The It List is Yahoo’s weekly look at the best in pop culture, including movies, music, TV, streaming, games, books, podcasts and more. Here are our picks for May 20 to 26, including the best deals we could find for each.
WATCH IT: Aladdin
Never judge a movie by its blue genie, apparently. It's no secret that the buzz on Disney's latest live action remake of a beloved classic has not exactly been magical, especially when it comes to Will Smith's bombastic interpretation of the hand-drawn role Robin Williams made so iconic in 1992. So color us surprised to report that this Guy Ritchie-directed version is… really good. (And don't just trust us, early reactions have mostly all been positive.) Like the original, the film really takes flight once Genie shows up, and Smith, to his credit, makes the role all his own. But the true star here is Naomi Scott, who proves a revelation as newly empowered and far less passive Jasmine. It also helps that she's a musical force to be reckoned with, especially when it comes to her show-stopping delivery of the new song "Speechless."
Aladdin opens Friday. Get tickets on Fandango.
STREAM IT: Midnight Cowboy (50th anniversary)
50 years after its controversial release, everyone’s still talkin’ about John Schlesinger’s groundbreaking drama, which remains the only X-rated film in Hollywood history to win the Best Picture Oscar. (That rating was later changed to an R when the movie was re-released in 1971.) Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight both received Best Actor nominations for their respective roles as small-time con man, Ratso Rizzo, and strapping street hustler, Joe Buck, who form an unlikely friendship on the mean streets of New York City. Atypically frank and explicit for a studio-made movie at the time, Midnight Cowboy is perhaps less shocking five decades later, but it’s still an emotionally potent portrait of two outsiders who find comfort — and even love — with each other.
WATCH IT: Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’
When the comics of today speak about their heroes, Norman Lear is a name that’s frequently mentioned. Thanks to late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and Lear himself, 2019 audiences will have the chance to see episodes of two of the icon’s most beloved, socially-conscious sitcoms from the ‘70s performed live by modern actors. We already know the material is stellar, but the cast of actors assembled to perform it is just as impressive: Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei as Archie and Edith Bunker, Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes as George and Louise Jefferson, with Kerry Washington, Ike Barinholtz, Ellie Kemper and many others filling out the supporting cast. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay are among the producers, so we’re expecting big things from the iconic theme song!
The Giles Martin-produced soundtrack to the eagerly awaited Elton John biopic includes a new Elton John/Bernie Taupin composition, “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” performed by John and the film’s star, Taron Egerton, with all other tracks sung by Egerton and other cast members. “It was so important that the music I composed and recorded had to be sung by Taron. I wanted his interpretation of me, through Bernie’s lyrics and my music — not just acting,” John has stated.
WATCH IT: The Red Nose Day Special
Technically, the annual Red Nose Day special is part of a fundraiser — for the noble cause of ending child poverty — but it’s also quite entertaining. This year, an all-star team from NBC, including The Voice coaches Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton, Saturday Night Live standout Kate McKinnon, YouTuber and new late-night TV host Lilly Singh and This Is Us stars Milo Ventimiglia and Chrissy Metz are all on the roster. Ventimiglia appears in a recorded segment about traveling to Nairobi, Kenya, to show Red Nose donations at work. Four Weddings and a Funeral fans have extra incentive to watch, because a short sequel to the 1994 rom-com, called One Red Nose Day and a Wedding, which features Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell and other original cast members from the movie, is also part of the lineup.
The Red Nose Day Special airs at 8 p.m. May 23 on NBC; stream it live with a Hulu + Live TV subscription.
PLAY IT: Dungeons & Dragons
May has become D&D month with the venerable RPG spawning all sorts of new products for would-be sorcerers and swordsfolk. Earlier this month we got the Stranger Things Dungeons & Dragons Start Set, inspired by the adventure Mike created for his pals on the very first episode of the Netflix smash. The set includes pre-made characters like Will the Wise and Dustin the Dwarf along with two Demogorgon mini-figures, rulebook and dice, all in retro packaging.
Newly available this week is Ghosts of Saltmarsh, a self-contained adventure book that adapts the classic sea-based campaign of yesteryear for next-gen players.
Finally, there’s the new documentary Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons & Dragons, which goes deep into the lore — and allure — of the game while showcasing artwork by some of the top fantasy illustrators. It’s available on most digital-streaming services (including iTunes and Amazon).
BOOK IT: Deadwood: Heroes & Villains Travel Package
An HBO subscription doesn’t have to be your only ticket to Deadwood. In honor of the May 31 premiere of Deadwood: The Movie — the feature-length continuation of David Milch’s much loved Old West series — the actual town of Deadwood is offering customizable three-night travel packages. Between May 25 and September 1, cowpokes dreaming of going west can book their passage to the historic South Dakota town and also select a variety of experiences ranging from the Lawman’s Walking Tour — a street-level crash course in Deadwood history — to a visit to Mount Moriah where some of the real-life people depicted on the show are buried. And yes, swearing is definitely encouraged.
Visit the Deadwood: Heroes & Villains site to view rates and book your trip.
"Vegetables are sexy now" is a popular theme of this decade's cookbooks, but celebrity chef José Andrés takes things a step further. "I don't want to just show you how to bake a potato or dress a salad," he writes in Vegetables Unleashed. "I want to show how to stuff a squash with quiche, how to turn tomatoes into tartare, how to make ceviche from mushrooms and sweet potatoes." The recipes range from absurdly simple (he wants to bring boiled veggies back) to wildly ambitious, using ingredients both common (frozen corn) and rare (fresh baby artichokes). Andrés encourages unorthodox experimentation, and while ideas like roasting potatoes in compost scraps and used coffee grounds may not appeal to everyone, it's hard not to be swept away by his enthusiasm. Between recipes, the authors tell stories of chefs and farmers around the world, growing and cooking vegetables in every possible environment. Vegetables aren't just sexy; they're democratic, too.
Vegetables Unleashed is available to order on Amazon.
PLAY IT: Team Sonic Racing
Looks like Sonic the Hedgehog has finally gotten tired of getting everywhere on foot. The latest game to feature Sega’s super-fast Erinaceidae and his extensive cast of supporting characters once again places them behind the wheels of speedy race cars, where they previously sat in a pair of racing games released in 2010 and 2012. This new game makes teamwork a major feature, with three-racer teams competing head to head on a variety of twisty, obstacle-filled tracks.
HEAR IT: Morrissey, California Son
This protest-themed covers album sees the polarizing post-punk curmudgeon joining forces with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste, LP, Petra Haden, Young the Giant’s Sameer Gadhia, Broken Social Scene’s Ariel Engle and Lydia Night of the Regrettes, as he interprets the songs of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Dionne Warwick, Carly Simon and cult glam star Jobriath.
WATCH IT: Booksmart
The South by Southwest Film Festival has become the landing spot of choice for many of Hollywood's biggest comedies to premiere, and this year was no exception. The surprise, though, that it was neither film that involved stalwart genre star Seth Rogen (this month's Long Shot or August's Good Boys) that prevailed as the most promising (or hilarious). That title went to Booksmart, actor Olivia Wilde's directorial debut that's been called "the female Superbad" for its uproarious, unflinching portrayal of high school raunch and sexuality. Co-leads Beanie Feldstein (sister of Superbad star Jonah Hill) and Kaitlyn Dever are both top-notch, but keep an eye out for Billie Lourd (daughter of Carrie Fisher) in a scene-stealing supporting role.
Booksmart opens Friday. Get tickets on Fandango.
BUY IT: Kool-Aid Man Funko Pop
Now here’s a Funko Pop who will make every ‘80s and ‘90s kid go “Oh yeah!” The classic Kool-Aid pitchman is captured in all his bright red glory in this nearly 4” high vinyl replica. Warning: You’ll have to supply your own wall for him to burst through.
The Kool-Aid Man Funko Pop retails for $10.99 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.
HEAR IT: The Stray Cats, 40
The first new album in 25 years from the second-wave rockabilly pioneers was produced by Peter Collins (Alice Cooper, Suicidal Tendencies, the Cardigans) and engineered by Third Man Records associate Vance Powell (Chris Stapleton, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Wolfmother). The new single. “Cat Fight (Over a Dog Like Me),” finds the trio of Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom in fine fighting form.
HEAR IT: Mavis Staples, We Get By
The 14th studio album by the R&B/gospel legend was entirely produced and written by Ben Harper, who also duets with Staples on the socially conscious title track. In a statement, Staples said, "These songs are delivering such a strong message. We truly need to make a change if we want this world to be better."
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