Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Dec. 2 2016 8:03 AM

A Simple Guide to Westworld’s Multiple Timelines

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

By now, it’s clear that Westworld has carefully manipulated its audience through clever editing and narrative sleight of hand. The HBO show is a Russian nesting doll of stories with flashbacks within flashbacks, often cut together in time-jarring sequences, so ahead of next Sunday’s season finale, let’s pull those pieces apart. It’s time to put the chronology of Westworld together, in order, from the very beginning.

First, the basics: Westworld tells its story through multiple timelines. The through line between most of those timelines is Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), the park’s oldest functioning host. She plays a consequential role with virtually every character in the park, human and host alike, so the show’s chronology is best understood through her story line. Except for a few flashbacks, such as the one where the Man in Black kills Maeve and her daughter, Dolores is key to the show’s major timelines.

Dec. 2 2016 7:33 AM

Jacques Pépin’s Genius, Very-Last-Minute Appetizer—Two Ways

This post originally appeared in Genius Recipes from Food52.

Consider this blessedly simple recipe your instant holiday contingency plan: your on-call snack, your hungry people parachute, the thing you can always provide, even when you have nothing in the fridge, and nothing in mind.

Because this is how, following the lead of living legend Jacques Pépin, you can turn the leftover odds and ends in your cheese drawer into a sultry hors d’oeuvre. Two, actually.

Dec. 1 2016 2:00 PM

La La Land Waltzes Past Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea to Win New York Film Critics Circle’s Best Picture

We’re still fairly early into the awards season, but we should just get used to Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea dominating the conversation and the accolades in the coming months. The New York Film Critics Circle voted on their annual awards today, and gave three apiece to each movie: Best Director (Barry Jenkins), Best Cinematography (James Laxton), and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershela Ali) for Moonlight; Best Actor (Casey Affleck), Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams, who also won for Certain Women), and Best Screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan) for Manchester.

But lest we forget that there is a beloved modern-day musical starring charming actors Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling also campaigning vigorously for critical attention, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land snuck in at the tail end of voting to win Best Picture. The NYFCC has a tendency to align with closely with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences—since 2000, all but five of the films named Best Picture here have gone on to be nominated in the same category at the Oscars. (Most recently, Carol’s win last year did not translate to a Best Picture Oscar nod.) While it may not be surprising that La La Land’s odds are pretty good for Oscar recognition—a movie about Hollywood; a director who’s already captured the hearts of academy voters before—the NYFCC win makes it even more of a sure bet.

Dec. 1 2016 11:46 AM

Watch the Hamilton Mixtape Concert, Featuring Live Performances by the Roots, Ashanti, Ja Rule, and More

Remember when live #Ham4Ham shows were supposed to be a thing of the past? Yeah, me neither. On Thursday, ahead of the midnight release of The Hamilton Mixtape, the musical will revive its weekly pre-show tradition to hold a special live concert featuring artists from the album, which offers new takes on the revolutionary musical’s songs.

According to a tweet from the official Hamilton account, we can expect performances from the Roots, Busta Rhymes, and Joell Ortiz on the already-released “My Shot” remix as well as Ashanti and Ja Rule on their cover of “Helpless.” New music that will debut at the concert includes Andra Day on “Burn” and Regina Spektor on “Dear Theodosia.”

You can view the full Mixtape tracklist here. Bookmark this page so you can watch the concert’s livestream when it begins at 1 p.m. EST.

Update, Dec. 1, 2016, 2 p.m. EST: The live stream has now ended, and the video is at least temporarily unavailable to rewatch due to a copyright claim from SME and UMG, i.e., the record company who staged the event in the first place.

Update, Dec. 1, 2016, 4 p.m. EST: The video is back up.

If you’re in or around New York City, and you just can’t wait to relive Andra Day killing it on “Burn,” you’re in luck: Lin-Manuel Miranda, appearing via a pretaped video from London (where he’s filming Mary Poppins Returns), announced that copies of The Hamilton Mixtape are now available to purchase at the Richard Rodgers Theater or across the street at the Hamilton merch store. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of counting the minutes until the mixtape drops at midnight.

Missed the concert completely? Relive it a portion of it with Miranda himself, who live-streamed his reactions (read: close-ups of his face while freaking out) to Ashanti and Ja Rule’s collab. We can relate.

Dec. 1 2016 11:23 AM

Philip Roth Emails Bob Dylan About His Nobel Win in a New Amy Rigby Song

Amy Rigby’s Diary of a Mod Housewife is an album about things everyone recognizes but no one writes songs about, like the intoxication of developing a crush on a retail clerk (“Knapsack”) or how the anticipation of romance is often more potent than the real thing (“Just Someone I Had in Mind”). At a suburban house concert celebrating the album’s 20th anniversary a few weeks ago, Rigby was forced to censor “Are We Ever Gonna Have Sex Again?” when the host’s 9-year-old daughter picked that moment to sit in on the show—a perfect illustration of the song’s lyrics about the challenges of maintaining adult intimacy in the face of parenthood.

Rigby also debuted an as-yet-unrecorded song on a rather more-covered topic: Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for Literature. But the song, which you can now listen to via her performance on Marc Riley’s BBC show, takes an idiosyncratic approach to the subject, adopting the form of an email from longtime Nobel also-ran Philip Roth to this year’s ambivalent and controversial recipient. It’s called “From PhilipRoth@gmail to,” and you can listen to it here; the relevant portion of the broadcast starts just over an hour in.

Dec. 1 2016 10:42 AM

Trevor Noah Spars With Conservative Tomi Lahren, Who Compares Black Lives Matter to the KKK

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, a common refrain has been that both political sides should leave their “bubbles” and talk to each other. On Wednesday night, The Daily Show did just that, inviting conservative Tomi Lahren, host of a show on Glenn Beck’s online network, the Blaze, for an interview that was often contentious, sometimes infuriating, and utterly fascinating to watch.

Lahren’s claim to fame has been her ring-wing rants against everything from the mainstream media to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest. (Noah has previously called her “the least woke, most awake person I have ever seen.”) Though they touched on a number of topics, including whether Donald Trump is “reasonable” (LOL), the conversation grew most heated while discussing race and the Black Lives Matter movement, which Lahren compares to the Ku Klux Klan.

“For somebody who is not racist, you spend a lot of time saying, ‘I’m not racist,’ ” pointed out Noah. “Just because I criticized a black person or the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t mean I’m anti-black,” Lahren countered. “I don’t see color. I go after Hillary Clinton, and she’s as white as they come.” But Noah wasn’t having any of it.

Lahren was initially displeased by a condensed version of the interview that aired on Wednesday night, but Comedy Central also released the full 26-minute version online, and the two ended things on a note of conciliation.


Dec. 1 2016 8:32 AM

Rage Against the Machine Was 24 Years Too Early

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

By the end of the Cold War, the varying strains of explicitly political music developed during the ’60s and ’70s (soul, funk, and rap in black music, punk and metal in white rock) had come to a point where uniting them in a single major band seemed very difficult, if not impossible. Yet the improbable did occur then and more than once. First there was New York’s Public Enemy, a rap unit whose explosive sound fed on a diet not only of soul and funk but metal as well; soon after, there emerged Rage Against the Machine, a Los Angeles rap-rock band whose inaugural self-titled album, released 24 years ago on Election Day of 1992, introduced an element of raw political ideology into a rock music that had long contented itself (even in punk and metal) with intransigent posturing. Like Public Enemy, by whom they were directly influenced, Rage Against the Machine was explicitly devoted to a revolutionary cause, and if the revolution was nowhere to be seen, they aimed to bring it into being through the power of their sound.

Dec. 1 2016 8:02 AM

The Best Movies and TV Shows Coming to Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Hulu in December

Every month, tons of new movies and TV shows become available to stream for free for subscribers to Netflix Instant, Hulu, HBO Now, and Amazon Prime. With so many different streaming services, it can be hard to keep track of them all—especially if you belong to more than one service. Below, we present to you the ultimate streaming guide. We’ll let you decide which service has the best new titles. (All titles arrive Dec. 1 unless otherwise specified.)

Dec. 1 2016 12:10 AM

Get Some Pointers for Workplace Etiquette in the Age of Trump With The Belko Experiment

It’s been just over a week since a federal judge blocked the Obama administration’s change to overtime rules, preventing more than 4 million workers from becoming eligible for overtime at the very last minute. It’s a raw deal for American workers—just in time for Christmas shopping—but small potatoes compared with what the Trump administration has in store, as the trailer for Greg McLean’s film The Belko Experiment—which seems to be based on a true story from about a year from now—makes clear.

Starring John Gallagher Jr., Melonie Diaz, John C. McGinley, and perpetual villain Tony Goldwyn, the film, written by James Gunn, tells the story of an innovative job creator who develops an Amazon-style employee review program to identify top performers and clear out dead weight. Essentially a “rank and yank” system on steroids, the Belko Corporation takes stock of its workforce by sealing workers’ offices off from the world and ordering the employees to kill each other before corporate brass does it for them. Though there are some whiners at the beginning—see Who Moved My Cheese? for details—eventually the employees “lean in” to the company’s new culture of empowered innovation and start hacking each other to bits for their bosses’ amusement.

It’s a powerful case study of the ways a completely deregulated war of each against all can unleash the power of the marketplace, helping surviving employees develop new core competencies while cutting payroll costs and increasing shareholder value. And if your relationship with your employer doesn’t feel like The Belko Experiment yet, just wait until Trump gets his hands on the Department of Labor.

Nov. 30 2016 9:58 PM

Watch Full Frontal’s Staff Relax Postelection With a Board Game About the Expulsion of the Jews From Spain

The election threw everyone for a loop, but the staff of Full Frontal With Samantha Bee took things especially hard. After coming out strong for Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign—unlike milquetoasts like Saturday Night Live—Bee and her staff were thrown for a loop by the election results. Fortunately, as Bee reports, they have a group bonding ritual to deal with exactly this kind of stress: game night. Unfortunately, the game this week is Expulsion: Jewish Life in Spain From the Golden Age to 1492, which, the video insists, is “a 100 percent real board game,” though it doesn’t seem to have much of an internet presence.