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Spike Lee’s ‘Da 5 Bloods’ tackles the black experience in the Vietnam War, ‘The Hunt’ hits home entertainment, ‘Toy Story 3’ turns 10 and the best in pop culture the week of June 8, 2020


The It List is Yahoo’s weekly look at the best in pop culture, including movies, music, TV, streaming, games, books, podcasts and more. During the coronavirus pandemic, when most of us are staying at home, we’re going to spotlight things you can enjoy from your couch, whether solo or in small groups, and leave out the rest. With that in mind, here are our picks for June 8-14, including the best deals we could find for each. (Yahoo Entertainment may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page.)

STREAM IT: Spike Lee wrestles with the ghosts of the Vietnam War in Da 5 Bloods

Some filmmakers might take a day off after winning an Oscar — Spike Lee went right back to work. The morning after accepting his Best Adapted Screenplay statue for BlacKkKlansman in 2019, the director of such contemporary classics as Do the Right Thing and He Got Game flew to Thailand to continue production on his first Netflix joint, Da 5 Bloods. Moving back and forth in time, the film follows a quartet of Vietnam War veterans who return to the country decades after the last U.S. helicopter left Saigon. Their new mission is twofold: to locate the remains of their squad leader, Stormin’ Norman (played by Black Panther star, Chadwick Boseman) and also dig up some long-lost treasure. Platoon director, Oliver Stone, was originally set to direct the script, which at that point revolved around a group of white soldiers. When Lee and his BlacKkKlansman collaborator, Kevin Willmott, took over the project, they took the characters and the narrative in bold new directions.

“We wanted to make the story about African American Vietnam vets,” Lee told Vanity Fair, adding that one major plot point is based on the historical record. “The United States Armed Forces came close to being torn apart when black soldiers heard that Dr. King was assassinated… The tipping point came very close; the black soldiers were getting ready to set it off in Vietnam — and not against the Vietcong either.” Lee also said that while Da 5 Bloods pays homage to such popular war movies as Apocalypse Now, there’s one Vietnam film he won’t be referencing. “I’m not being disrespectful to any Vietnam film that’s been made, except maybe The Green Berets with John Wayne, who is not a hero of mine.” Meanwhile, Lee remains a hero for film lovers and filmmakers after three decades and counting in the business. — Ethan Alter

Da 5 Bloods premieres Friday, June 12 on Netflix.

WATCH IT: The 30 for 30 documentary Long Gone Summer is a home run for baseball fans 

While Major League Baseball continues to take tentative steps towards returning for a coronavirus-shortened season, you can relive slam-bang summer of 1998 with ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 documentary, Long Gone Summer. That’s when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — representing the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, respectively — raced to shatter Roger Maris’s home run record against the backdrop of increased steroid use in America’s favorite pastime. Both sluggers are interviewed for the film, alongside their fellow players and baseball commentators. — E.A.

Long Gone Summer premieres Sunday, June 14 at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

STREAM IT: Lenox Hill is an intimate look into frontline workers’ lives

At a time when nurses and doctors are rightly being recognized as heroes, this new documentary series introduces viewers to four medical professionals working at the storied Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “This is a human being in front of us,” one of them says in the trailer. “You cannot f*** it up. You just can’t.” Besides the genuine life- and-death drama at the hospital (the series was filmed before the current coronavirus crisis) the show promises to examine how the medical professionals balance their personal lives with their all-consuming jobs. — Raechal Shewfelt

Lenox Hill premieres Wednesday, June 10 on Netflix.

WATCH IT: The Bachelor takes you down memory lane

Having rose ceremony withdrawals? Never fear. Chris Harrison is here to take fans through some of the franchise’s most memorable seasons of the Bachelor and Bachelorette. Each episode focuses on one season and it kicks off with Sean Lowe. Since Clare Crawley’s season of Bachelorette is indefinitely postponed due to COVID-19 — and who knows if Bachelor in Paradise will happen — we’ll take what we can get. — Taryn Ryder

The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons – Ever! airs Monday, June 8 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

HEAR IT: Norah Jones has your perfect pick-me-up

The nine-time Grammy-winner’s Pick Me Up Off the Floor is actually a happy accident — an extension of her critically acclaimed singles series, featuring collaborators ranging from Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy to jazz great Brian Blade. Jones’s seventh solo album is also perfectly timed, according to her statement: “Living in this country — this world — the last few years, I think there’s an underlying sense of ‘Lift me up. Let’s get up out of this mess and try to figure some things out.’ If there’s a darkness to this album, it’s not meant to be an impending sense of doom, if feels more like a human longing for connection.” — Lyndsey Parker

Download/stream Pick Me Up Off the Floor on Apple Music.

WATCH IT: Insecure’s Season 4 finale is lowkey happening

Asian Bae, Issa and Molly’s friendship fallout, that dreamy Lawrence reunion… it’s been a stellar season for Issa Rae’s HBO series, which will tie up loose ends with its Sunday night finale. The show’s been renewed for a fifth season, which is excellent news for fans who have been cheering on Issa’s new turn as an event organizer and fuming over her blowout with Molly. In honor of the finale, make it a Self-Care Sunday and treat yourself to your new Issa-approved cocktail of choice: a Prosecco topped with vodka. — Erin Donnelly

Insecure airs Sunday, June 14 at 10 p.m. on HBO. 

STREAM IT: It doesn’t suck! Celebrate 25 years of Showgirls with the documentary You Don’t Nomi

It may have been rejected by critics and audiences back in 1995, but Paul Verhoeven’s ultra-trashy, ultra-tacky, ultra-addictive Las Vegas epic, Showgirls, scored the last laugh by achieving cult movie immortality in the quarter-century since its controversial release. The story of the movie’s fall and rise is chronicled in the celebratory documentary You Don’t Nomi, which mixes newly-recorded testimonials from devoted fans with archival interviews featuring Verhoeven and star Elizabeth Berkley. But the best argument for Nomi’s long afterlife remains the film itself — the clips and soundbites that director Jeffrey McHale assembles will make you want to organize a virtual Showgirls watch party with your fellow goddesses. — E.A.

You Don’t Nomi is available on Tuesday, June 9 on most VOD services, including Amazon and Vudu.

WATCH IT: The Hunt completes completely normal release pattern with home entertainment drop

It’s hard to think of another major studio movie that had as thorny a journey to movie theaters as The Hunt. Shrouded in controversy after its first trailer last summer depicted its Surviving the Game-esque premise as being about “liberal elites” who hunt down #MAGA-supporting “deplorables” for sport, the film was soon shelved, mainly in light of a spate of mass shootings but it certainly didn’t help when President Donald Trump started attacking it on Twitter. Then it was rescheduled (and re-marketed, fully playing up the controversy) for release in March, only to hit theaters just as most of America went into quarantine (its total box office: $6 million). Universal later released it on digital, and now the Damon Lindlelof-produced thriller/class parody, worth seeing for Betty Gilpin’s fierce and butt-whooping performance alone, lands on DVD and Blu-ray this week. Just don’t expect escapism from a sharply divided country. — Kevin Polowy

Buy The Hunt on Blu-ray, DVD or digital on Amazon.

WATCH IT: Big Time Bake is a sweet respite from the news

Cake master Buddy Valastro’s latest baking show has amped up the competition. The premise is that four bakers will have just three hours to create three stunning and delectable desserts, and they’ll work non-stop to do it. First up, they’ll craft cookies. After two hours, the judges — who include fan favorites Aarti Sequeira and Tregaye Fraser — will taste the dishes and cut someone. The remaining bakers will make cupcakes before being judged all over again. Those who survive that round will make elaborate cakes, which is, of course, Valastro’s specialty. — R.S.

Big Time Bake premieres Monday, June 8 at 9 p.m. on Food Network.

STREAM IT: Toy Story 3, the film we thought was ending it all, turns 10

It was the perfect way to wrap up a trilogy — a hilarious and heartfelt finale that gave us a thrill-ride of a plot (Woody, Buzz and pals get accidentally donated to a daycare, then have to adventure their way back before Andy leaves for college) and tears galore by the end (Andy passes off his beloved toys to young Bonnie). Of course, it wasn’t the last Toy Story — and Toy Story 4 ended up somehow being even better than its predecessor. (Pixar, you outdo yourselves, truly.) But it’s still one of the best threequels we can name, and worth revisiting for its 10th anniversary whether you’re Bonnie’s age, Andy’s age or any age. — K.P.

Toy Story 3 is currently streaming on Disney+.

HEAR IT: Built to Spill pay tribute to a fallen friend

Built To Spill · Tell Me Now

Following the 2019 death of Daniel Johnston, the venerable indie-rock trio presents “11 tracks of Johnston’s fractured pop presented through the eyes of Built to Spill,” inspired by their rehearsals with the legendary lo-fi singer-songwriter when they toured as his backup band in 2017. While the songs were initially recorded in 2018 for the band’s own enjoyment, those raw tracks are now getting an official release as Built to Spill Plays the Songs of Daniel Johnston to honor the troubled genius. — L.P.

Download/stream Built to Spill Plays the Songs of Daniel Johnston on Apple Music.

STREAM IT: Dating Around is back on Netflix

The low-key hit show returns for a second season, this time putting a spotlight on the dating scene in New Orleans. The premise doesn’t change. Each episode follows a different person as they go on dates with five other singles. The first season featured a diverse cast, so here’s hoping that part stays the same. — T.R.

Dating Around drops Friday, June 12 on Netflix.

HEAR IT: Britronica darling Jack Garratt returns

Jack Garratt · Love, Death & Dancing (Vol. 1)

In 2016, one-man band Garratt joined an exclusive club alongside Adele, Florence + the Machine, Ellie Goulding, Sam Smith, Jessie J, Emeli Sandé and James Bay, when he was the Critics’ Choice winner at that year’s BRIT Awards. Around that time, he also won the BBC’s Introducing Artist of the Year honor and topped the BBC’s Sound of 2016 poll. He hasn’t released a full-length album since, but now he’s finally back with his sophomore LP, Love, Death & Dancing. A mad-scientist mix of electro, soul and indie-pop that’s been worth the wait, the record will likely add a few more trophies to his crowded mantel. — L.P.

Download/stream Love, Death & Dancing on Apple Music.

PLAY IT: Explore the virtual ocean in the new eco-video game Beyond Blue

If you’re in need a change of scenery after three months indoors, the immersive video game Beyond Blue offers you an entire ocean to explore. Produced in partnership with BBC Studios — which made the deep diving nature series Blue Planet II — OceanX Media and other ocean experts, E-Line Media’s new game allows players to take the plunge into the waters of the Western Pacific. Once underwater, you can use near-future tech to learn about all manner of sea life. We’re hoping for an Ecco the Dolphin cameo— E.A.

Beyond Blue will be available on Thursday, June 11 on Xbox Live, Apple Arcade and Steam.

STREAM IT: Marcella has scared up a third season

Are you afraid of the dark? If the answer’s no, you can’t get much moodier or more chilling than this acclaimed British crime drama starring Anna Friel in the title role. Having faked her death at the end of Season 2, former police detective Marcella — who suffers from blackouts linked to her past trauma — goes undercover (and blond!) to solve yet another impossibly grim case. Judging by the trailer’s anguished scenes, her past, and mental health struggles, continue to plague her. — E.D.

Marcella Season 3 premieres Sunday, June 14 on Netflix.

STREAM IT: Winter’s Bone, drama that introduced us to Jennifer Lawrence, turns 10 

It feels like way more than 10 years since Debra Granik’s haunting drama hit theaters after a buzzed-about premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. That’s probably because it feels like way more than 10 years since we were first introduced to the film’s star, Jennifer Lawrence. In that time span, Lawrence has earned four Oscar nominations (Winter’s Bone, Silver Lining’s Playbook, American Hustle, Joy — and winning for Playbook), headed up a nearly $3 billion YA movie franchise (The Hunger Games), and become one of the most respected young actors of her generation. With Winter’s Bone, she made an immediate impression as a teen in the Ozarks (way before Ozark) desperately attempting to track down her drug dealing father. Make it a double feature and watch this gem with Granik’s follow-up and admittedly even better father-daughter drama, Leave No Trace— K.P.

Winter’s Bone can be streamed on HBOGo or HBONow.

HEAR IT: The Sounds of the summer

Indie rock’s answer to ABBA is back with their first album since 2013, Things We Do for Love, which is being heralded as a return to the brash, bratty sound of their dancey 2002 debut. Crank up the attitudinal title track, lead single “Safe and Sound,” and “Stay Free” and crank up the Swedish heat this summer. — L.P.

Download/stream Things We Do for Love on Apple Music.

— Video produced by Gisselle Bances



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