Patton Oswalt: I Love Everything
For those who like good things in their lives, this thoughtful lefty nerd is the best, and you will miss out on a ton of laughs if you aren’t settling into your couch to watch the latest stand-up special from America’s most lovable comic, and perhaps the only worthwhile person to follow on twitter (@pattonoswalt). I Love Everything (Streaming Tues May 19, Netflix) follows up his hilarious and touching Annihilation with an hour of jokes that find Patton finding new love, searching for the cosmic significance in mundane happenings, and suffering existential dread at a Denny's. Who among us doesn't relate, huh?
Remember The Favourite, that acidic and weird costume drama/batshit comedy? It led to Olivia Colman winning an Oscar for Best Actress and giving one of the best acceptance speeches in Academy history. Well, the guy who wrote The Favourite has taken that same jaundiced eye, focused it on a different, immaculately costumed slice of history, jettisoned most of that history, and turned it into a new Hulu series called The Great (now streaming) starring The Favourite's Nicholas Hoult (who came this close to stealing that movie) opposite Elle Fanning as the titular Catherine, who turns her arranged marriage into one hell of a coup.
The One-Hit Wonder isn't a phenomenon localized solely to music. It doesn't happen as frequently in other artforms, but they do occur, and one of the best examples of this is South African writer/director Neill Blomkamp, and his sci-fi debut District 9 (Now streaming, Netflix). As our Film Editor Erik Henrisken put it, District 9 is "A weird, brilliant, brutal, and gorgeous science-fiction film. It's inventive and surprising and disarmingly unique, and it's one of those rare films that's both relentlessly entertaining and also has something to say." He also thought the film, and its director, would go on to be regarded as serious game-changers. Unfortunately, that didn't happen (Chappie happened instead). But that one hit he did deliver in 2009? It still packs a very, very potent punch, and the last 10 years we've all marinated in since has only made it that much more remarkable.
The Animation Show of Shows
For the first time ever, the Animation Show of Shows, a well-curated collection of the finest shorts being created by animators and filmmakers worldwide, is being made available for online screening. And it's not just one edition being made available, but four of them. Click here for more details and to access the shorts— and if you use the code C21ASOS when buying access, half your "ticket price" will go to Cinema 21, helping ensure they come back to open their box office again once this crisis passes.
The Story of Soaps
ABC returns with another star-studded retrospective of TV glories gone by, but instead of live-recreations of classic sitcoms, or gushing tributes to lovable showrunners, tonight at 5pm (available on Hulu shortly thereafter) they're paying tribute to Soap Operas. And not just because they were the first mainstreamed examples of "shared universes" and "binge watching," and "time shifting" (I can't be the only kid whose mom taught herself how to program a VCR to maintain a library of All My Children stories.) A ton of the home entertainment innovations we all take for granted here in 2020 were invented by the soaps, and a panel of experts including Carol Burnett, John Stamos, Susan Lucci, Bryan Cranston, Agnes Nixon, Erika Slezak, and Alec Baldwin will walk viewers through the soaps' foamy, fantastic history.
While more than a few State Parks are reopening, it's very understandable if you're still resistant to heeding the call of the wild. But if you're feeling like taking a hike while staying indoors, maybe it's time to finally get Firewatch out of your gaming backlog (Steam, Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One; $19.99). The phrase "walking simulator" is usually a sort of flippant tag to give a game, but in Firewatch's case, it's an accurate descriptor. Most of the time spent in this game is just ambling around a forest. But the story that unfolds as you amble is one of the most affecting in modern games (Good luck making it past the all-text intro section without welling up a little), with a beautiful soundtrack from Gone Home's Chris Remo, and a striking visual design by art director Olly Moss.
A new Magnetic Fields album is always cause for celebration, precisely because of how hit-and-miss it can be. Stephen Merritt, more than most singer-songwriters, follows his muse whereever the hell it goes, for as long as it leads him, and that's resulted in utterly unique masterpieces like 69 Love Songs and 50 Song Memoir. Sure, they're flawed masterpieces, but those flaws are what make the projects so essential, and why the journeys for the listener are ultimately so rewarding. A new sonic adventure from the Fields just got released last Friday, and Quickies is exactly what it sounds like: A whole bunch of stripped down songs pursuing simple ideas and realizing them as succinctly as possible.