You Need to Check Out 'Wonder Woman,' 'Casual,' and More This Weekend

Watch a freaky movie, binge on some cop dramas, and listen to some blissfully bummed indie rock, too.
June 2, 2017, 5:45pm

Looking for some stuff to catch up on this weekend? Whether it's TV, movies, books, or anything in between—VICE has you covered. Read on for our staff recommendations on what to take in during your downtime:

Casual

Hulu's original shows—with the obvious exception of The Handmaid's Tale—still tend to go unnoticed. It's a shame because there are some great ones there, most notably Zander Lehmann and Jason Reitman's Casual. It's a comedy-drama that is, surface-wise, about a single mother living with her brother and her daughter while all three deal with the complexities of modern dating. But it progressed into something better and more interesting, a slow-burn show that has tackled divorce, grief, sibling relationships, teen sexuality, and growing older—all with a skewed sense of humor. What's also notable: Casual boasts plenty of women directors, from Karyn Kusama to Lake Bell to Carrie Brownstein. — Pilot Viruet, Associate Culture Editor

Denis Johnson, Train Dreams

Denis Johnson, who died last week, was one of the greatest American writers of his generation and one of my all-time favorites, an award-winning short story writer, novelist, poet, and journalist who captured the beauty and surprise of life in a visceral, artful way that very few have done. On a sentence level, in terms of surprise, poeticism, and humor, his writing about addicts and misfits might be unparalleled. If you haven't read Jesus' Son, his canonic set of semi-autobiographical stories that was adapted into a movie starring Billy Crudup, you probably should start there.

But for those who are already initiated, his historical novella Train Dreams is a masterpiece in its own right, a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award that still somehow feels underrated. The slim volume follows a railroad worker in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the century. Like many Johnsonian characters, he's at the mercy of forces much greater than him—nature, technology, violence, fate—forces that he can barely comprehend which "carr[y] him away like a seed in a wind." And yet he's also a perfect lens by which to view our own insignificance—the yearning and loneliness and indescribable, human feeling of it. Train Dreams is the kind of a book you can read in a day, and you can check out the first couple pages for free at the Paris Review site, where it was originally serialized. — James Yeh, Culture Editor

Wonder Woman

Look, I haven't seen Wonder Woman yet (Warner Bros. PR department, get at me), but the reasons for seeing Wonder Woman are plentiful. It's director Patty Jenkins's first film since the Charlize Theron–starring Monster in 2003, which detailed the horrific and heartbreaking story of serial murderer Aileen Wuronos and nabbed Theron a much-deserved Oscar. It's a big breakout for Gal Gadot, who stars as the titular superhero and apparently shines in the film. Chris Pine is also in the movie, and you know what, he's pretty good, too. Plus, the movie is going to make a boatload of cash this weekend—everyone you know will have probably seen it come Monday. Why would you want to feel left out? — Larry Fitzmaurice, Senior Culture Editor, Digital

Law & Order

Mid-1990s Law & Order is the quintessential New York show, and even though each episode is ostensibly about a horrible murder, the series manages to maintain a lively energy that makes it a fun watch. Each time the detectives conduct an interview with a suspect or witness, it turns into a colorful character sketch, a glimpse into a slice of a certain type of New York archetype that's fun to explore. Plus who doesn't love Jerry Orbach? If you're looking for a place to start, check out "Survivor" (season seven, episode four), where the detectives investigate the murder of an antiques dealer, interviewing everyone tied up in the crime—a horny lady journalist, a Holocaust survivor, a wealthy coin collector, and more. The show is always dark and weird, and more often than not, brings up interesting moral quandaries about what the role of government should be. I'd especially recommend episodes with assistant district attorney Claire Kincaid (played by the irresistibly charming Jill Hennessy in seasons four through six) and Angie Harmon's legendary Abbie Carmichael (seasons nine through 11). They're the best ADAs, trust me on this one. — Eve Peyser, Staff Writer

Spellbound

If you didn't watch last night's Scripps National Spelling Bee, your loss: You missed out on triumphant victories, heartbreaking defeats, and one of the most amazing spelling-related mic drops in the history of spelling. You can still get in on some action, though, by checking out this 2002 documentary that follows eight pint-size competitors as they make their way to the top of the bee. Jeffrey Blitz's Spellbound is highly entertaining, very thrilling, and very openhearted in its portrayals of a few kids who tackle crazy-ass words with greater finesse than most of us exhibit when we go to the bathroom. And hey, if you have a kid of your own, maybe it'll inspire them, too. — LF

Inland Empire

Even by Twin Peaks standards, Twin Peaks: The Return is pretty fucked up. There's a weird empty box with some sort of demon inside it, doppelgängers that throw up gross-looking shit, and Michael Cera. It's not what you'd call "friendly TV." If the darkness and lack of cohesion proves alluring, may I suggest David Lynch's last go-round behind the camera: His 2006 epic Inland Empire is delightfully inscrutable and totally terrifying, a three-hour odyssey about two actors (Laura Dern and Justin Theroux) starring in an unfinished film in which the actors preceding them were mysteriously murdered during filming. Creepy! Ever the obfuscator, Lynch has said previously that the film is about "a woman in trouble," and Dern's character certainly goes through some shit in this one—and, if you make it to the end, so will you. — LF

Chastity Belt, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone [Hardly Art]

The Pacific Northwest possesses a strong lineage of extremely solid indie rock bands, and Chastity Belt is no exception. I loved the quartet's sophomore album from 2015, Time to Go Home, which added some darker shades to its languid guitar rock and featured lead vocalist Julia Shapiro's perfectly slack pipes. Its third album and second for Sub Pop offshoot Hardly Art finds the band improving further and tossing a few vaguely shoegaze-indebted sounds into the mix. Chastity Belt's guitar-based rock sounds absolutely effortless in a way that requires a serious level of skill. I hope the band makes music forever. — LF