Slate's Culture Blog

Oct. 17 2014 4:27 PM

Spoiler Special: Dear White People

On the Spoiler Special podcast, Slate critics discuss movies—and the occasional TV show—in full, spoiler-filled detail. Below, staff writer Aisha Harris chats with Tanner Colby, about Dear White People, the hard-hitting feature debut of Justin Simien. Who, exactly, is the film meant to speak to? Does the film’s ambitious, multi-protagonist approach succeed? Does Simien show promise as a filmmaker?

Listen to them discuss these and other questions below.

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Oct. 17 2014 3:49 PM

Bono Shares the Real Reason He Always Wears Sunglasses: Glaucoma

We’re probably all guilty of cracking a joke at Bono’s omnipresent sunglasses at least once or twice. They’ve been a fashion staple of the U2 frontman for two decades—and now we know why: In an appearance onThe Graham Norton Show, after being asked if he ever takes them off, Bono finally explained he wears them so much because he has glaucoma, an eye disease that can cause blindness. He has had it for the last 20 years.

Oct. 17 2014 2:43 PM

It Appears That Nicolas Cage Does Not Want You to See His New Movie

You may have recently seen the trailer for Nicolas Cage’s newest movie Dying of the Light—in which he plays a CIA officer diagnosed with dementia, on the hunt for the nemesis he believes is still alive—and thought to yourself, “This looks weird and pretty terrible. I will be skipping this one.” It turns out, Cage won’t blame you if you do—in fact, he’s encouraging you to do so.

Cage, along with his co-star Anton Yelchin, credited writer-director Paul Schrader (scribe of Taxi Driver), and executive producer Nicholas Winding Refn, is boycotting the action thriller due to some behind-the-scenes battles with Lionsgate Studios. According to Schrader, he was forced off of the film when producers kept him out of the editing room. The producers, on the other hand, have asserted that Schrader quit because his cuts didn’t align with his script. Said Gary Hirsch to Variety:

“We made suggestions, which Paul to a large extent didn’t approve of, and so he refused to make the changes that we all wanted, despite the fact that the changes we were looking for were very much in line with the script that he wrote and shot.”


Oct. 17 2014 1:07 PM

Watch The Wire Cast Reunite for an Hour-Long Conversation

On Thursday night, as part of the Paley Center for Media’s PaleyFest 2014, the cast of  The Wire reunited for an hour-long panel discussion, which you can watch in full above. Though not everyone could attend—Dominic West and Idris Elba chimed in via video messages—the panel included the show’s co-creator David Simon and executive producer Nina Kostroff Noble as well as cast members Michael K. Williams (Omar), Wendell Pierce (Bunk), Sonja Sohn (Kima), Seth Gilliam (Carver), Jim True-Frost (Prezbo), John Doman (Rawls), Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (D’Angelo), and Jamie Hector (Marlo). More cast members—Tristan Wilds, J.D. Williams, Bob Wisdom, and Michelle Paress—were seated in the audience.

Oct. 16 2014 10:14 PM

Chris Rock Is Done Playing the Funny Guy in the Very Funny-Looking Top Five

On Tuesday, we learned that Chris Rock will host the Nov. 1 episode of Saturday Night Live. Like many SNL hosts, he’s got a movie to promote: In December, he’ll star in Top Five, the comedy he also wrote and directed that was the breakout hit at last month’s Toronto Film Festival and set off an intense bidding war for distribution rights. Now, with Paramount as its distributor (and Jay Z and Kanye West signed on as co-producers), we finally get a glimpse at what to expect from Top Five with this first trailer.

Oct. 16 2014 6:48 PM

Chance the Rapper’s Beautiful New Song Reflects on Life’s Contradictions

There are only a couple of months and change left in 2014, and, still, Chance the Rapper’s soulful, glorious cover of the Arthur theme remains one of my favorite songs of the year. It’s just one of many stand-alone tracks he’s put out since March, including a collaboration with Skrillex, a raw studio cut, and, today, a surprise new song that’s perfect for the fall. Titled “No Better Blues”—a twist on Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues—it’s being released, as Pitchfork notes, to launch Twitter’s new Audio Card, which will allow users to stream recordings uploaded to SoundCloud and tweeted by certain partners directly in their mobile feeds.

Oct. 16 2014 3:41 PM

Rick Rubin Returns to His Dorm Room for a Great Short Film About Def Jam

One of hip-hop’s best stories is one that’s been told time and again: how, in 1984, a young Jewish kid from Long Island named Rick Rubin, together with Russell Simmons, started one of the most important record labels in rap history out of his NYU dorm room. Now, to mark Def Jam’s 30th anniversary, Rolling Stone has revisited the label’s earliest days in Rick Was Here, a new documentary that takes Rubin back to that same Weinstein dorm in Greenwich Village for the first time in three decades.

Oct. 16 2014 1:11 PM

Watch One Basketball Bounce Through 24 Different Movies

When I first watched this wonderful short from France’s Collectif HOTU (via CinemaBlend), which stitches together 24 different movies with the bouncing of one wandering basketball, my first instinct was to try to place it. Is it closest to Christian Marclay’s 1995 mashup Telephones, or his unfinished doors project (described in this 2012 New Yorker profile)? Or maybe it’s more like Chuck Jones’ classic Looney Tunes short Duck Amuck, with its clever use of animation and changing backdrops?

But regardless of how you want to classify it, there’s one thing it undeniably is: fun.

Oct. 16 2014 12:42 PM

Gone Girl Is the Ultimate Truther Movie

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

In the week after Gone Girl opened at the top of the box office with a robust $37 million, Naomi Wolf, the author of The Beauty Myth and onetime political advisor most famous for questioning Al Gore’s alpha-maleness, posted a series of, to say the least, questionable conspiratorial rantings on Facebook. The ISIS beheading videos, she suggested, were fakes; the bereft parents of the victims, featured so often on the news, were actors, and by the way, Obama was sending American troops to Africa to bring back Ebola as a pretense to institute martial law. Wolf’s theories were disarmingly similar, in form if not in content, to the kind of “false flag” narratives perpetrated by commentators like the radio host Alex Jones and, once upon a time, Glenn Beck: tales of FEMA camps, black helicopters, and shadow governments. In fact, Wolf’s suggestions follow the rough outline of several persistent and, frankly, heinous conspiracy theories floated after the massacre of school children in Newtown: The whole thing was faked, the footage was altered, and the mourning were simply actors, their grief an insidious ploy.

It seemed fitting that Wolf’s particular outburst came in the wake of the Zeitgeist tsunami that is Gone Girl. The novel has sold over 6 million copies worldwide; the film is No. 1 for two weeks running. Clearly, it’s hitting some kind of collective nerve. (As with any post-release discussion of Gone Girl, there are spoilers ahoy.) Movies, as a popular form, are especially good at barometrically detecting and exploiting our collective anxieties, whether it’s the gynophobic noir films of the post-war 1940s; or the rubber-aliens-standing-in-for-Commies B-movie romps of the Cold War; or the post–Kent State, post-Watergate paranoid fantasias of the 1970s, from The Parallax View to Marathon Man to Three Days of the Condor; or the bunny-boiling yuppie-anxiety fever dream that was Fatal Attraction in the 1980s.

Gone Girl has been dissected (and re-dissected, and re-re-dissected) as many things: an ode to misandry; a repudiation of the male gaze; an out-and-out pot-boiler in which the venomous villain just happens to be, refreshingly, a woman. But Wolf’s rant suggests there’s another modern anxiety that Gone Girl is cannily tapping in to: the post-9/11 suspicion that our entire understanding of what constitutes a conspiracy has changed.