Pop Forecast for Oct. 3: Girl on the Train, Conviction and more
“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” Bob Dylan sang. But these days, a guide through the seemingly endless flurry of pop-culture offerings is just what we need. With that in mind, here is what’s on the radar screen in TV, music and film for the coming week.
Big release on Oct. 7: The Girl on the Train.
Big picture: I might be the only one sad to hear this isn’t the long-awaited sequel to the 1987 comedy Throw Momma from the Train. (I would have also settled for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on the Train). But in truth, movie lovers should be all aboard for this ride. The thriller takes commuter fatigue, paranoia and voyeurism to a whole new level. Rachel’s (Emily Blunt) daily journey home may or may not include losing her mind, witnessing a murder, witnessing an affair, committing a murder, and/or committing a murderous affair!
With its spellbinding, layered mystery (the script is like a Russian doll), not even the characters seem to know what’s happening. What starts as a struggling divorcee’s fantasy about the “perfect” couple she sees from her train window quickly delves into twists worthy of Keyser Söze. There are no usual suspects to be found in this story of a young woman’s disappearance, based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling novel. Memory lapses? Check. False memories? Check. By the time credits roll, don’t be surprised if we found out the characters live on Inception’s fourth dream level.
Forecast: Alfred Hitchcock would be proud. Train rides haven’t been this suspenseful since his classic Strangers on a Train. That said, Hollywood could have jazzed up the movie title a little. I would have gone with Crazy, Stupid, Love, Murder; Choo Choo to Crazy; Murder Land; or Throw Momma and The Girl on the Train from the Train.
Honourable mention: The Birth of a Nation. This Sundance favourite was a born Oscar contender. The stirring historical drama is based on the story of Nat Turner, an enslaved man who led a slave rebellion in 1831 Virginia.
Big events: Conviction (Oct. 3, ABC/CTV); Timeless (NBC/Global, Oct. 3).
Big picture: In Conviction, Hayley Atwell leaves the morality of Marvel’s Agent Carter far, far behind. Only time will tell whether she has the superpowers to defeat legal drama cliché. She plays Hayes, a bad seed who happens to be a great lawyer, and a former First Daughter. Did I mention her ma is now a Senator? So she’s basically Chelsea Clinton with a drug addiction, a drinking problem and her father’s sexual appetite (e.g. she’s sleeping with her law students!).
Will she learn to care about anyone but herself? Of course! The life lessons begin when she takes over a wrongful conviction unit to avoid jail time on a drug charge. And who would have guessed it? The DA is not only her boss and blackmailer, but also a former/future flame?
Meanwhile, Timeless is DC’s Legends of Tomorrow meets Quantum Leap (sadly there’s no talking, cigar-chomping hologram named Al). This one’s got two time machines — in fact, duelling time machines (who needs banjos!). Essentially, a rag-tag trio of heroes travel through the past to keep a criminal from changing history. Your ability to suspend your disbelief will be further challenged when you learn a historian (Abigail Spencer) leads them! (Attention all history BAs: Your degrees aren’t useless! You can now officially tell people you’re just waiting for your first time-travelling job.)
Forecast: It’s the head-to-head (time-slot) battle you always dreamt of: Time-travellers vs. lawyers! I predict fall 2017 will see a series about time-travelling lawyers. Law & Order: Time Machine. Motto: “The wheels of justice … are on my time machine.”
Honourable mention: Divorce (Oct. 9, HBO). A long, meandering divorce is mined for laughs in Sarah Jessica Parker’s highly anticipated return to HBO. Her estranged husband is played by the delightfully deadpan Thomas Haden Church, and Molly Shannon co-stars. The show looks like a winner, but I just can’t bring myself to trust Parker. (Coincidentally, I’ve spent years trying to design a time machine solely to go back in time to prevent myself from watching hours of Sex and the City.)
Big releases on Oct. 7: Rick Astley (50); Green Day (Revolution Radio); Sum 41 (Thirteen Voices).
Big picture: Speaking of the past, the 1980s are visiting. Rick Astley is back! His first album in a decade is already a sensation across the pond. (Looks like ’80s-era Astley was right: We’re never going to give him up.)
Meanwhile, Green Day returns with Revolution Radio, which sounds like it could have been written in 1895 (as a tribute to Marconi). Then again, the album’s themes are all too here-and-now. Tracks like Troubled Times discuss an America rife with inequality, division and violence.
Not to be outdone, Canadian rockers Sum 41 become a five piece … and that somehow adds up to Thirteen Voices. What can I say? They’re musicians, not mathematicians. (On a side note, I’d like to travel to the not-so-distant past to slap whoever coined the name for the band’s pending Don’t Call It a Sum-Back Tour.)
Forecast: We’ve all been Rickrolled on the Internet; this time it will happen in real life.
Honourable mentions: Norah Jones (Day Breaks); Pitbull (Climate Change). The jazz chanteuse rises again, returning to form after a dalliance with pop. Meanwhile, Pitbull sinks his musical teeth into “politricks.” His word.