Orange is the New Black

An open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid), and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers.

The comments section awaits. I’ll get the ball rolling.

Orange is the New Black is addicting. It’s the kind of show that makes whole afternoons disappear and leaves track marks on your eyes. An artful blend of fish-out-of-water-behind-bars drama and situation comedy, the Netflix Original from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan stars Taylor Schilling as WASPy Piper Chapman. She makes artisinal soaps, she tries juice cleanses, she’s going to jail for a year for trafficking drugs.

The Weeds connection is pretty clear with that last bit. In fact, it feels like a natural spin-off to the illicit stories of Lacey Laplante — maybe trailing a Weeds character that was never actually introduced on the show, if that makes sense. The tone is similar as well. Kohan and company have crafted a story that milks the weird alienation of a situation no one hopes to find themselves in, but she hasn’t forgotten the natural humor that comes with that alienation. There are fear, hope, violence, tears, joy and more in this prison. As one of the characters says, “This ain’t Oz.”

I’ll probably write a full post about it because it’s absolutely fantastic, filled with a whole host of strong performances and brimming with classic wacky sit-com set-ups like “Piper pissed off the prison cook and is now starving to death.” If that situation and tone don’t sound like great dance partners, you really need to witness Kohan’s choreography to see how it can be done right. [Netflix Streaming]

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Joe Swanberg's Drinking Buddies

I was also lucky enough to see Drinking Buddies without a festival badge. Joe Swanberg‘s dramedy about co-workers at a brewing company navigating their attraction doesn’t come out until next month (I had a press screener, so sue me), but it’s probably already on a lot of watch lists after fest praise.

Starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston, the movie feels a bit like the baby aspirin version of Closer. In place of unreasonably bitter aggression, Drinking Buddies approaches the complexity of relationships and extra-curricular flirtation with its feet on the ground (and its head out of the oven). It’s refreshing to see characters that recognize a multifaceted set of needs and a reality where they don’t get every single need met by one person (and the resulting intrinsic tension). Plus, the performances are just as excellent as that cast list suggests. [Opens limited August 23rd]

And, yeah, Pacific Rim doesn’t get here until this weekend which is the only reason I haven’t seen it yet. Cannot. Wait.

What did you watch?

Your Recommendations from Last Week


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