NOAH SCHNAPP, Finn Wolfhard and Caleb McLaughlin.
(photo credit: NETFLIX)
Fans of the Netflix series Stranger Things already know that series three will be released on the Fourth of July, a fitting date since this season is set in the summer, in and around a new shopping mall.
Even if you’re not a huge science-fiction fan, this show, by Matt and Ross Duffer, has such beautifully drawn characters – especially the quartet of tween boys at the center, as well as their troubled parents, older siblings and girlfriends – that it will charm you. The science-fiction plot just keeps the pace going and gives these boys a chance to embark on the classic hero’s journey.
If you haven’t seen it, now’s your chance to check in on the first two seasons, which are available on Netflix. Set in a small town in Indiana in the 1980s, it’s about four nerdy boys who spend their days playing Dungeons & Dragons in the basement, only to be thrust into a world of real terror when one of them disappears, having been abducted into an adjacent realm they dub “the Upside Down.” The only two adults who believe them when they try to explain what is going on are Jim Hopper (David Harbour), the town’s barely functioning police chief, and Joyce (Winona Ryder, in a wonderful comeback performance), a slightly crazed single mom no one takes seriously, even when her son goes missing.
The promos that have come out have made quite a lot of the unlikely friendship between Steve (Joe Keery), the bully on season one who turns out to a brave leader of the younger kids in season two, and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), the most awkward of these excellent nerds.
As with the first two seasons, the production design and cinematography of the series are an affectionate homage to teen movies of the 1980s. If you’re looking for a series you can watch with your teens or tweens, this could be the one.
Another Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, will be back for its final season on July 25.
Big Little Lies is back for its second season on HOT, Yes and Cellcom. If you haven’t seen the end of the first season, nearly any comment on the second season will be a spoiler, so you should probably stop reading here.
The series is about all that is not perfect in a northern California beachfront community, but no facade has ever looked lovelier. This show has set a new standard for real-estate porn; and, if anything, this gets even more intense in season two. All the shots of the Pacific, the rolling lawns, the enormous kitchens, the infinity pools, even an outdoor wine bar are lushly photographed. The hair, makeup, jewelry, fashion and cars add to the eye candy.
But while the look of the series, which this season is being helmed by Andrea Arnold, is about perfection, the story is about terror, violence, humiliation and consequences, as well as the consolations of girl power.
As season two opens, the main characters all struggle to cope with the consequences of the death of Perry (Alexander Skarsgard), who beat his wife, Celeste (Nicole Kidman), savagely.
Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz), who bears direct responsibility for his death, is depressed and guilty, especially since Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) came up with a story that it was an accident. Madeline has troubles of her own, since in the aftermath of Perry’s death, many secrets are revealed. Once the children discover that Jane’s son, Ziggy (Iain Armitage), who was fathered by Perry when he raped Jane (Shailene Woodley), is the half-brother of Celeste’s children, in a roundabout way it comes out that Madeline had an affair with one of her children’s teachers. Renata (Laura Dern) must cope with the fact that her husband is arrested for insider trading. And so it goes.... Much is still rotten in Otter Bay.
But the high-profile addition to the cast, Meryl Streep as Mary Louise, Perry’s mother, is sublime. She is so tough, mean, devastated, vulnerable, crazy and intense, as she tries to be a good mother-in-law to Celeste, that she dominates every scene she’s in. Streep has never been better – think about that for a minute.
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