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What's making us happy: A guide to your weekend viewing and reading

Matt Rogers in <em>Matt Rogers: Have You Heard of Christmas?</em>
Scott Gries
/
Showtime
Matt Rogers in Matt Rogers: Have You Heard of Christmas?

This week, Brittney Griner returned home, we learned how to keep in touch with our ancestors, and the world's oldest tortoise celebrated 190 years.

Here's what the NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

South Side

The comedy South Side has returned on HBO Max. It is now in its third season. The show is about various communities of South Side, Chicago residents, how their lives intersect, and their increasing hijinx. Season one established the plot around this slice of a working class community and the choices they make to get by. Season two experimented with more high concept things, for example, there was an episode that paid homage to Ferris Bueller, a couple of characters escape their mundane lives to have a fun day off. This third season is just wacky in very fun, subversive ways. It's a great watch. — Roxana Hadadi

Treasure Planet

What's making me happy is re-watching Treasure Planet. It just turned 20 on November 27th. It's a movie that I adore despite the fact that in its time 20 years ago it was not appreciated. It didn't do well in the box office. The reviews weren't particularly great but it's also an adaptation of a classic story, Treasure Island, which becomes Treasure Planet. The animation style is unique. They mixed animation with digital and 3D stuff, and it's really fantastic. So, I'm waiting for the appraisal of a movie that I don't think got its day in the sun. And I feel like the release of Strange World a few weeks ago didn't do a lot of favors for retro futuristic stories in animation. But, re-watching it just reminded me why I love it so much and why other people should go back and watch it 20 years later and maybe re-evaluate it. — Carlos Aguilar

Criterion Channel's curation of the Sight & Sound list

Well, depending on how you feel about the progression of time and taste, you may either have been excited by the new Sight & Sound film critics poll or mortified. I fall into the former camp. I was very excited about it and what is making me particularly excited is the fact that the Criterion Channel has curated all of the movies that they have currently streaming on their platform that are also on this year's 2022 Sight & Sound list. You can find the newly anointed No.1 film, Jeanne Dielman directed by Chantal Akerman. I checked out Chungking Express for the first time. I'm embarrassed to say it was my first time because I love In the Mood for Love, but it's a great film. The film is a 1994 action crime romance, directed by Wong Kar-wai, starring the great, wonderful and beautiful Tony Leung. As much as we often gripe about these film critics polls, I like that they encourage people like me and like everyone else who likes movies to go out and either re-watch the things they haven't seen in a while or finally seek out that movie that they've been meaning to see. I think there's over 50 movies there that are currently on the Sight & Sound film critics poll for 2022. Aisha Harris

Matt Rogers: Have You Heard of Christmas?

Matt Rogers: Have You Heard of Christmas? is a holiday special that just dropped on Showtime. Some listeners might know Matt Rogers from his role as Darcy, the assistant on I Love That for You or as Luke in Fire Island. If you're listening to a podcast, you probably know him from the podcast, with his longtime friend Bowen Yang, Las Culturistas. "Have You Heard of Christmas?" is Rogers' cabaret act filmed at Joe's Pub. It's a mix of original holiday songs and stories with some interstitial sketches. He's accompanied by his musical director, Henry Koperski.

In the special, he is playing a heightened and fictionalized character version of himself. If you know him from Las Culturistas, you'll enjoy this even more. This guy is obsessed with fame. He uses this kind of phony showbiz sincerity and self-delusion, which of course is a well-established comic tradition. Rodgers finds something new in it, in the absolute best way possible, just by being completely himself, turning his real-life obsessions with Mariah Carey and Christine Baranski and Rockefeller Center into queer comedy gold. It is so well-executed. For a lot of these songs he's singing to work as well as they do, he has to have a really great voice and he has a really great voice. Not for nothing, especially at this time of year, it is also wonderfully and hearteningly and defiantly queer. Glen Weldon

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

Lauren "LP" Paylor in Drink Masters.
/ Netflix
/
Netflix
Lauren "LP" Paylor in Drink Masters.

I made a haul of Christmas cookies last weekend, and while they were all successful, I have to give a shout to Eric Kim's gochujang caramel cookies over at NYT Cooking. They are very very easy to make, and they turn out like the most beautifully complex snickerdoodles.

I had fun this week watching Drink Masters on Netflix — as you might suspect, it's a bartending/mixology competition, and I absolutely didn't know anything about anything anyone was talking about, which was sort of fun. I learned about oil-washed booze!

While contemplating my reactions to the film Tár, I was grateful to be directed to this very thoughtful piece by Tavi Gevinson in The New Yorker.


NPR's Pilar Galvan adapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" into a digital page. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations every week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Roxana Hadadi
Carlos Aguilar
Aisha Harris
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.
Pilar Galvan
Pilar Galvan (she/her) is a reporter whose work focuses on the intersections of media and culture. She is passionate about film, music and sports. She recently graduated from Yale University where she double majored in anthropology, specializing in ethnomusicology, and art, concentrating in digital media. She previously worked in digital media at art institutions including MoMA PS1 in Queens, NY, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Portugal.