Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

March 29 2015 3:58 PM

The Early Work of David Fincher, Explained

Due to having hits like Fight Club, Seven, and The Social Network under his belt, David Fincher is an especially secure auteur, one with enough commercial clout to pursue big-budget projects with near-total artistic freedom.

Before those hits, though, Fincher spent decades fine-tuning his craft in music videos and commercials, and in the above video the folks at the Raccord collective take a deep, half-hour dive into the director’s early work

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March 29 2015 12:57 PM

The Rock Obama Returns to Beat Up Republicans on SNL

Dwayne Johnson hosted the latest installment of SNL, and he kicked off the episode by reprising one of his best comedic characters: The Rock Obama, the brawny presidential alter ego who uses defenestration, amputation, and other unconventional tactics to achieve bipartisan support.

This time around, the unlucky Republicans are Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Speaker John Boehner. Start for Johnson’s hilarious, Neanderthal-like negotiation style; stay for Sasheer Zamata’s last-second transformation into Leslie Jones.

March 28 2015 3:45 PM

How Raiders of the Lost Ark’s Boulder Chase Scene Got Made

The most famous setpiece in Raiders of the Lost Ark—a film that is quite literally a bunch of brilliant setpieces strung together—sees Indiana Jones try to escape a booby-trapped temple with a huge boulder hurtling behind him. Like Jaws’ beach scene, it’s one of Spielberg’s most iconic sequences, and Cinefix’s latest “Art of the Scene” video is peppered with insights about how the director and his crew pulled off such a demanding, large-scale stunt.

Particularly interesting is the scene’s conception—George Lucas got the idea from an old Scrooge McDuck comic—and the way in which sound designer Ben Burtt captured the perfect noise for the boulder’s roll. Enjoy.

March 28 2015 12:25 PM

James Bond Is Back, and More Brooding Than Ever, in the Trailer for Spectre

When all’s said and done, Daniel Craig may be remembered as the man who humanized James Bond. It’s an unexpected legacy: When the icy-eyed, boxy actor was first cast in the role, he seemed more rough-and-tumble than any of his predecessors, more likely to make Bond a bona fide action star than a man wracked by inner turmoil. But with Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan, Bond’s antics always seemed effortless; with Craig, you see the spy work, struggle, suffer. And now, in the trailer for Spectre, we see him confront a deep, dark secret from his past.

In other words, this looks a lot like Skyfall: Part Two.

March 27 2015 5:46 PM

It’s Refreshing That Fresh Off the Boat Doesn’t Show Hate Crimes

It’s been a full two decades since prime-time television has seen an Asian American family sitcom. But ABC’s new show Fresh Off the Boat, loosely based on celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s memoir, is changing that. Though the very first Asian American family sitcom, Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl, was canceled due to poor ratings and lack of interest back in 1995, Fresh Off the Boat has already stirred up considerable buzz. It’s also a significant moment for many Asian Americans, who have largely been excluded or misrepresented when it comes to the mainstream.

But testing the waters won’t be easy for Fresh Off the Boat. Will the show resonate with a non-Asian audience? Will it manage to undermine stereotypes or end up reinforcing them? Will its jokes be lame?

So we wanted to discuss the series from an Asian American point of view. This week, Slate’s Jennifer Lai will  be joined by Phil Yu, creator of the blog Angry Asian Man, along with performance artist, comedian, writer Kristina Wong. Wong is the creator of “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest“ and The Wong Street Journal, which premieres worldwide in April 2015 in San Francisco.

March 27 2015 5:14 PM

Why You Should Be Watching Call the Midwife

Filmmakers have been putting damsels in distress since pictures were first made to move. And Call the Midwife, which returns to PBS for its fourth season on Sunday night, is the ultimate 21st-century feminist spin on the genre. Instead of kindly gents rescuing helpless women who’ve been tied to railway tracks by mustache-twirling villains, Call the Midwife shows a dedicated band of nurses and nuns saving pregnant women whose health and welfare are imperiled by poverty and misinformation.

Well, the young women in uniform usually save the day, but the terrible odds stacked against them—the lack of resources, the primitive state of obstetrics in the 1950s and early ’60s, and the frailty of the flesh, to name a few—mean that they don’t always prevail. The stakes on Call the Midwife are a matter of life and death, and that makes the show absolutely terrifying. When fetal heartbeats are monitored by placing an ear trumpet on a pregnant woman’s belly, humans seem alarmingly vulnerable.

March 27 2015 4:35 PM

Fred Durst Is Not Robert Durst, Fred Durst’s Hoodie Confirms

Read all Slate’s coverage of The Jinx.

Two weeks ago, the Associated Press managed to make the mistake everyone was secretly hoping someone would make, by confusing Robert Durst, suspected murderer and subject of HBO’s The Jinx, with Fred Durst, frontman of Limp Bizkit.

Now to make sure there will be no further confusion, Fred Durst has taken to Instagram. If you ever find yourself feeling a little unsure, I suggest you consult the hoodie.

March 27 2015 4:22 PM

An Interview With the Illustrator of Lena Dunham’s “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend”

Lena Dunham’s Shouts & Murmurs in the latest issue of the New Yorker— titled “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend: A Quiz”—has not been received kindly by the Internet. Politico’s Ben White dubbed it “anti-Semitic garbage”; the website Kveller called it “not OK.” The piece, for the uninitiated, is pretty much what it sounds like: a list of traits—to the tune of “He doesn’t tip” and “He’s crazy for cream cheese”—that could, we are meant to understand, be plausibly attributed to either a pooch or a Jew. I might argue that “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend” is less offensive than mystifying: Dunham writes, “He once vomited on his seatmate in United business class”—do Jewish boyfriends do that? Do dogs?

March 27 2015 3:25 PM

Everything You Need to Know About Where The X-Files Left Off in Two Minutes

The X-Files is back, baby! But wait … How did it end, again? It’s been 13 years since Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully left our TV screens, but thankfully it wasn’t goodbye forever. The show is coming back to Fox for a six-episode continuation, and we’ve made this handy video to make sure you’re all caught up when it airs.

March 27 2015 1:24 PM

The Makers of Going Clear on the Evolution and the Future of Scientology

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

One of the most compelling and controversial films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was Going Clear, the new documentary from Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the RoomTaxi to the Dark Side) and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright, the author of the book of the same name. The documentary airs on HBO this Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern.

We sat down with Wright and Gibney in Park City to ask them about the challenges of making a documentary about Scientology and how the church developed its many connections to Hollywood. In this longer segment from the interview, we asked them about the ways the church differs (and does not) from the other religions they’ve studied, its evolution under charismatic leader David Miscavige, and whether the church’s days are numbered in the age of the Internet.