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What's making us happy: A guide for your weekend watching, listening and reading

If you're a fan of Mike Flanagan's <em>The Haunting of Hill House </em>and <em>The Haunting of Bly Manor, </em>check out <em>Midnight Mass, </em>available on Netflix.
Eike Schroter
If you're a fan of Mike Flanagan's The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, check out Midnight Mass, available on Netflix.

This week was the one when Squid Game kept tearing up the internet. It was the week when Oscar predictions started appearing in more places. And it was the week when we learned there would be more Agatha — and yes, you can start singing her song now.

Here are two pieces from good friends of PCHH that I can recommend this week: Eric Deggans, NPR's TV critic, who has long been a Dave Chappelle fan, reckons with his new special. And Chris Klimek, who brings the kind of thoughtfulness to his consideration of huge franchises that they often aren't afforded, reflects on James Bond. -- Linda Holmes

Here's what else we're looking at this weekend:

What to watch

Midnight Mass, Netflix

Netflix's Midnight Mass is a really interesting show. I was planning to enthusiastically say it's making me happy, but I do have to add an asterisk based on where I left off. I think it's making me happy at this point. I will say I've really enjoyed Mike Flanagan's other shows that he's done for Netflix. He did The Haunting of Hill Houseand The Haunting of Bly Manor. Once again, he has a fantastic cast, a kind of slow burn, creepy story. I have been really into it. Although, in the last episode I watched, I did find myself going, "Am I into where this seems to be going?" But that said, it is compelling. It is interesting. And in a time where there are so many options and not everything always actually pulls my attention, it has at least been doing that. -- Daisy Rosario


The new French horror movie Titane. I've seen this twice. I saw it at the New York Film Festival and again when it went to theaters. I don't know how long it's going to be in theaters because it's so weird. I can't really say a lot about it. A car is involved. Some violence is involved. It's great. I love it. People are very mixed on it. I will say, be warned because it is very violent, but that's what's making me happy. — Jourdain Searles

Dimension 20,YouTube

I've talked about Critical Role before. It's a web series where a bunch of voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons. They're on a break right now, gearing up to start a new campaign in October. So until then I've been looking around and what I found is Dimension 20. It's another web series. The difference is that the players and the Dungeon Master, who is usually a guy named Brennan Lee Mulligan, are sketch and improv comedians. While the folks at Critical Role are often very funny, they're actors. Their hearts lie in building and really committing and creating these characters. At Dimension 20, if they can go for a joke, they're going to go for the joke, and that might line up closer to my sensibility. Mulligan is such a good DM and he's got so many improv skills. He's such a close and responsive listener that no matter what the players throw at him, he can always roll with it, without breaking the game. And that is a very rare skill, so it's terrific stuff. -- Glen Weldon

SNL Hosts Introducing the Musical Guest, Twitter @snlhostsintro

I'm not sure why there's a Twitter account now that's just clips of old Saturday Night Live hosts introducing bands, but it's a great little time capsule where you either think "Yes, that makes total sense that that was a cultural moment" or "Wait, Laura Leighton introduced Rancid?" -- Linda Holmes

What to listen to

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel, Audible

Quentin Tarantino's novelization of his own Once Upon a Time in Hollywood screenplay is pretty great. The unabridged audible version, as read by Jennifer Jason Leigh, is even better. You must treat yourself to J.J.L.'s Al Pacino. I don't think I could quite call it an impression, but her performance as Marvin Schwarz, the guy who gets Leo into Italian cowboy movies, is really something. Also, if you are one of the many people who enjoyed Once Upon a Time in Hollywood for two and a half hours and then were bummed out by the very violent conclusion, the way that Tarantino restructures his own narrative for prose might be a happy surprise for you. It ends on an unexpectedly warm note that nonetheless feels completely earned. It doesn't feel like a betrayal of his aesthetic or of this story. -- Chris Klimek

What to read

"The Controversy Behind the Scenes of Dallas Buyers Club," Vanity Fair

You can keep your stories about group-chat drama: The most stunning and holy-moly-worthy thing I read this week was this piece in Vanity Fair, excerpted from the new book Never Silent by the great activist Peter Staley, about the making of Dallas Buyers Club. It is a humdinger. -- Linda Holmes

What else has been making us happy recently?

There's more where this came from! Five days a week, Pop Culture Happy Hour serves you recommendations and commentary on the buzziest movies, TV, music, books, videogames and more. Subscribe here >>

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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.
Daisy Rosario
Jourdain Searles
Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.