Welcome to the Weekend Watch, where we try to point you toward the best ways to spend your viewing time (or, at least, steer you clear of the garbage). In light of the global health crisis and the consequential movie theater closures, this week we wanted to each recommend some quality streaming content you might enjoy.
The Lady™ and I were looking for something to watch (as we’re all want to do now that it’s the only thing we can do) that had a little bite to it. So as we scrolled through the endless amount of entertainment at our fingertips The Hunt popped up. She had never heard of it, so I explained that it got a lot of flack when the original trailer dropped. So much so that they pushed the release date and used the heat as part of their marketing. People thought that the idea of Liberals Most Dangerous Game-ing Red Staters was appalling and wanted the movie blacklisted. Intrigued we gave it a go, and I won’t lie I wasn’t expecting all that much. I was surprised at how much of an entertaining, twisted, bloody, and satirical good time it was. Don’t let the predisposition fool you, everyone except our heroine (Betty Gilpin) is an asshole in this movie. If you can get over the ultraviolence you should give it a go.
We have yet to start on the final season, which coincidentally aired its final episode this week, but I had forgotten how much I loved this show. Season 3 had trailed off a bit and gotten a little dark but 4 (and presumably 5) lightened up and brought back some of the humor that made this show special. On the outset, yes it’s just Harry Potter in sexy grad school, but the show takes that and runs full bore into something else. Gods on earth, fictional realms turned real, a transdimensional group of librarians that police the use of magic, and of course a cast that is one of those casts that are impossibly good looking. The first 4 seasons are on Netflix and season 5 should join them soon.
YoutubeTV gave us a free 3 months of EPIX during this Safe at Home mandate, so I figured why not. I’ve only watched the pilot so far but I actually enjoyed it. As long as it stays this way and doesn’t try and Gotham the whole thing up by adding in weird versions of Batman’s rogues I think this could be a fun show. Set in 60s London Alfred Pennyworth is back from The War and working to make his way in the personal security field. He works door at a nightclub where he meets Thomas Wayne (Bruce’s father). Thomas has run afoul of some underground elite society like The Hellfire Club or The Court of Owls and ends up enlisting the services of our title character. Of course that’s simplifying it but it’s the gist. One of the really cool things that I noticed was the backgrounds and sets, though supposed to be London, give a really Gotham City like appearance. Added industrial buildings and smoke stacks to established London locales. I half expected to see Zeppelins flying in the air. If you are looking for an easy, alternate history period show, with a hint of comics this might be the one for you.
The Iliza Shlesinger Sketch Show
I’d be remiss if I didn’t add this to my list as I worked on it from the end of last year until last month. It dropped on Netflix this week and is totally worth the time. It’s six 20ish minute episodes. The Lady™ binged through the whole thing in one afternoon. If you aren’t into sketch shows, I get it, maybe you could just let it play in the background on mute a few times so we can get that SEO up and maybe Netflix will give us a season 2!
The Whitsett Theater (Kast viewing parties)
Rick has put together a fantastic lineup of movies and TV for us all to watch together when we can’t actually be together using services like Kast and Discord. A fantastic mix of comedy, drama, action, and utter garbage that only our resident cinefile could come up with. I’m talking All About Eve and Bloodsport. A Fish Called Wanda and BMX Bandits. Singin’ In The Rain and Over The Top. It’s the next best thing to being there with your friends watching movies together. It certainly helps to have a curator of fine (and awful) films like Rick, but I highly suggest setting up something like this for you and yours to feel just a bit normal in these strange times.
Binging with Babish
Ok, I’m back with another YouTube cooking channel recommendation. Named after the, somewhat(?), obscure West Wing character, Binging with Babish is hosted by Andrew Rea. A former visual effects artist, Rea is a self-taught (and mom-taught) chef who walks you through tv/movie-inspired recipes. The style takes a little getting used to (he pretty much only shoots his midsection), but once you adapt, it really is delightful. And no, just like with Bon Appetit last week, I have not made any of his recipes. Yet…..?
Neal Brennan: 3 Mics
Co-creator of Chappelle Show, Neal Brennan is the kind of stand-up comic other stand-up comics love (or maybe hate, I don’t really know….). But 3 Mics is one of the most unique specials I’ve ever seen. Released just over three years ago (so it may be a little dated), Brennan literally moves across the stage, from mic (one-liners) to mic (emotional stuff) to mic (stand-up). Again, an odd format, but one I adapted to relatively quickly. If you’re looking for comedy with a little more….. something….. give it a watch.
Was Rounders just a little too slick of a gambling movie for you? Then please, let me recommend Mississippi Grind. A movie that makes even Ryan Reynolds look dirty (not that kind of dirty….. ok, a little bit that kind of dirty). Starring Ben Mendelsohn, along with the aforementioned Reynolds, this is a look at the seedier side of gambling addiction. It was written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the filmmaking duo that also gave us Captain Marvel. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, it’s definitely worth your time.
Living With Yourself
Yeah, I’m just gonna say it. This is a weird fuckin’ show. And I don’t usually do weird. But it’s Paul Rudd! And not just one Paul Rudd, but two. Double Rudd! So, how can you go wrong? Plus, at just eight episodes, the shortest being 21 minutes, the longest 35, it is super binge-able.
A podcast (though you can watch the videos on their Youtube channel) on the, recently acquired by Spotify, Ringer Network, The Rewatchables breaks down some of your, and my, favorite movies. Usually, but not always, hosted by sports guy Bill Simmons (whose references I rarely get), he takes you through “the categories” giving interesting tidbits and, mostly, insightful opinions on the films we’ve seen the most. Give it a listen!
I have to be honest, recently I’ve been watching things from my library that aren’t available on ye ole internets. I have less entries than everyone else. I’ll do better next time.
Like many independent theaters, the Alamo Drafthouse is trying to maintain some kind of wincome while locations are shuttered due to the ongoing outbreak. This week they’ve brought Terror Tuesday (and Weird Wednesday) to the streaming/on-demand world. And, man, they started with a bang. Centipede Horror is a bit infamous in horror/the HK black magic subgenre for its over the top content and its lack of availability outside of Asia. Well, for a paltry $7.75 for a seven day rental you too can experience all of the groovy fashion, nonsensical situations, characters, and dialogue, and more creepy-ass centipedes than you can shake a stick at. I’ve been trying to track this one down for ages and found nothing but garbage foreign VHS rips with no subs. But what you get from Drafthouse (courtesy of the American Genre Film Archive) is a high quality scan of the last surviving 35mm element. Sure, it needs a little clean up, but it’s just amazing this exists at all. Every horror fan worth their salt should pony up and give it a watch. But maybe don’t eat anything while watching. Or do. I can’t stop you.
Sweetness and Lightning
Real talk: Like many people, I’ve been a bit all over the shop mood-wise lately. This whole safer at home situation has been taxing, so I started digging deeper than usual for light and fluffy entertainment to help relax my brain. And I think I might have found the most charming and heartwarming anime ever in Sweetness and Lightning. The story is simple: In an effort to help improve his young daughter’s life, a single father decides to up his culinary skills and make the best meals he can. Each episode features a new cooking adventure and the results are goddamn adorable. The show is incredibly uplifting, funny, and puts the joys of togetherness and family at the forefront of every episode. It warms my cold, dead heart. Despite its popularity, it only aired for a single, twelve episode season a few years ago. Even Binging with Babish highlighted one of the dishes made in the series. Seriously, I can’t recommend this show highly enough. It is pure joy from start to finish. You can find it on Crunchyroll and VRV.
You’ll Never Get Rich/You Were Never Lovelier
When you think of Fred Astaire the name that usually comes to mind in tandem is Ginger Rogers. A close second would likely be Cyd Charisse. An unlikely name, however, would be Rita Hayworth. It just so happens they made two dance-musicals together, and they’re both pretty delightful. There’s nothing remarkable about the story in either case. It’s standard 1940s romantic comedy stuff, but the joy comes from watching Astaire, Hayworth, and the rest of the supporting players charm and dance their way through the brisk running times. Turns out Hayworth is a hell of a dancer, keeping up with Astaire step for step, and they both look like they’re having a blast the entire time. She “sings” here, too, but she’s overdubbed (if you want to hear her actually sing, watch Gilda. Actually, just watch Gilda anyway. It’s fantastic). Both movies are part of a Rita Hayworth showcase that’s currently on The Criterion Channel. If musicals aren’t your bag, go ahead and sample the rest of the selections. They’re all worth your time.
This might be (and by “might be” I mean “for sure will be”) funnier if you are/have been/have known a working mother, but it hits all the right buttons. The cast is funny and feel like real people. The later seasons geet a little bit soapier, but the first season especially draws you into these women’s lives. None of them are perfect, FAR from it, but they all feel like people you might know and/or be. And there’s some raunch in there if that’s your thing.
Another “mom” comedy but this one is even raunchier. I like this show not only because I can relate to some of the situations the mom, played by the hilarious Andrea Savage, finds herself in, but because her writing partner is played by my not-so-secret crush Jason Mantzoukis. This definitely has a LA flavor to it, but some of the jokes are laugh out loud no matter where you are. I think all but the final season are available on Netflix at this point and actually by now that final season may be up as well.
God bless Aidy Braynt. She is a freakin’ treasure. Shrill showcases her dramatic side as well as her on point comedic timing and slapstick abilities. The second season wasn’t as strong as the first, but still worth a binge because it’s short and all available currently on Hulu.
The ABC Murders
I love a good Agatha Christie mystery and who doesn’t love John Malkovich? He’s an excellent match for an aging Hercule Poiroit and the who-done-it aspect of this deftly fills a void I felt since I last watched Knives Out (see AJ’s note below) It’s a short series but I’m taking my time watching it to stretch out the mystery. Check it out on Amazon Prime.
This isn’t one of the series that HBO is offering free, but it’s worth seeking it out nonetheless. I am a huge fan of the original graphic novel. Less a fan of the Zach Snyder version but this blew them out of the water for me. The cast is jaw-droppingly good and the way they’ve structured the episodes it’s a wonderful ride. Even if you can see some of the twists coming they still land – and there are some you won’t see coming! If you haven’t read the graphic novel and know nothing about the world they do an excellent job of catching you up without hitting you over the head with exposition and it stands on it’s own. Unlike many series it ends on a perfect graceful note without need for further story telling, which is rare nowadays.
So everyone is talking about this – I get it. I am not reinventing a wheel here. But my god, you guys, it’s such good trash TV. It’s gold. Imagine the pitch meeting for this. “A gay, redneck, polygamist who lives on a 200 acre property with 200 tigers and other wild animals whose main adversary is a so-called big cat rescuer who may or may not have fed her missing husband to a Tiger….” and that doesn’t even spoil anything or scratch the surface. I spent a full day just flying through all seven episodes and now I am going through the Wondery podcast about the same.
Oh man, this show is dark and violent and soooooo far away from the truth about Nazi hunters in the 70s but shit, it’s SO GOOD. WOW. I know the guy who created it had to do a lot of defending of it’s liberties but whatever. I also maintain it’s the best work Al Pacino has done in a decade. The ending blew me away. It was so unpredictable and I usually see a plot twist coming.
Love is Blind
I know this won’t be for everyone but it was such great, garbage, reality television. These assholes “fall in love” with each other communicating by voice alone, not visible to one another, and then have a limited amount of time until they have to get married. Will they? Won’t they? Who really cares? But, wanna feel better about yourself? Watch these people. What can I say? I am here for the schadenfreude.
Knives Out — The Commentary Track
I purchased a digital copy of Knives Out and was excited to rewatch it but also, decided to check out the Rian Johnson commentary track. Do people still enjoy commentary tracks? That used to be a selling point for me with DVDs but I’ve abandoned them in more recent years. There are just so many fun revelations and easter eggs pointed out in the track plus, Johnson is just delightful. If you are a film buff, a fan of this movie specifically, or just looking for something different to tune into, highly recommend.
Jumanji: The Next Level
The first Jumanji movie pleasantly surprised me, so when a friend gave me a copy of this sequel, I was down. And I found this enjoyable as well! The Rock and Kevin Hart are such a random, funny pairing and Jack Black was still the best part of it for me — as I thought he was in the first film. Awkwafina was a great addition to the crew. She’s awesome in everything. And it’s silly, of course, but it’s fun and clever, too.
So that’s your adapted, upcoming weekend in review. Let us know what you saw, liked and/or hated!
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–Loren, RDT, Rick, Jen, and AJ