Pop Culture Happy Hour is a fun and freewheeling chat about the latest movies, television, books, comics and music.
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Irish writer Sally Rooney's book Normal People was adapted into a Hulu series in 2020. Now, her first novel Conversations with Friends gets its own Hulu adaptation. It tells the story of two college friends and exes (Alison Oliver and Sasha Lane) who meet a married couple (Joe Alwyn and Jemima Kirke) and get very deeply entangled with them, which makes everything very complicated.
A woman wakes up after a night of partying and realizes something is very, very wrong. That's the premise of the HBO Max series The Flight Attendant. It's a taut, darkly funny thriller starring Kaley Cuoco of The Big Bang Theory as a woman in search of some answers about the present that also might shed light on the past. In this encore episode, we're revisiting our conversation about The Flight Attendant, which recently returned for a second season.
The 66th Eurovision Song Contest took place in Italy over the weekend. Every year, dozens of countries face off in a competition full of pageantry, strobe lights, and sparkles. But Eurovision isn't just a talent search. It's also a lavish spectacle that attempts to unify the world in song. This year's winner was Kalush Orchestra, from Ukraine.
The Netflix series Heartstopper is a new romcom for soft hearts everywhere. Based on Alice Oseman's graphic novels, the show follows Charlie and Nick, who are young and navigating the hallways of high school. When the two meet, they instantly take a shine to each other and go from rugby teammates to good friends to something more.
Bad Bunny is one of the world's biggest pop stars and a multimedia superstar. Now, the Puerto Rican singer is back with a new record called Un Verano Sin Ti, or A Summer Without You. It's a 23-song, double-length album that sprawls across many genres, including pop, trap, reggaeton and much more — and features musical guests galore.
HBO's We Own This City zeroes in on rampant corruption and abuse within Baltimore's criminal justice system. It features drug dealers, civilians and the police officers who recklessly target them both. There's also politicians and federal agents with competing interests and egos. If this sounds like The Wire, they do share some DNA: David Simon and George Pelecanos are its creators. And while a few Wire-verse alumni appear, is this series more than just a rewiring of Baltimore politics?
In Marvel's Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, Benedict Cumberbatch returns as a powerful sorcerer who must protect Earth from mystical menaces. The new film finds Doctor Strange battling an unexpected nemesis as he comes to the aid of America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez, who has the power to travel across alternate universes. Directed by Sam Raimi, the film also stars Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Wong, and Rachel McAdams.
In the first season of the Netflix show Russian Doll, we meet Natasha Lyonne's Nadia, a woman who gets stuck in a seemingly endless loop of death scenarios, and is forced to confront her personal demons in the process. Now season two has arrived, and Nadia's next phase of self-discovery manifests itself in a completely different way: time travel.
The delightfully cheesy Netflix comedy Grace and Frankie stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as frenemies-turned-co-dependent besties after their husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) come out as gay and marry each other. As the final episodes of the final season are out now, the series is attuned to the realities of aging, as well as the importance of bonds both familial and romantic.
The Netflix series Ozark recently dropped its final episodes. After a lot of Emmy recognition and four seasons of the increasingly criminal Byrde family seen through moody blue filters, it's over. Did Wendy and Marty Byrde (Laura Linney and Jason Bateman) make it? Did young Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) manage to get away from the life Marty and Wendy dragged her deeper and deeper into?
When Titanic pulled into theaters 25 years ago, it quickly became an inescapable cultural juggernaut. Everything about it was huge: Its budget, runtime, box office, and accolades. And it catapulted Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into a whole new stratosphere of fame. Now that we've got some distance from Leo Mania and "king of the world" jokes, how does James Cameron's epic hold up all these years later? Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
It's about to be summer. While that means sunshine and maybe even a chance to relax, it also means summer entertainment. Whether you're ready to venture out into theaters or you're still enjoying the comforts of your couch, we are here to talk about some of the best TV, film and music that's coming straight to you. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
In the terrific horror thriller X, a ragtag film crew sets up shop in a creepy rural farmhouse, where they plan to shoot a porno movie without attracting the attention of their elderly hosts. But it's only a matter of time before things get stabby. Starring Mia Goth and Brittany Snow, and directed by Ti West, X has an arty, stylish feel – as well as larger points to make about filmmaking, aging, exploitation, and sex. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
A Very British Scandal focuses on the tumultuous marriage and bitter divorce of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll. The Amazon Prime miniseries chronicles the couple's courtship, marriage, and their eventual split. Paul Bettany plays the drunken, abusive Duke, and Claire Foy plays Margaret, a woman determined to hold onto her station in life, even as she gets pilloried by a misogynistic British press and legal system. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
In The Northman, Alexander Skarsgård plays a Viking prince who flees his island kingdom when his uncle kills his father and marries his mother. It's based on a very old but familiar story that predates Shakespeare's Hamlet by a few centuries. Directed by Robert Eggers, The Northman is a tale of bloody revenge with painstakingly researched historical accuracy surrounding the gods and monsters of Viking culture. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
In Slow Horses, Gary Oldman plays Jackson Lamb, the slovenly, burnt-out head of Slough House — a rundown, disregarded division of MI5, and serves as a dumping ground for British spies who've made huge mistakes. This team of misfits is the laughing stock of the British intelligence community, led by Diana Taverner (Kristin Scott Thomas). Based on a series of spy novels by Mick Herron, series is streaming on Apple TV+. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
In the action comedy The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, Nicolas Cage plays a fictionalized Nicolas Cage. This down-on-his-luck version of the actor must get out of a jam after he is offered a million dollars to attend the birthday party of a potentially deadly superfan, played by Pedro Pascal. Also starring Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz and Sharon Horgan, the movie gets meta as it draws heavily on the Cage's career and long history of eccentric performances. Vote for your favorite American Idol contestants at npr.org/AmericanIdol
The hilarious HBO Max comedy series Our Flag Means Death follows the misadventures of Stede Bonnet, a posh aristocrat who decides to give up his pampered life and become a swashbuckling pirate on the high seas. It soon becomes clear that he lacks the ruthlessness necessary to be any good at the job, but when he meets the fearsome pirate Blackbeard (played by Taika Waititi) the two men find they have much to teach one another about pirating and self-acceptance.
Law & Order and its trademark format evolved into a massive TV franchise. The original Law & Order ended in 2010, but this year, in the middle of a broader conversation about policing and the problems with police procedurals, NBC has decided to bring the original Law & Order back. The result is a strange effort to replicate an old success in a very different environment.
In Marvel's Moon Knight, Oscar Isaac plays Steven, a mild-mannered Londoner who works in a museum gift shop. He also plays Marc, a mercenary who can turn into the mysterious Moon Knight. The series has psychodrama, tomb raiding, and a bad guy (Ethan Hawke) with very familiar motivations. Several episodes were directed by Mohamed Diab, the first Arab director in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the show also features strong performances from May Calamawy and F. Murray Abraham. Moon Knight is streaming on Disney+.
The Great Pottery Throw Down is one of the gentlest, kindest, and warmest competitive reality shows you will ever see (even when things literally explode). The fifth season aired in the U.K. earlier this year, and it's now streaming on HBO Max. In this encore episode, we talk about a show that will help you relax at the end of even the longest day.
Pachinko is a deeply intimate, yet hugely expansive multi-generational historical saga on Apple TV+. Adapted from Min Jin Lee's 2017 novel, the series features several intersecting characters and storylines, but focuses mainly on Sunja, a Korean woman whose family suffers under Japanese imperial rule. With an impressive cast including Lee Min Ho and Oscar-winner Yuh-Jung Youn, Pachinko depicts Sunja throughout her life amid conditions of poverty, bigotry and institutionalized injustice against Koreans.
To comedy fans, Jerrod Carmichael is known as a stand-up comic with an acerbic brand of observational humor, and he's starred in his own family sitcom, The Carmichael Show. Now his recent HBO special Rothaniel has made headlines. Carmichael comes out publicly as gay for the first time and he talks about secrets that have haunted his family for multiple generations. It's a profoundly immersive experience that pushes the boundaries of stand-up and confessional art.
There's been no shortage of biographical material about Julia Child, who in the 1960s became one of the first food television personalities in the United States. HBO Max adds to the story with Julia, a scripted series about her life in the early years of public television's The French Chef, when she was uneasily navigating a transition from cookbook author to TV star.
Cameo is an online service where you can pay a celebrity to record a personalized video message. Maybe it's for your birthday, maybe it's for someone's anniversary — or maybe you're just bored. The videos can costs you tens, hundreds, or even thousands of dollars. In this episode we play a game involving the Cameo prices of some extremely famous, modestly famous, and delightfully niche celebrities.
The latest edition of NPR's Books We Love project rounded up hundreds of books to try to give you just the read you're looking for. Today, we're talking about some of the books we loved in 2021 about life in the United States, present and past.
Ambulance is Michael Bay's latest action movie, and if you think you know exactly what you're going to get — you'd be correct. It's more than two hours of pure, unrelenting adrenaline featuring gun fights, explosions and dizzying camera work. The film stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jake Gyllenhaal as adoptive brothers who get caught up in a bank heist gone spectacularly wrong. And true to the title, it involves a high-speed ambulance chase.
In Morbius, Jared Leto stars as the mysterious and brilliant Dr. Michael Morbius, who was born with a rare and debilitating blood disorder. With the aid of vampire bats, he comes up with a treatment that gives him superpowers, but also gives him a taste for blood. The movie takes place in the Sony wing of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and serves as an origin story for this vampiric antihero.
On the FX series Better Things, Pamela Adlon plays Sam Fox, a working actor in L.A. and a single mother to her three children. Sam and her family deal with many familiar pangs of life, like aging and puberty, in ways that are funny, profound, and sometimes cosmic. The semi-autobiographical show was co-created by Adlon, and after five seasons, it's coming to a close.
It might sound like fun to date a glamorous movie star, but in reality, it would probably get very messy. That's the premise of HBO Max's Starstruck, created by and starring New Zealand comedian Rose Matafeo. The romantic comedy series is complicated, funny and charming — treating fame as the isolating pain in the neck it often can be. It's a great weekend binge watch, and just returned for a second season. In this encore episode, we discuss the first season.
Everything Everywhere All At Once is the kind of movie that lives up to its title. It's a zany and profound sci-fi action comedy set in multiple dimensions, bursting with ideas about the pursuit of happiness, familial duty and the meaning of life. It stars Michelle Yeoh as a businesswoman whose world is turned upside down the day her family attempts to file their taxes. Forced to confront her life choices, she clashes with her daughter, her husband and a cranky IRS inspector in the weirdest of ways.
In the new film The Lost City Sandra Bullock plays a romance novelist who is kidnapped by a duplicitous billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) looking for the real-life lost treasure referenced in her writing. Her cover model (Channing Tatum) embarks on a bumbling quest through the jungle and save her.
The Netflix series Bridgerton is back for a second season. And now, Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) is having his story told with the addition of a new love interest, played by Simone Ashley. Based on a series of Regency romance novels by Julia Quinn, there's still high drama, scandalous gossip and elaborate period costumes that sometimes take over entire scenes. So what's different, what's the same and how do Daphne and her duke figure into this season?
The Netflix animated series Human Resources is a spinoff of the filthy and funny Big Mouth. The series takes place in an office where the creatures that embody human emotions work, including Hormone Monsters voiced by co-creator Nick Kroll and Maya Rudolph. The show centers on a Love Bug voiced by Aidy Bryant. And there are plenty of other new faces, including a Logic Rock voiced by Randall Park and an Ambition Gremlin voiced by Rosie Perez. We also spend some time with Aidy Bryant's human client, a new mother named Becca, voiced by Ali Wong.
The 2022 Oscars included a best picture win for CODA, plus awards for Jessica Chastain, Dune, Encanto, and Jane Campion. But the proceedings were overshadowed when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock. Later in the ceremony, Smith won a best actor Oscar for his role in King Richard.
The 2022 Oscars are finally upon us. There are always two big questions as we approach the Oscars: Who will win, and who should win. Today, we're offering up a guide to this year's nominations to try to help you win your Oscar pool and see some terrific movies at the same time.
The new Hulu thriller Deep Water is about unhappily married couple Vic and Melinda, played by Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. Melinda is involved with other men, and when those other men start to run into some bad luck, suspicion falls on Vic. Directed by erotic thriller king Adrian Lyne, Deep Water delves into the specifics of this particular marriage, the intersection of sex and violence, and one man's lonely devotion to his collection of snails.
History and music, economics and journalism, freedom and family are all prominent in this year's impressive crop of Oscar nominees for documentary feature. They tackle issues including mass incarceration, the plight of refugees, and what parts of the past we celebrate most. Plus, most of the films are available to stream now.
In honor of this year's Oscars, we polled listeners to ask a simple question: What's the best best picture winner of all time? Today, we run through our listeners' ranking of the Top 10, and give our picks for the best winner of all time.
The new film Master is a thriller set at a predominantly white liberal arts college, where a history of systemic racism still haunts the campus in the present day. The film stars Regina Hall as a professor who steps into a new role as the school's first Black house master. Plus, a Black incoming freshman (Zoe Renee) is facing challenges in adjusting to her surroundings. The film, directed by Mariama Diallo, is sure to get viewers talking. It's streaming on Amazon Prime.
In Netflix's The Adam Project, Ryan Reynolds is a pilot from the future who goes back in time to the present day, where he enlists the aid of his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell) to save the timeline. Toss in small roles for Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo as Adam's parents, and you've got yourself a 13 Going on 30 mini-reunion. This is Reynolds' second team-up with director Shawn Levy, who directed last year's Free Guy.
Films from Italy, Norway, Denmark, Japan, and – for the first time in Oscars history – Bhutan are vying for this year's Academy Award for international feature. While they share several common themes – finding yourself and your purpose, coming to terms with your past – they're five films that vary wildly in subject, in tone, and in what they have to say. Plus, many of the films are streaming now.
In the excellent new Apple TV+ series Severance, a group of office workers are experiencing work-life balance on a whole other level. Adam Scott, John Turturro, and others play employees that have undergone brain surgery that completely separates their memories of work from their memories of their regular lives. Severance is a workplace satire, a futuristic thought experiment about identity, and a drama about the dimensions of grief.
Hulu's The Dropout moves the needle on the Theranos story. The series stars Amanda Seyfried as Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, and shows how the tech wunderkind and her company went from darlings to defendants. The cast also includes Naveen Andrews, William H. Macy, Sam Waterston, Stephen Fry, Alan Ruck and Laurie Metcalf.
Pixar is back with another movie aiming to hit you in all the feels: Turning Red. It's about a charismatic 13-year-old girl named Meilin (Rosalie Chiang) who discovers that whenever she gets too excited about anything, she now turns into a giant red panda. Directed by Domee Shi, the film features the voice talent of Sandra Oh, as well as some fun nods to the early 2000s boy band era. The film is streaming on Disney+.
In the new sci-fi film After Yang, a family suffers a loss when their human-like android Yang (Justin H. Min) suddenly breaks down. It stars Colin Farrell and Jodie Turner-Smith as the parents of an adopted child who are faced with deep existential conundrums. The film was written and directed by Kogonada, and is currently in theaters and streaming on Showtime.
What if you took The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but made it a gritty, modern drama where Will is sent to Bel-Air to avoid facing an illegal gun possession charge? That's the basic premise of Bel-Air — the reboot of the classic 90s sitcom that made Will Smith a TV star. Jabari Banks steps into the role of Will, who this time around is less a goofy charmer and more a cool star athlete. It's a show that barely resembles its predecessor, with each member of the Banks family getting a radically dramatic makeover, too.