AS the year winds down and I am on my second to last post for 2021, I am looking forward to some quality me-time over the next couple of weeks. That means doing only the things that bring me joy and happiness, and includes watching TV.
It means I can rewatch all the series I’ve begun and not finished, and now it’s been so long I have to begin again: Mayans MC, Succession (yes, again – all episodes are now available), Narcos on Netflix. Season two of The Morning Show on Apple TV+ is on my watch list as well. Then there are all the new titles…sometimes I can happily scroll through content, adding and deleting shows; it’s almost as satisfying as actually watching them.
Billions concludes its fifth season on M-Net this week (and several series either end or go on a break to make way for festive season viewing, mostly music specials). Catch up with the first seven episodes of what I consider to be the best season so far, and be ready for the final five from December 21.
Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades have been unscrupulous adversaries and underhanded allies, but nothing has prepared them for the ruthless machinations of billionaire Mike Prince, who’ll use everything – and everyone – at his disposal to come out on top. As alliances get ripped apart and new enemies rise, everyone gets roped into the conflict. Consequences be damned.
Golden Globe winner Damian Lewis (Homeland), Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti (Sideways), and Golden Globe nominee Corey Stoll (House of Cards) co-star as Bobby, Chuck and Mike respectively.
Season five has a 90% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “The machinations of the rich and infamous continue to enthrall in Billions’ fifth season, with Corey Stoll proving a worthy addition to this arena of financial chicanery.”
Plus there is superb tension between Axe and Wendy (Maggie Siff, Sons Of Anarchy), whose intelligence Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon) so accurately describes – I forget the exact lines of dialogue but the bottom line is Wendy is terrifyingly smart. And awesome. I’m also terribly fond of Wags, who is exceedingly bright himself, and will go to any lengths he has to, whether to protect Axe, prove a point, or get revenge.
Here are some movies that are either on already, or coming up this month, that I shall be adding to my list, which is a monument to my hope and faith I will be able to watch it all.
The indie romantic comedy Palm Springs follows two strangers who meet at a wedding in Palm Springs, only to get stuck in a time loop. I’ve flagged it for its amazing poster art, and the cast; if it’s got JK Simmons in it, I’ll watch it. Whatever “it” is.
The movie stars Emmy winner Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s Jake, Saturday Night Live) and Critics’ Choice Award nominee Cristin Milioti (Mythic Quest, Fargo, How I Met Your Mother), who respectively won Best Actor and Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie at the 2021 Critics’ Choice Super Awards, where the film also won Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Movie. Among other honours, Palm Springs won the 2021 Critics’ Choice Award for Best Comedy, after breaking the records for the biggest sale of a film at Sundance and the most-viewed film in its first weekend on Hulu. It holds a 95% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with IndieWire calling it, “Sweet, funny and demented.”
The cast also includes Oscar winner JK Simmons (La La Land, No Activity, Spider-Man), and Golden Globe winner Peter Gallagher (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Grace and Frankie, The O.C.), as well as award-winning Zimbabwean actor Tongayi Chirisa (Antebellum, iZombie).
In Unhinged, Russell Crowe (The Loudest Voice, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind) is straight-up terrifying in his People’s Choice-nominated performance as a road-rager gone full-blown psycho. I haven’t watched it yet but I can already relate.
South African actress Caren Pistorius co-stars as the woman who triggers his road rage, alongside Emmy nominee Jimmi Simpson (Westworld, Perpetual Grace, LTD) and child actor Gabriel Bateman (The Mosquito Coast, Andy in the 2019 film Child’s Play).
Unhinged was the 35th biggest box office hit of 2020, with Vanity Fair calling it “a dark and gnarly thriller” and “bracing entertainment.”
The Personal History of David Copperfield (December 16) re-imagines Charles Dickens’s classic ode to grit and perseverance through the comedic lens of its award-winning filmmakers, Emmy winners and Oscar nominees Armando Iannucci (Veep) and Simon Blackwell (Succession). The cast here is also very attractive to me. Hugh Laurie, that is all.
Dev Patel was nominated for a 2021 Golden Globe as the iconic hero on his quirky journey from impoverished orphan to burgeoning writer in Victorian England. The multi-award-winning film co-stars 10-time Emmy nominee Hugh Laurie (House M.D), Oscar winners Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton) and Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who), and Emmy nominee Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones).
The Personal History of David Copperfield has a 92% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus hails it as “a fresh, funny, and utterly charming spin on Dickens’ classic, proving some stories truly are timeless.”
So yeah, Jason Statham. I don’t rate him as much of an actor; he’s pretty much always Jason Statham, and I used to like watching his movies for the scenes in which he took off his shirt, and not much else. But in the, ahem, hands of Guy Ritchie, things can be different: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and Revolver – and now Wrath of Man (from December 20). I reckon I can give them a chance.
Statham (best known as The Transporter, Crank, and Deckard Shaw in the Fast & Furious films) stars as H, a new security guard for a cash truck company, who faces mistrust from his crew after unleashing precision skills during a heist, leaving them questioning his identity, and his motives.
Wrath of Man also stars multiple Teen Choice Award nominee Josh Hartnett (Lucky Number Slevin, Black Hawk Down), multi-award winner Eddie Marsan (The World’s End, 21 Grams), BAFTA nominee Niamh Algar (Raised by Wolves, MotherFatherSon), Laz Alonso (The Boys), Teen Choice winner Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, The Outpost) and Oscar nominee Andy Garcia (the Ocean’s films, The Godfather Part III).
It’s the 35th biggest film of 2021 so far, with RogerEbert.com calling it, “A star vehicle for Jason Statham at his meanest… one of Guy Ritchie’s best-directed movies,” and praising the film’s “voluptuous darkness, so sinister that you may wonder if its main character is the devil himself.” I do agree with the reviews, always brilliantly written, on Roger Ebert for the most part, so this is an excellent sign.
The wine is in the fridge and the Do Not Disturb sign is on my door. See you in 2022.