Boseman, the franchise star, requires something else to fill the void, something big and substantial. And he pours it on.

Wakanda Forever is a spectacle, for sure, a sprawling, visually sumptuous, epic-sized moviescape itself superpowered with high-tech FX and eye-popping gee-whizzery. It’s big and bulky and sometimes beautiful, almost enough for two full movies packed into one. It has a major theme of Black female empowerment, of course, but also builds on the importance of global allies, the evils of colonization and the interface between ancient tradition, primal ritual and modern invention. Wakanda’s fierce female warriors still throw spears, but they also fly around in an arsenal of battlecraft, and inside armored suits.

The movie melds African culture, Pacific lore and Black experience into a tapestry of wide-ranging action and adventure.

It’s a good time to be “young, gifted and Black,” says Riri, a young college-student genius (Dominique Thorne) who becomes a new central character.     

You’ll plunge underneath the ocean to see the amazing sights of a vast aqua kingdom (it reminded me a bit of the fabulous wonder world touted in comic books advertising Sea Monkeys). There’s a warrior king with wings on his feet, and an aqua army riding around on whales—and wait until you see them swarm up the sides of a battleship and over it like ants on an anthill. The costumes are over-the-top fantabulous. A beloved character dies. And I won’t spoil it, but there’s at least one other golly-whopper of a surprise, too.

Key players from the original cast return: Martin Freeman as Wakanda’s CIA ally; Winston Duke as the mountainous warrior leader M’Baku; Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, T’Challa’s former lover, now running a Wakanda “outreach” program in Haiti.

But the central character of this tale remains the one played by Boseman, who may not be around anymore, but his influence casts a long, deep shadow. The movie has the muscle and heft of a comic-book blockbuster, but it also reflects profoundly on the human resonance of ancestry, remembering and moving on.

Can the Black Panther move on without Boseman, and without T’Challa? You’ll have to watch—all two hours and 45 minutes—to find out. But “forever” is in the title for a reason (and it’s not just how long the movie feels). And Wakanda Forever suggests that the kingdom, and the franchise, are in good hands.

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The Entertainment Forecast

Nov. 4 – Nov. 10

Top picks for TV, new books & just-released music & more!

Harry Styles is cop, George Lopez returns & Say Hey, It’s Willie Mays!

Harry Styles and Emma Corman star in a tale of forbidden love.

FRIDAY, Nov. 4
My Policeman
Singer-actor Harry Styles stars as a cop who undertakes an emotional journey in this story of forbidden love and changing social norms set in 1950s Britain. With Emma Corrin and David Dawson (Prime Video).

Lopez Vs. Lopez
George Lopez returns to TV in this new working-class inter-generational comedy costarring his daughter, Mayan Lopez (NBC).

Merry Swissmas
Jodi Sweetin (from TV’s Fuller House and its sequel) stars in this romance about romance at an inn in Switzerland, which kicks off the Lifetime’s network of Christmas-themed flicks (8 p.m., Lifetime).

SUNDAY, Nov. 6
Dangerous Liasons
New “prelude” to the 18th century literary classic focuses on the origins of the iconic characters, the Marquise de Merteuil (Nicholas Denton) and the Vicomte de Valmont (Alice Englert) meeting as passionate lovers in Paris on the eve of the French Revolution (Starz streaming service).

MONDAY, Nov. 7
One Delicious Christmas
Real-life celebrity chef Bobby Flay stars in this streaming holiday movie about a stressed Vermont restaurant and inn owner (Vanessa Marano) preparing for a big Christmas Eve dinner (Discover+).

Hey, Willie Mays!
Sports doc examines the career and the legacy of the Baseball Hall of Famer, whose achievements on the diamond during the era of Civil Rights helped break through the game’s longstanding color barriers (9 p.m., HBO).

CMA Awards
Country hitmaker Luke Bryan—a two-time CMA Entertainer of the Year—and football superstar Peyton Manning host this 59th annual awarding of the year’s top tunes, performers and collaborations (8 p.m., ABC).

The English
Emily Blunt stars in this new drama series as an aristocratic British woman on the American frontier, whose life intertwines with a Pawnee ex-U.S. Calvary scout (Chaske Spencer) on a violent landscape built of dreams, destiny and blood (Prime Video).


Actor Luke Evans has appeared in a slate of films, including Clash of the Titans, Dracula Unchained, The Hobbit and Beauty and the Beast. But did you know he was a singer? Check out his impressive debut album, A Song for You, with a slate of classics, easy listening tunes and Christmas chestnuts that features a duet with Nicole Kidman, his costar when they costarred in the hit Hulu series Nine Perfect Strangers.


Attention, Royals fans. Put together a meal fit for a king with Christmas at the Palace (Wheldon Owen), a crown-worthy cookbook for 50 festive recipes, gorgeously posed in charming Christmas settings. Author Carolyn Robb certainly knows her stuff: She spent over a decade in Kensington Palace as a royal chef, where the dining room was peopled by Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Prince William and Prince Harry.

The End of the World (As We Know It)

Semi-autobiographical spin on childhood at the dawn of the 1980s has sobering messages about life

Banks Repeta with Anthony Hopkins in ‘Armageddon Time.’

Armageddon Time
Starring Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins, Banks Repeta & Jeremy Strong
Directed by James Gray
Rated R

See it in theaters Nov. 4

From the New Testament of the Bible, the term “Armageddon” entered the wider lexicon to mean an epic battle to end all battles, a final clash between forces of good and evil.

It’s a metaphor for the turmoil of life in James Gray’s largely autobiographical coming-of-age portrait, which centers on an 11-year-old Jewish boy named Paul (Banks Repeta) in the New York City borough of Queens, and the ups and downs of his friendship with a Black classmate (Jaylin Webb) in 1980.

The two lads get in some trouble (toking on a joint in the bathroom) and are separated when Paul’s parents (Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway) send him off to a posh private school. But Paul has little interest in becoming someone else’s definition of successful. His kindly grandfather (Anthony Hopkins) encourages his dreams of drawing and becoming a famous artist.

Johnny has dreams, too. He wants to be an astronaut, like his Apollo space heroes. And despite his friendship with Paul, he knows they are from two different worlds, that some dreams will only take you so far, and some flight paths are unchangeable. Like the model rocket Paul launches in the park with his grandfather, life goes where it goes. It goes up, it comes down. It can be beautiful, exciting, thrilling—or it can misfire, or blow up, or crash, becoming a disaster. It’s not equal, it’s certainly not fair, but that’s the way it is.

Armageddon Time is set against the backdrop of Ronald Reagan’s election as U.S. president, and the hawkish prospect he represented for increased militarism in a fight against “communism.” Paul’s mother fears he’ll push America into global conflict, a nuclear Armageddon.

As Paul navigates this brief but formative period, he learns some valuable lessons about racism, antisemitism and how life isn’t always a delicious dinnertime dumpling. His grandfather, a Ukrainian Jew who fled the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Europe, tells him to stand up to bullies, to keep pushing back against evil and darkness, and to be a mensch, a person of integrity and honor.

His mother loves him, but thinks he’s “slow,” in need of remedial education. His blue-collar father thrashes him with his belt for misbehaving and worries he’ll never amount to anything. Both parents openly disapprove of his Black friend.

Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong play the parents.

Director Gray (whose previous films include the Brad Pitt space saga Ad Astra and the crime thrillers We Own the Night and The Yards) creates an effective, evocative sense of a specific time and place, the rush of childhood, the complicated dynamics of family and a depiction of adolescence on the uncertain threshold of adulthood. He especially draws out memorable performances from his two young central characters, the conduits for his story’s moods of youthful adventure, yearning, frustration and ache. Johnny turns Paul on to the happenin’ hip-hop of Harlem’s Sugar Hill Gang and “Rapper’s Delight.” Paul goes to the movies with his family to watch Goldie Hawn (a Jewish girl) in Private Benjamin. The dawn of the computer age sparks Paul’s imagination, in more ways than one. They make each other laugh, they run through the park, they skip a school field day to hang out and ride the subway.

It reminded me a bit of Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson’s gloriously golden retro ode to growing up and the rush of young love in California in the 1970s. But Armageddon Time is a bit darker than that, several shades more sobering, even a dollop depressing in its depiction of the creeping threats to Paul and Johnny’s friendship, in a world tainted by hatred and fear, and the reality that some dreams can never blast off into the bright, blue sky.

And as a nod to what’s coming, for Paul and America, the movie introduces the specter of Donald Trump, in characters representing his father, Fred Trump (John Diehl) and sister, Maryanne (Jessica Chastain).

Armageddon time may, it suggests, be any time. As Paul’s grandfather tells him, never give up, stand tall and keep fighting the “bastards.” There’ll always be bastards, the battle didn’t end in 1980, or after the Holocaust, and it sure doesn’t look like it’s over now.

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