Is Monica Lewinsky a Feminist Icon?

Monica Lewinsky is a heroine, and not just as the fictional subject of a web video series. Instead, as she takes tentative steps back into the public eye, she may be emerging as an icon for a younger generation of feminists, at least according to a long profile by Jessica Bennett in the New York Times in conjunction with Lewinsky’s well-received TED Talk on cyber-bullying last week. … Read More

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‘Better Call Saul’ Season 1 Episode 8 Recap: “RICO”

Better Call Saul has turned out to be several different shows in one: a character-driven drama, a high-concept comedy, a Breaking Bad prequel, a crime show, and more. Going into any given episode, you never know which one (or combination) you’re about to get. But as the season has progressed, Better Call Saul has begun to feel most like an exceptionally eccentric lawyer procedural, with the mood of each episode determined largely by the case or client in question. … Read More

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Plants Become Animals and Legos Become ‘Jurassic Park’ : Links You Need to See

SXSW raged through Austin over the last couple weeks and kept the “weird” coursing through the city’s veins — Kevin Hart and Will Ferrel bolstered the weird factor when they accosted the festival-goers with a somewhat predictable (but incredible) explosion of awkward. In other SXSW news, those who were interested in the musical component of the festival — but not the physical craziness — can listen to these lullabies sung by SXSW artists; surely this will provide a welcome contrast to the otherwise frenetic energy of the event. … Read More

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“Healing Is Fun for Me”: Torres on Her Raw New Album and Why SXSW Is Still Worth It for Artists

AUSTIN, TX: Mackenzie Scott is having a moment, in more ways than one. When I meet up with the 24-year-old indie-rock singer-songwriter known as Torres outside a cafe called Cenote on Austin’s east side on Friday, the second to last day of SXSW, she’s just had to beg the employees working a private event to let her use their bathroom so she can have the decency of vomiting in private. “I haven’t been sleeping or resting or eating like I normally do when I’m at home, so I think it just took a toll on my body,” she says. … Read More

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How a Journalist Becomes a Carpenter: Nina MacLaughlin on ‘Hammer Head’

When Nina MacLaughlin was at the end of her 20s, she had everything figured out: she had a good job as an editor at The Boston Phoenix, one of the country’s leading alt-weeklies and legendary home of raconteur journalists. Yet despite the fact that her life looked good on paper, something was missing. She had reached the end of her rope with both journalism and her personal life. Salvation came in a flurry of big decisions. She quit The Phoenix (which closed in 2013) and looked for another route. She found it in a Craigslist ad that read: “Carptenter’s Assistant: Women strongly encouraged to apply.” … Read More

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How ‘Bloodline’ Breaks the Netflix Original Series Mold

Bloodline is slow. It’s purposely and purposefully slow, excruciatingly sluggish as it teases viewers throughout the first few episodes but never reveals enough. An early voiceover explains, “We’re not bad people, but we’ve done a bad thing,” which should be enough to hold our interest, but the Netflix original constantly tests our commitment to slog through the swamps of Florida, waiting impatiently for something — anything — of note to be revealed. There are surely reasons to stick around, most notably the cast (Kyle Chandler, Linda Cardellini, Sissy Spacek, Sam Shepard, Chloe Sevigny) and the setting, which makes ample use of the sticky, humid, and rainy Florida Keys. But it’s hard to find the energy to hit “next episode” or the urgency to binge-watch, which is surely what Netflix would prefer viewers do. Bloodline is good, but not everyone who starts the first episode will stay with it for long enough to realize it. … Read More

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‘It’s Me, Hilary': Lena Dunham Introduces the Man Behind Children’s Book Icon Eloise

Eloise, the classic fictional picture-book heroine, is “a city child” who causes havoc throughout her indoor backyard, the hallways and public rooms of New York’s ultra-posh Plaza Hotel (“Oooo, I absolutely love the Plaza!” she says). The Plaza prank that always caught my brother’s and my attention, as city children ourselves, was her decision to pour water down the mail chute of the hotel. It prompted us to stand outside our own New York mail chute and ponder doing the same thing, on many a bored afternoon. We never committed, but something tells me that in childhood Lena Dunham, current proud owner of the world’s most well-known Eloise lower back tattoo, would have gone all the way with this endeavor. … Read More

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Bands vs. Brands: The Trouble With SXSW’s Attempt to Please Everyone

AUSTIN, TX: I’m sitting in a pew at Austin’s Central Presbyterian Church, weeping silently in the dark, as alt-country singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile belts out a cover of The Avett Brothers’ “Murder in the City,” unamplified, 20 feet in front of me. At some point during the 90-minute performance on Wednesday (March 18) as part of Carlile’s Pin Drop Tour — the highlight of my own SXSW this year — I burped and it tasted like McDonald’s. What a buzzkill. … Read More

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“It’s About Class”: Matthew Weiner and ‘Mad Men’s’ Cast on the Show’s Final Episodes

“It’s about the malleability of American culture,” said Mad Men creator, writer, and showrunner Matthew Weiner on Saturday night. Weiner was at a sold-out Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center to toast “Mad Men: The End of an Era,” a special panel celebrating the show in its final season. The event was set up like a clip show, with Weiner joined by Jon Hamm, January Jones, Christina Hendricks, and John Slatter. The actors introduced their favorite clips featuring their Mad Men characters — Don Draper, Betty Draper, Joan Holloway, and Roger Sterling, respectively — and reminisced over how these scenes came to be and what they learned from them. It was a night of celebration and remembrance — there was nothing as close to a hint about what will happen when Mad Men‘s final seven episodes start next Sunday on April 5, but still plenty to learn about one of finest shows of our time. … Read More

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25 Years Later: Imagining the Dark, Depressing ‘Pretty Woman’ That Could Have Been

Twenty-five years ago this week, a small movie starring a has-been and an unknown crept into theaters and unexpectedly took America by storm. The Cinderella story of a Hollywood prostitute and the tycoon who becomes her knight in shining armor, it made Julia Roberts a star, made Richard Gere a star again, and made $463 million worldwide, contributing to the glut of romantic comedies that would populate 1990s cinema. The movie was originally called $3,000, but you might know it by its second, Disney-imposed title, Pretty Woman. And that moniker wasn’t the only thing that changed between the page and the screen; Pretty Woman has become a legendary example of how a movie can come out of the studio, writing-by-committee system bearing very little resemblance to the script it once… Read More

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