The 5 Best Songs We Heard This Week: Perfume Genius, Shabazz Palaces

It’s Friday, thank god, because history may well remember this as the week the world finally went irretrievably, batshit crazy. What a time to be alive! Anyway, there were some songs released amidst the madness, and here are five good ones: the triumphant return of Perfume Genius, along with another taste of the new Shabazz Palaces record, a fantastic collaboration between Jenny Hval and Susanna, Grouper guesting on a track by The Bug, and Clams Casino producing Lia Ices. And now: the weekend. … Read More

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Is an Ironic Review of James Franco’s Poetry the Best ‘The New York Times Book Review’ Can Do?

In this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, the poetry columnist David Orr writes an excellent piece on James Franco’s poetry. Orr reviews Franco’s newest collection, Directing Herbert White, released by Graywolf Press in March — and instead of judging Franco’s work through the scrim of the cult of celebrity, he takes it, generally, at its worth: “Directing Herbert White is the sort of collection written by reasonably talented M.F.A. students in hundreds of M.F.A. programs stretching from sea to shining sea.” He compliments the good wordplay: “‘This despair is nice’: The tone is neatly judged,” and he goes in on the bad lines: “He’s prone to phrases that sound good at first but collapse under scrutiny (‘Webbed by a nexus of stone walkways’).” … Read More

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Ranking Cormac McCarthy’s Greatest Books

Trailing Philip Roth by a few months and Toni Morrison by two years, Cormac McCarthy (who turns 81 this weekend) is one of America’s greatest and most decorated writers. His cultural stock has risen immeasurably in the last decade — whether it’s the Coen brothers adapting No Country for Old Men and winning Best Picture at the Oscars for it, or his recent (disappointing) original screenplay for the Ridley Scott-directed film The Counselor, McCarthy has made the transition from great novelist to phenomenon. He’s continuously successful, but he’s never changed, and doesn’t show any signs of letting his advanced age soften him. His entire body of work includes screenplays, plays, and short fiction — but it’s his novels that remain his greatest achievement, so to celebrate his birthday, we rank the five McCarthy novels you must read (and if it helps, the order in which you should do it.) … Read More

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On Giving Gold Stars to Dumb Smart Movies: Mike Cahill’s ‘I Origins’

Can an eye change the world? Are we here but not there? Is it ethically dubious to give worms sight, as if we are playing God? If we prove that the eye is a genetic mutation, does that make the idea of intelligent design moot? Is there a spirit in the great beyond where we’re all cats and dogs married in our souls? If even we have souls anyways?

Have you ever gotten high and pondered semi-deep thoughts that come from your handful of college science classes? Yes? Then you could probably write a pretty OK Mike Cahill movie. … Read More

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20 Years Later, ‘Dinosaurs’ Is Still TV’s Weirdest Family Sitcom

Sometimes I’m convinced that Dinosaurs was just a fever dream. A four-season, 65-episode-long fever dream about clunky dinosaur puppets going through the motions of a typical human family. The bumbling father is a Megalosaurus who works a blue-collar job while his Allosaurus wife stays home to tend to housework. Their children grapple with puberty, homework, and crushes. They also train humans to do tricks and secretly experiment with eating vegetables. To put it bluntly: Dinosaurs is a show so weird that it shouldn’t have existed. It’s been 20 years since Dinosaurs aired its bizarrely depressing series finale, but it still remains the strangest — and funniest — approach to the family sitcom. … Read More

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‘Mood Indigo’s’ Limp Romance Isn’t Entirely Michel Gondry’s Fault

Michel Gondry is getting too much credit for the impotence of Mood Indigo. Like many critics, I watched the film before I read the book from which it was adapted. Assuming, despite my prior knowledge of author Boris Vian’s wordplay and surrealist imagery, that the over-the-top whimsy was Gondry’s contribution, I couldn’t suppress frequent “that’s so Gondry” eye-rolls. Oh look, our twee protagonists are floating in a plastic cloud above Paris: “Now, now, Gondry.” Oh look, our twee protagonists won’t stop acting like members of Alvin and the Chipmunks: “Cool it, Gondry.” Oh, look, our twee protagonists are jumping on the bed instead of fucking in it: “Gondry, that’s simply enough.” But when I opened the book, I was surprised to find that Gondry, alongside co-writer Luc Bossy, had merely been faithfully adapting the novel. … Read More

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50 Essential Feminist Films

It’s no secret that the numbers surrounding women in cinema are dismal. The Playlist recently reported that only 74 of the 271 people invited to join the Academy of Motion Arts and Sciences this year were women. We also know that for every 15 or so male directors, there is just one female director. Still, filmmakers of all genders continue to explore new representations of women in cinema. We thought it was time to revisit some essential feminist films that deconstruct gender identity, explore issues pertinent to women and their history, and challenge the… Read More

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VH1′s ‘Dating Naked’ Is Perfect, Stupid Reality Television

We are living in the golden age of television. If you’ve read any article written about TV in the last few years, especially ones written during the months when Breaking Bad or Mad Men was on the air, then you’re already aware of this. For as long as critics have been throwing around this declaration — every decade since the ’60s has been a golden age! — other critics have been quick to dismiss it, scoffing at the idea that TV is any better than it once was. The current general consensus is that this golden age, the one focused on complex male antiheroes doing complex things, is coming to an end. To that, I say: What about Dating Naked? … Read More

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Will ‘Snowpiercer’s’ VOD Success Change the Film Industry?

In January of 2006, Magnolia Pictures released Bubble, a micro-budget, semi-improvised independent film about the employees of a small-town doll factory. Two things were notable about the picture: it was from Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh, and it was the first “multi-platform” release of note — it was released, simultaneously, to movie theaters, DVD, and video-on-demand (still in its infancy at the time). This was a big, huge deal in 2006; theater owners all but rioted over the potential collapse of their exclusivity window, and about the only playdates the film could wrangle were in the Landmark chain (co-owned by Mark Cuban, who, not coincidentally, also co-owns distributor Magnolia). … Read More

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The Best Things We Read on the Internet This Week: Heavy Metal Flannery O’Connor, Zadie on Ballard

Listicles, tweets, your ex’s Facebook status, picture of dogs wearing costumes — the internet offers no shortage of entertaining stuff to look at. But there’s plenty of substantial writing out there, too, the pieces you spend a few minutes reading and a long time thinking about after you’ve closed the tab. In this weekly feature, Flavorwire shares the best of that category. This time around: Zadie Smith on J.G. Ballard, southern gothic heavy metal, Lana Del Rey, and more. … Read More

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