The Best Movies, TV, Books and Music for January
Highlight: Nicolas Cage teaches us the history of swearing
Welcome back to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important cultural happenings, pop and otherwise.
Note: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, release dates are highly tentative.
RETURNING: Search Party
The funny/dark millennial murder mystery took an unexpected turn at the end of Season Three — instead of courtroom antics, it’s now a search for a suddenly kidnapped Dory (Alia Shawkat). And Elliott (John Early) selling out to become a far-right talk show host should be comedy gold. (HBO Max, Jan. 28)
Other returning TV series and specials: The Bachelor (ABC, Jan. 4); American Gods (Starz, Jan. 10); Disenchantment (Netflix, Jan. 15); Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO, Jan. 15); Batwoman (The CW, Jan. 17); Riverdale (The CW, Jan. 20); Snowpiercer (TNT, Jan. 25); Desus & Mero (Showtime, Jan. 31)
How did U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies treat Martin Luther King, Jr.? Not well, as shown by director Sam Pollard’s exploration of J. Edgar Hoover’s surveillance of the civil rights leader. (VOD, Jan. 15)
More new films coming to the small screen and big: One Night in Miami, Regina King’s fictional take on what happened on the 1964 night after Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston (Jan. 15, Prime Video); Our Friend, a dramedy with Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson and Jason Segel (VOD, Jan. 22); The Little Things, a crime thriller starring Denzel Washington and Rami Malek (HBO Max, Jan. 29)
STREAM: History of Swear Words
Host Nicolas Cage screaming “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucccccck” for nearly ten seconds is a good opening tease for this six-part documentary on the origins of cursing, as produced by Funny or Die. (Netflix, Jan. 5)
New TV series and specials: Play along with the amped-up, Jeopardy-like game show The Chase (ABC, Jan. 7); Ted Danson returns to sitcoms with Mr. Mayor (NBC, Jan. 7); Marvel’s TV plan kicks off with WandaVision (Disney+, Jan. 15); extraterrestrials and detective show tropes collide in Resident Alien (Syfy, Jan. 27); and the Grammys return (CBS, Jan. 31).
Now that The Great Gatsby is in the public domain, do we really need a wartime prequel following Nick Carraway? Probably not, but the first attempt at mining the GGEU (Great Gatsby Extended Universe) has scored some decent reviews. (Jan. 5)
Other new book releases: The Prophets by Robert Jones, Jr. (Jan. 5); Saving Justice: Truth, Transparency, and Trust by James Comey (Jan. 12); A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders (Jan. 12); That Old Country Music by Kevin Barry (Jan. 12); Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Changed the Modern World by Simon Winchester (Jan. 19); Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion (Jan. 26); The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto by Charles M. Blow (Jan. 26)
The annual tech conference is going all digital in 2021, but there are still plenty of announcements and products that’ll get you unnecessarily excited for the new year. To start: Giant transparent OLED screens and a GM electric pickup. (Jan. 11-14)
We called Woman, the first record from Canadian act Rhye (led by singer Mike Milosh), one of our favorite debut albums of the last decade. On their fourth release, the band continues to explore electro-disco grooves. And the video for “Black Rain” (above)? Muscularly sensuous. (Jan. 22)
More new albums: The Dirty Nil (Jan. 1); Steve Earle (Jan. 4); Matthew Sweet (Jan. 15); Jeff Tweedy (Jan. 15); Bring Me the Horizon (Jan. 22); Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (Jan. 29); Lucero (Jan. 29)
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