Calum Henderson’s picks: Best TV, movies and podcasts | #entertainment | #news


The Old Man Disney+. Photo / Supplied

Watch, listen and be inspired by Calum Henderson’s definitive list of what’s hot right now and gems from the vault.

The Old Man (Disney+)

When an actor reaches a certain age in Hollywood the types of roles they can play inevitably begins to narrow. For women that age is probably something stupid like 35; for men you can pretty much double it. At 72, you might think Jeff Bridges’ window for “deadly fugitive” roles would have shut decades ago – and yet here we are with The Old Man, an action thriller that throws the whole rule book out the window.

Bridges plays Dan Chase, who at first glimpse more than lives up to the character promised by the title: distinguished white beard, excellent taste in quarter-zip knitwear, good at driving a manual, two loyal dogs who sleep on the floor next to his bed but jump up and steal his spot when he gets up to pee several times during the night.

He also lives almost completely off the grid in a house laden with tripwires, for reasons that become clearer after he shoots and kills an intruder.

“They found me,” he tells his daughter on the phone from the middle of the highway. “I gotta get ahead of it now.” Specific details are hard to come by but “they” appears to be the FBI. A senior member by the name of Harold Harper (John Lithgow) is taking a particularly keen interest, however, for the sake of his own reputation he’d prefer it if Chase wasn’t actually caught, so he gives him a little courtesy call to fill him in on the terms of engagement.

It’s classic fugitive thriller stuff – pure cat and mouse tension on the surface, powered by a complex machinery of top secret high-level military stuff or whatever Dan Chase was up to in the 80s that’s made the FBI so keen to “retrieve” him all these years later. And the two ageing leads? They’ve very much still got it.

Andor (Disney+, from Wednesday)

Andor on Disney+, from Wednesday. Photo / Supplied
Andor on Disney+, from Wednesday. Photo / Supplied

If you thought the Star Wars TV series about Obi-Wan Kenobi or Boba Fett were getting a bit niche, Andor takes it up another level by being about a character who wasn’t even in one of the original movie trilogy. Played by Diego Luna, Cassian Andor first appeared in 2016’s Rogue One, which took place just before 1977’s A New Hope. This series, then, is technically the prequel to that prequel, following Andor’s journey from thief to revolutionary to a member of the Rebel Alliance, pre-Luke Skywalker joining and showing them all how it’s done vis a vis “the force”.

Gaslit (Prime Video)

Gaslit on Prime Video. Photo / Supplied
Gaslit on Prime Video. Photo / Supplied

For the best part of 50 years now we’ve been suffixing “-gate” to an increasingly trivial array of scandals. The gate that started it all, Watergate, was the name of a building complex in Washington, DC, which housed the Democratic National Committee headquarters. The scandal, which resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon, provides the backdrop for Gaslit, a new series based on the podcast series Slow Burn. Like the podcast, it focuses on untold, behind-the-scenes sides of the scandal – the main character in this story is the attorney-general’s wife, played by none other than Julia Roberts (the husband? Sean Penn).

Swimming With Sharks (Prime Video)

It’s one thing to remake a beloved classic movie from the 80s and 90s and risk ruining everybody’s childhoods – better to remake a movie most people have forgotten or never knew existed in the first place. Swimming With Sharks, a remake of the 1994 Kevin Spacey film of the same name, stars Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka as the new intern at a typically toxic Hollywood studio, following her attempts to get a leg up in the notoriously cutthroat, backstabby industry that loves nothing more than to satirise itself via shows like this. Screen legend Donald Sutherland makes an appearance as the studio’s ailing chairman.

Movie of the Week: The Breaker Upperers (Neon)

Quite weird when you think of everything else that’s happened in the five years since The Breaker Upperers came out that no one has taken the movie’s central idea and tried to make it work in real life. There are so many business ideas out there that are so much stupider. Madeleine Sami and Jackie Van Beek’s humble New Zealand comedy classic about an agency for people who need help breaking up with their partners is just the blueprint – the sky really is the limit for where you could go with it. Consider watching this a research and development opportunity.

From the Vault: Crackerjack (2003) (Netflix)

To the long list of reasons to feel jealous of Australians, add the fact that they’ve managed to get a steady stream of classic Australian movies and TV on Netflix and we can’t even get Bonjour Timothy. Crackerjack is a spiritual successor to The Castle, about a lazy, beer-swilling layabout who starts taking an active interest in saving his lawn bowls club when he learns it’s in danger of being sold, which would severely impact the lucrative car parking swizz he’s been running. Not quite the underdog story of Darryl Kerrigan, but any movie that can get you this invested in an intercity lawn bowls tournament must be doing something right.

Podcast of the Week: Bjork’s Sonic Symbolism

A couple of years ago, when celebrities first started “having a podcast”, this might have seemed like a joke, but now it kind of makes perfect sense that Bjork has a podcast. What is this medium even useful for if not getting inside the mind of one of the most creative and enigmatic popular artists of the past three decades?

The first Icelandic person most non-Icelandic people would name if asked to name an Icelandic person, Bjork’s last album, Utopia, came out in 2017. She has a new one out at the end of the month, which will be her 10th, so to celebrate the milestone she’s teamed up with email marketing company Mailchimp – naturally – to make a podcast that goes back and reexamines her eclectic discography album by album.

The result is like a more esoteric version of those Classic Albums documentaries where the producer sits behind the mixing desk pointing out interesting titbits you’d probably never noticed before. Here it’s Bjork, her friends and collaborators explaining the “sonic symbolism” of each album (the palette of her 1993 debut, Debut: “Shy, beginner, humility, virgin, beige, silver, mohair, the messenger.”) Fun to listen to, even when you’re not entirely sure what they’re on about.


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