For the first weekend of April the sun will come out (kinda) and the rain will recede (a little) and while you still can't really go out in it, these three days should provide more than a few sunbeams to lay in (your cats know what's up) and pretty skies as a backdrop for the weekend's worth of in-home entertainment we have on tap below. Hit the links below and fill your cups accordingly!
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Friday, April 3
NBA 2K Players Tournament
March was disallowed from the sort of tournament-based entertainment many are used to, especially of the basketball variety; but April's got us covered on that front: ESPN will be airing head-to-head clashes between some of the NBA's biggest stars as they establish who among them is the best at NBA 2K20. Players including Kevin Durant, Trae Young, Zach LaVine, Derrick Jones Jr., Domantas Sabonis (hey, that's Arvydas' kid!) and the Blazers' own Hassan Whiteside (he's got the #3 seed, no less!) will be all be picking up controllers and putting on a show. Proceeds will benefit ongoing coronavirus relief efforts.
(Fri April 3, 7 pm, ESPN, Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, free, all ages, through April 11.)
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
We’re living in an emotionally draining time, and Never Rarely Sometimes Always is as sobering as it is affecting, so be your own judge as to whether you can handle viewing it right now. But if you have the bandwidth for it, you should allow this film about abortion access, misogyny, friendship, and the desperation of recognizing your own powerlessness to envelop you. Whatever you’re imagining this film to be like given its subject matter, you’re probably wrong—far from an in-your-face political film, it’s a tonal masterpiece, one that steeps the viewer in its significance rather than bludgeoning them with it. We can’t ever fully understand the experiences of other people, but if you’ve wondered what it’s like to be a pregnant teenage girl in a country that’s hostile to abortion rights, watching Never Rarely Sometimes Always is probably the closest you’ll get.
(Now Available, 48hr rental VOD, $19.99) BLAIR STENVICK
One of the cruelest tricks coronavirus has pulled on Portland is denying us tonight's treat at the Hollywood Theatre: A special screening of a new 35mm print of Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation, his paranoid thriller that too-often gets lost in the sauce, having come out in the same year as (and gotten dwarfed by) The Godfather Part II. A lot of people who swear up and down that they love Coppola's '70s output have never gotten around to seeing it, and tonight is as an good excuse as any to finally catch one of Gene Hackman's very best performances (which is saying something) and also to get lost in legendary sound editor Walter Murch's soundscapes. And if you want to really replicate the moviegoing experience, why not kick down the price of a movie ticket to the Hollywood before it starts, if you're feeling a little generous tonight.
(Now Streaming; Prime Video w/ subscription, Crackle free w/ ads)
Fix Your TV Already
We're depending a lot on our screens to deliver us to other places and share with us new experiences while we're all staying home and staying safe—it only makes sense that we should do what we can to make this window into other worlds as clear and beautiful as it can be. Unfortunately, most TV manufacturers aren't at all interested in any of that. They want your display as loud and garish as possible, and so they often preset everything to be as ugly as hell; the color temperature is iced over, the default settings are all eyeball melting, and of course, they've got the goddamn motion-smoothing on full blast. Basic how-tos like the kind here at Rtings.com are a godsend, promising not to strand you in the weeds of arcane nerd bullshit, but still making sure that after five or so minutes of basic menu-ing around, the stuff you're pouring into your eyes is as pretty as it should be. The resultant picture may take some getting used to, like when you go to a real restaurant for the first time after years of pounding Arby's down your maw, but it's worth it.
(Please, For the Love of Whatever Deity You Believe in, At the Very Least, Turn off the Goddamn Motion Smoothing. Thank You.)
The latest installment of Noche Libre is a special "Isolation Edition," with DJs La Tati and Cuan putting their collections together to provide your ears and your feet plenty of top-notch reggaeton, dancehall, and house music.
(Fri April 3, 8 pm, Twitch.tv, YouTube, free, all ages)
Powell's was supposed to host a reading by author Jon Mooallem, who Executive Editor Erik Henriksen once described in an editorial meeting as "Great. He's just great. We should write about him." And so: Jon Moallem. He is great, and so is his latest book, This is Chance!, the story of how Anchorage, Alaska, was literally torn asunder by 9.2 earthquake in 1964, and how a working mother named Genie Chance got behind a microphone and helped pull the city back together. You can buy the book online, or have Ray Porter read it to you in audiobook form, too.
(Now available, Powell's; Audiobook via MultCo Library, or Audible.com)
More articles have been written about how brilliant Community was than people have ever watched it, and that's kind of a crime (one we're contributing to right now, we know) because it really is an all-timer of a comedy show. It's an opportunity to see Donald Glover and Alison Brie at the very beginnings of their remarkable careers, it's the place where Glover and Ludwig Goransson met and became the engine that made Childish Gambino a world-conquering behemoth, and it also it became the launching pad from which directing team Joe and Anthony Russo wound up taking over the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's been on Hulu all this time, but it just dropped in full (yes, even that weird sixth season that premiered on Yahoo!) on Netflix, so.. maybe bump that viewer-to-writer ratio way up if you can.
(Now streaming, Netflix, $8.99 per month, free trial here; Hulu, $5.99 per month, free trial here)
Who is Harry Nilsson?
He was basically considered "The American Beatle," he might have been the first person ever described as "your favorite musician's favorite musician," and he was the most unassuming singer/songwriter/superstar the '70s ever turned out. Every couple years someone rediscovers his masterpiece Nilsson Schmilsson and gets their mind blown at how this one album just casually shambles through the all-time classics it has packed back-to-back-to-back like sardines. This documentary goes into Nilsson's brief rise, and then his slow, weirdly disappointing fall (How you gonna blow your whole voice out in a stupid screaming contest with John Lennon, my dude? Congrats on your "win," I guess. Goddammit.) and if you have a Multnomah County Library card, you can stream it for free through their partnership with Kanopy.
(Now Streaming, Kanopy, free w/ MultCo Library Card)
Some Good News
Boy, that Jim boy from Scranton, PA sure has done well for himself, hasn't he? What a lovely boy. I hope he and that one girl are still doing well. She did some really lovely drawings, didn't she? Or was that the one in Britain? Anyway, so nice to see some good news for a change...
Saturday, April 4
Remember when the Bridgetown Comedy Festival was still around? It feels like (checks watch) 80 years ago now, but it was a pretty cool time, being able to walk up and down Hawthorne, duck into almost any bar, and catch a set (or 15) from some amazing comics all hustling like hell to make their names as big as they can be. Tonight: the comedy festivals are coming into your living room via Laugh Aid, which subtracts the part where you're bumping into various drunkards up and down Hawthorne to get to the comics, and adds the part where all profits go to Comedy Gives Back's COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, and the comics include Marc Maron, Nikki Glaser, Patton Oswalt, Ron Funches, Anthony Jeselnik, Iliza Schlesinger, Cameron Esposito, Preacher Lawson, the How Did This Get Made podcast, and more.
(Sat Apr 4, 4 pm, Twitch, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook)
Blow the Whistle
The latest installment of Holocene's monthly hip-hop party takes over Twitch.tv as DJs Maxx Bass, Illordess, and Bnick bless your living room with an array of party jams from the Bay to the South and everywhere in between.
(Sat Apr 4, 8 pm, Twitch, free)
The iHeart Living Room Concert for America
Laugh Aid isn't the first big celebrity-studded blowout benefit to stream to your screens this year. On March 29, Elton John hosted iHeart Radio's Living Room Concert, ping-ponging around some of the most famous residences in the world as the artists who reside in them played their biggest hits in the hopes of raising a ton of funds for first responders. And if you missed it on the 29th, no big deal: It's still there, and you can watch along like it was live, and most importantly, donate like it was still live, as Alicia Keys, Billie Eilish, Dave Grohl, and Mariah Carey (among others) stare straight into their cameras and deliver the goods in a way that feels like it's just for you. Did you see clips of the Backstreet Boys coming together for a magical performance of "I Want it That Way?" That came from here! Why aren't you watching already?
(Now Streaming, YouTube, free, all ages)
DJ Anjali & the Incredible Kid
Known for fusing heart-quaking electronic with bhangra—a genre with roots in the traditional folk music of the northern Indian state of Punjab—and the soundtracks of Bollywood films, DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid’s dance floor sites are sweaty, glorious chaos, and now those sites include your house, thanks to their livestreams on Twitch.
(Sat Apr 4, 8 pm, Twitch, free)
Tonight would have been one of the shows in stand-up star Drew Lynch's three-night stand at Helium, and while we can't have that guaranteed good time (because the Trump administration is not a time for having good things) we can still have this episode of Lynch's podcast, Did I Stutter, appropriately titled "Do You Even Know How to Apocalypse."
Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong
The Alberta Rose Theatre's annual celebration of Lady Day's life has been postponed until late May, but thanks to amateur archivists on the internet, you can spend some time marveling at her talent by catching up on 1947's New Orleans, a prototype for '50s and '60s "rock 'n' roll" movies, but focused instead on the jazz scene of the late teens and Roaring Twenties. The movie is kind of sweetly corny for most of its runtime, but its centerpiece is a knockout performance by Louis Armstrong and his band, featuring Billie Holiday on vocals in her one and only Hollywood film appearance.
(Now Streaming, YouTube, free, all ages)
If you grew up listening to George Clinton, got high to the Budos Band, and jammed out to Fela Kuti, you're going to enjoy Monophonics. The Bay Area soul outfit employs trippy guitar solos, tight horn lines, and slow but mighty beats that rival the Dap-Kings in funkiness. They've recorded with Blackalicious, played on the same bill as R&B greats like Al Green and Booker T, and their six musicians play with enough energy and girth that they sound like 15. ROSE FINN
The Straight Story
David Lynch? On my Disney+ app? Oh, it's 100-percent true, and it's one of his very best films ever, telling the true story of Alvin Straight, a 73-year-old man who traveled from Laurens, Iowa, to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin, on a riding lawnmower in the hopes of making things right with his estranged older brother. It's the only G-rated title in Lynch's filmography, and after being reassured it wouldn't have all the goldurn cussing in it like Blue Velvet, Richard Farnsworth agreed to star in it, earning himself a Best Actor nomination for his performance. Man, 1999 was one hell of a year.
(Now Streaming, Disney+, $6.99 per month, free trial here)
Sunday, April 5
Escape from Virtual Island
God, the timing on this audio drama release! I'm sure when it was written and recorded, it was still a clever, hilarious idea, but now that it's been post-produced and released for this weekend? This adventure by John Lutz (Saturday Night Live) about a bunch of people trapped online and needing rescue from their own heads? Damn. And if the concept alone didn't sound like a great thing to put in your headphones, the cast on this sucker is choice: Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Olivia Wild, Kenan Thompson, Jack McBrayer, Paula Pell, Amber Ruffin, and a ton of other cameo voices from in and around 30 Rockefeller.
(Now Streaming, Audible, $24.95, free w/ 30-day trial)
Netflix is getting scary good at the whole reality show thing, and that's probably not a good thing overall, considering how the apex of the reality show era led to (waves frustratedly at current White House occupant), but the good news is that Netflix's best reality show is still Nailed It!, a charming, fizzy, lighthearted cooking competition hosted by Nicole Byer and focused on baking tragedies perpetrated by well-meaning amateur cooks. The latest season dropped on April 1, and if it's like any of the show's other seasons, this is going to be one of the most guilt-free binges you can indulge on the platform.
(Now Streaming, Netflix, $8.99 per month, free trial here)
Especially when compared to Pixar's best, there's definitely stuff to nitpick in the studio's latest, Onward. Fair? Maybe, but then again, even Pixar movies can have a hard time living up to Pixar movies. But to focus on Onward's benign, minor missteps—none of which detract from the story's surprisingly emotional arc—is to miss the bigger picture. Funny and wholly original, it's a fantasy adventure that digs into something nearly all of us know but rarely talk about: How the memory of an absent family member can hang over the lives of the living.
(Now Streaming, Disney+, $6.99 per month, free trial here) ERIK HENRIKSEN
This hugely-popular podcast is about to be turned into a cable docu-series by writer Callie Khouri (Thelma & Louise, the Nashville TV show) and music producer T Bone Burnett, but before that happens, why not catch up on four seasons of host Jake Brennan leading you through a hit parade of history's favorite musicians all behaving very badly. A good jump-on point is Brennan's very recent episode about Little Richard, because... well, shit, because it's Little Richard. C'mon now.
(Now available, iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, free)
Everyone knows about Woodstock. Not as many people know about Wattstax. And of the people who do, more than a few (incorrectly) believe the latter was simply a soul music version of the former. It wasn’t. Woodstock didn’t really have shit to do with why Stax Records organized their all-star concert in the summer of 1972. Wattstax was a benefit celebration for the community of Watts, a remembrance of the Watts riots seven years prior, and a celebration of soul music and Black excellence, featuring the Staple Singers, Richard Pryor, Carla Thomas, Isaac Hayes, The Bar-Kays, Jesse Jackson, and more. Mel Stuart’s film (shot by legendary cinematographer John A. Alonzo) has enough electricity coming off the screen and soul pouring out of the speakers to uplift an audience 50 years later.
(Now Streaming, YouTube)
It seems a little incongruous that one of the most relaxing gaming experiences currently available takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland littered with murderous cults of mutated car nuts, and yet, 2015's Mad Max from Avalanche Studios is just that. A sandbox-styled adventure only vaguely based on the films (hell, the films are only vaguely based on the films) Mad Max has a story (which is okay) and a slew of bizarre characters (who are pretty memorable, especially your sidekick mechanic Chumbucket), and while its mechanics aren't particularly difficult to pick up, none of this stuff is really the point of why Mad Max is worth owning. The point is to zone out for a couple hours a day progressing through skill trees, doing sweet jumps in your janky shitbox of a car, upgrading said shitbox, and absolutely wrecking as many war boys as you can. I don't know how Avalanche managed to capture the tone, the feel, and the look of George Miller's best films, but they did, and somehow made it chill. And because it's five years old, you should be able to indulge in this brand of game therapy pretty cheaply! Let's all ride to valhalla, shiny and chrome.
(Now available, $19.99 on Steam, PS4, and Xbox)
(If you heard that in Thomas Dolby's voice, you were supposed to. If not? Now you will) This Sunday was supposed to be the 2020 Portland Science Fest, a day-long celebration of helping young people enjoy and get even more interested in STEM fields, and hopefully make their generation's world a much, much better place to live in than the one we've got now. But even though the fest is postponed, we can still spend this Sunday getting our science on. Comedian, science educator, and YouTube star (one of the good ones, we promise!) Sophie Shrand hosts Science with Sophie, an educational series focused on helping an entire generation of girls get into STEM careers.
(Now streaming, YouTube, free, all ages)
Let Dolly Parton Read You a Bedtime Story
Weekend's over. Time to lay down and get ready for whatever the hell the world has in store for us starting Monday. But while that future is uncertain, we can still get ourselves to dreamland as wonderfully as possible thanks to indispensable treasure Dolly Parton, whose "Dolly Parton's Imagination Library" channel will be hosting a new weekly series where Dolly herself reads a bedtime story in full to your children. Or you. Everyone, really; if there's an age at which Dolly Parton reading you to sleep is inappropriate, I hope humanity never reaches it, or recognizes it. We sure as hell aren't starting now, that's for sure.