The Venture Bros., Oscar Nominated Shorts and more from the week in pop culture
The fascinating documentary I Am Thor, new on Blu-ray and available to rent or buy on iTunes and Amazon, is a profile in denial. It showcases the 1970s bodybuilder-turned-stripper-turned–heavy-metal also-ran named John Mikl Thor, who claims his skyrocketing career was scuttled when he became too valuable to too many people and was — get this — kidnapped. It mines the modern comeback narrative of the much better Anvil! The Story of Anvil and has gaping holes in its backstory, but Thor’s desperate enthusiasm and complete lack of self-awareness are disarming and make the doc very watchable.
Each winter, the Oscar Nominated Shorts program comes to Tivoli Cinemas, showcasing the best in animated, live-action and documentary short-form filmmaking. All three programs open today, and this is your only chance to see them grouped together in a feature setting. Bonus: a leg up in your office Oscar pool. Don’t miss: Don Hertzfeldt’s poignant sci-fi short World of Tomorrow, in the animated collection.
#SAGsSoWhite? Surprisingly, no. Straight Outta Compton and Beasts of No Nation each have a shot at the Best Ensemble award at the 22nd Screen Actors Guild Awards, so we probably won’t see that hashtag trending tonight. Also up: three of the best performances of the year, from outliers Idris Elba (Beasts), Michael Shannon (99 Homes) and Jacob Tremblay (Room) — all picked by SAG voters over 2016 Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone. #SAGsSoSmart 7 p.m., TBS and TNT.
If the constant pop-culture meta humor of Community is your thing, you may want to give Adult Swim’s The Venture Bros. a try. Stream the first 67 episodes at Amazon Prime, then go to Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet’s celebration of tonight’s Season Six premiere, an in-theater fan party, complete with T-shirt and poster giveaways and a costume contest. In addition to seeing the new episode, the audience will vote on a fan favorite and watch it on the big screen, too. Smiles, everyone! Smiles!
With one swoop of her luxurious hair and a flash of her gorgeous smile, Rita Hayworth made the inmates of the Shawshank State Penitentiary (and the rest of America) swoon in the classic 1946 noir-steeped melodrama Gilda. You can rent this innuendo-filled paradigm on iTunes or Vudu, but in order to watch author Eddie Muller delve into the homoerotic relationship between George Macready and Glenn Ford’s characters that’s lurking in the film’s subtext, you’ll have to get the new Blu-ray, out from the Criterion Collection and filled with extra features.
It’s not a docu-drama. Nobody directly involved in the case was consulted. John Travolta is playing defense attorney Robert Shapiro, Cuba Gooding Jr. is the Juice, and David Schwimmer is Robert Kardashian. So just what the hell is American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson? It’s created by the guys who wrote The People vs. Larry Flynt and Man on the Moon, so the tension between possible fascination and the likelihood of an utter trainwreck is too exhilarating to ignore. It premieres tonight on FX and FXNOW.
Oscar Isaac won a Golden Globe for the HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero, and while it’s been available on HBO Now since last August, it came out yesterday on Blu-ray. In what may be the least sexy setup ever, the six-episode show is based on the story of a real-life mayor in Yonkers, New York, and his efforts to desegregate public housing in the late 1980s and early ’90s. So why is it on this list? Because it was written by David Simon, who examined similar problems in his similarly unsexy (and brilliant) TV series The Wire.
Eric Melin is editor of Scene-Stealers.com and president of the Kansas City Film Critics Circle.