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. Scroll through for our picks below.
Rereading Harry Potter
I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series for the first time in almost 10 years! While I’m thrilled to be back in the magic and reliving the heroic epic that has stayed with me since I was 11, my adulthood has made several things glaringly clear. First, while they are full of lessons on humanity, friendship, courage, and equality, they’re still kids books (at least until the latter part of the Goblet of Fire when shit starts to get real), meaning that I’m able to finish them in record time. No one likes when it ends too quickly… Also, Harry might be the most inconvenient compulsive liar. Dumbledore: anything you want to tell me? Harry while he recalls talking to snakes and having tea with Voldemort: I got nothing. Ugh. — Sesali Bowen, (Pop) Culture and Politics Staff Writer
This 1947 thriller from writer/director Delmer Daves (newly available on Blu-ray via Warner Archives) top bills Humphrey Bogart – but you don’t get your first full look at his famous face until 62 minutes in, more than halfway through the picture, when the bandages come off following this escaped con’s reconstructive surgery. Early on, Daves calls upon innovative techniques to keep his protagonist’s pre-Bogie face hidden: oblique angles, trick compositions, heavy shadows, and (most memorably) point-of-view photography, with Bogart heard but not seen. Those first-person dialogue scenes also allow frequent co-star and real-life love Lauren Bacall plenty of opportunities to stare down the camera, which all but blinks; their chemistry is, as usual, scorching. The second and third acts are a bit of a come-down, as they’d almost have to be – even a crisp, well-made noir like this feels conventional in comparison to a set-up that’d blow people’s minds now, so it’s hard to imagine how it went over in ’47. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor
Jason Bailey’s recent piece on The Rocketeer has made think about movie soundtracks. I don’t mean songs or electronic music; I mean the glorious orchestral scores by the likes of John Williams. The best film scores can add a jolt to your daily workout or turn a mundane subway ride into a touching elegy. Setting aside the works of the legendary Mr. Williams (thoughFar and Away and JFK are worth a mention among his lesser-known scores), I’d recommend the following for adding an epic feel to your commute: Apollo 13, How to Train Your Dragon, The Dark Knight, Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure, Remember the Titans. With so many superhero films upon us, I’d have thought that sweeping, inspiring scores would have followed. But none of the recent works seem to quite capture the stirring adventure of, say, John Williams’ Superman in 1978. Is the era of great film scores coming to end, as it mostly has with TV themes? I hope not. With operas and symphonies becoming less accessible, the movie soundtrack is, for some, an easy form of exposure to the sounds of an orchestra. In addition, The Rocketeer‘s James Horner and Star Trek‘s Jerry Goldsmith are gone; John Williams is 84. I hope a new generation of composers can take their place and continue to add an extra layer of magic to the moviegoing experience. — Jason Ginsburg, Social Media Editor
Healy on Orange is the New Black
OITNB‘s racially, ethnically, sexually, and bodily diverse cast of inmates offer up plenty of excellent performances; Season 4magnified the storylines of some inmates, like Maria Ruiz and Blanca Flores, giving actors Jessica Pimentel and Laura Gómez more to work with than previous seasons. (Who knew Blanca had such a hot bod?!) In a sea of excellent, vibrant performances, Michael Harney — who plays former prison warden Healy — is a stand-out. We saw from his relationship with his mail-order bride in the first season that Healy is a fundamentally kind-hearted man who can never seem to figure out how to have a healthy relationship with a woman. This season, Red tells him, “There’s no such thing as a consensual relationship between a prisoner and a guard,” a no-brainer but one Healy badly needs to hear. A character with a savior complex like Healy’s could easily come off as either a villain or comic relief. But Harney makes him a fully rounded, complicated person, one that inspires both head-shaking tsk-tsks and sympathetic awwws. — Lara Zarum, TV Editor
Audre Lorde’s Zami: a New Spelling of My Name
VAGUE OITNB SPOILER: I’m still feeling all the feelings about *a certain character*. I know the Internet is basically divided into two camps, but the point is: the world can really stand to see some queer women, especially queer women of color, alive and thriving. I’ve been rereading one of my most favorite books of all time, Audre Lorde’s biomythography Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. Lorde narrates her life from her childhood in Harlem, raised by Caribbean immigrant parents, and goes through to her twenties loving and treasuring the women in her life. While the work itself is a beautiful, radical declaration (basically “I matter, I control my own story, I deserve love”), this book is unlike anything I’ve seen made by, for, or about queer women. It should definitely be required reading for all queer women, maybe all people ever. I probably can’t say enough good things about Zami, but if that doesn’t convince you, maybe this snippet will:
Every woman I have ever loved has left her print upon me, where I loved some invaluable piece of myself apart from me-so different that I had to stretch and grow in order to recognize her. And in that growing, we came to separation, that place where work begins.
— Carmen Triola, Editorial Apprentice
Colin Farrell in The Lobster
Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster is almost beyond words in its surrealist beauty, but Colin Farrell’s performance is not. His paunch and his mustache and his slouch and his eternally slanted eyebrows convey some inner sadness worthy of his unfortunate lot in life. (He is an architect.) Throughout the film, as his character’s sadness ebbs, his physical confidence grows, and Farrell’s allowed to show that he’s more than just abs, an accent, or a sex-tape. He’s a damn fine actor, and it takes some real talent to sell Lanthimos’s stilted dialogue, to bring emotion to a world that seems designed to have it eradicated. There’s a scene in which he discovers a death in a bathroom, and the way he battles himself over the tears he wants to shed is just about the most heartbreaking thing you’ll see in a movie this year. — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor
Lobster, in Other Films
Lobster played a key role in The Lobster (which my coworker Shane Barnes staff picked, perhaps without thinking about the social repercussions) without ever really getting screen-time, and it’s been hard to tell whether lobster was silenced and marginalized or deified by this omission. And regardless, I think it’s key to look towards other films in which Lobster actually got to flex its thespian rostrum without purely being a symbol. Let’s recall Lobster’s performance in Splash as Lobster on Plate, in which Lobster had to be hard yet vulnerable, or Lobster’s performance in Annie Hall, in which Lobster and Diane Keaton shared memorable chemistry before boiling, or Lobster’s performance in Mrs. Doubtfire, in which Lobster had to be emotionally gripping yet comical, with death at once being sad but resulting in the uproarious burning of Mrs. Doubtfire’s ersatz bosom. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor