Yes, it's weird to think of this as an "extended" weekend considering, well... (gestures resignedly at everything.) But it is Memorial Day weekend, normally considered the first four days of the summer season, so far as the entertainment industry is concerned. And in keeping with that tradition, there's a lot of stuff to look at, to listen to, to read up on, to play, and to experience while staying safe and doing your part to stop the spread of COVID-19. Hit the links below and have yourself a fine, and full, four-day weekend at home.
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Friday, May 22
Confinement Film Festival
Since we're all stuck inside anyway, we asked local amateur filmmakers, artists, and creative people to send us short homemade movies that demonstrate how we are living, surviving (and occasionally thriving) under quarantine and social distancing orders... and oh boy! DID YOU DELIVER! We received a poop-ton of fantastic, funny, poignant, and mind-bending submissions, and narrowed it down to the 25 best of the bunch to bring you the CoFF film fest. But it gets even better—because after watching CoFF, YOU'LL BE ABLE TO VOTE FOR THE WINNERS OF CASH PRIZES IN A VARIETY OF CATEGORIES! For even more info, go here and get your tickets, because the debut of CoFF happens this FRIDAY, MAY 22 at 8 pm and continues for the following three weekends. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Of all the movies that have been pulled out of theatrical release thanks to COVID, and relocated to streaming, The Lovebirds (Streaming May 22, Netflix) is maybe the most promising. Granted, that's not saying much when the comparison points are Trolls: World Tour and Scoob!, but seriously, check the stats: Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani, directed by Michael Showalter, in a screwball-romantic-comedy-action-murder-mystery (whew!) that takes place in one long, perilous, hilarious night? That's pretty much all the premise you need, really. Now it's just a matter of navigating to Netflix, hitting play, and seeing if that shakes out as entertainingly as it's almost guaranteed to... or maybe you'll wish you'd watched Scoob, who knows!
For those who fear that The Great—Hulu's original series about empress of Russia, Catherine the Great—is a stuffy, historical bore-fest that will have you clawing your eyes out... well, this definitely ain't that. Elle Fanning stars as Catherine in this historically inaccurate comedy about a forward thinking and wildly optimistic French girl who's sent to marry Emperor Peter III of Russia (a fantastic Nicholas Hoult) and finds her world turned upside down—and then turns the world rightside up in response. Written by The Favourite screenwriter Tony McNamara, The Great provides top notch performances, gorgeous costumes, and a whip-smart script filled with sex, violence, poop talk, and just a smidge of education—if that's okay with you. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Your Sister's Sister
Jack (Mark Duplass) is a sad sack of a guy who commemorates the one-year anniversary of his brother's death by drunkenly shouting at the friends who insist on romanticizing his dead sibling. Afterward, he's cornered by his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), who firmly instructs him that after a year of grieving, it's time to get his head together. She sends him off to enjoy some quiet time at her family cabin, but solitude isn't on the agenda: Jack arrives to find the house already occupied by Iris' half-sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who's drowning her own breakup-related sorrows in tequila. Most of writer/director Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister (Now available, multiple platforms, $3.99 to rent, $9.99 to buy) is about interpersonal relationships, about characters figuring out who they are in relationship to one another, even when things get weird. ALISON HALLETT
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 you've got one week to 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.
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 (Streaming May 22, 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.
Summer Camp Retrospective
Normally, Memorial Day weekend plays host to a big ol' Summer Camp experience at Three Sisters Park in Illinois, and not the "catch poison oak, eat bad food in a tent, get neglected by teenage counselors" type of Summer Camp experience. But the "get lifted, listen to a lot of jam bands, learn about permaculture and sustainability" type of experience, which is now going online (Fri-Sun, $24.99)to celebrate 20 years of doing summer camp right, with live music, throwback performances, panels, and prizes to give away. Hosted by Andy Frasco and Jonathan Schwartz, with music sets from Moe., Umphrey's McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, Keller Williams, Big Something, Sunsquabi, Twiddle, and many more.
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. She just dropped her follow-up to Dedicated without warning on Thursday. Achieve pop nirvana by putting Dedicated Side B on loop for all of Memorial Day Weekend.
Saturday, May 23
We at HUMP! were crushed to cancel our originally planned Spring re-screening, with the coronavirus crisis forcing us all inside. But after receiving enthusiastic support and permission from the filmmakers to show their films online, we knew that the show must go on! Even if we can’t watch together in movie theaters, we can still watch the 16 all new, sexy short films, curated by Dan Savage, in the privacy and safety of our homes. Dan will introduce the show, and then take you straight to the great dirty movies that showcase an amazing range of shapes, colors, sexualities, kinks and fetishes!
Filmed in Seattle, Lynn Shelton's Humpday (Now streaming, multiple platforms, $2.99 to rent, $9.99 to buy) follows a pair of thirtysomething, straight male friends who reunite after years of careening down opposite life trajectories (one is stuck in his party days, one is married and trying to have a baby). Fueled by their competitive spirits, they decide to challenge each other to have sex on camera (or to "outdo each other by doing each other," as Shelton put it) and submit the footage to our own amateur-porn competition, HUMP! (which led to this fun little exchange). It's a hoot, and it won the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award.
The Lone Wolves present: Master Class
A brand new sketch show from Portland's Lone Wolves, an all-star collection of some of the city's most agile comedy minds! Master Class (Sat 8pm, $5-15) spends all its time parodying the onslaught of seminars and online classes that have arisen during the coronavirus crisis, with "Master Classes" led by teachers including The Ghost of James Mason, 8th Grader Susie Renaldi, Gunther Gehlschpang, and Tony. Proceeds support the Siren Theater.
Usually, podcasts spring out of TV shows—specifically, someone makes a show, and then some fan makes a podcast to talk about that show. But sometimes, that creative pipeline flows in the opposite direction. One of the first podcasts to become a TV show is also one of the best shows in the last five years, thanks to showrunner and director Sam Esmail, who took almost every lesson he learned while making Mr. Robot for USA and applied it to his 2018 adaptation of Homecoming. Esmail plays with sound, with aspect ratio, with editing, and with genre expectations to create a thriller that evokes the best of '70s paranoid cinema (The Parallax View, The Conversation) while feeling so new that it might take another two-or-three years for TV to catch up with it. (Oh yeah, and Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, and Stephan James are in it.) And when you're all caught up with season one, proceed straight into season two, which dropped on Prime Video May 22, starring Janelle Monae (!) as a woman at the center of another, literal government mind-control conspiracy. Esmail's still producing, but the directing is being done this time by Stanford Prison Experiment's Kyle Patrick Alvarez.
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson’s adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl story was the film that caused everyone to simultaneously realize all his previous films were quirky stop-motion shoebox diorama comedies. It’s just that he was limiting himself by making them with actual people. Remove the limitation, and you wind up with the most charming, warm, and funny entry in his filmography, which just got added to the Disney+ catalog.
Coast to Coast Roast: The Finals
Helium's new livestream stand-up series is also an outlet for any tension, frustration, and acid that might have built up over the course of your self-quarantine, as comics from all over the country get in front of their webcams, get the green-light from the showrunners, and proceed to roast everyone in front of them alive. Nobody got to have a March Madness this year, so instead, why not enjoy the Coast to Coast Roast, and see which comic is the ultimate conqueror in a nationwide roast battle. In fact: tonight at 6 pm is THE FINALS. Meaning only the most poisonous tongue and evil mind will reign supreme, but chances are good some fallen foes on this road to ruin will rise back up to spit venom and flame from beyond the grave. That got portentious super-fast, didn't it? Anyway, it's hosted by Joe List and Mark Normand. Tune in!
Sublime w/ Rome: Memorial Day Weekend BBQ
While some states are speedily re-opening (and those states are seeing increases in COVID cases... probably not an accident!) nobody's probably ready to entertain the sort of un-safely distanced cookout gathering Memorial Day is known for. And loath as some folks might be to admit it: There are a ton of fond summer memories, featuring barbecues gone by, scored with the sloppy, stoned, good-timey vibes embodied by Sublime. And this Memorial Day weekend, Sublime with Rome is looking to literally embody those vibes while you commandeer the grill with a livestreamed concert (3 pm, $10-15), with proceeds benefitting MusiCares.
Taylor Swift: City of Lover
Some of you might have been hating indiscriminately against Ms. Swift for one reason or another. And then maybe the revelation that Kim & Kanye had lied about her all that time (the audacity!) had you going "Okay, you know what? Maybe I was unfair to Ms. Swift. Maybe I should give her another shot." Good news: Hulu and Disney+ are now streaming the City of Lover concert, shot in Paris, in 2019, where Ms. Swift delivers a pretty intimate and mostly acoustic performance of songs including "Daylight," "Death by a Thousand Cuts," "Cornelia Street" and more. All the drama, the pomp and circumstance, and the production value befitting a pop megastar sometimes obscures the fact she's a singer/songwriter at her core, and this concert puts a bright light on that aspect of her artistry. If you're looking to really give her an honest shot, this show is as good an opportunity as any.
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 today they 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.
Sunday, May 24
The CBS Sunday Night Movie: Titanic
The latest in CBS' revival of the old-school Sunday Night Movie is one of the biggest movies of all time, about a grimy sketch artist who sneaks onto a boat and romances a rebellious debutante, only for true love to be interrupted by one of the most famous naval tragedies of all time, staged brilliantly by one absolute madman of a director, and finished off by a Celine Dion song that is literally embedded in the DNA of anyone conceived between 1997 and 1999. When you hit the watch party (because whooo boy are there gonna be watch parties for this) don't forget to have your custom zoom backgrounds installed, including the beyond-obvious heart-filled visual tribute to the true star of Titanic Billy Z—wait what do you mean there isn't a Zoom background dedicated to Billy Zane!? This is outrageous. I would like to speak to CBS's manag—
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Of course, you can't watch Titanic and not follow it up with Avatar. But I don't mean the one with the weird cat people who plug their hair into sky horse-dragon-things. I mean the good Avatar, the animated anime-esque fantasy epic that ran on Nickelodeon for three seasons. And while there are no shortage of those kind of stories to work through now (thanks, Game of Thrones) many of them invariably become sort of a trudge or a slog. That never happens with Avatar. The show isn't just a potent example of modern myth done right, but a great example of how animation can unlock both action and emotion in a way live-action just can't touch.
Shogun Assassin w/ Live Commentary from RZA and The Hollywood Theatre's Dan Halsted
Are you missing the Hollywood Theatre? Of course you are, you're a sane, rational human being who loves independent cinema and the sort of care in presentation that Dan Halsted and the Hollywood staff provides. Especially when they schedule outright kung fu classics like they regularly do. Tonight (6:15 pm, $10) is a great opportunity to capture some of that magic in your living room as Dan teams up with the RZA (yes, that RZA. Bobby Digital, himself. Bong bong.) to deliver a live commentary over Roger Corman's 1980 grindhouse classic re-cut of the Lone Wolf and Cub series, Shogun Assassin. You can ask questions to the both of them during the film as well, and the screening will be moderated by 36 Chambers co-founder Mustafa Shaikh.
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 (Now streaming, 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?
Set in mid-1980s Los Angeles, GLOW (Now streaming, Netflix) tells the story of 12 struggling actors who are chosen to star in an all-female wrestling show. But first, they must learn how to wrestle! Marc Maron plays the series’ cynical writer/director Sam Sylvia, who reluctantly participates in the project between snorts of coke. His leading Gorgeous Ladies are the volcanic protagonist Debbie, AKA “Liberty Bell” (Betty Gilpin), and Ruth, AKA “Zoya the Destroyer” (Alison Brie), who once wronged Debbie outside of the ring and is now trying to accept her position as the league’s heel. These “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling” are mostly actors who reached for the moon and landed in space junk. They wanted Hollywood, but got a ramshackle warehouse in the San Fernando Valley. They wanted “real parts,” but got roles that’re completely reductive. Be patient with GLOW—the series (created by Carly Mensch and Liz Flahive, with many of its very best episodes directed by Lynn Shelton) takes awhile to warm up. Once it does, you’ll find a refreshing mix of wit, drama, and body slams, all dressed up in the gaudy glamor of the ’80s. CIARA DOLAN
National Memorial Day Concert
Actors Joe Mantegna (Fat Tony on The Simpsons, Joey Zasa in The Godfather Part III) and Gary Sinise (the kidnapper in Ransom, one of the guards on The Green Mile) host this traditional celebration held on the eve of Memorial Day, featuring musical performances, dramatic readings, and documentary footage paying tribute to those who have served in the US Military, starting at 5 pm on PBS.
Never Have I Ever
Mindy Kaling's follow-up to The Mindy Project and the under-seen and under-appreciated Late Night is a new romantic comedy for Netflix named after a classic teen game that very often led to awkward, endearing, cringy, and complicated truths being unearthed. The show absolutely lives up to that promise, centering on a high school sophomore named Devi, still getting over the sudden death of her father, her own psychosomatic paralysis, and less-heavy-but-no-less-important dilemmas like "thick arm hair," "Can I get Paxton the hot jock to like me," and "am I doing kegels right." Never Have I Ever doesn't go for the big joke anywhere near as often as Kaling's previous projects, but what it loses in comedic audacity, it makes up for with an abundance of heart. This is one of the most binge-able things on Netflix right now (which is saying something) and definitely features the best sitcom voice-over narration done by an enfant terrible tennis legend.
John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection
So, when you're done binging Never Have I Ever, you might want to find out a little bit more about its kindly narrator, who was... not so kindly when he reigned supreme as the most famous tennis player in the world. This documentary, using a treasure trove of 16mm footage taken during the 1984 French Open (Mac specifically shouts out this faceoff with Ivan Lendl in Never Have I Ever!) isn't very much like ESPN's recent success, The Last Dance, which promised a lot of unseen footage and revelations but was mostly a 10-hour-long Air Jordan commercial. In the Realm of Perfection (now streaming, Amazon Prime) is filled with slo-mo shots of MacEnroe in action, and ends up being just as much a documentary of how he played the game (fiercely, and under a constant sense of being wronged) as it is a means of using the sport of tennis to make sense of film as an artform.
Pickathon Concert a Day: Broken Social Scene
It’s always astonishing that Canadian indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene manages to get back together every few years, but what’s more astonishing is how their myriad talents and voices come together to produce such consistently great music, with soaring sonic effects, comet-like melodies, and actual, real-life hope tucked into every bar. NED LANNAMANN
Kota the Friend
Last weekend, pop phenom Charli XCX released a "quarantine album" to much fanfare and dancing and wonder. This weekend, another "quarantine album" (is this gonna become a genre real quick here?) hit from up-and-coming indie rapper Kota the Friend, whose vibe is decidedly less dancy but arguably even more feel-good. 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.
The Story of Soaps
What better way to celebrate staying home on a Monday afternoon than by digging into The Story of Soaps (Now streaming, Hulu). Soaps are long past due for a star-studded retrospective like this, especially since 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. But be warned: With about a half hour to go, it... sorta becomes an informercial for reality shows? As if Real Housewives, as fun as it might be to watch, could ever, EVER compete with Erica Kane or Viki Lord.
Fire up the Grill!
There's a lot of unnecessary mystique surrounding the grill, and were this a normal Memorial Day there'd probably be a couple fights already over who gets to make fire and put food on said fire for eating later. But don't let any grunting neanderthal friends of yours intimidate you away from that Weber: Grilling really isn't that hard, and to prove it, YouTube cooking celebrity Anthony Rea of the Binging with Babish channel has a short 'n' sweet 10-minute video that can catch you up on the basics of grilling, basics that most chest-thumping grill captains only pretend to know.
It's beyond bizarre to know for a fact this exhausting, nerve-jangling drama is going to be the most watched thing on Netflix for the next couple of weeks, considering it's a low-budget arthouse flick directed by the Safdie Brothers, who specialize in choppy, frenetic, aggressively off-putting narratives about amoralistic assholes spiraling down into a void of self-destruction. So why are millions upon millions of people 100-percent not ready for the torrent of noise and teeth-grinding discomfort that is Uncut Gems (Streaming May 25, Netflix) going to unwittingly subject themselves to it ASAP? Because it's got Adam Sandler in it. Probably the best performance Sandler's ever given, in fact. It's not the funniest performance in the movie, though. That belongs to Kevin Garnett.
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Doom: Eternal came out earlier this year and continued Bethesda's winning streak of story-driven, ultra-violent-yet-oddly-charming single-player first-person-shooters (whew that's a lotta hyphens). But there's an alternate history where Doom doesn't get successfully revived, because on that timeline, Wolfenstein: The New Order isn't a fast, fun, and satisfying success of gameplay and storytelling that takes gaming by storm in 2014. Luckily, we live in this timeline, where Wolfenstein's revival winningly used gonzo sci-fi settings and outlandish what-if scenarios (i.e. what if Nazis won WWII and established a goddamn MOONBASE guarded by ROBOT DOGS) to tell an honest-to-god affecting story of resistance against fascism in all its forms. If you've never played it, it's only $9.99 on PS4 right now, and you could do worse than to spend a cozy Memorial Day utterly destroying a bunch of space Nazis. Hey, speaking of which...
May 25, 1977 was the day a bearded nerd named George Lucas released Star Wars—a low-budget mashup of Akira Kurosawa movies and Flash Gordon serials—to less than 40 theaters. The movie starred a soap actor named Mark Hamill as the improbably named Luke Skywalker, a dorky hick from the boondocks who meets up with a maddeningly smug mystic (Alec Guinness) that drafts him to rescue a pissed-off princess (Carrie Fisher) with the help of an arrogant dipshit Uber driver (Harrison Ford) and his overgrown dog (Peter Mayhew). They all end up overthrowing a fascist regime of space Nazis along the way. It ended up being pretty, pretty popular. It's available to stream on Disney+, if you want to watch it. There's a beeping trash can that talks mad shit the whole movie, too. He's the best.
World War Z
DID YOU KNOW: The guy who played Luke Skywalker is also a very good voice actor? He was the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, for example. That means he was the best version of the Joker ever. And yet: It can be argued that's not even his best voice acting performance! Because he also played gunner Todd Wainio, veteran of the Battle of Yonkers, in the audiobook of Max Brooks' World War Z (available at MultCo Library w/ Card; on Audible, $28 to buy, free trial here) and Hamill's performance is good enough to almost make you forget he didn't actually survive a zombie apocalypse. Brooks' book was made into an okay blockbuster movie, but there is likely no version of World War Z that ever tops the audiobook, which along with Hamill features a cast that includes F. Murray Abraham, Alan Alda, Rob and Carl Reiner, Henry Rollins, Nathan Fillion, John Turturro, David Ogden Stiers, and Alfred Molina among others.
Little Fires Everywhere
Hulu's adaptation of Celeste Ng's best-selling book has been knocked for essentially removing all nuance from Ng's novel, and it's hard to disagree that the story is a lot louder than it was on the page; This show doesn't feel like the book... but the sour, entitled, pretty-on-the-outside-but-mean-as-fuck-for-no-good-reason vibe it absolutely nails from its first 15 minutes on? That's some genuinely authentic '90s nastiness; the kind of sunshine-covered bitterness these characters would snidely razz as they watched their umpteenth hour of Ricki Lake from the comfort of their couch. The miniseries is now available in full on Hulu, and the approach taken with the source material (an approach Ng herself applauded, probably best realized dramatically by executive producer and director Lynn Shelton) makes a lot more sense when the reworked story is taken as a whole.
Cirque du Soleil: Kurios
In 2017, Cirque du Soleil brought their big-top extravagance to Portland to transforms the Moda Center into the curio cabinet of an old-timey inventor, bending reality, time, and space into a variety of stages and platforms by which this troupe of amazingly flexible performers do their mind-and-body-bending work. If you missed that show, head to YouTube and get yourself yourself a (third) eyeful of this steampunk wonder.
Young M.A—born Katorah Marrero—is unique among her peers. While her low voice, stud swagger, and off-the-charts machismo may give the impression she uses alternate pronouns, the artist has made it clear she’s perfectly at home in her assigned female gender. She named her 2017 EP Herstory, after all, and followed that up with the critically acclaimed Herstory in the Making, and just this weekend released her latest, Red Flu. While Young M.A’s sexuality is definitely part of her content, it’s not a gimmick she’s leaning on. She didn’t set out on some heroic mission to pave the way for other queer rappers. She simply came into the game as the real her—for better or for worse. Now M.A is unintentionally changing the narrative for what is and isn’t acceptable in rap, just by being authentically, unapologetically herself. JENNI MOORE
Don't forget to check out our Things To Do calendar for even more things to stream while you stay home and stay safe!