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New Releases Round-up 4/24 – 4/28

Title: The Circle

Director: James Ponsoldt

Distributor: EuropaCorp/STX Entertainment

James Ponsoldt, performing admirably in the indie film ecosystem for a solid couple of years now (The Spectacular Now, The End of the Tour) moves to an A-lister outing with the help of Tom Hanks and Emma Watson in The Circle, an adaptation of the 2013 book of the same name written by Dave Eggers. The film follows a new employee (Watson) to a lucrative, Google-or-Apple-esque tech company who works her way up to precarious position of power within the organization. The two star-leads are supplemented by a rogues gallery of a cast, with John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Patton Oswalt, Boyhood star Ellar Coltrane, and the late Bill Paxton, in his final film appearance. In theaters Thursday, April 27th.

Title: HUMANZ

Artist: Gorillaz

Label: Parlophone/Warner Bros.

The premiere art-pop “virtual band” returns for its first album since 2011’s The Fall, and into a dramatically different world from the one it left us in that year. Co-frontman Damon Albarn kept busy in the interim with a Blur revival in 2015, and told his stable of high-profile collaborators for this new Gorillaz album in early 2016 to write material for an “end-of-the-world party” in the event that Donald Trump won the presidential election. In a recent interview rapper Pusha T told Zane Lowe that at the time he didn’t want to even consider the possibility, but that the directive freed him up to “say anything and attack all issues [he] wanted to attack.” That firebrand hip hop mogul is featured on the single “Let Me Out” alongside soul-music royalty Mavis Staples, an absolute banger of a song that indeed sounds celebratory AND apocalyptic. Vince Staples, D.R.A.M., Danny Brown, and De La Soul also contributed with feature appearances to amount to an album that will likely be a must-listen for hip-hop fans. Releases Friday, April 28th.

Title: The Handmaid’s Tale

Platform: Hulu

Margaret Atwood’s much-discussed 1985 dystopian novel is getting the series television treatment courtesy of Hulu this year, timed for maximum cultural impact as reproductive rights for women and gender relations take center stage in the American discourse. The subject is of a futuristic radical-fundamentalist society where women are subjugated by law into domestic roles, and the few women able to bear children are “handmaids,” who must raise children to term only to then be assigned a new household to serve as child-bearer. Elisabeth Moss plays the protagonist Offred, a handmaid for a high-level military officer. Moss was previously one of the strongest elements of the TV golden-age period piece Mad Men, and has been at a bit of a loss for prominent and strong roles since that show’s finale in 2015. Though the streaming platform has had intermittent successes in the area of their original content with critical hits like The Path with Aaron Paul and Michelle Monaghan and a miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s 11.22.63 starring James Franco, the “network” of sorts has yet to have a series that approaches the bar set for “prestige” TV by HBO or the chief competitor in the streaming realm; Netflix, or a popular phenomenon of a show like that latter platform’s Stranger Things. If a series were to catch on as prominently in any era with subject matter like Atwood’s novel, right now seems like that time. Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski accompany Moss in filling out the cast of the series. Episodes 1-3 available starting Wednesday, April 26th.