Check back with Village Life every Friday for Jordan Parker's comprehensive insights on the week's most buzz-worthy programs from top streaming services like Netflix, Crave, Amazon Prime, and beyond.
On Netflix – The Many Saints of Newark (Releases Saturday)
The Sopranos is one of – if not the – best shows of all time. It’s indisputable fact. So when I heard they were making a film prequel to my favourite show, I was absolutely jazzed.
It follows the making of Tony Soprano, our patriarchal gangster the original show centres around. From his family struggles to the environment he grew up in, it gives us insight into how he became an intense mob boss.
To make things even more interesting, the late, great James Gandolfini’s son plays young Tony, paying tribute to his father’s most famous role. Michael Gandolfini is incredible, and the acting prowess of those around him is formidable.
Alessandro Nivola, Lelsie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, the late Ray Liotta, and Vera Farmiga are all pitch-perfect, and bring life to these characters.
Director Alan Taylor is mostly known for the lacklustre Thor: Dark World and his television work on The Sopranos, Game of Thrones and Sex & The City, but he creates an entire universe here with this gritty crime drama.
If you’re a fan of the original show, it’s a must-see. But even if you haven’t seen Sopranos, you’ll still find plenty to enjoy in The Many Saints of Newark.
On Crave – Yellowjackets
The best new show of last year, Yellowjackets is a twisty thriller I can’t get enough of.
Season two premiered last week, and if you’re not watching, now is the time to start. It follows the lives of survivors of a high school girls soccer team that crashed in the Canadian wilderness.
Decades later, they’re still trying to come to terms with the paranormal mysteries that happened to them, and face a new threat to their adult existences.
Nostalgic for the 90s and flush with intense performances, the show was nominated for seven Emmys for its first season. The adult cast features Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Christina Ricci, and Juliette Lewis.
Meanwhile, the teens are a stacked ensemble as well, and include Jasmin Savoy Brown, Samantha Hanratty, Sophie Nelisse and more.
The entire cast is pitch-perfect, and the show is guaranteed to leave you absolutely slack-jawed.
On Disney+ – The Menu
One of the most undeniably shocking films of 2023, this one came out of nowhere and cemented its status as a quirky, genre-bending winner.
When a young couple head to a remote island to eat at a luxurious, exclusive restaurant, they are unaware of what they’re in for. The chef has diabolical plans his guests were not prepared to handle.
To say any more would give it away, but both Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy were nominated for Golden Globes for their delicious, delightful performances. Nicholas Hoult, John Leguizamo, Janet McTeer, and Reed Birney are all uniformly good as well.
Kudos to a really incredible script from Seth Reiss and Will Tracy that manages to bring the audience on a pretty unexpected ride.
On Amazon Prime Video – Burnt
This one was mostly ignored by audiences upon its 2015 release and was met with audible groans from critics. I found it in the $4.99 BluRay bin and decided to give it a chance.
Was I ever glad I did. Every once in a while you find a movie that just strikes all the right chords with you, even if the rest of the general moviegoing public could care less – Here’s also looking at you, Elizabethtown!
This redemption story follows star chef Adam Jones, who attempts to mount a comeback after his addiction to drugs caused him to spiral and bring all those around him down as well.
The toxicity in his behaviour is nearly impossible to forgive, but Jones’s talent is unmatched and undeniable. He returns to London ready to make amends and attempts to gain the coveted three Michelin stars at his new restaurant.
It was written by Oscar nominee Steven Knight, and the whip-smart dialogue and emotion are evident. The film veers into cliché here and there, but the performances elevate the material.
Bradley Cooper is at his best, and Sienna Miller, Daniel Bruhl, Omar Sy, Matthew Rhys, Uma Thurman, Alicia Vikander and more lend their considerable talents.
It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s an emotionally-intelligent, entertaining effort.
On Paramount+ -- The Inspection
If I had seen this film before the end of 2022, it would have been my absolute favourite of the year.
A24 is known for the solid films they produce, and The Inspection is a heartbreaking-but-triumphant tale.
It follows Ellis, a young, gay Black man who feels his only choice to get his life back on track is to join the Marines. His mother rejects his sexuality and he’s begun to get in trouble with drugs and the law, and he sees his choice as a way out.
But his experience within a system that isn’t accepting of his sexuality is more difficult than he had bargained for, and he must fight for respect.
Writer-director Elegance Bratton’s beautiful portrait of a young life and perseverance is breathtaking and really, really evocative.
Jeremy Pope is Oscar-worthy, Gabrielle Union gives the performance of her career, and Bokeem Woodbine and Raul Castillo give formidable turns.
It’s an unforgettable picture, and one I’d put up there as one of the best I’ve seen this decade.
About The Author:
Jordan Parker is a freelance journalist and runs entertainment firm Parker PR. A huge lover and supporter of the local arts scene, he’s an avid filmgoer and lover of all genres.
A 2SLGBTQIA+ professional, he also works doing Events & Fundraising for the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia, and has a passion for giving a platform to queer events and artists.
His writing often skews toward local businesses, productions, events, and covering arts & entertainment. He’s also an avid sports fan and spends every May getting let down by the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs.
Jordan believes in an open-door policy, and welcomes story pitches and questions from readers.
Email: [email protected]