A delicate and profound exploration of loss, and an unbelievably well-made drama, Manchester By the Sea is a true triumph. Its focus on the characters, its timely unfolding of story elements, as well as its world class acting are only equal to the best European dramas. This deep and slow exploration of the human condition has rarely been successful in American cinema, if ever. The last best attempt was probably another movie by director Kenneth Lonergan, You Can Count on Me. Manchester by the Sea is where he unveils his full potential, and takes the viewer deep into the tensions and history of a building handyman, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck). His angry but quiet life is interrupted by news that his brother suffered a heart attack, and upon going back to his hometown he finds that he is the only one left to take care of his teenage nephew. A truly amazing movie, not to be missed, and a huge success too. It grossed around $80 million on a budget of $8.5 million.
Atlanta is the work of mastermind Donald Glover, who you may know as Troy from Community, two-time Grammy Nominated rapper Childish Gambino, or again from his successful stand-up career. He goes all out here, in what feels like a complete use of his entire multi-talent arsenal (he directs, writes and stars as the lead), as well as a vehicle for what he has to say about the city where he grew up.
Earn (Glover) is a Princeton University dropout who has a baby with his ex-girlfriend and who is so broke he is de-facto homeless. When he learns that his cousin has been somewhat successful as a rapper called Paper Boi, he tries to reconnect with him to become his manager. The story of the smart but failed college dropout intertwines with the musician hustle, to give many hilarious moments and characters (look out for Darius, played by LaKeith Stanfield), but mostly a very genuine and relevant work. A fun, sharp and unique show.
Watch out for Ezekiel in this show, he will steal your heart. And also please sit through the first episode. Yes, it's long, but if you get The Get Down, it is one of the best shows on Netflix. Created by Baz Luhrmann and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, it narrates the rise of hip-hop in a broken 1970’s New York. The impressive credentials don’t stop there, as the series is narrated by Nas, features work by four-time Academy Award winner Catherine Martin as well as hip-hop historian Nelson George. It is perhaps for this reason that the word “narration” takes its full meaning here. Every episode, every scene, every character are made with extreme care, resulting in sometimes longer than necessary sequences. A sacrifice that will make some viewers very happy, but which many might have a hard time adjusting to.