Culture Hound: The Best Movies, TV, Music and Books of January

Erotic snake princesses? Tom Hardy? It’s a fascinating month.

By Shari Gab

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03 January 2017

Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important pop-culture happenings.

BINGE: Taboo
Tom Hardy and his dad “Chips” (yes, plural, and yes, best name ever) co-created this violent miniseries for FX — with a little help from Ridley Scott and the creative forces behind The Killing and Peaky Blinders. Here, an early 19th century British explorer (Hardy) returns from Africa seeking vengeance, facing off against the East India Company … you know, the Google of their day. (Jan. 10)

VIEW: Perpetual Revolution: The Image and Social Change
The International Center for Photography's upcoming exhibition examines the overwhelming world of provacative and political imagery that surrounds us. The ambitious project addresses five critical matters, including #BlackLivesMatter, gender fluidity, climate change, terrorist propoganda and the refugee crisis. All in, it's as complete an exploration of the images that shaped reporting and social progress over the last few years as you'll find. (opens Jan. 27)

WATCH: Split
January’s usually a dumping ground for bad flicks. But Split, ostensibly a low-budget kidnapping thriller, finds James McAvoy donning 23 different, conflicting personas (!). It’s a bold move, and proof that director M. Night Shyamalan is in the midst of a real creative comeback. (Jan. 20)

READ: Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi
Scalzi, who crafted one of the more grounded dystopian novels of the past few years in Lock In (if you were a fan of The Last Policeman or Wool, you’d dig it), returns with a collection of tiny tales of no more than 2,300 words. Touching on artificial intelligence, alternate realities and interplanetary lawyers, he’s aiming for fun here. Witness the story title “The AI Are Absolutely Positively Without a Doubt Not Here to End Humanity, Honest.”  (Dec. 31)

LISTEN: Japandroids
This Vancouver duo certainly takes its time — in their decade of existence, they’ve survived one break-up and four-plus years between albums. But it’s worth it: new platter Near to the Wild is Heart of Life is the classic rock/garage-y punk singalong album that’ll make 2017 seem like it’s going to be ok. And what other band could unite Pitchfork readers and Springsteen fans? (Jan. 27)

LOOK OUT: No Pants Subway Ride
More of a PSA unless you're into exhibitionism — and freezing your jewels off. Improv Everywhere's annual No Pants Subway ride will descend upon the MTA. It's a good chance to revel in the weirdness that is New York and guaranteed to lighten up any commute. (Jan. 8)

ATTEND: BAM's Annual Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
NYC’s premier celebration honoring pivotal civil-rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. returns for the 31st year. The free event will bring together keynote speaker Opal Tometi, a racial justice and immigrant rights activist and one of the founders of Black Lives Matter. The tribute will also feature performances by the Institutional Radio Choir and Sacred Steel band the Campbell Brothers. (Jan. 16)

LISTEN: Our monthly Spotify playlist
Any month that gives us new Japandroids, The xx and Run the Jewels (who jumped the gun a bit early on their release, stealth launching it on Christmas Day) is fine by us. Also, new tracks by Born Cages, Wale, Ryan Adams and a couple of new stars on the way.

ALSO: Resident Evil VII (the game, not the movie) trades in some of the gunplay for straight-up horror, and adds a creepy VR element (Jan. 24) ... Ken Russell’s bizarro 80s erotic/horror flick Lair of the White Worm finally arrives on Blu-ray. It will make you feel all the wrong things in a good way (Jan. 31) ... Decipher what exactly happened in Mr. Robot season 2 when it hits DVD/Blu-ray (Jan. 10) ... Owen Wilson comedy! Turn off your brain, enjoy Bastards (1/27) ... The best month of TV ever? Let’s count it down: Walt Goggins heads up a U.S. Navy SEAL team in Six (History Channel, Jan. 18) ... Riverdale (The CW, Jan. 26) turns the old Archie comic book gang into teen Twin Peaks ... And we welcome the much-needed return of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX, Jan. 4), Man Seeking Woman (FX, Jan. 4), Portlandia (IFC, Jan. 5), Teachers (TV Land, Jan. 17) and Baskets (FX, Jan. 29).

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