I Know This Much Is True. The HBO adaptation of Wally Lambert’s best selling book stars Mark Ruffalo as twin brothers Dominick and Thomas Birdsey. Thomas is a paranoid schizophrenic who has been in and out mental hospitals his entire life, while Dominick is a former teacher turned house painter, who also keeps tabs on his brother. When Thomas cuts off his hand as an act of protest against the impending Gulf War, it puts Dominick on a journey that find missing pieces of his past – and come to terms with his own life choices. Ruffalo puts in double duty as the troubled twins and he’s electric. As Dominick, he captures his empathy, his anger and the relentless pursuit to put together the shattered fragments of his life, in order to move forward. Playing Thomas, he shows the internal struggles of mental illness and the difficulties – and extremes – that those with schizophrenia have to deal with moment to moment and not just day to day. It’s a fantastic performance in a career that has been loaded with them. The series is also a showcase for some of our best character actors: Melissa Leo as their dying mother who holds on a key secret to the brothers past; Kathryn Hahn as Dominick’s ex-wife Dessa; Imogen Poots as Joy, Dominick’s current girlfriend who harbors secrets of her own; Archie Panjabi as Dr. Patel, Thomas’ psychologist; and a whirlwind performance by Juliette Lewis as Nedra Frank, the grad student that Dominick hires to translate his late grandfather’s life story. With great direction for Derek Cinfrance (Blue Valentine), this is a series that pulls you in and refuses to let go, long after its over. I Know This Much Is True airs Sunday night at 9pm on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.
Have A Good Trip: Adventures In Psychedelics. The facts, myths and secrets behind psychedelic drugs are at the heart of this new Netflix documentary. Director Donick Cary mixes in animation and archival footage as artists such as Sting, Rosie Perez, Sarah Silverman, Natasha Lyonne, Deepak Chopra, Reggie Watts, Kathleen Hanna, Marc Maron, and Lewis Black tell hilarious stories about their most memorable acid trips. As an added bonus, we have appearances by the late and much missed Anthony Bourdain and Carrie Fisher talk candidly about breaking on through the other side. The celebs also tell the flip side of their mind excursions when discussing freak outs and bad trips. Finally, the doc shows the new developments in LSD research that is starting to shed many of the negative connotations attached to the drug – and has led a number of states to decriminalize mushrooms. A trippy, entertaining doc. Have A Good Trip: Adventures In Psychedelics is available now on Netflix.
Trial By Media. Does non-stop media coverage of case and the presence of cameras in the courtroom unfairly tip the scales of justice? This new Netflix docu-series tries to answer these questions and others like it, by examining six high-profile court cases: The 1984 gang rape case trial in New Bedford, Massachusetts which was broadcast live on CNN; The corruption trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2009; The 2000 court case involving four New York City Police Department officers in the shooting death of Amadou Diallo; The 1985 ‘Subway Vilgilante’ case involving Bernard Goetz; former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy’s money laundering and extortion charges in the mid 2000s; and the 1996 murder trial of Jonathan Schmitz, who was accused of murdering Scott Amedure after Amedure professed his secret crush on Schmitz during an appearance on The Jenny Jones Show. Executive produced by George Clooney and Court TV founders Jeffrey Toobin and Steven Brill, it combines archival footage and new interviews with those directly involved with the case, legal experts, the reporters who covered the case to make arguments – pro and con – about how the outcome in each of these instances were shaped by the newspaper, radio and television narratives. Informative, incisive and at times, sad and tragic, this is a must see docu-series for those into true crime stories. Trial By Media is available now on Netflix.
Becoming (Music From The Netflix Original Documentary) by Kamasi Washington. While on tour, Kamasi Washington was given the offer a lifetime: To write and perform the score for a documentary on former First Lady Michelle Obama. Despite having a limited window to pull it off, the critically acclaimed saxophonist answered the bell, delivering a score that runs from late 60s Motown bounce, pre-bop jazz, lush orchestrations and Latin driven ballads. What’s more remarkable is how Washington was able to step into each musical era period, capture its essence, yet still manage to capture his own distinctive sound. It’s a dynamic stand alone soundtrack that also acts a musical time capsule. Becoming (Music From The Netflix Original Documentary) by Kamasi Washington is available now through Amazon, Apple Music and all major streaming platforms.
All Visible Objects by Moby. After releasing a pair of ambient-based albums and a controversial memoir, Moby gets back to basics for his 15th LP. Recorded at the legendary EastWest Studios, it combines the pulsating energy of house, techno and rave music with well placed gospel infused wails, dub poetry and strong calls for action. There’s also plenty of piano interludes, lush orchestrations and sweeping landscapes that have become his trademark. Coming off like the soundtrack to a cool pandemic party, Moby has put together his most accessible album since Play. As he’s done over the last decade, all proceeds from the album will benefit various animal and human rights organizations. All Visible Objects by Moby is available now through Amazon, Apple Music and all major streaming platforms.