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.
Kiss of Death on Blu-ray
I’d been meaning to see this classic film noir since… oh, since the (frankly underrated) Barbet Schroeder remake was released over two decades ago. Its recent Blu-ray release from Twilight Time gave me the chance to finally fill that blind spot, and about damn time. Classic movies have a tendency to get reduced to a single moment or image, and this one is mostly remembered for the scene where a cackling Richard Windmark pushes an old pal’s wheelchair-bound mother down a flight of stairs. It’s a beautifully nasty bit, and Windmark is deliciously over-the-top throughout. But there’s more to this one than that, as desperate ex-con Victor Mature knocks off a jeweler and must weight his anti-snitch resolve against the notion of never seeing his kids. As with all good noir, it’s smoky and nihilistic, and the hard-boiled narration is a treat (and, subversively enough, is voiced here by a woman). But the third act is what really makes this one special, as Mature’s life is finally on the line, and director Henry Hathaway uses moody compositions and a marked lack of music to create a tone of genuine dread and fear. Trust me – don’t take as long as I did to see this one. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor
Hailee Steinfeld in The Edge of Seventeen
I was on a plane earlier this week, and decided — based on recommendations particularly about Hailee Steinfeld’s performance — to watch The Edge of Seventeen. Now, it’s hard to speak to the quality of the movie overall, because an airplane is perhaps the worst place to watch a movie if you’re aiming for some semblance of critical objectivity; it’s quite common to feel one’s tendency to cry at movies uncontrollably augmented on planes — though the cause hasn’t really been determined. And indeed, my time viewing The Edge of Seventeen on a tiny screen jiggling on occasion with turbulence was no exception. But I don’t think it was just the cabin pressure or sense of in-the-air liminality and isolation and anxiety that did it: a large part of it was Steinfeld’s ability to deliver an endlessly compelling performance with a character who’s so caught up in her own sense of self-pity and alienation that she actually creates a pitiful, alienated life for herself. While teenage angst has often been played with its share of eye-rolling, “ugh”-ing, and “mooooooom”-ing, Steinfeld steers her always-irked, always put-upon teen character away from annoyed-acting autopilot and goes deep into what makes her self-isolate. Hers is a familiar role, but what’s unfamiliar is the deep empathy and nuance with which Steinfeld — and writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig — approach it. Other critics who weren’t on planes seem to agree. — Moze Halperin, Senior Editor
Veep Season 6, Episode 5: “Chicklet”
As far as these picks posts go, I’ve been a bit of a Boy Who Cried Veep — so I apologize if I’m simply continuing to overuse this platform to heap praise upon my favorite comedy. But damn last Sunday’s episode was good, perhaps my favorite of the series thus far. The strength of this season is its window into so much of what we never saw on the show before: in many ways, it actually almost feels like a prequel than a continuation (despite being a year later than the previous season): it dives meticulously and uncomfortably into these characters’ personal lives and showing us exactly why the dysfunctional minutiae of their everyday made them such inept — and often completely callous — politicians.
“Chicklet” first gives viewers the pleasure of an even meaner Selina Meyer — she’s suffering from depression after her heart attack, so suddenly her mistreatment of her staff is augmented by existential woe. The episode also sees her finally making strides — along with Mike — on her stagnating memoir idea, which means peering into her own familial past and confronting the demons it holds. If you thought her post-presidency life couldn’t sink lower, this episode sees her and Mike drunkenly destroying her family barn with baseball bats — that is, before Selina drives a car into it. It’s a twisted comment on the types of upbringings that would lead a person to seek a position of ultimate power, and beneath its unremitting hilarity, it’s pretty unsettling. By the way, this episode might be Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ magnum opus. — Moze Halperin, Senior Editor
Patriothole, aka Clickhole
Clickhole is pretty much always genius — one day, someone will write an epic tome about how it evolved from being a decent but unremarkable Buzzfeed parody into being the id of the internet — but it’s outdone itself today with its transformation into… [sound of 21-gun salute] PATRIOTHOLE! The extreme end of American patriotism — and its mouthpiece, Breitbart — is already so self-evidently absurd that it’s hard to parody, but Clickhole rarely disappoints, and they’ve nailed this. Highlights: coal as “the patriotic vegetable that comes from mountains”, Ahmed the impossibly sexual Muslim abortion doctor, and…. this. Conservatism will probably get us all killed, but at least we’ll be laughing as we go. — Tom Hawking, Editor-in-Chief