ScreenCrush Staff Picks for What to Watch the Weekend of March 17
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:
A new Terrence Malick movie opens this week, which means now is as good a time as any to revisit his earlier work. If you aren’t a fan of the restless, meandering style that’s defined his films since The Tree of Life, then I suggest you revisit (or visit for the first time) The Thin Red Line this weekend. I hate to call it a “war film” because it’s hardly about the history and specifics of war itself. Instead Malick uses that setting to explore how violence and death can ignite our deepest existential anxieties. He drifts fluidly through characters’ inner monologues, skipping from voiceovers by Jim Cavaziel’s Private Witt to the rest of his platoon. It’s almost like getting a glimpse into their souls as they shed their most vulnerable thoughts on their philosophical quandaries, memories of the past love, and yearnings for a divine connection. It’s a beautiful meditation on the war between nature and man and the search for spirituality. With a nearly three-hour runtime, it’s certainly a big endeavor to take on, but if you’re in the right mindset it could end up being one of the most rewarding cinematic experience you’ll have. It was for me. After all, I have the last line of the film tattooed on my arm.
The Thin Red Line is streaming on Amazon Prime.
If your only concept of professional wrestling is WWE, your mind is not prepared for what you will find on Lucha Underground, which mixes incredible athleticism from some of the world’s best luchadors with science-fiction, horror, soap opera, and the wondrous madness of old Mexican wrestler movies. (One of the stars, Blue Demon Jr., is the son of Blue Demon, who moonlighted from wrestling as a vampire and werewolf hunter.) The setup involves the machinations of a sinister businessman named Dario Cueto (Luis Fernandez-Gil) who beckons fighters to compete at his “temple” in Los Angeles, but the story eventually sprawls to include dragons and time-traveling aliens. Through three seasons on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network, Lucha Underground has (somewhat appropriately, given its title) remained a cult show, and a pretty niche one at that. Putting it in front of tens of millions of Netflix subscribers and giving them the chance to bingewatch over 50 episodes could finally start to broaden its audience.
Lucha Underground is streaming on Netflix.
There’s a completist in me that considered something positive to spin about Iron Fist, as I’ll undoubtedly trudge through those final seven episodes regardless. If you’re in the market for similarly high-concept martial arts, you’re much better-served by the three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender, or its generational sequel The Legend of Korra, on Amazon Prime. I won’t lie – The Last Airbender is more engineered around its youthful Nickelodeon setting, but the series grows into its heavier themes of rebellion and war as well as any Harry Potter book, featuring some of the more inventive and artful action you’re likely to see onscreen. Taking place some 70 years later, The Legend of Korra is best enjoyed with the original series under your belt, but either way, both series make use of rich characters and spiritual themes to follow Aang and Korra as they balance the freedom and excitement of their incredible powers with a deep responsibility to the world. It’s funny, full of heart, and flat-out jaw-dropping in its biggest fight sequences. Whichever series you start, there’s a fully-formed world fraught with conflict, spirits, monsters, and enough depth for every age. Not to mention, way more of an Eastern Game of Thrones vibe than Iron Fist or Finn Jones can muster.
Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are streaming on Amazon Prime.
Before Adam Reed and Matt Thompson skewered the world of espionage film with Archer, they tackled the superhero genre with the under-loved, stone-cold genius Frisky Dingo. Or at least, for a while they did. The first season centered on constant, increasingly petty conflicts between superhero Awesome X (a.k.a. Xander Crews, billionaire playboy industrialist) and hulking, albino, be-taloned alien monstrosity Killface. But just as Archer eventually got bored and pivoted into Miami Vice homage and L.A. noir, Frisky Dingo mounted its sterling sophomore season as a mockumentary about Crews and Killface’s dueling campaigns for the U.S. Presidency. Iit’s pretty weird to watch in a Trumpian world, but the baldfaced attacks on hollow cult-of-personality candidates hit especially hard. Plus, rapper Killer Mike plays Killface’s running mate on the Democrat ticket! (Killface ends up a liberal because he accidentally cures global warming while trying to ignite a doomsday device that ... you know what? Just watch it, it’ll all make sense.)
Frisky Dingo is streaming on Hulu.
In the mood for a monstrous love story but not quite sold on Beauty and the Beast? Now’s the perfect time to check out Spring, a 2014 horror-romance from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. When the death of his mother sends Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) down a dark road, he decides to run away from his problems by buying a one-way plane ticket to Italy. There he meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), a beautiful young woman who harbors a grotesque and centuries-old secret that, um, goes a long way towards explaining her youthful vigor. Part destination romance and part grotesque body horror, Spring wisely uses its genre elements to heighten the love story at the film’s core. If you fell in love with a monster, how far would you be willing to go to protect their secret? And if you yourself are the monster, what would you be willing to give up to be with the person you love?
Spring is streaming on Amazon Prime.
Browse previous staff picks here.