ScreenCrush Staff Picks for What to Watch the Weekend of August 11
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:
Erin Oliver Whitney:
With the Safdie brothers’ Good Time opening this weekend, now is as good a time as any to check out (or revisit) their 2014 drama Heaven Knows What. The film follows Harley (Arielle Holmes), a young New York City addict who craves heroin as badly as she craves the attention of her on-and-off-again boyfriend Ilya (Caleb Landry Jones). The Safdies turn what could’ve been a derivative drug addict drama into something uniquely haunting, capturing the desperation and intensity of addiction and homelessness without romanticizing either. The word “gritty” doesn’t even begin to describe the realistic seediness of this film, which puts you right on the street with its characters, many of whom are played by non-professional actors. Benny and Josh Safdie discovered Holmes in Manhattan, and after learning about her history of homelessness and addiction, paid her to write a memoir and eventually play a version of herself onscreen. It’s certainly not a film for everyone – there’s a brutal suicide attempt in the film’s opening minutes, so prepare yourself – but its the type of frantic, stylized filmmaking that leaves you mesmerized and rattled long after the credits role.
Heaven Knows What is available on Netflix.
We’ve still got a few months before we’ll return to Westworld on HBO, so why not catch up with the original film in the meantime? Though Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s television adaptation of Michael Crichton’s original Westworld (1973) has been widely praised as a vast improvement on its source material, Crichton’s movie is no slouch either, and holds up pretty nicely. It mostly follows two tourists (Richard Benjamin and James Brolin) on a vacation to a futuristic theme park called Delos, with themed lands based on Rome, medieval times, and the Old West, and uncannily lifelike robots available to fulfill the guests’ every desire. A computer virus starts to infect the bots and bring down the park. Nolan and Joy have more time on TV to develop more characters and ponder a larger array of philosophical questions about the nature of existence. But just about everything interesting about the show was present in the film in truncated form. And there isn’t a single annoying maze in sight.
Westworld is available to rent on Amazon.
Everyone’s favorite despicable darlings (no, not those animated yellow squeaky things) have returned. Difficult People is back and — if the first three episodes are any indication — just as funny, if not funnier, than ever. With their combined wit and dizzying comedic timing, Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner (less shouty here than Billy on the Street) make for a perfect pair of barely-endearing, delightfully unapologetic narcissists. The latest season of the irreverent sitcom targets Woody Allen, Donald Trump, Mike Pence (with a fictional gay-conversion program called “Six Pence None the Gayer”), and New York City protests — and makes me believe it’s not too early to label Klausner and Eichner as one of the greatest comedic duos of all time. Special shout-out to James Urbaniak, who shows us a much sweeter side of his usual weirdo persona, and whose inanimate object-inspired nicknames for Julie are consistently hilarious.
The first three episodes of Difficult People Season 3 are available on Hulu now with new episodes premiering every Tuesday.
If the year were to end tomorrow – and given the current talk of nuclear war, this is suddenly more than just a turn of phrase – I’d be hard-pressed to pick a 2017 release I’ve enjoyed more than The Blackcoat’s Daughter. In a period where prestigious films often go out of their way to be described as anything but ‘horror,’ The Blackcoat’s Daughter is unapologetically straight-forward. Yes, it’s a thoughtful horror film that spends more time on character development than jump scares. Yes, it also has a plot mechanism that becomes self-evident about a third of the way into the film. Despite this, it remains a movie that crawls under your skin with shocking ease and refuses to budge. When The Blackcoat’s Daughter sticks its landing – and it does stick the landing, hard enough to make even Kerri Strug wince – you’ll spend the rest of your night pushing down a horrible combination of dread and sadness. That’s the mark of an all-timer in my book.
The Blackcoat’s Daughter is available on Amazon Prime.