Last weekend, I burned through Neo Yokio, which is the new love-it-or-hate-it must-watch series on Netflix. It's a six-episode anime voiced by a ton of big stars, but the most important thing to know is that it comes from Vampire Weekend leader Ezra Koenig. And I suspect that if you like Vampire Weekend's simultaneous embrace and mockery of high society, you'll also find something to like in the show.
There's a lot to unpack, but the thing that I want to focus on really briefly is Neo Yokio's world: it takes place in an alternate universe New York City where demons exist, there is exactly one futuristic robot butler in the entire city, and part of Manhattan has been flooded. (In a hilarious though unrealistic fashion, the water washes straight up to 14th Street and then stops.)
What's really weird is that it's not clear if this takes place in present day or the future. There are smartphones, but the Soviet Union still exists. French Canada is seemingly its own country. And the Twin Towers are still standing, either because the city flooded early enough or 9/11 didn't happen. I have no idea why any of these decisions were made or how they’re supposed to color the story, but I love that these strange twists build out a bigger, more curious world than a six-episode series ought to be able to do. (Update: I got an answer.)
Check out nine trailers from this week below.
Alex Garland went from hit screenwriter to hit screenwriter / director a few years ago with Ex Machina, and this week we finally got a look at his follow-up: a bigger, creepier sci-fi movie that seems to start off kind of like “Arrival in a jungle,” and then gets much, much stranger. I really like the look so far. It comes out February 23rd.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
The hard part about sequels based on really specific premises is that the creators somehow have to figure out how to get their characters into the same exact situation over and over and over again in the sequels (see Prison Break for a truly awful example). Naturally, the third and final Maze Runner involves a maze, but this time, they have to get into the maze instead of getting out of it. The movie comes out January 26th.
HBO has a new documentary coming up that ought to appeal to film geeks: it's all about Steven Spielberg's films and career. Naturally, the documentary speaks to a bunch of major actors and directors who know and have worked with him, including Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio. It comes out October 7th.
Couple things here: first, apparently Spike TV is being rebranded as the "Paramount Network," which sounds kind of pretentious but is definitely better than Spike TV. Second, this TV miniseries suggests Paramount is attempting an early leap into prestige TV, with Michael Shannon and Taylor Kitsch offering some solid star power. The six-part series is about the religious cult at Waco and the subsequent firefight that broke out with law enforcement in 1993. The Paramount Network goes live January 18th, and Waco is supposed to start the same month.
John Travolta plays the head of the Gambino crime family in Gotti, a film about how John Gotti took over as a mafia leader and was eventually brought down. The film comes from Lionsgate Premiere, which makes movies that are designed to hit streaming services alongside their theatrical release, so this doesn't seem like a huge, big-budget ordeal. But at the very least, it seems like a good role for Travolta. It comes out December 15th.
I probably shouldn't be so surprised to see a sequel to the first Creep. The low-budget, found-footage horror movie seemed like it was too weird to be more than a one-off, but the film came from Blumhouse — the studio behind films like Paranormal Activity and Insidious — which loves to spin cheap but successful films out into ongoing franchises. That seems to be the case here, as there are apparently plans to turn this series into a trilogy. The sequel comes out digitally on October 24th.
Early reviews for Darkest Hour seem to put a big focus on just how transformative Gary Oldman's performance is as Winston Churchill, and it's easy to see why from the trailer. He's totally unrecognizable (although, that may be more of a testament to makeup and costume than acting). I'm also really caught by the great visuals here. Joe Wright's films always have a way of looking brilliant, but not distractedly so, and that seems to be the case here, too. Darkest Hour comes out November 22nd.
Bill Nye: Science Guy
PBS has a documentary coming up about Bill Nye and his work promoting science education. While the documentary covers his famous TV show, it seems to be focused more on what Nye is up to nowadays, which is more about getting adults engaged — and tends to involve going on news shows to argue with misinformed pundits. The film will have a slow expansion in theaters starting from October 27th.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
If you saw The Lobster, you'll have a hint for just how strange its director’s next film seems like it's going to be. And to be clear, The Killing of a Sacred Deer looks like it's going to be really creepy and weird. Creepy things happening in a (seemingly) otherwise normal word are often much creepier than creepy things happening in an already creepy world, and that seems to be a lot of what we're seeing here. The film comes out October 20th.