ScreenCrush Staff Picks for What to Watch the Weekend of June 23
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 four things to watch this weekend:
The clock is ticking. Everywhere I go, it’s there. My daughter turned 18 months old this week, and every day brings me one step closer to the moment when she’ll ask me to watch Moana. I’ll put it on, and she’ll get swept up in the adventure about a girl from the islands who sets sail across the ocean to save her home. She’ll become obsessed with the catchy songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Opetaia Foa’i. She’ll make us watch it over and over again, because it’s just that cute and sweet, with such a great message for kids and a wonderful supporting performance from Dwayne Johnson as a mischievous demigod. So I’m not going to watch Moana on Netflix this weekend. I’ll be doing enough of that for the rest of my life. But if you don’t have kids, you can.
Moana is available to stream on Netflix.
There’s a moment midway through Netflix’s GLOW where the allure of professional wrestling finally clicks for one character. It’s all a soap opera, in which the absurd spectacle of men tossing around oiled opponents is cloaked in superficial drama. The new ten-episode dramedy from creator Jenji Kohan ends up almost precisely the opposite; returning to the Orange Is the New Black well of real women with real problems, but mixed with all the style and almost artful exploitation of the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. At its center is Ruth (Alison Brie), an out-of-work actress desperate enough to turn this last-ditch gig into an acting exercise. OINTB fans will find something familiar in the know-it-all lead whose presence largely serves to facilitate a more diverse range of women’s stories, but Brie and co-star Betty Gilpin do gorgeous (sorry) work as best friends torn apart, forced to work out their resentments against the backdrop of an underdog sports story. It’s funny, enthusiastic, and completely self-aware, but – best of all for a wrestling comedy – unafraid to embrace its inner weirdo.
GLOW is available to stream on Netflix.
With Transformers: The Last Knight, hitting theaters this weekend, you may find yourself wondering, “Gee, I’m in the mood for another soldiers-vs-aliens blockbuster that overtly operates as a feature-length toy commercial! How will I ever scratch this itch?” Good news! Small Soldiers, the 1998 movie about a batch of sentient action figures that destroy a suburban neighborhood, is now available to stream. Joe Dante’s film features much of the director’s signature blend of broad comedy and surprising darkness, and the all-star voice cast – including Tommy Lee Jones and Frank Langella as each sides’ respective leader – gives the movie moments of genuine poignancy. Sure, some of the effects are a little dated, and the studio’s demands of a pint-sized war movie that also works for younger audiences can sometimes give you whiplash, but Small Soldiers remains one of the more curious studio films of the ‘90s (and a delightfully misguided attempt to capitalize on the success of Toy Story). After all: Everything else is just a toy.
Small Soldiers is available to stream on Hulu.
Erin Oliver Whitney:
If you’ve already seen all the films on our Best LGBTQ Movies ranking, or are looking for something short and sweet to binge, webseries are the way to go. Filmmakers Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker are best known as producers on Transparent and for their photography book Relationship, but Ernst is also using the cinematic medium to tell long-ignored history. His web series We’ve Been Around is a series of six episodes about transgender pioneers omitted from history books. One episode details S.T.A.R., the activist organization created by Stonewall Riots legends Martha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera in 1970s New York. Another tells the story of a trans man who fought in the Civil War, another about a trans woman of color from the Prohibition era, and one about Camp Trans, the protest movement that fought against the exclusionary policies of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (which was fictionalized in an episode of Transparent). Running under six minutes each, the episodes are a quick dose of fascinating history. What better time to celebrate the LGBTQ icons of the past than Pride Month?
We’ve Been Around is available to stream on YouTube.