Sat. Dec 4th, 2021

“Lupin,” the caper about a thief stealing for revenge that became Netflix’s biggest French hit when it hit the service in January, returns Friday with “Lupin Part Two.” It’s just one of the stories that plays in the gray area between right and wrong on deck this week. Here’s what else is streaming this week:

Disney+ has followed up its string of hit Marvel series’—“WandaVision,”“The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”—with its latest weekly series, “Loki,” which began streaming this week. The series picks up after “Avengers: Endgame” (just like the other two series) and centers around Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, god of mischief, a villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and brother of hero, Thor.

At the start of the series, Loki is taken captive by the Time Variance Authority for breaking some time-travel laws. Owen Wilson’s Mobius, a TVA bureaucrat, gives him the option: help them find another “Loki” that’s messing with the timeline that the authority protects, or have himself erased completely. Loki opts for the former, and the series explores the idea that bad guys might not be all bad, and heroes might not be all good.

Kate Herron, the director of the series, says it’s not about embracing or excusing the actions of murderous villains like Loki but understanding where they come from.

“He’s a god obviously,” Ms. Herron says, “but there’s something very human and real to me about that: we aren’t necessarily all good or bad, we’re actually a bit more gray area, which I think a lot of people fall into.”

New Release: ‘Flack’

(Amazon Prime Video)

In “Flack,” Anna Paquin plays Robyn, a talented, unrepentant fixer to the celebrity set who works out of the London office of a powerful PR firm. She and her colleagues work to get their clients out of compromising situations and invent others to distract from bad news on the horizon. The second season of this dark dramedy premieres Friday on Amazon Prime Video.

Ms. Paquin says that one of the things that drew her to the role was how the character may be morally complicated, but not without her limits. For example, her character has no problem suggesting that a teenage client make a sex tape to distract from the fact that she’s being dropped by her label. But she won’t allow the tape to go forward if her client is not 100% on board.

“I like complicated, smart, sometimes difficult humans,” says Ms. Paquin, “and I also enjoy playing them.”

While Robyn is hyper competent at making sure her clients don’t get canceled, she relies on others—notably her sister—not to cancel her for her own significant faults and transgressions. In that way, Ms. Paquin says, the show is about exploring forgiveness, and the idea that “one bad thing doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is an entirely bad person.”

New Release: ‘Starstruck’

(HBO Max)

In the first episode of “Starstruck,” a new comedy that premiered this week on HBO Max, Jessie (Rose Matafeo) returns to her London flat on New Year’s Day to find her roommate, Kate (Emma Sidi), home with a guy she met at a bar (Al Roberts). Jessie has some news of her own: the man she just woke up with turned out to be a famous actor.

The series was created by Ms. Matafeo, who shares a London flat with Ms. Sidi and Mr. Roberts in real life.

“It’s basically a way in which to employ our entire flat and make sure that we can pay rent,” Ms. Matafeo said, jokingly, in a recent Zoom call from her bedroom, a wall removed from Ms. Sidi.

The morning after is the jumping off point for a love story—a will-they-or-won’t-they about two people who, Ms. Matafeo says, get in their own way of being together.

“It is kind of, just a regular love story with the added component of him being deeply famous,” she says. “But, you know, who hasn’t been there?”

The show has already been picked up for a second season and Ms. Matafeo says things at the flat have been improving incrementally. The roommates now stock both sea salt and kosher crystal salt, for example. And Ms. Matafeo says she bought a new chair and Ms. Sidi has a new rug.

“We are moving up in the world.”

New Release: Tribeca Festival

(TribecaFilm.com/Festival)

For its 20th installment, the Tribeca Film Festival has rebranded as the Tribeca Festival, a name change that reflects that it’s not just showing movies anymore. The 2021 festival, which runs through June 20, includes categories like podcasting, virtual reality and gaming. The festival is also making many of its titles available for viewers to watch—and otherwise experience—at home. Those titles include documentaries like “Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase the Blues Away,” about the life of blues legend Buddy Guy; “David,” a short film featuring Will Ferrell; and “Vermont Ave.,” a podcast episode from co-creator James Kim, the up-and-coming creator behind the celebrated “Moonface” podcast.

Mr. Kim considers his Tribeca entry—a 14-minute walk and conversation that takes place on the street and inside the head of his protagonist who is dealing with a strained relationship—a slice of what could be a larger project from him and co-creator Brooke Iskra. It’s a similar idea, he says, to the way filmmakers sometimes premiere short films at festivals that grow into feature films. If the installment is received well, he hopes to turn it into an anthology, with each episode made by different creators, featuring characters dealing with topics like heartbreak, family and relationships that “sound like a podcast mixtape about love.”

Buddy Guy in ‘Buddy Guy: The Blues Chase the Blues Away.’



Photo:

KEITH WALKER

Streaming Notes

More ‘Hacks’: Jean Smart has been fetching rave reviews for her portrayal of battle-hardened Las Vegas comic Deborah Vance in HBO Max’s “Hacks.” The series’ final pair of episodes are streaming now. HBO Max has renewed the series for a second season, noting in a news release that it was “a top performer on the platform since its debut, consistently ranking in the top ten most viewed titles out of all available content.” Read more about the series, a Boomer-Gen Z buddy comedy written by millennials, here.

More ‘Motherhacker’:The popular scripted podcast that stars Carrie Coon (“Fargo,” “The Leftovers”) as a mom who resorts to working the dark web, returned this week for its second season. All 9 new episodes are streaming for free on Spotify.

More Hart: Roku Channel has given the greenlight to a second season of the action series “Die Hart,” starring Kevin Hart, called “Die Harter.” The title is one of many that was commissioned by Quibi, the now-defunct, short-form streaming service, that was picked up by Roku, and re-released on May 20 as a Roku Original. In a news release the streamer said that a “record number of households” streamed the show in its opening weekend, but declined to say how many. No word yet on whether co-star

John Travolta

will return for season 2.

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By rahul