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Inside Streaming (Aug 20th, 2019)

1. Meryl Streep will star in the comedy feature "Let Them All Talk," for HBO Max and director Steven Soderbergh. Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges and Gemma Chan will co-star in the film, which comes from noted short story writer Deborah Eisenberg. Streep will play a celebrated author who goes on a journey of healing and self-discovery with some old friends (Bergen and Wiest); Hedges will play her nephew, and Chan her literary agent. Production on the film has already started; some scenes will apparently film in the UK, on board the Queen Mary 2. Streep also appears in Soderbergh's Netflix film "The Laundromat," which will premiere next month at the Venice Film Festival. – VARIETY

2. According to Bloomberg, Apple may price the Apple TV+ subscription service at $9.99 per month. This would make the service a bit more expensive than baseline Amazon Prime and Netflix subscriptions, and it's considerably more than the $6.99 introductory Disney+ price point. Apple operates a number of other subscription services, including Apple Music, the upcoming Apple Arcade gaming service, Apple News+ and iCloud storage, so it's possible Apple TV+ could be bundled with other subscriptions in the future. The Financial Times reported that Apple plans to spend up to $6 billion on content to compete with Netflix and Disney+. The company plans to roll out the service in November. – BLOOMBERG


SIMON AMSTELL: SET FREE: The English comedian, TV host and filmmaker's first Netflix stand-up special. [Netflix]

THE LAYOVER: Alexandra Daddario and Kate Upton star in this comedy as two friends competing for the same man (Matt Barr) during an impromptu road trip. This is the second feature from actor-turned-director William H. Macy. [Hulu]

HUDA BOSS: The reality series starring makeup artist and beauty blogger Huda Kattan and her family returns for a second 10-episode season. [Facebook Watch]

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL: The globe-trotting fourth film in the sci-fi comedy franchise -- about a top-secret intelligence agency that oversees and covers up alien activity on Earth -- introduced new agents played by Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, and Liam Neeson, plus Kumail Nanjiani as a tiny extraterrestrial soldier. [VOD]

BOOKSMART: Olivia Wilde made her directorial debut with this comedy about two high school over-achievers (Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein) who try to cram four years worth of fun into their last night before graduation. [VOD]

MA: Octavia Spencer stars in this psychological thriller -- directed by her "The Help" collaborator Tate Taylor -- as a troubled woman with sinister intentions who invites local teens to party and hang out in her basement. [VOD]

4. HBO Max ordered three new pilots, including a series based on the books that inspired the 1998 film "Practical Magic." "The Rules of Magic," based on two novels by Alice Hoffman, received an order for a 10-episode first season. Melissa Rosenberg and Dana Baratta will write the adaptation, about three siblings in '60s New York who discover they are descended from a long line of witches. Other pilots include the half-hour comedy-drama series "Generation," from 17-year-old co-creator Zelda Barnz, her father Daniel, and executive producer Lena Dunham; and the YA psychological horror series "Red Bird Lane," from "Southland" writer Sara Gran. – DEADLINE

[The '90s "Practical Magic" movie, starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as witch sisters, is available to rent on Amazon Prime and YouTube. - Lon]


"Screwball," which relates the story of the 2013 Biogenesis doping scandal that took down Alex Rodriguez and a number of other prominent baseball players, is one of those documentaries that constantly references the CRAZINESS of its own story. The film actually closes with its primary subject, Biogenesis founder Anthony Bosch, saying that oft-repeated line "You couldn't make this up!" just to drive the point home. (I guess you kind of need that shot for the trailer.)

Co-writer/director Billy Corben has filled his film with winking meta-commentary: everything from wacky music cues to clips from late-night comedy routines tips you off that the story you are hearing is outrageous and funny, featuring a cross-section of delightfully colorful Florida eccentrics. In a particularly bold move, Corben has cast an ensemble of children to play the scandal's central figures in all re-enactments, highlighting their often ridiculous, ill-advised, juvenile behavior. (All of this is somewhat unsurprising considering that Corben's most well-known credit, the 2006 documentary "Cocaine Cowboys," helped to popularize a similarly unconventional, reality TV-inspired approach.)

Ultimately, all of the bells and whistles and gimmicks were probably unnecessary. "Screwball" delivers on its initial promise: this is a truly hard-to-believe, only-in-Florida kind of tale, that goes way beyond Bosch's rampant, gleeful, careless criminality and into a large, complex and poorly-organized conspiracy. It's downright shocking that we only know this story, to this day, because a random guy got pissed off at Bosch over a $4,000 loan and decided to steal some of his files as payback. It strains credulity to discover that one of the private investigators Major League Baseball sent to Florida to look into the scandal had an affair with one of Bosch's own nurses. It seems like a joke when you find out that Bosch's only medical training happened at a school in Belize, which he selected because it's the only Central American country with English as its official language. But it's all true. 

I can't really fault Corben for making the movie as wild and entertaining as he did, and it largely works, even some of the more over-the-top experiments. The child actors are uniformly talented and charismatic, and I'd be lying if I said that dressing up kids like they just had a spray tan, or like they have sleeve tats, wasn't amusing. There are also some genuinely clever touches here and there. Early in the film, Bosch compares himself to Ray Liotta from "Goodfellas," and then much later on, during a sequence where he's finally brought to justice, Corben plays a decidedly "Layla"-esque tune on the soundtrack, a callback to that film's famous "finding the corpses" montage. 

One final note: the film REALLY has it in for one-time Yankee superstar A-Rod. Not that he doesn't deserve this kind of shabby treatment, but both Corben and Bosch seem fixated on presenting him as not only a cheater and a liar, but as an actual insane person. I'm not sure if this depiction is at all accurate or fair, and it's the one element of the film that feels deeply personal, almost vindictive, rather than simply bewildered and/or amused.


Title: "Screwball"
Where to Watch: Netflix
Running time: 104 minutes

5. Amazon released a trailer for the third season of "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," which follows the comedian on her first US tour. The season picks up with Midge Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) touring the country with fellow comic Shy Baldwin (Leroy McClain), allowing the series to explore new 1950s locations, including Miami, Florida. Season 2 of "Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is up for an astounding 20 Emmys at next month's ceremony, including Outstanding Comedy Series (which it won last year). The third season will premiere on Amazon Prime on December 6. – INDIEWIRE

6. News aggregator and community website Reddit launched a new broadcasting tool, allowing eligible users to livestream, as part of a five-day experiment. The company is calling the new platform the "Reddit Public Access Network," and the streams will appear on the subreddit r/pan. (Top streams will also appear on the front page, and will move up and down the rankings via the site's "upvote" system.) Though no specific rules for Reddit livestreamed content were posted, the company is apparently being "incredibly judicious" in determining what content will be deemed appropriate; streams that "average redditors may find highly offensive or upsetting, or which promotes hoaxes" will be quarantined by moderators. Livestreaming will only be allowed between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm PT during the five-day test. – VERGE

7. A new study from three universities indicates that major US wireless carriers throttle video streams more than their customers likely realize. The study was performed by researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Northeastern University, using software called Wehe, and compared data from 126,000 participants spread across 183 countries. Though the company found that all four major US carriers -- Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint -- regularly throttle video streams, they apparently all employ different strategies and their efforts impact different services. AT&T, for example, regularly throttled Netflix and YouTube streams, but left Amazon Prime streams largely intact. T-Mobile, by comparison, throttled Amazon Prime far more than services such as Skype and Vimeo. – ENGADGET

8. "An Inconvenient Truth" director Davis Guggenheim is making a three-part docuseries about Microsoft founder Bill Gates for Netflix. "Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates" looks at Gates' career in technology and his later move into philanthropy, promising "unprecedented access to Gates as he pursues unique solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems." It will include interviews with both Bill and Melinda Gates, as well as friends and members of their family. – DEADLINE

9. YouTube Originals, including content made for the company's YouTube Red and YouTube Premium subscription services, will become free to view for all users on September 24.

10. Netflix dropped two teasers for the upcoming Noah Baumbach divorce-themed drama "Marriage Story," one each from the perspectives of Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson's characters.

Lon Harris is the writer and editor of Inside Streaming, and was the very first person to ever write an Inside newsletter. He lives in Los Angeles, California, and also writes about TV and film for Fandom, Screen Junkies, Rotten Tomatoes, Gamma Ray and others. He competes on The Movie Trivia Schmoedown as "The Professor." You can follow him on Twitter @lons

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media).

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