Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop arrives alongside a monkey assassin on Hulu and much more in this week’s guide
‘Cowboy Bebop’ (Netflix)
The original Cowboy Bebop anime series was one of the most formative and inspiring works to come from Japanese animation at the end of the 90s. It was the very first anime to be broadcast on Adult Swim in the United States, paving the way for the anime explosion that would swiftly follow in the country. A combination of sci-fi, noir, and westerns, the series is a shining example of the medium of animation being used to tell more adult-minded stories, so it’s no surprise that streaming giant Netflix has now gone and given it an updated live-action adaptation for current audiences. Starring John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda, Elena Satine, and Alex Hassell, the live-action series will faithfully follow the original anime almost to the letter.
‘Marvel’s Hit Monkey’ (Hulu)
Hit Monkey tells the tale of a wronged Japanese snow monkey (Fred Tatasciore), mentored by the ghost of an American assassin (Jason Sudeikis), as he cuts a wide swath through the Tokyo underworld. The series, alongside the stop-motion M.O.D.O.K. show that premiered earlier this year, is one of the last series developed by Marvel Television before it was folded into the larger Marvel Studios. It’s a monkey assassin and his ghost friend going around killing people, folks! You know whether this is your bag or not right away.
‘Prisoners of the Ghostland’ (Shudder)
Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono’s Prisoners of the Ghostland seems to truly understand how to harness the innate chaotic energy of Nicolas Cage. The eclectic actor plays a notorious criminal named Hero who is sent to rescue the governor’s daughter. She’s disappeared into a dark supernatural universe (as one does) and to escape the nightmare world, Hero must break the evil curse controlling the mysterious Ghostland. The film is a completely bizarre mashup of a wide range of different genres and influences. Everything from Westerns to fantasy to neo-noir to horror to martial arts films can be found in Prisoners of the Ghostland. Filmed entirely in Japan yet marking Sono’s first English-language feature, it’s also a blend of Eastern and Western styles. It’s unbridled creativity at its finest with impeccable costumes, production design, and ambitious practical effects.
‘The Wheel of Time’ (Amazon Prime Video)
Based on the fantasy novels written by Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time is a high fantasy series in the vein of Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. It follows Moiraine (Rosamund Pike), a member of a magical organization, who takes five young people on a journey, believing that one of them might be the reincarnation of the Dragon, a powerful individual prophesied to save the world or destroy it. The series has already been greenlit for a second season.
‘King Richard’ (HBO Max)
In what will undoubtedly earn him a ton of award recognition, Will Smith stars in King Richard, the tale of the father behind two of the most famous athletes in the world. Armed with a clear vision and a brazen, 78-page plan, Richard Williams is determined to write his two daughters, Venus and Serena, into history. Training on tennis courts in Compton, California, Richard shapes the girls’ unyielding commitment and keen intuition. Together, the Williams family defies seemingly insurmountable odds and the prevailing expectations laid before them.
‘tick, tick…Boom!’ (Netflix)
Lin-Manuel Miranda makes his feature directorial debut with tick, tick…BOOM!, an adaptation of the autobiographical musical by Jonathan Larson, who revolutionized theater as the creator of Rent. The film follows Jon (Andrew Garfield), a young theater composer who’s waiting tables at a New York City diner in 1990 while writing what he hopes will be the next great American musical. Days before he’s due to showcase his work in a make-or-break performance, Jon is feeling the pressure from everywhere: from his girlfriend Susan (Alexandra Shipp), who dreams of an artistic life beyond New York City; from his friend Michael (Robin de Jesus), who has moved on from his dream to a life of financial security; amidst an artistic community being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. With the clock ticking, Jon is at a crossroads and faces the question everyone must reckon with: What are we meant to do with the time we have?
‘The Great (Season 2)’ (Hulu)
Hulu’s The Great is a hilarious, sexy, and incredibly smart genre-bending, anti-historical ride through 18th-century Russia following the wildly comedic rise of Catherine the Nothing to Catherine the Great. Starring Elle Fanning as Empress Catherine II as well as Nicholas Hoult as her husband, Peter III, the series continues Catherine’s attempts to kill Peter and take the throne for herself. The first season earned numerous acclaim and the second, which adds Gillian Anderson to the cast as Catherine’s mother, is sure to be grander and greater.
‘Kill List’ (Shudder)
From filmmaker Ben Wheatley, 2011’s Kill List set the stage for the writer and director to conquer the British psychological horror scene, where he’s continued to excel. Eight months after a disastrous job in Kiev left him physically and mentally scarred, ex-soldier turned contract killer, Jay (Neil Maskell), is pressured by his partner, Gal (Michael Smiley), into taking a new assignment. As they descend into the dark and disturbing world of the contract, Jay begins to unravel once again — his fear and paranoia sending him deep into the heart of darkness.
From the visionary mind of Quentin Dupieux (Rubber), Mandibles is a surreal romp that follows simple-minded best friends Jean-Gab (David Marsais) and Manu (Gregoire Ludig). After stealing a beat-up Mercedes in order to deliver a mysterious briefcase to an unknown recipient, the duo finds more than they bargained for when they hear a buzzing, thumping noise coming from the trunk of the car. When they open it, they find a gigantic fly trapped inside. Manu and Jean-Gab decide to forgo their current mission and instead focus on training the fly to carry out robberies for them, in the hope of striking it rich. A hilarious mash-up of buddy comedy and road movie, with a sci-fi twist, Mandibles is a wild and surreal film about friendship, big dreams, and bigger disasters.
‘A Dark Song’ (Shudder)
An unholy alliance between two damaged souls leads them on a disturbing descent into the depraved realms of black magic. Sophia (Catherine Walker) is a grieving and desperate woman with a secret. Joseph (Steve Oram) is an anti-social, alcoholic expert in the occult who reluctantly agrees to help her. Holed up in a remote cabin amidst the desolate wilds of Northern Wales, the two embark on a grueling six-month series of dark rituals that will push them both to the physical and psychological breaking point. The debut feature from rising horror auteur Liam Gavin sustains an air of quietly creeping dread as it builds towards one hell of a payoff.
CONTINUED WEEKLY EPISODES:
‘Behind the Monsters’ (Shudder)
This brand new documentary series dives into the making of and cultural impact of some of the genre’s most recognizable killers. For any horror aficionados looking to learn more about a few of the most important films and characters to hit the big screen, or for any newer fans looking for an interesting history lesson, Behind the Monsters is guaranteed to be an insightful look into how these things were brought to life. Written and directed by Gabrielle Binkley and Anthony Uro, the series will comprise of six episodes that’ll feature interviews with experts, the writers, directors and actors from the original films, producers, and other documentary filmmakers and horror historians. The episodes will focus on characters like Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger and more. The first four episodes are now streaming.
‘Succession’ (HBO Max)
HBO has knocked it out of the park once again with Succession, a show that tracks the lives of the Roy family as they contemplate their future once their aging father (Brian Cox) begins to step back from the media and entertainment conglomerate they control. The first two seasons of the series quickly garnered praise for being one of the best new shows on television and has been showered with awards. The third miraculously looks like it’s only getting better as the Roys continue to vie for their father’s assets. The first five episodes of the new season are now streaming.
Also streaming now:
Netflix – ‘American Pie: Reunion’, ‘The Fabulous Filipino Brothers’, ‘The Fable’, ‘The Fable: The Killer Who Doesn’t Kill’, ‘Tiger King (Season 2)’, ‘Lead Me Home’, ‘Dhamaka’, ‘Hellbound’
Hulu – ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’, ‘Deadpool’, ‘Deadpool 2’, ‘The Master’, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’
Shudder – ‘The Hallow’, ‘Pyewacket’, ‘The Isle’, ‘Fender Bender’, ‘Blood Rage’, ‘Etheria’
HBO Max – ‘Boogie’, ‘Kamikaze’, ‘The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain’
Amazon Prime Video – ‘Beginners’
COMING NEXT WEEK:
Netflix – ‘Here Comes the Boom’, ‘Masters of the Universe: Revelation (Season 1 – Part 2)’, ‘Reasonable Doubt: A Tale of Two Kidnappings’, ‘Bruised’, ‘Izla’, ‘Super Crooks’, ‘Dig Deeper: The Disappearance of Birgit Meier’
Hulu – ‘Beverly Hills Ninja’, ‘Ride the Eagle’, ‘Pig’
Shudder – ‘The Strings’, ‘Exorcist III’
HBO Max – ‘Inside Man’
Amazon Prime Video – ‘Hanna (Season 3)’
Disney+ – ‘Hawkeye’, ‘The Beatles: Get Back’