Welcome to HNGN's biweekly top picks, where we gather the best and brightest releases in music, fashion, beauty, tech and pop culture. Come back every other week for more of-the-moment goodness. - Edited by Michael Lello.
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By Michael Lello
David Bowie: Blackstar (Columbia)
Shapeshifting icon David Bowie returns with an album that is wildly experimental even by his standards. On "Blackstar," which comes out Jan. 8 on Bowie's 69th birthday, genre barriers aren't just crossed, they're erased, with free jazz, hip-hop and other diverse flavors melting into one another.
Check out the video for the title track and first single from the album, complete with skittering drums and minor-key Middle Eastern melodies. It clocks in at a whopping nine minutes and 59 seconds (iTunes won't release a single that's longer than 10 minutes).
Rachel Platten: Wildfire (Columbia)
Last spring, Rachel Platten's pop anthem "Fight Song" rocketed up the Billboard charts and became ubiquitous in TV and movies. Now she's about to release "Wildfire," her third overall album but first since signing with Sony and the success of "Fight Song."
The video for the record's second single, the Katy Perry-esque "Stand By You," already has 5.5 million views since it was posted last month. Watch it below.
Busta Rhymes: The Return Of The Dragon: The Abstract Went On Vacation
Hip-hop mainstay Busta Rhymes has released a free mixtape featuring a star-studded cast of guests, including Raekown, Rick Ross, Mary J. Blige, Wiz Khalifa and Chance The Rapper. Also on board is Busta's old group, Leaders Of The New School, formed back in 1989.
Listen and download below.
Radiohead: Rejected Spectre theme
Radiohead revealed that it was asked to compose a theme for "Spectre," the latest James Bond film. While the movie's producers eventually went with a Sam Smith song instead, Radiohead was happy with its attempt and released the sweeping track as a Christmas gift to its fans last week.
Hear it here:
By Cal Setar
The Hateful Eight (The Weinstein Company)
A ruthless bounty hunter carries his precious cargo – fugitive-turned-captive Daisy Domergue – home to Red Rock. Only a harsh winter storm halts their travels and forces them to bed down for the night at Minnie's haberdashery, along with a handful of other unfamiliar, unsmiling faces. Set in post-Civil War Wyoming, this violent romp centers on the shelter-seeking crew as they face death, not from the cold outside world, but from inside Minnie's.
Daddy's Home (Paramount Pictures)
Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell) is a nice guy who wants nothing more than for his stepchildren to call him Dad. But Whitaker's competition for the role of "Dad" is Dusty Maryon (Mark Wahlberg), the kid's transient papa and the coolest guy you ever knew. With Dusty suddenly back in the picture, Brad finds himself pulling out all the stops to keep Dusty from usurping his position as the head of the household.
Joy (Fox 2000 Pictures)
Jennifer Lawrence stars as the titular character, Joy Mangano, along with Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper in this unbelievable true story of a family who built an empire on an invention called the Miracle Mop. Only that empire wasn't born out of love and trust. Instead, it was born out of necessity, fear and ambition. Through it all, Joy keeps what grip she can manage on her sanity, her family and her business through a powerful imagination and the certainty that she knows best.
Concussion (Columbia Pictures)
Marie Laskas' GQ article "Game Brain" is brought life in this drama centered on the potentially traumatic repercussions of a lifetime spent playing the game of football. Will Smith stars as Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Pittsburgh-based neuropathologist who discovers the degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), characterized by a mis-folding protein called tau, in the brains of several deceased former NFL players. Omalu's research draws the ire of the NFL and puts him at odds with one of the U.S.'s most powerful institutions.
PETS AND PET LOVERS
By Kimberly M. Aquilina
Eco by Lupine ($9.99 to $14.99)
Let Fido be fashion-forward and earth-conscious with Lupine's Eco Collection of collars, padded leashes and harnesses made from recycled plastic bottles. The company says the two-toned weave is still soft, so Scruffy won't feel scratchy with a stiff collar. "Available in both warm and cool palettes inspired by the natural world," the company advertises. "Our products are made right here in [New Hampshire] and use the same durable components found in climbing and hiking gear and a custom extra-strength buckle ensuring that you can count on Lupine time and time again."
SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder ($149.99 + free shipping)
Is your home run by cats? Many who are owned by cats let their overlords graze, but that can cause a problem when one cat is eating all the food, another cat is underweight and your third (because three aren't too many!) is on prescription food. The solution? A feeder that scans microchips (up to 32 microchips) and only opens for the microchip that belongs to the diet programmed into the battery-operated feeder! If your pet doesn't have a microchip, the feeder comes with one tag to hang from kitty's collar that will allow access. More tags can be purchased. The SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder has earned a four-and-a-half star rating on Amazon, weighs 5 pounds, holds 2 to 2.5 cups of food and is made of plastic.
Doggone Pet Products Black Light Ultra Violet Pet Urine Detector 12 LED Flashlight (on sale for $12.97 + free shipping)
If you have a new puppy or an older Mutt-i-gree, you might notice some "mystery odors" in your house. You can smell them, but you aren't sure where they are coming from. Now you can play CSI with puppy piddle or cat stains with this four-and-a-half-star-rated black light accident detector that lets you see where you need to spray the Nature's Miracle (or your enzyme-busting cleaner of choice). The updated pack includes the LED flashlight, three AAA batteries and functional yellow-tinted eye protection. Doggone Pet Products also mentions that the flashlight can be used to detect stains in places like hotel rooms, but we'd rather keep those stains unsolved mysteries! You can purchase the pet urine-detection kit on Amazon.
FASHION & BEAUTY
By Gina Masilotti
Sigma Spa Express Brush Cleaning Mat ($25)
Cleaning makeup brushes is never an easy task – and something that should be done more often than you'd think – but this Express Brush Cleaning Mat makes the process extremely simple. Thanks to the handy suction cups on the back of the mat that secures to the bottom of your sink, all you have to do to clean your bristles is rub your brushes against the different mat textures. After going through the seven exclusive mat textures your brushes will be almost as clean as the day you bought them.
Sephora Collection Universal Lip Liner ($10)
It's difficult and costly to own matching lip liners for every single color lipstick you own, especially for the beautiful colors from Mac's Heroine and Nars' Schiap. But that's where Sephora's Universal Lip Liner comes in. The liner is a clear color that works with any lipstick shade. It's colorless, long-lasting, waterproof and keeps your favorite lip color where it belongs while preventing it from feathering.
Beauty Blender Pro ($20)
When the original beauty blender was released, it quickly became the most popular makeup sponge out there, and now the Beauty Blender Pro is here by popular demand. "Made from the same exclusive beautyblender material in a pro-favored black color," the official Beauty Blender Instagram reads. "#BeautyBlenderPro is perfect for darker-toned, long-wear bronzing and self tanning products. Just like a makeup artist, pro will hide any imperfections!" The sponges are known for using less product than typical makeup sponges and blending makeup to perfection with their soft texture, and this pro blender is known for delivering flawless results.
Formula X Infinite Ombré: Iced Edition - Nail Polish Set ($29.50)
The five frosted colors in this Iced Edition Nail Polish Set are magic, and can be used to create dazzling ombré nail art with simple strokes without the need for other tools. All you have to do is layer the colors over the iced base coats and watch them transform before your eyes into a unique manicure of your own ombré art design. The top coat is designed to be layered while wet so you can blend and swirl the colors whichever way you please. Plus, the set comes with an easy step-by-step tutorial on how to get three different and gorgeous looks if you can't come up with your own.
By John Nassivera
Ring Wi-Fi Doorbell
Consumers looking for something that will help prevent home burglaries and lets them know if someone stops by while they're out will be happy to hear about the Ring Video Doorbell. The gadget works with your smartphone and tablet to let you see and talk to visitors while you're upstairs or away on vacation. It only takes a few minutes to set up and sync the doorbell with your Wi-Fi network, and you can charge it with its built-in rechargeable battery or your doorbell wiring. Features include motion sensors, HD video and night vision. The Wi-Fi doorbell is available now at Ring's website and Amazon for $199.
Blu Life One X
The Blu Life One X is available now for anyone looking for a cheap but high-quality smartphone. The unlocked phone comes with a 5.2-inch HD screen that displays 1,920-by-1,080 pixel resolution, as well as volume buttons on the right, an audio jack on top and a micro USB charging pot on the bottom. Features include 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth 4.0 support and a midrange Mediatek MT6753 processor. The unlocked phone also comes with a nice supply of cameras, which includes a 13MP main camera that records 1080p video and 5MP front camera that comes with LED flash. You can get the Blu Life One X at GSMArena, Amazon and other online retailers for $149.99.
LG GizmoGadget (Verizon Wireless)
LG is making its GizmoGadget smartwatch available with Verizon Wireless so kids can stay in touch with their parents. To that end, it keeps distractions to a mimimum by not offering games or Internet access. Users can only text and call – up to 10 contacts easily – thanks to a 1.3-inch touchscreen and a physical button. The watch will play a notification sound along with animation when a message arrives. It's waterproof, designed for comfort and can function as a stopwatch, activity tracker and timer. The band's are designed for kids between ages 6 and 12, and the GizmoHub app on your smartphone uses GPS to let you view your watch's location. GizmoGadget is available now at Verizon for $149.99.
by Emily Morgan
Emily Blunt stars as an idealistic FBI agent who volunteers for a government task force to track down the brutal leader of a Mexican drug cartel.
Blunt received critical praise for her role and received a Critics Choice Award nomination for Best Actress in an Action Movie. Her co-star Benicia del Toro also won over critics and has already collected several awards for his role as a CIA officer.
Special features on the Blu-ray DVD include audio commentary with director Denis Villeneuve, deleted scenes, a gag reel and a behind-the-scenes look at the visual design, the characters and the music score.
Infinitely Polar Bear (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
When he's not playing the "big green guy" in Marvel movies, Mark Ruffalo continues to turn in critically acclaimed roles in independent films such as this one.
Ruffalo received a Golden Globe nomination for his role as a manic depressive father who hopes to win back his wife by proving he can care for their two young daughters.
Special features on the Blu-ray DVD include audio commentary with Ruffalo, Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky, deleted scenes and the Los Angeles Film Festival Q&A with the cast and filmmakers.
Broad City: Season 2 (Comedy Central)
Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson successfully transferred their web series to television last year as two young women trying to navigate their lives in New York City.
They continue to bring the funny in the second season of the Comedy Central show produced by Amy Poehler. Guest stars this season include Seth Rogen, Kumail Nanjiani, Susie Essman, Bob Balaban and Kelly Ripa.
Special features on the DVD were not available.
Other movies and TV shows available on Blu-ray and DVD include:
The Perfect Guy (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment); A Walk in the Woods (Broad Green Pictures); Hitman Agent 47 (20th Century Fox); The Visit (Universal Studios); The Walk (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment); The Green Inferno (Universal); Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Paramount); Captive (Paramount); Sleeping with Other People (Paramount); Experimenter (Magnolia Home Entertainment); Shanghai (Anchor Bay); Ashby (Paramount); Jenny's Wedding (MPI Home Video); Bone Tomahawk (Image Entertainment); Heist (Lionsgate); A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez (Cinedigm); Close Range (XLRator); Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Girl (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment); Ray Donovan: Season 3 (Paramount); Shameless: Season 5 (Warner Home Video); Flesh and Bones: Season 1 (Anchor Bay); It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 10 (20th Century Fox); True Detective: Season 2 (HBO Studios)
Movies and TV Streaming Online
Denzel Washington won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role as a corrupt cop in the Los Angeles Police Department. He starred opposite Ethan Hawke, who played a rookie officer working the gang-ridden neighborhoods of South Central.
The film, directed by Antoine Fuqua, takes place over a 24-hour period as Washington's Det. Alonzo Harris trains Hawke's Officer Jake Hoyt.
Netflix will have the film available for streaming on Jan. 4.
Matt Damon, lost in space. Damon plays an astronaut considered dead following a dust storm on Mars. He survives and must learn how to grow enough food in the astronaut's planned habitat for four years until the next mission can retrieve him.
Ridley Scott directed the film written by Drew Goddard, who adapted Andy Weir's 2011 novel. The movie also stars Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña and Kate Mara.
iTunes has the film available for purchase.
Mozart in the Jungle: Season 2
Inspired by oboist Blair Tindall's memoir, "Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music," the Amazon original series explores the lives of classical musicians in New York City playing in high-profile groups such as Broadway pits, the New York Philharmonic and more.
The show stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Lola Kirke, Saffron Burrows and Hannah Dunne as well as Malcolm McDowell and Bernadette Peters.
Amazon has the second season available for streaming.
Check out our complete list of movies available for streaming on Netflix this month and see below for more options on Amazon Prime and for purchase at iTunes.
• 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain
• At Granny's House
• The Green Inferno
• He Never Died
• Hotel Transylvania 2
• The Intern
• The Keeping Room
• Listen to Me
• Lost Horizon
• The Martian
• Nasty Baby
• The Perfect Guy
• Physical Evidence
• Rock the Kasbah
• Seems Like Old Times 3
• Sinister 2
• Sleeping with Other People
• The Slugger's Wife
• Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation
• Superbabies: Baby Genius 2
• The Valet
• The Walk
• A Walk in the Woods
• An Affair to Remember (available Jan. 1)
• Annie (2014) (available Jan. 1)
• Black Beauty
• Bone Tomahawk (available Jan. 1)
• Breakfast at Tiffany's (available Jan. 4)
• Curly Sue
• The Da Vinci Code (available Jan. 1)
• Dazed and Confused (available Jan. 1)
• Free Willy
• The Gambler
• Hot Tub Time Machine (available Jan. 5)
• I'll See You in My Dreams (available Jan. 1)
• Journey to the Center of the Earth (available Jan. 1)
• Margin Call (available Jan. 4)
• Miracle on 34th Street (available Jan. 1)
• Mozart in the Jungle: Season 2
• Paper Planes (available Jan. 1)
• Planes, Trains & Automobiles (available Jan. 4)
• Serpico (available Jan. 4)
• The Spongebob Movie: Sponger Out of Water (available Jan. 1)
• Stick Man
• Tapes (available Jan. 1)
• Thundercats: Vol. 1 & 2 (available Jan. 1)