“Glass,” the trilogy topper we didn’t know we needed, is a unique animal. It’s hard for me to put a finger on how I feel about it, as it is a very unconventional superhero film, choosing to focus on narrative rather than CGI battles. Today’s cinema is dominated by Marvel and DC blockbusters (most recently the CGI fest “Aquaman”), but writer-director M. Night Shyamalan grounds us in reality by keeping everything just believable enough.
A priest, a singer and a vacuum salesman walk into a hotel … What sounds like the beginning of a good joke is the basis for writer-director Drew Goddard’s newest work, “Bad Times at the El Royale” (2018), set in 1969. Goddard (“Daredevil”) channels his inner Quentin Tarantino with a layered mystery of murder and deceit, dripping with style and intrigue. The El Royale hotel, which lies on the state line of California and Nevada, clearly has a history, and it’s almost a character itself.
I don’t classify myself as a gamer, but video games are definitely still a part of my life. Having played through multiple “choose your own adventure”-style games, I was excited to give “Bandersnatch” (2018) a try. I have enjoyed nearly every episode of “Black Mirror,” so I was excited to dive in to this movie spinoff of the Netflix series.
These are the movies and TV shows I’m looking forward to in the new year:
When we say “the new Paul Feig movie,” something like “A Simple Favor,” now on home video, is not what we’d expect from the co-creator of “Freaks and Geeks” and the director of many subsequent comedies with heart. But, you know, it’s pretty cool that someone can have enough success to break out of the category we’ve put him in – even if we like his work in that category.
It has become comfortingly familiar at this point: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child take us – via their adventurous leads – to some corner of the Earth that still holds mysteries in the 21st century. Or that we can imagine still holds mysteries, if our knowledge of the place is sketchy enough that we can fool ourselves. The latest locale is southeastern Egypt in “The Pharaoh Key” (June 2018, hardcover), a novel that does its part to get the correct spelling of “pharaoh” back in the lexicon after the success of that darn horse.
A lot of movies could benefit from a viewer going in with no knowledge of what they’re about to see, but in the age of previews giving away everything, it’s hard to find an experience like that. Streaming services might be bringing it back though: A synopsis and a still image look intriguing, the service recommends it to you based on your viewing habits, it gets good ratings from others … so maybe you’ll give it a shot. Netflix’s “Cam” benefits from the Mystery Mine Ride approach.
I went into “Homecoming” (Amazon Prime) pretty blind. I had seen a few quick ads for the show but had no idea what it was about, or who was involved in the making of it. I will avoid talking about the plot at all here, so you can do the same.
“A Million Little Things” (10 p.m. Eastern Wednesdays on ABC) is the least bad network newcomer I’ve reviewed so far. If the search for answers to why a guy (Ron Livingston’s real-estate mogul Jon) jumped off a high balcony to his death grabs you – hey, this premise made “13 Reasons Why” a hit – then it might be worth pursuing. This show handles suicide and depression with a defter touch than you might fear, but also focuses on a narrow swath of the population: well-off folks in Boston.
CBS adds to its stable of modernized nostalgia-driven shows (see also “Hawaii Five-0” and “MacGyver”) with “Magnum P.I.” (9 p.m. Eastern Mondays), which drops the comma and trades Tom Selleck’s ‘stache for Jay Hernandez’s goatee, but retains most other elements of the 1980s action/detective classic. I’m guessing old-school fans aren’t as enthusiastic about the update as Magnum is about crashing Porsches in pursuit of bad guys, because it rates a mere 4.6 on IMDB.