And, as at any resort, there’s as much intrigue behind the scenes, where Masha’s staff (Manny Jacinto, Tiffany Boon, Zoe Terakes) have their own tensions, and Masha herself has secrets that might come to light in deadly fashion.
The early episodes are all strong, though without the bottled lightning of Big Little Lies, and they’re not as flat-out fun as The White Lotus (Foxtel, Binge), which examines similar themes. Well worth checking out.
With the star wattage of Mark Wahlberg, Chiwetel Ejiofor and director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), this expensive new sci-fi action flick might once have filled a multiplex near you. In these pandemicky times it will at least fill your screen with some spectacular car chase-based set pieces and an intriguing premise that fizzles out in the third act as the action overwhelms the story and gets overly silly, even by action-movie standards.
Wahlberg plays Evan McCauley, a man diagnosed with schizophrenia who doesn’t realise that his hallucinations are actually memories of past lives. Reincarnation is real, you see, but only a tiny minority of us knows it.
One faction, led by the terrifying Bathurst (Ejiofor), wants to destroy the world in the hope of achieving merciful oblivion. The other half wants to save it. Guess who unknowingly holds the key to everything?
The visuals are spectacular, but things get increasingly derivative as they progress, and Jason Mantzoukas’ ill-conceived comic-relief character falls clangingly flat. For similar concepts done a whole lot smarter, check out Altered Carbon on Netflix.
Jean Smart is a marvel in this acerbic, insightful and unsentimental treat of a comedy drama. She’s Deborah Vance, a Joan Rivers kind of figure stagnating while performing old routines to tourists in her Vegas casino residency.
To freshen things up, she reluctantly hires young comedy writer Ava (Hannah Einbinder), who has been cancelled over a social-media post. Series creators Lucia Aniello, Paul Downs and Jen Statsky have great sympathy for both women but imbue them with unlovely defensive qualities to keep any saccharin at bay. Brilliant.
Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) supplies the original songs and the voice of a feisty kinkajou named Vivo in this heartstring-tugging animated musical adventure. We begin in Havana, a place of infectious tropical rhythms and a colourful CGI dilapidation, where Vivo performs with a kindly old street musician. When the old man dies, Vivo must honour him on a mission to Miami – with the help of a defiantly individualistic girl named Gabi. Vivo himself has charm and a delightfully kinetic scamper to go with themes of love and loss.
Watch the Sound with Mark Ronson
A highly illuminating little series in which super-producer Mark Ronson and a small host of big-name musicians show exactly how effects and inventions such as autotune, reverb, synthesisers and samplers actually work, and the seismic effects they’ve had on music in recent decades.
If you think that sounds like a list of what’s gone wrong with music in recent decades, Paul McCartney himself is on hand to remind us that the Beatles used sampling technology, and to opine that John Lennon would have loved mucking around with autotune.
Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage
The Woodstock 99 music festival is remembered mostly for its shocking outbreaks of rioting, arson and sexual assault. How did it go so wrong? This grimly fascinating HBO documentary sees further than the obvious ordeal of spending three days on a baking hot airfield with appalling security and sanitation. The musicians, organisers and concertgoers interviewed have different perspectives, but it seems clear that there was an unusually testosterone-saturated atmosphere and line-up, and a powder-keg of young male rage in search of a touchpaper.
*Stan is owned by Nine, the owner of this masthead.