By Chris Kornelis
How did an Italian-made financial conspiracy thriller starring Patrick Dempsey end up on the CW? It's a question that John Jurgensen answers this week in a piece about "Devils." The series is set amid the European debt crisis and has elements of murder, lust and betrayal. Read more about "Devils."
If you're watching "The Crown" on Netflix, The Wall Street Journal's U.K. and Brexit editor Stephen Fidler examines how the series deals with Margaret Thatcher's legacy. (Read about "The Crown" here.)
And elsewhere Ellen Gamerman looks at David Fincher's "Mank," streaming on Netflix starting Dec. 4 (and playing in theaters now). The movie, which is about the making of "Citizen Kane" joins a wave of films that tell behind-the -scenes stories of iconic movies. Problem is: not every famous director wants the story of their movie told. Read more here.
Oh, and ICYMI: "Wonder Woman 1984" is coming to HBO Max on Christmas. The big-budget blockbuster, whose release was delayed because of the pandemic, is dropping on the streaming platform the same day it opens in theaters.
Here's what's streaming this week:
New Release: 'Run'
"Run," a new thriller about a mother (Sarah Paulson) who keeps her teenage daughter sick and home, is heavily influenced by the childhood of director and co-screenwriter Aneesh Chaganty.
The movie, out now on Hulu, is set in the rather remote Pasco, Wash., a city known less for its appearances in Hollywood films than for its proximity to the Hanford Site, a former plutonium production facility, where he spent summers visiting family growing up. The rest of the film is directly inspired by the films he watched growing up.
"I'm a huge, huge fan of early M. Night Shyamalan and Alfred Hitchcock," he says. "A lot of what I wanted to make with this film was very much like a homage and emulation of what I felt was to me watching their movies, the experiences."
Specifically, Mr. Chaganty says the Hitchcock movies he drew from include "Psycho" (Peacock), "Rear Window" (Peacock) and "Shadow of a Doubt" (Peacock). From Mr. Shyamalan, he says he wanted to borrow the visual styles of both "Unbreakable" (HBO Max) and "Signs" ( Amazon). Mr. Chaganty says he also counts Rob Reiner's adaptation of Stephen King's "Misery" (Amazon), about an obsessed fan who holds a writer captive, as a big influence.
"Obviously this movie is very easily pitched as sort of 'Misery' with a mom and a daughter,' he says. For more about this movie and Sarah Paulson's role as a mother who can't be trusted read our interview here.
New Release: 'Small Axe'
( Amazon Prime Video)
Steve McQueen, director of the Academy Award-winning film "12 Years a Slave" returns with not one, but five new films, which appear weekly on Amazon Prime Video, beginning today. The collection of films, "Small Axe, " are inspired by the experience of London's West Indian community in the '60s, '70s and '80s.
"After all, Small Axe refers to an African proverb that means together we are strong," Mr. McQueen explained in a press release. "The anthology, anchored in the West Indian experience in London, is a celebration of all that that community has succeeded in achieving against the odds. To me, it is a love letter to Black resilience, triumph, hope, music, joy and love as well as to friendship and family. Oh, and let's not forget about food too!"
The first of the films, "Mangrove," streaming now, is based on the true story of the owner of a West Indian restaurant and his friends who, after peacefully protesting police discrimination in the streets, are put on trial for inciting a riot. Subsequent films, which vary in length between 61 and 126 minutes, are being released on Fridays through Dec. 18.
An Expert Recommends: 'White Material,' 'Derry Girls'
( The Criterion Channel, Netflix)
Rachel Chavkin won a Tony Award in 2019 for directing the musical "Hadestown." Here, she recommends a movie and a series from different parts of the globe. Edited from an interview.
"For me, I'm most turned on by stories about the very personal within the very political or epic, and that help me understand historical or mythological moments in a different way. I recently watched 'White Material' by French director Claire Denis. The film is set in an unspecified postcolonial French-speaking African nation that's descending into civil war, and it follows a white coffee plantation owner (Isabelle Huppert as Maria Vial). It may as well be set in the American South, if you just put her in a hoop skirt. I think it captures what a nightmare Scarlett O'Hara actually is. A totally unflinching, unsentimental look at the violence and pathetic desperation of colonialism, that's sometimes savage and sometimes so wildly tragic.
"I've also been watching 'Derry Girls' on Netflix. It's a comedy about a group of young girlfriends who live in Northern Ireland during the final years of the Troubles. It's such a delight to watch young women be as raunchy and complicated and humiliating as they are. And it's a really beautiful friendship between these young women. I just love that show."
Family Hour: 'Animaniacs'
"Animaniacs," the frenetic, Steven Spielberg-produced cartoon that was put in the ground in the '90s, like so many of the decade's artifacts, has been exhumed. The rebooted series premieres Friday on Hulu.
The musical/variety show stars the Warner siblings and includes a large cast of characters, and introduced the world to the likes of "Pinky and the Brain," in its many skits. The crew behind the reboot includes fresh faces and original talent, such as Maurice LaMarche who voices as the Brain half of "Pinky and the Brain." Co-executive producer Gabe Swarr, for example, was in high school when the original show was on the air. At the time, his loyalties lay elsewhere.
"There were definitely two different camps," Mr. Swarr said in a Zoom call with Mr. LaMarche. "There was the 'Animaniacs' camp and the 'Ren & Stimpy' camp. And I was in the 'Ren & Stimpy' camp."
"I'm glad you were a 'Ren & Stimpy' person," said Mr. LaMarche. "While this new team has honored and had some reverence for what came in the '90s, the guys like Gabe, who are willing to take a bit of a chance and have a bit of an edge, really have given this show a new flavor."
Speaking of "The Ren & Stimpy Show": A reboot of the series was announced earlier this year. For now, the original series is streaming on CBS All Access.
This Week In Christmas: "Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square" hits Netflix on Sunday. Meanwhile, Star Wars -- which has never fully recovered from 1978's "Star Wars Holiday Special" -- released "LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special" this week on Disney+.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires