Elizabeth Fisher/Elizabeth Fisher/Paramount+
This week we learned more about the color of dinosaurs, bat girl got the ax and Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was honored with her very own bobblehead.
Here’s what NPR’s Happy Hour Pop Culture team was paying attention to and what you should check out this weekend.
Devil in blue dressedition criterion
I always complain that the bad movies of the last generation have been turned into franchises, and I think people in the Collection of criteria agree with me because they finally released the marvelous Carl Franklin Devil in blue dress in a 4K edition.
The 1995 film is based on the series of more than a dozen novels by Walter Mosley which follows a black World War II veteran, Easy Rawlins, played by Denzel Washington. After the war, the aircraft factories in Southern California shut down, so he was out of work and somehow fell into the business of a private detective. It’s not something he’s looking for, but it turns out he has a knack for it.
It’s Mosley’s way of examining race relations, both then and in later decades, as this character ages throughout the novels. I keep thinking about how great it would have been for Denzel and the director, Carl Franklin, to get together every three or four years and do another one in the meantime. I would love that so much, but we only got the 1995 one.
This is the first film in which Don Cheadle, who plays Mouse, really stood out. Tom Sizemore is also in it, and Jennifer Beals is something of a femme fatale. It’s a truly wonderful movie that should have been a franchise, and it looks spectacular in the new 4K Blu-ray. Chris Klimek
Bad on Paramount+ is a psychological mystery that follows a female psychologist, a priest-in-training, played by Mike Colter whom you know from Luke Cage, and their skeptical tech guy. The three of them are hired by the Catholic Church to investigate demons, demonic possessions, and other evils like that in the world.
I like it because it’s all the best parts of a police procedural, but without the cops. So if you like the “mystery/demon/monster of the week” format, I highly recommend this show. Over the seasons, it has become more cerebral. Now it’s about topics like who’s bad, what makes us bad, if someone is born to be bad, and what it all means.
It’s a really good show, and it’s good to be scary while asking really interesting questions about the Catholic Church. It draws the line between being skeptical of all the supernatural things that happen on the show while giving you just enough plausibility that those things could happen. Could it be demons, or is it just drugs or something? Mallory Yu
“The 50 Greatest Fictional Deaths of All Time”
My Happy this week comes from my old playground in Slate. My former colleague Dan Coates, along with other employees of Slateto assemble a collection of the best deaths of fictional characterscovering everything from books, movies, TV, comics and theater.
You have everything samurai in Rashomon to the wicked witch of the west to ellie’s At the top. There’s no Mufasa, which I find quite striking, but it’s a fun read. There are also a few additional articles, including one by Chris Molanphy that lists the Top 5 best gangster movie deaths.
There are only three movies on it, but when you look at the list, it makes sense to understand why these are the movies you would expect to be on this list. Aisha Harris
You were never really there
Over the weekend I watched a movie from 2017 that had great reviews at the time, but I just missed it for some reason. It’s called You were never really therein which Joaquin Phoenix plays a mercenary hired to save a politician’s daughter caught in a trafficking ring.
It’s an action movie, I guess you would say. It’s a thriller, but it’s not as grim or corny as the plot suggests. It’s not Taken. It is directed by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, who made We need to talk about Kevin. Like that film, this one is about the lingering wounds that violence leaves in the world and how it reverberates.
It is very violent, but he does not revel in this violence. And it takes time to realize that she’s not really showing you the violence itself; she concentrates on what’s next. Plot-wise, there’s a lot of twists you won’t see coming, and it manages to think through the way it uses violence.
Of course, it’s unfair to compare it to High-speed train. They’re not trying to do the same remotely, but it was just interesting for me to realize that the violence in this movie and this one don’t even seem to be the same thing. One is a showcase, while the other is the very complicated subject of the film. Glen Weldon
More Recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour Newsletter
by Linda Holmes
I spent time this week reading Anthony Marra’s novel Mercury Pictures Presents, and it’s wonderful. It’s about old Hollywood and war, but also about family, struggle and dreams for the future. Among other things, despite the fact that it is sometimes a very sad book, it is also a very, very funny book again and again – a quality that I greatly appreciate in these times. [Note: This book is published by an imprint of Penguin Random House, which is also my publisher.]
I probably don’t need to make this sale, but there is a new season of Reservation dogs on Hulu this week!
I was enjoy the new season podcast Chameleonwho is called Possible scam. It’s about tracking down the people behind some basic phone scams designed to separate people from their money. I never tire of exploring how scams work, and neither do the people who work on this show.
NPR’s Maison Tran adapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment “What’s Making Us Happy” into a digital page. If you like these suggestions, consider subscribe to our newsletter for recommendations each week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple podcast and Spotify.
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