Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Oct. 8 2015 3:25 PM

The Season 2 Trailer for Catastrophe Makes New Parenthood Look Amusingly Dystopian

The trailer for Catastrophe’s second season drops you into the amusing, occasionally dystopian reality of new parenthood: sleeplessness, attempting to pump while high, and, apparently, black nipples. Also in store for the show’s central couple, Rob and Sharon—whose tryst in London ended with a pregnancy—is, in the words of the trailer, a “sexual meltdown.”

Slate’s Willa Paskin described the British sitcom as “hilarious, dirty, quick, and very satisfying—not unlike the sex lives of its protagonists.” From the looks of it, the show’s second season will deliver the same wry charms. No word yet from Amazon on when the season will debut for American audiences, but returns to Channel 4 across the pond on Oct. 27.

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Oct. 8 2015 1:09 PM

Emma Stone Cavorts Around a Haunted Ship in the New Music Video for Will Butler’s “Anna”  

In “Anna,” Will Butler (of Arcade Fire fame) sings, “Ooh, sharpen a stone. Cause you got to get money.” In this new alternate video for the single off Butler’s first solo album, Policy,  one of the world’s most famous stones, Emma, tosses around some bills, and dances around the supposedly haunted RMS Queen Mary.

In a white dress and deep magenta lipstick, Stone begins by gracefully pacing the ship, then breaks into an elaborately choreographed dance routine, with the help of some sailors. Sia choreographer Ryan Heffington worked on this video, which might explain the theatrically contorted expressions on Stone’s face.

Oct. 8 2015 12:45 PM

A Brilliant Technique for Brighter, More Glamorous Lentil Salad

This post originally appeared on Food52.

Claiming to make vegetable stock and lentil salad in one fell swoop sounds like the mark of an infomercial, or what happens when the pages of a cookbook get stuck together.

It’s neither—rather, it’s the genius work of Deborah Madison: cookbook author, demystifier of both vegetable and vegetarian cooking, and the creator of brighter, more purposeful lentil salads for all of us.     

As Madison shows us, by chopping up the vegetables finely, they cook just as quickly as the lentils do (roughly 20 minutes), creating a quick vegetable stock without turning to mush. This means they also get to stay put and become part of the salad. It sounds so obvious—why don’t we always do this?

Oct. 8 2015 11:24 AM

Lady Gaga Is the Best Thing About American Horror Story: Hotel

Given the persistence with which FX has advertised Lady Gaga’s participation in season five of American Horror Story, you’d be forgiven for reading her presence in this new “Hotel” chapter of the series as something of a desperate PR grab. (Last season’s bland and unfocused “Freak Show” story left many fans, this one included, wondering if Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s previously riveting creation had run out of screams.)

Oct. 8 2015 8:32 AM

“PRAGUE 0300 HOURS.” What’s That Typing Sound in Action Movies?

Whether you’ve thought about it or not, you’ve heard it. In action movies, sci-fi flicks, and thrillers, including, most recently, in The Martian and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, when text appears on screen, it makes noise. In fact, it almost always makes a very specific noise, a noise that most viewers won’t have heard anywhere else. In the technical terminology laid out by Michael Winslow in Spaceballs, it’s somewhere between the “bleeps,” the “sweeps,” and the “creeps.”

Oct. 8 2015 8:02 AM

Ranking the Actors Who’ve Played Steve Wozniak—All Quite Differently

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

You may have heard that there’s a new Steve Jobs movie opening this week. Of course, Steve Jobs is being played by a hunk of the moment (Michael Fassbender), while his Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is being played by yet another funny fat guy (Seth Rogen). Previous pairings have featured Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad in Jobs, and Justin Long and Jorge Garcia in iSteve. (The Benedict Cumberbatch–Jonah Hill version is presumably still in development.) So, how have these films depicted Wozniak (or “Woz,” as he’s affectionately known), the man who invented the personal computer? Here’s a ranked list you didn’t know you needed, just like those very first personal computers. These are all the different—and admittedly not great—onscreen portrayals of Steve Wozniak over the years.

Oct. 7 2015 10:08 PM

Empire’s New Latina Character Is Shamelessly Stereotypical—but That’s Not Why She’s Frustrating

“Hey mom, I wanna start a girl group like Destiny’s Child.”

And with those few words, coming rather abruptly and randomly in last week’s episode of Empire (as most things do on Empire), another weird plot line of Season 2 was effectively lurched into existence. Spoken by youngest Lyon cub Hakeem to Cookie, it’s ostensibly a way for him to demonstrate to his family and the rest of the world his evolving maturity as an artist and businessman—no matter that he’s yet to even properly release an album or kickstart his own career as a solo artist.

It also provides Empire with new ways to be shamelessly politically incorrect, this time in the form of Latina representation. First, Hakeem has the brilliant idea to name his hypothetical girl group “Rainbow Sensation”—his sights are set on forming a trio with a black girl, white girl, and a Latina. One young woman he’s especially impressed with during auditions, Valentina (Becky G), embodies her fair share of Latina stereotypes: head swivel, fast-talking, feisty attitude. At one point, Hakeem even calls her “Latina and feisty”—as if the two things unquestionably go together like Chris Brown and poor judgment

Oct. 7 2015 9:18 PM

The Honest Trailer for Aladdin Explains What Those Songs Are Really About

It’s been 23 years since Aladdin’s release, enough time for the movie to be worshipped by a generation, made into a Broadway musical, and canonized as a Disney classic. The time is right, then, for Screen Junkies to skewer the film with an Honest Trailer, and their take on the “hunky thief with no home, no parents, and no nipples” doesn’t disappoint.

Oct. 7 2015 6:15 PM

The New Trailer for the Victorian-Era Episode of Sherlock Is Heavy on Mood, Light on Plot

After three successful seasons, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s BBC series Sherlock (which airs on PBS in the States) is taking a different tack for this year’s Christmas special: Instead of being set in the 21stcentury, like the rest of the series, it will take place in the 19th century. We already got a glimpse of old-timey Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) and John Watson (Martin Freeman) in a short clip shown at Comic-Con in July, and now the BBC has released a trailer, which shows more familiar characters clad in Victorian garb.

The trailer reveals only hints about the plot of the special: We see a frantic woman berating Holmes, a dead body in a hallway, and several revolvers. More than narrative, this preview emphasizes mood, with the darkness and shadows of industrial-era London prominent in nearly every shot. It also seems that the special will feature plenty of the wit and self-awareness that the series is known for: There’s a gag about Holmes’ famous hat, and Watson at one point strikes a match and says, “Little use us standing here in the dark. After all, this is the 19th century.”

Oct. 7 2015 5:24 PM

This Video Essay Explores All the Parallels Between Whiplash and Black Swan 

Obsessive perfectionists with tunnel vision are a cinematic mainstay—just look at Danny Boyle’s upcoming Steve Jobs biopic. But two recent movies in this vein, Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, have several narrative and compositional similarities, starting with the fact that both movies follow young, New York-based artists who will stop at nothing to become the best of the best. A few critics alluded to parallels between the films when Whiplash came out last year, but Vimeo user Fernando Andrés has gone deep. Andrés’ exceptionally well-made video essay “Hands and Feet” breaks down all of the shared plot points and aesthetic choices that make these films two peas in an Oscar-friendly pod.

The similarities between the movies extend all the way to their final shots, so if you haven’t seen either Black Swan or Whiplash, be aware that the video contains spoilers. The parallels also include lingering shots of bleeding, contorted appendages, so if you’re sensitive to that sort of thing, consider yourself warned.