ScreenCrush Staff Picks for What to Watch the Weekend of March 24
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:
Are you one of those people who says, “The Leftovers? Never watched it. Looks depressing.” If yes, continue reading. Damon Lindelof’s drama was dubbed one of bleakest shows of all time, which is a totally valid descriptor. That first season is emotionally brutal, but what do you expect of a series about the Rapture? Unlike Lost, Lindelof’s HBO series doesn’t provide simple explanations, which is part of the genius behind it. It challenges viewers to think a bit deeper about uncomfortable questions around grief, religion, and trauma. People are always telling me they stopped watching The Leftovers after the first few episodes, but I always tell them keep going, it’s worth it. In Season 2 the show took a brilliant turn towards something more hopeful and optimistic. It also started embracing its supernatural elements, but never dipped too far into the sci-fi realm. And if you’re not intrigued by anything I’ve said so far, the second season is worth it alone for powerhouse performances by Carrie Coon, Ann Dowd, and Regina King. With the third and final season premiering on April 16, there’s no better time to start watching the show – and this one isn’t easy to binge, so give yourself time. Trust me, The Leftovers is going to be remembered as one of the all-time greats once it goes off the air.
The Leftovers Season 1 and 2 are streaming on HBO GO.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)
Note that the title here refers to the adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, not adventure singular, even though this movie didn’t launch a franchise and wasn’t based on any existing property. Even though Buckaroo Banzai sadly came and went in just a single, awesomely peculiar film, it feels like one small piece of the kind of massive cinematic universe that every studio wants to create in 2017. At the edges of this story about physicist/neurosurgeon/superhero Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) and his team of Hong Kong Cavaliers repelling an invasion of Red Lectroids from the 8th Dimension (led by a truly unhinged John Lithgow) are all sorts of hints, teases, and Easter eggs referencing a larger mythology that doesn’t actually exist. It adds a great texture to the film; it feels like you're starting a comic book with its 300th issue and racing to catch up with the characters and their backstories while following the plot. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai doesn’t quite have the budget to fulfill its grand vision of interdimensional warfare, but it has the charm and individuality missing from so many of today’s comic-book movies. Get your Bigbooté (that’s Big-boo-TAY!) over to Amazon Prime and check it out.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Directed by Lucile Hadzihalilovic (co-writer of Enter the Void), Evolution is a surreal French coming-of-age story that follows a young boy named Nicholas who lives on a remote island where the only residents are women and other boys. When he discovers a dead body floating in the water one day, Nicholas begins to question the order of things, which leads him on a strange journey involving mysterious medical procedures, starfish and one curiously helpful nurse. With its stunning imagery and vaguely unsettling atmosphere, Evolution captures the elusiveness of a dream (or maybe a nightmare), and would make for a solid double feature with Under the Skin. It also boasts a fairly attractive runtime (less than 90 minutes), giving you the opportunity to experience a great, low-key sci-fi film that gives you something to chew on — without any fat.
Evolution is streaming on Netflix.
Star Wars Rebels
Loathe as I am to recommend cartoons two weeks in a row, Disney XD’s Star Wars Rebels has been weighing on my mind since last week’s surprising and emotionally complex showdown between prequel castoff Darth Maul, and an eerily-perfect representation of the Sir Alec Guinness Obi-Wan Kenobi. This coming Saturday will see the Ghost crew of Ezra, Kanan, Hera, Zeb, Chopper (and even Sabine) in an hour-long showdown with Grand Admiral Thrawn likely to match (if not eclipse) the space battle of Rogue One, whose story increasingly intersects with Rebels. You’ll have to look elsewhere for streaming options on Seasons 1 and 2, but you’re just as welcome to jump in on Season 3, which brings back Thrawn from lost Star Wars continuity, and skews significantly darker than previous episodes. Recent Rebels episodes are the perfect Star Wars fix to get you pumped for Celebration in the coming weeks.
Season 3 is streaming on Disney XD online. The season finale airs this Saturday.
If there’s anything that movie geeks should miss from the mid-’90s, it is Hollywood’s fascination with science-fiction thrillers about monsters who could take on human form. From Roger Donaldson’s Species (1995) to Guillermo del Toro’s Mimic (1997) to Joe Chappelle’s Phantoms (1998), the alien/robot/bug that hunted humans while looking just like one of us may be one of the more delightfully goofy trends of cinematic futurism of the last few decades. And with this weekend’s Life suggesting a return to this brand of monster movies, now’s a great time to catch up on Screamers (1996), my personal favorite of the bunch. A film about a space colony trapped on a planet with killer androids, Screamers features the ho-hum cast and middling special effects you’d expect from a movie of this period alongside a few flashes of surprising intelligence. Not only does Peter Weller make the whole thing work as the film’s no-nonsense soldier lead, the original draft of the screenplay was written by Dan O’Bannon, the man behind Alien and Total Recall. For Philip K. Dick fans, this is technically an adaptation of one of his works, making it a bold choice for a Blade Runner double feature. If I ran my own movie theater, this would be one of my midnight movies, no question.
Screamers is streaming on Shudder.