Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important cultural happenings, pop and otherwise.
WATCH: The Chi
This month sees the premiere of The Chi, the new Showtime show from Common and Lena Waithe, the Chicagoan who made history last year, becoming the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing for her work on Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. She turns to drama for The Chi, which tells the intertwining stories of seven residents on the South Side of Chicago. Ahead of its premiere, you can preview the first episode on YouTube. (1/7)
WATCH: The Alienist
Seriously, stay indoors: January may end up being 2018’s best month for the small screen. Start here, with the long-awaited Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) adaptation of Caleb Carr’s turn-of-the-century murder mystery/thriller. (Jan. 22, TNT)
You want to protect Africa’s wildlife. You enjoy the work of Belgian model Marisa Papen. You need a calendar. Here’s a triple-threat solution: a year of NSFW pics of Papen, taken in Africa, with proceeds benefiting Forgotten Parks, an organization that rescues animals, fights off poachers and trains rangers.
SEE: Barbara Jones-Hugo: Resist, Relate, Unite 1968-1975
Considered by many as a forgotten figure in the Black Arts Movement, Chicago-based artist Barbara Jones-Hugo spent a career working in various mediums and has contributed to major local projects including the city’s Wall of Respect mural. The artist’s first solo museum exhibition will feature woodcuts, etchings and screenprints. (Opens 1/11)
READ: Gnomon: A Novel
Nick Harkaway (the son of spy author John le Carré) has carved out his own niche for weird, reality-bending fiction. His latest book aims for future noir — it’s a detective story set in a dystopian future, where every thought and word is known and recorded by an overreaching “System.” Seems prescient. (Jan. 9)
Michael Shannon returns to Red Orchid Theatre (his home theatre company that’s celebrating its 25th anniversary this year) to direct Traitor. The play — a Brett Neveu adaptation of the Henrik Ibsen classic, “Enemy of the People” — is set in a small North Chicago suburb where the safety of a new charter school’s grounds come into question. (Opens 1/14)
WATCH: The Clapper
January is a cesspool of low-budget horror flicks and abandoned studio films needing a brief theatrical home. If you must head out in this weather, try this crowd-pleasing indie comedy-drama, where Ed Helms as an infomercial regular who gets a surprising 15 minutes of unwanted fame. (Jan. 26)
PLAY: The Inpatient
The first great virtual-reality game? Sony opts for tension and chills in this immersive, first-person VR mystery, where you play an amnesiac inpatient who must solve the mystery of why you’re in a creepy sanitorium. (Jan. 23, Playstation VR)
GO: Tomorrow Never Knows
The indoor music fest is reason to brave the cold weather, with acts like indie stalwart Destroyer and noise-rock duo No Age headlining. If anything, it’s the answer to summer’s glut of music festivals, which more or less is a lot of the same. Expect smaller up-and-coming acts. (Begins 1/17)
STREAM: A Futile and Stupid Gesture
The birth of counterculture comedy is highlighted in David Wain’s biopic on National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney (Will Forte), the man who co-created Caddyshack and Animal House. (Jan. 26, Netflix)
David Lynch, Nudes
And don’t forget ... On The Worms Heart (Jan. 19), The Shins reinvent last year’s acclaimed Heartworms album by making the slow songs fast and vice versa ... There’s a multitude of deleted scenes and bonus footage available for IT (Jan. 9) and Blade Runner 2049 (Jan. 16), two of last year’s better (and better-looking) films coming to Blu-ray ... Yes, David Lynch’s book of nudes (out now) is as weird and alluring as you’d guess ... The civil war in Yemen and great coffee are at the center of Dave Eggers’ new true-life tale The Monk of Mokha (Jan. 30) ... Rose McGowan’s naming names and continuing the needed work of the #MeToo movement in her autobiography Brave (Jan. 30) ... And finally, the welcome TV return of The Good Place (Jan. 4), Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (Jan. 5), Crashing (Jan. 14), American Crime Story (Jan. 17), Planet Earth (Jan. 20) and Baskets (Jan. 23).