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What's Making Us Happy: A guide to your weekend viewing and reading

Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) and Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel) in <em>The Taste of Things</em>.
Stéphanie Branchu
/
IFC Films
Eugénie (Juliette Binoche) and Dodin Bouffant (Benoît Magimel) in The Taste of Things.

This week, Jack McCoy left the building, Wolfmanwanted compensation, and a baffling idea for an intellectual property extension rolled on.

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

Poor Things, the novel by Alasdair Gray

The Oscar-nominated movie Poor Things is based on a novel of the same name by Scottish author Aladair Gray. I love this book so much. I preferred it very much to the movie. But the novel is so bizarre — it's written in letters half the time — and it's much more complicated than the film. (I find it extraordinary that someone would read this book and think it could make a good film, honestly!) But it's so fun. You really get a sense of this story being rooted in Scottish landscapes and the sensibility of the Scottish people — which is missing from the movie. — Chloe Veltman

Homicide: Life on the Street

Andre Braugher as Det. Frank Pembleton of <em>Homicide: Life on the Street</em>
Chris Haston / NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
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NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
Andre Braugher as Det. Frank Pembleton of Homicide: Life on the Street

Years ago we bought the DVD boxed sets of Homicide, The Wire and Generation Kill — it was a real David Simon spree at the time. We finally have started watching Homicide-- and by watching it, I mean, burning through episodes. I love it so much. I live outside Baltimore so these are places and a culture that I recognize. Each episode is so well-constructed and well-written. The characters are rich and deep and the acting is phenomenal. Even for that time, the show was critical about the role of the police and their impact on the community. I do think it's worth buying the entire DVD boxed set because who knows if it's going to be on streaming anytime soon. — Roxana Hadadi

The Taste of Things

The movie The Taste of Thingsis directed by Tran Anh Hung, and it's a remarkably beautiful, food porn-y film set in the late 19th century. It stars Juliette Binoche as a personal cook to a well-to-do gourmand played by Benoît Magimel. They've collaborated in the kitchen for decades, and they share this very complex, romantic relationship.

The first 15 or 20 minutes of this movie is just them making food in a 19th-century kitchen — you can almost smell and taste it. In a recent story,NPR's Elizabeth Blair explored how all of the ingredients and meals we see onscreen in this film are real. On a lot of Hollywood sets they're using inedible substitutions. But apparently everything was real in this film — the director insisted on it — and you can tell. — Aisha Harris

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

It's not as if there isn't a glut of true crime content coming out of Netflix — given my weakness for it, I sometimes feel as though I recommend something every week. But! The new two-part documentary Can I Tell You A Secret?has a lot to say about how absurd it is to pretend that online harassment and stalking are a problem confined to the online space. It tells the story of a man who relentlessly stalked many women in the UK, threatening and terrifying them, interfering with the living of their lives. It's hard to identify easy answers, but even at far lower levels than happen in this story, it's a pressing problem.

I am currently reading Lyz Lenz's This American Ex-Wife: How I Ended My Marriage and Started My Life. It's a blend of memoir and nonfiction that uses Lenz's own divorce as a doorway to broader examinations of how marriage on an institutional level (not always on a personal level!) is designed to limit, and effectively does limit, women's options. Early on, it contains an anecdote about her ex-husband that was so upsetting to me that I'm pretty sure I put the book down for five minutes so my head wouldn't explode.

NPR TV critic Eric Deggans wrote this week about his efforts to get an answer out of producers about The Bachelor and its record on race. As the headline says, "It didn't go well."


Beth Noveyadapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" for the Web. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletterto get recommendations every week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple Podcastsand Spotify.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Aisha Harris
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Roxana Hadadi
Chloe Veltman
Chloe Veltman is a correspondent on NPR's Culture Desk.