The House


Kathryn HunterThe preternaturally talented Kathryn Hunter practically defies credulity on stage. Last year, in Kafka's Monkey, the diminutive performer, using her ultra-flexible limbs, throaty voice, and piercing intelligence, transformed herself into a sentient male chimpanzee who had been taught to speak and behave like a human. A few months later, she equally dazzled as an ageless, genderless, shape-shifting Puck in Julie Taymor's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The Greek-American actress, who grew up in England and has worked mostly overseas, is currently back in New York, at Theater for a New Audience in Brooklyn, in the aptly titled The Valley of Astonishment, a theater piece about the miracles of the mind co-written and directed by the renowned Peter Brook and his longtime collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne. I caught up with Hunter recently to learn more about the new work and about her own remarkable journey as an actress.

How would you describe The Valley of Astonishment?

I would say it's an exploration of what it is to be human. We meet a woman who has a prodigious memory, a young man who has synesthesia, which is a condition where the senses are mixed—a sound becomes a color, words have tastes and forms and shapes—and we meet another man who's lost his sense of his body and is paralyzed, but who manages to walk again by controlling his limbs with his eyes. In the end it follows, most specifically, the story of the woman, Sammy, who becomes a performing mnemonist; she memorizes so many words and tables of numbers for these performances and then suffers from the inability to forget, and so she starts hallucinating. The piece has an unusual form, which I think people will find intriguing. As with the best storytelling, it changes narrative, changes tone; there's humor and then it shifts to a more poetic level. Peter [Brook] is continuing his [previous] exploration of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, which was based on the Oliver Sacks books. These neurological disorders, in fact, turn out to be quite wondrous. So at the end of the day, I think I would characterize the play as a celebration of the human being, a celebration of difference.

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TAGS: a midsummer night's dream, fragments, kafka's monkey, kathryn hunter, king lear, marcello magni, marie-hélène estienne, my perfect mind, peter brook, the conference of the birds, the man who mistook his wife for a hat, the valley of astonishment, theater de complicté, theatre for a new audience


The Knick

Like its preceding episode, "Start Calling Me Dad" starts with a phone call in the dead of night, this time in the household of Dr. Bertram "Bertie" Chickering (Michael Angaro), whose buttoned-down father picks up the receiver. It's Thackery (Clive Owen), and he summons Chickering to the Knick for "experiments." When the flustered young physician finally makes it to the hospital, he finds his boss strung out on drugs, workshopping, with a pair of comely Chinese sex workers (Ying Ying Li and Pei Pei Lin) from his opium den of choice, alternative approaches to the doomed placenta praevia operation that's haunted The Knick's first season. As his work-bender winds down, Thackery commissions Chickering's help in testing a new invention: a type of uterus-pump-sheath that pressures the womb from the inside, allowing pregnant patients to die slower, and the doctors more time to save the prospective baby's life.

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TAGS: Cara Seymour, clive owen, collin meath, david fierro, Eric Johnson, Eve Hewson, grainger hines, Jennifer Ferrin, Juliet Rylance, maya kazan, melissa mckeekin, michael angaro, recap, start calling me dad, the knick


Scotland

1. "Scottish independence: Scotland votes No." Alex Salmond's dream of independence has been shattered after Scotland voted to stay part of the United Kingdom.

"Scotland today rejected independence and voted to remain part of the United Kingdom at the end of the most intense political campaign the country has ever seen. The silent majority finally raised its voice on a tense yet utterly compelling night of political history. During a referendum that attracted record numbers of voters and was hailed as a triumph of democracy, the people voted to maintain the 307-year Union. A decisive No vote was the culmination of two and a half-years of vigorous and at times edgy campaigning, which looks certain to change the constitutional map of Britain for ever. As the votes were counted, a grim-faced Alex Salmond was seen boarding a private jet at Aberdeen airport just after 3am. Photographed with his wife Moira, the First Minister was contemplating his political future after the referendum he had strived for throughout his life delivered a telling blow against him."

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TAGS: alex salmond, azadeh jafari, belle and sebastian, football, iran, j.c. chandor, joe berlinger, michael moore, nick pinkerton, north dallas forty, reverse shot, sarah larson, scotland, stuart murdoch, the longest yard, the new yorker, united kingdom, vahid mortazavi


Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea

Jennifer Lopez's eighth studio album, A.K.A., may have bombed, but the singer is evidently not giving up. Instead, she's giving butt. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) Her collaboration with the red-hot Iggy Azalea on the single-worthy "Acting Like That" was probably her best bet for a rebound, but we'll have to settle for the "Booty" remix, which also features the Aussie model turned rapper. The duo premiered the music video for the track tonight, and there are few surprises: The clip, directed by video veteran Hype Williams, features copious swimsuits and fishnet stockings, twerking, booty-popping, and lots and lots of gelatinous grease. It's unlikely to reignite interest in Lopez's music career, but the video is sure to rack up plenty of views, as the fortysomething mommy of two more than holds her own alongside the 24-year-old Azalea's self-proclaimed "high-fashion booty." Watch it below:

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TAGS: a.k.a., booty, hype williams, iggy azalea, jennifer lopez, music video


Charles Chaplin

1. "The Brave Open Letter Graham Greene Wrote Defending Charlie Chaplin from McCarthy." To mark its 100th anniversary, The New Republic is republishing a collection of its most memorable articles. This piece, an open letter from Greene in defense of his friend against McCarthy and his cronies, was published on October 13, 1952.

"I can't figure out why other people like it. I know why I like it. I know the things that were interesting that kept coming up in conversations. And then also, to work on a script with the person who wrote the novel, that can be a gift. There can also be a lot of frustration. Or certainly it can be perceived that way. Will this person be able to see the forest for the trees? Or will they be so wed to how difficult it was to make this storyline work that they're not willing to jettison certain elements when it doesn't? I know that's a commonly-held philosophy about novelists. But with Gillian, it couldn't be further from the truth. She has—and David Koepp has it too—that love of where the audience is in the narrative. She was very good at taking things that were 13 chapters into the book and saying, well that could be in the introduction. She picked out the traits that needed to be dramatised, but didn't necessarily put them in the same chronological order."

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TAGS: adrian peterson, charles chaplin, cold sweat: my father james brown and me, graham greene, james brown, john green, joseph mccarthy, nathan rabin, rian johnson, robin gaby fisher, terry gilliam, the fault in our stars, todd vanderwerff, transparent, yamma brown


David Fincher

1. "David Fincher Interview." Ahead of his highly anticipated adaptation of Gillian Flynn's psychological best-seller, Gone Girl, LWLies is granted an audience with director David Fincher.

"I can't figure out why other people like it. I know why I like it. I know the things that were interesting that kept coming up in conversations. And then also, to work on a script with the person who wrote the novel, that can be a gift. There can also be a lot of frustration. Or certainly it can be perceived that way. Will this person be able to see the forest for the trees? Or will they be so wed to how difficult it was to make this storyline work that they're not willing to jettison certain elements when it doesn't? I know that's a commonly-held philosophy about novelists. But with Gillian, it couldn't be further from the truth. She has—and David Koepp has it too—that love of where the audience is in the narrative. She was very good at taking things that were 13 chapters into the book and saying, well that could be in the introduction. She picked out the traits that needed to be dramatised, but didn't necessarily put them in the same chronological order."

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TAGS: bilge ebiri, claire denis, david fincher, david lynch, eraserhead, gone girl, jacob hall, little white lies, netflix, sam adams, screncrush, the hunger games: mockingjay, the texas chainsaw massacre, tobe hooper, wim wenders


Sons of Anarchy

Chess pieces move and bodies drop. One could easily imagine Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) having this credo tattooed onto his perfectly sculpted chest as a reminder of his Machiavellian ways. Sons of Anarchy has mastered this kind of cause and effect one head shot at a time. Cagey strategies occasionally play a role in taking out enemies foreign and domestic, but SAMCRO prefers all-out blitzkrieg.

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TAGS: Annabeth Gish, Billy Gierhart, charlie hunnam, Drea de Matteo, jimmy smits, Katey Sagal, kenneth choi, peter weller, recap, rockmond dunbar, Sons of Anarchy, theo rossi, toil and till


Robin Thicke

1. "Robin Thicke Admits Drug Abuse, Lying to Media in Wild 'Blurred Lines' Deposition (Exclusive)." Interrogated for allegedly ripping off Marvin Gaye, the singer attempts a rock 'n' roll defense: "I didn't do a single interview last year without being high"

"Thicke says he was just 'lucky enough to be in the room' when [Pharrell] Williams wrote the song. Afterward, he gave interviews to outlets like Billboard where he repeated the false origin story surrounding 'Blurred Lines' because he says he 'thought it would help sell records.' But he also states he hardly remembers his specific media comments because he 'had a drug and alcohol problem for the year' and 'didn't do a sober interview.' In fact, when he appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show with his young son and talked about how weird it was to be in the midst of a legal battle with the family of a legendary soul singer who 'inspires almost half of my music,' Thicke admits he was drunk and taking Norco—'which is like two Vicodin in one pill,' he says."

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TAGS: alaska, annette insdorf, blurred lines, canon, jewish, jonathan glazer, leonard maltin, matt zoller seitz, poland, rape, Robin Thicke, rogerebert.com, tony auth


Doctor Who

Since taking over Doctor Who in 2010, showrunner Steven Moffat has been preoccupied with writing the "big" episodes—season openers, finales, Christmas specials, and so on—which have dwelled on major turning points in the Doctor's life. This year, he deliberately reserved a slot in the schedule where he could tell a small-scale story filled with the kind of creepiness he displayed during the Russell T Davies era, with episodes like 2005's "The Empty Child" and 2007's "Blink." Rather than simply duplicate his past successes, though, "Listen" combines the two approaches—big and small—to produce the best episode of the season so far.

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TAGS: doctor who, jenna coleman, listen, peter capaldi, recap, remi gooding, Samuel Anderson, steven moffat


The Imitation Game

1. "The Imitation Game wins Toronto top prize." The Alan Turing biopic has won the People's Choice award at the Toronto Film Festival.

"Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch stars in the drama about the British code breaker who helped decrypt the Enigma machine during World War Two. In a message, director Morten Tyldum said it was 'an amazing honour' to win the prize. 'For film fans to support The Imitation Game means so much to me, the entire cast and film-making team,' he said. Turing was credited with bringing about the end of the war and saving hundreds of thousands of lives after decoding German Naval messages. He is also considered to be the founding father of the modern-day computer. However his later life was overshadowed after a conviction in 1952 for gross indecency when homosexuality was illegal in Britain. He was chemically castrated and committed suicide in 1954. Earlier this week Tyldum described the film as 'a tribute to being different'."

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TAGS: a.o. scott, Adam Sternbergh, alan turing, amy taubin, andrew o'hehir, benedict cumberbatch, david fincher, film comment, gone girl, lena dunham, serena, slate, the imitation game, toronto international film festival, vulture






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