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OPINION: Best entertainment of the summer, what to look out for this fall

September 9, 2022

To have a four month-long summer is both an excruciating and an exhilarating experience at the same time. Luckily, we had an excellent array of entertainment to fill our long days with. When we find ourselves in East Lansing again, when the leaves start changing color and our daylight hours get shorter, it can be easy to feel stuck. However, this fall, there are still many shows and movies we have to look forward to.

Television Shows

"The Sandman" (Available on Netflix)

"The Sandman," an adaptation from Neil Gaiman’s award-winning comic series, is looking to fill the slots that Netflix’s prestige television shows like "The Crown" and "Stranger Things" will leave behind once they end -- and it is an excellent candidate. Gaiman was heavily involved in the production of the series, and creative departures from the source material are made with reason and care.

While the show makes for excellent viewing without prior knowledge, I would highly recommend researching it as you go for a better appreciation of the efforts that go into translating the stories into an entirely different medium. The first half of the season, especially episode five and six, is some of the best material I have seen on Netflix. David Thewlis’s John Dee, in particular, is a fascinating character as viewers attempt to decide whether to give him eternal condemnation or sympathy. Given Netflix's habits, even this faithful adaptation of a source material with such a large fanbase might not be enough for a second season, but we can only hold our breaths and wait to find out. 

"The Bear" (Available on Hulu)

In this breakout hit of the summer, Jeremy Allen White plays Carmy Berzatto, a young chef acclimated to the world of fine dining. He returns to Chicago to operate the barely-afloat Italian beef sandwich shop that his dead older brother left to him. The stress that comes along with the restaurant is insurmountable, swallowing both the characters and us, the viewers.

Episode seven is a perfect example of this turmoil. A mistake made by the newcomer, Sydney -- played with an invigorating performance by Ayo Edebiri -- sends everyone into a frenzy that was masterfully captured in just one take. "The Bear" tackles the issue of grieving in a setting that famously does not even let you take a breath, let alone work what your life will look like now that the person you hold dear to your heart is gone forever. 

"My Liberation Notes" (Available on Netflix)

Gone are the days where the most famous K-Drama series are the sappiest ones, with modern-day Cinderellas' swept off their feet by heirs to influential conglomerates (a chaebol). Korean viewers are rewarding more series that can reflect on the working people. For example, “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” told the stories of a peaceful coastal village, away from the business of Seoul. “My Liberation Notes” takes this further, telling tales of the mundane lives most of us live.

There will be no Prince Charming here, only a loan shark. There are no flashy cars and dazzling mansions, just lengthy train commutes from the outskirts into the city. But still, the characters find freedom and solace within each other just fine, in their chaebol-less world. 

Shows to look forward to

"Abbott Elementary" season 2 (Available on Hulu)

The last time I talked about the show, there were only three episodes. Now, "Abbott Elementary" is coming out with a new season, with 22 episodes set to premiere on Sept. 21st. Racking in a solid seven Emmy nominations, the show is expected to continue giving us humor and heart, both in the same package.

"The Sex Lives of College Girls" season 2 (Available on HBO Max)

Leave it to Mindy Kaling to be messy and unhinged. The second season of “The Sex Lives of College Girls” delves into the life of the four roommates as they embark on new adventures. The first season takes a look at characters in their most intimate and vulnerable moments, navigating both the independence and isolation that college can bring. Viewers will find some semblance of themselves in them, as we all try to figure out what we want to be. 

"The White Lotus" season 2 (Available on HBO/ HBO Max)

“The White Lotus” wants to stay. Still focused on the rich people we love to hate, the show is taking on a new form as an anthology series. This time, it will take place at a Sicilian restaurant that belongs to the namesake of the show. We will continue to see Jennifer Coolidge’s critically-acclaimed character, Tanya McQuoid-Hunt, along with new additions, like Aubrey Plaza. Set to air this October, we will see if show-runner Mike White can continue to breathe poignancy into people we desperately want to hate.

Movies

"Nope"

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Jordan Peele did not disappoint with his third movie. “Nope” focuses on the Haywood siblings’ attempts to capture an image of a UFO in pursuit of fame and wealth.

The film reminds us of “Jaws," the very first summer blockbuster, with the hair-raising terror of a lurking threat hovering just above or under us. With “Nope," Peele tackled humanity’s preoccupation with the idea of a spectacle: our desire to see it, be a part of it and control it. “Nope” is not “Get Out," not “Us," nor does it want to be. I really enjoy the brother-sister relationship between the Haywoods, with stellar performances from Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya. 

"Top Gun: Maverick"

Tom Cruise continues to defy expectations with “Top Gun: Maverick”. In a time full of streaming services and many think-pieces about the death of cinema, “Top Gun: Maverick” went for a two-month, theatre-only release and won big, with a $1.3 billion box office.

This film is set 30 years after the initial movie, with Cruise’s character returning to work with a new group of graduates. The movie has its share of flashy action sequences, characteristics of a Tom Cruise movie, but remains grounded in the emotional aspect of the movie with its emphasis on companionship. Cruise, along with “Top Gun: Maverick”, forces you to remember what makes going to the cinema so special. After all, there are only so many places where, in the words of Cruise’s ex and AMC Queen, “heartbreak feels good in a place like this."

"Prey" (Available on Hulu)

My only selection that never got a theatrical release, “Prey” shows us what franchise films have the potential to be. As the fifth film of the Predator series, the film serves as a prequel to the other four, taking place in North America in 1719. The movie received praise for the accurate depiction of Comanche life, as well as Midthunder’s embodiment of Naru. Against the backdrop of humanoid aliens, “Prey” tells a coming-of-age story of a girl proving herself to her family, to outsiders and to the unpredictable world. 

Movies to look forward to

"Pearl" (Available Sept. 16th)

“X” would unquestionably have gotten a mention if it had not been released so early into the year. However, you can still put “Pearl” on your calendar for notable films coming out this fall. The movie details the origin story of “X”’s villain, Pearl, as she does everything she can to gain validation. Mia Goth was brilliant in "X", and seeing her grow into the killer she will become will be wonderful to see.

"Decision to Leave" (Available this October)

Park Chan-wook continues to surprise us with his range as a director, this time with a procedural neo-noir with deep roots in romance. “Decision to Leave” starts out with an insomniac detective investigating a widow who shows no sadness towards her husband's death. A love blossoms between these two, but societal constraints constantly remind them of their love’s futility.

Tang Wei, as the widow Seo Rae, and Park Hae-il, as Hae-jun the detective, both seemingly put on stellar performances -- one with a piercing gaze and the other with lovelorn eyes. Chan-wook won “Best Director” at this year's Cannes Festival for the film, which works to highlight his mastery of storytelling. "Decision to Leave" will be a quintessential fall movie, filling your heart with regret, nostalgia and just the right amount of hopelessness.

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" (Available this November)

Potentially the most anticipated Marvel movie this year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has a large burden to bear: it will have to deal with the loss of Chadwick Boseman -- T’Challa -- both off-screen and on-screen. What will become of the series: Will there be the next Black Panther, and if so, who? Will the audience be constantly reminded of the profound absence, or will they be told to move on? The movie has many questions to answer from, but if they manage to do it, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will see success, artistic and commercial, that has never been seen before. 

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