7 binge-worthy series and movies by famous brothers

2018-04-07 06:00
Ma Anand Sheela and Bhagwan Rajneesh in Wild Wild

Cape Town - Showmax, DStv Now and Netflix all carry some of the best examples of the Duplass Brothers and the Coen Brothers’ writing, directing and acting talents.

Binge on these series and movies on internet TV this weekend (especially if you’re one of those people who honours random Days of the Year - Siblings Day is on 10 April, just FYI).

1. HBO’s Room 104 (Showmax)

Created and written by Mark and Jay Duplass, and starring Jay Duplass.

This anthology series is first and only on Showmax. Each episode is completely self-contained, so you can dip in and out of the series without missing any of the action. The only thing that ties one episode to another is the setting - a nondescript American motel room. Each episode features different eras and different guests, but all of them unfold in a deeply creepy and unexpected way. Look out for James van der Beek in episode 2, Jay Duplass in episode 4 and Mae Whitman in episode 8, among other big names.

2. HBO’s Animals (Showmax)

Executive produced by and starring the voice talents of Mark and Jay Duplass.

Season 1 of this hilarious adult animated series is now on Showmax, with Season 2 coming first and only to Showmax in May. The Duplass Brothers are the executive producers and loaned their voices to some of the rude, crude New York City-dwelling critters who are the stars of the show. Also listen out for the voices of Aziz Ansari, Jessica Chastain, Adam Scott and another brother-power-pair Marlon and Shawn Wayans.

3. Fargo, the movie (Showmax)

Directed, written, produced and edited by Joel and Ethan Coen.

This 1996 dark comedy film by the Coen Brothers won two Oscars, one for Best Writing and one for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Frances McDormand, who plays Minnesota Police Chief Marge Gunderson. This is the classic movie that inspired Seasons 1 to 3 of Fargo (also on Showmax), with the same winning combination of unwitting criminals, morons with money, underdog cops, violent gangsters and eerie, snowy North Dakota/Minnesota settings.

4. True Grit (Showmax)

Directed, written, produced and edited by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Another dark comedy by the masters of the genre, this 2010 movie is about fiery 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) who takes matters into her own hands to avenge the death of her father. She hires boozy old Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges; played by John Wayne in the 1969 original, for which he won an Oscar) to help her find Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the outlaw who killed her father. But Texas Ranger LaBeouf (Matt Damon) is also after Chaney, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to find him.

5. The Big Lebowski (DStv Now)

Written, produced and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.

One of the Coen Brothers’ worst box office failures and one of their greatest cult classics, this indie comedy from 1998 stars Jeff Bridges as The Dude, an LA slacker who gets hired by a millionaire with the same name to deliver the ransom money to his wife’s kidnappers. This is just the beginning of the wild ride that introduces The Dude to all kinds of unsavoury, quirky characters. The trippy dream sequences and absurd turn of events that follow are part of what made The Big Lebowski one of the biggest fan-favourite films of the 90s.

6. Wild Wild Country (Netflix)

Executive produced by Mark and Jay Duplass.

Directed by another brother pair of filmmakers, Chapman and Maclain Way, this unsettling documentary series examines the influence of the controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whose ashram was moved to Oregon, USA, in the early 80s. From creating their own city from scratch to “adopting” hundreds of homeless men and women from all over America to allegedly poisoning the neighbouring townsfolk, the young, intellectual, idealistic Rajneeshi, under the direction of the Bagwan’s personal secretary Ma Anand Sheela, set out to change the world - but none of them could have guessed how deadly their conviction would prove to be. This is a piece of world history that is so bizarre, you won’t believe you’ve never heard about it.

7. Asperger’s Are Us (Netflix)

Produced by Mark and Jay Duplass. 

Another of the many titles by Mark and/or Jay Duplass currently on Netflix (which include Tangerine, Blue Jay, Creep, Creep 2 and Rainbow Time), this is another documentary that the Duplass Brothers made happen. It’s about a real-life comedy troupe of four men, all with Asperger’s Syndrome, who are preparing for their most ambitious show ever. It’s got a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is a touching and funny exploration of the challenges faced by adults who are on the autism spectrum.

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