ScreenCrush Staff Picks for What to Watch the Weekend of May 12
If you can’t decide what to watch this weekend, ScreenCrush’s Staff Picks are here to help. They’re like the recommendations at an old video store, except you don’t have to put on pants or go outside to get them. Here are four things to watch this weekend:
Just yesterday we got the first photos of The Death and Life of John F. Donovan, French-Canadian filmmaker Xavier Dolan’s English-language debut. You probably know Dolan as the director behind Adele’s “Hello” music video, or maybe you saw his 2014 Cannes Jury Prize winner Mommy. His latest film, starring Kit Harington, Jessica Chastain, Natalie Portman, and Susan Sarandon, will get surely get him some long overdue mainstream recognition. So before he blows up big time, why not get familiar with his earlier work? To start, I’d recommend his first feature, I Killed My Mother, which he wrote, directed, produced, and starred in at the age of 19. It charts the tempestuous relationship between a mother (Anne Dorval) and her recently out gay son (Dolan). If you’re wanting more and have three hours to spare, check out Dolan’s Laurence Anyways, my personal favorite from his filmography, and his most structurally and visually ambitious project to date.
Before Sofia Coppola’s remake hits theaters this summer, you can — and should — check out the original film adaptation of Thomas Cullinan’s novel. Directed by Don Siegel, The Beguiled stars Clint Eastwood as a wounded Union soldier who shacks up at a girls’ boarding school in the Confederate South during the Civil War. Though initially reluctant to aid “the enemy,” the headmistress and her sheltered students soon find themselves unable to resist the temptation of a rare male visitor. Eastwood’s soldier lays it on pretty thick, verbally bludgeoning his hosts with cringe-inducing overtures delivered with that signature Clint-squint (simultaneously making you wonder why no one ever tried to put him in a Wolverine movie in the ’70s). The Beguiled is a thoroughly deranged film, combining the surreality of David Lynch with the dainty dressing of Picnic at Hanging Rock. It’s also a product of its time in almost every way: Risky and weird, with crazy tonal shifts. Watching Siegel’s film will have you twice as excited for Coppola’s remake. I can’t think of a better marriage of material and filmmaker.
The Beguiled (1971) is available on HBO Go.
If you need an emotional pick-me-up these days (and you do, you know you do), you only need 77 minutes to enjoy Anvil! The Story of Anvil! This real-world Spinal Tap tells the story of Anvil, a Canadian heavy metal band who had a couple hits in the 1980s and then faded into obscurity. The band stuck together though, and kept playing even through the lean times, thanks to the determination and unbreakable friendship of the band’s architects, Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner. (Yes, two b’s, and no, not that Rob Reiner.) Director Sacha Gervasi pokes gentle fun at Lips and Robb’s misadventures, while celebrating their ferocious, bromantic idealism. And then when Lips and Robb get what’s coming to them in the finale, it is impossible not to smile. Just writing about it made me grin.
Anvil! The Story of Anvil! is available on Netflix.
Aziz Ansari’s Master of None brought a diverse array of perspectives to thirtysomething life in New York, exploring everything from the minutiae of Eminem lyrics to the arc of an entire relationship observed just through its morning rituals. The 10-episode second season grows even more ambitious with episodes devoted to the Thanksgivings of Dev (Ansari) and Denise’s (Lena Waithe) friendship over the years, and another that jumps perspective to New Yorkers of every age and race. The romance and sweetness are all still there, mixed in with some surprising dramatic chops. Ansari’s slice-of-life humor is as appetizing as ever in Season 2, and it might be the last we get to enjoy for a while, so eat up.
Master of None is available on Netflix.