Pee-wee Herman goes on Holiday, Daredevil returns and more of this week’s must-sees
Watching 1962’s subversive mind-trip The Manchurian Candidate today, it’s easy to see why it was a box-office flop. Its cynical, paranoid vision of an America mired in foreign wars and a suffocating political climate is tough to watch. Today, as pundit brainwashing and the rise of demagogues have become status quo, it’s more prescient than ever. Watch the new Criterion Collection Blu-ray, mastered from a 4K restoration, and tackle the difficult themes and director John Frankenheimer’s challenging vision head on.
There are at least four major reasons to cheer Pee-wee Herman’s return to feature filmmaking. First, 1985’s Pee-wee’s Big Adventure is a stone-cold comedy classic. Also, Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, which premieres today on Netflix, is co-written by Paul Reubens, produced by Judd Apatow, and directed by John Lee, co-creator of the brilliantly inflammatory not-a-kids-show Wonder Showzen. Could my expectations be higher? Nope. That’s why you should stream this tonight and hold out until tomorrow for …
… Daredevil, which dropped all 13 episodes of its highly anticipated second season. It’s perfect timing for Marvel, following the adult-oriented superhero success of Deadpool, to return to Hell’s Kitchen and revisit its vigilante crimefighter. Charlie Cox is back in the title role, while MCU characters the Punisher and Elektra (who each have their own terrible feature film versions) are also introduced. As long as Season 2 stays focused on the mental and physical toll of its title character’s decisions, Daredevil could continue to redefine must-watch TV.
1987’s low-budget, ninja-as-Bond actioner Rage of Honor is new on Blu-ray, following last month’s Arrow Video release of 1985’s immigrant-ninja-vs.-America movie, Pray for Death. Sho Kosugi, the star of both, fights with his mouth open and speaks in broken English, but if pulsating synth music and nonstop martial arts are your things, there’s plenty of both. Also: boats and cars that explode on impact!
Buzz has been building around Netflix’s bold experiment The Characters, and with good reason. Eight up-and-coming comedians were given the creative freedom to create their own half-hour episodes of sketch comedy. The tone and structure are all over the place, but not at the expense of laughs. It’s refreshing to see wildly different styles of humor and new takes on the format all within one show.
Jon Cryer has sure come a long way since he immortalized sad-sack ’80s new-wave hipster Duckie in the John Hughes coming-of-age classic Pretty in Pink. But he can’t seem to escape the character. He even revisited Duckie’s infamous Otis Redding lip-sync in the record store a year ago on The Late Late Show With James Corden. Celebrate a simpler time when the thriving genre of teen films existed and Harry Dean Stanton could give solid dad advice to Molly Ringwald. Pretty in Pink shows tonight at Screenland Crossroads at 7:30.
Episode four of the Sundance Channel’s fine 1980s-set Texas crime series, Hap and Leonard, shows tonight. Based on the quirky characters created by novelist Joe R. Lansdale, the show stars Michael K. Williams (The Wire) and James Purefoy (The Following) and plays like a buddy version of FX’s Justified, with a lighter touch. There are six episodes in total, and even if you don’t have the Sundance Channel, you can catch up at sundance.tv/watch-now/.
Eric Melin is editor of Scene-Stealers.com and president of the KC Film Critics Circle.