The Best Movies, TV, Books and Music for January

Need 48 reasons to stay inside this month? Here you go.

January 4, 2018 9:00 am

Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important cultural happenings, pop and otherwise.

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)

PERUSE: #PlanetPlastic

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.

Laugh: San Francisco Sketchfest

Three weeks. 230 shows. A laugh-laden laundry list of comedy tributes, improv, live podcasts…and a rap battle or two. It’s the 17th annual, and the festival’s got Fred Armisen, Bob Odenkirk, and Dave Eggers on the advisory board. (Jan. 11-28)

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)

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)

Eat: Oakland Restaurant Week /San Francisco Restaurant Week

Don’t worry about “gyms” and “resolutions.” Three weeks of kingly eating are about to roll through the Bay Area, if you’d just listen to that wanderlustin’ stomach of yours and hop on board. Check out participating restaurants and decide on which prix fixe works well.  (Jan 11-21 for OAK) / (Jan. 22-31 for SF)

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)

LISTEN: Our January playlist

New songs from MGMT, Cardi B, Moby, Migos, N.E.R.D., Lily Allen and more.  Oh, and the best of 2017, in case you missed it (the playlist, not the year).

Admire: Fraenkel Gallery

Art & Vinyl: a straight-forward title for an exhibit. But what a delightfully complex intersection of artists and musical records it’s poised to portray. From Picasso’s painting for Paul Robeson’s Songs of Peace to Richard Hamilton’s famous work on The Beatles’ The White Album, Fraenkel pays tribute to records’ other medium of art. (Jan. 4-March 3)

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)

Enjoy: Pop-Up Magazine

A magazine, performed on stage? Pop-Up teams TV writers, photographers, radio hosts, musicians, novelists under live lights to share true stories to an audience. It’s purposely hard to wrap your head around before going. The show’s not until early February but ticks are limited so grab ’em now. (Feb. 1-2)

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).

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.