Best Movies and TV to Stream in Feb.: Superheroes, Soderbergh, Lorena Bobbit Doc
Netflix has a trio of new features from big name talents, as well as a new puzzle-box series that’s blowing critics’ minds and a comic-adapted fan-favorite-in-the-making. Amazon’s working the true-crime beat with a Lorena Bobbitt docuseries and the fake-crime beat with a new Agatha Christie adaptation. And let’s throw in a couple of left-field comedy series from Hulu and YouTube just for kicks. Here’s what you’ll be streaming this month. (For your best network and cable TV options, click here.)
The ABC Murders (Amazon Prime, Feb. 1st)
John Malkovich takes up the tasteful chapeau of Hercule Poirot in this BBC-produced take on the Agatha Christie classic. The detective has all but settled into retirement when he starts receiving threatening letters signed only with the initials A.B.C. Because his old acquaintances have left the investigative life behind and young gun Inspector Crome (Rupert Grint) doesn’t seem to be on top of his game, Poirot takes it upon himself to unravel this mystery before any more lives are lost. Consider your whodunit itch scratched.
High Flying Bird (Netflix, Feb. 8th)
Filmmaker/rule-breaker Steven Soderbergh’s latest outside-the-lines effort concerns two other outsiders angling to disrupt a large institution: basketball player Erick (Melvin Gregg) and his wily agent Ray (André Holland). Both of them are attempting to end a league-wide lockout by shifting the balance of power between overworked talent and the fatcat team owners. The underdog-sports picture gets a cerebral makeover!
Lorena (Amazon Prime, Feb. 15th)
A native of Ecuador, a career hairdresser, a survivor of domestic abuse — Lorena Bobbitt is all of those things. She’s probably best known, however, for a 1993 incident in which she cut off her husband’s penis and threw it in a field. Naturally, a predominantly male press turned her into a punch line of female rage. This four-episode docuseries from executive producer Jordan Peele looks past the sensationalism to find sympathy for Bobbitt’s plight and new context for her extreme — but dare we say justifiable? — actions.
Paddleton (Netflix, Feb. 22nd)
Upstairs-downstairs neighbors Michael (Mark Duplass) and Andy (Ray Romano) enjoy the kind of low-stakes friendship that flowers between adult oddballs: drinking beers, debating kung fu movies, sharing in the occasional bout of world-weary despair. Their dynamic changes radically when Michael receives a terminal cancer diagnosis and Andy realizes that he may very well lose the one person on Earth who kinda gets him. Dying with a buddy sure beats dying alone.
PEN15 (Hulu, Feb. 8th)
By now, we have a pretty good grasp of the trials and tribulations of middle school: unrequited crushes, pubescent changes to unfamiliar bodies, pop-quiz anxiety. So what does this comedy have that Big Mouth, et al. don’t? Well, creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle portray their acne-speckled younger selves alongside a cast of actual seventh graders. If you thought teens awkwardly leaning in for their first kiss lacked in chemistry before, you … oh shit, we just got that joke re: the title! Ha!
Russian Doll (Netflix, Feb. 1st)
Game developer Nadia (Natasha Lyonne, who co-created this series with Leslye Headland and Amy Poehler) goes to a Manhattan house party one night and discovers she can’t leave. Every time she tries to make an exit, some unlikely accident kills her. Then she wakes up back in the bathroom at the soirée. She has to not only break the loop but also figure out how a stranger seems to know exactly what she’s going through. Early reviews have played it stingy with plot details to preserve all the twisty tricks up this show’s sleeve, so best not to say much more.
This Giant Beast That Is the Global Economy (Amazon Prime, Feb. 22nd)
You know that part in The Big Short where the movie blazes through a snappy explanation of dry, confusing economic concepts spruced up with graphics, humor and celebrity cameos? Imagine an entire series’ worth of that and you’re getting close to Adam McKay’s new project: an eight-part analysis of money and its movements with Kal Penn as our fearless host. From China to the Middle East to Wall Street, he sits down with key figures to suss out everything from why taxes are the scam of the century to what will happen after society breaks down. Get ready, because apparently we’ve got about two months of lawlessness before humanity resorts to cannibalism.
The Umbrella Academy (Netflix, Feb. 15th)
Say what you will about the X-Men, but they never had a talking monkey on the team. This adaptation of a comic series from My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way focuses on an inexplicable genetic event in 1989, which resulted in 43 gifted infants entering the world. Seven of these gifted kids were collected by the enigmatic Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) and raised to defend the planet. The makeshift family (including Ellen Page, Tom Hopper and Robert Sheehan, among others) splintered and only reunited upon the news of his death, delivered by the late Reginald’s simian assistant Pogo. They’ll have to heal old wounds and heed the talking monkey’s warnings in order to defeat an evil force launching an attack on Earth.
Velvet Buzzsaw (Netflix, Feb. 1st)
Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy reteams with Jake Gyllenhaa, who graduates from amoral news hound to amoral chin-stroking art critic. The discovery of a cache of lost paintings from a dead artist sets in motion a surreal, nightmarish series of events that imperils everyone from an esteemed older artist (John Malkovich) to an acidic buyer (Toni Collette). Who wants a broad satire of L.A.’s cutthroat, dog-outbid-dog art world spliced with a supernatural horror flick?
Weird City (YouTube, Feb. 13th)
The future isn’t going to be a shiny, Jetsons-esque utopia of hoverboards and 20-minute work weeks. As this unhinged sci-fi/comedy anthology would have it, the next century will be just as bizarre, absurd and occasionally stupid as our present. An ensemble cast — including Awkwafina, Gillian Jacobs, Michael Cera, Steven Yeun, Laverne Cox, Rosario Dawson and many more — play out vignettes from the distant metropolis of Weird. It’s a dystopic place where cars smoke weed and smart-homes throw their own ragers while the parents are away. So it’s kind of like Brooklyn, in other words.
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