9 Marilyn Monroe movies you can stream instead of the exploitative ‘Blonde’
Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone wondering what “The Daily Show” will do without Trevor Noah.
Noah announced during Thursday’s taping that he plans to step down as host after seven years on Comedy Central’s influential late-night program, where he ably filled the shoes of predecessor Jon Stewart. According to a network spokesperson, a timeline for his departure is still to be determined — as, of course, is the name of the next person to sit behind “The Daily Show” desk.
As TV critic Lorraine Ali writes in her closer look at Noah’s tenure, his global news diet and unique-in-late-night background have not just been a boon to “The Daily Show,” but also to the genre as a whole. Which means Noah’s shoes may turn out to be just as tough to fill as Stewart’s.
Other top stories from the week, plus a primer on Marilyn Monroe movies to watch instead of “Blonde,” our conversation with “Queen Sugar’s” Rutina Wesley and more in Screen Gab No. 54. As always, send your TV or streaming movie recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and location. Submissions should be no longer than 200 words and are subject to editing for length and clarity.
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Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times.
“Ghosts,” the very funny, very un-spooky CBS sitcom about a big house full of dead people and the young couple — Rose McIver as Sam and Utkarsh Ambudkar as Jay — who inherit it, returned for a second season this week; like “Abbott Elementary,” it’s a broadcast comedy that has been more than usually recognized by the often network-averse entertainment media. In the first season, Sam fell down a flight of stairs and, when she awoke from a brief coma, found she could see and speak with her dead new roommates. (Jay cannot, though he would like to, and Ambudkar is very good working with an ensemble that remains largely invisible to him.) The couple’s plan is to turn the house into a B&B, which the ghosts initially resist — they have their own bedrooms, and beds, and are loath to share the space. But all parties soon come to an understanding, which grows to friendship. The season finale found the floor in the entryway giving out beneath Sam and Jay just as they welcomed their first guests; the new season finds the floor fixed and a pair of deceptively troublesome new guests checking in. (It’s the living who cause the real problems here. The variety of perfectly cast phantoms — a Viking, a Native American, a Gilded Age doyenne, a Jazz Age chanteuse, a scout leader, a pantsless Wall Street trader, and a Revolutionary War officer who is slowly coming to terms with being gay — allows for a smorgasbord of satire. Heartwarming but never treacly, it’s a show about community, diversity and compromise, a guide for living, and non-living. —Robert Lloyd
Replete with warring interview subjects, low-fi graphics and unnecessary aspersions cast on the Valley, Netflix’s true crime docuseries “The Real Bling Ring: Hollywood Heist” isn’t exactly an episode of “Frontline.” But in his tale of the Los Angeles-area teenagers who turned intel gleaned from gossip sites into a string of celebrity home invasions, director Miles Blayden-Ryall conjures a playful, remarkably perceptive portrait of a time (the late ‘00s), place (Hollywood) and media environment (irredeemable trash) whose excesses presaged our own. With unapologetic fame-hounds Nick Prago and Alexis Neiers as his primary voices, Blayden-Ryall explores not only the burglaries perpetrated against Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Orlando Bloom and more, but also the warped culture that created the criminals and the stars. All that said, absolutely nothing in “Hollywood Heist” lives up to the scene in Sofia Coppola’s fictional 2013 film version in which Emma Watson, as Neiers, places her hand on her hip and whines, “I want to rob.”
Nothing could. —Matt Brennan
Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about
“Does anyone watch Marilyn Monroe movies?” So asked the writer-director Andrew Dominik in a recent, widely circulated interview with Sight & Sound’s Christina Newland about his controversy-stirring new Monroe biopic, “Blonde.” That he would even ask such a question — and likely answer no — gets at why “Blonde” (Netflix) evinces so little love or feeling for its ostensible subject, so little understanding of Monroe’s acting genius. Yes, people do in fact still watch and love Marilyn Monroe movies, and even the least of them is worth more of your time than the art-house exploitation-movie hash that Dominik has made of her life.
“Blonde” itself reproduces memorable scenes from a handful of key Monroe movies, starting with Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1950 theater-world classic, “All About Eve” (multiple platforms), in which Monroe makes a brief, head-turning appearance as a hapless drama-school grad, and Roy Ward Baker’s 1952 psychothriller, “Don’t Bother to Knock” (multiple platforms), featuring an early dramatic lead role for Monroe as a deranged babysitter. There are also re-creations of Henry Hathaway’s 1953 noir, “Niagara” (multiple platforms), in which she played an unforgettable femme fatale in sultry hot pink, and Howard Hawks’ “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (multiple platforms), a still-sparkling 1953 showcase for Monroe’s musical-comedy gifts that catapulted her to a new level of stardom.
Naturally, there’s an extended reference to the famous subway-grate scene from Billy Wilder’s creaky 1955 sex comedy, “The Seven Year Itch” (multiple platforms), which is watchable today pretty much for Monroe and Monroe alone. She would give one of her finest, funniest performances — as the wonderfully named Sugar Kane Kowalczyk — in a vastly superior Wilder effort, 1959’s “Some Like It Hot” (multiple platforms).
The list goes on and on: There’s her hilarious work opposite Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall in 1957’s “How to Marry a Millionaire” (multiple platforms), and her flintier performances in two John Huston works, 1950’s “The Asphalt Jungle” (multiple platforms) and 1961’s “The Misfits” (multiple platforms). That western, written by Monroe’s soon-to-be-ex-husband Arthur Miller, is a piercingly emotional experience for any number of reasons; it features Monroe’s final screen performance and possibly her best. Dominik may not be able to see her greatness, but happily, you can. —Justin Chang
A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching
“Slow burn” is mostly used to describe burgeoning romantic relationships, but it aptly describes the family drama on OWN’s “Queen Sugar,” now in its seventh and final season. (The series streams on Hulu.) The phrase isn’t applicable to ebullient star Rutina Wesley, though, who has more in common with her spitfire character Nova Bordelon. “I got to play somebody who’s close to my heart, who I fit,” Wesley said of her character, an outspoken journalist and “activist slash herbalist.”
Nova is the eldest of the three Bordelon siblings at the center of “Queen Sugar,” including Charley (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) and Ralph Angel (Kofi Siriboe). They have spent seasons learning to co-exist after their father died, leaving behind a 300-acre sugarcane farm in Louisiana, a place that has become near and dear to Wesley. She came to “Queen Sugar” by way of another Louisiana-set, seven-season show, “True Blood.” After more than hinting at being on Broadway, then hoping for a romantic comedy, Wesley throws “next” to the universe: “Let’s go,” she said. “I’m ready for the next seven.” Wesley talked with The Times about her attachment to Louisiana, why “P-Valley” makes her cry and her favorite TV journalist. —Dawn M. Burkes
You went from one Louisiana-set show right into another. Have you formed an attachment to the area?
I’m gonna miss it, because New Orleans is definitely a character and a show of its own. I’m fortunate to have done a show like “True Blood” (HBO Max) and then blessed to do another seven. Seven is a very lucky number. It’s also the number of completion. Keep ‘em coming.
What does it mean to you to have worked on a show that’s been revolutionary in a sense? It’s women-led, it’s POC-led, it’s Black-led.
Before “Queen Sugar,” I had only worked with two female directors in my life. So coming onto “Queen Sugar” and having 42 female directors, and then the amazing crews that we’ve had that look like every color of the rainbow, it’s meant everything. But also, now I’m like, “This is possible.” Now you cannot tell them no, for most of, if not all, these female directors are currently working in television. And they would have never gotten that chance if it wasn’t for [executive producer] Ava [DuVernay] saying, “Let’s try this because I think we can do it.” So I feel kind of spoiled because I know I’m gonna go to another set, and it’s not gonna be like that. When I was growing up, as I was acting, I never got to do an all-Black something. And so “Queen Sugar” was like my August Wilson. Finally. I got to be with my people.
It feels like Rutina handing off to Nova. Is this the first time that you’ve ever had a character that’s so much of you?
Yeah, it is. I was the only Black female in my class in undergraduate. And then I went to Juilliard, but there were only like two Black females and one male in my class. So it was not like we could do “Raisin in the Sun” or “Seven Guitars.” We just didn’t have the people, the bodies weren’t there.... When I saw our show, for the first time, I told Ava I’ve never seen myself look so beautiful. And when I say beautiful, like close to who I am. I’ve never looked at my skin on camera and been like, “Ooh, girl.” And maybe that’s because we have great DPs, which we do. And the cinematography is amazing. I needed to see myself in that way.
You play a journalist on TV. Do you have a favorite fictional journalist? A favorite television one?
Joy Reid. I love her because she gets the facts and the information out in a way where I can actually process it and grasp it. And I’m like, “OK, I’m engaged.” She makes it accessible.
What are you watching?
I just finished up “P-Valley” (Starz). I’ve been watching “Industry” (HBO, HBO Max)... I’m getting my “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1, Paramount+) on. I love “Legendary” (HBO Max), the [ballroom] competition. I’m just like, all here for it. “Queens” (Hulu). “Harlem” (Prime Video). I’ve been trying to catch up with everybody. But I really am loving “P-Valley.” It reminds me a little bit of “True Blood” in the cinematography. And also my friend, my homie, my ace, my angel, [the late] Nelsan Ellis. What he did on “True Blood” with Lafayette was not being done by anybody. And so when I started watching “P-Valley,” I was pleasantly surprised with Nicco [Annan, who plays Uncle Clifford]... I was freaking out. I was like, “Who is this?” I just love him and I’ve kind of wanted to contact him and just be like, “You don’t know me from a can of paint but I think you’re amazing.” Then I caught up with “Stranger Things” (Netflix). “Squid Game” (Netflix), which is over but that got me hooked. I like stuff like that where I gotta rewind and watch it again because you might miss something. “Lovecraft Country” (HBO Max).
Have you seen the meme that says ‘Lafayette walked so Uncle Clifford could run’?
It’s probably gonna make me cry, but in the best way. Because man, nobody was doing that. He was a genius. And people couldn’t touch him. He was that good. He was the only person on our show that our showrunner Alan Ball let improv his lines because Alan Ball said whatever comes out of his mouth is better than anything I can ever write. So that’s what “P-Valley” has been like.
What’s next for you? I mean, you’ve been at it consistently for about 20 years.
Oh my God, you just aged me. Lord! I don’t know what’s next. We’ll see what 2023 brings. I’m just gonna say this: If I’m on a show and I’m touching the show, we’re going for a while. Because I’m not here to play games.
Recommendations from Screen Gab readers
“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” (VOD, multiple platforms) is a delightful film without sex, violence, blood and Marvel superheroes. Not your usual bill of fare.
How about an older woman who has a dream to own a Dior dress and saves her money to afford this dream? She goes to Paris and the House of Dior with the simple idea to buy the dress, but she is taken up with the lifestyle of the rich and famous. In the end she is successful in realizing her dream, not with the simple dress she has admired for years but with an elegant ball gown. Who says being nice doesn’t pay off.
Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on.
Fri., Sept. 30
“Entergalactic” (Netflix): This new animated fable about a young artist in New York City serves as a companion piece to the latest album from cult rapper Kid Cudi.
“The Greatest Beer Run Ever” (Apple TV+): A former Marine (Zac Efron) brings brews to his brothers on the front lines in Vietnam in this fact-based 2022 action comedy. With Russell Crowe and Bill Murray.
“Human Playground” (Netflix): It’s all fun and games in this new docuseries about the myriad ways in which we spend our leisure time. Idris Elba narrates.
“Jena Friedman: Ladykiller” (Peacock): The comic weighs in on issues facing women in America today in this new stand-up special.
“My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (Prime Video): She’s, like, totally possessed by a demon in this 2022 horror comedy.
“Queer for Fear: A History of Queer Horror” (Shudder): This new docuseries decodes LGBTQ themes buried in classic sci-fi, fantasy and horror flicks.
“Ramy” (Hulu): Muslim American comic Ramy Youssef is back in new episodes of his eponymous sitcom.
“My Possessed Pet” (Travel, 10 p.m.): Never send a veterinarian to do an exorcist’s job in this new paranormal series.
Sat., Oct. 1
“Huluween Dragstravaganza Variety Show” (Hulu): Monét X Change and Ginger Minj are your hostesses with the mostesses in this new special.
“Girlfriendship” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): Three BFFs go on vacay to try to get their respective grooves back in this new TV movie.
“The Gabby Petito Story” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): This new TV movie dramatizes the tragic tale of the young woman whose disappearance in 2021 made national headlines.
“The First Attack Ads: Hollywood vs. Upton Sinclair” (KCET, 9 p.m.): This new documentary recalls efforts to derail the activist author’s 1934 gubernatorial campaign.
“Yvonne Orji: A Whole Me.” (HBO, 10 p.m.): The comic and “Insecure” co-star opens up in this new stand-up special.
Sun., Oct. 2
“The Equalizer” (CBS, 8 p.m.): The rebooted action drama is back for Season 3. Queen Latifah stars.
“Family Law” (The CW, 8 p.m.): A troubled attorney (“Firefly’s” Jewel Staite) goes to work at her father’s firm in this new comedy drama. With Victor Garber.
“Lucy Worsley Investigates” (KOCE, 8 p.m.) The historian looks back on the witch hunts of centuries past in the series finale.
“East New York” (CBS, 8 p.m.): A Brooklyn precinct’s new top cop (Amanda Warren) tries to shake up the system in this new drama. With Jimmy Smits.
“The Walking Dead” (AMC, 9 p.m.): The horror drama is back for the back half of its 11th and final season.
“Blumhouse’s Compendium of Horror” (Epix, 10 p.m.): Be afraid, be very afraid with this new five-part exploration of the horror genre.
“Outrageous Pumpkins” (Food Network, 10 p.m.): They’re still out of their gourds as the competition returns.
“Nothing Compares” (Showtime, 10 p.m.): Iconoclastic singer-songwriter Sinéad OʼConnor is profiled in this new rock doc.
“Anne Rice’s Interview With the Vampire” (AMC, 10:06 p.m.): Sink your teeth into this new supernatural drama based on the author’s 1976 horror novel.
Mon., Oct. 3
“Miss USA Live” (FYI, 5 p.m.): The 2022 edition of the annual pageant takes place in Reno.
“Meet Marry Murder” (Lifetime, 9 p.m.): “Till death do us part” comes sooner than expected in this new true crime series. Helen Hunt narrates.
“The Good Doctor” (ABC, 10 p.m.): The medical drama clocks in for Season 6. Freddie Highmore stars.
“POV” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): The 2020 doc “The Last Out” follows three Cuban baseball players hoping to make it to the major leagues.
Tue., Oct. 4
“Hasan Minhaj: The King’s Jester” (Netflix): The award-winning comic and commentator returns in a new stand-up special.
“Making Black America: Through the Grapevine” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. hosts this new four-part historical series.
“2022 Hip Hop Awards” (BET, 9 p.m.): Drake leads the field with 14 nominations at this year’s ceremony in Atlanta.
“Cherish the Day” (OWN, 9 p.m.): This relationship drama starring Joy Bryant and Henry Simmons is back.
“Harriet Tubman: Visions of Freedom” (KOCE, 10 p.m.): The legendary abolitionist is remembered in this new documentary.
“Tales From the Territories” (Vice, 10 p.m.): This new documentary series recalls the rough and tumble origins of the pro wrestling biz.
Wed., Oct. 5
“Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” (Netflix): Reach out and touch someone — from beyond the grave! — with this 2022 supernatural thriller based on a Stephen King novella. Donald Sutherland stars.
“The Sound of 007” (Prime Video): This new documentary reveals the important role music has played in the James Bond franchise through the decades.
“Rivers of Life” (KOCE, 8 p.m.): The Danube is not just a river in Europe in this new episode of the nature series.
“Kung Fu” (The CW, 9 p.m.): The rebooted martial arts drama kicks off its third season. Olivia Liang stars.
“Nova” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): Medical researchers detail the decades-long effort to defeat the virus that causes AIDS in the new episode “Ending HIV in America.”
“Chucky” (Syfy, 9 p.m.): Your friendly neighborhood children’s doll that is possessed by the spirit of a serial killer is back for Season 2.
“Ricochet: An American Trauma” (KOCE, 10 p.m.) This new special examines the effect of gun violence on individuals, communities and institutions.
“Reginald the Vampire” (Syfy, 10 p.m.): It sucks to be him in this new horror comedy. “Spider-Man’s” Jacob Batalon stars.
Thu., Oct. 6
“Aftershock: Everest and the Nepal Quake” (Netflix): This new docuseries recalls the devastating 2015 earthquake that rocked the Indian subcontinent.
“Deadstream” (Shudder): A hapless social media star spends a night in a haunted house in this 2022 horror comedy.
“Monster High: The Movie” (Nickelodeon, 7 p.m.): The kid-friendly animated franchise begets a live-action tale.
“Walker” and “Walker Independence” (The CW, 8 and 9 p.m.): The Texas-set action drama returns followed by a new prequel set in the late 1800s.
“Station 19” and “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC, 8 and 9 p.m.): The dramas return for Seasons 6 and 19, respectively.
“Alaska Daily” (ABC, 10 p.m.): A disgraced reporter (Oscar winner Hilary Swank) from New York City finds herself anchored down in Anchorage in this new drama.
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