Inside | Real news, curated by real humans
Inside Streaming

Inside Streaming (Feb 2nd, 2018)

Production has resumed on the sixth and final season of Netflix's "House of Cards." Actors Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear have joined the cast, and will portray siblings; no other details about their characters have been revealed. Shooting had started on "House of Cards" Season 6 but was shut down in October following allegations of sexual assault and harassment by star and producer Kevin Spacey. His character, Frank Underwood, has been written out of the show. Stars Robin Wright and Michael Kelly will return for the abbreviated season, which will consist of just eight episodes. – VARIETY

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

Amazon's first-ever Super Bowl ad for its Prime Video service will be a trailer for its new "Jack Ryan" series. The 60-second spot will air just after the halftime show. The series, based on the Tom Clancy novels, stars John Krasinski as the famed CIA analyst who has been portrayed in various films by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine. The series debuts on Labor Day weekend. Hulu will also air a Super Bowl ad this year for its new Stephen King-inspired series, "Castle Rock." It's unknown if Netflix plans to air any ads during the big game; they have in the past, to promote "Stranger Things." Amazon will air a separate Super Bowl spot for the Alexa. – ADAGE

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

DreamWorksTV has launched as an add-on for Amazon Channels, at a cost of $4.99 per month. DreamWorksTV will feature original kid-friendly content, much of it sourced from Awesomeness, which was acquired by Comcast in 2016. (The channel is aimed at kids from ages 6 to 12.) The Awesomeness brand first grew to prominence on YouTube, where it has 3.6 million subscribers. DreamWorksTV will also feature original, Amazon-exclusive content, including shows like "Neighborhood Super Watch" and "Action Figures in Action." New programming will debut weekly. – TECHCRUNCH

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

YouTube TV is now available on Roku and Apple TV devices. YouTube's $35-per-month "skinny bundle" features around 40 live TV channels, along with some basic cable favorites (AMC, ESPN, Fox News) and local ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates. The service - which launched in April of 2017 - is currently available in about 80 US markets, serving about 80% of the US population. YouTube TV is already available for Chromecast, Xbox One, Android TV and some Samsung and LG smart TVs. – CNET

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

Russell Brand will record a new comedy special for Netflix called "Re:Birth." The performances will be recorded on April 18 and 19 at the Hackney Empire in London. The material covers Brand's marriage to Laura Gallacher and the birth of their daughter, Mabel, in November of 2016. Brand is in the midst of a live comedy tour, which includes 75 dates and continues through November 2018. – DEADLINE

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

Police in Grand Rapids, Michigan, issued a warning about an email phishing scam targeting Netflix customers. The email informs Netflix subscribers that their accounts have been deactivated, and prompts them to enter and confirm their credit card information. In an official statement, Netflix said it will never ask customers for personal information via email. Authorities advise anyone receiving these emails to delete them immediately without clicking any links. – USAT

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

According to a report from Reuters, HBO currently has 5 million streaming subscribers, up from 2 million just one year ago. This number includes online subscribers to HBO across all platforms, including the HBO Now service, AT&T's DirecTV Now and Sony's Vue. The company also reported $1.68 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter, an increase of 12.7%. – CNBC

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

Hulu has canceled the crime drama "Shut Eye" after two seasons. "Shut Eye" starred Jeffrey Donovan as an LA scam artist who gained clairvoyant abilities during a hypnosis session. The cancellation was announced on Twitter by Donovan, who thanked Sony and Hulu. – DEADLINE

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

WHAT'S NEW ON NETFLIX IN FEBRUARY

Here's a quick rundown of all the new shows, specials and original films coming to Netflix this month.

ALTERED CARBON: This sci-fi drama series, about a future in which humans can extend their lives by passing DNA to new bodies (called "sleeves"), is based on a cyberpunk novel by Richard Morgan. Season 1 is available to stream now.

ON BODY AND SOUL: This Hungarian film, about two slaughterhouse workers who share the same dream, won the Golden Bear at last year's Berlin International Film Festival. It's among this year's Oscar nominees for Best Foreign Language Film. It's available to stream now.

FRED ARMISEN: STAND-UP FOR DRUMMERS: The "Portlandia" creator and "SNL" alum's new stand-up comedy special debuts on Netflix on February 6.

FATE/APOCRYPHA: The second half of this Japanese anime series hits Netflix on February 9. It follows a conflict between various mages searching for the Holy Grail.

WHEN WE FIRST MET: This Netflix original romantic comedy stars Adam Devine as Noah, who ends up in the "friend zone" with the beautiful Avery (Alexandria Daddario), but gets a second chance for romance with her via a magical photo booth. It also debuts on February 9.

THE RITUAL: This UK independent horror film was a hit at festivals last year and also arrives on Netflix this February 9. It's about a group of friends who encounter an ancient evil during a hike in the woods.

LOVE PER SQUARE FOOT: This comedy is the first mainstream Netflix production from India aimed at an international audience. It's a quirky romantic comedy about a couple who enter a marriage of convenience in order to afford their dream home in Mumbai. It debuts on February 14.

GREENHOUSE ACADEMY: Season 2 of this teen drama series, set at an elite boarding school, hits Netflix on February 14. The show is based on the Israeli drama series "Ha-Hamama."

RE:MIND: In the first season of this Japanese series, 11 teens awaken to find themselves in a mysterious classroom. (I'm sorry, that's really all the info that's available right now!) The show debuts on Netflix on February 15. 

EVERYTHING SUCKS!: This original Netflix comedy series follows an Oregon high school A/V club in the year 1996. Season 1 arrives on February 16.

DISMISSED: Dylan Sprouse stars in this horror film as a high school teacher who's stalked by an honors student to whom he gave a B+ grade. Find it on Netflix starting February 19.

THE FRANKENSTEIN CHRONICLES: The first two seasons of this British period crime drama, which re-imagines Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," arrive on Netflix on February 20. Sean Bean stars as a 19th Century London police inspector investigating a string of child murders.

FORGOTTEN: In this thriller from Korea, a man's older brother is kidnapped, only to re-appear - with memory loss and strange new behaviors - 19 days later. It debuts on Netflix this February 21.

MUTE: This original sci-fi mystery, starring Paul Rudd and Alexander Skarsgård, comes from "Moon" and "Warcraft" director Duncan Jones. It's about a mute bartender searching for his missing girlfriend in a futuristic Berlin. "Mute" debuts on February 23.

SEVEN SECONDS: This new Netflix crime drama series comes from director and executive producer Gavin O'Connor, who previously made the films "Warrior" and "The Accountant." It's set in Jersey City, and covers the fallout after a white police officer runs over a black teenager. The first season debuts on February 23.

MARSEILLE: Season 2 of this political drama series from France, starring Gérard Depardieu as the mayor of Marseille, lands on February 23.

DERREN BROWN: THE PUSH: British illusionist Brown will produce a new special for Netflix, but first, the streaming site is releasing this 2016 special that originally aired on Channel 4. In it, Brown "exposes the psychological secrets of obedience and social compliance." It hits Netflix on February 27.

MARLON WAYANS: WOKE-ISH: The first hour-long comedy special from the "In Living Color" vet arrives on February 27.

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

REVIEWS: TWO NEW NETFLIX DARKLY COMIC BIOPICS!

Netflix has two relatively new original films, both of which relate fascinating, frequently hilarious stories about real people. Let's take a quick look at them together!

A FUTILE AND STUPID GESTURE

Director David Wain ("Wet Hot American Summer," "They Came Together") typically makes parodies, and his biopic of National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney plays like a parody of biopics. It's extraordinarily meta, with characters constantly interrupting scenes - even heavy, dramatic scenes - to speak directly to camera, or comment on the un-reality of what's being depicted. Martin Mull even narrates as a "present-day Kenney" at an age that the real Doug Kenney sadly never reached.

This makes sense, and not just because of Wain's background, or the fact that he's filled essentially every role in the movie with recognizable comedians and comic actors. It feels like the tone Kenney - a wiseass who seemingly could only relate to the world and other people through humor - would have appreciated and wanted for his own life story. From Wain's perspective, the tragedy of Kenney is that he didn't know how to feel good about himself unless he was making people laugh. And it's impossible to live under that kind of constant pressure - no one can ALWAYS be the most hilarious person in the room.

What's most impressive about the movie is that, despite constantly breaking the fourth wall and refusing to truly engage seriously with just about any facet of Kenney's life, the movie still builds to an effective emotional climax. Kenney (played by Will Forte) was a very funny man, but his life was pretty sad, especially toward the end, and "Futile and Stupid Gesture" doesn't shy away from that, or only focus on the good times to leave us laughing.

Thankfully, this isn't just another visit to the "comedians are all miserable" trope. "Futile and Stupid Gesture" really investigates this idea, top to bottom. What drives depressed, sad, alienated people into comedy? What pushes the best, funniest people to constantly make themselves better, and what sacrifices are required of them? Why is success, even great success, ultimately unfulfilling?

Much of the credit goes to Forte, who has mastered the art of delivering a funny joke with sad eyes. Domhnall Gleeson is also spectacularly deadpan as Kenney's National Lampoon co-creator Henry Beard. (Between this and his take on General Hux, Gleeson is maybe the most underrated comic actor of the moment.)

Wain made the intriguing decision to cast comedians who embody the spirit of the icons that surrounded Kenney during the height of National Lampoon, rather than focusing on finding people who resemble them physically, and it pays off beautifully. There was no chance that we were going to truly lose ourselves in the illusion that some random actor is young Chevy Chase, John Belushi or Gilda Radner, so why not let hilarious contemporary performers who people want to watch give it a whirl? It's fun to see Joel McHale recreate Chevy Chase pratfalls. These scenes work on two levels: as straight-ahead depictions of past events, and comic tributes to the comedy greats of the past. (John Daly's take on "Caddyshack"-era Bill Murray is so right, in its way, I almost want to see a spin-off film about him, and Thomas Lennon's Michael O'Donoghue is note-perfect.)

For most of the runtime of "A Futile and Stupid Gesture," I thought it was a genial, fun, nostalgic trip through some very memorable years in American comedy. But Kenney's story takes that dark turn, and Wain's movie really nails the pathos. There's an emotional resonance here that sneaks up on you, and the fact that it's impossible to see it coming, because the movie is so funny, makes it all the more intense when it arrives. This is a terrific movie.

THE POLKA KING

This is just an okay movie.

Jack Black stars as Jan Lewan, a Polish immigrant to the US who runs a gift shop and a local polka band but dreams of more. This eventually leads him to develop a Ponzi scheme he'll use to bilk his fans for millions of dollars, along with other, equally over-the-top escapades. (All of Lewan's various schemes and adventures in the film are true, and backed up by real footage that screens during the credits. Maya Forbes' film is based on a documentary, "The Man Who Would be Polka King," that's also available on Netflix.)

Black dives head-first into his portrayal of Lewan - I'm not sure if the accent is accurate, but it's definitely consistently applied - and Forbes has surrounded him with winning comic actors. Jason Schwartzman plays Lewan's gifted but eternally frustrated bandleader, who wants to one day be known as Mickey Pizzazz. Jenny Slate plays Lewan's wife Marla, who's jealous of his (relative) fame and notoriety, JB Smoove is the regulator who gets wise to Lewan's schemes and Jacki Weaver steals the show as Lewan's suspicious mother-in-law.

And yet... and yet... the movie ultimately fails to give us real insight into the man himself. At times, it depicts Lewan as a sympathetic, even heroic figure - a person who truly embodies the American Dream and the spirit of Horatio Alger - before tarnishing him as a criminal liar. In some scenes, he's depicted as an idiot who has stumbled accidentally into a profitable venture, while at other times, he's almost supernaturally crafty.

It's certainly possible to make a movie about a figure who's contradictory and tough to pin down. ("I, Tonya" is a popular recent example.) But it's also important for the filmmakers, I think, to have some kind of take or perspective on the story they're telling. Forbes and co-writer Wallace Wolodarsky don't seem to have much to say about Lewan, the man. Their story is largely taken up by his twisted adventures. And those ARE frequently outrageous. But that will only take a movie so far, I fear.

One more thing that irritated me, but it's a very minor spoiler: At one point in the film, Lewan has convinced a number of his "investors" to fund a lavish European tour. He has promised them actual face-time with The Pope. This is a real incident that happened: somehow, Lewan actually got an audience with Pope John Paul II. I'd have really liked to see how he did it, but the movie glosses over this part, seemingly for comic effect. We go from Lewan on a tour bus panicking to... him standing in front of The Pope. I think this kind of typifies my issue with the entire movie. It's just not that interested in what really happened. The movie just thinks this guy and his antics are amusing.

  • Email gray
  • Permalink gray

Subscribe to Inside Streaming

MORE NEWSLETTERS

For those in the business of buying, selling, and developing real estate.

Inside Real Estate

For those in the business of buying, selling, and developing real estate.

TWICE WEEKLY
For those in the business of buying, selling, and developing real estate.

Inside Real Estate

TWICE WEEKLY

SUBSCRIBED!

Share via

News, people, culture, events and the trends shaping the Bay area

Inside San Francisco

News, people, culture, events and the trends shaping the Bay area

DAILY
News, people, culture, events and the trends shaping the Bay area

Inside San Francisco

DAILY

SUBSCRIBED!

Share via

A concise presentation of the world's most important, interesting news

Inside Daily Brief

A concise presentation of the world's most important, interesting news

DAILY
A concise presentation of the world's most important, interesting news

Inside Daily Brief

DAILY

SUBSCRIBED!

Share via

Drone news for hobbyists, professionals, and investors

Inside Drones

Drone news for hobbyists, professionals, and investors

TWICE WEEKLY
Drone news for hobbyists, professionals, and investors

Inside Drones

TWICE WEEKLY

SUBSCRIBED!

Share via