Written and directed by Sian Heder “CODA” is an incredible film that not only deals with the loss of hearing and the power of sound, its also one that will ring true to many children of deaf adults and for anyone of a young age who have adults depending on them. Ruby is the only hearing person in her home when she discovers a passion for singing and must choose between family obligations and her own dreams. Be forewarned, what appears to be a by-the-numbers underdog story hits home on so many levels that it left me in a weepy mess by the end. After cleaning up earlier this year at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, expect to see Oscar nominations and wins in the very near future. CODA is a storytelling triumph from a diverse cast of deaf and hearing actors who deliver equally heartwarming and heartbreaking performances. I’m hopeful we see Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Katsur and Daniel Durant on many nominee lists in the near future. I for one will be cheerleading from the sidelines all the way through the run-up to awards season.
After last week’s premiere of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s anxiety driven and darkly-comedic drama, the opening interaction of this week’s episode - titled ’Happy Birthday’ - sets the true tone for the series going forward. Tackling religion, happiness and uncomfortable adult conversations with your parents. Mr Corman is a hoot, full of stylistic surprises.
In the immortal words of Slade’s Noddy Holder “It’s Chsitmaaaasss!.” It may be August but for 30 mins this week it’s Christmas in Richmond. Rebecca enlists Ted on a secret mission, Roy and Keeley wish for a miracle, and the Higgins’s open up their home.
‘How We Change’ is the season finale of the limited musical series that will have you screaming Encore! With the election looming, Mildred relentlessly ramps up her campaign whilst Josh and Melissa face their true feelings for one-another.
‘The Smoking Gun’ delivers a season two finale worthy of the slow build with answers for Matt and Hilde even though the Liskos struggle to convince the town to join their fight. Easily the most overlooked series on Apple’s streaming platform I’m hopeful we’ll see the show return sooner rather than later.
Apple Arcade Updates:
Our initial excitement for this week’s big Apple Arcade release ’Monster Hunter+’ was somewhat dampened by the lack of Apple TV or controller support - something we’re hopeful CAPCOM will look to rectify in a later update. Instead we’re focusing our Apple Arcade playtime on new updates to existing catalogue titles. Star Trek Legends have added Pavel Chekov and Elnor to the game’s roster through unlockable in-game solo events which are now playable with a controller. The Oregon Trail receives its second update featuring new quests, an exciting fishing mini-game and improvements to the balance and overall gameplay. Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat has added 5 more songs to play this week, starting with "Parallel Lollipop," one of the songs released to mark the 20th anniversary of the franchise.
To close out this week, part 2 of Fantasian’s adventure has been added to the game. The latter half features a more quest-driven style of gameplay that can take anywhere between 40 to 60 hours for players to experience. Furthermore, the characters’ Growth Map and ability to swap Party members in and out of battle have added new dimensions to the battle experience. The approximately 50 original dioramas and 34 Nobuo Uematsu tracks featured in Part 2 will expand the Fantasian experience to new heights.
Sigmund - "I have been super nostalgic as of late and this horror comedy from Steven Kostanski (The Void) released earlier this year hit all the right notes. Borrowing heavily from the late 80’s and early 90’s with winks to the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and the music videos of inter-dimensional super-group GWAR, PG is a sure fire instant cult classic full of fun characters, practical effects and laugh out loud moments courtesy of some of the movie’s younger cast members. For the sake of the universe, watch it.”
Jonathan - "Sometimes we just need a good, easy going comedy with relatable characters to sit down to of an evening. If you’re in a search for that sort of thing, this is the film for you. Writer/Director Nikole Beckwith brings us this charming but grounded and emotionally resonant tale of single man, Matt (Ed Helms), who who hires a surrogate, Anna (Patti Harrison), to carry his child to term. As the eggs are donors, Anna doesn’t have any skin in the game, so to speak and they both think this will be an easy transaction. However, as the lines between surrogacy, friendship, parental rights and responsibilities and day to day interactions start to blur, the pair find it more and more difficult.
To say any more would be to spoil it but it’s a credit to the film maker that the film never patronises and never tries to make things all mushy and rose tinted. The ending itself is an lesson in writing proper characterisation and not trying to tie an easy bow on the top. Led by two fantastic leads who balance the drama and comedy very well (Patti Harrison is one of the funniest people around and this hopefully will lead to more for her) it’s a great way to spend 90 minutes."
Devon - "You’ve seen this show listed in Up Next for several weeks now, but as the season finale is about to air, I wanted to highlight it one last time. Schmigadoon! is a musical comedy series starring Keegan Michael-Key and Cecily Strong as a couple who find themselves trapped in a real-life musical. Other notable stars include Dove Cameron, Kristin Chenoweth, Jane Krakowski, and Martin Short. The entire cast is incredible and over-the-top in the very best way. I’ve loved musicals all my life, so this show hits all the right notes for me. The musical numbers are catchy and amusing, every episode drips with outrageous drama, and the humor is the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of wit that only a musical can deliver. I can’t get through an episode without at least one bought of uncontrollable laughing.
What really sets Schmigadoon! apart from anything else, though, is its self-awareness. Because the main characters are from the outside world, they know that they’re in a musical, and they reflect on their situation constantly. This outsider perspective adds yet another layer of humor to the musical genre that’s captured the hearts of so many and gives it a modern twist. And I think this is the sort of show that’s perfect for Apple TV+. There’s simply nothing like it. The show doesn’t fit any kind of mold; instead, it starts with the musical trope and blazes its own path from there. I’ve so enjoyed this season of Schmigadoon! and highly encourage anyone who’s looking for a laugh to give it a watch.
James - "After many delays, everyone’s favourite family is back for another absurd, action-filled mission. This ninth instalment leans so hard into how utterly ridiculous these films are more than ever and I loved it. It’s more absurd and physics-defying than ever before but sometimes you just need a good movie like this to just switch off to and that’s why I have such a soft spot for these. Some of the action sequences are as jaw-dropping as they are ridiculous and there’s a lot of laughs to be had too. Although we may never see The Rock and Vin Diesel together again on-screen, John Cena is a great addition to the cast and makes for a fun villain. There are so many huge plot holes but I must admit, I don’t really care - I have so much time for this franchise. Bring on the next one!"
Sigmund is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of ScreenTimes where he began his Apple TV coverage in 2016. With an unwavering passion for Apple, storytelling and storytellers alike, he writes about Apple TV with a focus on the arts, development, tvOS, home theatre and accessibility. Sigmund also co-host’s Magic Rays of Light, a weekly podcast exploring the world of Apple TV and the many talents bringing our screens to life.