Watching: What to Watch This Weekend

What's up, docs

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By Margaret Lyons

Television Critic

Dear Watchers,

How do you film a romantic kiss but also follow safety guidelines during the pandemic? For Lifetime, the truly hilarous answer is: Have the actors kiss a pane of plexiglass, which is then edited out in postproduction. I assume “cast actors who already live together” was not an option.

Stay safe out there, pals. “The Crown” is back. See you Monday.


This weekend I have … 10 minutes, and I miss DVD extras

The character art director Deanna Marsigliese in a scene from “Inside Pixar.”Disney+

‘Inside Pixar’

When to watch: Now, on Disney+.

Oh, the enriching joy of behind-the-scenes stories, of seeing the rough drafts of polished gems, of putting voices and faces to names from the credits. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the self-mythologizing that comes out of Pixar is tender and expressive, and these shorts are warmly informative and gently inspiring. Let us all collaborate, express our truest visions, reject “failure” as a concept and grapple with the role high-waisted pants ought to have in our society. There are four episodes, and each contains five vignettes.


… a few hours, and I love babies

Mesuli, a three-year-old in South Africa, in a scene from “Becoming You.”Apple TV+

‘Becoming You’

When to watch: Now, on Apple TV+.

Prepare to cry a lot during this six-part series about child development; it’s beautiful, but it’s also scientifically engineered to send you into a “they grow up so fast” spiral. Narrated by Olivia Colman, “Becoming You” focuses on the first 2,000 days of children’s lives, and it uses footage of hundreds of kids from across the world as they hit various milestones. Watching all these babies learn to walk, talk, think and interact in all their different ways filled me with so much hope and wonder I felt like a remote and minor but happy god, marveling at all these glorious little beings.


… several hours, and I listen to a lot of podcasts

Leah Remini in Season 3 of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.”A&E

‘Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath’

When to watch: Now, on Netflix or Hulu.

The actress Leah Remini was a prominent Scientologist before breaking with the organization in 2013; her book about her experiences came out in 2015, and this fascinating series premiered on A&E in 2016 and won an Emmy in 2017. Now all three seasons are streaming. If you recently watched either of the Nxivm documentaries, or if you’re spending time right now thinking about how people wake from collective delusions, what deprogramming from cults of disinformation might entail, or how people seek and receive forgiveness for abuses enacted at the behest of a charlatan, watch this.

Your newly available movies

A scene from “Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds,” directed by Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer.Apple TV+

Showing no signs at age 78 of slowing down, the director Werner Herzog offers up his third and best film of 2020, the documentary “Fireball: Visitors From Darker Worlds,” about the various celestial objects that hurtle toward the planet. And after an overseas debut and a limited theatrical run in the United States, the widely panned (and much-disavowed) Woody Allen film “A Rainy Day in New York” finally sneaks quietly onto video on-demand.

Some independent films are available via “virtual cinemas,” which share the rental fees between distributors and theaters. Unless otherwise noted, other titles can generally be rented on the usual platforms, including Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube. — Scott Tobias

‘Coded Bias’ (Metrograph virtual cinema)

The most cleareyed of several recent documentaries about the perils of Big Tech (“The Great Hack,” The Social Dilemma”), “Coded Bias” tackles its sprawling subject by zeroing in empathetically on the human costs. — Devika Girish (Read the full review here.)

‘Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds’ (A Critic’s Pick; Apple TV+ only)

It’s Herzog’s intellectual curiosity and emotional availability that make his movies sing. This film rests on the fact that Mother Earth is always being called on by other worlds in the forms of comets, meteorites and asteroids — and it’s about as transportive as documentaries get. — Glenn Kenny (Read the full review here.)

‘I Am Greta’ (Hulu only)

[The director Nathan Grossman] shot “I Am Greta” nearly single-handedly over two years, staying close to Thunberg’s point of view and folding in her experience with Asperger’s syndrome, which she partly credits for her singular focus. She may stop for a dance break or a breather; Dad tags along on her travels and nags her to eat. But Thunberg campaigns like our lives depend on it. — Nicolas Rapold (Read the full review here.)


Driven more by mood than plot, the movie spends a great deal of time absorbing the sights and sounds of the former Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and, later, Hanoi. But the ambience doesn’t register with full force or do the heavy lifting entrusted to it. “Monsoon” finally tips over the line that separates minimalism from a not-fully-developed movie. — Ben Kenigsberg (Read the full review here.)

‘A Rainy Day in New York’

What’s on the menu here is the usual cynicism, overlaid with unconvincing, nostalgic dreaminess. There is one genuinely romantic moment, when Gatsby plays “Everything Happens to Me” on a “family heirloom” grand piano while Chan listens from another room, but “A Rainy Day in New York” squanders that along with its few moments of fun in the service of a set of tired, sour and vindictive propositions about love, youth and, above all, women. — A.O. Scott (Read the full review here.)

Also newly available:


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