Slate's Culture Blog

July 28 2014 9:29 PM

Peter Jackson’s Time on Middle-Earth Ends With The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, while not as critically acclaimed as his Lord of the Rings films, has nonetheless yielded huge box-office numbers. The third and final installment, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, released its first trailer today, and it looks like another crowd-pleaser: Bilbo and his gang are back to fight a fittingly epic battle that will, predictably, determine the fate of Middle-earth.

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July 28 2014 4:40 PM

Stream Spoon’s New Album, They Want My Soul

So far, long-admired indie rockers Spoon have wowed us with recent offerings from their new album,They Want My Soul—their first since 2010’s Transference. We’ve already heard the rocker “Rent I Pay,” the breezy summer jam “Do You,” and the more psychedelic “Inside Out,” which frontman Britt Daniel described as “the most beautiful thing we’ve done.” Though the album isn’t officially out until Aug. 5, you can stream it now in its entirety at the link below.

Stream Spoon’s new album They Want My Soul here, via iTunes Radio.

July 28 2014 4:03 PM

Tom Hardy Is the New Road Warrior in the Trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road

Following more than a decade of gestation and interruptions and coming nearly 40 years after the original film, the latest installment of George Miller’s apocalyptic action series Mad Max will finally see the light of day. At Comic-Con over this past weekend, audience members got a first look at Mad Max: Fury Road, starring Tom Hardy (taking over Mel Gibson’s role in the original films) and Charlize Theron. And the trailer, in all of its high-speed, adrenaline-pumping glory, is now online.

July 28 2014 12:24 PM

Karen O Returns to Lo-Fi Bedroom Vibes With New Single “Rapt”

This morning, Karen O released the first single and accompanying video from her debut solo album,Crush Songs. “Rapt,” a woozy love song clocking in at just under two minutes, is one of several “lo-fi bedroom songs” she wrote back in 2006 and 2007.

In the video, O floats tranquilly underwater, decked out in red sequins and lipstick to match; the dreamy cinematography evokes the helpless euphoria of falling for a new love, a feeling she describes at first with reluctance (“It’s gonna leave me blue”) and then with wistful resignation (“It’s gonna feel like new”). A quiet acoustic tune, “Rapt” is less reminiscent of her work with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and more similar to her Oscar-nominated “The Moon Song,” recorded with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig for the soundtrack to Her.

July 28 2014 9:32 AM

Katniss Is Ready to Fight in Teaser for New Hunger Games

After two messages from President Snow, here is the first teaser for the next Hunger Games that takes us away from the propaganda and into the rebellion. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee opens the teaser (Hoffman had mostly finished filming for the series prior to his death) and we also get our first glimpses of Julianne Moore as Alma Coin and Natalie Dormer (complete with a half-shaved head) as Cressida.

It’s brief (just over a minute), but it’s still our longest look yet at the penultimate chapter in the blockbuster franchise. Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is out Nov. 21.

July 28 2014 8:32 AM

The 1979 Rockford Files Episode That Inspired The Sopranos

This article originally appeared in Cinematically Insane.

A gang from Newark’s South Side is hiding Vinnie Martine’s body in a restaurant freezer. Tony’s mad because Anthony Jr. got caught pranking another mobster. And a boss who’s trying to reform gets his mansion sprayed with bullets.

Remember that episode of The Sopranos? If you do, your memory’s playing tricks on you, because all these things happened on a 1979 episode of The Rockford Files—written by Sopranos creator David Chase.

July 27 2014 5:44 PM

Tusk Looks Like Kevin Smith’s Most Original Work in Years

Kevin Smith—with his cultish fanbase and hit-or-miss work—is a divisive figure, but from the trailer his latest film looks too intriguingly weird to miss. Tusk stars Justin Long as Wallace Bryton, a podcaster who specializes in finding unusual or adventurous stories. His latest subject is Mr. Howe, an old seafarer who lives in a creepy Canadian mansion and tells our hero of his nautical exploits. Also: he wants to turn Wallace into a walrus.

July 27 2014 3:46 PM

Game of Thrones Gets a Lot More Lighthearted in This Blooper Reel

Game of Thrones has never been the most chipper show on television, and the past season had more than its fair share of grisly deaths, brooding men, and bloody battles. If it all got a little heavy for you, good news: the blooper reel for season 4 has made its way online, and features your favorite Westerosians indulging in some lighter fare than usual.

July 25 2014 5:38 PM

You Should Still Be Listening to Common, and Here’s Where to Start With His Recent Work

In 2014, it might be tempting to write Common off as a relic of hip-hop’s “golden age,” a rapper who can’t seem to eclipse his past critically acclaimed work, like 2000’s Like Water for Chocolate or 2005’s classic Be. In fact, you might even forget he still makes music at all, given that he’s increased his focus on acting in recent years with starring roles in movies like 2010’s Just Wright and shows like AMC’s Hell on Wheels. But to dismiss Common’s recent work is unfair and a mistake, especially given the strength of such stellar projects as 2011’s The Dreamer, The Believer and his 10th studio album, Nobody’s Smiling, released on Tuesday.

His new album is a candid study of his hometown of Chicago that displays some of Common’s darkest and most aggressive work to date—e.g., he begins his first verse on gritty album opener “The Neighborhood” by name-checking the city’s most notorious gangs. This opening sets the album’s austere tone, one needed to approach its tale of urban decay. And although Nobody’s Smiling’s sometimes-scatterbrained narrative falls short of making the disruptive statement Common likely intended, as some critics note, it’s a conversation starter about the city’s epidemic of violence that’s long overdue.

Nobody’s Smiling is also more proof that after a 20-plus-year career in rap, Common remains one of the genre’s best storytellers. It’s only the latest reason you should still be paying attention to what he has to say—even if you tuned out in the mid-2000s.

July 25 2014 12:37 PM

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 Looks Unsurprisingly Raunchy and Surprisingly Funny

Though I do remember a handful of hearty laughs in 2010’s raunchy time-travel comedy Hot Tub Time Machine, I don’t recall fans clamoring for a sequel. But as far as gratuitous sequels go, the (NSFW) trailer for Hot Tub Time Machine 2 certainly has potential—that is, if the movie can somehow, as few sequels do, overcome the flaws of its predecessor (which Dana Stevens enumerated in her review for Slate).