Overrated/Underrated: Marvin Pontiac is a man for all seasons, and ‘Mrs. Maisel’ isn’t all that marvelous
HBO’s global reach: With a holiday break within range, the fear of the endless scroll through limited streaming options is real, but thankfully HBO has restocked with some international fare. A few notable picks are “The Pact,” a Polish-language remake of the knotty Scandinavian mystery-thriller “Mammon,” and “Wasteland,” a grim Czech miniseries screened at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival that looks at intrigue in a small town disrupted by mining interests. They’re not exactly perky, but depending on your holiday dinners with extended family, they may be preferable to talking current events.
For the record:
12:35 p.m. Dec. 22, 2017An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of Alex Borstein.
‘Marvin Pontiac: The Asylum Tapes’: Released to streaming services last month as a sort of holiday surprise, this 24-track collection on one hand heralds the return of a visionary outsider blues artist who acquired a cult following with the release of his recordings in 1999. On the other, it’s a welcome return for John Lurie, the painter, actor and onetime leader of the Lounge Lizards who invented this delightfully odd alter-ego as an outlet for his expressive, occasionally surreal music. An unpredictable, trance-like mix of layered vocals, barbed guitar and strange storytelling, the album satisfies in all seasons. (Warning: The video below contains some graphic language).
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon: As even the most ardent “Gilmore Girls” fan will admit, the rapid-fire dialogue of Amy Sherman-Palladino can be a divisive proposition. And though she’s found a suitably banter-ready platform in a show set in the early years of stand-up, this series is not yet as strong as its early raves. Rachel Brosnahan is magnetic as the series’ title character, as is her dry foil (Alex Borstein of HBO’s great “Getting On”), but the rest feels disappointingly thin, and the fizzy fantasia driving the story grows exhausting.
Another Eminem comeback: With the exception of recent Grammy nominee Jay-Z — and A Tribe Called Quest, who were unjustly snubbed this year — hip-hop is not kind to its veteran stars. And for all the political posturing on his latest album, “Revival,” there’s something about a maturing Eminem that doesn’t resolve his years spent as the genre’s misogynist troll and a sound that can’t keep up with the times. Even his briefly lauded freestyle from BET’s Hip-Hop Honors was well overshadowed by another veteran in a recent clip from the Roots’ Black Thought, who showed how much further a restless hip-hop artist can reach.
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