Holiday counterprogramming as you hunker down for Christmas
If you're stuck at home (again) for the holiday and not particularly feeling the Christmas spirit, here are some counterprogramming choices for you this weekend:
Beyond 'The Matrix'
Chicago native Lana Wachowski's "The Matrix Resurrections" is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max, where you can also see the three previous "Matrix" movies she wrote and directed with sister Lilly. (Those are also available on Hulu.)
HBO Max has all of the Wachowskis' outlandish, oversized sci-fi epics: 2008's "Speed Racer," whose candy-colored aesthetic and innovative editing are like nothing else you've ever seen; 2012's "Cloud Atlas," a fascinating adaptation of David Mitchell's time-bending novel whose cast includes Tom Hanks and Halle Berry playing multiple roles (and, in some cases, multiple races, with cringeworthy results); and 2015's "Jupiter Ascending," a space fantasy with Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum that gives us a jaw-dropping aerial chase over downtown Chicago before venturing to far-off planets.
The sisters' first film, "Bound," a 1996 film noir starring Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly, is available for free on PlutoTV.
"Knives Out," the 2019 mansion murder-mystery from "Last Jedi" director Rian Johnson, makes its basic cable premiere at 7 p.m. Saturday on Bravo. Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans and Christopher Plummer lead the all-star ensemble, but Ana de Armas steals the movie -- just like she did in Craig's final 007 epic "No Time To Die" (which is now available for digital rental, btw!)
De Armas plays in-home nurse to Plummer's mega-rich author who knows what really happened the night he was stabbed ... or does she? "Knives Out" was such a surprise hit that Netflix will fund and stream two sequels featuring Craig's Southern-fried detective, Benoit Blanc.
Johnson's film definitely takes inspiration from author Agatha Christie, and the 1974 adaptation of "Murder on the Orient Express" is streaming on many paid services, including HBO, Paramount+ and Amazon Prime. You can also watch it for free on PlutoTV and Crackle. Christie's Hercule Poirot will return to the big screen in February when Kenneth Branagh again plays the detective alongside Gal Gadot in "Death on the Nile." Branagh's first go-round, in the 2017 version of "Express," is available on FX.
Dinner with old friends
CNN will air a marathon of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Christmas, provided dire breaking news doesn't get in the way. (Let's hope not.) It begins with a Season 8 episode in Vietnam, where the late chef and raconteur samples local cuisine with none other than former President Barack Obama.
• Sean Stangland is an assistant news editor who stayed up until 5 a.m. Wednesday to watch "Matrix Resurrections" as soon as it was available.