Summer 2021 Preview : Pop Culture Happy Hour Movie theaters are opening, and new TV shows and music are on the horizon. We've got you covered on what's coming this summer to entertain you.
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Summer Guide: Movies, TV and Music We Can't Wait For

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Summer Guide: Movies, TV and Music We Can't Wait For

Summer Guide: Movies, TV and Music We Can't Wait For

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LINDA HOLMES, HOST:

We thought this summer might never come, but it's just about here. Some of us are returning to theaters. There are new TV shows on the horizon. There's new music to listen to. So it's time for one of the things that says summer to us - the summer preview.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, HOST:

This year, we're talking about new movies, new music and new TV. We'll cover what's coming to entertain you whether you're out and about or not. I'm Stephen Thompson.

HOLMES: And I'm Linda Holmes on POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. Today, a guide to some of the most exciting TV, movies and music you can check out this summer. Here with me and Stephen from his home studio bunker is Glen Weldon of NPR's Arts Desk. Hey, Glen.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: Hey, Linda.

HOLMES: And also here with us from her home studio is Aisha Harris. Hello, Aisha.

AISHA HARRIS, BYLINE: Hello, Linda.

HOLMES: It is always such a pleasure to have all four of us together. We are going to hop right into this summer preview. We are each going to offer up two selections. I am going to start with Glen. Glen, what's your first pick? I have a sneaking suspicion it's going to be a shocker.

WELDON: I don't know about that. My first pick is "The Green Knight," comes out July 30. It's a film written, edited, produced and directed by one dude, David Lowery, whose track record is - I don't want to say spotty, but I will say uneven - "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," "Pete's Dragon" - which I did not like - "A Ghost Story", "The Old Man & The Gun." The trailer looks amazing, though - just these incredibly composed shots, really wild vibrant colors and shadows and costumes. It is Arthurian fantasy, which hasn't really fared well in movies in recent decades. It's the tale of King Arthur's nephew, Gawain, who accepts a challenge to fight this green knight and must face him every year at the same time. It stars Dev Patel as Gawain, which is great casting. The last time an Arthurian story really did well on the big screen was definitely 40 years ago - 4-0 - in John Boorman's "Excalibur," which is a flawed film, but it is possessed of a vision - a very singular and idiosyncratic and just a little bit bonkers (laughter) vision. It's messy, but that's because I think - here's my working theory. Folklore is messy. And when you try to fit it into a three-act Hollywood movie structure, it just doesn't work. You end up with something like Guy Ritchie's "King Arthur," which feels very made by committee. You need some banana pants in there, and who knows how bonkers banana pants this is going to be? But because it's all coming from one dude - writer, editor, producer, director - I think it's got a really solid shot. It looks great. That's "The Green Knight," July 30.

HOLMES: Well, thank you, Glen. I have to tell you, every time I hear a color and a rank, I assume that's a Glen movie.

WELDON: (Laughter). OK.

HOLMES: If it was, like, The Purple Bishop...

WELDON: Right.

HOLMES: ...Or the Blue Pawn...

WELDON: "The Dark Knight," "The Green Knight," any knight, really.

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: I would be like, that sounds like a Glen Weldon movie. Aisha, what is your first pick?

HARRIS: "Candyman." "Candyman."

WELDON: What are you doing?

HARRIS: "Candyman."

WELDON: What are you doing?

HOLMES: I'm excited about this one, too.

THOMPSON: (Laughter).

HARRIS: OK, I'm sorry, I'm done.

WELDON: How dare you?

HARRIS: I'm not going to say it five times, which is...

WELDON: OK.

HARRIS: ...According to urban legend, is what will summon the Candyman, but that is what I'm excited for, is the...

WELDON: That's the fourth time. Just saying.

HOLMES: (Laughter).

HARRIS: All right. Well, I'm not going to say it again.

WELDON: Cool.

HARRIS: So (laughter) this movie is a sort of sequel to the original film. And I remember it used to be on TV all the time. So I remember watching it as a kid and being terrified of it. And I think I've seen it maybe once as an adult, so I - and it was years ago, so I don't remember how it holds up. But I think it's really interesting just because the original's coming in the '90s. It is set in the Cabrini-Green projects, a very infamous housing projects in Chicago, where mostly Black people lived there. And they were abandoned. They were vulnerable. There was a lot of violence there. And they were infamous for the crime that happened. And this film uses the titular character to project all of these neuroses and this history of neglect within him. And in this version, it stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who you may recognize from "Watchmen."

HOLMES: Yeah.

HARRIS: And so he's playing an adult who was, I guess, a kid or a baby when the original movie title...

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: ...Came out. And he lives in a new version of it. The Cabrini-Green houses in real life have been knocked down since then, and he's living in the gentrified version of it now. And so it deals with sort of the horrors and the ghosts of the demolished Cabrini-Green houses. And what I'm excited about is the fact that also, the titular character is - the actor who played him is returning. That is Tony Todd. He is just perfectly creepy in the first film. And I'm excited to see him return. And Nia DaCosta is the director. She directed "Little Woods," which starred Tessa Thompson. It came out a few years ago. It was an indie film which I highly recommend. So I'm curious to see what she does with this. And she co-wrote the film along with Jordan Peele, who was a producer, and also Win Rosenfeld. So I'm excited to see how they bring this very '90s film into the current landscape. And I hope it'll be creepy. And I hope it'll be fun. And I hope it'll also have the same sort of social issues and layers that the original had. So that's Man Candy.

(LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: It's coming out August 27, and that's what I'm excited for.

HOLMES: I'm excited for that one, too. That's one of the ones that got delayed that I wasn't mad that they delayed it instead of sending it straight to home because I kind of want to enjoy that one with that roomful of terrified people. All right. Stephen, what is your first pick?

THOMPSON: Well, my first pick - basically all of my picks are about music because of all the things I'm excited about kind of coming back into the world and coming into summertime, experiencing live music, whether in person or vicariously through film, is kind of what I'm the most jazzed about. And so my first pick is "Summer Of Soul," subtitled "(...Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised." Now, "Summer Of Soul" - Linda and Aisha, you guys have seen this because it was at kind of virtual Sundance earlier this year. It won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. It looks to be just an absolute feast of fantastic music. It is a documentary directed by Questlove, compiling footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. This footage - hours and hours and hours and hours of this footage - sat in a basement untouched for 50 years. Performances by Nina Simone, Sly and The Family Stone, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Stevie Wonder, B.B. King.

And, apparently, this film takes a bunch of this footage and interweaves it with interviews to kind of place this festival in historical context not only because of all this incredible music but also kind of touching on the question of, how on earth has this footage sat untouched for 50 years? How on earth is this festival not viewed on par with Woodstock as a major cultural event?

I cannot wait to revel in that sound world, rediscover all this glorious music. I'm so excited about it. It's coming out July 2 in theaters and on Hulu, so you can take it in. That's another one I'm going to be trying to see in the theater just because I want to make it feel as much like a live festival experience as humanly possible without the sunburn or the $8 water.

HOLMES: Yeah. That's "Summer Of Soul (...Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised," coming to Hulu and theaters on July 2. Aisha and I can both testify that is a very, very good pick. Absolutely loved it. My first pick is a show that is called "Kevin Can Go F Himself," and you can probably conclude what that stands for. It is based, obviously - the pun of the title is off of "Kevin Can Wait," which is one of the many schlubby dude, hot wife comedies that have circulated in the last couple of decades. This one stars Annie Murphy from "Schitt's Creek."

And the show is a hybrid of a multi-camera comedy in which she exists as the hot wife in such a sitcom and a - kind of a single-camera comedy-drama where she basically lives a life of quiet desperation. It is a very interesting idea to me, and I absolutely love Annie Murphy. This idea of exploring kind of what a sitcom wife would actually be experiencing if her life was really like that is something that I think bears a lot of examination.

Also, it reminds me a little bit of "WandaVision" in that it is kind of trying to look at the very construct of the sitcom and what kind of marriage they are talking about building in a show like that. I'm super excited to see it. It's coming to AMC on June 20. It's going to stream. If you happen to have AMC+, which is their streaming service, it'll be a week earlier on June 13. So that is "Kevin Can Go F Himself," starring Annie Murphy. Extremely excited to see it. Glen, what is your second pick?

WELDON: I think this one is even more on brand. It's "Loki," which is coming June 9 to Disney+. Look it. As we stand now the, MCU televised universe has had one win and one loss. "WandaVision" embraced the weird. It embraced the jokes. It was a win. "Falcon And The Winter Soldier" went opposite direction - polar opposite - and I was on the fence on that show for a while. But in the last episode, there's a scene where Sam lectures a group of politicians and a scene so badly written and thuddingly executed that it is objectively the worst thing to happen in the MCU, and I saw Mickey Rourke in "Iron Man 2."

(LAUGHTER)

WELDON: So that's a loss. That's a big one. "Loki" is gonna be the tiebreaker, and there's every reason to be hopeful. It's Tom Hiddleston's Loki, who is detained by a mysterious organization known as the TVA, which Marvel nerds will know is the Time Variance Authority, which are basically Marvel's time cops. They monitor and repair the timelines, etc., etc. The more the show leans into the goofy, the happier I'll be, which is why I am heartened by the presence of one Mr. Owen Wilson as a TVA agent.

There's going to be time travel. There's going to be time anomalies. There's going to be ultimate timelines. The trailer suggests that at some point, Loki assumes the role of D.B. Cooper. So maybe we're getting, like, a "Quantum Leap" vibe here, and there'll be a heartwarming life lesson learned every week. But anyway, there's going to be time shenanigans. I'm on board.

My hope is that we're gonna get some of the chaotic feel from my old favorite Marvel comic, which was called "What If," which just mixed and matched the events of characters in the Marvel Universe in really interesting ways. But then I remembered, I don't - even if it doesn't do that, there is an animated Marvel "What If...?" series coming later this year. So either way, I'm happy. "Loki," be weird. Be funny. Be strange. And I'll be happy. That's "Loki," June 9, Disney+.

HOLMES: Outstanding. Thank you very much, Glen Weldon. Aisha, what is your second pick?

HARRIS: Well, listeners may know that Linda and I were kind of down on "Law & Order: SVU's" spinoff, "Law & Order: Organized Crime," in part because of the way in which it portrayed Stabler's character and attempted to address the issues we've had around policing in film and TV without really addressing it. So it might come as a surprise that my pick is "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," which is coming out this final season, season eight, on August 12. But this has been a favorite show of mine since it premiered even though I've also struggled with my own feelings in real life about police. I just think this ensemble is great.

And so I'm curious to see how they deal with this. They've been explicit about telling people that they are going to figure out a way to make the show and address the conversations we're having, especially in the wake of George Floyd last year. Terry Crews and Dan Goor, one of the co-creators - they've spoken about how the first four episodes of the new season had already been written, and then once George Floyd happened, they scrapped them. And so there is going to be a conscious attempt to do something with this. And I'm curious to see how that happens.

It won't be the first time that they've addressed these things. There's a season four episode where they delved into an issue with Terry being almost arrested because of racial profiling. So that's partly why I feel a little less concerned because I think that they've already been thinking about these things for a while. So we shall see. I hope it'll be a good send off. And I'm cautiously optimistic about "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" season eight, which you'll be able to watch on NBC starting on August 12.

HOLMES: Yeah. You know, I think the other thing that I note about this is they may have just concluded that it was a good time to wrap it up because it may just be not a great time to do an affable police comedy, which I think is a perfectly valid way to think about it, even though the show has obviously, you know, had a good run. I'm excited about that, too.

So my second pick is called "Physical." It is a series starring Rose Byrne. It's coming to Apple TV+ on June 18. It is about a woman who is an unhappy housewife. I did not mean to pick two unhappy housewife shows, but here we are. She is, essentially - it is set in the - early 1980s is when it begins, and she becomes wrapped up in the world of aerobics and becomes a kind of an aerobics influencer, what we would now call an influencer.

But it is very interested, as I understand it, in the connection between kind of the physical body of this woman and her physical strength and food and those kinds of things combined with sort of how she's feeling emotionally. I think they plan to take some - based on what I've seen of it, some pretty nice and interesting swings in the direction of talking about women's bodies and how the aerobics craze affected and intersected with those, the Jane Fonda business and all that stuff. So I'm very curious about it. And also, I love Rose Byrne, and I think when you tell me, you know, parts of it will be darkly funny - parts of it will be dramatic - I'm - you know, Rose Byrne is exactly who I want to watch in the middle of a show like that. So it's called "Physical." It's coming to Apple TV+ on June 18. Stephen, why don't you bring us home with your second pick?

THOMPSON: God, you know, eight picks in all, and none of us picked the "Boss Baby" sequel?

(LAUGHTER)

THOMPSON: I don't even know you people anymore. So traditionally, every summer for the last few years, NPR Music has put together these wonderful playlists of what we call Rosewave, which is kind of music that you get together and listen to while you gather with your basic friends and drink rose. So this is a pretty broadly defined genre. One of the queens of Rosewave is Kacey Musgraves. And Kacey Musgraves a few years ago put out an album called "Golden Hour," which was a perfect slice of Rosewave. It won Album of the Year at the Grammys. She has put out three records. All of them are phenomenal. All of them were in my year-end top 10. I just absolutely love her. She has a new album coming out later this summer. It does not have a release date yet. They are saying late summer or early fall. But what that means is that singles are going to start slipping out during the summertime. I am so, so excited about it. She has not failed me yet.

This particular record seems to be taking kind of another hairpin turn for her. She got divorced kind of suddenly, then spent a year in isolation, wasn't expecting to be putting out a record right now. This is a record that is supposed to be informed by the experience of a divorce, so it is a breakup album. The influences that she describes for it are Bill Withers, Daft Punk, Sade, the Eagles and Weezer.

HOLMES: Sure.

HARRIS: Yeah.

THOMPSON: I think that's her way of saying it's Rosewave, but I am picking up whatever she puts down. And I'm very hopeful. It is as yet untitled, but it is coming out this summer. New album by Kacey Musgraves.

HOLMES: All right, thank you very much. Well, as you can imagine, we are eager to know what you are looking forward to watching or listening to this summer. You can find us at facebook.com/pchh. Or you can tweet us @pchh. When we come back, it is going to be time to talk about what's making us happy this week. So come right back.

Welcome back to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR. It's time for our favorite segment of this week and every week - what's making us happy this week. Glen Weldon, what is making you happy this week, sir?

WELDON: What's making me happy this week is the new announcement that coming August 17 of this year, the Criterion Collection will release on Blu-ray and DVD. Linda, Aisha, do you know what's coming? Do you know what I'm talking about here?

HARRIS: I think so.

WELDON: The D.A. Pennebaker documentary "Original Cast Album" - colon...

HOLMES: Yes, yes.

WELDON: ..."Company".

HOLMES: Oh, I'm so glad you said this.

WELDON: Oh, my God. It's a film that has been impossible to find for years. And when you did find it, the quality was very crappy. It was like a VHS off a VHS off a VHS - kids, ask your parents. It is a chronicling of the marathon recording session of the 1970 cast album for Stephen Sondheim's musical "Company," in which a younger Sondheim, in the single longest act of sustained passive aggression ever recorded on film, drives his hapless, hardworking cast through hours and hours of taping and retaping the songs of that musical. It has been fully restored. It has a new audio commentary by Sondheim, which is intriguing.

HOLMES: What?

WELDON: Yup. It's got old commentary from Pennebaker and Elaine Stritch and Harold Prince, new conversations among Sondheim, orchestrator Jonathan Tunick and Frank Rich, a new interview with Tunick on the act of orchestrating, an essay by Mark Harris and, because the universe is sometimes generous, the "Co-Op" episode of "Documentary Now!" and a cast reunion of that episode conducted in 2020. I have already preordered it. I will take half a dozen. That is "Original Cast Album: Company" coming to the Criterion Collection on August 17.

HARRIS: Yes.

WELDON: You have brought such joy to me, Glen. I had no idea.

WELDON: Yeah, right?

HOLMES: Thank you very much, Glen Weldon. Aisha Harris, what is making you happy this week?

HARRIS: Well, because of my schedule and because we watched so many things ahead of time, there are very few things that I actually just keep up with while everyone else is watching them. But the one thing that I have made appointment television viewing every week these last few weeks has been "Legendary" on HBO, which is...

WELDON: Oh, yes.

HARRIS: ...A reality competition show, dance show. It is taking the world of ballroom, the glorious, queer, mostly Black and brown queer culture and movement, and bringing it to a HBO sort of homogenized - but in a way - I realize it's very watered down, but - and clearly made for both people who are of the community and also people, like myself, who are new to this world. But I love it because it is so fun. They're bringing a lot of the elements of a ballroom into the dance floor.

You have people like Megan Thee Stallion and Jameela Jamil, sort of the outsider but who have like some sort of cultural cachet folks, on the judging board. But you also have people like Law Roach, who is a stylist, and Leiomy, who is a house legend, who are also lending their judging talents to the show. And I love it so much. And I recommend everyone just check it out if you love dance, or if you love costumes and love seeing theatrical things. It's really, really fun, and I'm glad they were able to keep doing it even post-COVID.

It kind of sucks because they no longer have, like, a full audience, so you kind of miss that element of people cheering them on. But in part because you don't have an audience, you can hear the judges when they're really excited about things even louder where they're just like, yeah, go girl. Get it. Get it. And I should note that one of our friends of the show, Sydney Baloue, who we had on earlier this week to discuss the series "Pose," is a co-executive producer. So yeah, everyone check it out. "Legendary" on HBO Max.

HOLMES: All right. Thank you very much, Aisha Harris. Stephen Thompson, what is making you happy this week, buddy?

THOMPSON: So what is making me happy kind of first blew onto the scene a few weeks ago going viral. But the story has continued to develop in wonderful ways. A video surfaced from about a month ago of four girls, ages 10 to 16, performing in the LA Public Library. They are a punk band called The Linda Lindas, which - there's, you know, one check in their favor, right there. They performed a song called "Racist, Sexist Boy," which builds to this wonderful bit in which they scream the words poser, blockhead, riffraff, jerkface.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RACIST, SEXIST BOY")

THE LINDA LINDAS: (Singing) Poser, blockhead, riffraff, jerkface.

THOMPSON: And it is a wonderful bit of punk rock catharsis. It was flying around on Twitter for a while. News broke more recently that they have signed to the legendary punk label Epitaph Records. So they're going to be putting out albums before you know it. They have been embraced and celebrated by artists like Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill. They actually perform - if you watch their full concert at the library, beyond just that that one two-minute song, you can watch them perform a Bikini Kill song, "Rebel Girl" - which is a favorite in this house - "Big Mouth" by The Muffs. Wonderful influences, incredible energy - it gives me great hope and joy for the future. That's The Linda Lindas.

HOLMES: Yeah. I got to say - those girls going viral, that was very confusing for me on Twitter...

(LAUGHTER)

HOLMES: ...Because I kept seeing Linda, Linda and saying, what, what? All right. Thank you very much, Stephen Thompson. Really, what made me happy most recently was being able to take my friend Glen Weldon's advice and finally enjoy "Eurovision" in its full beauty. But since that's been so fully dissected, I'm going to go with something far more serious but also wonderful, which is the Netflix series "High On The Hog," which is hosted by the food writer Steven Satterfield. It is based on a book by the food scholar Jessica B. Harris. The book is called "High On The Hog: A Culinary Journey From Africa To America," which gives you a better idea of what the series is about.

It's essentially - you know, if you like those sort of wonderful food travel shows where people go around and talk about different kinds of food and different influences on food - and also, you get to look at a lot of people eating and making food. It is a luscious, fantastic show that I am slowly working my way through because it is so kind of energizing and calming at the same time in a weird way. It's just a lovely - if you liked kind of "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" and things like that. It's just a really wonderful series. I highly recommend it. Obviously, I am a great believer in the ability of food to be a way to think about and talk about history. It's gotten pretty much completely rapturous reviews. And greatly, greatly recommend the series "High On The Hog" now available on Netflix.

And that is what is making me happy this week. If you want links for what we recommended, plus some more recommendations that are exclusive to our newsletter, you can subscribe to that over at npr.org/popculturenewsletter. That brings us to the end of our show. You can find all of us on Twitter. You can find me at @lindaholmes. You can follow Stephen at @idislikestephen. You can follow Glen at @ghweldon. You can follow Aisha at @craftingmystyle. You can follow our editor Jessica Reedy at @jessica_reedy and our producer Candice Lim at @thecandicelim. You can follow our producer Mike Katzif at @mikekatzif - K-A-T-Z-I-F. Mike's band, HELLO COME IN, provides the music you are bobbing your head to right now. Thanks also to producer Will Jarvis, and thanks to all of you for being here.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

WELDON: Thank you.

HARRIS: Thank you.

HOLMES: Thank you for listening to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. We will see you all next week.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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