The Burbs Entertainment Film and Television staff came together to provide an update on what has kept them most entertained this year, including which seasons of television they've anticipated returns to and which films dragged them into movie theaters despite a multitude of complications.
Disclaimer: No, we did not forget about The White Lotus. That show wasn't as good as your mother or father will try to convince you it was. As a matter of fact, it was actually very disappointing. Nor did we forget about The Underground Railroad, one of our writers is finishing the series as we speak and will have an in-depth review on it coming shortly.
'JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH'
Where to watch: HBO Max
Judas and the Black Messiah remains the best film of 2021. Director Shaka King’s tragic tale of betrayal is the most powerful film of the early decade — and tells a story that should’ve been etched in history books long ago. Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya are a truly dynamic duo in their respective turns as FBI informant William O’Neal and Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton. Kaluuya’s performance is especially riveting, notably displayed in the indomitable “I Am, A Revolutionary” speech. He won the Oscar for a reason.
Jesse Plemons - who just might be the hardest working man in Hollywood (seriously, he’s in everything) — does a great job as a (sorry, Jesse, you seem like a nice guy) piece of shit. A strikingly modern message — and currently available on HBO Max — Judas and the Black Messiah belongs at the top of your watchlist if you’re yet to see it. - Jack Martin
'THE GREEN KNIGHT'
Where to watch: In theaters and on VOD
Nobody could have played Sir Gawain more perfectly and beautifully than Dev Patel. An Arthurian legend starring a 21st-century legend couldn’t be more fitting! The newest A24 movie doesn’t hold your hand, but if you’re up for the challenge to read between the lines of a film with scant dialogue, then this movie could be your very own knight’s tale… Imagine the theater you walk into shrouded in mist. You walk up to the mystical and powerful ticket booth employee and purchase one entry to The Green Knight. They hand you the slip of paper, which allows you to embark on your quest. The theater you enter after struggling to navigate the concession stands begging you for money, dark halls that are probably haunted, and the couple sitting next to you who are both kind of into you? You finally get to face the challenge that is this movie — you better be prepared after all of that! The reward, in the end, is well deserved (opening up Letterboxd and writing your little review).
You don’t have to have read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to understand this film — but if you have, then there are some alterations that you’ll enjoy! I, for one, left the theater knowing that 1.) We need to be giving Dev Patel more roles, and 2.) Swords are so cool; I wish we still used them. And you’re gonna feel the same way, too, or else I’m gonna cut your stupid head off!! - Katia Hollis
'THE SUICIDE SQUAD'
Where to watch: In theaters and on HBO Max
With The Suicide Squad, James Gunn compiles a ragtag team of D-list villains to deliver an ultraviolent war comedy masquerading as a superhero film. Behind a “no fucks given” approach to its characters’ fates and the refusal to take itself seriously, The Suicide Squad effectively fixes the DC Extended Universe’s fun problem. In fact, it’s the best entry in the DCEU’s eight-year run.
Perhaps the best part of The Suicide Squad is Gunn’s decision to shoot the film on physical sets. The island background pops, and there’s never a distraction from glaringly lazy CGI. *Cough* Black Widow *Cough*. The ensemble cast headlined by Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, and John Cena is genuinely fun, and Daniela Melchior shines as Ratcatcher 2 in her English-film debut.
Hopefully, The Suicide Squad will set a sort of precedent for DC films. Let Marvel make the family-friendly movies — their formula works. Batman watched his parents get shot in an alley — it’s not uplifting stuff. - Jack Martin
'BO BURNHAM: INSIDE'
Where to watch: Netflix
There is likely no better statement on the current state of the world than Bo Burnham’s 90-minute epic. Everything about this project is masterful — take Bo’s suffocating cinematography, all shot inside his own home, or his simultaneously hilarious and dread-inducing songwriting, laid-over production that’s so layered you’d expect it out of a major record label’s debut album for their industry plant, and not the bedroom of a just-turned-30-year-old and his MIDI keyboard.
Burnham manages to do a million different things in his “comedy special.” You’re up close with his vulnerable self, the camera sometimes just inches away from his sagging eyes and unshaved beard. You can almost smell what his quarantine life was like. His songs, namely Bezos I, are all over TikTok, and rightfully so — Bo has put together a project that is everything this generation is living through, whether it be climate existentialism, white dread, a reckoning with race, a trivialization of sex, class struggle, phone addiction, or masculinity. It only makes sense that it’s being spun over and over again on the generation’s favorite app. Look for it and you’ll find it in this special — a piece of art that we’ve only begun to understand, a piece of art that can act as a cultural landmark for our current era. - Sriman Narayanan