Los Angeles County restaurants may soon be able to resume dine-in service, and hair salons and barbershops can start taking customers. With those reopenings, the region takes a significant step forward in the resumption of normal economic activity.
Much as retail outlets and shopping malls have been allowed to reopen with crowd size limitations and distancing requirements, restaurants that wish to offer dine-in service will be expected to comply with numerous new protocols. Spaces will require frequent deep cleanings, and restaurants will have to find ways to keep customers and workers physically distant from one another.
Businesses that are ready to comply with the new guidelines may be able to start operations almost immediately; more details are expected to be announced on Friday afternoon.
Permission to reopen the county’s dining rooms and some grooming services comes after supervisors requested a special variance from the state earlier this week. The variance had already been granted for 47 of California’s counties at that time.
“Regional data shows we have flattened the curve, indicating our readiness to move forward in phased recovery,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger wrote in a statement. “This will put Los Angeles County on a level playing field with surrounding counties, which have already been granted variances.”
Along with the county’s request, it was required to supply a pandemic mitigation plan. In that plan, public health officials acknowledge that they are pressing ahead with reopening even though they anticipate “additional waves of cases at varying levels of severity will occur over the next 18 to 24 months,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
The slogan for Universal Studios Hollywood used to be Ride the Movies, but nobody has been able to fly around with Harry Potter or get spit on by the Dilophosaurus in Jurassic World: The Ride since the park shuttered in March. The boat ride was only eight months old when it had to go dark, so to keep the momentum going, Universal is hosting a virtual boozy Jurassic World watch party on Friday, May 29, at 5 p.m. The #UniversalAtHome experience involves fans watching the movie, drinking cocktails, and then tweeting about it.
So let’s see. First you mix up a batch of Bird of Paradise and Tiki Tai cocktails like the ones you can get at the Isla Nu-Bar next to the ride (recipes here), then everyone hits play on their personal copy of the movie all at the same time, then you go on Twitter (here) to… type screams at the scary parts?
May I also suggest having family members rock your chair back and forth, lightly mist you with water bottles, and maybe pop out of the darkness wearing a T-Rex mask once in a while? There have been so many families hungry for the theme park experience that many of them turned to making their own dark rides at home this spring. Check out #HomemadeDisney for some doozies.
“I mean. I love that they are trying to bring fun home to people. It’s a great way to promote their properties and keep people excited about the parks,” a die-hard roller coaster enthusiast who used to work the ride at Universal tells me, with mild enthusiasm. “But, for me personally, it holds little appeal.”
1.0 oz White Rum
0.5 oz Pineapple Rum
1.0 oz Pineapple Juice
0.5 oz Lime Juice
0.5 oz Passion Fruit Purée
0.5 oz Orgeat Syrup
1.0 oz Dark Rum
1. Mix everything except the Dark Rum in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for five seconds.
2. Pour the shaker into your favorite tiki glass and top with additional ice as needed.
3. Float the Dark Rum on top and enjoy!
4. For a little extra flair, you can garnish it with a pineapple leaf just like we do at Isla Nu-Bar.
Bird of Paradise
1.5 oz Passionfruit Rum
0.5 oz Silver Rum
0.5 oz Passionfruit Purée
1.0 oz Guava Purée
0.5 oz Lime Juice
0.5 oz Orgeat Syrup
2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
1.0 oz Spiced Rum
1. Similar to the Tiki Tai, you’re going to mix everything except the Spiced Rum in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for five seconds.
2. Pour the shaker into your favorite tiki glass and top with additional ice as needed.
3. Float the Spiced Rum on top and enjoy!
Mai Tai (Non-Alcoholic)
2.75 oz Pineapple Juice
1.25 oz Orange Juice
0.25 oz Grenadine
0.75 oz Lime Juice
0.75 oz Orgeat Syrup
1. Mix everything in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for five seconds.
2. Pour the shaker into your favorite tiki glass and top with additional ice as needed.
Even as retail, dining, and other industries rumble towards reopening, the live entertainment business lags far behind. Large concert venues and music festivals are expected to be among the very last phases of the recovery, due to the risks of having crowds gather, particularly indoors. Musicians have jumped to stage livestream concerts during quarantine, but many fans and performers crave the in-person experience–even if it comes in a modified form. Drive-in concerts appear poised to offer the next-best-thing to a traditional concert for the time being.
Drive-in concerts have already caught on in Korea and Europe as quarantine-weary audiences seek alternatives to completely staying at home. Series in Denmark and Germany bring out hundreds of cars for shows; one German dance club even staged a “drive-in rave” in its own parking lot this month, with crowd members honking horns and flashing headlights along with the music in place of dancing and applause.
Now that drive-in movie theaters cleared for operation by public health officials across Southern California, one local event producer figured it was about time for the region to see its first drive-in concert.
“My production company has been around for 12 years and we produce large-scale concerts and music festivals,” CBF Productions founder Vincenzo Giammanco says. “When you own a company that thrives off social settings, and then all of a sudden you can’t do things in social settings, we had to ask, ‘Well, what’s next?’ And we came up with this idea.”
That idea became Concerts in Your Car, an event series launching at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in June. Concerts will offer 500 carloads of fans at a time the chance to watch a live, in-person performance. Shows will take place at a pop-up venue built at the fairgrounds, that includes not only a stage and system to transmit the performance to car radios, but also an elaborate lighting rig and massive video monitors to provide visual entertainment that can be seen from any parking spot, among other high-tech tricks.
“This is a completely new experience,” Giammanco says. “You’re not a drive-in movie theatre. But it’s not your traditional concert, either. It’s something that is going to be a pretty epic experience.”
Two shows featuring Super Duper Kyle on June 12 and 13 kick off the series which, Giammanco hopes, will continue through the end of August. While the dates and headliners of upcoming shows have not yet been announced, he promises a mix of genres, perhaps also including stand-up comedy as well as music.
He says he hasn’t had trouble finding artists willing to get over the strangeness of playing a show to an audience of parked cars. “Every day my lists gets longer of artists that want to work,” he says. “And this is a historic event. This will probably go down in the history books as such a unique time, and we’re going to remember this unique thing we did to adapt to entertain during it.”
In addition to the musicians and production crews getting to ply their trades, Giammanco estimates that the series could put a million dollars into the local economy in Ventura. Much of that stimulus, he hopes, will come from concert-goers picking up food and beverage from local vendors to picnic in their cars during the show. Health rules don’t allow for any food or beverage service at the venue, but a directory of nearby partner restaurants offering takeout packages will be offered to all ticket buyers.
In addition to the Ventura Fairgrounds series, Giammanco’s company is looking at expanding to other venues around the region, pending conversations with local health officials and some other logistical challenges. But, even as his project grows, the circumstances make any success a bit bittersweet.
“I hope that what I’m creating is a temporary solution to a temporary problem,” he says. “Ultimately, we want to go back to how it used to be, 10,000 people in a venue, that’s how we thrive.”
» Hours after he signed an executive order regarding social media “fairness,” Donald Trump ran afoul of Twitter’s community standards, tweeting about “thugs” in Minneapolis and threatening that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” a throwback to language used in 1967 by a Miami police chief cracking down on “slum hoodlums.” According to Twitter, Trump’s tweet was restricted “based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.” Trump was already up in arms about Twitter’s efforts to fact-check his misleading statements about voter fraud. [New York Times]
» Facebook won’t be following Twitter’s lead in offering independent fact-checking of political speech. Mark Zuckerberg just doesn’t feel like that’s his job. [NBC News]
» Paradise Falls in northwestern Thousand Oaks has been closed after huge crowds descended, filling the delicate environment with trash and human waste. Park managers noted that since they reopened mid-May, visitors have “behaved differently.” [Los Angeles Times]
» The union representing meatpacking workers is calling for the closure of the Farmer John plant in Vernon. The facility, known for producing the official ‘Dodger Dog,’ has seen at least 153 employees test positive for COVID-19. [Reuters]
» The COVID-19 pandemic is triggering a mental health crisis in the U.S. Experts warn that mental health facilities are unprepared for a historic spike in depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicides. [The Washington Post]
» CBS News has been hit with layoffs, cutting an estimated 50 staffers. While execs pinned these cuts on pandemic, the merger of CBS and Viacom resulted in around 450 layoffs since January. [The Hollywood Reporter]
» Sporting events won’t have crowds in the stands any time soon, but that doesn’t mean fans can’t cheer their teams on. A new app developed in Japan could allow for “remote cheering” at empty games. [The Guardian]
After 60 Years, Tito’s Tacos Is Offering Something New
Tito’s Tacos, the beloved Culver City taco stand, will reopen on June 1 after a temporary closure. When they come back, not only will they be serving up the same hardshell tacos and other throwback dishes they’ve sold since 1959, but they’ll launch an online ordering system and local delivery service.
Tito’s Tacos, the beloved Culver City taco stand, will reopen on June 1 after a temporary closure. When they come back, not only will they be serving up the same hardshell tacos and other throwback dishes they’ve sold since 1959, but they’ll launch an online ordering system and local delivery service.
Not content to simply sign up with one of the third-party apps, Tito’s Tacos has partnered with another small L.A. business, StreetSmart Messengers. Before a messenger is allowed to carry orders from the cafe, they’ll need to complete a California Certified Food Handler training course and a custom course developed just for Tito’s by a specialized food safety consultant. Orders will be packed into tamper-proof packaging.
That peace of mind comes at a price, of course. Delivery fees start at $10 for orders within five miles of the restaurant, and increase by $2 per mile outside that radius. If you’re farther afield, the new online ordering platform will also allow customers to order ahead for pick-up.
Inside the restaurant, customers will notice some additional health and safety upgrades. Floors will be marked with six-foot physical distancing markers for customers and workers in the kitchen, and Tito’s is installing two state-of-the-art plasma ion currency sterilizers for cash transactions. The same food safety consultant who designed the training protocols will also be making drop-in random inspections of the operation at least twice each week.
“We’ve served the Los Angeles community for over 60 years and worked tirelessly to adapt to be able to serve our customers,” says Lynne Davidson, the current owner of Tito’s Tacos, which was founded by her grandfather. “We hope that our food offers a bit of normalcy and comfort to our fans who continue to support us.”
Yes, we’re all cooped up, but there are plenty of ways to pass the time if you know where to look. Here’s a collection of museum tours, live concerts, and more to make your weekend indoors during self-containment feel almost weekend-y. Flatten the curve and have fun.
If you’re experiencing live-comedy withdrawals, We Improv—a two-year-old training program started by UCB vet Jake Jabbour—has the cure for what ails you. On Friday and Saturday, tune into Twitch for a stacked lineup of local improv teams, including UCB teachers Will Hines and Jonny Svarzbein’s “Puns & Hostility” (7 p.m. on Saturday) and UCB house team Cardinal Redbird (8 p.m. on Saturday). See the full schedule above.
Get creative—and get a buzz. Every Friday at 5 p.m., Still Life Ceramics hosts a wine and pottery party with Sasha Wachtel, with a little help from Rappahannock Oyster Bar, which is selling a rosé and clay kit that includes a bottle of wine and a pound of clay for molding away. They’ll even help you get your project fired when you’re done.
PaleyFest was scrapped this year (still sad about missing the Curb Your Enthusiasm panel), but every day during the pandemic, the Paley Center for Media is reviving footage from some of its most memorable events.
Each Friday while the world is all topsy-turvy, the Broad will be presenting a new family-friendly tutorial for creating art at home inspired by artists in the Broad collection. This week the video shows you how to use craft materials and images from magazines or your own photos to retell one of your favorite stories, inspired by Los Angeles-based artist Elliott Hundley’s complex artistic practice, which utilizes found materials, photographs, and other objects to create mixed-media assemblages and two-dimension compositions. Check the Broad’s YouTube channel every Friday at 10 a.m. for new offerings.
Each day the American Film Institute encourages movie buffs to hit the couch and watch the same film (virtually) with its global community of movie buffs. Check the Movie Club site for the pick of the day, each of which is introduced by a special celeb host.
The Petersen (along with every other museum in L.A.) is currently closed to the public, but you can still take an exclusive peek inside its vault thanks to the musuem’s livestreamed tours. Sign up in advance (and make a donation) and 20 minutes in advance of the tour, you’ll receive a link via email.
Fend off brain drain or learn something new about our natural world via the NHMLAC Connects initiative. As the institution puts it, “Think social distancing with dinosaurs and mammoths, and connecting with nature and community science right outside your door.” There are lessons on L.A.’s hidden history, arts and crafts, tutorials, and more.
It feels like we’re living through one interminable Monday under this global house arrest, but it technically is the weekend. So why not take a break from the news and the glitchy Zoom meetings and watch something fun? In this week’s roundup of streaming recommendations , we have the new season of Somebody Feed Phil, the new HBO Max documentary On the Record, and more.
Looking for even more things to watch, eat, and do during the COVID-19 outbreak? Check out our Inside Guide.
Below is the current breakdown of coronavirus cases as of 8 p.m. on May 27. There are now 49,774 total confirmed cases (+1,094 from prior day). Of the cases, 6,283 have been hospitalized and there have been 2,241 deaths (+48 from prior day). The regions with the highest rate of infections per capita are Saugus, West L.A., Little Armenia, and City of Industry. The most deaths have been recorded in Glendale (79), Westlake (72), Pico-Union (56), and Inglewood (54).
Novel Coronavirus Cases in Los Angeles County, by Neighborhood
Agoura Hills 35
Agua Dulce 8
Angeles National Forest 1
Angelino Heights 16
Athens Village 26
Atwater Village 51
Avocado Heights 24
Baldwin Hills 162
Baldwin Park 303
Bel Air 35
Bell Gardens 266
Beverly Crest 37
Beverly Hills 137
Bouquet Canyon 1
Boyle Heights 653
Canoga Park 486
Canyon Country 37
Century City 33
Century Palms/Cove 247
Cheviot Hills 21
Country Club Park 94
Covina (Charter Oak) 42
Crenshaw District 68
Culver City 144
Del Aire 15
Del Rey 75
Del Sur 2
Desert View Highlands 6
Diamond Bar 60
Eagle Rock 172
East Hollywood 221
East La Mirada 16
East Los Angeles 865
East Pasadena 3
East Rancho Dominguez 47
East Whittier 9
Echo Park 44
El Camino Village 32
El Monte 492
El Segundo 34
El Sereno 160
Elizabeth Lake 3
Elysian Park 16
Elysian Valley 55
Exposition Park 240
Faircrest Heights 4
Figueroa Park Square 37
Glassell Park 181
Gramercy Place 66
Granada Hills 312
Green Meadows 157
Hacienda Heights 134
Hancock Park 79
Harbor City 93
Harbor Gateway 131
Harbor Pines 9
Harvard Heights 130
Harvard Park 293
Hawaiian Gardens 50
Hermosa Beach 29
Hi Vista 1
Hidden Hills 1
Highland Park 194
Historic Filipinotown 131
Hollywood Hills 81
Huntington Park 448
Hyde Park 141
Jefferson Park 38
Kagel/Lopez Canyons 7
La Canada Flintridge 50
La Crescenta-Montrose 29
La Habra Heights 8
La Mirada 161
La Puente 112
La Rambla 9
La Verne 24
Ladera Heights 20
Lafayette Square 18
Lake Balboa 197
Lake Hughes 1
Lake Los Angeles 28
Lake Manor 4
Lakeview Terrace 108
Leimert Park 56
Leona Valley 2
Lincoln Heights 231
Little Armenia 191
Little Bangladesh 129
Little Tokyo 17
Littlerock/Juniper Hills 2
Los Feliz 51
Manchester Square 19
Mandeville Canyon 1
Manhattan Beach 77
Mar Vista 80
Marina del Rey 14
Marina Peninsula 12
Miracle Mile 41
Mission Hills 144
Monterey Park 147
Mt. Washington 102
North Hills 433
North Hollywood 669
North Lancaster 5
North Whittier 12
Northeast San Gabriel 53
Pacific Palisades 55
Palisades Highlands 3
Palos Verdes Estates 42
Panorama City 731
Park La Brea 19
Pellissier Village 1
Pico Rivera 473
Playa Del Rey 3
Playa Vista 23
Porter Ranch 89
Quartz Hill 43
Rancho Dominguez 17
Rancho Palos Verdes 92
Rancho Park 18
Redondo Beach 138
Regent Square 4
Reseda Ranch 31
Reynier Village 10
Rolling Hills 2
Rolling Hills Estates 14
Rosewood/West Rancho Dominguez 27
Rowland Heights 126
San Dimas 52
San Fernando 188
San Gabriel 136
San Jose Hills 58
San Marino 22
San Pasqual 1
San Pedro 893
Santa Catalina Island 2
Santa Clarita 716
Santa Fe Springs 56
Santa Monica 261
Santa Monica Mountains 22
Shadow Hills 11
Sherman Oaks 224
Sierra Madre 10
Signal Hill 25
Silver Lake 176
South Antelope Valley 1
South Carthay 35
South El Monte 86
South Gate 539
South Park 369
South Pasadena 123
South San Gabriel 30
South Whittier 148
St Elmo Village 44
Stevenson Ranch 34
Studio City 77
Sun Valley 293
Sun Village 16
Sunrise Village 3
Sycamore Square 1
Temple City 155
Thai Town 30
Toluca Lake 19
Toluca Terrace 6
Toluca Woods 3
Twin Lakes/Oat Mountain 4
University Hills 11
University Park 180
Val Verde 21
Valley Glen 127
Valley Village 207
Van Nuys 674
Vermont Knolls 140
Vermont Square 84
Vermont Vista 310
Vernon Central 584
Victoria Park 57
View Heights 9
View Park/Windsor Hills 34
Walnut Park 116
Wellington Square 21
West Adams 207
West Antelope Valley 2
West Carson 100
West Covina 320
West Hills 133
West Hollywood 179
West LA 23
West Los Angeles 79
West Puente Valley 43
West Rancho Dominguez 5
West Vernon 441
West Whittier/Los Nietos 128
Westlake Village 6
White Fence Farms 5
Wholesale District 661
Wilshire Center 232
Woodland Hills 157
Under Investigation: 1,948
It feels like we’re living through one interminable Monday under this global house arrest, but there is technically still a weekend. So why not take a break from the news and the glitchy Zoom meetings and watch something fun? There’s a seemingly bottomless trove of movies and shows out there, so let us be your quarantine curator.
The Vast of Night
A paranormal mystery set in 1950s New Mexico, this debut feature by Andrew Patterson stirs a little bit of The Twilight Zone, H.G. Wells, vintage Spielberg, and even the Coen brothers into a throwback to classic drive-in fare. (You can, in fact, see it at the Mission Tiki Drive-In in Montclair tonight.) Justin Chang at the L.A. Timescalls it “ingenious,” and says the film “exists somewhere at the intersection of radio, television and cinema, and … excavates some of our fondest old-timey memories of all three in order to build something playfully, strikingly new.” Amazon Prime.
Yes, this is a recommendation for an entire streaming service. The latest heavyweight to enter an overcrowded ring—mustering the armies of HBO, Warner Bros., DC, New Line, and the Turner family—debuted this week, and it offers a feast to just about every taste. Whether you love classic films (from Casablanca to Apocalypse Now), classic sitcoms (from Friends to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), Studio Ghibli anime, dramatic TV masterworks (The Sopranos), Batman, Harry Potter… you get the idea. If you don’t already have free access through an existing HBO subscription, you can sign up for a seven-day trial.
On the Record
One of several new offerings on HBO Max is this “absorbing, emotional gut-punch of a documentary,” according to the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday, about music executive Drew Dixon and her 2017 sexual assault allegations against Russell Simmons. “On the Record would be mesmerizing enough simply as a portrait of a young woman who, having majored in history at Stanford University, pursued the music she loved all the way to its sizzling epicenter in the 1990s,” Hornaday says. But directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering “wisely pull the lens back to enlist an impressive group of black feminist intellectuals to comment throughout,” turning “an already worthy portrait of individual courage into a breathtaking and deeply moving survey of the precarious position occupied by women of color throughout history.” HBO Max.
Somebody Feed Phil
On the way lighter end of the spectrum is the new third season of this travelogue food show, hosted by the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond. Phil Rosenthal is a goofy, lanky, lovable embodiment of dadhood, and he is admittedly far from an expert on culture or cuisine. Instead, he brings boundless enthusiasm, curiosity, and wry humor to his adventures—this season, that includes to Seoul, Marrakesh, and Montreal. Skype calls to his adorable parents and an emphasis on our planet’s shared humanity just add to the delight. Netflix.
End of Sentence
This father-son drama stars John Hawkes and Logan Lerman, here playing against type as a hardened criminal, in a story about inherited trauma and the fallout from bad parenting. “Lighter than it sounds,” says IndieWire’s David Erlich, the film is “casually cathartic at times, cathartically casual at others, [and] knows that some wounds never heal, but it’s never too late to stop the bleeding.” VOD on multiple platforms.
Past recs …
In a phrase that was unimaginable ten years ago, Julia Roberts starred in the first season of this Amazon original series based on the popular podcast. Season two subs in Janelle Monáe as an amnesiac trying to piece together the mystery of who she is and why she wakes up on a rowboat in a lake. It continues the first season’s narrative about the Geist Group and its meticulous homage to 1970s thrillers, but expands more into psychological territory, surrounding Monáe with the luminous likes of Chris Cooper and Joan Cusack. It’s a handsomely made, deliciously bingeable (30-minute episodes!) throwback to tight, old-school mysteries, and it also features a glorious musical score. Amazon Prime.
Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, writer Emily V. Gordon, have been keeping my wife and I sane and laughing in sync with their quarantine podcast, so the least I can do is recommend his new movie. Originally scheduled for theaters (weren’t we all?), this action rom-com reteams Nanjiani with The Big Sick director Michael Showalter, and pairs him with Insecure star Issa Rae. “A farcical murder mystery, it turns out, provides just the right backdrop for an exploration of why long-term relationships can fizzle out—and why doing the work necessary to maintain them can be worth it,” says Beandrea July at the Hollywood Reporter.Netflix.
The Trip to Greece
Dueling celebrity impressions, bromance road trips, five-star cuisine, and gorgeous travelogues, The Trip films are also sneakily somber meditations on aging, marriage, and grief. The fourth and final trip finds Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, playing exaggerated versions of themselves, in the land of Odysseus. “The film doesn’t try too hard to adhere to any kind of mythic structure,” says Bilge Ebiri at Vulture. “But what does remain at the end of this final and most despairing of the Trip entries is a sense that the past is never quite done with us, that today’s heartbreaks and passions and tragedies are merely variations on ancient patterns.” VOD on multiple platforms.
The Wolf House
Ben Wyatt expressed his cooped-up depression through stop-motion animation, and now you can relieve your own with someone else’s. Two Chilean filmmakers created this strange, surreal nod to the Three Little Pigs story—from the pigs’ perspectives—using painstaking stop-motion and hand-drawn animation. “How does one go about describing the stomach-churning terrors of Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León’s The Wolf House?” asks Matt Fagerholm at RogerEbert.com. “Its visual landscape is unlike any I’ve experienced, and though everything about it is aggressively repellant, it still managed to hold me in a constant state of gobsmacked awe.” “These filmmakers have a perspective and a voice that feels entirely new,” says the New York Times’ Glenn Kenny. “The film surprises, with incredible force, in every one of its 75 minutes.” KimStim Virtual Cinema.
Another week, another heartbreaking loss—this time it was funnyman Fred Willard. (I’m lucky enough to have interviewed Fred a few times, as recently as April.) There are plenty of great performances to remember him by, but I’m going to recommend a less celebrated but no less deserving one. Christopher Guest’s most recent (and possibly last) faux-documentary took the competition conceit of Best in Show to the world of mascots, and features many of his regular players and an all-timer, cry-laughing routine involving a plumber and an oversized toilet (trust me). And as with basically every movie he ever graced, the funniest scenes are the ones with Fred Willard, here playing an aging mascot trainer with no filter. Netflix.
Josh Trank had gloriously ascended from directing his first feature at 27 (Chronicle) to being handed the keys to his own Star Wars film and the star-studded Fantastic Four reboot…before he gloriously flamed out on the set of the latter bomb. Now the local prodigy is back with a vengeance—writing and directing a brash, ballsy tale of the final days of Al Capone, played by Tom Hardy. The actor is known for going to extremes (Rob Harvilla describes his voice here as sounding “like a Muppet gargling the remains of another Muppet.”) But “Trank and Hardy are firmly entrenched on the same earnestly grim wavelength,” says Scout Tafoya at Consequence of Sound, “and their joint creation…is so unwieldily that even if it didn’t work (it does), the sheer volume of effort to create something so deliciously antisocial and grotesque would still have to be commended.” VOD on multiple platforms.
Muppet Guys Talking
Jim Henson died 30 years ago this weekend, and his old pals Frank Oz and Dave Goelz are reuniting with two other Muppet veterans (Bill Barretta and Fran Brill) to talk about him and his legacy—via laptop cameras, of course. Oz (the Bert to Henson’s Ernie, the Fozzie to his Kermit) directed the similarly themed documentary Muppet Guys Talking in 2018—but if you’re like me, you can’t get enough of Henson and his merry band of misfits. Oz, who’s using the event to raise money for non-medical hospital workers in Queens, told Los Angeles’s Jared Cowan, “I’m going to find out things about Jim that I didn’t know, I betcha.” Streams Saturday at 1 p.m. PT at muppetguystalking.com/jim.
I Know This Much Is True
A number of actors have played twins on screen: Nicolas Cage, Jeremy Irons, Armie Hammer, Zach Galifianakis. Add to the list Mark Ruffalo, blessedly freed from Marvel prison to do some dramatic heavy-lifting as Dominic and Thomas Birdsey in this six-part HBO adaptation of a 1998 novel by Wally Lamb. It’s a dark story about abuse and trauma, and “often a tough watch,” says Sheila O’Malley at RogerEbert.com. “There are times when ‘compassion fatigue’ sets in, particularly in the final episode. But seeing actors do what they do best, with [writer/director Derek] Cianfrance giving them the space to do it, makes I Know This Much is True a real feast.” HBO Go.
Marie Antoinette meets The Favourite meets an R-rated The Princess Bride in this loosey-goosey telling of Catherine the Great’s mission to enlighten a barbarous Russia. Elle Fanning stars (she’s also an executive producer) alongside a grinningly, callously awful Nicholas Hoult as Peter III. Written by The Favourite’s Tony McNamara, it’s a crude, contemporary spin on history that—at ten nearly hour-long episodes—may be a bit too long. Still, “the caustic brilliance of McNamara’s scripting cannot be overstated,” says Paste’s Allison Keene, “but I was also truly emotionally invested in the season’s final crescendo to Catherine’s desperate power grab. … The Great’s exceptional, understated cast made me genuinely care for all of these madcap players, and the stakes became incredibly high.” Hulu.
Notes on an American Film Director at Work: Martin Scorsese
A detailed peek behind the scenes of one of our great directors, Martin Scorsese, collaborating with one of our great actors, Leonardo DiCaprio, on one of the great modern crime dramas, The Departed, is now streaming for free. The late avant-garde director Jonas Mekas was given VIP access on the set of the 2005 film, and the result “gives Martin Scorsese fans an up close and personal look at the filmmaker,” says Zach Sharf at IndieWire. “Mekas’ approach is unobtrusive and much of the documentary is real-time footage, providing one of the best windows into Scorsese and his cast and crew at work.” Vimeo.
Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl
For Angelenos, one of the most crushing casualties of the pandemic was announced this week: the complete and utter cancellation of the Hollywood Bowl’s 2020 season. It’s almost too painful to imagine a whole “summer” (for now it can only be summer in name only) without it—but thankfully, the iconic amphitheater has appeared in many films, TV shows, and Bugs Bunny cartoons over the last century, so why not take a virtual trip to the Bowl? This 1980 concert film “may be accurately described as Python lunacy of a purer grade,” wrote the New York Times’ Vincent Canby when it was released in 1982. “This photographed recording of the stage show is not a conventional film, but it’s the next best thing to seeing the Python troupe in person.” Amazon Prime.
Damien Chazelle clearly loves jazz. The director introduced himself with Whiplash, a blood-soaked diary about the highs and lows of being a jazz drummer, and he won an Oscar for La La Land—which let Ryan Gosling (a guy from the Mormon, Canadian suburbs) explain why jazz is so great. Chazelle directed the first two episodes of The Eddy, a new miniseries about an American musician (André Holland) who runs a struggling jazz club in Paris, and Vulture’s Jen Chaney says the show itself “behaves like a work of improvisation. It meanders into various lives and musical performances while telling a story that bops from crime thriller to meditation on grief to portrait of the thrilling agony of being a musical artist.” Netflix.
Brian Dennehy, the great bear of a character actor, died in April—and one of his final roles was in Driveways, an indie movie about grief and the unlikely bond between a little boy and Dennehy’s gruff widower, Del. Far from a cliché retelling of similar stories, Justin Chang at the L.A. Times says the movie often lingers “in that rueful gray zone between humor and sorrow,” and called Del “as forceful and tender a creation as any in this great actor’s body of work.” VOD on multiple platforms
Dead to Me
For many of us, dark humor is the best humor—especially in dark times. This Netflix series, starring Christina Applegate as a new widow and Linda Cardellini as her new friend (with a secret), likes to splash around in the inkiest part of the comedy ocean. “A funny thing happened between Dead to Me’s very good first season and its second,” writes CNN’s Brian Lowry. “[It] became an even better, twistier show, with—in very Big Little Lies-like fashion—a female friendship frequently tested by one impulsive act, and the escalating consequences that flow from it.” Netflix.
In Brockmire, Hank Azaria—best known for his circus of Simpsons character—plays a disgraced baseball commentator who has gone from the minors to the majors, to now flat-out running Major League Baseball. The series came to an end on Wednesday, and even though the fourth season depicts a blisteringly bleak near future (riddled with scorching climate, lawlessness, food shortages, and “supercancer”), Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall argues that “among the amazing accomplishments of these last eight episodes is how they wind up feeling oddly comforting for this strange and scary moment in which we all find ourselves.” First three seasons streaming on Hulu, fourth season on IFC.
How to Build a Girl
Beanie Feldstein, whose supernova charm expanded from a supporting role in Lady Bird to co-leading last year’s Booksmart, is finally headlining her own movie. And doing it in a convincing British (specifically Wolverhampton) accent to boot. Adapted from British music journalist Caitlin Moran’s memoir-novel, How to Build a Girl is a coming-of-age comedy that’s “as fun as a night in the mosh pit with your best mate,” according to Leslie Felperin at the Hollywood Reporter. “[S]upercharged by Feldstein’s intense charisma, this crowd-pleasing comedy has smart things to say about class, sex, and female identity.” VOD on multiple platforms.
In the “sadcom” spirit of Fleabag and Catastrophe comes Trying, a new series about a young couple (played by Esther Smith and Rafe Spall) who work humdrum jobs and, having failing to conceive a baby, decide to adopt. What begins with “a simmering goofy energy,” says IndieWire’s Steve Greene, crystallizes “into truer, more endearing doses of reality.” Apple TV+.
A Parks & Recreation Special
Only a pandemic could convince this band to get back together. And even though the lousy legacy of TV reunion specials—and the prospect of an ensemble comedy shot on iPhones where every actor is isolated from each other in their own actual homes—doesn’t necessarily portend success…doggone it, this is one of the best comedies ever made, and it’ll just be nice to see everyone in character again. As someone currently on their fourth rewatch of the series on Netflix, I can attest to the salve of escaping into a consistently funny utopia where hardworking, unfailingly optimistic people work in American government. Hopefully this special will, if nothing else, provide a taste of that delicious sauce. Airs Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on NBC; streaming on NBC.com and Peacock starting May 1.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live Riff-Along
At this point we’re probably all riffing movies, both good and bad, at home—so why not let the professionals take over? Forced off the road but running on the momentum of their recent live tour, a new traveling company of human and robot riffers will apply their sarcastic craft to the short Circus Day (circus-related shorts are a grand tradition in MST3K), and will riff an ancient 1990 episode, Moon Zero Two, alongside the original joke track from the show’s OG Comedy Channel cast. “We tend to ignore the first season, because we got so much better the next season,” Joel Hodgson told AV Club, but “there’s so much in there.” The creator and original host of MST3K will also be on hand to answer fan-submitted questions on social media. Airs on Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook on May 3 at 3 p.m. PDT.
We lost the respected Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan this week—a great excuse to rewatch some of his films and pay special attention to his quiet, unassuming charisma. Khan was already well into his acting career in 2008, but Danny Boyle’s vibrant, Oscar-sweeping film introduced him to American audiences. As the detective who questions Dev Patel’s teenage character, “Khan’s mixture of tough, careworn authority with a hint of gentleness makes him just right for the role,” says Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian. HBO Go.
Never Have I Ever
Mindy Kaling co-created this teen rom-com, loosely based on her own experience as a first-generation Indian growing up in America. Kathryn VanArendonk at Vulturecompared it to Jane the Virgin, both shows possessing “a fizzy combination of a slightly heightened fictional world that’s grounded in insistently realistic emotions.” “I watched every episode as quickly as I possibly could,” VanArendonk says, “and when it ended I was furious I hadn’t forced myself to slow down.” Netflix.
Star Wars Day on Disney+
Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion may be a literal ghost town right now, but don’t feel bad for the colossal corporation: they’re still printing money thanks to endless new Star Wars content. But some of that content’s pretty good! On May the Fourth (get it?), you can watch the finale of the popular animated series The Clone Wars, stream the “final” entry of the nine-part movie saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and dive back into Baby Yoda’s world courtesy of the eight-part documentary series, Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian. Mandalorian is arguably the best thing to come out of the galaxy far, far away in a long, long time, and this promises a rich bounty of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of Werner Herzog interacting with adorable puppets. Disney+ starting May 4th.
Since we’re all thinking about death a little more these days, it might as well be funny. Greg Daniels applies his satirical skewer to the afterlife in this sci-fi comedy about a man at death’s door, after a terrible car accident, who opts to “upload” himself into a virtual heaven. It’s a darker and more adult show than Daniels’s previous creations, Parks & Recreation and The Office—and than co-creator Mike Schur’s cousin series, The Good Place—but “despite the big concept central to the show’s premise,” says Adam Chitwood at Collider, “deep down Upload is very much a show that’s interested in humanity—the best and worst of us, and how we persevere in the face of a stacked deck and insurmountable odds.” Amazon Prime.
Better Call Saul
It’s gone from a suspect, even foolish-sounding concept—a prequel series to the untouchably great Breaking Bad, centered on the fun but almost cartoonish lawyer played by Bob Odenkirk—to proving one of the best dramas ever made. Better Call Saul wrapped its penultimate season this week, in cliffhanging fashion, so if you haven’t caught up with the whole series yet, now’s the perfect time. Season five “was a bleak, beautiful masterpiece,” says Miles Surrey at the Ringer, “a triumph on the levels of writing, performance, cinematography, direction, and, of course, dank montages. This was always a great, if somewhat underappreciated show, but there’s never been a better time to say the other quiet part out loud: Better Call Saul has surpassed Breaking Bad.” First four seasons streaming on Netflix; season five available on AMC.
Little Fires Everywhere
Another critically hailed drama wrapped up this week. It may sound like something Hulu executives cooked up while playing Big Little Lies bingo—adapting a popular airplane read with a similar-sounding title, starring Reese Witherspoon in a women-centric melodrama. But this series is its own midwestern animal, which has “gone from a slow start to a straight-up explosive drama,” says AV Club’s Saloni Gajjar. “The show overall acts as quite a showcase for [Witherspoon] and Kerry Washington’s talent. Every expression they serve up, ranging from despair to heartbreak to seething rage, is spectacular.” All episodes now streaming on Hulu.
An animated film, starring the voices of Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, Will Forte, and Maya Rudolph, adapted from a Lois Lowry children’s book about a kooky family cooped up in their house together. Too soon? Maybe, but this darkly comic tale in the spirit of Roald Dahl is a movie that Monica Castillo at RogerEbert.com argues, “For all its candy-colored silliness, The Willoughbys is a surprisingly sweet story about chosen families. … It’s a message both timely and timeless told through a whimsical story fit for most children of any age.” Now streaming on Netflix.
Peter Debruge at Variety calls this HBO film, based on a true story, the best work Hugh Jackman has ever done. The charming Aussie plays a charming superintendent of a New Jersey school district who is secretly embezzling millions of dollars, with the help of a superb Allison Janney. “Here’s a star at the height of his powers leveraging his own appeal to remind that even our heroes are fallible and that you can never really judge someone from the outside.” Premieres Saturday on HBO.
Beastie Boys Story
Spike Jonze started out as a music video director, working with bands including the Beastie Boys, before “going pro” with feature films like Being John Malkovich and Her. Now, Jonze has reunited with the surviving Beastie boys, Adam Horovitz and Michael Diamond, for a “live documentary” filmed in Brooklyn last year, which A.O. Scott at the New York Times says is “a jaunt down memory lane and also a moving and generous elegy.” Streaming on Apple TV+.
It’s never too late to visit Bakersfield, where Zach Galifianakis plays twin brothers—Chip, a sad sack rodeo clown, and Dale, the dean of “the first open-carry career college”—and Louie Anderson plays their exasperated mother, Christine. In the fourth and final season, Christine “continues to anchor the series with an immense amount of heart,” says Allison Keene at Paste, “which has helped turn Baskets from just an experimental comedy to an essential, emotional watch.” All seasons now streaming on Hulu.
Ricky Gervais is one of the more polarizing comedians in the biz. You either find his acerbic, take-the-piss-out-of-Hollywood shtick insufferable…or hilarious. You either find his performance as Derek, a nursing home worker with special needs, heartwarming and hysterical…or saccharine and obnoxious. But if you like the cut of his jib, you’ll likely love After Life, another Netflix series he created where he plays a caustic widower in a small English town. Allison Shoemaker at RogerEbert.com says the new season continues to feature “a career-best turn from Ricky Gervais; a willingness to let tart and even bitter punchlines rub alongside things much more fragile; ongoing acknowledgment of the complexity and messiness of grief; a complete disinterest in saintly suffering.” Both seasons now streaming on Netflix.
Cate Blanchett plays anti-feminist icon Phyllis Schlafly in this ten-part miniseries about the 1970s feminism movement, with Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem and a host of other great actors including Uzo Aduba, Margo Martindale, Tracey Ullman, and Elizabeth Banks. “At its best, the series gives you the contact high of a heist picture,” writes Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz. “The vault is patriarchy, the locked-up fortune is equal rights and equal wages, and the recurring strategic question is whether to keep gently turning the lock back and forth until the right combination reveals itself, or just blow the bloody doors off.” First three episodes are streaming on Hulu.
The Last Show on Earth
Saturday Night Live is having to adapt to the new abnormal, and now one of its farm teams—the Second City—is doing it too. Jack McBrayer of 30 Rock fame hosts this home-quarantined version of a weekly sketch show, featuring new sketches by current cast members and famous alumni, musical performances, and even rare archival footage. The premiere episode has Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Fred Willard (one of sketch comedy’s elder statesmen), and Saff from Tiger King. Airs Thursdays on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
What We Do in the Shadows
TV adaptations of films don’t always work, but Jemaine Clement figured out a way to turn his and Taika Waititi’s 2014 film, a mockumentary about the quotidian grind of a group of vampires, into episodic gold. The second season premiered this week, and AV Club’s Katie Rife says that “it’s exciting to see that the show is getting a little more ambitious in its action scenes and with its special effects—ghost-Jesk’s demonic severed head looked great!—while keeping all the things that made the first season click.” Airs Wednesdays on FX; first two episodes are streaming on Hulu.
The Innocence Files
Netflix has been as responsible for the recent glut of true crime documentaries as any other entertainment company. But in contrast to some of the more salacious fare it’s produced, this new series focuses on the consequential work of the Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization that’s been fighting to exonerate wrongfully convicted prisoners since 1992 (mostly through DNA evidence). Across nine episodes, the series “delivers a captivating and powerful exposé that balances frustration and outrage alongside triumph and hope,” says Tom Reimann at Collider. “In short, it’s some of the best nonfiction television Netflix has ever produced.” Streaming on Netflix.
The Last Dance
For anyone missing live sports—or anyone (like me) who prefers a riveting sports documentary to an actual game—ESPN is here to scratch your itch with a sprawling, ten-part docuseries about the glory days of Michael Jordan’s 1997-98 season with the Chicago Bulls. The show, which features rare footage and interviews and has been compared to O.J.: Made in America, is “both a perfect diversion and a tribute to shared sacrifice,” writes Phil Rosenthal in the Chicago Tribune. Premieres Sunday on ESPN.
Tales from the Loop
This American spin on a Swedish sci-fi art book about a midwestern town built on top of a device “built to unlock and explore the mysteries of the universe” is part Twilight Zone, part ’80s Amblin movie, with a uniquely ponderous and melancholy tone. The series features Jonathan Pryce and Rebecca Hall, and “is that rare sci-fi show,” according to Jacob Oller at Paste, “that trusts us to breathe in deep the oddities of its world, accept that we aren’t going to know everything, and climb aboard anyways. That trust, built with its tactful scene-setting and human-sized troubles, allows for easy investment in deceivingly simple dramas.” Streaming on Amazon Prime.
A Goofy Movie
It’s the goofy, gawky little brother of the Disney animation renaissance, slipping out in the wake of pretty princesses and dashing boy heroes. But for a certain wave of ’90s kids, A Goofy Movie is up there with the best of cartoon releases. The father-son-road-trip musical turns 25 this week, and Disney fan club D23 is throwing a virtual watch party and cast-crew reunion Friday night. Anyone who’s ever been a teenager can relate to Max’s feelings of embarrassment about his, well, goofy dad—and anyone with a heart will enjoy their journey to warm understanding. (And Powerline still slays.) The reunion starts at 4:30 p.m. PDT on Disney+.
The slow-burn-to-beloved series came to an end this week, which means you can finally binge the entire run from start to finish. Starring Canadian comedy royalty Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara and introducing new talent—including two of Levy’s children, Sarah and Dan, who cocreated the show with his dad—Schitt’s Creek was the little Pop TV series that could and a welcome escape from pandemic panic into a rustic wonderland of heart-filled humor. While it began as a somewhat broad, rich-people-out-of-water farce, over the course of six seasons, “everything about Schitt’s Creek has grown warmer,” writes Vulture’s Kathryn VanArendonk. “The Rose family has become a bedrock of supportive love for one another and the community.” Seasons 1–5 are on Netflix; season 6 is on the Pop Now app.
Her Royal Highness, Dame Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is back on the small screen. After a dizzying victory lap for her show Fleabag, Waller-Bridge reteams with creator-director Vicky Jones (who helmed the stage production of Fleabag) as an executive producer and in a small supporting role in Run, a new HBO limited series about two old flames (Merrit Weaver and Domhnall Gleeson) on a train, which mixes comedy and Hitchcockian mystery. But this is really Weaver’s show, as Alan Sepinwall writes in Rolling Stone, “the star vehicle she’s earned through years of endearingly loopy scene-stealing work in TV and film.” Premieres Sunday on HBO
There’s a good chance you’ve already seen the Best Picture-winning, buzz-heavy black comedy from South Korea; it was one of the rare non-English-language films to find a broad audience in America, a film that seduced every last critic—like Justin Chang, who says it “begins in exhilaration and ends in devastation, but the triumph of the movie is that it fully lives and breathes at every moment, even when you might find yourself struggling to exhale.” But in case you haven’t seen it, or you just want to go back inside the Park mansion to revel in the Rube Goldbergian twists and turns in Bong Joon Ho’s serrated dissection of class war, Parasite is now streaming. Watch it before HBO turns it into an American miniseries. Hulu
Just in time for the first Passover via Zoom, this four-part series, loosely based on a popular memoir, is about a teenage bride who escapes her marriage and her uber-conservative Hasidic community in Brooklyn, fleeing to Berlin to find her estranged mother. Detailed, sympathetic, and timely, “it’s a kind of espionage caper,” writes James Poniewozik in TheNew York Times, “a thrilling and probing story of one woman’s personal defection.” Netflix
The CW musical comedy ended last year after four seasons, but now’s as good a time as any to discover Rachel Bloom’s messy antiheroine fantasia—which Vulture’s Matt Zoller Seitz praises for “going the distance,” “digging progressively deeper into its heroine’s psyche, and continuing to deliver consistently clever, sometimes dazzling musical numbers.” Most of those songs were cowritten by Fountain of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, who, at just 52, was one of COVID-19’s victims. Schlesinger earned five Emmy nominations for his work on the show; watch it for his hilarious and catchy numbers if for no other reason. Netflix
Tim and Eric are back on Adult Swim, this time skewering the ’80s/’90s family-sitcom format. They’ve played with these conventions (phony laugh tracks, corny theme songs) before, but Beef House is a full-on series in the Full House mold—they even employed the same cameras used on Fuller House—only here that mold is filled with the funky Jell-o of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s cockamamie, cheerily dark style of non sequitur humor. The cast features several Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! alumni, and the AV Club says it’s “cooked to perfection.” Airs Sundays at 12:15 a.m. on AdultSwim.com; first episode can be streamed at AdultSwim
Some Good News with John Krasinski
Fighting off the pandemic of bad news (and his own encroaching cabin fever), Krasinski created a YouTube show to supplement your seventh time binge watching him as Jim on The Office. In the first episode (of how many, and how often, we don’t know), he highlights several recent acts of kindness and humanity that were shared on the internet, interviews a teen girl who recently finished chemo, and reunites with Michael Scott himself, Steve Carrell (via Zoom). Uplift yourself! YouTube
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
One of many buzzed-about films set adrift in the lockdown’s shuttered theatrical release market, this intimate drama concerns two teenage girls on a journey from rural Pennsylvania to an abortion clinic in Manhattan. Critics gave the film, directed by Eliza Hittman, near-unanimous high marks—with Variety’s Andrew Barker writing: “At once dreamlike and ruthlessly naturalistic, steadily composed yet shot through with roiling currents of anxiety, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a quietly devastating gem.” VOD on multiple platforms
Want to escape humans for a while? Travel somewhere exotic? Hear the silky strain of your new Angeleno neighbor, Meghan Markle? Elephant checks off all the boxes, as the Duchess of Sussex narrates a Disneyfied story built from sumptuously shot footage of real elephants (in the grand tradition of Disney nature documentaries, going back to Walt’s day—many of which can also be found on Disney+). Justin Chang of the L.A. Timessays it “emerges a generally charming, sometimes cloying exercise in wildlife anthropomorphism.” (Also dropping this weekend is the Natalie Portman-narrated Dolphin Reef.) Disney+
Shudder, the one-stop-shop horror streamer, offers a free seven-day trial—and now is a good time to bite. Its new original series, Cursed Films, explores the freaky accidents, deaths, and (possibly) supernatural shenanigans that have plagued several famous horror movies. The first episode delves into The Exorcist and the many mysterious deaths and on-set traumas linked to William Friedkin’s 1973 classic; future episodes will cover The Omen, Poltergeist, and Twilight Zone: The Movie. Brian Tallerico at RogerEbert.com says the series “isn’t some cheapo scare tactic, focusing just as much on human stories and on-set details as it does the rumors of curses and bad karma around these movies.” First episode on Shudder.com
This seven-part docuseries is like the wildest of white-trash reality shows … but it’s actual reality, told in prestige documentary style. The addictively bingeable story has polygamous sex cults, throuples, guns, amputations, blood feuds, contract killings, bad country music videos, mullets, expired meat—and lots and lots of tigers. Vanity Fairsays it’s “a portrait of a world that’s entirely alien, and yet also reflective, and diagnostic, of this country as a whole.” Netflix
Some of us like to imagine worst-case scenarios in the midst of a disaster—or at least commiserate with A-list actors in a similar situation. Contagion may be the bleaker and more recent pandemic movie, but Wolfgang Petersen’s Outbreak has 1995-era Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Rene Russo … and monkeys. Its fictional virus kills you within 24 hours by liquefying your organs, so it might actually cheer you up about COVID-19. In his review, Roger Ebert calls it “the kind of movie you enjoy even while you observe yourself being manipulated.” Netflix
The O.J. Simpson Trial
Speaking of 1995: that summer was a simpler time, when the world was sheltered in place not because of a pandemic, but to watch the “trial of the century.” Now you can watch the actual murder trial of O.J. Simpson, unedited and in all of its undramatized, VHS-era glory. YouTube
Alex Garland, the writer-director mastermind behind modern sci-fi gems Ex Machina and Annihilation, takes to the small screen (via FX and Hulu) for a slow-burn murder mystery set at a mysterious tech company. The series id led by Nick Offerman with serious ancient-prophet hair energy. The New York Timescalls it “a cold and beautiful machine.” Hulu
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
This Sundance darling documentary, produced by the Obamas, is a time machine to the Catskills in the 1970s, at “a summer camp for the handicapped run by hippies.” Directed by a former camper and using a bounty of archival footage, it’s a feel-good sleepover that has a social activism motor. It’s “buoyant and inspiring,” according to Vox, “a tale of people working together through difficulty and opposition to change the world.” Netflix
The Way Back
You may have missed it in theaters, where it came out way back on March 6, so Warner Bros. has conveniently made it available to view in your home-quarantine theater. Ben Affleck plays a divorced alcoholic who gets conscripted to coach a boy’s basketball team at his old Catholic high school. What sounds like a recipe for cornball cliché is actually an understated, complicated character study that feels like it’s flowing out of Affleck’s actual opened veins. “[T]his sober little studio movie is so uncommonly effective because of its steady insistence that life can’t be lived in reverse,” IndieWire says; “that, contrary to its title, there’s no going back.” VOD on multiple services
The Imagineering Story
If you’re one of the many people desperately missing Disneyland and other Disney parks, you can scratch that itch with The Imagineering Story on Disney+. The six-episode series is a delightful well of archival and behind-the-scenes footage, tracing the story of cutting-edge animatronics and family-friendly thrill rides from Walt’s original vision to occasional missteps to the latest innovations. It may be “sentimental” and “self-congratulating,” The Hollywood Reporter writes, but it’s also “by far, the most appealing and intellectually engaging offering from Disney’s new nostalgia-driven SVOD streaming service.” Disney+
At least two protestors were injured Wednesday as they gathered in downtown L.A. to protest the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, NBC Los Angeles reports.
The demonstration, organized by the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter, began at around 4 p.m. outside the Hall of Justice, but the situation grew chaotic at around 6:00 p.m. as hundreds of protestors blocked the 101 Freeway near the Alameda Street exit. The first injury occurred when a CHP cruiser took off as protestors clung to its hood and the back window was smashed with a skateboard.
One man was thrown from the cruiser and surrounded by the crowd until Los Angeles Fire Department personnel arrived. As he was taken away on a stretcher, the injured man sat upright and raised his hand to the crowd. He was taken to a hospital but there has so far been no update on his condition.
Fucking Cops! Come on.@BLMLA protesting, and the @911LAPD making things worse by PLOWING through HUMAN BEINGS!
Though the crowd had mostly dispersed by 7:30 p.m., when police tried to clear the remaining protestors from the streets shortly after 9 p.m., an unknown driver ran his car through what remained of the crowd, hitting one man and knocking him off his feet, before fleeing the scene. The driver has not been arrested and the hit-and-run victim was taken to the hospital with stable vital signs, police said.
Around the same time, protestors converged on LAPD headquarters, which someone had tagged with graffiti reading, “1312 ACAB,” a numerical code and an acronym for “All Cops Are Bastards.”
George Floyd’s death was caught on camera Monday as he was arrested for “forgery in progress.” A police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as Floyd said, “Please, I can’t breathe.”
Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah said the group wants cops prosecuted “when they kill our people,” and for police funding to be cut back.
“We don’t need to be spending more than 50 percent of our city’s taxpayer dollars on police,” Abdullah said. “Those are the two things that people are calling for in Minneapolis and we echo that sentiment here in Los Angeles.”
Earlier we saw people on the streets of Downtown L.A., at times going onto the 101 freeway, to protest the death of George Floyd.
We hear your anger & your pain. We will always facilitate freedom of speech. Period. All we ask is that protests are held in a safe & legal manner.
After viewing the footage of Floyd’s death, LAPD chief Michel Moore said, “The actions I watched in the video were incredibly disturbing and go against the basic law enforcement principle of preservation of life. Knowing that we have experienced our own high-profile incidents here in Los Angeles, I can assure you the LAPD strives each day to build trust and these events are sobering reminders of how quickly that can be lost.”
This June, Los Angeles celebrates the 50th anniversary of L.A. Pride, the annual commemoration of the historic riots at the Greenwich Village gay bar the Stonewall Inn. Unfortunately, the homocentric holiday won’t be celebrated in any actual gay bars this year.
On March 12, L.A. Pride organizer Christopher Street West announced that the annual festival and parade would be postponed indefinitely amid the COVID-19 pandemic; since then, they’ve moved forward with plans for a strictly virtual celebration. A gathering that typically draws upward of 50,000 revelers to the streets of West Hollywood can’t safely take place at the moment, and that means the bars and restaurants those 50,000 people typically flood, still shuttered after more than two months, will miss out on that yearly burst of business. According to an Economic and Fiscal Impact Report conducted by Beacon Economics, an independent research firm commissioned by CSW, 2019’s Pride Weekend stimulated $27.7 million in spending in WeHo.
“It’s our busiest weekend of the year,” says David Cooley, owner of the Abbey and the Chapel. “We [typically] open up at 8 a.m. and close at 2 a.m., so there’s long shifts. I have at least 300 people a day to cover those shifts. It’s my biggest weekend of the year. It’s what keeps me in business.”
The mandated closure of bars and the temporary ban on in-restaurant dining have already struck a blow to many who earn a living in the WeHo nightlife scene. Some servers and bartenders have been out of work since mid-March; others have continued collecting a paycheck thanks to the the PPP loan program, but are still losing out on the bulk of their income while they’re unable to collect tips.
Logan Cuccia, a bartender at Mother Lode, still has money coming in, but is hurting without tips. And, since he’s being paid, he can’t collect unemployment to fill the gap. “I’m still getting paid by Motherlode,” Cuccia says. “It’s how a business can get a business loan, to have employees that it pays. But my biweekly check isn’t that high. All the money we make is in tips. Three quarters, if not more. None of that is coming in. I’m not getting unemployment because of that.”
Drag queens who usually perform in local gay bars have adjusted to the current new normal by transitioning to online events, most notably Quarantine Queen, hosted by local drag personality Rhea Litre. This weekly digital drag show airing on Instagram Live features a link to her Venmo account where fans can donate tips. The first episode generated $2,000. In addition to the income, the show also provides Litre with an artistic outlet.
“I know we cant work in nightclubs anymore,” Litre says. “But now we can think outside of any box. We can do anything. We can turn any area into outer space. I have a projector, so I can have Mars on the screen. This is actually really amazing for the people who love drag and love doing what they do. They are doing digital drag.”
But, according to Rhea’s drag colleague and Quarantine Queen guest star, Salina EsTitties, even this revenue source is beginning to wane.
“It’s been, what, three months of lockdown?” Salina (née Jason De Puy) asks rhetorically. “People are running out of money. People don’t necessarily have 20 buck to throw a drag queen any more. There are so many drag queens going live. There’s a surplus. It’s getting harder the longer this is going on.”
On top of the financial impacts, the prolonged shutdown has been hard on the nightlife scene’s sense of community. CSW hopes that even though in-person events can’t take place, this year’s virtual L.A. Pride brings people together when they need connection most.
“The cancelation of in-person events will not deter the spirit of our community,” says CSW executive director Madonna Cacciatore. “CSW is continuing to work with L.A. Pride partners to create a celebration over digital platforms, including participation in this year’s virtual Global Pride. As a community, weathering this storm together will unite us and increase our appreciation for one another.”
And while WeHo’s gay bars will sit empty this year, that won’t stop Cooley from celebrating.
“It’s 50 years of Stonewall, of Pride,” Cooley says. “We can’t have our parade, our dancers, our music blaring. But that’s not going to hold me back. June 1, all the gay flags are going up, the colors of the building are going to be the gay colors. We’re West Hollywood; we’re proud.”