Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

March 28 2015 12:25 PM

James Bond Is Back, and More Brooding Than Ever, in the Trailer for Spectre

When all’s said and done, Daniel Craig may be remembered as the man who humanized James Bond. It’s an unexpected legacy: When the icy-eyed, boxy actor was first cast in the role, he seemed more rough-and-tumble than any of his predecessors, more likely to make Bond a bona fide action star than a man wracked by inner turmoil. But with Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan, Bond’s antics always seemed effortless; with Craig, you see the spy work, struggle, suffer. And now, in the trailer for Spectre, we see him confront a deep, dark secret from his past.

In other words, this looks a lot like Skyfall: Part Two.

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March 27 2015 5:46 PM

It’s Refreshing That Fresh Off the Boat Doesn’t Show Hate Crimes

It’s been a full two decades since prime-time television has seen an Asian American family sitcom. But ABC’s new show Fresh Off the Boat, loosely based on celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s memoir, is changing that. Though the very first Asian American family sitcom, Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, was canceled due to poor ratings and lack of interest back in 1995, Fresh Off the Boat has already stirred up considerable buzz. It’s also a significant moment for many Asian Americans, who have largely been excluded or misrepresented when it comes to the mainstream.

But testing the waters won’t be easy for Fresh Off the Boat. Will the show resonate with a non-Asian audience? Will it manage to undermine stereotypes or end up reinforcing them? Will its jokes be lame?

So we wanted to discuss the series from an Asian American point of view. This week, Slate’s Jennifer Lai will  be joined by Phil Yu, creator of the blog Angry Asian Man, along with performance artist, comedian, writer Kristina Wong. Wong is the creator of “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest“ and The Wong Street Journal, which premieres worldwide in April 2015 in San Francisco.

March 27 2015 5:14 PM

Why You Should Be Watching Call the Midwife

Filmmakers have been putting damsels in distress since pictures were first made to move. And Call the Midwife, which returns to PBS for its fourth season on Sunday night, is the ultimate 21st-century feminist spin on the genre. Instead of kindly gents rescuing helpless women who’ve been tied to railway tracks by mustache-twirling villains, Call the Midwife shows a dedicated band of nurses and nuns saving pregnant women whose health and welfare are imperiled by poverty and misinformation.

Well, the young women in uniform usually save the day, but the terrible odds stacked against them—the lack of resources, the primitive state of obstetrics in the 1950s and early ’60s, and the frailty of the flesh, to name a few—mean that they don’t always prevail. The stakes on Call the Midwife are a matter of life and death, and that makes the show absolutely terrifying. When fetal heartbeats are monitored by placing an ear trumpet on a pregnant woman’s belly, humans seem alarmingly vulnerable.

March 27 2015 4:35 PM

Fred Durst Is Not Robert Durst, Fred Durst’s Hoodie Confirms

Read all Slate’s coverage of The Jinx.

Two weeks ago, the Associated Press managed to make the mistake everyone was secretly hoping someone would make, by confusing Robert Durst, suspected murderer and subject of HBO’s The Jinx, with Fred Durst, frontman of Limp Bizkit.

Now to make sure there will be no further confusion, Fred Durst has taken to Instagram. If you ever find yourself feeling a little unsure, I suggest you consult the hoodie.

March 27 2015 4:22 PM

An Interview With the Illustrator of Lena Dunham’s “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend”

Lena Dunham’s Shouts & Murmurs in the latest issue of the New Yorker— titled “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend: A Quiz”—has not been received kindly by the Internet. Politico’s Ben White dubbed it “anti-Semitic garbage”; the website Kveller called it “not OK.” The piece, for the uninitiated, is pretty much what it sounds like: a list of traits—to the tune of “He doesn’t tip” and “He’s crazy for cream cheese”—that could, we are meant to understand, be plausibly attributed to either a pooch or a Jew. I might argue that “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend” is less offensive than mystifying: Dunham writes, “He once vomited on his seatmate in United business class”—do Jewish boyfriends do that? Do dogs?

March 27 2015 3:25 PM

Everything You Need to Know About Where The X-Files Left Off in Two Minutes

The X-Files is back, baby! But wait … How did it end, again? It’s been 13 years since Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully left our TV screens, but thankfully it wasn’t goodbye forever. The show is coming back to Fox for a six-episode continuation, and we’ve made this handy video to make sure you’re all caught up when it airs.

March 27 2015 1:24 PM

The Makers of Going Clear on the Evolution and the Future of Scientology

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

One of the most compelling and controversial films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Going Clear, the new documentary from Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the RoomTaxi to the Dark Side) and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright, the author of the book of the same name. The documentary airs on HBO this Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern.

We sat down with Wright and Gibney in Park City to ask them about the challenges of making a documentary about Scientology and how the church developed its many connections to Hollywood. In this longer segment from the interview, we asked them about the ways the church differs (and does not) from the other religions they’ve studied, its evolution under charismatic leader David Miscavige, and whether the church’s days are numbered in the age of the Internet.

March 27 2015 11:59 AM

Watch the Trailer for the HBO Show Based on J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy

A three-part miniseries based on The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling’s first novel outside of the wizarding world, is coming to HBO in April—and from the trailer, it looks somewhat like a British small-town version of Game of Thrones. “Everyone’s got skeletons rattling in their cupboard,” a disembodied voice says ominously. “Everyone’s got something.”

The shocking death of Barry Fairbrother, played by Rory Kinnear, sets the plot in motion as everyone scrambles to take his place on the iron throne—I mean, as parish councillor. Let the intrigue and power plays begin! There’s also a woman who rips up her shirt, yelling, “LOOK AT MY TITS!”

March 27 2015 10:54 AM

How White God Gives Its Canine Hero a True Character Arc

It’s pretty easy for a film audience to fall in love with a canine star or sidekick. Photogenic dog actors excel at sad puppy-dog eyes, of course, so their mere presence draws us in to empathize with their “characters.” And Hollywood often subjects dog characters to peril – and doesn’t hesitate to kill them off

And so any animal lover watching the Hungarian film White God, which opens in theaters Friday, is already predisposed to care about Hagen, the mixed-breed dog who leads an uprising against careless humans. Hagen (played by canine actors Luke and Bodie) is gorgeous, with soft eyes and a shaggy face. But unlike many other films starring animals, White God and its director Kornél Mundruczó don’t merely rely upon his furry heroes’ movie star looks to build our emotional connection throughout this fascinating morality tale.

March 27 2015 9:22 AM

Why The Walking Dead Should Kill Off Its Most Beloved Character 

There’s little doubt that Sunday’s season finale of The Walking Dead is going to be bloody. This season started out strong with three intense episodes, but has become bloated with half-baked story arcs that seem to have no resolution in sight. We spent half a season rooting for cheerful farm girl Beth, who proceeded to die in the most nonsensical way possible. And the guy she ostensibly died to save died nine episodes later. In the comics, Maggie becomes suicidal after losing her family.* But in the show, her emotional responses to Beth's death were all downplayed and condensed to make room for the reactions of another character—Daryl Dixon, the show’s ruggedly handsome, crossbow-toting, strong-but-silent type. So there’s one thing I’d argue needs to happen in the finale in order to rescue this season: The Walking Dead should kill off Daryl, its most beloved character.