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.
Brave New World
I’ve talked about this show on the podcast a few times but hadn’t finished it before a weekend watch came about so here we are. This is one of those shows that I enjoy but wouldn’t necessarily preach about everyone needing to see. Especially seeing as the only way to watch the whole season is on one of the paid tiers of Peacock (NBC/Universal’s new, kinda underwhelming, streaming service). For the most part the show looks good, takes the right parts from it’s source material to spice up, and is acted well. I actually think Alden Erenrich is a bit underrated and shines here as the lead. I also noticed in watching this how much modern sci-fi has cribbed from Huxley’s book. Everything from Logan’s Run to The Island to Demolition Man has some of it’s roots in Brave New World. If you are already paying for Peacock check this one out.
The Umbrella Academy
I don’t want to spoil anything here because the best way to go into this show is knowing nothing about it. The most I will tell you is that this show is based on the Dark Horse comic of the same name, it was created by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance and is one of the best of the semi deconstructed superhero genre shows out there. Funny, sweet, action packed, it’s got it all. Seasons 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Netflix. (Also, my favorite is Five. Even if he is kind of a dick)
Look I know I was one of the people that was against this show in the beginning but I was convinced to give it another chance and am happy I did. The definitely for adults cartoon follows our titular character breaking away from The Joker and heading out on her own. She puts together a crew of pretty terrible villains but they are endearing in their own madness. The voice cast is absolutely stellar and there are times when the show is actually hilarious. I do wish that I didn’t have to constantly remind myself that most of the DC content that comes out now a days is in it’s own little Elseworlds pocket dimension but once I get over that it can be really entertaining. This one does suffer a bit from the DC thing of being extremely violent and filled with cursing like a 15 year old at the mall but once you get past that it’s actually really fun. Both seasons are available on HBO Max and DC Universe.
The Classics at the Whitsett Theater
You guys know that Rick has been spoiling us all quarantine with his programing of the Whitsett Theater Online. A couple weekends ago we had a bad sci-fi double feature with Zardoz and Star Crash. I really don’t even know what to say about these, they are so bad that they are actually great. Zardoz is a pretentious overly sexual tale that takes itself so seriously but is so dumb that you can’t help but laugh and is also where this picture came from. And Star Crash is such a hilariously bad version of Star Wars that the most recent incarnation of MST3K took it on. If you get a chance pour yourself an adult beverage and strap in for a dumb ride.
Jelle’s Marble League 2020
And now is the part where I get to sound a little like a hipster. I’ve been subscribed to Jelle’s Marble Channel on youtube for a few years now, and when it got the nod a few months back on Last Week Tonight I was so happy. I know that real sports are coming back already but there is something so fascinating about these marble runs that I almost don’t care. The Lady™ and I are invested and have picked our teams. I’m supporting Team Momo and she’s got The Hazers. But the best part is that due to the LWT sponsorship each event’s gold medal winner is donating $5000 to different foodbanks around the country. I’ve linked the first event up top there and the whole channel below. Get into it. Pick a team and tell us about your choice in the comments.
The Good Liar
This is, at its core, a con movie. But, like with most con movies, all is not as it would appear. I hesitate to say much more for fear of spoiling it. So, I’ll leave you with this; Helen Mirren and Ian McKellan in the kind of movie we rarely get anymore. Currently streaming on HBO Max, The Good Liar is worth a couple hours of your time.
A Closer Look w/Seth Meyers
I used to say I wasn’t “a political person” and maybe I’m still not. But, whether it be due to age or the dumpster fire this country has turned into, I do feel the need to stay more informed on current affairs than I have in the past. But, I am still me, so I need those updates in quick, somewhat comedy-laden, 10-15 minute chunks. Essentially a recurring bit on Late Night cut out and posted on its own to YouTube, A Closer Look gives me exactly that.
What should have been the start to a franchise, or could have been the pilot to a pretty strong 7-season tv show, quietly faded into the cinematic background as quickly as it rose. An adaptation of the Dean Koontz novel of the same name; directed, written, and co-produced by Stephen Sommers (aka the guy who directed at least one good Mummy movie) and starring Anton Yelchin (R.I.P.), Odd Thomas is a ghost story. It’s not particularly complicated, nor particularly scary. It’s just a good, old fashioned story of a 20-something kid helping out the dead. Sixth Sense: 15 Years Later if you will. Currently on Amazon Prime Video, It’s worth a watch, if only to see a pretty solid performance by the tragically taken too young Yelchin.
Nate Bargatze: The Tennessee Kid
Nate Bargatze makes me laugh. If this trailer, which is nothing more than a minute of the special it’s advertising, makes you laugh too, then watch the aforementioned special. It’s on Netflix.
Ford v Ferrari
I once heard the “dad movie” genre described not unlike porn. “I don’t know how to define it, but I know it when I see it.” Ford v Ferrari (no “Dawn of Justice” here) is a dad movie. It’s about fast cars, car racing and middle-aged men chasing glory. And it’s real good. At 2 ½ hours, it better be. But it moves at a clip. And, representing the dad bod if not the dad, I very much enjoyed it. It’s streaming on HBO Max now.
Before there was The Naked Gun, before “nice beaver, thank you I just had it stuffed,” before “Enrico Palazzo,” before the retroactively uncomfortable casting of OJ Simpson, there was Police Squad. A six episode experiment in comedy from the Zucker-Zucker-Abrams group. You WILL laugh watching this. The humor ranges from broad to extremely narrow. The sight gags are dynamite and the word play is brilliant. But that makes it sound more highbrow than it is this show is, above all, silly. Delightfully, adorably silly. There are a few gags that haven’t aged well, it wouldn’t be an early 80s show if that weren’t the case but not nearly as many as you would expect. A quick word to the wise though, you need to pay attention to absorb these jokes – this isn’t a folding laundry show, it requires your attention – and rewards you for it.
Sorry Finding Dory and Frozen 2, you’ve both been unseated in my house. Inside Out is the new reigning champion of my daughter’s heart. I think we’ve watched it 5 times in the past week. I was late to the party on this, not seeing it until a couple of years after it was released. At the time I thought it was cute and sad and well voiced, all the things adults think of Pixar films generally. But watching it again and again there’s so much there. The metaphor for depression (she’s literally unable to feel joy as it is in a deep dark pit) is so plain and yet I didn’t see it till the third watch through. I have too many favorite things to name (although tonight my daughter did make me tell her my 10 favorite parts so believe me I’ve gotten close) the abstract thought, the subconscious – where they throw all the troublemakers, the dream division… But the best thing about this movie is the part in the “real” world – home of Riley, whose inner workings we’re seeing. Everything there is plausible and relatable for a kid. They do an excellent job of making those real world scenarios (being embarrassed on the first day of school, missing your friends, wanting to run away) so high stakes while keeping everything grounded. And the fact that Riley has two LIVING parents who love and care for her – well that’s gotta be a Disney first.
Age has not been kind to this one -the lack of cell phones and TMZ mean this is very much a movie of the late 1990s and feels like a period piece. But what a period piece! I have always felt Bowfinger was a vastly underrated comedy. The cast is brilliant – Christine Baranski is solid gold and even Jamie Kennedy is doing a solid poor man’s Seth Green. The jokes range from the slapstick to the sublime and Eddie Murphy’s riff on a crazy celebrity with strong ties to a Scientology-like cult (led by Terrance Stamp) was prescient to the 2000s in a host of ways. If you’ve never seen it it’s worth a watch and if it’s been a few years it’s worth a re-visit.
Every new Muppets series worries me. The original The Muppet Show is such a huge part of my childhood and nothing ever seems to live up to it (Veterinarian’s Hospital is still one of the best things television has given us.) Muppets Now isn’t the original show, but it got some laughs out of me. It’s certainly better than The Muppets (the mockumentary style one) was and it filled a Rowlf-shaped hole in my heart. The format of being a bunch of web series/YouTube videos is… fine, I don’t love it, I don’t hate it, but it does enable quick sketches with a variety of characters so for that I’m grateful. I will keep watching for sure and here’s hoping for more Rowlf next week. #teamrowlf
W. Kaamau Bell: Private School Negro
This special is about 2 years old but boy does it hold up. There’s nothing in it that feels dated (except for the fact that there’s an audience all together in one room inside, but I’ll let that slide.) Bell’s political and racial humor is on point, as expected, but his jokes about “Doc McStuffins” and a long-running story about an old woman in Kansas are extra delights. If you missed it when it first hit Netflix, now’s as good as time as any to catch this one.
The Mother-effing Fast Saga
I’ve been promising to watch all of the ‘Fast’ movies for quite some time and now that time itself isn’t really an issue (what day is it?) it seemed the perfect opportunity. So I did it! All eight, plus Hobbs & Shaw (which I’d actually seen but now it made a little more sense). The whole thing is a blast. East LA drag racers transform into a mini “la familia” of underground government-sanctioned spies with insane hacking and fighting skillz. It’s stupid, filled with plot holes and bad acting and makes no real sense but I couldn’t love it more. I’ll just be over here twiddling my thumbs, waiting for nine. And for the curious, I have ranked them as such:
Furious 7 (2015)
Fast Five (2011)
Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Fast & Furious (2009)
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
The Fate of the Furious (2017)
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
One of my all time favorite movies— I even wrote a paper on it in college. So when Wilford Brimley (aka “Killford Brimley,” his self proclaimed WWE name) passed, I had to put it on. You can’t beat it. The nod to Arthurian legend, the gorgeous cinematography, the fantastic score, and who doesn’t love a baseball movie?! It’s on Prime right now and if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it. If you have seen it, treat yourself and watch it again.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
This six-part HBO docuseries tells the long, true story of the Golden State Killer, who basically represents the worst of humanity and remained uncaught for decades. But it is also the story of Michelle McNamara, a deeply talented writer who became incredibly obsessed with the case, first writing an acclaimed feature story about it and then almost finishing a book about it before suddenly passing away. With the help of her research team and her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was finished, published, critically acclaimed and actually led to the capture of GSK who is now appropriately rotting in prison. The whole series is equal parts fascinating and spooky.
We Are Freestyle Love Supreme
For the unknowing, Freestyle Love Supreme is the improv hip hop collective co-founded by Wesleyan classmates Thomas Kail (future director of Hamilton and “Fosse/Verdon”) and Anthony Venezialeand, joined early on by a young artist named Lin Manuel Miranda. It also gave us a lot of the stars we love from Hamilton (i.e. Chris Jackson, Anthony Ramos) and some other recognizable talents (like Utkarsh Ambudkar from Pitch Perfect and Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart). The group has been around for 15+ years and their highs and lows made for a very interesting documentary that I think Hulu probably released (smartly) this Summer to capitalize on the success of Disney launching Hamilton on Disney+.
If you have AppleTV+, this is only a 90 minute commitment and pretty well worth it. Tom Hanks gives a really spectacular, purposeful performance, of course. It’s a great “war movie” if you’re into that genre and, even if you’re not, I imagine would be pretty breathtaking on a big screen — although I did enjoy the hell out of it on my new fancy TV. The only flaw I’d call out is one brief subplot I could have done without but it’s not so intrusive that it really affects the movie. But overall, it’s a great, suspenseful action movie.
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, Jen, and AJ