Netflix: the 10 best new shows and films in January
Sex Education, Grace and Frankie, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
And Breathe Normally
Set in the isolated Reykjanes Peninsula, And Breathe Normally sees the life of a struggling Icelandic single mother intertwine with a Guinea-Bissau asylum seeker. The two are both suspended in a melancholic space, a frustrating limbo that sees women dealing with poverty pushed to the side and pushed to their limits by the challenges of they face. The film’s director, Ísold Uggadóttir, breathes a human warmth into this story of invisible figures left out in the cold by an unfeeling society.
Gillian Anderson and Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) star in this dramedy about the awkward teenage son of a sex therapist who, along with his bolshy classmate use information gleaned from his mother to set up a secret advice clinic for their fellow students answering all their embarrassing queries. Attempting to cast the confusing world of teen love and relationships in a more gentle light, away from the hand-wringing about “Generation Porn”, the show is an endearing look at how even those hard-wired to Google are still as clueless and vulnerable as ever.
The Last Laugh
As the saying goes, you wait for ages for one comedy about an aging agent and his cantankerous client and then two come along at the same time. If the concept of the new Chevy Chase vehicle, The Last Laugh, sounds very familiar it’s probably because in November Netflix launched Chuck Lorre’s almost identical sitcom The Kominsky Method, starring Alan Alda and Michael Douglas. The Last Laugh also deals with the relationship between a flinty-eyed talent agent (Chevy Chase)and his client, who is an old-school comedy legend (Richard Dreyfuss) with Chase’s character Al Hart trying to convince his client to escape their retirement home and join him back on the road.
Grace and Frankie – Season 5
The salty, spicy, sensational, dynamic duo Grace and Frankie are back for a fifth season. The odd couple are continuing on their journey to prove that aging disgracefully is just wonderful and that getting older doesn’t necessarily mean getting wiser, continuing to inject their golden years with the necessary IDGAF youthful attitude to cope with their new reality. This season sees our tenacious heroes trying to get their lives back in order after the chaos and colossal changes of the last series that ended with a sobering, sombre cliffhanger. There will be the usual gin-soaked, marijuana-fuelled japes from Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as the pair are confronted by a new adversary, in the shape of RuPaul, who plays the formidable Benjamin La Day.
This film documents the fall-out from the ill-fated Fyre Festival that saw hundreds of “influencers” fly to an island in the Bahamas expecting to find Kardashian levels of opulence only to be chased by roaming wild dogs in the near barren landscape. The dystopian horrorshow that unfolded which culminated in the attendees being trapped on the island due to a hurricane, could have been renamed Schadenfreude - The Musical, as the attendees social media captured every misfortune, from their obvious misery at being “forced” to eat processed cheese sandwiches to their flimsy, leaking tents.
Director Chris Smith (Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond) captures the fantasy of the tantalising Instagram images, the expectation of what the festival was supposed to be versus the disastrous reality. Featuring interviews with the now incarcerated organiser Billy MacFarland, spliced with first-hand accounts and social media content from festival-goers, it’s a cautionary tale about the artificiality of influencer culture and the hollow desperation in trying to attain an enviable life.
Trigger Warning with Killer Mike
Netflix, January 18th
Run the Jewels rapper and activist Killer Mike lands his own provocative documentary series exploring cultural taboos and challenging society’sconventions in his no-nonsense frank and irreverent style. From asking Crips gang members why they haven’t launched any merchandise or sold branded products like the KKK, to sitting in amused disbelief listening to an elderly white lady claim that most crimes are committed by black people, Killer Mike has an anarchic, wry, confrontational approach. Trigger Warning is where Louis Theroux meets Ali G.
Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes
This four-part docu-series directed by Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost - The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) uses original interview tapes with the serial killer during his time on death row. With his charismatic personality and his all-American, conservative, collegiate looks, Bundy was far from the Manson-style counterculture bogeyman the public were taught to fear. He was the psychopath who hid in plain sight, managing to assault and murder 30 women or more during the height of his reign of terror during the 1970s. These tapes include his 11th hour confessions and will act as a useful primer for those who are awaiting the film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring heartthrob Zac Efron and also directed by Berlinger, which is due to be released later this year.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Season 4
After five years of smiling in the face of pessimism and apathy, Ellie Kemper’s eternally optimistic Kimmy Schmidt is finally saying farewell. This long goodbye – which began with the first half of this season last May – saw Kimmy adjust to a life where her simple career aspirations of becoming a crossing guard were not fulfilled and her effervescent spirit began to flag, her sweet nature now tinged with the sour reality of life.
The series also threw the character into the midst of a sexual harassment accusation attempting to grapple with the #MeToo movement and the current crop of cases against several famous faces. With her positivity having been slightly eroded due to the relentless injustices, she is confronted with in the real world. In these final episodes viewers will find out if Kimmy gets the happy ending she deserves or if the contaminating elements of modern life that she’s been subjected to crush the once unbreakable Schmidt completely.
Medici – The Magnificent
Following on from Medici: Masters of Florence, the second season of this period drama sees the show jump right into the Renaissance with the family’s powehaving been consolidated in the past 20 years as their grip on the Italian city tightens. Daniel Sharman plays Lorenzo de’Medici, who assumes leadership of the family-run bank, clashing with Sean Bean’s grizzled Jacopo de’Pazzi along the way. Expect the usual duplicitous behaviour and political manoeuvring as the historically renowned Pazzi Conspiracy begins to unfold.
Korean horror series Kingdom follows the lives of the inhabitants of a town depleted by famine and destruction. When their king dies of a mysterious illness a rumour spreads about a plague that transforms the infected into flesh-eating zombies. The crown-prince decides to investigate the conspiracy and uncover the truth behind the hearsay in an attempt to prevent his people from heading towards total annihilation.