The Best Movies, TV, Music and Books of January

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

By The Editors
January 3, 2017 9:00 am

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

BINGE: Taboo
Tom Hardy and his dad “Chips” (yes, plural, and yes, best name ever) co-created this violent miniseries for F/X—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: Photo L.A.
Now in its 26th season, Photo LA will feature LIFE photographer Grey Villet’s arresting black-and-whites of segregated Virginia (including the Lovings) as well as his stunning images of the late David Bowie. (Jan 12-15)

DANCE: Hamilton Leithauser
There are still tickets available to the first night of Hamilton Leithauser’s (the Walkmen) two night stand at The Teragram Ballroom, a small venue for a man with a big sound. The album was two years in the making, and we counted it among our favorites of 2016. (Jan 16)

The best comedy festival in the land includes a special screening of Blazing Saddles and a talk with its creator, Mel Brooks. We’re also pumped for raspy-voiced standup comedian Kyle Kinane. (Jan 19-22)

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 2300 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)

VIEW: Art Los Angeles Contemporary
The L.A. Art Fair is larger, but the ALAC in Santa Monica has a better curation of works from our town’s best emerging artists. (Jan 26-29)

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)

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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