Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

April 23 2015 6:53 PM

Johnny Depp Looks Legitimately Terrifying as Whitey Bulger in the Black Mass Trailer

Nowadays, when most people think about Johnny Depp, their minds probably go immediately to wigs, colorful makeup, and very idiosyncratic performances. His last movie, Mortdecai, was a box office bomb earlier this year, continuing a recent downward spiral. It’s safe to say that he’s past-due for a McConaissance of his own, a series of roles that will return him to the glory of his earlier years when he was a critical darling and a regular Oscar contender.

Maybe Black Mass will be the movie that turns it all around? The first trailer for the crime drama, in which Depp plays notorious Boston gangster and convicted murderer Whitey Bulger, suggests that the actor’s at least got the look down. The rapidly receding hairline, the steely blue eyes—for the first time in a long time, Depp seems to be employing elaborate hair and makeup for realism rather than fantasy, while still maintaining that unsettling manner he’s used in roles like Edward Scissorhands. The voice isn’t quite as on-point—Bulger, being from Boston, has a pretty heavy Bah-ston accent, and Depp seems to pull back a bit in this regard, but that might be better than going full Good Will Hunting.

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April 23 2015 3:43 PM

ClickHole Just Might Persuade You to Go Vegetarian


ClickHole’s videos have been rather weird lately. Instead of directly parodyingBuzzFeed’s inexorably viral videos, the Onion spinoff has taken banal premises in absurdist, even Dada-esque directions. See, for instance, ”Woman Tell You What They’re REALLY Looking for in a Man” (spoiler: it’s all the attributes of Thomas the Tank Engine), or the darkly existential “Watch These Parents Explain Loud Sex to Their Children for the First Time.”



Which is why I was so surprised by yesterday’s unironic offering, ”Why Vegetarian,” in which four fresh-faced, charismatic young people earnestly explain why they don’t eat meat. 


April 23 2015 3:25 PM

Native American Actors Walk Off Adam Sandler Movie Set, Citing Disrespectful Jokes 

Adam Sandler movies have been hit-or-miss lately, but one of his latest productions, The Ridiculous 6, is off to a particularly inauspicious start. According to Indian Country Today, about a dozen Native American actors, as well as the movie’s Native American cultural adviser, walked off the set Wednesday because of the movie’s stereotypical representation of Apache culture, and the script’s offensive jokes at the expense of Native American women and elders.

April 23 2015 12:59 PM

Have You Eaten Your Last Avocado?

This article originally appeared in Grub Street

Do you love avocados? I mean, really love them? Because as much as you might think you love avocados—and maybe you are one of the people in this world who run pro-avocado Tumblrs; who have avocado tattoos; who write articles like “11 Avocado Struggles Only Avocado Lovers Will Truly Understand” with sentences like “It’s not an ingredient. It’s a lifestyle”—you probably don’t love avocados as much as the people of Fallbrook, California. An inland town of roughly 30,000 that’s a half-hour drive north of San Diego, Fallbrook is unofficially known as “the Avocado Capital of the World.” More than 80 percent of the avocados grown in the U.S. come from California, and a third of the avocados grown in California come from within 20 miles of Fallbrook. Every April, the town plays host to the Fallbrook Avocado Festival, a one-day event that draws between 70,000 and 100,000 visitors. The festival features a guacamole contest, with amateur and professional divisions, and an “Art of the Avocado” show, featuring avocado-themed objets d’art, with separate categories for 2-D art (i.e., paintings) and 3-D art (i.e., papier-mâché avocados). For the children, there’s the Avo 500, in which avocados, outfitted with tiny wheels, are raced down an inclined track. There’s the Little Miss and Little Mister Avocado Festival competition, in which kids are dressed up, pageant style, and the Best Decorated Avocado Contest, in which avocados are dressed up, pageant style. If there’s anything fun or entertaining or exciting to be done with an avocado in public, Fallbrook has thought of it and done it.

April 23 2015 12:22 PM

Updated: Heidi Klum and Pedro Pascal Star in Video Set to Sia’s “Fire Meet Gasoline”

Update, April 23, 2015: This post has been updated to clarify that although Sia shared this video on her Vevo channel, it is not the official music video for “Fire Meet Gasoline.” It was filmed for Heidi Klum's lingerie line.

You won’t see pint-sized dancer Maddie Ziegler sashaying through a dilapidated home in a leotard, or throwing herself around a cage with Shia LaBeouf, or making bizarre faces in this new video set to Sia’s “Fire Meet Gasoline,” which she shared on her Vevo channel Thursday morning. Instead, supermodel Heidi Klum and Pedro Pascal (who you might know better as Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones) get hot and heavy in this video filmed to promote Klum's lingerie line. The two canoodle amid some classic scenery, including a sunburst-filled meadow and a charming old house—which they promptly set on fire. In keeping with the Sia music video tradition, the video is both evocative and a little strange—and yes, the trademark blunt blonde wig does make an appearance. 

April 23 2015 11:34 AM

Here’s All You Need to Know Before You See Avengers: Age of Ultron

With Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting theaters next week, it’s clear that the Marvel on-screen universe is growing at an alarming rate. So when you buy your ticket for Ultron, what background info do you need? Vulture’s Abraham Riesman has provided us with an invaluable explainer, culling the most important info from 10 previous movies so that you can be fully up to date when the Marvel logo fades in. You’re just seven minutes away from being an expert.

April 23 2015 9:17 AM

Why Wildlife Documentaries Insist on Making Animals Seem Human

In Disney’s new documentary Monkey Kingdom, the animals are characters: The trailer focuses on a macaque dubbed “Maya,” and describes her “dreams” for her son. This approach isn’t surprising—wildlife docs have used the “animals are just like us” shtick for over fifty years. But with more recent commercial successes like March of the Penguins, cute, fuzzy animals in documentaries are now more likely than ever to get the full anthropomorphic treatment: to be given names, to be supplied with human aspirations, to go on some intrepid journey ideally narrated by a famous human like Tina Fey or Morgan Freeman. It’s now almost impossible to make a wildlife documentary without a dose of anthropomorphism—it influences countless filmmaking decisions, from pitching ideas to editing.

April 23 2015 8:32 AM

Everything Is Better With the Star Wars Brass Burst

The new Star Wars trailers might have been great no matter what music they used, but there’s no question that they were playing with an ace in the hole: John Williams’ iconic score, the franchise’s not-so-secret weapon.

Just how powerful is Star Wars’ main title theme? So powerful that there is no scene that it cannot elevate. To prove this, we paired it with a wide range of movies—each of them improved by the insertion of the movies’ opening fanfare—below.

April 23 2015 8:02 AM

The Stars and Makers of The Americans Discuss the Season Finale    

Each week on Slate’s TV Club Insider podcast, the creators, cast, and crew of The Americans reveal behind-the-scenes details about the making of the FX drama’s third season. 


In this installment about the Season 3 finale, “March 8, 1983,” stars Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, and Holly Taylor join script coordinator Molly Nussbaum and executive producers Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg to share their thoughts on the cliffhanger ending, their favorite moments from Season 3, and what might lie in store for the Jennings family in Season 4.



Note: This podcast contains spoilers and is meant to be enjoyed after you watch the episode.


April 22 2015 11:05 PM

The Americans’ Finale Set Up The Perfect Moral Dilemma For Next Season

I spend every episode of The Americans with my fingers over my eyes, wracked with anguish and despair, dreading whatever horrors will next be revealed. There are plenty of shows that would depict a secret agent murdering his lover when she reveals she’s working as a spy. But how many would then bring in its central characters to snap the spy’s bones one by one and slide her pretzeled corpse into a suitcase?

The Americans, which finished its brilliant third season on Wednesday, delivers a steady stream of these kinds of scenes, obsessively dwelling on the disturbing consequences of its cold-blooded spy games. A typical episode takes us on a log flume, patiently leading us through each step of an espionage mission before plunging us into the agony of death and deception. And season three brought us to newfound heights of intrigue before, in Wednesday’s finale, sending us on a stomach-churning plummet.