The long Memorial Day weekend is now over, and this short week ahead is looking to make up for lost time with a very densely packed slate of entertainment options to safely stream from the comfort of your couch while social distancing, with a ton of new stand-up comedy gold to be mined, new music releases you might have missed from last Friday, a whole new streaming platform (that's kind of also an old streaming platform that's also a cable channel? It's weird, we know), and a whole lot more. Hit the links below, and plan your (short... long? Non-descript and unending in its formless and vague shape) week accordingly!
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Tuesday, May 26
Last year (jesus was it really only one year ago?) Hannah Gadsby—after successfully upending the world of stand-up for a hot minute with her Netflix special Nanette—retired, then unretired, then embarked on her first world tour, which sold out every stop (including four shows at the Newmark here in Portland). Douglas is now coming to Netflix (Tues May 26), and it differs from Nanette in that there isn't a show-stopping ending that turns your heart inside out (Gadsby addresses that expectation pretty early on), but it's also a more finely-tailored, comfortable, and confident hour of stand-up, one that touches on the controversy of male comics completely disqualifying Nanette as stand-up at all, somewhere before she turns the whole concert into a renaissance art lecture. According to Gadsby, "It's gonna be good! Unless you don't like it! Then it's still gonna be good, and you'll be wrong."
The Roast of Peaches Christ
SF Sketchfest, an undeniable pillar of the comedy community on the West Coast, has been helping keep quarantines full of laughs by opening up their vaults and letting online viewers see things only a couple hundred people have likely seen before, and today's treasure (Avail Tues, May 26, $5) is a firecracker for sure: The Roast of Peaches Christ stars the super-popular drag queen having to endure reams of good-natured abuse from stars including Mink Stole, Cassandra Peterson (AKA Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Clea DuVall, Heather Matarazzo, Heklina, and more. Hosted by roastmistress Coco Peru, with special guest, the Prince of Puke himself, John Waters. Proceeds help benefit the Shanti Project and Oasis San Francisco.
The Painter and the Thief
Benjamin Ree's new documentary tells the surprising and intriguing story of Barbora Kysilkova, a Czech artist who tracks down the thief who stole two of her prized paintings straight out of a gallery, and finds in him a new muse. This special week-long VOD engagement (ends Fri, May 29) is presented in partnership with the Northwest Film Center and the Portland Art Museum, with each $3.99 ticket sold directly supporting their efforts.
One of Portland's truest oddballs on the stand-up scene is making good on his 2014 win in Helium's Funniest Person in Portland competition with the release of what he's calling "my only debut comedy album," 16 Bits (Available Tues May 26, $10, Bandcamp), which is sure to be a strange, and strangely charming, trip through Mr. Wilber's brain, which is never not on tilt in some way or another, all the better to make room for bits like "Sir Edmund Cheddar Cheeks," and "The Part of My Set Where I Sound Like Macy Gray."
As Howard Ratner, a professional jeweler and asshole in Manhattan’s Diamond District, a great Adam Sandler rarely leaves the screen in Uncut Gems (Now streaming, Netflix) and the plot is basically "Howard and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." That isn’t a shock, considering the film comes from brothers/writers/directors Josh and Benny Safdie, who party-crashed the arthouse scene with 2017’s Good Time (in which Robert Pattinson was the one playing an asshole having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day). Uncut Gems is larger in scope, but maintains that moral vacuum at its center—it takes place in the no-man’s-land where society’s walls crumble, and where those who look out only for themselves can best navigate the rubble. There’s a twitchy, addictive energy in how Uncut Gems coalesces into a surreal, exhilarating landscape of prismatic hues, blaring fluorescents, and sharp LEDs, all while the analog synth score by Daniel Lopatin (AKA Oneohtrix Point Never) adds to the lurid beauty.ERIK HENRIKSEN
Usually, the whole point of Awards Season—aside from that whole "industry lovingly washing its own genitals for four hours on ABC" thing—is to provide deserving films a gentle boost in reputation and (most importantly) receipts. Rocketman (Now streaming, Amazon Prime) however, is a rare case of Oscar-bait being best served by distance from Awards Season. Now that it's not being relentlessly compared to the previous year's Bohemian Rhapsody, and built up as some sort of deeply-meaningful drama about the perils of stardom and celebrity, it gets to just be what it actually is: A fizzy, fun, visually-interesting gloss on the fabulous life of Elton John, with a pair of rock-solid performances (Taron Egerton as Elton, Jamie Bell as songwriter Bernie Taupin) making it go.
HAIM, a band our former Music Editor Ciara Dolan once called "a true miracle of nature," have a new album coming out later this year called Women in Music Pt. III and they recently dropped what the music industry is calling a "single" from it called "Don't Wanna"—but when we looked at it, appears to have six whole-ass songs on it, which is about four more than a normal "single" has at most. Semantics aside, every one of these six songs sounds like HAIM is fixin' to drop one of those all-time summer albums. Hell, as we go through this EP (that's really what it is, c'mon) for its second loop through this morning, "Don't Wanna" seems like it's trying to do that all by itself.
Wednesday, May 27
A lot of people are taking the opportunity to turn the online version of The Stranger's super-successful words 'n' vibes experience into a weekly online destination, a respite from (waves hands exasperatedly at basically everything) and an opportunity to simply... slow up, sit down, and just listen to live piano music while sinking into a good book. If you haven't tried it out yet, tonight's the night, and we'll see you at 6pm. If you have tried it out before? Welcome back. It's a damn nice oasis of low-key bliss, isn't it?
The latest contender coming for Netflix's streaming crown is one of the oldest movie studios in Hollywood history: Warner Bros has (pretty confusingly) taken their (already confusing) HBO Now/HBO Go streaming platform and "Max"-imized it, adding a ton of classic catalog films (the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Cabaret, Enter the Dragon) a sizable chunk of the Criterion Collection (Seven Samurai, Eraserhead, Godzilla, Paris, Texas), A bunch of Looney Tunes shorts both old and new, Doctor Who and other BBC offerings; and as a particularly fine feather in their acquisitions cap, the North American streaming rights to the Studio Ghibli library (Castle in the Sky, Princess Mononke, Spirited Away). The cost is a little bit higher than Netflix, but if you're already subscribed to HBO through most online means—like we said, it's kind of confusing, make sure you doublecheck how you subscribed—you don't have to do anything, or pay any more per month to get the HBO Max content, which will eventually include a Friends reunion.
Pop-Up Magazine: Spring Issue At Home
What sounds like a really good podcast, looks like a bright, dynamic magazine, and carries the live performance magic of a stage show? That’s right! Pop-Up Magazine is back with their Spring Issue (Wed May 27, 6 pm). A live show that aims to create a magazine-type experience right before your eyes, Pop-Up Magazine is the IRL cousin of the awesome print publication California Sunday Magazine. Featured contributors include storyteller Emily Silverman, plant therapist Darryl Cheng, comedian Alyssa Limperis, documentary filmmaker Alejandra Vasquez, and more. You’ll have to be watching to see how it all comes together. SUZETTE SMITH
A Streetcar Named Desire
One of the unexpected benefits to being sheltered-in-place is that access to great theater has become just a little bit easier. National Theatre Live is a big part of that, taking recorded performances they'd usually earmark for theatrical exhibition and putting them on YouTube for free. And this week's installment is a goddamn monster: The Young Vic's 2014 staging of Tennessee Williams' landmark play A Streetcar Named Desire, with Gillian Anderson (!) as Blanche DuBois, Vanessa Kirby as Stella, and Ben Foster as Stanley Kowalski. Jesus Christ that's one stacked cast, and today (Wed, May 27) is the last day you can set aside the three-and-a-half-hours needed to experience it. We'd suggest just dropping everything right now and hitting play as soon as you can.
Life Itself Q&A with Chaz Ebert and Steve James
Steve James—the director of Hoop Dreams, one of Roger Ebert's favorite films ever—made this documentary that begins in the writer's youth, quickly moves to his years at the Chicago Sun-Times, making sure to stop and look at that time he wrote the screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and (unrelated) won a Pulitzer. He also hosted a series of television programs with fellow Chicago critic Gene Siskel, and the movie makes no bones about how the two rivals initially despised each other, before becoming good friends years later. Presumably, Life Itself was intended as an overview of Ebert's life (itself), but his death overshadows the rest of the film. Still, the film is a celebration of a complicated, heroic man, and as such, it's well worth seeing. I bet Ebert would agree. Proceeds from the tickets sold ($5) benefit the Hollywood Theatre. NED LANNAMANN
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
In the wake of HBO's Game of Thrones coming to a (somewhat) ignominious end, Netflix moved in quickly to fill the TV fantasy void with their 2019 adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski's Witcher novels. It ended up being a somewhat lunkheaded-but-charming binge-watch experience—much closer to Supernatural or Xena: Warrior Princess than Game of Thrones. In other words: The Witcher is FUN, where Game of Thrones is mostly very much not. The second season's production has been postponed, but if you're starting to get hangry for new adventures on The Continent, maybe it's time to check out The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the absolutely giant 2015 RPG from CD Projekt Red (now available: $12 on Steam, $40 on Xbox Live, $15 on PS4, $60 on Nintendo Switch) that's won a gaudy 250 diffferent "Game of the Year" awards, and tells a story starring Geralt, Yennefer, Ciri, and Roach that spans up to 150 hours (!) of gameplay, and that's not counting all the other side-story shenanigans you can get into.
Kota the Friend
The latest must-listen entry into the very new musical genre called "The quarantine album" comes from up-and-coming indie rapper Kota the Friend. It's like Everything, his breezy, 37-minute long new LP (w/ guest appearances from Lupita Nyong'o and Lakeith Stanfield alongside Joey Bada$$, KYLE, Kaiit and more) was specifically cooked up in Kota's lab to provide your headphones a strong dose of lo-fi sunshine to help counteract this crisis, carefully laid over the kind of horn-dusted, lightly scratched chillhop grooves that would cause even a YouTube anime girl to stop doing her homework and just listen for a minute—or 37 of 'em.
Thursday, May 28
The long-running Portland Mercury column “I, Anonymous” is famous for asking readers to send in their most whacked-out rants and scandalous confessions—anonymously! In this special LIVE-STREAMED edition of The I, Anonymous Show, (Thurs May 28, 8 pm, $5-20) your host Kate Murphy will read some of the wildest and uncensored I, Anonymous submissions we've ever received. And even better, these secret (often very naughty) stories will be dissected and discussed by a panel of hilarious, nationally recognized comedians: Bri Pruett, Steven Wilber, and Curtis Cook! So if you're looking for a night of side-splitting, jaw-dropping rants and confessions—don't miss this live-streamed edition of The I, Anonymous Show!
If you’ve set a goal to better yourself and learn new things during this period of social distancing, then I can’t think of a more entertaining way to do so than by binging all of Mrs. America. The nine-episode series (Now bingeable, Hulu) tells the story of the second-wave feminists who tried to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s—and the anti-feminist women who were ultimately successful in stopping them. Cate Blanchett plays toxic conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly with equal parts humanity and honesty, without veering into tired sympathetic antihero territory. Rose Byrne is criminally fun to watch in Gloria Steinem drag, and Uzo Aduba sinks her teeth into the tension of being first female presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm, caught between the Black rights and women’s liberation movements—and ultimately screwed by both. Beyond being enjoyable as hell to watch, Mrs. America also serves as an edifying lesson in 1970s American politics. It says something truly shameful about our society that I learned more about the dynamics of Chisholm’s campaign in an hour of television than I did in any K-12 or college class, but oh well, at least I spent an entire school year learning about the Oregon Trail! BLAIR STENVICK
So, a whole new streaming platform opened up yesterday, and you're stuck in that feedback loop of menu-ing through everything but not actually picking anything to actually watch—just constantly working your thumbs and going "oh, that'd be good... but that'd be good, too! OH, and that! and th—" Well, if we may, instead of suggesting you settle on the big-ticket items available at launch, why not give Run a try. From the creative team behind Fleabag, it stars Merrit Wever and Domnhall Gleeson as a pair of dissatisfied former friends attempting to indulge in some supremely selfish (yet legit hot as hell) escapism and continually screwing it up in a series of escalatingly tense complications. HBO Max has no shortage of dense, big, hearty entertainment experiences meant to put you through the wringer as mercilessly as possible—why not start off with one of the few bingeable adventures they have that is more or less a breezy, sexy, funny and fast beach read of a TV show?
A Star is Born
Alternatively, you can pre-game for Lady Gaga's new album Chromatica, which drops Friday, May 29, by firing up the Oscar-winning third remake of A Star is Born, the story of an alcoholic musician (writer/producer/director Bradley Cooper) who discovers his perfect protege doing Edith Piaf covers in a drag bar, falls in love with her, and then is completely overshadowed by her because she's Lady Gaga and he's Rocket Raccoon. Here's the thing: for as overexposed as "Shallow" almost immediately became, when you experience that scene, in the context of this well-executed pint glass of pure Hollywood formula, it's almost impossible not to get full-body goosebumps. In fact, if you hit play at 6:44 pm on HBO Now, the end credits of A Star is Born should fade to black just as the new album is released on Spotify at 9 pm PST/midnight EST.
Noisey Night In
"Stay Home, give back" goes the tagline, and Vice's YouTube charity event is coming back (Thurs May 28, 5 pm) for even more of that giving back, with live performances from Finneas, Phoebe Bridgers, Beach Bunny, and more, all to help benefit the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.
One of the biggest selling points of Disney+ was that it would have all of The Simpsons available, day one, despite the fact the show basically has no business even being on that platform considering how cutesy-poo and precious the company is being (i.e. digitally adding an ass-merkin to Daryl Hannah's buttcrack in Splash) Obviously, it's only there because The Simpsons is more valuable to Disney as an exploitable brand than for its status as a landmark show that—in its glory days (Seasons 3-10)—was possibly the greatest sitcom in TV history. A great example of that is how the show was cropped, cut up, stretched out, and slapped on Disney+ at launch, making a show not particularly known for its stellar animation look even uglier for the sake of satisfying a tiny handful of whiny dullards who are still mystified and dumbstruck by the notion of "black bars" in the 21st century. Well GOOD NEWS, EVERYBODY: Today, Disney+ is finally making The Simpsons' golden years available in their original, uncut, less uglified original aspect ratio. Let the re-watches...begin!
Model Minority: An Asian Womxn Comedy Show
Stephanie Nam will host a lineup of fellow funny womxn of the Asian diaspora in this virtual comedy showcase starting at 7pm on Thurs May 28. The lineup? How about Pallavi Gunalan, Dhaya Lakshiminarayanan, Irene Tu, and Fareeha Kahn! That sounds like a damn good night full of tried-and-true stand-up champions, you say? You're 100-percent correct on that note. Check 'em out as they "debunk the model minority myth and challenge stereotypes" all night long.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Listening to Carly Rae Jepsen sounds like victory. It feels like experiencing the season finale of your own life. A life spent inside Lisa Frank's world, after making an offering to the great goddesses Belinda Carlisle and Cyndi Lauper, and our reward is a rapture away from this hellscape we call Earth, thanks to the blessed power of Carly Rae Jepsen's music. Redeem your reward now, by drinking in all of Jepsen's latest, Dedicated Side B.