Memorial Day weekend entertainment that will take you somewhere special

Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson in Greta Gerwig's "Little Women." (Wilson Webb/Columbia Pictures/TNS)
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By Karla Peterson The San Diego Union-Tribune  (TNS)

When every day is no day in particular, and weekends don’t have their same old ejector-seat allure, what does a three-day weekend mean? We’re about to find out.

With the Memorial Day weekend around the corner but so much of public life still off the table, we will have to explore some new holiday frontiers. If you prefer to do your adventuring from the comfort of the office/day care/gym/restaurant you call home, here are some entertainment offerings that will jet you off to exotic places while you stay put.

Hitch up your sweatpants, my friends. We’re going places.

— Beauty spot: “Call Me by Your Name”

Just because international travel is not in the cards doesn’t mean your eyeballs can’t hit the road. And when it comes to flying your current coop, there is no more dazzling destination than the sun-baked Italy featured in 2017’s Oscar-winning “Call Me by Your Name.” From the lush 16th-century Moscazzano villa where Elio and his family lounge, swim and eat endless al fresco brunches, to the quaint Piazza del Duomo in Crema, where Elio and Oliver engage in some of their best flirting, “Call Me by Your Name” is the gorgeous getaway you and your depleted psyche deserve. Microwave some mac and cheese, pour yourself an aperitif of anything, and prepare for liftoff. (Digital rental or purchase)

— Cozy corner: “Little Women”

On the other hand, there is also something to be said for the comforts of home. Even if you’ll need snow shoes and a time machine to get there. Welcome to the cottages, hearths, gardens and frozen ponds of Massachusetts, where the heartwarming action in last year’s movie adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved “Little Women” takes place. Director/writer Greta Gerwig filmed around Alcott’s home in Concord, Mass., on the windswept beaches of the Crane Wildlife Refuge, at the Fruitlands Museum and inside the Emerson Colonial Theatre for an enveloping film that feels both comforting and abuzz with vibrant life. Don’t forget to pack your shawl. (Digital rental or purchase)

— La La Land: “Sex and Rage,” by Eve Babitz

Don’t let the master’s-thesis title scare you. Babitz’s novel is not really about sex or rage, but about the mercurial powers of youth and beauty as personified by the book’s stunning, pleasure-stalking heroine and the seductively seedy Los Angeles of the debauched ’60s and ’70s. First published in 1979 and then released in paperback in 2017, “Sex and Rage” follows Jacaranda Leven as she evolves from teenage surf rat to jet-setters’ mascot, literary burnout, drug casualty and, finally, surfing survivor. Meanwhile, Babitz leads a vivid insider’s tour of Santa Monica beaches, West Hollywood dives and “mansions above Hollywood and Beverly Hills where ambulances often lost their way.” You will leave with salt spray in your hair and many dizzy miles on your emotional odometer.

— Heartbreak City: “There There,” by Tommy Orange

Orange’s remarkable 2018 novel roam the streets of Oakland, Calif., looking for a place to breathe and the hope of a break. They cruise on beat-up bikes, riding past the haunted place where the Eastmont Mall used to be. They plot their escapes at a Wendy’s on International Boulevard. They look out the window of a BART train leaving Fruitvale Station and wonder how they got so lost. By the time these seekers, strivers and criminals converge at the Coliseum for the Big Oakland Powwow, Orange has gotten you so invested in the people and their places, you might never be fully prepared for how and where they end up, or where their journeys take you.

— Destination Paris: “Call My Agent!”

Into every TV life, a souffle savior must come. So let us all give double cheek kiss to “Call My Agent!,” a French TV series about the neurotic and ambitious members of a fictitious Paris talent agency and the real-life stars they represent. You don’t have to recognize the big names to appreciate how willing they are to lampoon themselves, and you don’t have to be desperate for distraction to thoroughly enjoy the show’s fizzy cocktail of screwball energy and easy sophistication. Also, it plunks you down in the middle of Paris. So there’s that. It might take you awhile to get comfortable with a showbiz comedy in which people actually care about things like artistic vision and integrity, but you will enjoy getting used to it, cherie. (Three seasons streaming on Netflix)

— Party central: Questlove’s streaming DJ sets

When they get around to handing out awards for the best celebrity responses to the pandemic shutdown, there should be a big, turntable-shaped trophy with Questlove’s name on it. For the last few months, the founding member of the Roots has been hitting the band’s YouTube channel multiple times a week for “Questlove Quarantine Live From the Qibbutz,” where he spins long DJ sets that will turn your home into your own personal bounce house. With a 170,000-piece record collection at his disposal, Questlove has treated listeners to eclectic sets that blend George Clinton, A-ha, War and Janet Jackson into one rejuvenating joyful noise. Start with the birthday tribute to Stevie Wonder, in which your resident DJ plays Stevie classics and remixes, covers from Jeff Beck and funk organist Ronnie Foster, and — after admitting to being a sucker for bad covers — cranks up Eddie Murphy’s “Do I.” Which, in this context, does not sound bad at all.

Best of all, when the party’s over, no one has to go home.

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(Karla Peterson is a columnist for The San Diego Union-Tribune.)
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