Slate's Culture Blog

Sept. 29 2014 12:24 PM

Hear Lorde’s Haunting New Song From The Hunger Games Soundtrack

Over the summer, Lorde revealed that she was in the early stages of writing the follow-up to her Grammy-winning debut album, Pure Heroine. There’s still no word when we’ll hear material from that project, but today she shared something else: “Yellow Flicker Beat,” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack. (She previously covered Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” for last year’s Catching Fire soundtrack.)

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Sept. 29 2014 11:12 AM

The Simpsons Gets Its Most Bizarre Couch Gag Yet, From (Who Else?) Don Hertzfeldt

Last night Fox aired the premiere of The Simpsons’ 26th season, and for the episode’s opening, Oscar-nominated independent animator Don Hertzfeldt imagined what the series would look like in its 800th season.

The show has brought on a lot of twisted minds to reimagine the couch gag in recent years—Guillermo del Toro, Michal Socha, Banksy—but Hertzfeldt’s gag is the strangest one yet, complete with his signature stick figure animations, surreal visions, and dark and absurdist sense of humor. Hertzfeldt’s cartoons aren’t for everyone, but it’s great to see that The Simpsons is still willing to hand over its reins to someone—a longtime fan!—with such a distinctive and even subversive vision. Plus the kicker is perfect.

Sept. 29 2014 10:34 AM

John Oliver Wonders Aloud Why So Many Americans Favor Drone Strikes

The motivating question behind John Oliver’s look at the American military’s use of drones is this: Given thesecrecy around their deployment, the uncertainty about whom they actually kill, and the psychological toll the drones inflict on civilians in countries where they are routinely deployed, why do so many Americans favor their use overseas?

Sept. 28 2014 8:15 PM

The Groovy Aerobics Leggings That Got Simon Doonan Through the ’80s

All week on Brow Beat we’ll be presenting tales of special pieces of clothing as told by their wearers, excerpted from Worn Stories by Emily Spivack, out now from Princeton Architectural Press.

One by one my roommates, friends, and boyfriends in Los Angeles started getting sick from AIDS. It was very early on in the epidemic and when you went to the doctor, they couldn’t refer you to an expert. They asked you if you were religious, meaning, you were going to die.

I decided to join a gym with a friend who had been diagnosed with AIDS. At least we could be healthy, we thought. We became members of Sports Connection, also known as “Sports Erection,” in West Hollywood. This was in the early 1980s during the aerobics heyday in Los Angeles, when Jane Fonda had her own aerobics studio and women walked around in pastel blue Lycra tights with pink leg warmers, white Reeboks, and sweatbands.

Sept. 28 2014 2:46 PM

Jimmy Fallon and Robert Plant Delight With Their Doo-Wop Cover of “Duke of Earl”

It’s unclear why Jimmy Fallon hasn’t quit the late night thing and started his own barbershop quartet, but his musical interludes almost always steal the show. Fallon bust out his doo-wop chops again Friday night, performing a charming rendition of Gene Chandler’s “Duke of Earl” with Robert Plant.

Sept. 28 2014 12:55 PM

Chris Pratt and Pete Davidson Steal the Show in SNL’s Season Premiere

Saturday night marked the premiere of SNL’s 40th season, and Chris Pratt hosted what I thought to be one of the better, more consistently funny episodes in a good while. There were the usual half-baked sketches, but on balance Lorne Michaels’ off-season changes paid serious dividends, with the cast clicking on all cylinders and the writing seeming crisper and more daring.

Sept. 27 2014 3:03 PM

Tiny Detectives: The True Detective Parody Starring Kate Mara and Ellen Page

The cast of True Detective’s sophomore season has finally been confirmed, but I already miss that halcyon era of #TrueDetectiveSeason2 speculation. If you're still pining for alternative takes on the series, Funny or Die has released an amusing parody featuring Kate Mara and Ellen Page, in which the two “tiny detectives” show us what detective life is like when you’re only five feet above the ground.

Sept. 27 2014 1:24 PM

Hitchcock’s Obsession With Eyes Gets a Great  Supercut

One of the best video essayists around, Kogonada, specializes in the exploration of directors’ stylistic tics—Wes Anderson’s symmetrical shots, Darren Aronofsky’s use of sound, Kubrick’s one-point perspective. His latest, for the Criterion Collection, is a short but stunning exploration of Alfred Hitchcock’s obsession with eyes. 

Sept. 27 2014 9:22 AM

Spoiler Special: The Boxtrolls

On the Spoiler Special podcast, Slate critics discuss movies—and the occasional TV show—in full, spoiler-filled detail. Below, our film critic Dana Stevens talks with Movie Mom Nell Minow about The Boxtrolls, Laika Studio’s latest animated feature. How does it measure up to its Laika predecessors, Coraline andParaNorman? Does the film have transphobic undertones? And how exactly was the film, with its combination of stop-motion and hand-drawn animation, actually made?

Sept. 26 2014 5:24 PM

Will This Be the Whitest Oscars in Almost Two Decades?

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

One year after a groundbreaking night at the Oscars where Lupita Nyong’o won the Best Supporting Actress trophy for 12 Years a Slave and that film's black director took home the night’s top honor, things may look very different at the Academy Awards. A consensus is forming about this year’s likely nominees now that prognosticators have already seen many of the season’s heavy hitters at film festivals, and if their projections stand, this will be the first Oscars ceremony in years without a black, Hispanic, or Asian acting nominee.

Could white actors really take home all 20 Oscar nominee slots? It seems possible if you’re going by the predictions posted at Gold Derby, where 17 of the industry’s premier Oscar prognosticators are polled. Their predictions are then shuffled together to create a shortlist ranked by odds, and so far, the top five contenders in each acting category are white. The Lead Actor category is dominated by Brits like Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Timothy Spall; Best Actress is a panoply of pale-skinned actresses like Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, and Reese Witherspoon. White character actors over 40, like Edward Norton and J.K. Simmons, have the edge in the Best Supporting Actor category, while Best Supporting Actress is populated by front-runner Patricia Arquette and young ingénues like Emma Stone and Keira Knightley.