Calum Henderson: Poker Face, Shrinking and the TV, films and podcasts to discover this week
Shrinking, the new series from creators Ted Lasso and starring Harrison Ford. Come for it and stay for Jason Segel’s performance as a therapist mourning the death of his wife. Photo / Provided
The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House (Netflix)
For a brief moment, before transforming into a dark content megacenter dominated by true crime docos and soulless one-off reality franchises, Netflix offered a utopian vision of the future. This great global streaming platform was to be the place to watch all the best new TV shows and movies from around the world, finally freed from all geographical and budgetary constraints. Remember the month we all went crazy for Squid Game? Imagine if it was like that all the time!
New Japanese drama series The Makanai couldn’t be further from Squid Game, but it’s proof that the dream isn’t totally dead yet. Adapted from a popular manga series by Shoplifters director Hirokazu Kore-eda, it’s the sweet and heartwarming story of two 16-year-old girls who leave home and head to Kyoto to begin training as maiko, or apprentice. geisha. The elegant Sumire shows an instant aptitude for all it takes to be a top maiko, but her determined best friend Kiyo – who arrives at Maiko House with the widest backpack you’ve ever seen – can’t get a right foot. But just as she’s about to get a bus ticket to Aomori, her talent comes to light: she’s really good at cooking, so they make her the new makanai – basically the head of the maiko.
As with so many other great Japanese series on Netflix (Midnight Diner, Samurai Gourmet, even Terrace House), food is obviously a focal point, from the opening scenes sipping Grandma’s dumpling soup to the gently simmering pot of Kiyo’s signature oyakodon. Like those shows, it might take a few episodes to get into the groove of things, and you’ll probably have to google later – or not, if you’d rather just enjoy the vibe – but when you get into the flow it’s a rare TV treat to savor.
Poker Face (TVNZ+)
You might think Rian Johnson’s entire life is spent dreaming up even more improbable new Knives Out storylines, but in fact, he also managed to find the time to do an entire TV series. In Poker Face, Natasha Lyonne stars as an amateur sleuth with an uncanny ability to tell when people are lying, who drives around solving a different bizarre crime every week and encounters an impressive roster of guest stars along the way. There are nods to classic crime shows of yesteryear, much in the same way that Knives Out nods to the golden era of cinema thrillers.
Shrinkage (Apple TV+)
The two biggest draws of Shrinking are that it’s the new show from the folks who made Ted Lasso, and they got Harrison Ford on board. Come for it and stay for Jason Segel’s performance as a therapist mourning the death of his wife, who is in no condition to sit there and listen to his clients complain about their own lives all day. When he finally breaks up and decides to throw the therapeutic ethics rulebook out the window and start telling these people what he really thinks they should do about their problems? This is where things get interesting.
So help me Todd (TVNZ+)
The name of this show was either the very first or the very last detail the creators came up with, and we’ll never know which. That’s the real mystery of So Help Me Todd, a light-hearted American network legal drama about a straight-laced lawyer and overbearing mother (Marcia Gay Harden) who takes on her private investigator son Todd (Skylar Astin) as her in-house investigator. the House. Like the good old legal dramas of the 1990s, each case is satisfactorily resolved in the space of a single episode, with minimal brain work required from the audience.
Movie of the Week: Barbarian (Disney+)
Conventional wisdom suggests that if you show up at your Airbnb to find it double-booked by a strange man who looks like the clown from It, you should probably find somewhere else to stay — even if he offers to sleep on the couch. But if horror movie characters always obeyed these rules, we wouldn’t have much to watch, would we? The house, unsurprisingly, is an A-level house of horrors, but maybe not quite as you imagine. If you’re looking for a good, unpredictable and downright scary movie, look no further.
From the Vault: 11.22.63 (2016) (Three now)
Not your typical Stephen King novel, 11/22/63, and 11.22.63 isn’t quite your typical Stephen King TV adaptation either. James Franco plays a high school teacher whose owner of the local restaurant reveals a little secret to him: there is a time portal that dates back to 1960 in his restaurant. At the behest of his old friend, Franco travels back in time to try to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but the closer he gets, the more the past doesn’t want him there. This unusually gritty and gritty time travel tale divided opinion when it was released in 2016 – now it’s stranded on Three Now of all places and deserves a second look.
Podcast of the week: Love, Janessa
When British journalist Simon de Bruxelles, in his 50s, received a Twitter DM from a nice stranger complimenting him on his photography skills (!), he didn’t immediately say he was being charged. of a love scam. This came later when Shirley, an avid photographer, started misspelling her own name and saying things like “you are my king and my goddess” and asking her for money.
Enough lonely gentlemen fall into this stuff to make it a hugely lucrative business, but not Simon. He put on his journalist hat and did some research and found that Shirley and all of the other women now slipping into his DMs were all using photos by the same adult artist, whom he discovered as Janessa Brazil. So Simon decided to try to reach Janessa and ask her if she knew what was going on. That’s when he started getting scammed again.
Nigeria-based BBC journalist Hannah Ajala picks up the case and her search for the real Janessa Brazil uncovers a complex global network of online scammers using her image. The eight-part series is a bit like the Knives Out of Catfish podcasts, where nothing ever goes as planned.