James Franco in "The Deuce": Full of the rich dialogue expected from two minds behind "The Wire," this series from David Simon and George Pelecanos vividly captures the sleazy stories of 1971 Times Square and the rise of porn. But for all the delicate dynamics and strong performances, the show lands directly in Franco's wheelhouse as he plays two mustache-bearing twins on the lower roads of the city. Clad in classic hustler-chic, Franco handles both roles with subtlety and a familiar hint of sly amusement, especially catching his reflection in the mirror while acting opposite himself.
"2 Dope Queens": Based in New York City, this podcast mixing eclectic conversation and stand-up with hosts Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams has been appointment listening for years; now it's jumping formats with plans for a series of specials on HBO. But even without visuals, Williams (formerly of "The Daily Show") and Robinson ("Broad City") are lightning-fast and very funny in frank, free-associative talks ranging from living as a black woman in America to an undying love for Billy Joel. The queens come to the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Thursday, and reign is in the forecast.
The "Blade Runner 2049" score: Apologies to Hans Zimmer, who will do what he does as composer for this sequel, which debuts Oct. 6. But consider what might have been, given the techno-dystopian vibe heard when rapper-producer El-P shared his "rejected" score for the film's trailer, or the glitchy gloom from Flying Lotus, whose music appears in a prequel short. These forward-looking options, or even first choice Jóhann Jóhannson, better suit the spirit of building upon such a landmark film, and knowing a more conventional road was taken doesn't bode well.
Netflix's growing comedy monopoly: Not every stand-up comedian has a special on the streaming service; it just seems that way. While Netflix's deep pockets have built an exciting destination for (very expensive) stand-up specials from the likes of Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and Louis CK — to say nothing of the many other strong comics who are earning a better living with their all-in strategy — it's hard not to feel a bubble growing. Netflix is spending a lot of money to promote comedy now, but what happens when it pivots to dominating a more lucrative genre instead?
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