Pop Culture Happy Hour

Pop Culture Happy Hour

Get obsessed with us. Five days a week, Pop Culture Happy Hour serves you recommendations and commentary on the buzziest movies, TV, music, books, videogames and more. Join arts journalists Linda Holmes, Glen Weldon, Stephen Thompson, and Aisha Harris - plus a rotating cast of guest pop culture aficionados. The Happy Hour team leaves room at the table for exploring a range of reactions and opinions on every bit of the pop universe. From lowbrow to highbrow to the stuff in between, they take it all with a shot of cheer.

Episodes

January 14, 2022 25 min
The Tragedy of Macbeth adapts Shakespeare's familiar tale of blood and betrayal, dreamlike daggers and stubborn stains. But its stars Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand are significantly older than the leads usually are, which makes the whole thing hit differently. Directed by Joel Coen, the film fuses black-and-white cinematography with a clean, minimalist production design that underscores the story's theatrical root...
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The Weeknd's album After Hours was one of the biggest hits of 2020, and now the elusive artist is back. He's had a decade of massive highlights from "Blinding Lights" to last year's Super Bowl Halftime Show. His new album is Dawn FM, and it's a set of sleek synth-pop songs with assists from Oneohtrix Point Never and comedian Jim Carrey.
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January 12, 2022 19 min
The HBO Max miniseries Station Eleven begins with a highly contagious and deadly virus wiping out 99 percent of humanity. That might not sound like comfort viewing, but hear us out. The show follows many characters as their individual stories intersect — both in the 100 days after the virus hits, and 20 years later, as civilization attempts to rebuild. Based on Emily St. John Mandel's novel, the series stars Himesh Patel, Macke...
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January 11, 2022 17 min
In the movie C'mon C'mon, Joaquin Phoenix plays an audio journalist who, after visiting his sister (played by Gaby Hoffmann), takes his young nephew (played by Woody Norman) on the road as he interviews kids about the world. Along the way, the two learn a lot about each other. Directed by Mike Mills, it's a film about family, loss, and joy — and it's about radio.
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January 10, 2022 21 min
Hollywood legend Sidney Poitier died last week at age of 94. He was a man of many firsts, including the first Black performer to win the best actor Oscar for the 1963 film Lilies of the Field. He was also a humanitarian who was active during the civil rights movement, and also someone who was quite obviously dedicated to his craft. And today we remember Poitier's work, including In The Heat Of The Night and To Sir With Love.
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We cover a lot of movies here on Pop Culture Happy Hour, but we can't come close to hitting every great film. Today, we're inviting some of our favorite film critics to share the movies they loved from 2021 — the ones that got past us the first time, but should definitely get added to your queue.
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January 6, 2022 23 min
The Showtime drama Yellowjackets is a series in two halves: In the first part, a plane crashes in 1996, and a high school girls' soccer team is stranded in the Canadian wilderness. The other part follows some of the girls more than 20 years later, as they realize the full ramifications of what they did during the time before they were rescued. Part horror and part suspense, Yellowjackets boasts a killer cast and a tangle of dar...
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January 5, 2022 13 min
In the Netflix film The Lost Daughter, Olivia Coleman plays Leda, a professor on a working holiday in Greece who becomes fascinated by a young mother played by Dakota Johnson. This leads Leda to think about her own past, and to flashbacks in which the young Leda is played by Jessie Buckley. Adapted from the 2006 Elena Ferrante novel of the same name, The Lost Daughter marks the directorial debut of Maggie Gyllenhaal. The film also ...
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This winter, we've been at home, playing games. And we've been exploring games for the Nintendo Switch. We've been trying adventure games and puzzle games, beautiful games and silly games. And in this encore episode, we have a few to recommend.
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January 3, 2022 14 min
Actress and icon Betty White died Friday at the age of 99. Her career as a comic actress – on TV, on radio, in movies, and more – lasted more than 80 years. She was probably best known for her work on The Golden Girls and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But White was a trailblazer, a record-setter, and one of the most venerated figures in the history of television.
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It's the end of 2021, and the cusp of a new year — which means we're looking back, and we're looking ahead. It's time to see how we did sticking to our pop culture resolutions we made a year ago. And it's time to make some new ones for 2022.
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December 29, 2021 21 min
If there's one thing we can tell you about 2021, it's that we didn't see it coming. And we might not see 2022 coming either, but we're going to try — by making some pop culture predictions for next year. And on top of that, we'll look at last year's predictions and see how things turned out.
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December 28, 2021 15 min
The new Netflix film Don't Look Up has a crazy Academy Awards pedigree. Writer-director Adam McKay won an Oscar for The Big Short and the Oscar-studded cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as scientists who discover that a massive comet is hurtling toward Earth. The only problem: They can't get the media's attention (represented here by Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry) or get the president (played by Mer...
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December 27, 2021 21 min
When Insecure premiered on HBO in 2016, Issa Dee (played by the show's co-creator Issa Rae), her bestie Molly (played by Yvonne Orji) and the rest of their cohort were a bunch of millennials who were stuck in unhappy relationships and jobs, and didn't have a clue how to make better choices for themselves. After five seasons, we're bidding farewell to Insecure — only now, these characters have finally seen some growth.
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December 23, 2021 16 min
Licorice Pizza is a freewheeling slice of life story about an odd friendship/flirtation set in the San Fernando Valley. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the film stars Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim (who play 15- and 25-year-olds, respectively) as they deliver waterbeds and embark on meandering adventures during the gas crisis of the 1970s.
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When The Matrix opened in 1999, it thrilled audiences with its strangely cerebral mix of stylized violence, existential crisis, and tight, black leather. The new movie The Matrix: Resurrections continues the story. Directed by Lana Wachowski, the film takes us back inside the simulation that the machines are using to keep humanity docile as they harvest our energy. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss return as Neo and Trinity, who, ...
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December 21, 2021 15 min
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were the TV power couple. In the new film Being the Ricardos, we spend an eventful week with Lucy (played by Nicole Kidman) and Desi (played by Javier Bardem) as they try to get a show on the air. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, the film showcases the complicated relationship and creative process of America's favorite couple.
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December 20, 2021 16 min
Nightmare Alley is a stylish neo-noir that's as seedy as its title sounds. The film is directed by Guillermo del Toro and is inspired by the book and 1947 movie adaptation of the same name. It stars Bradley Cooper as Stan, an ambitious 1940s drifter who joins a traveling carnival and learns to develop his own mentalist act. An encounter with a mysterious psychologist, played by Cate Blanchett, leads to a fateful and destructive...
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In Spider-Man: No Way Home, we spend time with some familiar characters. The film stars Tom Holland as Peter Parker and Zendaya as MJ, and, this time, also brings in Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), plus an array of villains who'll already be familiar to fans of the franchise. But the film is more complicated than that, as the Marvel Cinematic Universe delves deeper into the mysteries of the Multiverse.
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December 16, 2021 31 min
It's tradition here at Pop Culture Happy Hour to look back on some of our favorite things from the last 12 months of television, movies and music. Today, we're revisiting the pop culture that thrilled us, moved us and kept us company in our best and worst moments.
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