This weekend represents one of the few normal weekends you're going to get, between all the holidays and holidays parties and other ways of being American that this time of year forces down your gullet. So why rest up, save your strength, revel in all the rich entertainment bounty that is available to you? We have great ideas this week.
All six episodes of this brilliant Channel 4 anthology show—which centers its unconnected, soft-SF stories on the interaction between ourselves and our technology; the title refers to your phone, TV and other devices—are finally available.
It is not scary. Everybody thinks it's going to be scary but it's not. Here's a spoiler-free guide:
- If you like political drama or extremely dark satire, start with "The National Anthem."
- If you are American and feel weird about reality TV, "Fifteen Million Merits" is perfect.
- "The Entire History of You" is maybe the best one; it is fascinating but at least one part of it was so upsetting that I burst into tears.
- "Be Right Back" starts the second season off with a bang, but the limp ending is a sign of things to come: "White Bear" is an unholy, uncreative mess, and "The Waldo Moment" is about as basic as it gets. But even this lesser season is still beautiful to watch, and packed with intriguing ideas, because this show is, honestly, as good as it gets.
- Also a 90-minute special, Black Mirror: White Christmas, airs in the UK on the 16th and stars Jon Hamm in three more interlocking narratives.
We talked about this show a lot in the early days of Morning After, all those years ago, but it got lost in the news cycle and became its own sort of niche. This story of a mesmerizing, alternate-universe Lucy Westenra—and her pals Dorian Grey, Dr. Frankenstein and Josh Hartnett, American Cowboy—never stopped serving up truly compelling stories of love, sex, loss and redemption.
Now is the perfect time to revisit it, and discover what can happen when Sandman-type genre mashups (in TV and movies, something that currently takes the form of your Once Upon a Times and Supernaturals, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: LXG; even True Detective tried it, as part of its attempt to be everything) are accomplished by someone who is both intellectually creative and emotionally insightful.
This show ended 20 years ago this week. Probably you are a different person now than you were then. Worth thinking about. Let Clarissa's wisdom guide you. Or, if you are a youth and/or hate reminders of childhood, bring fresh eyes to Clarissa's fashions, her fantastic mother, and BFF Sam's haircut climbing in the window all the time.
As everybody knows, Adam Devine is the Fifth Element; the pinnacle of human evolution that will eventually save us all. And what this show is, is what if you were at his house, enjoying his company, and interrupted 3-4 times every thirty minutes by fresh stand up comedy performed by: Fat guys with beards, horny sloppy Maxxinistas, barely functioning alcoholics, and sometimes even minorities. The comedy is good, the performers are up-and-coming, and Adam Devine is nature's most perfect creation: Win/win/win.
Movies that are fantastic:
- The Family Stone—sometimes not that fantastic, like anything having to do with the gay brother, but Sarah Jessica Parker's so deeply unlikeable in this that you will begin to love her. By the writer of an excellent fantasia on gay themes, Big Eden.
- Wicker Park—Did we talk about this before? Never mind, it's worth saying again. This movie is a romantic comedy farce that acts exactly like a noir thriller, which not only brings out the best in both genres but also says some pretty intriguing things, about genre and about the dicey project of love.
- Desk Set—Katherine Hepburn made nine movies with her great love, Spencer Tracy. Seven of them were between 1942-52, and of course Guess Who's Coming To Dinner was in 1967. But five years into the dry spell, in 1957, they made this: Genius spinster NBC archivist finds herself charmed by the computer salesman gunning for her job. Not quite at the level of Woman of the Year or even Adam's Rib, it's still up toward the top of the list, with a great script.
- The Manchurian Candidate—The original! This shocking, subversive story about an American agent with several problems that are spoilers helped inspire everything from Zoolander to The Matrix. It's thrilling, trippy, extremely relevant and manages to keep its human touch throughout.
- Thank You For Smoking—If you say or hear or read the word "lobbyist" enough times you can forget what they actually do, which is buy and sell your country out from under you. This movie is a good, and darkly hilarious, reminder that your government doesn't belong to you.
- Less good if you are unable to forget the rumors that Aaron Eckhart is a jerk in real life, which I don't want to be true. I want him to rebuild motorcycles in the driveway and quietly help me raise my sons while I fight for environmental causes in revealing outfits. No room for jerks in this platoon!
- The Warriors—The unparalleled James Remar and the guy from Xanadu that looks like Buffalo "I Would Fuck Me" Bill are just two of the crazy looking people in this crazy movie about a futuristic city ruled by oddly specific gangs. Pairs well with Liquid Sky or Streets of Fire, the only other movie it is even a little bit like.
Movies that are okay: Gravity, The Devil's Advocate, Eyes Wide Shut. They aren't bad, they aren't anything. They're movies. Celluloid memories of things that never happened. Watch them or don't watch them, you're going to see them at some point in your life so it might as well be now, or later if you feel like it.
Movies that you should not stream even though they are available to you:
- Cloud Atlas—You know that one friend who is trying so hard not to be racist that they end up being super racist? This movie is that friend. What well-meaning, privilege-blind, unholy drudgery this movie is.
- You could have spent that money on digitally fixing the racist Mickey Rooney parts in Breakfast at Tiffany's and actually make our world a better place, like happened with Huckleberry Finn: Like every time Mickey Rooney shows up, just play a Gwen Stefani video instead.
- Mama—Easily the worst movie I have ever seen in my entire life. The ending alone makes the special effects in Hocus Pocus look so good it's like James Cameron invented a new kind of camera for it. If you feel like probably you could tolerate 1-5 more Jessica Chastain movies in your life, or that she never did anything wrong to you, I highly recommend this movie, which turned me around on her faster than Sherrybaby did Maggie Gyllenhaal.
...I don't want to end on that bummer note, though, so what else. Oh! Amazon, duh.
Amazon Prime Instant
- The NeverEnding Story—A really good book, the first tenth of which was made into a really good movie. Imagine a Mentos commercial that is also metafictional and profoundly spiritual, add as a plot-point the classic fallacy that reading books is fun, and you have a classic film about whatever this film is about.
- The wolf guy is scary as you remember, and Artax is just as sad, but nothing else is really that scary when you're a grownup. Plus now that you have matured, you can appreciate the boobs on the Sphinx lady that shoots lasers in a more sophisticated way.
- The Woman in Black—Not that bad. There is a sequel coming that might also be okay. I think though (and apparently Netflix agrees) enough time has passed that we can watch this without thinking about Harry Potter more than 79 percent of the time we are watching it, and that's as good as it will ever get.
- Under the Skin—"Scarlett Johannsen is so sexy I could die!" – you, right before you see a movie which is about exactly this same common problem.
Previous editions of the Weekend Stream are here. You live in the future now! Almost any media you can think of, you can find from the chair you're sitting in. Even if you can't, take comfort in the fact that the amount of things you can't find online will never go up: Only down. In that spirit, Morning After asks: What are you streaming this weekend?