Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari draws on his own life for inspiration in his Netflix original comedy Master of None: Season 1. His character, a first generation Indian-American named Dev, is a 30-year-old actor of immigrant parents (played by Ansari’s real-life parents) dealing with relationships, a struggling career, and a lack of direction in the bustle of New York City.
Hitfix TV critic Alan Sepinwall calls it “one of the best shows on TV…. What defines Dev isn’t that he spends a lot of time on movie sets, and gets to hang out with Busta Rhymes at a Knicks game, but that he keeps reminding himself to be curious about people and things well outside of his comfort zone.”
10 episodes now available.
It’s Amazon Pilot Season again: pilot episodes to six new shows for adults and six new kid shows. As with previous shows, you don’t need an Amazon Prime account to see these shows and vote on what you would like to see go to series. Here are the grown-up programs:
- Z stars Christina Ricci as Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald in a biographical series that begins just before she met F. Scott Fitzgerald. Add to watchlist.
- One Mississippi is a comedy loosely inspired by the life of comedian Tig Notaro, who stars as herself. Add to watchlist.
- Edge is a violent western from Shane Black and Fred Dekker starring Max Martini, Ryan Kwanten, and Yvonne Strahovski. Add to watchlist.
- Good Girls Revolt, set in 1969, is a fictional drama inspired by the women employees of Newsweek who sued for sexual discrimination. Add to watchlist.
- Highton, set largely in the mind of an imaginative 19-year-old boy, is from Little Miss Sunshine directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Bob Nelson (Nebraska). Add to watchlist.
- Patriot is a satirical thriller about a psychotic government agent, his congressman brother, and his father, who runs the Department of Intelligence. Add to watchlist.
Pay-Per-View / Video-On-Demand
Inside Out – After making grownups cry at animated movies for two decades, Pixar makes feelings themselves the main characters of a very human tale of the stormy inner life of a preteen girl unable to express her unhappiness after moving to a new city. It’s bright and busy and clever and funny and sad, exploring the complicated emotional life of adolescents with inventive metaphors and cartoonish mindscapes of dreams and dreads. These feelings have feelings too. It’s a family friendly PG and available in 3D from some providers. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here.
In The End of the Tour, Jason Segel is author David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg is a Rolling Stone reporter interviewing him on the road in a relationship of verbal jousts and tenuous connections. R for language.
Vacation is revived for the next generation as Ed Helms takes the reigns from Chevy Chase (who plays his father) to give his family the same disastrous road trip he endured as a child. Rated R for crude juvenile humor, language, and brief graphic nudity.
Available On Demand before theaters is the thriller Bleeding Heart with Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet.
Available same day as select theaters nationwide is the thriller Lost in the Sun with Josh Duhamel and the horror film The Hallow.
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014), the third film in Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson’s trilogy “about being a human being,” is another deadpan comedy of bleak humor and absurdist situations, this one built around the odyssey to two sad sack salesman. In Swedish with English subtitles. Queue it up.
From Austria comes Amour Fou (2014), a story of love and death among the romantics from Austria. In German with English subtitles. Queue it up.
Non-fiction: Last Days in Vietnam (2014) earned an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary (queue it up) and Do I Sound Gay? (2014) features Tim Gunn and George Takei among its expert witnesses (queue it up).
Robot Overlords (2015) is a science fiction invasion adventure with Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson battling robots from outer space. PG-13. Queue it up.
More TV: The 100: Season 2 is another CW series with attractive young adults in a life and death situation (queue it up) and Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce: Season 1 starring Lisa Edelstein and Janeane Garofalo arrives a month before the second season begins on Bravo (queue it up).
If you like your humor more sardonic, the British series Black Books: Seasons 1-3 is a comedy about the bookseller who loves books but can’t stand people. Queue it up. More British TV: Midsomer Murders: Series 16 (queue it up) and Last Tango in Halifax: Season 3 (queue it up).
For teens and anime fans comes the Netflix original series Seven Deadly Sins: Season 1, an animated fantasy from Japan (queue it up), and for younger kids there’s a couple of animation flashbacks: The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie (2004) (queue it up) and the Netflix original revival Care Bears & Cousins: Season 1 (queue it up).
Amazon Prime Video
Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) is another dive into dark fantasies and phantasmagorical dream worlds. It’s also features the final performance by Heath Ledger, who died during production; his role was completed by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell in an ingenious rewrite. PG-13. Reviewed on Stream On Demand here or just add it to your watchlist.
Shanghai (2010), set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai in the months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, is a multinational, multilingual production with John Cusack, Gong Li, Chow Yun-Fat, Ken Watanabe, Franka Potente, and Hugh Bonneville, directed by Mikael Håfström. Rated R. Add to watchlist.
Holy flashback! Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), with Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as Joker (add to watchlist), and Batman Returns (1992) with Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as Penguin, offer a more offbeat portrait of the Dark Knight (add to watchlist). Antonio Banderas is a different kind of masked hero in The Mask of Zorro (1998) (add to watchlist).
15 official vintage James Bond films starring Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and George Lazenby, spanning From Russia With Love (1963) to Licence to Kill (1989), are available just in time to cram for the 007 film Spectre. The full list and thumbnail reviews at Stream On Demand here.
The Oscar-nominated documentary The Missing Picture (2013) uses animation to help explore the brutal history of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge. See it here. In a related documentary, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll (2014) looks at violent persecution of popular music and musicians by the Khmer Rouge. See it here.
The original documentary The Diplomat is a profile of the career and legacy of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who ended the war in Bosnia, by his son David. More here.
The Leisure Class, the feature film produced on HBO’s Project Greenlight series, is now available to view along with the entire season of Project Greenlight, which just concluded. The film is apparently less compelling than the making-of series. See the series here and the movie here.
Arriving Saturday night is the comedy Unfinished Business with Vince Vaughn and Dave Franco. HBO’s page is here.
The first three films in the original Planet of the Apes series—the original Planet of the Apes (1968) and the sequels Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)—have been added to HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO On Demand.
Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? (2015) is another documentary on a film that was never made. This is getting to be a curious little genre of its own. Showtime’s page is here.
The Fifth Estate (2013) stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. R. Showtime’s page here.
The British mini-series Black Work makes its US debut on Acorn’s streaming service. The first of three episodes is now available, the subsequent chapters on succeeding Mondays. Watch it here.
The O.C., the Fox series about the attractive and affluent youth of Orange County from the mid-2000s that introduced audiences to Ben McKenzie and Rachel Bilson, is available to stream exclusively on CW Seed, a free, ad-supported service available to stream from the website, through apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Chromecast, or on your TV through via Chromecast and Airplay. More information here.