It's hard to believe it, but after 107 straight weeks, the Friday Five is going on hiatus. But that doesn't mean we aren't sending you off with some good vibes one more time. We've got a great dark comedy, the newest hit HBO show, some fast cars, and as always, some great tunes. Until next time, enjoy Volume 107.
Between The White Lotus and Glass Onion, we've had a lot of comedy about rich people on islands recently. The Menu offers an entirely new take on the genre, though with a decidedly darker side. The film is laugh out loud funny, and the writing is incredibly sharp. But that doesn't prevent some white-knuckled, edge-of-your seat suspense, either. Ralph Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy are both phenomenal in the two leading roles, though they certainly have help from a stellar supporting cast. The Menu is an incredibly effective satire of the recent trend in ridiculously expensive and exclusive fine-dining "experiences," and even once the big twist is revealed, it doesn't lose its power. While we are sure that some gasp-worthy moments would have played very well in a theater, we were also very excited to be able to play this one on HBOMax from the comfort of our own couches. If you need something to watch this weekend, look no further.
The Last of Us
Video game adaptations typically don't play very well. However, it looks like Craig Mazin (who created Chernobyl) and his team may prove the exception to the rule. The Last of Us is one of the biggest video games ever, and was critically acclaimed for its cinematic qualities when it was released. Now, we get to see the story play out as an actual television show. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey star as the central duo in this post-apocalyptic drama, which just might be HBO's latest Sunday night hit. The network just knows how to do large scale, big budget, crowd-pleasing dramas, and The Last of Us looks like it could check all those boxes. The rave reviews are already pouring in, which is relatively surprising given the fact that people have mostly checked out on the zombie genre. However, the pedigree on screen and behind the camera should be enough to make this project work. It might only be the second week of 2023, but the way things are shaping up, we might already be seeing one of the best shows of the year.
Michael Fassbender: Road to Le Mans
Michael Fassbender is an incredibly talented actor, and we are very excited to see him in the latest David Fincher project The Killing which is due out this year. But aside from his acting career, Fassbender has taken on a new passion: racing. Specifically, Fassbender has made it his goal to drive Le Mans, the legendary, 24-hour French race, most recently mythologized in the film Ford v Ferrari. As part of his attempt to drive the race, he has partnered with Porsche, and together they have put out an incredibly well-produced Youtube series called Road to Le Mans. The show is now in its fourth season, and while it might not be on quite the same scale as Drive to Survive, it certainly carries enough drama and intrigue to hold you over until the next season. Fassbender's pursuit is inspiring, and the first episode of the latest season really highlights why. He goes from shooting the Fincher movie during his offseason back into a grueling training regiment to get him ready to race. He is relentlessly pursuing a dream of his, pushing himself beyond his comfort zone. And of course, we love to just watch Porsches drive fast. If you like F1, Fassbender, or exciting documentaries, Road to Le Mans is for you.
Tim Fox's Lil Wayne Animation
We are two weeks into the new year, but that doesn't mean we can't still celebrate some of the best of 2022. Tim Fox's animation for Lil Wayne's "Mona Lisa" was a viral sensation in 2022, and it came across our feeds this week, so we wanted to highlight it here. Fox's animation style is really cool, blending 2D, pencil drawn animation with 3D characters for a really unique look. He also took on numerous genres for the quick video, bringing in elements of heist movies, horror, and rap/music videos. The lighting and depth are very cinematic, and give the piece a grimy edge. Fox made an explainer post about the video, and talks about how he blocked the animation as if it was going to be live action. He also used a choreographer and motion capture, really going above and beyond what you'd expect in an animated short. If you're like us, you could probably just watch this "Mona Lisa" video on loop. But if you're looking for more awesome videos, Fox's whole page is worth checking out.
Norah Jones feat. Logic - Fade Away
We can't say we had ever expected a Norah Jones and Logic collaboration, but when it came across our "Discover Weekly" Spotify playlist, we had to check it out. And the duo did not disappoint. In his intro, Logic ad-libs "yo, this is a vibe," and that's really the best way to describe this track. The stripped down piano and guitar parts sync perfectly with Logic's rapping style, and they create a super interesting track. Logic's signature flow is as good as ever during the verses, and Jones really grounds everything with her serene voice during the chorus. A lot of the lyrics are about living your life to the fullest and doing the best that you can every day, and we can definitely relate. Our top priority with our music picks is always about bringing good vibes, and Jones and Logic bring them by the truckload. It's probably already threatening for a spot at the top of our Spotify Wrapped 2023 because of how many times we've played it this week. It'll just get your mood right, whether you're working, driving, or just hanging out.