Staff Picks: Sarah Palmer, ‘The Sinner,’ and Jackie Chan

The best of what we've seen 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. Scroll through for our picks below.

The Sinner

I just started watching The Sinner, starring the abs known as Jessica Biel (call me, girl, and tell me all your secrets). Bill Pullman and Girls’ Christopher Abbott co-star. Biel plays a mother who flies into a rage and commits a shocking act of violence — with a crowd of onlookers. Pullman’s detective digs into the mess inside her head. The series has that washed-out early aughts horror cinema vibe, similar to the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre that starred Biel. The Sinner was adapted from the novel of the same name by German author Petra Hammesfahr, and it’s too early for me to tell if the unsettling hook is actually going to lead anywhere, but I’m happy to see Biel in something that casts her in a more complex light. – Alison Nastasi, Deputy Editor


Jackie Chan on Blu-ray

Twilight Time recently released a two-in-one Blu-ray of the early Jackie Chan flicks Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master, and they’re an ideal double feature – both from 1978, both directed by the great Yuen Woo-Ping (later known to American audiences as fight choreographer for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and The Matrix), both establishing Chan’s signature combination of stylized action and broad comedy. And there’s plenty of each in both of these delightful pictures, in which the graceful, borderline-balletic fight choreography (and the expected snap-zooms and overcooked sound effects) is complemented by ingenious use of props and silent-movie style slapstick. To call them formulaic is an understatement; each finds our Jackie in a school setting, in which he’s humiliated and underestimated, but made into a true fighter after a series of lengthy training sequences (with a wise, old teacher, of course). But Chan’s offhand athleticism and considerable charisma, combined with Ping’s expert handling of his performers and his camera, earns them their designation as martial arts classics.


Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriskie) on Twin Peaks

Two of the best scenes of Twin Peaks’ third season have involved Sarah Palmer — which is saying a lot about the character, and her portrayal by Grace Zabriskie, given how few scenes in which she’s actually appeared. First, Zabriskie changed the way we’ll perceive turkey jerky forever, in a grocery store scene where Sarah spots a bourgeois organic specimen of the dried bird. That scene, through a change in her voice and expression (and Lynch’s sound design) became wildly, inexplicably unsettling. Then, Lynch gave us a rare form of satisfaction that’s been decades in the making on Twin Peaks: one of the abusive men in Lynch’s twisting, mercurial narratives about male cruelty being taken down just as viciously by a woman (or, fine, whatever creature lurks inside Sarah Palmer) he attempts to victimize.

In case you missed the scene in last week’s episode, a man in a bar, sporting a shirt that reads “Truck Yeah,” begins harassing a Bloody Mary-sipping Sarah Palmer, who warns him, many times over, to please stop — warnings that only provoke the misogynistic glee he gets from his actions. But then Sarah plucks her fucking face off, revealing a dark abyss full of floating entities and teeth, and, holding her disembodied visage in her hand, deadpans, “Do you really want to fuck with this?” Then, sure, why not, she casually puts her face back on, and uses it to lunge and bite out a chunk of the man’s throat.

Sarah Palmer, always a mystery even by Twin Peaks terms, became even more of a fabulously bizarre (and, simultaneously…relatable?) character on Sunday night. Is she possessed by an evil entity (perhaps the Mother figure that vomited BoB and seems to have killed the two New York lovers?). Will turkey jerky reemerge as a key piece of the Twin Peaks puzzle? We have four more episodes to find out — and even if we don’t, we already have these two gems of Twin Peaks-oddity, one of which happens to serve as a pretty thorough anti-catcalling cautionary tale. Just because someone doesn’t look like they’re housing an otherworldly realm full of biting spirits in their face doesn’t mean they’re not. –Moze Halperin, Senior Editor