Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Sept. 20 2017 10:15 AM

Linda Hamilton Is Returning to the Terminator Franchise Because There Is No Fate But What We Make

Rejoice, Terminator purists: Linda Hamilton is set to return to the franchise, as first revealed by the Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday. Hamilton will reprise her role as Sarah Connor, the waitress-turned-warrior, in a new installment of the robot versus human franchise. James Cameron and original Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger are already tied to the new project, with the inclusion of Hamilton completing the creative trinity. Cameron will not be directing this time around, though he is producing and crafting the new story, which is said to be a "direct sequel" to 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Sept. 20 2017 9:36 AM

Alicia Vikander Is Your New Lara Croft in the First Tomb Raider Reboot Trailer

No, no one was clamoring for a reboot of the Tomb Raider movie that originated with Angelina Jolie as the video game franchise’s archaeologist heroine Lara Croft in 2001. The action flick was butchered by critics, and while a box office success ($274 million worldwide) that spawned a sequel, Jolie is usually singled out as the primary (or even sole) highlight of an otherwise unremarkable movie. But Jolie has presumably been too busy making artsy and "important" movies as of late to pull a Harrison Ford, and Hollywood can’t go a day without reviving properties old and new—so in stepped Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander.

 

Sept. 20 2017 8:03 AM

Is Netflix Helping or Hurting Stand-up?

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

“NETFLIX IS A JOKE” reads a billboard by our offices in lower Manhattan. It is one of a few in New York and Los Angeles planted by Netflix themselves, part of an admittedly clever campaign to highlight the streaming site’s year of high-profile stand-up specials, both the ones already aired, like Dave Chappelle and Amy Schumer, and those to come: Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres. Last night, during the Emmys broadcast, Netflix debuted a pretty clever commercial to go along with the slogan. The campaign isn’t really a promotion as much as a brag. Netflix’s year of stand-up domination has been more of a win for Netflix than it has been for stand-up. If Netflix were a joke, it would be the one told by veteran comedian Andy Kindler at his annual State of the Industry Address at the Montreal Just for Laughs Festival: “Netflix is releasing a new comedy special every week. It’s exciting because now you can binge-watch America getting tired of stand-up comedy again.”

Sept. 20 2017 7:03 AM

How to Eat All That Zucchini? A Newfangled, Totally Genius Caesar Salad.

This post originally appeared in Genius Recipes on Food52.

Caesar purists, stay calm. This salad from the historic Blackberry Farm resort in Walland, Tennessee has plenty in common with the classic you know and love—both in key ingredients and in feisty-bright-creamy-garlicky experience—but it also diverges, quite a lot.

We’re still going to call it Caesar, and it’s so good you should make it even if we called it Chuck.

Sept. 20 2017 6:55 AM

Clinton and Colbert Consume Chardonnay, Chat Collusion

Hillary Clinton came by Stephen Colbert’s show on Tuesday night to talk about her book What Happened, and did her best to explain what, exactly, happened. It doesn’t sound like she had a great time writing the book: Although the thought of getting paid to remember a world where Trump wasn’tpresident sounds like a pretty good deal, the math is a little different when people are blaming you because Trump is president, as she explained to Colbert:

It wasn’t easy. It was painful. It was horrible, reliving it. And, you know, being as candid, open as I could be about the mistakes I made, and talking about those. But also trying to come to grips, as I write in the book, about everything from sexism and misogyny to voter suppression to the unusual behavior of the former Director of the FBI, and the Russians. And the Russians.

Russia dominated the rest of the interview, in which Clinton described herself as a “Paula Revere” figure, trying to warn the country about Putin’s electoral meddling. Colbert also asked about Putin’s reported personal animus toward Clinton, which she attributed mostly to her work as Secretary of State, but also allowed that sexism might be involved. Fans of Clinton’s painfully awkward to adopt cool lingo—“Pokémon go to the polls” is the canonical example—will get a kick out of her first example of Putin’s sexism:

Well, he demonstrated, as I write in the book, you know, there’s an expression—we certainly know it in New York—called “manspreading?”

After a commercial break, Clinton talked more about the Russian investigation and ruled out any question of contesting the election results, because there’s no constitutional mechanism to do so:

Sept. 20 2017 3:48 AM

Jimmy Kimmel: Senator Bill Cassidy “Lied Right to My Face”

The continuing radicalization of Jimmy Kimmel proceeded apace on Tuesday night, as the former Man Show host used his Jimmy Kimmel Live! monologue to call Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy a liar. Kimmel’s realization that Republicans might not be entirely sincere when they say they want to improve American health care is the conclusion of a story arc that began with the birth of his son William Kimmel in April. William was born with a congenital heart defect, and after a close encounter with the exorbitant costs of his treatment, Kimmel gave a moving speech about the experience, boiling the health care debate down to a simple moral statement:

If your baby is going to die, and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make.

None of the Republican health care proposals have done anything to alleviate this problem, because they were never designed to. But Kimmel, at least that first night, seemed to be working from the assumption that Republicans were operating in good faith, blaming “partisan squabbles” instead of an organized campaign on the part of the Republican party to keep health care a for-profit business that goes back decades. Slate’s Isaac Chotiner called Kimmel’s approach misguided at the time, but today it’s looking more like he was playing a long game.

Kimmel’s paean to bipartisanship—and the way his monologue went viral—made Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy feel comfortable enough that he started throwing Kimmel’s name around, saying he would only support legislation that passed the “Jimmy Kimmel test.” Seemingly confident that Kimmel was an ally, Cassidy then agreed to go on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about it. Kimmel treated him to a hostile, skeptical interview, ending by telling Cassidy he hoped the senator would keep his word about improving the health care system.

But Senator Cassidy never had any intention of improving anything, as the nightmarish Graham-Cassidy bill makes very, very clear. So Tuesday night, Kimmel dropped the hammer, telling his audience that Senator Cassidy “just lied right to my face,” running down a meticulously constructed list of specific ways the bill fails, plastering the phone number for the Capitol switchboard on-screen (202-224-3121) and encouraging his audience to call their representatives. Yes: in 2017, Jimmy Kimmel is doing monologues about health care policy, wrapped around an accusation that a Republican senator is a liar, and urging his audience to take political action. He’s just as surprised about that as you are:

I never imagined I would get involved in something like this, this is not my area of expertise. My area of expertise is eating pizza, and that’s really about it. But we can’t let them do this to our children, our senior citizens, and our veterans, or to any of us.

Whether or not it’s his area of expertise, Kimmel’s concise explanation of the way Republicans are leveraging boredom to accomplish evil things is flawless:

Health care is complicated. It’s boring. I don’t want to talk about it. The details are confusing. And that’s what these guys are relying on. They’re counting on you to be so overwhelmed with all the information, you just trust them to take care of you. But they’re not taking care of you, they’re taking care of the people who give them money, like insurance companies. And we’re all just looking at our Instagram accounts and liking things while they’re voting on whether people can afford to keep their children alive or not. Most of the congresspeople who vote on this bill probably won’t even read it. And they want us to do the same thing. They want us to treat it like an iTunes service agreement. And this guy, Bill Cassidy, just lied right to my face.

It would be nice to live in a world where comedians could get back to making fun of Matt Damon, but if they have to spend their time pleading for our government not to take health care away from its own citizens—and for now, at least, it seems they do—it’s good to know Jimmy Kimmel is willing to call a lie a lie. Here are Kimmel’s complete comments:

Sept. 19 2017 6:06 PM

SNL Writer Nick Kocher’s Emmys Tuxedo Story Is a Dramatic Tale of Mistaken Identity and Rivalry

Saturday Night Live writer and Jon Snow lookalike Nick Kocher had a small garment bag mixup ahead of this year’s Emmy Awards, as he explained on Instagram in “a story in 10 acts.” Kocher probably just meant that he was posting 10 separate photos to tell the story, but upon closer examination, the tale actually holds up pretty well when examined using Freytag’s pyramid. Here it is in classical five-act form.

Exposition:

Nick Kocher, a writer for the popular variety television series Saturday Night Live, travels to Los Angeles for the Emmy Awards. He brings a garment bag containing his tuxedo.

Rising Action:

Kocher discovers he took the wrong garment bag from the airport. He calls the airline and uses social media to search for the correct owner of the tuxedo. A friend offers to lend him a suit, but it is too large for him.

Climax:

Kocher is contacted by the correct owner of the tuxedo, a turning point for our protagonist.

screen_shot_20170919_at_5.34.58_pm

Nick Kocher via Instagram

Falling Action:

Kocher and his garment bag doppelganger meet and exchange tuxedos. In a moment of final suspense, the correct owner of the tuxedo turns out to be Matt Lappin, who works as a supervising producer on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, making him Kocher’s rival.

Dénouement:

Kocher wears the correct tuxedo to the Emmy Awards and poses amicably with Lappin. Both programs lose Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series to Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

We did it!

A post shared by Nick Kocher (@nickkocher) on

And curtain.

Sept. 19 2017 5:13 PM

The Honest Trailer for Wonder Woman Says She’s the Hero DC Needs, Even If It Doesn’t Deserve Her

As the argument as to whether Wonder Woman is a feminist film wages bafflingly on, the movie’s Honest Trailer is here to remind us of the importance and rarity of what it depicts.

After all, studios never thought a groundbreaking, record-breaking female-led superhero movie was possible. Until, that is, Patty Jenkin came along and asked one simple question: “What if a female-led superhero movie wasn’t absolute garbage from beginning to end?” If only someone had thought of this sooner!

A movie must be pretty darn flawless to gain the near-universal respect of critics and audiences alike, just as a woman has to be faultless to gain the respect of some men—something the trailer is upfront about. If, like Diana, you’re strong, speak hundreds of languages, and are a literal god, perhaps then “men might begrudgingly half-tolerate your presence.”

Of course, Wonder Woman isn’t totally perfect. She does have her kryptonite, the trailer concedes, as every superhero does—hers is “not knowing jack about anything.” The video lines up the deluge of questions Diana asks throughout the film, showing her isolation-caused ignorance on the subjects of war, marriage, secretaries, watches, sleep, and holding hands.

Nor is the film perfect. To show a fearless and powerful women saving the men around her is groundbreaking, “but not so groundbreaking that they didn’t put one of the bankable Hollywood Chrises in it.” (That would be Chris Pine.) But, the voiceover realizes midway through, he’s actually playing the damsel in distress: “Hey, they gave him the role women always have to play against the male superheroes, didn’t they? I see what you did there!”

The trailer also picks out some of the film’s non-Chris-related problems: Its cultural stereotypes, its historical inaccuracy, and, last but not least, its cartoonish villains. While Gadot and Pine are complex characters, the bad guys seem to be “villains pulled from a different, much campier movie.”

“Does it end with a lightning-hands mustache-man yelling video game level dialogue?” Yes, yes it does.

There’s also space for a few jabs at the DC Extended Universe, which has pulled off a major success by not doing any of the things it is usually known for. Wonder Woman is “the hero the DCEU doesn’t deserve—but sure as hell needs right now!”

Sept. 19 2017 3:19 PM

Darren Aronofsky Needs to Stop Explaining What Mother! Is About

Love Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! or hate it, and you will have plenty of company either way, it’s a movie worth thinking and talking about. At The Film Stage, Brian Roan rails against the attempts to decode its meaning as a pernicious outgrowth of “explainer culture,” in which art is approached as a puzzle to be solved rather than a mystery to be pondered, but one of the things that’s exhilarating about the movie is the multitude of plausible but apparently incompatible interpretations it’s spawned. Is it an ecological allegory, with Javier Bardem as an absent-minded god and Jennifer Lawrence as a frazzled Mother Earth? A horror movie about egocentric male artists and the women who thanklessly support them? Or are Bardem and Lawrence playing two halves of the creative psyche, he the public-facing glory hound, she the tender of fragile ideas? Maybe it’s about gaslighting, or the trauma of unwanted houseguests, or what a shitty partner Aronofsky was to Rachel Weisz. Or the Bible? (Definitely the Bible.)

Mother! is evocative enough to sustain all these explanations and more. But there is one person who needs to stop explaining what Mother! is about, and that person is its writer-director, Darren Aronofsky.

In the buildup to Mother!’s release, Aronofsky kept mum about the movie’s subject, and Paramount’s marketing followed suit. (The “F” grade the film received from the audience-rating service CinemaScore is a good gauge of how little theatrical audiences knew what they were in for.) But since its premiere, he has scarcely been able to keep his mouth shut. Aronofsky has been vague about minor details like why the title’s “M” is lowercase or what the yellow tincture is that Lawrence keeps pouring into her water glass, but he’s talked at length, if not always consistently, about the film as a parable of climate change and impending environmental catastrophe—an issue that frequently engages Aronofsky in his time between films. As the New York Times summarizes it:

“Mother!” is about Mother Earth (Ms. Lawrence) and God (Mr. Bardem), whose poetic hit has the weight of the Old Testament: hence all the visitors clamoring for a piece of Him, as his character is called. The house represents our planet. (Walking the wooden floorboards in bare feet is what finally got the part to click, Ms. Lawrence said.) The movie is about climate change, and humanity’s role in environmental destruction.

Mother’s plot draws heavily on the Bible: Ed Harris’ character, identified in the credits as Man, shows up alone, then manifests a wound where his rib might once have been; he’s followed by Michelle Pfeiffer’s Woman, and then by their two sons, one of whom kills the other. But there’s no Biblical analogue for Lawrence’s character, and Aronofsky, who is not religiously observant, has played down the Biblical parallel as more of a structural gimmick than an end in itself. That goes too for what seem to be its unavoidably autobiographical elements, which Bardem’s poet neglects his wife while catering to the adulation of his fans, whom he can’t bear to turn away even as his long-suffering wife begs for a little piece and quiet. “The fame stuff is purely a side effect,” he told IndieWire’s Anne Thompson. “When I was writing I wasn’t seeking comment about that, it was about the allegorical sense of worship.”

Humans being fallible creatures, artists’ explanations of the work they intended to make are often more intriguing than the work itself. But one hallmark of great art is that it’s about more than its creators intended, or at least that it allows people other than the artist(s) to find their own meaning in it. To his credit, Aronofsky isn’t shutting down alternate interpretations of his movie, but he also can’t resist providing his own: He’s like a magician so pleased with his own trick he can’t wait to show you how it’s done.

Besides indulging the intentional fallacy, Aronofsky’s willingness to provide a decoder ring for his own movie robs its of its richness, and tying it to a single overriding theme exposes, or even creates, flaws in its overall schema. If Bardem is God and Lawrence is Gaia, then what are we to make of God’s vanity, his lust for adulation and his willingness to ignore his greatest creation’s cries for help? (What are the Judeo-Christian God and a pagan personification even doing in the same story?) Doesn’t it undermine the movie’s environmental message to suggest that our present earth is only the latest in an apparently infinite cycle of creation and destruction? Even more than the holes in its plot, the narrow parsing of Mother! as an ecological fable doesn’t account for its off-the-wall style, its free mixture of horrific and comic tones, or the bravura complexity of Lawrence’s performance. (According to Aronofsky, fully 66 of its 115 minutes are a close-up of her face.) Aronofsky’s description of Mother! is a lot duller than the movie he actually made.

Aronofsky’s explanations don’t detract from Mother! the way, say, Richard Kelly’s did from Donnie Darko, when it became clear that some of the movie’s most prized qualities were there by accident, and his attempts to improve it with a director’s cut only made it worse. But it’s a lesser movie when it’s tied to a single reading, or even a principal one. In some ways, it’s a movie about the process of making meaning itself, of trying to form a coherent thought amid the nonstop din of life and the omnipresent howl of death. Darren Aronofsky had his say when he made Mother! Now it’s our turn.

Correction, July 19: This article originally referred to Darren Aronofsky as Rachel Weisz’s ex-husband. The two never married.

Sept. 19 2017 2:09 PM

Taylor Swift Is Being Sued for Plagiarizing the Lyrics to “Shake It Off”

Is it possible to lay musical claim to the concept of resigning oneself to the fact that haters are going to hate and players are going to play?

Songwriters seem to think so. Taylor Swift is again being sued for plagiarizing the lyrics to “Shake It Off,” her 2014 hit about haters and players. TMZ is reporting that Sean Hall and Nathan Butler, the songwriters behind 3LW’s “Playas Gon’ Play,” are seeking 20 percent of the royalties from Swift’s song.

They claim Swift’s catchy chorus, “’Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play/ And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate” are sufficiently similar to their 2001 lyrics, “Playas, they gonna play/ And haters, they gonna hate.”

The lyrics diverge from here, however, with Swift more concerned with fakers and heartbreakers, who are going to fake and break, while 3LW are resigned to the fact that ballers and shot callers will continue to ball and call, respectively.

Swift was previously sued by an artist named Jesse Braham, who contended that Swift must have been inspired by his straight-to-Youtube song, “Haters Gone Hate.” A hilarious judge did not see fit to award Braham his $42 million.

In a statement to TMZ, a representative for Swift said that "This is a ridiculous claim and nothing more than a money grab.”

Compare the pair for yourself:

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