The week will see the release of the final episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train (say that five times fast) and the new Mortal Kombat reboot from director Simon McQuoid. There’s so much cool stuff to watch on the horizon.
But before we get to all of that, we have recommendations from the weekend. From Wes Craven’s pioneering horror series Scream to modern masterpieces of Chinese animation (Donghua), medium-defining shows like HBO’s The Sopranos, and epic martial arts dramas like Warrior, we watched plenty of cool and eclectic stuff across television and film. Here are a few of the shows and movies you might want to watch, too.
The Scream trilogy
I had seen pieces of the first three Scream movies on mute at Halloween parties over the past 30 years. This weekend, with a mountain of laundry to be done, I made my way through the series in proper fashion and came to a surprise conclusion: Scream is the most consistent trilogy in the history of film.
Each entry is a banger, each one doing its own thing. The original Scream borrows from the psychological terror of the 1970s, Scream 2 parodies the co-ed horror-comedies of the 1980s, and Scream 3 is Hollywood telling on itself disguised as a meta-slasher flick.
I’d heard bad things about Scream 3, and I can imagine it landing with a thud decades ago. But in 2021, we’re watching a film produced by the Weinsteins with one big, loud message: Shitbag Hollywood producer-types who prey on women are secretly at the center of all problems. This isn’t a critical reach. This is literally the point of the film and, by its conclusion, the frame of the entire trilogy.
I’m relishing the current surge of “art house horror,” but the Scream trilogy feels more timely than so many of its contemporaries, despite references to Jay and Silent Bob and Creed. —Chris Plante
Scream, Scream 2, and Scream 3 are available on HBO Max. Oddly enough, Scream 4 is not available on HBO Max.
And everything else we’re watching...
My partner and I have been dating for over a year now, since right before the start of the pandemic, and we’ve grown to learn a lot about our respective media diets in that time. I love Korean new wave films, esoteric sci-fi horror, Japanese anime, and superhero movies; they love nostalgic young adult dramas, true crime documentaries, musicals, and romance films. Naturally, this means a lot of negotiation over what we watch together.
This weekend, I introduced them to one of my favorites: Richard Linklater’s 1995 romance drama Before Sunrise starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I’ve been a big fan of the Before films since I first saw Before Midnight in theaters back in 2013, and it had been a few years since I last watched Before Sunrise for the first time over a good friend’s house. Living in a post-COVID, post-Brexit world makes watching Céline (Delpy) and Jesse’s (Hawke) whirlwind romance elapse over the course of one beautiful summer day in Vienna feel all that more extraordinary, a precious time capsule of a halcyon period that feels infinitely lighter and unbounded than our present. My partner, who loved it, asked if I regretted not having the chance to have a romance like Céline and Jesse’s, having never traveled outside the country on my own before the pandemic. My answer was no: If watching the film again after so long had reminded me of anything, it was of how fortunate anyone is in this world to find someone to love and to be loved in return. I found mine. —Toussaint Egan
Before Sunrise is available to rent on Amazon.
Carole and Tuesday
Carole and Tuesday is a sweet anime about two teenage girls — rich runaway Tuesday and scrappy orphan Carole — who bond over a shared love of music and try to make it as musicians. Oh and it also takes place in the future ... and on Mars? (Except they still use Instagram, which is funny). The swirl of ideas is a lovely blend of underdog musicians trying to make it big and a reflection on rapidly evolving technology. The setting is gorgeous and bright, with most of the futuristic elements presented as positive enhancements in society. I’m only a few episodes in, but Carole and Tuesday is exactly the sort of show I need to brighten my mood. —Petrana Radulovic
Carole and Tuesday is streaming on Netflix.
The Sopranos season 1
One of the things I’ve noticed while watching the first season of The Sopranos — roughly 20 years after it premiered and changed TV forever — is that all the things that make it really good are actually really difficult to talk about. It’s hard, for example, to sell someone on the show by saying things like “James Gandolfini’s deep-set eyes have an absolutely riveting way of going from sinister dark pools to rivers of emotion in a matter of seconds,” or “it’s extremely funny to watch men refuse to acknowledge the ways toxic masculinity tears them apart.”
These are not new observations, but what’s great about The Sopranos is that they can feel new to you. If you ask me, the show is spoiler-proof, because the magic of it is not what happens (I know, for example, all about the divisive finale, and a few big deaths) but how every character is feeling, and the way those feelings set each character on an irrevocable course that changes TV history. —Joshua Rivera
The Sopranos is streaming on HBO Max.
Somehow, a movie starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, made by Judd Apatow and Wet Hot American Summer and Role Models director David Wain, completely bombed in 2012, then immediately fell into obscurity. What happened? It’s really impossible to say when movies as random and anonymous Horrible Bosses and We’re the Millers popped during the same window in Aniston’s career. Maybe the problem was that this one was for adults?
Specifically, adult weirdos. Bringing the same oddball personality of Wet Hot to a traditional rom-com template, the movie follows a couple forced to retreat from New York City after financial disaster only to find solace in a New Age commune — ahem, sorry, intentional community — called Elysium. Justin Theroux plays the leader Seth, Jordan Peele is a resident stoner, Kathryn Hahn is a militant vegan, Alan Alda scoots around as the elder founder, and Brooklyn 99’s Joe Lo Truglio shows up as a nudist winemaker/novelist wearing what I assume is a giant fake penis prosthetic but if not congratulations to Jo Lo Truglio. Their dream life off the grid, and the big questions we ask ourselves about what to make of our lives, are ripe for Wain’s precision comedy and reflective storytelling. And the movie is riotous. Wanderlust can find sly commentary by staging scenes in McMansions where every wall is covered with TV, or bring blunt-force dopiness, like a scene where Rudd spends a minute practicing the worst dirty talk in human history. Like a good swig of Ayahuasca tea, the movie is a bizarre trip with a significant destination. No one saw it back in 2012, but it’s a rare movie I’ll watch over and over again: quotable, silly, poignant, and skillfully made. —Matt Patches
Wanderlust is streaming on HBO Max.
Based on a concept created by Bruce Lee and produced by Shannon Lee and Justin Lin, Warrior was renewed for a third season in April. And so this weekend felt like the perfect time to watch the entire 10-episode first season. Warrior is set in San Francisco in the late 1870s, and largely centers on the city’s Chinatown — and the powerful tongs that control it. When Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) comes to San Francisco in search of his sister, he’s immediately initiated into the Hop Wei tong because everyone finds out that he’s a dang good fighter. And that’s when he finds out his sister — who he came to San Francisco looking for — is married to the leader of the Longi Zii, the rival tong in Chinatown.
There’s a lot of drama and action, but Warrior is driven by its complex characters as they navigate life in the late 1870s. It’s all also in the lead-up to the United States’ devastating Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, a piece of history that’s often been glossed over in American education systems. —Nicole Carpenter
Warrior is streaming on HBO Max.
The Way of the Househusband (Gokushufudo)
My wife is really into anime, and I am not. But The Way of the Househusband was just the right kind of bonkers to draw me in. (It certainly helps that there are only five chapters, and that each one comprises a few brief vignettes stitched together into a 15- to 20-minute episode.)
Based on the manga of the same name by Kousuke Oono, Netflix’s The Way of the Househusband is a wholesome slice-of-life anime that tells the story of Tatsu, who, in his previous life, was the feared yakuza leader known as “The Immortal Dragon.” Tatsu has since retired from his life of organized crime for a simple existence as a stay-at-home husband to his wife, Miku. He now spends his days applying the skills he learned as a mafia boss to domestic duties like laundry, dishwashing, and dealing with cockroaches.
The simple premise allows for everyday situations to play out in hilarious, over-the-top ways, like when Tatsu and Miku are test-driving a car. “Look around carefully, and be prepared for anything,” Miku says — leading Tatsu to imagine random people on the street as undercover hitmen whipping out pistols and grenade launchers.
I will say that it’s almost too direct of a manga adaptation: The show consists primarily of static scenes animated like a visual novel, rather than a typical anime. But I didn’t care so much when I was laughing out loud at Tatsu’s father-in-law trying to bond with him over a game of catch. —Samit Sarkar
The Way of the Househusband is streaming on Netflix.
The arrival of the Chinese animated spectacular New Gods: Nezha Reborn has sent me down a couple of pop-culture paths: I’ve been researching Chinese myth and classical literature to understand where these stories come from, and watching more and more Chinese animation to get more of the same kind of expansive, intense storytelling. 2019’s White Snake seemed like a natural movie for the watch list, since it’s another popular Chinese legend adapted into CG animation by the same director as Nezha Reborn. And like that film, it’s visually startling, full of action and surprises, and very, very emotional. Most of the film is a flashback as an old demon looks back on memories she’s locked away, about a terrible enemy she tried to assassinate and how nearly dying in the process led her to fall in love with a brave, heroic young man. But the best parts of the movie are in the margins — particularly the encounters with the eeriest, most skin-crawlingly weird interpretation of a fox spirit I’ve ever seen onscreen. —Tasha Robinson