Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Feb. 24 2017 4:06 PM

Great British Bake Off Winner Nadiya Hussain Is Getting Her Own BBC Show, and Our Stomachs Are Already Rumbling

Here’s some wonderful news to cap off a difficult week: Nadiya Hussain, winner of the 2015 season of reality baking competition The Great British Bake Off, is getting her very own show. The BBC announced on Thursday that Hussain will star in an eight-part BBC Two series, Nadiya's British Food Adventure, that follows her on a road trip around Britain to learn about different regional culinary specialties.

A largely self-taught baker known for her animated facial expressions and good humor, Hussain was a favorite on her season of Bake Off, finally winning for her iced buns, raspberry millefeuille, and a gorgeous wedding cake. Her victory was an especially sweet one after racist and Islamophobic backlash to her appearance on the show. (Hussain is Muslim and the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants.) “I’m never gonna put boundaries on myself ever again,” she said at the time in a moving acceptance speech.

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Ever the chef, Hussain sounds as though she’ll do more than just sample the foods and techniques she encounters on her new show: “I can't wait to meet these local food heroes, to find inspiration in the most unusual food stories and unlikely ingredients and then come up with some brand new recipes in the kitchen, adding my own special twist,” she told BBC.

She previously starred in a two-part documentary exploring Bangladeshi cuisine, called—no kidding—The Chronicles of Nadiya.

Feb. 24 2017 1:06 PM

Calvin Harris’ Soothing New Song “Slide,” Featuring Frank Ocean and Migos, Is Now Available

Calvin Harris has been teasing his collaboration with Frank Ocean all week, and it’s finally arrived in the form of “Slide,” a seductive new song also featuring Migos. Harris had confirmed the collaboration on Tuesday by providing a list of credits—complete with the description “Frank Ocean appears courtesy of Frank Ocean,” confirming his unsigned status—as well as the single’s cover art, which depicts a still, sunny California day.

For Ocean, this is his first output since last year’s Endless and Blonde albums, and he contributes the sultry hook “Do you slide on all your nights like this?/ Do you try on all your nights like this?” (He’s also a co-writer alongside Harris and Migos’ members Quavo and Offset.) The song itself is a light, calming ride, the perfectly soothing (not to mention star-studded) listen as we head into the weekend.

Feb. 24 2017 12:29 PM

Girls’ Episode With Matthew Rhys Proves This Show Is Still Brilliant at Stoking Controversy

The third episode of the final season of Girls, “American Bitch,” is an installment with a strut. Just see if you can let it saunter by without tossing an opinion at it. A self-contained pas de deux between Hannah Horvath and a famous writer and alleged sexual predator named Chuck Palmer (Matthew Rhys), the episode is a provocation, Girls wading into Bill Cosby and Woody Allen-infested waters. (Chuck has a painting of Allen, holding a water gun to his haloed head, on the wall of his palatial Central Park West apartment.) The episode is manna to the thinkpiece gods and it is designed as such. A hot take, Hannah’s own, precipitates the plot, which, as in the controversial “One Man’s Trash,” exclusively concerns what happens between Hannah and a hunk. There are surely those who feel downright eye-rolly about any controversy involving Dunham or her show at this point, but “American Bitch” stokes opinions with undeniable artistry: Girls has still got it.

Feb. 24 2017 11:22 AM

TV’s Crime Dramas Are Playing Into Donald Trump’s Agenda, but Audiences Aren’t Buying It

The premiere of 24: Legacy, Fox’s heavily hyped successor to the Emmy-winning 24, began by rubbing salt in the country’s wound. The series opened on a brown-skinned group of terrorists invading a home on American soil, with blood spattered on the walls and the (white) family living inside shot to death. Airing in the plum post–Super Bowl timeslot, the sequence was jarring, an unnervingly inflammatory depiction of a religious group that had just been put under siege by the Trump Administration. It was catering to the stripe of fear that had just manifested into devastating, unconstitutional policy. As with many television shows premiering around this time, the 24: Legacy pilot was likely produced on the assumption of a predictable Clinton victory, expected to coast as exciting escapism from a boring political continuance. But as more than half of Americans have learned, you can’t always choose your president.

Hence the backtracking. Sensing mounting controversy and unease, the producers of 24: Legacy insisted it was all part of a plan—that they were intentionally being “jingoistic” by way of welcoming their audiences into a more nuanced, tolerant exploration of terror and culture. “I like to say the series begins as if it was written by Trump,” co-creator Manny Coto explained. “But it ends as if it were written by Hillary [Clinton]. It’s not going where you think it’s going.” Yet the second episode of 24: Legacy only pushed the envelope further, advancing the troubling—and baselessly fear-mongering—story of a teenage Muslim woman being recruited and sent to mix with young Americans at a local high school. In Episode 4, which aired Feb. 21, she reluctantly killed the dopey white guy crushing on her, as instructed—a symbol of her cell’s corrupting influence.

For Americans looking for relief from the daily deluge of alarming headlines, TV is an obvious destination. But politics is everywhere these days, and in the beginning months of 2017, we’re seeing broadcast networks churn out crime dramas that intend to mindlessly entertain, yet can’t seem to help but stoke fears and confirm biases that are partly responsible for where we are now, and that continue to imperil communities.

Feb. 24 2017 9:43 AM

Stephen Colbert Says We Should Have Seen Trump’s Anti-Trans Order Coming

Stephen Colbert opened Thursday’s Late Show by explaining that we probably should have expected President Trump’s rollback of transgender rights—and not just because he’s proven to be a serial liar. “If there’s one thing Trump is famous for,” Colbert began, “it’s telling people where to pee.”

Feb. 24 2017 8:33 AM

In Get Out, Allison Williams Makes the “Good White Person” Terrifying

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Get Out.

Get Out is the directorial debut of comedian Jordan Peele, and it’s also the first film role for Girls’ Allison Williams. The 28-year-old actress plays Rose, the girlfriend of our hero Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), who’s about to go on a weekend trip to meet her parents. A child of privilege, Rose has never brought a black man home before, but she assures Chris that there’s nothing to worry about: Her parents are the good kind of white people, nice suburban liberals who would have voted for Obama a third time if they could.

As soon as he arrives at the bucolic family home, Chris senses that something is amiss, and his suspicions only grow as the weekend unfolds. Because this is a horror movie, we know that Rose’s family is up to no good, but as the tension builds, viewers are left parsing whether or not Rose herself is in on their scheme.

Feb. 24 2017 8:03 AM

Zootopia Would Be the Crash of Animated Oscar Winners

By the time the Oscars ceremony rolls around, most of the emotion associated with its more predictable results has already been absorbed or dissipated: Whatever feelings La La Land’s all-but-certain Best Picture win might provoke, the fact that it’s been the agreed-upon front-runner since early last September means we’ve had ample time to reconcile ourselves to that result.

But every year, there are one or two Oscar wins, or losses, that stick in the craw, whether it’s because of a surprising result or simply the staggering (in)justice at play. If the pundits are right, there’s little chance that anything other than Zootopia will take home the award for Best Animated Film. But that likely, long-predicted win is still going, to use an appropriately animalistic metaphor, to stick in my craw.

Zootopia is not a bad movie, exactly, although it is, by a conservative estimation, the fourth-most-good of the Best Animated Film nominees. It lacks the visual splendor of Kubo and the Two Strings, the wistful simplicity of The Red Turtle, the old-school expertise of Moana—to say nothing of the too-painful-for-live-action grit of My Life as a Zucchini—but it’s solidly made, nicely acted, especially by Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman, and it lands the occasional great joke. (Whatever you think of the rest of the movie, the scene of sloths going about their business at the Department of Motor Vehicles at a speed that would make molasses impatient is a clinic in comic timing.) It’s a movie you can watch over and over again—say, at the behest of an enthusiastic second-grader—and not get sick of.

But that’s not why Zootopia is going to win. No, Zootopia has apparently risen above the rest of the pack because it’s an Important Movie, and that is where our troubles begin. It took critics no time at all to pick up on the idea that the movie’s central conflict, in which a minority population is stigmatized and threatened by a fearful majority, could be read as an allegory about systemic racism. Although predators, represented by wily fox Nick Wilde (Bateman), and prey, like dogged rookie cop Judy Hopps (Goodwin), have lived side-by-side for generations, the memory of a time when they were natural enemies still lingers, and it’s easily exploited by the movie’s villains, who contrive to make it seem as if the predators are returning their instinctive prey-eating ways.

Feb. 23 2017 5:59 PM

The New Trailer for Mary and the Witch’s Flower Has All the Elements of a Miyazaki Movie—But It’s Not From Miyazaki

 

Studio Ghibli is dead. Long live Studio Ponoc. When Ghibli, the Japanese animation giant that produced such masterpieces as Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, closed in 2014, Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura founded their own studio, bringing eight of Ghibli’s artists and animators with them. (The rumors of Ghibli’s demise were also slightly exaggerated; the studio’s animators, guided by co-founder Isao Takahata, worked on Oscar nominee The Red Turtle, directed by Michael Dudok De Wit, and a new series Ronja, the Robber’s Daughter, recently premiered on Amazon Prime.) While Ghibli guru Hayao Miyazaki keeps dipping in and out of retirement like the Brett Favre of animation that he is, Studio Ponoc is keeping the spirit of Studio Ghibli alive—as a new trailer for their inaugural release, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, perfectly demonstrates.

 

Mary and the Witch’s Flower, about a girl who gains magic powers for a single night, isn't a Miyazaki feature, but it sure looks like one, and director Yonebayashi has obviously absorbed a lot of Miyazaki’s signature style. Here are just a few Ghibli trademarks to be found in the trailer:

Feb. 23 2017 3:47 PM

Beyoncé and Her Twins Will Not Headline Coachella After All

Beyoncé can do almost anything, but headlining the Coachella Music Festival while in the advanced stages of pregnancy is a big ask even for her. The singer-goddess announced today via a statement to the Associated Press from her management company, Parkwood Entertainment, that she would not be headlining Coachella as previously announced, and would make up the date at next year’s festival.

Following the advice of her doctors to keep a less rigorous schedule in the coming months, Beyonce has made the decision to forgo performing at the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. However, Goldenvoice and Parkwood are pleased to confirm that she will be a headliner at the 2018 festival. Thank you for your understanding.
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Coachella, which is produced by Goldenvoice, will go on as scheduled with previously announced headliners Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar. There is no word as yet on how or if Coachella plans to replace Beyoncé.

Feb. 23 2017 3:00 PM

Hello, Sweet Prince: Oscar Isaac Will Play Hamlet at the Public Theater This Summer

Oscar Isaac will play Hamlet at New York’s Public Theater this summer, in a long-gestating production whose cast also includes Keegan-Michael Key, Roberta Colindrez, Peter Friedman, Gayle Rankin, Matthew Saldívar, and Anatol Yusef.

The new production from director Sam Gold (Fun Home) has been in the works since 2014 and was originally scheduled to be produced by Theatre for a New Audience at Brooklyn’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center last year. But after unspecified creative differences, Gold pulled the play, with Isaac intact, and took it to the Public instead. Isaac has previously acted in productions of Romeo and Juliet and Two Gentlemen of Verona for the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park.

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Key will make his New York stage debut playing Horatio, but the Key & Peele star was a classically trained Shakespearean actor before making a highly successful “detour” into improvisational and sketch comedy. At one point, Key said, “I was going to just do regional theater and Shakespeare festivals for the rest of my life.” Key has said he has a “standing invitation” to play the Hamlet at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, so hopefully him playing the Dane’s best friend is just a warm-up act. And as for Isaac, after playing Llewyn Davis, another brooding, tempestuous thirtysomething should be a piece of cake.

Tickets to the production go on sale for Public members on March 9, with nonmember tickets available “at a later date.”

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