How Much Watching Time Do You Have This Weekend?

By Margaret Lyons

Dear Watchers,

Netflix announced this week that it has renewed “Never Have I Ever” for a third season.
Have a great weekend.

Your newly available movies:

New features from the directors Sean Penn (“Flag Day”), François Ozon (“Summer of 85”) and Lisa Joy (“Reminiscence”) debut on streaming outlets this week. But our critics recommend two documentaries instead: “In the Same Breath,” a personal and political response to China’s handling of the pandemic, and the much lighter “Truffle Hunters,” about old men and their dogs on a culinary treasure hunt in the Italian forest.

Unless otherwise noted, all titles can generally be rented on the usual platforms, including Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

‘Flag Day’
Heavy-handed and more than a little pretentious, “Flag Day” seems to view John’s volatile fortunes as a metaphor for those of his country. Yet [Sean Penn] gives him a vivid, wheedling desperation that’s weirdly moving, and the younger Penn [Sean’s daughter, Dylan,] has clearly inherited the emotional expressiveness of her mother, Robin Wright. — Jeannette Catsoulis (Read the full review here.)

‘In the Same Breath’ (A Critic’s Pick)
A clear, razor-sharp look at the pandemic. And, as she did with her documentary “One Child Nation” (made with Jialing Zhang), [the director Nanfu Wang] vividly fuses the political with the personal. — Manohla Dargis (Read the full review here.)

‘The Truffle Hunters’ (A Critic’s Pick)
This is an intriguing movie, as far as it goes. If I were a dog, I might object — in a friendly way, of course. But since I am not a dog, it will sit at the top of my list of essential truffle movies, at least until Birba decides to direct one herself. — A.O. Scott (Read the full review here.)

‘Reminiscence’ (HBO Max only, starting Friday)
When [the director Lisa Joy] is not narrowing her focus on big heads, she fills the frame with strong, clear images — a bed on a roof, a city in water — that have a solidity that helps anchor the movie, which is generally better seen than heard. — Manohla Dargis (Read the full review here.)

‘Summer of 85’
The film aims to be pulpy and provocative, teasing the idea that its lovesick protagonist turns homicidal with jealousy. It ultimately stumbles in this balancing act and loses sight of its emotional core, but its efforts remain compelling and delightfully bizarre. — Beatrice Loayza (Read the full review here.)

‘Work in Progress’
When to watch: Sunday at 11 p.m., on Showtime.
Season 2 of this auteur comedy picks up with Abby (Abby McEnany) in a therapist’s office, where she marvels that she basically got too busy to still be suicidal. But that doesn’t mean she is off on a jaunty path of happy relaxation. Instead, this season explores more of her history, in textured and often discomfiting ways, especially as Abby’s self-loathing threatens to subsume all other aspects of her personality. Don’t mistake the show’s unassuming style for a lack of precision — “Work” is nuanced and focused, with a rich understanding of its characters’ world. If you like Chicago, “Transparent” or “Shrill,” watch this.

‘The History of the Atlanta Falcons’
When to watch: Now, on YouTube.
Mainstream sports documentaries, like mainstream crime documentaries, are in a creative rut, coalescing around the same solid but bland style. That’s one among many reasons this new seven-part series is so special and refreshing: It’s a wild departure from the talking-heads literalism you’ll find elsewhere. Instead, it is fandom as creative endeavor, an epic poem wrung from obscure stats. (This is a follow-up to the also wonderful “The History of the Seattle Mariners,” which was one of my favorite shows last year.) One need not be a football fan to enjoy this, but you do need to love love — beyond the charts and number crunching is a potent, openhearted gleefulness and sense of play. I already watched this twice.

‘Five Bedrooms’
When to watch: Now, on Peacock.
This Australian dramedy follows five single people who impulsively move in together as each navigates a crisis point in his or her life, and cheery rom-com vibes pep up the more grounded stories. The show feels a lot like the British comedy “Fresh Meat” — except the characters here are closer to middle-aged instead of college students. As such, they are caring for aging parents and filing for bankruptcy in addition to forming new friendships and occasionally smooching. If you like “Rosehaven” or “Please Like Me” but want something with a little more heft, watch this.

Also newly available:
“How It Ends”
“Last Man Standing”
“Paw Patrol: The Movie” (Paramount+ only)
“The Smartest Kids in the World” (Discovery+ only)
“Under the Volcano”

Margaret Lyons is a television critic. She previously spent five years as a writer and TV columnist for She helped launch Time Out Chicago and later wrote for Entertainment Weekly, among other publications. @margeincharge

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