Slate's Culture Blog

Sept. 27 2014 1:24 PM

Hitchcock’s Obsession With Eyes Gets a Great  Supercut

One of the best video essayists around, Kogonada, specializes in the exploration of directors’ stylistic tics—Wes Anderson’s symmetrical shots, Darren Aronofsky’s use of sound, Kubrick’s one-point perspective. His latest, for the Criterion Collection, is a short but stunning exploration of Alfred Hitchcock’s obsession with eyes. 

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Sept. 27 2014 9:22 AM

Spoiler Special: The Boxtrolls

On the Spoiler Special podcast, Slate critics discuss movies—and the occasional TV show—in full, spoiler-filled detail. Below, our film critic Dana Stevens talks with Movie Mom Nell Minow about The Boxtrolls, Laika Studio’s latest animated feature. How does it measure up to its Laika predecessors, Coraline andParaNorman? Does the film have transphobic undertones? And how exactly was the film, with its combination of stop-motion and hand-drawn animation, actually made?

Sept. 26 2014 5:24 PM

Will This Be the Whitest Oscars in Almost Two Decades?

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

One year after a groundbreaking night at the Oscars where Lupita Nyong’o won the Best Supporting Actress trophy for 12 Years a Slave and that film's black director took home the night’s top honor, things may look very different at the Academy Awards. A consensus is forming about this year’s likely nominees now that prognosticators have already seen many of the season’s heavy hitters at film festivals, and if their projections stand, this will be the first Oscars ceremony in years without a black, Hispanic, or Asian acting nominee.

Could white actors really take home all 20 Oscar nominee slots? It seems possible if you’re going by the predictions posted at Gold Derby, where 17 of the industry’s premier Oscar prognosticators are polled. Their predictions are then shuffled together to create a shortlist ranked by odds, and so far, the top five contenders in each acting category are white. The Lead Actor category is dominated by Brits like Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Timothy Spall; Best Actress is a panoply of pale-skinned actresses like Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, and Reese Witherspoon. White character actors over 40, like Edward Norton and J.K. Simmons, have the edge in the Best Supporting Actor category, while Best Supporting Actress is populated by front-runner Patricia Arquette and young ingénues like Emma Stone and Keira Knightley.

Sept. 26 2014 3:47 PM

Thomas Pynchon Will Cameo in Inherent Vice—but Will We Recognize Him?

Paul Thomas Anderson has been very tight-lipped about his new movie, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, but today the New York Times got a very big scoop: The movie will feature a cameo from Pynchon himself. Anderson refused to confirm the cameo to the Times, but star Josh Brolin did:

“I don’t think anybody knew” Mr. Pynchon was on the set, Mr. Brolin said, confirming the cameo. “He came on as the kind of mercurial iconoclast he is. He stayed in the corner.”

Sept. 26 2014 3:06 PM

Character Studies: Gina, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn Nine-Nine can appear, at first glance, more than a little dated. When the show about a misfit group of precinct employees premiered last fall, single-camera workplace sitcoms seemed to be on the decline, creatively; 30 Rock and The Office had just ended their long runs, and Parks and Recreation was beginning its sixth season, nearing its own conclusion. And the Brooklyn Nine-Nine characters owe a lot to their predecessors. A goofy, overconfident protagonist a la Michael Scott? Check. Socially awkward, borderline creepy man-child like Kenneth the Page? Yup. Near-monotone, sarcastic female character unfazed by everyone around her (cf. April Ludgate)? You’ve got it.

But as Slate TV critic Willa Paskin noted in her review of the pilot, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is smarter than it looks: “The characters aren’t just archetypes, they are twists on archetypes. [Andre] Braugher’s not just the macho boss. [Andy] Samberg’s not just the reckless detective savant. [Samberg’s character, Jake] Peralta’s love interest is also his rival.”

And as the season wore on, this aspect of the show became even more notable, and admirable. Case in point: Gina Linetti (played by Chelsea Peretti), the precinct’s wry, sardonic administrator.

Sept. 26 2014 2:08 PM

No Other Star Wars-“Turn Down for What” Mashup Will Ever Be as Good as This One

Why was this only made now when this meme peaked months ago? I have no idea. But I’m glad it was.

Of course, if you’re more of a Star Trek type, there’s always this.

Sept. 26 2014 12:22 PM

Thom Yorke Just Dropped a New Album Out of Nowhere

Days after tweeting a photo of a mysterious blank white vinyl record, Thom Yorke has suddenly released a new album, and it’s available to download now.

The new album, called Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, is eight tracks, and it is available in two formats: As a deluxe vinyl record with a digital download, for £30 pounds (or about $48), or as a download via BitTorrent, for $6. (You can buy it in either form now via the button below.) Yorke and longtime producer and collaborator Nigel Godrich explained that they hope that distributing the album through BitTorrent, if it works, will allow artists to sell their own work without having to go through labels or online stores or having to pay for hosting. As with the pay-what-you-want album In Rainbows, the success or failure of this method should have far-reaching implications for the struggling music industry:

Sept. 26 2014 11:55 AM

How Accurate Is Jimi: All Is By My Side?

John Ridley, who won the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, wrote and directed Jimi: All Is By My Side, which opens Friday. It’s a biopic about Jimi Hendrix starring André Benjamin, better known as Outkast’s André 3000, as the rock legend. In contrast to the many music biopics that portray a star’s career—or entire life—from beginning to end, Jimi focuses on the brief period from mid-1966, before Hendrix released his first album, to just before his landmark performance at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967.

The film was done without the Hendrix family’s consent, which explains why you won’t hear “Purple Haze,” “Foxy Lady,” or any other of Hendrix’s most iconic songs in the movie. Nonetheless, critics have praised Benjamin’s performance as “phenomenal” and “perfect” and celebrated Imogen Poots’ and Hayley Atwell’s as “outstanding.” Meanwhile, Salon has called Jimi the “weirdest rock biopic of all time.”

But how accurate is it? As is often the case, it depends whom you ask. But we did our best to sort the fact from the fiction.

Sept. 26 2014 11:39 AM

If Tarantino Ever Directs Game of Thrones, This Version of the Theme Would Be Perfect

The adaptability of the Game of Thrones theme song, composed by Ramin Djawadi, has been well established by now. But what delighted me about this arrangement by Benedikt Mendzigal, spotted on Redditrecently, was the image it conjured of, say, Jaime Unchained, or perhaps Glorious Basterds, the Tarantino-directed spinoff movie based on characters created by George R.R. Martin. That could work.

Sept. 26 2014 8:46 AM

Apricots Too Often Disappoint. Here’s How to Make Them Great Every Time.

Every other Thursday, we bring you Nicholas Day—on cooking for children, and with children, and despite children. Also, occasionally, on top of.

Today: All apricots need is a little TLC to go from zero to hero.

Apricots are the most unreliable of all fruit. They’re like Rodney Dangerfield in reverse: all they get is respect, but all they give is grief.

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