The It List: Ariana Grande, ‘Lego Movie 2,’ ‘Stranger Things’ and the best in pop culture the week of Feb. 4, 2019
Only six months after the release of Sweetener, her most critically acclaimed album to date (and following a tumultuous year that included the death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller and a brief, tabloid-scrutinized relationship with SNL’s Pete Davidson), the diva returns. And she takes control of her narrative — and taking on her haters — with boldly autobiographical bangers like the title track and the female empowerment anthem “7 Rings.”
Download Feb. 8 on iTunes; buy on CD at Barnes & Noble.
WATCH IT: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Could this follow up to 2014’s sublimely entertaining The Lego Movie possibly be as awesome? For the first act or so, it appears not, with this sequel feeling more in line with the sub-par spinoffs like Lego Batman and Lego Ninjago. But trust us when we say patience rewards, as the movie gradually picks up steam. By the end of it, Lego fans will feel fully satisfied — humming the tune of the appropriately named “Catchy Song,” appreciating all its in-jokes and smart social messages, and debating which Lego Movie is now tops.
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part opens in theaters on Feb. 8; ticket and showtime information is available at Fandango. Shop the best new gifts in the Lego-verse.
READ IT: Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds
Replace Ghostbusters with Easy Rider and you’ve got the time period for the first official Stranger Things tie-in novel, a prequel yarn that focuses on Eleven’s mother, Terry Ives. In addition to adding mythology references that will undoubtedly be relevant to Season 3 — set to premiere on Netflix on July 4 — Suspicious Minds also resurrects Martin Brenner, the Hawkins-based scientist who tangled with our youthful heroes in the show’s first season. You can bet that Matthew Modine, who played Dr. Brenner, will absolutely be picking up a copy of Gwenda Bond’s book. After all, we already know how much he loves reading fan theories.
Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Walmart.
STREAM IT: PEN15
In retrospect, middle school can be hilarious. But while you’re a seventh-grade girl, it’s deadly serious. With PEN15, creators Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle have found an ingenious way to split the difference. The two writers star as awkward 13-year-old versions of themselves, surrounded by actual 13-year-old actors as they experience the milestones and humiliations of seventh grade in the year 2000. For anyone who was ever so desperate to fit in that they accidentally joined the “PEN15 Club,” this will be an excruciatingly hilarious walk down memory lane.
Begins streaming Feb. 8 on Hulu.
WATCH IT: Widows
Why in the world didn’t Widows catch on in the awards race? Steve McQueen’s masterfully filmed thriller about three women (Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) who band together for a robbery after the deaths of their husbands, may try to shoehorn too much social commentary into a heist film for its own good, but this is still a whopper of a viewing experience. As the Oscars near, Widows arrives on DVD and Blu-ray just in time to remind us what the Academy missed, particularly Daniel Kaluuya’s terrifying supporting role as an Anton Chigurh-level sociopath.
Buy the Blu-ray/DVD at Amazon or download it on iTunes.
The East Coast psych-rockers take a deep dive into the psyche of the Deep South by covering Gentry’s landmark 1968 country-rock opera/concept album in its entirety — with help from special guests Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, Margo Price, Beth Orton, Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and other Gentry disciples.
Download Feb. 8 on iTunes; buy on CD/vinyl at Barnes & Noble.
STREAM IT: The Matrix trilogy
Twenty years ago in March, moviegoers took the red pill and vanished down the rabbit hole into the world of The Matrix. This seminal sci-fi hit from the Wachowski brothers expertly blended Far East philosophy and martial arts action choreography with Western blockbuster bombast, and delighted audiences and critics alike. Those cheers turned to jeers when the filmmakers released the back-to-back sequels Reloaded and Revolutions in 2003. But both movies have only gotten richer in succeeding years, building on the ideas — and action sequences — showcased in the original in boldly radical ways. Taken as a whole, The Matrix trilogy is the story of a man prematurely elevated to godhood who then has to chart a new path towards salvation. With lots of fighting.
The Matrix Trilogy is currently streaming on Amazon.
HEAR IT: You Must Remember This
Writer Karina Longworth made the sad announcement this week that her gem of a podcast — a go-to for moviegoers with an affinity for Old Hollywood — is no more, at least for now. It’s the perfect excuse to binge your way through all the episodes produced since the show launched in April 2014, and to be entertained with impeccably sourced stories about the relationship between Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, the many loves of Howard Hughes, Charles Manson’s moves in Tinsel Town and much more. Be sure to listen carefully to Longworth’s animated storytelling, which often includes reenactments of real-life scenes. You won’t want to miss cameos by John Mulaney, Patton Oswalt and many other modern celebs.
All episodes available now on iTunes.
This is the last episode of @RememberThisPod for the time being. My contract to make new episodes is up and I am busy with other projects at the moment. I hope the podcast comes back in some form at some point. That’s all I know now, but when I have more to share, I will!Karina Longworth@KarinaLongworth
Novarro was a gay, Mexican silent film star who overcame the challenge of his accent to have a decent sound and even musical film career into the mid1930s, even playing Greta Garbo’s fuckboi. But in the 40s things got sad, and then they got worse. https://twitter.com/RememberThisPod/status/1090113821816033281 …
STREAM IT: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
The story of Fred Rogers and his beloved, long-running PBS children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, is a delightful one, featuring the origins of some of the show’s characters, Rogers’s motivations and behind-the-scenes laughs. But don’t worry because, like the show it documents, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? manages to be touching but never overly sweet. It’s the portrait of a real guy who made a lot of lives better with the switch of a sweater.
Begins streaming Feb. 9 on HBO Go and HBO Now.
HEAR IT: Bob Mould, Sunshine Rock
The lucky 13th solo album from the Minneapolis grunge/college-rock pioneer (Hüsker Dü, Sugar) and queer icon is his poppiest effort since Sugar’s 1992 classic Copper Blue-inspired by a newly optimistic life outlook after his move two years ago to Berlin.
Download Feb. 8 on iTunes; buy on CD/vinyl at Amazon.
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