After Life. Ricky Gervais created, directed and stars in this Netflix series about trying to move on after a life-altering event. He plays Tony, a local newspaper writer whose perfect life is turned upside down after his wife suddenly dies. Unable to cope, Tony strongly considers killing himself. Instead, he decides to punish everyone and everything around him by literally say and do whatever he wants. But while Tony feels empowered by this newfound freedom, he isn’t prepared for when everyone in his orbit feels compelled to help become a better person again. As with his previous series, Gervais walks the line between drama and comedy, finding laughs even in the most mundane and dire situations. It’s another winner from one of the top names in comedy. After Life is available Friday on Netflix.
Punk. Iggy Pop executive produced this 4 part EPIX special that looks back at the movement that helped reshape and reset rock n roll. It covers how groups such as The MC5, The Stooges and The New York Dolls laid the groundwork for the New York, London, D.C. and L.A punk scenes, producing such seminal bands such as The Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Clash, Bad Brains, The Germs, Black Flag, among many others. John Lydon, Debbie Harry, Henry Rollins, Marky Ramone, Dave Grohl and Billie Joe Armstrong are some of the movers and shakers who appear throughout the series, along with tons of archival footage and photos. Whether you are a long time fan or want to get a strong primer, this is your ticket. Punk premieres March 11th on EPIX.
Gloria Bell. Academy Award winner Julianne Moore is back in this American remake of Sebastian Lelio’s 2013 film, ‘Gloria’. Moore plays a 50-something L.A. divorcee who still rocks out to her favorite songs in the car, gets the occasional bikini wax and spends her night at a local club that caters to people her age. One night, she meets Arnold (John Turturro), a former Marine and fellow divorcee and the attraction between is immediate. Things between them ramp up quickly, but Gloria begins to question whether or not she’s ready to give up a big chunk of her happy existence to Arnold – especially when Arnold is still hasn’t completely detached himself from his former wife’s life. Moore puts in another career defining performance as the free spirited Gloria. Turturro also delivers an outstanding turn as Gloria’s love interest with Michael Cera and Caren Pistorious leading solid support as Gloria’s adult children navigating through their own life situations. Lelio keeps the direction fairly faithful to the original, but giving the strong cast plenty of opportunities to flex their acting chops. A great look at life and love. Gloria Bell is available in theaters nationwide this weekend.
Babylon. Franco Rosso’s 1980 look at disenfranchised Jamaicans living in London was a hit at the Cannes Film Festival, but the subject matter was so controversial, it received an X-rating in England and was passed over by The New York Film Festival. Now, nearly 40 years later, the film will get its first U.S release. Written by Rosso and Martin Spellman (Quadrophenia), it tells the story of Blue (Brinsley Forde of the group Aswad), a dancehall DJ has to deal with racism, police brutality, xenophobic neighbors and the National Front just to get him and his crew to the next level. What’s astonishing is how Rosso (who passed away in 2016) keeps it absolutely authentic, with the characters speaking in Jamaican patois, avoiding the need for a ‘white savior’ and steering clear of all of the familiar cliches. Even more incredible is how, in regards to many of themes touched upon in this piece, it foreshadows Brexit, and the wave of anti immigrant sentiment here in England and around the world. It’s an vital, important film that is finally having a chance to be seen in the States. Babylon opens in select theaters this weekend. You can also go to www.kinolorber.com for more information.
The Hours And Times. Released in 1992, Christopher Munch’s fictional account of John Lennon and manager Brian Epstein’s extended weekend getaway in Barcelona drew rave reviews around the world. Now, the film has been given a full restoration and is in the midst of a short run in theaters. Ian Hart made the most of his first starring role as Lennon, channeling the late Beatle’s cynicism, wit and confusion as he struggles to come to the grips with the band’s growing fame, becoming a husband and father and his conflicted relationship with his manager. David Angus perfectly captures the suave Epstein, who is very open about his feelings, but increasingly frustrated by what he perceives to be mixed signals from John. Munch also does the cinematography, which is done in glorious black and white to capture the period and the vibe of the times. It’s a moving look at friendship and sexuality as seen through the eyes of two of rock’s biggest movers and shakers. The Hours And Times is select theaters now. You can also go to www.thehoursandtimes.oscilloscope.net for more information.
All The Pieces Matter: The Inside Story Of The Wire by Jonathan Abrams. For six years, the HBO series The Wire re-wrote the rules on the police procedural drama, offering a mulit-dimensional look at the cops, criminals, lawyers and politicians within Baltimore. Written and created by former Baltimore Sun writer David Simon, the show launched the careers of Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Dominic West, Wendell Pierce, Wood Harris and Michael K. Williams, and gave artistic second winds to the careers of veteran actors such as Amy Ryan, Clarke Peters, Clarke Johnson and Glynn Truman. With this new book, Jonathan Abrams talks with all of the principal players involved to provide the definitive oral history of this landmark series. It’s a detailed, comprehensive look at one of TV’s greatest shows. All The Pieces Matter: The Inside Story Of The Wire by Jonathan Abrams is available now through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all major book retailers.
New York City: WOW: Women Of The World Festival. This festival designed to ‘celebrate the formidable power of women to make change happen’ has its roots in London, but once again returns to The Apollo Theater for a series of talks, screenings, debates and performances. Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni, Suze Orman, Alice Smith, Kimberly Nichole are just some of the great ladies slated to perform. Informative, insightful and always fun, this marks the return of what has quickly become a must see New York City event. The Women Of The World Festival runs March 12th through the 17th. You can also go to www.apollotheater.org for more information.