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.

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on Blu-Ray

2013 was a weird year for those of us who spend much of our professional lives worrying about the future of movies and the divergence between what’s good and what’s popular: the Best Picture Oscar actually went to the Best Picture of the Year, and the highest grossing movie of the year was actually a sharply crafted popcorn movie with a brain. That was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire(out on DVD and Blu-ray this week), which holds up on repeat viewings as both a moody action thriller and a wide-open political allegory. Lionsgate’s excellent new Blu-ray looks and sounds great, throws in a handful of deleted scenes (including, sigh, more Philip Seymour Hoffman), and includes a supplementary making-of film that is, to say the least, exhaustive: it runs nearly as long as the 146-minute feature. A fine presentation of that rarest of beasts: a smart blockbuster. —Jason Bailey, Film Editor

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Rectify Season One on SundanceTV

I spent most of the winter marathoning TV shows while taking care of somebody with a broken leg. Things got dark. We watched The League. But out of the TV I am caught up on, the one that stuck with me, the one that lingered was SundanceTV’s Rectify. Created by Ray McKinnon (best known as the Reverend from Deadwood) and originally slated to star Justified’s Walton Goggins in another iteration, Rectify is the story of Daniel Holden — a death row inmate pardoned after 19 years — returning to his hometown in Georgia. Holden is an alien in this new world, but his return has ripples across his community, affecting his family and countless others, bringing feelings, emotions, and secrets to the surface. Abigail Spencer, who played the teacher that Don Draper bedded in season three of Mad Men, is particularly good in this stacked cast — a fierce, fiery presence as his loyal sister. But what gets me about the show is the mood: McKinnon creates a dreamy, beautiful southern small town, infused with light. It’s wildly perceptive about human nature and as deliberate and carefully written as a really satisfying short story. The show will also make you appreciate the little things: the wave of a balloon man, the Drones’ “Shark Fin Blues,” or the way light hits a pillow feather, floating slowly to the ground. —Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

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Sharon Van Etten’s Comeback and Funky New Song

Sharon Van Etten’s murderously sad 2012 album, Tramp, was one of the year’s best. By the sounds of her brand new single “Taking Chances,” her upcoming release will be enjoyable in a different way. Synth-and-woodblock moodiness replaces acoustic belting, but the forlorn outlook stays the same. The Brooklyn singer-songwriter’s new album, Are We There?, is out May 27 on Jagjaguwar. #feels —Jillian Mapes, Music Editor

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Lorde/Son Lux’s New Version of “Easy”

The updated version of Son Lux’s creeping “Easy” — which is available digitally via Bandcamp — isn’t too dissimilar from the perfectly good, nay, sensational original; it does, however, feature Lorde. This refurbishment sees Woodkid-ish percussion asserting its dominance over the song, and Lorde’s swamp-floor of a voice whispering away Ryan Lott’s original vocals. As a fan of Lott’s instrumentals and Lorde’s gunky, gunky pipes, I see this as a very successful collaboration. —Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice

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Basecamp

I recently discovered Basecamp thanks to my new go-to music source, Jia Tolentino at The Hairpin. Every song she posts is fantastic, and Basecamp’s cover of “All That She Wants” has been on repeat on my iPod since I first heard it. They’re part of a genre Tolentino calls “codeine R&B” marked by a sleepy, underwater sound, and deep voices that could keep you warm at night, like James Blake and Jamie Woon. Best of all, Basecamp has a ton of tracks available for free download on their Facebook page, so you can own them with neither guilt nor payment. —Isabella Biedenharn, Editorial Apprentice

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Robert Fitterman, No, Wait. Yep. Definitely Still Hate Myself. 

I picked this book up on a lark after spotting the striking cover, thinking, “Oh, this feels familiar!” I enthusiastically breezed through it in a single sitting one night this week. A book-length poem, Fitterman’s piece is a collection of material from blog posts and message boards in which strangers expressed their own dire sense of loneliness and sadness. The result is a long narrative told by a single speaker, which allows the reader to see that these sentiments of self-hatred are as common as any other form of self-expression. —Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor