‘Serial': An Inconclusive — But Satisfying — Conclusion

This past week, as we all impatiently waited for the season finale of the wildly popular and highly addictive true-crime podcast Serial, reminded me of nothing more than the week leading up the Season 1 finale of HBO’s True Detective last spring. Admittedly, I feel crass comparing the two — one is a fictional series about a made-up crime that’s designed to horrify its audience, while the other is about a very real man who is serving life in prison (and may be innocent), and the very real and devastating murder that put him there. The stories are different, but the anticipation felt the same, and I imagine the reaction to the respective finales will be similar, too. … Read More

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Jennifer Aniston Is Just as Great as You’ve Heard in the Disappointingly Mediocre ‘Cake’

Let it be said: Jennifer Aniston’s performance in Daniel Barnz’s Cake is fantastic. Just look at that punim above! It’s not just an Oscar-baiting punim, it’s the punim of an actor convincingly embodying a very pained character! Let it also be said: it shouldn’t be a surprise that Aniston’s performance would be fantastic — she killed it in Nicole Holofcener’s Friends With Money and Mike White’s The Good Girl. But finally, it must be said that Cake is not really good enough to pay attention to, and the only reason people most definitely will is because of that Aniston punim, which, while convincingly pained and convincingly scarred, remains trapped beneath the manipulative emotional anvils the movie drops. … Read More

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How the Music Industry Capitalized on Foodie Culture — and Why the Culinary World Is Turning the Tables

A few months ago, in a foreign city I’d never visited before, I found myself fondling raw steak in a pitch-black room. Despite the disconcerting situation, all I could focus on was the conversation taking place several tables away: an argument between two men over a friendly bet. It sounded like they were wearing lapel mics. When one or more of the five senses is impaired, our remaining abilities overcompensate — a fact that sits at the heart of Montreal restaurant O.Noir’s light-free concept — but I hadn’t imagined my hearing would be the sense to take over when I sat down to… Read More

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‘Ascension’ Fails as a Miniseries, But Would Make a Great TV Show

The first night of Ascension was a thrilling and original 90 minutes of science-fiction television. It threw viewers deep into the alternate-reality story of Project Orion, transporting us onboard the Ascension ship and introducing a beautiful but worrisome, timeless world. There were clashes galore between the ship’s passengers, but also one between the two time periods that Ascension straddles: the futuristic 2014 world of people living on a spaceship and the 1960s world that they left behind but are still stuck in, due to the ship’s time-capsule nature. The big behind-the-scenes clash was far more interesting: Syfy’s public insistence that Ascension is a miniseries (or “television event”) vs. the too-obvious reality that it’s essentially a very, very long pilot episode — something that ultimately hurt the program. … Read More

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The 25 Best Song Lyrics of 2014

More end-of-year lists! Never enough end-of-year lists! But seriously, end-of-year list-making season does provide an opportunity to revisit the best aspects of the year gone by, and one of our favorites to make here at Flavorwire is this one: the year’s best lyrics. It’s been a year in which, let’s be honest, a whole lot of terrible things have happened in the US and around the world — which, if nothing else, means there’s been plenty of subject matter to address directly, or to inspire more oblique takes on the world in which we live. Here are our 25 favorites. … Read More

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Like It Or Not, ‘The Interview’ Is a Battle Worth Fighting

It was a no-win situation, which was probably why the hackers made the play they did. When the “Guardians of Peace,” drunk with the power of infiltrating and publicly humiliating one of the biggest entertainment conglomerates on the planet, fired off their comically villainous missive Tuesday (I mean, seriously, “how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to”?) threatening 9/11-style attacks on theaters showing Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s Kim Jong-un assassination comedy The Interview, it put Sony Pictures in a helluva spot. If they kept the release date and (contrary to all available intelligence) an attack did occur, then moviegoers and theater employees could be hurt or killed, and the narrative would be, “Greedy Sony is responsible for this, because of their greed.” If they pulled the movie from release, it would mean that any hackers worth their salt — and, as is probably the case here, the totalitarian government behind them — could dictate what we see. It would be a loss of backbone and credibility and “face,” but that’s not the kind of thing that results in liabilities and lawsuits, so it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that Sony made the call they did. Corporations gonna corporate, after all, and there’s really nothing we can do about that. But what we can control is what our takeaway will be from this whole affair — how to deal with it, and what we’ve learned from it. … Read More

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2014’s Injustices Weren’t Backlash — They Were The Status Quo

It was a wave of protest too striking to be ignored: professional athletes donning T-shirts to pay tribute to young black men killed by the police — and demand justice for their killers. In Cleveland, the T-shirt worn during warm-ups by Browns player Andrew Hawkins last weekend named two local young men who both had been holding toy guns when they were mowed down by cops, John Crawford and Tamir Rice. Hawkins wore the shirt in honor of his small son. This is how the police behaved in both those incidents: John Crawford’s girlfriend was interrogated until she broke down in tears, before she even knew of her loved one’s death. Tamir Rice’s sister was handcuffed and put in the back of a paddy wagon while her brother lay dying. … Read More

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50 Uncanny Artworks

Pop surrealists and lowbrow artists owe a debt of gratitude to Margaret Keane — painter of melancholic, saucer-eyed little girls. Tim Burton’s Keane biopic Big Eyes, in theaters December 25, tells the story of the tumultuous relationship Keane had with husband Walter, who took credit for her work. Amy Adams plays the artist, who struggles against her husband (played by Christoph Waltz) for control of her art. “I was as sad as that painting,” Keane said in a recent interview with Eye on the Bay, pointing to one of her famous works. “I was thinking, ‘What is all this about? Why is life so sad?’” The world-weary waifs in Keane’s paintings are doll-like and uncanny. Freud defined the uncanny as the “unhome,” or the opposite of familiar. Keane’s girls feel too fragile for this world. Here is a treasury of other artworks whose uncanny appeal has fascinated and frightened, capturing a sense of otherness, wonder, and disquiet. … Read More

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Why ‘Selma’ Is the Film of the Year

In the opening sequence of Ava DuVernay’s Selma, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. accepts his Nobel Prize. In the next scene, four little girls are murdered at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. In the scene that follows, Selma activist Annie Lee Cooper attempts to register to vote, and is unable to pass the ridiculous oral examination (“How many county judges in Alabama?” the white registrar asks. “Sixty-seven,” she replies. “Name them,” he sneers.) The juxtaposition of these three scenes is purposeful, clarifying the film’s drama, and its stakes: in addition to MLK, it is a story of racially motivated murder, and of the battle for the right to vote. Selma is the year’s best film because it is great filmmaking — powerful, moving, inspiring. DuVernay makes history live and breathe and vibrate. But it is also more than just a dramatization, or a relic; as its strangely timely release suggests, none of this is as historical as we’d like to think. This is a 50-year-old story. Except it isn’t. … Read More

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‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ Season 4 Episode 10 Recap: “Orphans”

Everybody in Elsa’s Cabinet of Curiosities is an orphan — I’m pretty sure this exact sentiment has already been expressed several times this season, if not directly then surely through subtext. In fact, in might be the crux of Freak Show! This week, in traditional AHS fashion, that idea is done to death. But, by God, it makes for an episode that works tremendously both in terms of plot and emotional heft.  … Read More

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