TV Fall Preview: 25 Must-See Shows

The first season of “Stranger Things” was a true surprise. Netflix’s surplus of content makes it easy for a show to sneak up out of nowhere, and while most are middling, some, like this Spielbergian, ‘80s throwback are home runs. A gleeful homage to nearly every sci-fi adventure from that nostalgic decade, “Stranger Things” also managed to carve out its own space, offering up nuanced and well-rounded characters of all stripes and a genuinely startling narrative (not to mention the elder Jean-Ralphio meme that should never die). Certainly, a number of webs were left tangled at the close of season one (Eleven!), but, at this point, it’s hard to imagine that season two can muster the same novel creativity and compact narrative structure. Still, whatever the case may be, odds are “Stranger Things” season two is going to be some of the better hours of TV this fall.

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Venice Film Festival: 13 Must-See Movies

From the demented mind of S. Craig Zahler, the writer/director of “Bone Tomahawk” — 2015’s most memorable (read: scarring) film — “Brawl In Cell Block 99” has our interest peaked for more reasons than one. The first of which being that Zahler took on a well-worn genre with “Bone Tomahawk” and twisted it into something utterly unsettling and mesmerizing, and the prison survival flick is certainly in need of some new blood (pun intended). Second, Zahler managed to craft some truly inspired characters for Kurt Russell and Richard Jenkins for his previous film, so there’s hope he can give Vaughn and Johnson something better to do than their typical, tired roles — like bashing people’s heads in. Then there’s the fact that TIFF’s Midnight Madness programmer called the movie “absolutely deranged.” What’s left to say?

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50 Most Anticipated Films: Fall Movie Preview

While I certainly don’t speak for every voice here at The Playlist, I do feel comfortable in saying there are few directors that excite us more than Tomas Alfredson. The director broke out with his fantastic “Let The Right One In” (which spawned a decent Hollywood reboot), then knocked it out of the park with “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” a movie so tightly cut and intricately paced, that it’s hard to find flaw with. Now it’s been a cold six years with a film from the director, but still it’s difficult to overstate how excited we were to find out he had paired with Michael Fassbender to bring “The Snowman” to life. Based on the best-selling serial killer novel, it’s hard not to be reminded of of the similarly grim and cold murder mystery series, “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” which made for the sort of adult fair that movies are wanting for these days. The only catch is that it’s embarrassingly hard to take the first trailer seriously

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A Heart and a Half

Out by the park, I say, I’ve got your blood in me, and you look at me funny, like you are waiting for this to be another mediocre joke, and it is, somehow, but I don’t know the punchline yet. We’re walking when I say this. It’s winter-solstice-cold, but we’re still young, like we’ve always been, horribly, blasphemously young, young enough that we shouldn’t feel these broke-body aches, not yet, not here, in this city, on your birthday.

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Adam Wingard’s ‘Death Note’ Is Thoughtless & Incoherent [Review]

An intelligent but emotionally wounded teenager with the ability to play god by killing anybody he wants, just by writing their name in a book, is admittedly a compelling idea. The potential for drama packed into the premise alone is worthwhile, not to mention that the boy’s girlfriend is seemingly aroused by his ability to kill, that his father is a reputable cop, and that a secret agency that raises children from infancy to become unstoppable detectives has dispatched their best man to stop him. It’s a lot to digest, especially in just 94 minutes. But, the hopes of the American adaptation of the infamous Japanese manga “Death Note” were put into the hands of Adam Wingard, the rising horror star behind “You’re Next” and “The Guest,” and anxiety eased some. Unfortunately, Wingard’s film is an incoherent mess of tones and styles, confused character motives, and murky narratives. The first name in this Death Note, is the film itself. The rest…