Some mind-tripping sci-fi movies and TV shows anchor a wide selection of screen goodies this week.
High-Rise: Tom Hiddleston’s character is a resident in a high-rise building you could described as a monolith to modernity – it has everything from schools to supermarkets to an Eden-esque garden on the roof.
Like Brave New World, there is a strict social stratum within the building, the higher your floor, the more privileged you are. When the power and water fail, those boundaries vanish and chaotic class warfare starts.
The resulting mess is a ghoulish and frightening cautionary tale for our own world’s increasing gap between the rich and poor. It’s a wild experience. Watch it: Binge*/Stan
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Brave New World: Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel is considered a seminal work of literature, exploring ideas about individuality versus state control. If you’re like me, you didn’t finish the book because you were a bratty 15-year-old who didn’t do what your English teacher told you to do. Now, there’s a TV adaptation, a slick sci-fi series set in a future where humans are born without families and have a pre-determined caste and role in life. And where happiness is just the aspiration but mandated through mood-enhancing drugs. Watch it: Stan, from Friday, October 16
SOMETHING WITH TIME TRAVEL
Star Trek Discovery S3: You don’t have to be a Trekkie to get a kick out of Discovery (believe me, I wasn’t and I’m still not). With its female lead and coterie of heroes and villains, the propulsive action series with an earnest heart returns for its third season this Friday. Now, the team finds themselves almost a millennia into the future, going further in time than the franchise ever has, which opens up a new universe of storytelling possibilities. Watch it: Netflix, from Friday, October 16 (weekly)
Looper: Rian Johnson’s third feature is a compelling mix of sci-fi and crime, with more than a dash of action thrown in there. It’s set in a future where time travel is possible, but it’s exploited by crime syndicates to disappear bodies. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays an assassin who must reckon with the older version of himself (Bruce Willis) he’s obliged to kill as part of his contract. Smart, twisty in a good way and thrilling. Watch it: Binge/Amazon Prime/Stan
SOMETHING WITH A COURTROOM
The Trial of the Chicago 7: Aaron Sorkin first made his screen splash with A Few Good Men and now he returns to the courtroom with this dramatised true story of a group of 1968 anti-war protesters the government charged with conspiracy and incitement to riot. It may have Sorkin’s trademark rhythmic dialogue, but this is a more cynical indictment of the institutions of American power. Watch it: Netflix, from Friday, October 16
The Firm: This paranoid legal thriller has everything you want you a paranoid legal thriller – suspicious deaths, a conspiracy involving rich bastards and Tom Cruise running. Adapted from John Grisham’s novel, it’s a heart-pounding action thriller that manages to sustain the tension all the way through. Watch it: Amazon Prime/Stan
SOMETHING WITH POSH ACCENTS
Talking Heads: Playwright Alan Bennett’s seminal 1980s series featured prominent thespians giving monologues to the camera. Maybe that sounds dull, but marry a talented actor with great writing, and it’s gripping stuff – which is why Talking Heads has endured to the point that there’s now a remake. The 2020 collection features performances from Harriet Walter, Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig, Kristin Scott Thomas, Jodie Comer and Imelda Staunton. Watch it: BBC First on Foxtel Now/Fetch from Sunday, October 18
Love and Friendship: Based on Jane Austen’s posthumously published novel Lady Susan, the story focuses on a scheming young widow who contrives to secure wealthy husbands for herself and her daughter. Starring Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny and Xavier Samuel, the movie is as witty and beguiling as Lady Susan herself, an enchanting comedy of manners. Watch it: Stan/SBS On Demand
SOMETHING WITH CHEEKY HUMOUR
Gruen: If you think back to when Gruen (then called The Gruen Transfer) was first mooted, no one thought a show about advertising, broadcast on a channel that disallows commercial mentions, would last 12 seasons. But it has – because it cleverly sorts through the bullcrap that we’re constantly fed – OK, Bankwest, you’re sick of “bank stuff” but you’re owned by CommBank? Wonder if the Gruen team will have anything to say about the state of spin in 2020? Watch it: ABC iview from Wednesday, October 14
Best in Show: We may all be riding on a Schitt’s Creek wave of love but don’t forget about the movies which Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara are best known for – Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries. Among them, Best in Show, a satire of the wacky world of competitive dog shows. Co-starring Parker Posey, John Michael Higgins, Michael McKean, Jane Lynch and Jennifer Lynch, it’s hard to sort out the animals from their bizarre owners. Watch it: iTunes/Google Play
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