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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Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! joins the Criterion Collection

There are some pretty embarrassing blind spots in my Pedro Almodovar knowledge, and one of them is his 1989 film Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! — or, at least, it was a blind spot until the Criterion Collection’s DVD/Blu-ray release (out this week). A pitch-black comedy in broad, sunny daylight, Almodovar’s movie met with a fair amount of controversy upon its original release, as it was one of the first films to bear the MPAA’s new NC-17 rating. That branding is a bit of a joke (it’s a hard R at best), but the picture wears its playful wickedness like a badge of honor, spinning from sex to violence to slapstick with dizzying precision. Antonio Banderas (sexy as hell, with a screw undeniably loose) is at his best, and Criterion’s reliably stunning transfer beautifully captures Almodovar’s witty framing and candy-coated color palette. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Drake’s Face in the “Anaconda” Video

Nicki Minaj’s new video is a crucial entry in the “female artists controlling the male gaze” category. Sexual desire is personified here in frequent collaborator Drake, for whom Nicki performs a lap dance. When Drizzy expresses his desires by getting a little too handsy, Nicki snaps away quickly, like it could be any man so long as she’s in control. And Drake’s face realizing his lap could have been any lap? Shook-up, aroused, and, as usual, sad. — Jillian Mapes, Music Editor

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Delia Derbyshire — “The Delian Mode”

I rarely get materialistic about stuff, but shit, I’d love to own a copy of this 7″ release of “The Delian Mode” by electronic music pioneer and all-time Flavorwire heroine Delia Derbyshire. It even comes with a fancy poster! — Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor

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Ann Fuckin’ Dowd

I’ve had mixed feelings about The Leftovers, not because of its unrelenting bleakness – I’m always quite fine with that – but because sometimes its dialogue doesn’t contain the nuance worthy of that emotional sadism. That cannot be said for Ann Dowd’s performance. The actress — who, as a silent cult leader, is only granted speech in select moments throughout the series’ first season — is mostly required to convey her characters’ charisma and influence in silence. As the pioneering force behind of a group of people whose goal is to attain emotional nothingness, Dowd’s character Patti strategically conveys this stoicism while also, in the rare moments when it’s required, winning over her followers with glimpses of shocking warmth and humanity. This weekend’s episode, “Cairo,” placed Patti in quite a pickle, but the unexpected way she exerted her power over that pickle made for the series’ most interesting plot arc to date.

Over the last couple of years, between The Leftovers, Compliance, and True Detective, the actress has played characters that are either the perpetrators of or accomplices to truly bizarre acts of cruelty, and yet she never seems cruel – with her comforting tone and empathetic eyes, she’ll remind you of your favorite Auntie (OK, maybe not her True Detective character). You know, your favorite auntie who antagonizes a town by luring people into her cult of nothingness, your favorite auntie who undresses her employees and facilitates their rape, your favorite auntie who “makes flowers” with her serial-killer brother. She’s made some incredibly brave choices over the last four years, the bravest of which is to convey each horrific scenario with total humanity. Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice

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Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

When it comes to the summer, I like to default to fiction where people are having the vacations I wish I was having — but, stupidly, I ripped through Emma Straub’s The Vacationers in early March or April. Not cool. But then Miranda Beverly-Whittemore’s Bittersweet came along, and it’s about a poor girl going with her rich college roommate to the summer retreat of the rich girl’s family. Intrigue abounds at this rich family’s compound of cottages and houses, situated in the woods at the shore of a lake in Vermont, and as the poor girl gets pulled into the family’s orbit, secrets and lies are the order of the day. Terrifically entertaining and delicious, perfect end-of-summer reading. — Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor