Overrated/Underrated: Embrace holiday dysfunction with ‘Bonus Family’; ‘Juliet, Naked’ is too painful
“Bonus Family” on Netflix: Sure, maybe a subtitled Swedish TV show isn’t the easiest sell if you’re entertaining out-of-town guests over a long Thanksgiving weekend. But once you’ve exhausted “Incredibles 2” and other crowd-pleasers, give this comedy-drama series a shot for a funny and reliably heartfelt look at the volatile yet very real combinations of families by marriage and divorce. Led by Vera Vitali (“Grand Hotel”) and her character’s oafish ex (Fredrik Hallgren, who resembles a Nordic Rob Corddry) and their partners, exes and children, this series shows that for all their cultural values for order Scandinavians can be dysfunctional too.
David Dominique’s “Mask”: Born in New York City but with ties to the Los Angeles indie rock and improvised music scenes, this composer-bandleader’s new album carries a high-octane, hard-swung pace that at times recalls the controlled chaos of the late Charles Mingus in exploring a sound that touches on big band swing, new music and metal. Specializing in a valve trombone dubbed a “flugabone,” Dominique calls on a roster of talent from L.A. jazz label Orenda Records to help distill a time of recent personal upheaval into an exuberant, even joyful record that’s as unpredictable as it is approachable.
“Juliet, Naked” (2018): Lauded as one of the few solid romantic comedies released in recent years, this movie adapted from the 2009 novel by Nick Hornby has a promising cast that includes Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O’Dowd. But the results are a predictable slog through the lives of music-obsessed men and the women who must inexplicably endure them. Aiming for awkward charm and a piercing critique of record collecting man-splainers, the movie is mostly an exhausting exercise in watching Byrne’s character endure both O’Dowd and Hawke as the undeserving pieces of a love triangle that’s far more painful than sweet.
“Bodyguard”: Not to be confused with the 1992 Whitney Houston movie, this Netflix series led by Richard Madden — last seen being murdered on his wedding night on “Game of Thrones” — follows a well-worn path through prestige British crime TV. While there are interesting moments, particularly in Madden’s title character struggling with PTSD as an Afghanistan war vet charged with protecting a politician who sent him in harm’s way, the series is quickly mired in tired doomsday terror-attack scenarios that flirt with Islamophobia before settling into a final villain’s reveal so contrived it should come with a twiddled mustache.
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