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What's Making Us Happy: A guide to your weekend viewing, reading, and listening

Lokita (Joely Mbundu) and Tori (Pablo Schils) are two migrant children making their way in Belgium in <em>Tori and Lokita</em>.
Janus Films
Lokita (Joely Mbundu) and Tori (Pablo Schils) are two migrant children making their way in Belgium in Tori and Lokita.

This week, Hasan Minhaj elaborated, friendships were in demand, and the actors' strike carried on.

Here's what the NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

Sampha's new album Lahai

Samphais well known as a guest on a lot of other people's records — you can hear him on Kendrick Lamar's and Alicia Keys' records. But he just released his own second album called Lahai.It is absolutely gorgeous — it's a very soothing, comfortable, genre-straddling sound that encompasses soul, pop and hip-hop in beautiful ways. He has a gorgeous voice and there's this kind of futuristic quality to the sound and to his voice that radiates through. (You can watch his Tiny Desk concert here.) I've been listening to this record pretty constantly for a couple of weeks now, and I absolutely love it. — Stephen Thompson

Tori and Lokita

Tori and Lokitais a film directed by the Dardenne brothers — you may remember them from Two Days, One Night — and this movie won a special prize at Cannes. And it's about two adolescent African immigrants who came to Belgium together. They're pretending to be brother and sister and they forge a strong bond. It's very intense, occasionally thrilling, and really moving. Lokita is trying to obtain a work visa but is having trouble, and meanwhile, both kids are making money by running drugs for a restaurant owner.

Like a lot of immigrant stories, a lot of bad things happen to both of these characters, and people take advantage of them. But, in the end, I think this movie really insists on their humanity and is very intentional in not exploiting these characters, even though within the narrative of the film they are being exploited. And it stars Joely Mbundu and Pablo Schils who are fantastic. It's streaming on Criterion Channel and also available for rent. — Aisha Harris

Rewatching Doctor Who with the subtitles on

Doctor Who is returning soon with Ncuti Gatwa with taking overas the Doctor. But before that happens, David Tennant is making history by returning for three specials, which will air sometime in November. So to prep for that I am rewatching the show, and am midway through Tennant's first season. It's even better than I remember, and that is true in no small part because this time I'm watching it with the subtitles on. I'm not just doing that because I'm older — I'm doing that because I am older and wiser. Doctor Who has always had sound mix problems and Tennant's Doctor tends to toss out jokes under his breath, and there are reams of jokes I didn't get the first time through. — Glen Weldon

Phillies post-season baseball

Nick Castellanos of the Philadelphia Phillies before a game on Oct. 4, 2023.
Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Nick Castellanos of the Philadelphia Phillies before a game on Oct. 4, 2023.

My Philadelphia Phillies are the team of destiny in my heart. They are a very fun team. I drift in and out of watching baseball because it's too stressful for me — the Phillies gave me multiple panic attacks of the sports variety in this postseason. But I really enjoyed the experience of watching my team do well. Even though they will not be going to the World Series, I greatly appreciated them this season. I recommend to everyone a piece that ran in Defector by the great and good Kelsey McKinney, which is called"Is The Phillies' Good Luck Charm A Dedication To Himbo Culture And Showing Clavicle?" which is a deep dive into the decision of some of the players to wear their shirts, open a couple buttons. — Linda Holmes

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

Matt Singer's new book Opposable Thumbs: How Siskel and Ebert Changed Movies Forever is a delight, a labor of love that traces one of the most significant forces in film criticism in the 20th century. For those of us who grew up learning about movies from these guys on this show, it's a necessary and lovely read.

This week, I caught up with a complicated, thoughtful story from Lila Shapiro that Vulture ran in September about the lawsuit filed by the two then-teenage stars of Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet. It raises a host of questions and is well worth a read.

I was very curious about Pain Hustlers, yet another based-on-a-true-story film about the evils of the pharmaceutical industry. It stars Emily Blunt as a single mom who gets a job as a rep for a new pain med and Chris Evans as her dirtbag boss. The reviews have been, at best, mixed. I think Blunt and Evans are both good — this is the most convincing dirtbag turn of his career, I'd say — although the story ends up retracing a lot of now-familiar ground. It's now on Netflix.

They're just beginning a limited rollout of the Alexander Payne film The Holdovers, which we'll be covering on an upcoming episode of PCHH. (It opens wide on November 10.) Mild spoiler alert for that episode? I really liked it.


Beth Noveyadapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" for the Web. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations every week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
Aisha Harris
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.
Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.
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