What's making us happy: A guide to your weekend viewing and reading
Here's what the NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.
Atlanta, Season Four
I've been dedicated to Atlanta from the very first season. I really enjoyed seasons 1 and 2, I was confused by season 3 and going into season 4 I was concerned. I've been watching season 4 — I won't spoil it for those who stepped away before or after season 3, thinking that the show was going in a direction that they did not like. I think season 4 brings all of the things that I liked about the show back into focus. I've been keeping up on every single episode. I'm definitely going to watch all of them again. It seems like once they physically got the characters back in Atlanta, they got the show back on track, which is where I wanted it to be. This season is really enjoyable, really weird and poses a lot of questions. – Ronald Young, Jr.
The Lair of the White Worm
It is spooky season, which means it's spooky movie season. To help you get in the mood, you can go basic and on the nose with your "Halloweens" and your "Exorcists." I don't begrudge you that, but me personally I like my Halloween viewing a bit more baroque — and by baroque, I mean campier than a drag queen in a pop tent.
This time of year, I tend to feed myself a diet of Vincent Price and Roger Corman films because they're really low fi, but they're also a lot. Personally, I'd start with The Raven, because it includes three bitchy queen sorcerers, trying to one-up each other, played by Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre.
But my real recommendation is not a Corman Usher joint. It is the funniest, goofiest film Ken Russell ever made, the 1988 film, The Lair of the White Worm. In the film, Peter Capaldi is practically a toddler, he's an archaeologist who digs up a strange giant snake skull on a northern England estate owned by one Lord Denton, played perfectly by Hugh Grant, who is barely out of diapers in this thing. He radiates unearned privilege. At one point in the film, the archaeologist wants to visit this cave, where remains have been found. The locals tell him that they've looked in the cave many times but he persists and asks to see it.
The reason for the season for this movie, the reason to watch this movie is Amanda Donohoe's performance as the immortal leader of a snake cult. They do not give Oscars for understanding the damn assignment. They do not give Academy Awards for knowing exactly what movie you are starring in. If they did, The Rock would not win one this week, but she would get the Thalberg. She is so funny and so game and so perfectly matched to this role. The Lair of the White Worm is available for streaming on the Criterion Channel and elsewhere. – Glen Weldon
Reality TV on Ad-Supported Streaming Networks
What is making me happy this week are some of my discoveries on free ad-supported streaming networks, specifically old episodes of Great British Bake Off on the Roku Channel and old episodes of Project Runway on Tubi.
The newly discovered, to me, Bake Off episodes include not only the ones that were of the BBC era that Netflix no longer has, but also the two early seasons that the United States never even got officially. The Project Runway episodes are from a bunch of the seasons that hadn't been streaming that predate the Christian Siriano and Karlie Kloss years. You have to put up with the commercials. They are not always elegantly inserted, but for me it was well worth it to sit through the ads despite occasionally getting the same ad over and over and over again. It was worth it to find those episodes previously missing to me. – Linda Holmes
More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter
by Linda Holmes
Ethan Hawke and Ewan McGregor are both quite good in Raymond & Ray, a movie streaming on Apple TV+ that casts them as brothers dealing with the death of their dad.
If you watched the HBO Max documentary series The Last Movie Stars about Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward — and I hope you did — you'll be interested to know that some of the same biographical material that was used for the series is also the basis for a posthumous memoir about Newman.
The marvelous writer Alice Wong wrote a piece about life with a feeding tube, and I commend it — and all of her work — to you most highly.
It doesn't take a lot of reaching to recommend a story collection from George Saunders, but I greatly enjoyed Liberation Day: Stories, which is beautifully written but also pleasantly and unsettlingly odd in a whole bunch of ways.
NPR's Pilar Galvan adapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" into a digital page. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations every week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
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