What's Making Us Happy: A Guide For Your Weekend Watching, Listening And Reading
It's starting to be a little less hot and even a little less humid here in D.C., and fall entertainment is going to start up pretty soon, too. For now, we've got some things to keep you going as summer winds down.
What to watch
The Other Two Season 2, Episode 2 "Pat Connects with Her Fans," HBO Max
The character of Cary, played by Drew Tarver, and his new boyfriend Jess, played by Gideon Glick, get fooled into thinking that another gay couple, played by Tuck Watkins and Noah Galvin, are not what they actually are, which is a hot daddy and his cute twink partner, but instead a homophobic father and his newly out gay son. Now that is the stuff of farce, but this is played so low key, so real. There is this one back and forth in the restaurant between Watkins and Galvin's couple, who have an open arrangement, as opposed to Carrie and Jess's who don't. The thing that is remarkable is how the show kind of passes judgment, not on the hot couple with the open relationship, but on the basicness of Cary, their sanctimoniousness, their condescension. It is done so knowing and so confident — it's the show working at the top of its game, doing only what the show could do because of who its writers are and who its actors are. -- Glen Weldon
"Starring Josephine Baker" collection, The Criterion Channel
In the last year or so, the Criterion Channel has done a really good job of highlighting Black filmmakers and Black arts on screen. One of their more recent collections is centered on Josephine Baker. She was known for the banana dress and dancing and being an expatriate in France, but she was so much more than that. They have a collection of four of her films: Zouzou, La Revue des Revues, Siren of the Tropics and Princess Tam Tam.
Now I've only seen Zouzou. It's a French film and she plays Zouzou, a woman who is hopelessly in love with her childhood companion, who is white. They grew up together, but he only sees her as a sister. It's kind of a backstage musical and it's really interesting. It's not a great movie, but I think there are some interesting things going on when it comes to the way it depicts race in France in the 1930s. And you get to see a little bit of what made her such a fun performer and why people were drawn to her because she has a couple of musical numbers in it. I love it and I plan to check out the other three movies because I just find her a really fascinating person, and it's great that we have these movies to be able to get a little sense of who she was. -- Aisha Harris
LuLaRich, Amazon Prime
What is making me happy this week is a documentary that falls into a very specific category that I particularly love. LuLaRoe, if you're not familiar with it, is a fashion brand. The sort of shorthand is "Instagram leggings company," with crazy print leggings, but it's also a multilevel marketing company. There is a documentary on Amazon called LuLaRich, and it examines in four parts how the company was created and how they came up with this model where they would get women to buy a bunch of clothes and then they have parties and sell them.
Social media has obviously really revolutionized MLMs and how they operate, and to say there's a lot going on here would be a wild understatement. But if you like these kinds of documentaries where you're sort of finding out about how businesses get into troubles that sort of snowball, I do recommend that you check out LulaRich. Also, check out an article by Kate Aurthur in Variety where she goes back and talks to the filmmakers. -- Linda Holmes
What to listen to
One of my favorite folk singers is a woman named Karen Dalton, who was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 60s with people like Fred Neil and Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan described her as having "a voice like Billie Holiday, and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed." She put out two albums in her lifetime, It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best in 1969 and In My Own Time in 1971, and recorded almost nothing else.
She died in 1993. She had a lifetime of substance abuse issues and is kind of this elusive, tragic figure in folk music, and rolling out this fall, there's going to be a documentary about her called In My Own Time: A Portrait of Karen Dalton. I'm really, really looking forward to it. Now there's not a lot of footage of Karen Dalton. Unfortunately, a lot of her archives were destroyed in a 2018 fire. There are only these few albums to go on, but apparently, they piece together interviews with a lot of her admirers. Nick Cave was a huge fan of hers. Her music was absolutely incredible, and I'm so excited about people discovering her. -- Stephen Thompson
Michael K. Williams on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn
The death of actor Michael K. Williams this week hit his many fans very hard. Do treat yourself to this conversation he had with Jesse Thorn on Bullseye a few years ago. A brilliant artist who will be terribly missed. -- Linda Holmes
I really enjoyed the first season of the podcast Chameleon, and now they're back with season two, "High Rollers," which traces a weird and, the show argues, regrettable FBI operation. -- Linda Holmes
What to read
"Amazing Race behind the scenes: an oral history of CBS's first race around the world" by Andy Dehnart
Nobody is more qualified to put together an oral history of the first season of The Amazing Race than longtime reality television journalist Andy Dehnart. I was delighted to read this chronicle and less delighted to realize this was 20 years ago, and I am old. -- Linda Holmes
What else has been making us happy recently?
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.