Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

beetlejuice

Wesley Morris, Beetlejuice 2 and Pop Culture’s Obsession with the Past”

Wesley Morris won the Pulitzer for a reason. His Grantland post from this week, Beetlejuice 2 and Pop Culture’s Obsession with the Past,” takes the Tim Burton sequel that no one’s asking for as its peg and then expands, in a mere four (punchy) paragraphs, to dismantle the backward-gazing that’s become a destructive force in modern moviemaking. “My primary objection isn’t to the existence of Beetlejuice 2,” Morris writes, “although, personally, I’m all set, thanks. It’s to directors condoning what essentially amounts to a kind of fan-fiction approach to moviemaking. The marketplace doesn’t demand a second Beetlejuice. A certain kind of nostalgia geek does. The culture is at a point where it needs to revisit and relive and remake, not in a manner that advances the original material but in a way that flatters those who can’t let go, who need to know what happened next, what would have happened, what should have happened …” Give it a look; it’s a super-quick read, but speaks volumes about what movies (and TV, and books) are quickly becoming. —Jason Bailey, Film Editor

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Pa6uNENNGS4]

The Material World: In Concert at Joe’s Pub

Last year, performance artist and playwright Dan Fishback’s original musical The Material World wowed critics and audiences as part of the 2012 HOT Festival at Dixon Place, and it’s easy to see why. What else would you expect from a show about a 1920s boarding house home to a family of socialist Jews and Madonna and Britney Spears? This Friday, the show returns for a one-night concert version at Joe’s Pub, and it’s as good a chance as any to see some of New York’s most dynamic performers, including Molly Pope, Erin Markey, and Sarah Stiles. Tickets are still available for Friday night’s two shows! —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

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Dissent, Fall 2013

The latest issue of Dissent arrived in my mailbox, and reading Katie J.M. Baker’s “Cockblocked by Redistribution: A Pick-up Artist in Denmark” and then Willie Osterweil’s “Hollywood in Revolt?” made my train ride to and from work really enjoyable. The magazine is really getting itself a new head of steam to celebrate its 60th birthday. —Jason Diamond, Literary Editor

WNUF

WNUF Halloween Special

I just received my VHS copy of the WNUF Halloween Special from director Chris LaMartina and co-writers Jimmy George and Pat Storck, which I’ll be watching this weekend. Found footage horror has dominated the genre for the past several years, and there’s been a VHS renaissance. WNUF is pushing all the right buttons, with a fictional account of a lost public-access show made during the Satanic panic era. Set in October of 1987, TV host Frank Stewart leads a group of paranormal investigators into the haunted Webber house. LaMartina adds to the charm of the familiar yarn by adding commercials from the time period and aged videocassette glitches. You can purchase a DVD of the film, but I love that the video copy looks like something you’d find in your parent’s basement storage. (Watch the trailer here.) —Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

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Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot

In a state of emotional unrest, Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot has been somewhat therapeutic for me. The plot of this book is fairly simple, describing the separate post-graduate struggles of a girl and the boy who’s desperately in love with her. But Eugenides has such an incredible talent for creating action and substance with simplest stories, and The Marriage Plot is as blissfully alive as anything he’s written. I can’t believe it took me this long to get around to reading this, but as a recent graduate, I think I found it at just the right time. It’s still probably my least favorite Eugenides book, but when you’ve got a resume as flawless as his, that kind of statement doesn’t seem fair. —Sarah Fonder, Editorial Apprentice