Welcome to the IndieWire Watch List, a weekly feature that takes everything the site’s critics and editors are currently obsessed with and collects it all together in one place. From the best new movies and shows to can’t-miss streaming content and whatever else we can’t get out of our heads, consider this your one-stop shop for what to watch this weekend.
This week’s highlights include “The Lion King” (well, the original version, fans of the film will have to wait until next week when Disney’s new CGI version arrives in theaters), a tasty new exploration of the wide world of the taco, and Ari Aster’s horrifying (and also very funny) new film “Midsommar.”
8. Ashley O & Ally, “On A Roll / Why Did You Do That” Mashup [Web Video]
Pop music is a gift. Satirical, borderline trash-pop music by fictional artists is even better. This addicting viral YouTube mashup of “On a Roll” by Miley Cyrus’ “Black Mirror” caricature Ashley O and “Why Did You do That?” by Lady Gaga’s Ally from “A Star is Born” is bound to be the bop of the summer, at least for me and my house. These tracks blend together so seamlessly, it’s almost as if they were written to eventually become one. It is an absolute delight. And it is the only song I will force everyone around me to listen to on loop for the next two months. —Leah Lu, Social Media Coordinator
7. “PEN15” [TV Series — Hulu]
Part of what makes “PEN15” such a welcome addition to the TV landscape is that its episodes work as actual episodes. Rather than arbitrarily divided pieces of a bigger whole, Anna Konkle and Maya Erskine’s personal ode to the coming-of-age angst of the early, early 2000s play out like clear, heartfelt journal entries.
Whether the subject is a nonexistent timpani solo or the unquantifiable experience of signing into AOL Instant Messenger for the first time, each chapter is told with some of the same spirit that can fuel the response to the surprising discoveries that come at 13 years old. No detail is too small to overtake everything else in life and many of the bigger-world challenges come hurtling out of nowhere. Blending a rose-colored view of life through middle school eyes with the perspective and realizations of decades since, “PEN15” manages to work every emotion into its wonderful first 10 installments. —Steve Greene, Associate TV Editor
6. “Las Crónicas del Taco” AKA “The Taco Chronicles” [Series, Netflix]
Today is the day that you reexamine your relationship to the taco, a tasty handful of food that demands immediate and enthusiastic consumption. Netflix’s brand-new Spanish-language food documentary series “Las Crónicas del Taco” (“The Taco Chronicles”), takes a unique approach by having a different style of taco highlighted in each episode actually speak to the viewer. Sort of. Akin to the cheeky narrator heard on “Jane the Virgin,” friendly voices get personal as the el pastor taco confides that he is “the one that will not let you down” or a trio of female voices say that “nostalgia is the ingredient that unites us all” (tacos de guisados) as images of said meats are lovingly prepared.
Created and produced by Pablo Cruz, with associate producers Javier Cabral — a young food writer whom Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold mentored — and Mexican filmmaker Diego Rabasa, the series keeps the energy bustling and tone playful. This is tacos, after all, the most fun and accessible of foods. The series cleverly imparts taco wisdom through interviews with food writers, enthusiasts, and experts, including the eye-opening history for each style’s origins and influences. Although not overtly political, one cannot ignore the cultural impact of this cuisine from south of the border, especially when the carnitas taco declares, “I’m the bridge connecting both continents.” Word of warning: Have these flavor bombs of goodness on hand to eat while watching this mouth-watering series. And then afterward, let’s all taco ’bout it. —Hanh Nguyen, Senior Editor
5. “From the Earth to the Moon” [Limited Series – HBO]
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s landmark mission to the moon, HBO is re-releasing its landmark miniseries about NASA’s many Apollo missions on Monday, July 12 — a little post-weekend binge, if you will. Starring everyone from Bryan Cranston to Rita Wilson to Cary Elwes to Stephen Root, the series captures various perspectives of the daunting space race with Russia as well as the aftermath for the astronauts and their families.
Not only is the 1998 Emmy-winner remastered with new CG-effects, the Blu-ray loaded with a fresh Dolby ATMOS sound mix, and the story itself filled with insights into the unique space endeavor from five decades prior, but the 12-part epic provides a glimpse into the golden age of TV’s beginnings. You will never see another miniseries like this one (and not just because we now call them limited series), so do yourself a favor and stream a few episodes this Sunday. Tom Hanks wants you to, and so do I. —Ben Travers, Critic and Deputy Editor – TV
4. “Aziz Ansari: Right Now” [Special, Netflix]
Aziz Ansari’s Netflix special finds him returning to the stage for the first time since the story of his sexual misconduct circulated last year, and he addresses the subject from the very start. It’s a wise move — when I saw Ansari perform this set in Los Angeles, he saved the remarks for the end — because it gets the tough stuff out of the way upfront, without making light of it. Then Ansari plows through a range of hilarious topics about modern-day political correctness, and the impact of “wokeness” on revising our relationship to treasured pop culture.
From R. Kelly and Michael Jackson to the comedian’s own beloved “Parks and Recreation,” nobody escapes unscathed. It’s a scary new world of sensitivities out there, and Ansari knows better than a lot of people that he needs to tread lightly. But in doing so, he finds a way to assess the tangled state of American culture, and his own uncertain place in it. Accompanied onstage by cameraman Spike Jonze (who gets right in the performer’s face), Ansari gets real. It’s great to have him back. —Eric Kohn, Executive Editor
3. “I Love You, Now Die” [Docu-Series, HBO]
Documentarian Erin Lee Carr doesn’t aim for absolutes — or absolutions — in her latest look inside a heinous and frankly strange crime, which follows the case against teenager Conrad Roy’s erstwhile girlfriend, Michelle Carter, who was tried for manslaughter in connection with Roy’s 2014 death. It’s a story that bred breathless media coverage, from BuzzFeed features to Nancy Grace segments, all hinging on the contemporary horror of it: the accusation that Carter encouraged Roy to kill himself via text message, and then he actually did it.
“I Love You, Now Die” is divided into two segments, one that ostensibly focuses on the prosecution, another on the defense, though the lines blur between the two sides of Carter’s 2017 trial. Despite the lack of participation from the Carters, Carr is able to partially work around big questions with on-screen text messages (she and editor Andrew Coffman have smartly assembled them in a conversational manner), other interviews, a healthy amount of footage from the trial itself, and insights from many close to the case.
The two-parter offers little in the way of easy answers and viewers are likely to walk away with still more questions — probably regarding a mystifying and then compelling jaunt off into a theory regarding the television series “Glee” — but given the subject matter, that only seems right. —Kate Erbland, Deputy Editor – Film
2. “The Lion King (1994)” [Film – Amazon]
It might be beating a dead horse — or lion? — but there’s no way in hell I’m taking my 4-year-old son to see the soulless technomarvel “The Lion King” in theaters next weekend. This is a child who asks if he can “see the zombies” every time we drive by a cemetery, so realistic-looking animal death is not on the top of my list of entertainment options for him. The animated original, however, with singing and dancing animals and an opportunity to engage in Elton John karaoke in the living room? We’re there. I’ll give him another couple of years of whimsy before we settle down to fun family nights of watching one animal after another bite it ala “Hostile Planet.”
The original is available to purchase and stream in HD on Amazon for $13.99. A better film that’s cheaper than going to the theater and less harrowing? That’s my problem-free philosophy. —Ann Donahue, Executive Editor – TV
1. “Midsommar” [Film – Theatrical]
Consider this your weekly reminder that you really should go see Ari Aster’s trip horror film “Midsommar” in theaters, though maybe not for the reasons you expect. The movie serves up more existential dread than pure scares, but where it really stands out is as an unexpected rumination on grief.
Aster’s examination of mourning as anchored in Florence Pugh’s dynamic performance serves as a perfect — if wholly unexpected — counterpoint to Facebook Watch’s underseen Elizabeth Olsen vehicle “Sorry For Your Loss,” which centered around a young widow. Both “Midsommar” and “SFYL” delve into the complicated inner lives of the bereft and play with the idea that whether you go it alone or seek out a community, fumbling through grief is inevitably messy. —Libby Hill, TV Awards Editor