Is Italian Oscar Nominee The Great Beauty a Sumptuous Feast or a Pretentious Mess?

Slate's weekly roundtable.
Feb. 19 2014 11:29 AM

The Culture Gabfest “Doe-Eyed Triangle Player” Edition

Slate’s Culture Gabfest on Amazon’s new pilot Transparent, The Great Beauty, and the end of brand loyalty.

Listen to Culture Gabfest No. 283 with Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner with the audio player below:

And join the lively conversation on the Culturefest Facebook page here:


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This week, the critics discuss the pilot episode of Transparent, an Amazon original series about an affluent Jewish family living in Los Angeles and struggling to deal with family secrets and the plight of their own privilege. Created by Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under, The United States of Tara) and starring Jeffrey Tambor, the show has inspired many to hail Amazon as the future of TV. Next, the gabbers turn to The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza), front-runner for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. In the tradition of La Dolce Vita, the film celebrates Rome’s architectural grandeur and luxuriates in the shallowness of its social elite. And finally, inspired by a piece from James Surowiecki of The New Yorker, the critics discuss the state of brand loyalty in the age of Yelp, TripAdvisor, and user reviews.

Here are links to some of the things we discussed this week:


Dana:, a historical photo website that never fails to attribute its images.

Julia: The 1990s club anthem “I Like to Move It” by Reel 2 Real, brought to mind by her children’s tinny Fisher Price toy.

Steve: Upstate Films Cinema in Rhinebeck, N.Y., and Blaze Foley’s heartbreaking song “Clay Pigeons.”

Outro: I Like to Move It” by Reel 2 Real.

You can email us at

This podcast was produced by Ann Heppermann. Our intern is Anna Shechtman.

Follow us on Twitter. And please “like” the Culture Gabfest on Facebook.

Stephen Metcalf is Slate's critic at large. He is working on a book about the 1980s.

Dana Stevens is Slate's movie critic.

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.


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