Hype List: What to check out, including ‘The Post’, ‘Gunpowder’ and more
Welcome to the Hype List, a weekly recommendation series in which columnist Tirhakah Love highlights all of the pop culture happenings — movies, music, television, books and more — you need to know about.
Movie: The Post
We’re currently living through a presidential administration that makes the phrase “political scandal” feel completely insufficient, and there have been no shortage of comparisons to the disgraced days of former President Richard Nixon. And now here comes Steven Spielberg with a timely period piece to further underline the similarities between the two eras. In this highly anticipated new film, Spielberg directs the megastar duo of Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, who play Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee (whose life is the subject of an outstanding documentary that recently aired on HBO) and publisher Katharine Graham, respectively.
Set in the early 1970s, The Post focuses on the storied newspaper’s defiance of the Nixon administration in publishing the Pentagon Papers, which exposed reams of damaging information about the U.S. government’s approach to the Vietnam War. This being a Spielberg picture, the tone is of course inspiring — it’s a well-made and star-studded movie that tells the story of some principled rabble-rousers standing up for what’s right. In this case, they’re pushing back against a White House that’s trying to suppress the spread of information before it’s swallowed by controversy. Sound familiar?
The Post will be released in theaters Friday.
Podcast: Slow Burn
In another bit of Nixon-themed media, Slate’s recently launched Slow Burn podcast takes us through the Watergate scandal step by step. Hosted by Leon Neyfakh, the eight-part series painstakingly trudges through the two-year saga, from the infamous break-in at the Watergate Hotel to the bitter end of Nixon’s administration, and uncovers some lesser-known stories along the way.
You can guess as to why Neyfakh decided to revisit Watergate at this particular moment in time, but he doesn’t rely on drawing obvious connections between Nixon and Donald Trump. Instead, he talks with people who were either involved in the scandal, on the fringes of it or simply watching everything unfold on the nightly news. More than anything else, Slow Burn is trying to answer one particular question: What was it like watching a president fall?
The Slow Burn podcast is available here, and new episodes are released every Tuesday.
TV: The Indian Detective
Comedian Russell Peters stars in The Indian Detective as a doofus cop who gets suspended from the job for being, well, a doofus cop. While on leave, he visits his father in Mumbai and ends up digging into a murder-conspiracy involving a major property developer (played by none other than William Shatner). Created by writers Frank Spotnitz and Smita Bhide, The Indian Detective is a wonky dramedy — which premiered in November on Canada’s CTV — that braids a crime mystery with the story of someone coming to terms with their heritage. Count on Spotnitz and Bhide’s script to deliver the procedural bona fides, while Peters brings his sharp perspective on identity and stereotypes. Trust us: Look past the title.
The Indian Detective will be released Tuesday on Netflix.
We’re more than a few weeks out from the fifth of November, but that doesn’t mean the story of Guy Fawkes and the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 is any less fascinating. The new miniseries Gunpowder — which debuted across the pond in October, and is just now airing on HBO — unpacks that unsuccessful attempt on the life of King James I, but places head conspirator Robert Catesby (played here by Game of Thrones heartthrob Kit Harington) at the center of the proceedings, and casts Fawkes as a recurring character.
Spanning a total of three episodes, the show opens in 1603, when the Protestant king is trying to stamp out Catholicism with brutal violence — violence that inspires Catesby to start planning a revolt. Tune in for a gripping history lesson about a fight for religious freedom that apparently can’t help but conjure flashes of Game of Thrones, especially considering the star. Casting Harington is an especially potent asset, though; he’s reportedly a descendant of the real-life Catesby.
Gunpowder debuts Monday on HBO.
TV: The Last Post
Another streaming show that first aired on the BBC in October, The Last Post takes an in-depth look at a unit of the Royal Military Police that’s living on an army base in Aden, Yemen, in the politically volatile time of the mid-1960s. We’ll be honest: This six-part series, created by Criminal Justice writer Peter Moffat, is a slow build. But get past the more or less boilerplate first episode, and what you’ll see is a fascinating look at colonialism, set in the waning days of British-ruled Yemen. Of course, you’ll also see no shortage of breathtaking locations and domestic drama among the men of the RMP and their families, but it’s the political atmosphere and conflict between the locals in Aden and the Brits that sets this show apart.
The Last Post will be released Friday on Amazon.