With so many famous and varied names attached to it, it would be hard not to include this new Japanese-American fantasy-comedy anime coproduction in this week’s lineup. Created by indie band Vampire Weekend’s frontman Ezra Koenig, Neo Yokio was released on Netflix today. It’s set in a fictionalised futuristic version of New York with fantasy elements and features voice performances from Jaden Smith, Susan Sarandon, Jude Law and Tavi Gevinson to name a few.
The story is pretty off the wall and anime purists might not be too friendly towards it, but the series is short enough for a weekend binge with only six 22 minute long episodes to the season.
Give it a go: If you’re looking for a quirky, short binge to watch this weekend.
Give it a miss: If you don’t like anime and its associated style conventions.
This provocative six-part documentary series produced by Jay Z, follows the story of Kalief Browder, a Bronx teen who spent three horrific years in jail on Rikers Island, with over 800 days spent in solitary confinement, despite never having been convicted of a crime. A damning indictment of the United States’ judicial system, Time is one of the most important documentaries you’re likely to see for a while.
Promising review: “Some may find these detailed discussions a little slow, while others may find the more emotional moments a little sensational. But the overall docu-series is an important, and often painful, reminder of the need for prison reform throughout the nation.”
Give it a go: If you watched the critically acclaimed “13th” and you can’t stop thinking about it.
Give it a miss: If you’re looking for a piece of escapism.
In this teen-friendly thriller, hard-working high school senior, Vee Delmonico decides she’s done with the goody two shoes life. When pressured by friends to join an extremely popular dare based online game called Nerve, Vee decides to sign up for what seems like harmless fun. The game is split into Watchers and Players; “Watchers pay to watch and Players play to win cash and glory”.
As a Player, Vee must complete a series of dares set by Watchers and record herself doing them in order to win cash. Soon Vee finds herself caught up in the thrill of the adrenaline-fueled competition partnered with a mysterious stranger and the game begins to take a sinister turn with increasingly dangerous acts…
With the infectiously engaging plausibility of its fast-paced scenario giving it an unexpected edge, as well as its charming leads helping to overcome a number of fundamental flaws, Nerve brings enough energy to offset its occasionally muddled execution. It’s a decent piece of popcorn cinema for sure.
Promising review: “It's preposterous but propulsive and never less than compelling in its perception of current digital culture and the craving for instant fame wrought by reality TV.”
Give it a go: If you liked Black Mirror but you wished it was just a smidge less bleak.
Give it a miss: If you’ve had enough lectures concerning the dangers of social media.
After Eleanor (Kristen Bell) comes to a sticky end in a shopping centre carpark, she comes to in the lobby of a conceptualised version of heaven referred to here as “The Good Place”. After orientation, it becomes clear to Eleanor that she’s been mistaken for another Eleanor but for fear of being sent to “The Bad Place” she attempts to reform her ways to become a better person and thus earn her place.
The show is a delightfully quirky exploration of a very particular type of person’s notion of what paradise entails (of whom we’re not certain really exists). This light sitcom allows just enough subversive humour to keep you interested making for a show that’s inoffensive at its worst and kookily charming at its best.
Promising review: “It takes a potentially lame-sounding premise - "bad person tries to be good" - and surrounds it with enough weirdness to make the show subversive and (I can't believe I've gone this long without using this word) great.”
Give it a go: If you’re looking for something light to enjoy with the family after dinner.
Give it a miss: If you’re after something a little more groundbreaking.
Once famed as a groundbreaking director for films such as The Sixth Sense and Signs, M. Night Shyamalan’s name fast became associated with extremely disappointing big budget flops during the years between 2004 and 2013 (think After Earth, The Last Airbender and The Happening to name but a few). That all changed in 2015 when he hit back with The Visit, a “found footage” film that provided fans with a satisfying blend of thrills and laughs.
The story follows a pair of young siblings who go to stay with their grandparents for a week. Though Grandma and Grandpa initially seem great, one weird and increasingly sinister thing after another makes the youngsters fear for their lives…
Promising review: “This is horror at its most powerful, when it strips away all of the layers of protection we collectively use to hide from our deepest fears and takes a long, hard look at them.”
Give it a go: If you like some laughs thrown in with your scares.
Give it a miss: If you’re not willing to forgive M. Night Shyamalan just yet… maybe hold out and give Split a go instead.
Maybe you’ll find something more your liking in last week’s recommendations.
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