ScreenCrush Staff Picks for What to Watch the Weekend of March 31
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 five things to watch this weekend:
The live-action reboot of Ghost in the Shell opens this weekend, and while the Scarlett Johansson movie has some stylish visuals, it’s all eye candy with no soul (read our review here). Instead, I recommend you revisit (or watch for the first time) the original 1995 Japanese anime from Mamoru Oshii. The film introduces cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi from Masamune Shirow’s manga to the screen, a special ops agent who dives from rooftops, can camouflage her body, and wipe out a gang of bad guys in moments. Whether you’ve seen the anime or not, you’ve certainly seen traces of it across Hollywood, from the Wachowski’s Matrix trilogy to Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. The film, which clocks in at a swift 82 minutes, is full of tranquil slow-mo action sequences and gorgeous animation that still holds up today. The way the original grapples with the mysteries of the soul is beautiful, and sadly what gets butchered in the live-action reboot. The version with the original Japanese audio isn’t available online, but you can stream the film with the English dub. And if you’re craving more, Hulu also has the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series.
Apropos of absolutely nothing other than the fact that I just hosted a screening for it at the Alamo Drafthouse, I am recommending the original Predator from 1987, which holds up extremely well as one of the supreme action flicks of the ’80s and remains deeply influential to this day. (This month’s Kong: Skull Island arguably owed more to the first Predator than it did to the first King Kong.) Arnold Schwarzenegger leads a team of super-soldiers into a South American jungle for a top-secret mission, only to find himself hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior who can turn himself invisible. In his first big studio gig, future Die Hard director John McTiernan balanced the camaraderie of Schwarzenegger’s crew with impressively staged action scenes and a truly terrifying movie monster. Fun fact: The original, atrocious first Predator suit, which was later replaced by a magnificent Stan Winston creation, was worn on set by Jean-Claude Van Damme, at least until he quit. It’s hard to blame him; I wouldn’t have wanted to be seen in public in that thing either. Buy me a drink sometime and I’ll tell you my fan theory about how two of the characters are secretly lovers.
Predator is currently available on Starz and for rent on numerous websites.
The limited (yes, limited — sob!) series finale airs this Sunday, but that means you have the whole weekend to grab some snacks and binge this delectable drama starring (and produced by) Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) directed all seven episodes of Big Little Lies, which could easily be called “Wealthy White Moms Driving Intently in Cars,” but it is way more interesting than that, I swear. A sophisticated blend of prestige premium cable drama and soapy whodunnit, the series (based on the novel of the same name) revolves around a quartet of fiercely drawn moms in a seaside town, their tumultuous lives and a series of seemingly banal melodramas which lead to someone’s eventual murder. There’s been something of a debate online over who will earn the eventual Golden Globe / Emmy nom between Kidman and Witherspoon (to say nothing of the eternally great Laura Dern, or Shailene Woodley, who is finally validating those early appraisals). My money’s on Kidman — especially after last week’s episode, which was like a game of upper-class mom Clue. It was Kidman, in the bedroom, with a tennis racket. Trust me. You have to see it.
Big Little Lies is streaming on HBO Go. The season final premiere on HBO this Sunday.
Now that Legion has come to a close, you’ll need to wait almost three whole weeks for your next Noah Hawley fix. Yes, with Fargo Season 3 on the snowy horizon, full of dueling Ewan McGregors and all the “unfathomable pinheadery” you can handle, there’s no better time to verse yourself in the weird and wonderfully world inspired by the Coen brothers’ 1996 film. Season 1 serves as the ideal entry point, aping a few archetypes from the film to follow Martin Freeman as henpecked insurance salesman-turned cowardly criminal Lester Nygaard. You don’t need to have watched the original tale of murder and mayhem, or even watch the two FX seasons in order, as the second Fargo dips all the way back to 1979. Still, taking Hawley’s eccentric style and incredible eye for composition into the ’70s makes Season 2 an experience all its own, with a cast that includes Patrick Wilson, Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson, and Bokeem Woodbine. Oh, and did we mention the UFOs?
My ongoing quest to burn through all the half-hour sitcoms available on Netflix has led me to the prematurely-cancelled, cult-beloved Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23. Though friends have repeatedly recommended it to me with increasing hostility over the years, I usually balk at the “single folks just tryin’ to make it work in the Big Apple!” subgenre, but the show has enough jokes that connect to compensate for its tired premise. (Turns out that 2 Broke Girls would probably work pretty well if they remade it as a comedy!) The real treat is Krysten Ritter as the titular B—, shamelessly taking pleasure in the chance to play an unrepentant narcissist who’s also a blast in a glass. The two all-too-brief seasons fly by.
Don’t Trust the B— in Apartment 23 is streaming on Netflix.