The House


Axiom Verge

Though the gun acquired early on in Axiom Verge is literally a disruptive technology, able to hack into enemy and environmental code, flipping it to a new binary state, the game itself is more of a sustaining innovation, revisiting and improving on the legacy of its Metroidvania-type predecessors. In fact, the idea of "breaking" the game is a nod to the way that players currently revisit Super Metroid, looking to find time-saving shortcuts, and there's even a "speedrun" option available on the main menu that removes cutscenes. Of course, the game can be completed normally, too, and this is the recommended mode for casual and hardcore gamers alike. The deceptively twisted story is as worthy of a player's attention as the overtly labyrinthine map, and agonizing over whether to believe Athetos, who's cast as the game's villain, or Rusalki like Elsenova and Ophelia¬—a collective of AI which oversees the infected, deadly planet of Sudra—gives players something to do while wandering about.

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TAGS: axiom verge, bionic commando, contra, mega man, rygar, thomas happ games, zero wing


Trevor Noah

1. "Trevor Noah to Succeed Jon Stewart on The Daily Show." The South African comedian will take over for Stewart some time this year.

"Mr. Noah, who spoke by phone from Dubai, where he is on a leg of a comedy tour, said he had been given a great opportunity, as well as a significant challenge. 'You don't believe it for the first few hours,' Mr. Noah said of learning about his new job. 'You need a stiff drink, and then unfortunately you're in a place where you can't really get alcohol.' The appointment of Mr. Noah, a newcomer to American television, promises to add youthful vitality and international perspective to The Daily Show. It puts a nonwhite performer at the head of this flagship Comedy Central franchise, and one who comes with Mr. Stewart's endorsement. 'I'm thrilled for the show and for Trevor,' Mr. Stewart said in a statement. 'He's a tremendous comic and talent that we've loved working with.' Mr. Stewart added that he 'may rejoin as a correspondent just to be a part of it!!!'"

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TAGS: a.o. scott, blade runner, get hard, jon stewart, larry clark, marfa girl, nick pinkerton, noah baumbach, richard brody, Sean Young, spectre, the daily show, the smell of us, trevor noah, wesley morris, while we're young


The Walking Dead

One of the first things we see in "Conquer," the astonishing and consistently thrilling finale of The Walking Dead's fifth season, is a rabbit's foot, hanging from the rearview mirror where Morgan (Lennie Jones) is making camp, not far from the Alexandria Safe-Zone. In the context of the series, this symbol of luck, of an animal's limb being affixed to a ring to someone can put it on their keychain, feels especially gruesome. A measure of barbarism is essential to survival in the world where Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his clan live, but that doesn't excuse the fact that the acts that Rick's group commit are brutal and often final. This conflictive notion of how violence both undermines and keeps order in society feels embedded into the episode's every exchange and set piece, all the way up to its maddening ending.

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TAGS: alexandra breckenridge, andrew lincoln, conquer, corey brill, josh mcdermitt, lauren cohan, lennie jones, Michael Cudlitz, michael traynor, normal reedus, recap, sonequa martin-green, steven yeun, the walking dead, Tovah Feldshuh


Abel Ferrara

1. "It's Criminal and My Name Is On It." Abel Ferrara on his Strauss-Kahn-inspired Welcome to New York, his battle with distributors, and Pasolini.

"Women know what's going on. We're grown-ups. We're big boys. That's why this idea of an R-rating is a joke. I've never made an R-rated film. I wouldn't even accept the term 'R-rating.' A long time ago when I used to work with these guys [speaking of film studio execs in general] and make the cuts... I was there when the MPAA was invented, I was there when the whole thing came about. It came to a moment in my life where I realized I was thinking in those terms, and then I stopped. Because I cannot do what I do, worrying about that. I wouldn't even accept the concept of an R-rated film—and I live in and work in Europe, so that doesn't exist [here]. These people, IFC, put out unrated films. That's their fucking thing. And Wild Bunch as a European-fucking distributor...c'mon man. Blue is the Warmest Color, Nymphomaniac, all these films, ya dig? And they [IFC and Wild Bunch] know who I am. We've made five films together. They [IFC and Wild Bunch] grew up watching my films. They know I don't make R-rated films. And this subject matter, this story, the way I shot it, you cannot. I wouldn't have made it, I wouldn't have done it. They're tyrants. They act with impunity. It's not going to fly with me, or people who have any sense of the truth."

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TAGS: abel ferrara, alejandro jodorowsky, askold melnyczuk, cinderella, cinema scope, elise nakhnikian, entertainment, guerrero: the monster in the mountains, ifc films, juliano ribeiro salgado, los angeles review of books, phil coldiron, rick alverson, Rob Walker, the l magazine, the salt of the earth, welcome to new york, where the bird sings gest, wim wenders


God Help the Girl

1. "The Unbearable Whiteness of Indie." Pitchfork's Sarah Sahim sees God Help the Girl and it gets her thinking about whiteness in indie music.

"The price of being outspoken about race—the price of speaking their truth—for Heems or Dap, for M.I.A., is much higher than it is for any white musicians with a message, be it Kathleen Hanna or Kim Gordon's mass appeal white feminism or Bono, whose career is foundationally built on his white savior complex. Heems' work (both solo and with Das Racist) explores racial problems in both American and Asian society with a distinctly satirical slant, but the label of 'joke rap' is one that has become difficult to escape, and one that invalidates and writes off the truth of their experience as Asian Americans. M.I.A. prefers to take a route that relies less on humor and blunty screams about her problems with both the West and Sri Lanka. The often casual dismission of her politics ultimately results in her having to scream even louder. M.I.A. or Heems' assertion of their racial identities and experiences, becomes, at best, inconvenient, and often plays as badly in the underground as it does in the mainstream."

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TAGS: backcountry, daniel kasman, empire, from mayerling to sarajevo, god help the girl, heems, it follows, letter from an unknown woman, m.i.a., mark harris, max ophüls, pitchfork, richard brody, sarah sahim, toni morrison, wesley morris


The Americans

At the center of tonight's episode of The Americans is a cluttered clapboard office tucked inside a machinist's warehouse, its surfaces papered with personal histories. Black-and-white framed photographs; a football pennant; plaques, Polaroids, and words of wisdom: From these fragments, these mementos mori, "Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?," a small, black-hearted masterpiece, weaves a narrative of the relationship between captor Elizabeth Jennings (Keri Russell) and her elderly captive, Betty (Lois Smith), as one in which power flows in more than one direction. "You think doing this to me will make the world a better place?" the latter asks, and though Elizabeth strains to believe that it will, The Americans has long since provided another answer.

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TAGS: do mail robots dream of electric sheep, Keri Russell, lois smith, Matthew Rhys, recap, the americans, thora birch


Angelina Jolie

1. "Angelina Jolie Pitt: Diary of a Surgery." For The New York Times, the actress pens an op-ed about her decision to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes.

"I went through what I imagine thousands of other women have felt. I told myself to stay calm, to be strong, and that I had no reason to think I wouldn't live to see my children grow up and to meet my grandchildren. I called my husband in France, who was on a plane within hours. The beautiful thing about such moments in life is that there is so much clarity. You know what you live for and what matters. It is polarizing, and it is peaceful. That same day I went to see the surgeon, who had treated my mother. I last saw her the day my mother passed away, and she teared up when she saw me: 'You look just like her.' I broke down. But we smiled at each other and agreed we were there to deal with any problem, so 'let's get on with it.'"

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TAGS: angelina jolie, fran lebowitz, israel, jon hamm, mad men, nadia awad, palestine, robert greene, slow west, the new inquiry, the jinx


Looking

1. "Looking, Marriage, and the New Gay Sadness." The New Yorker's Daniel Wenger on the HBO series.

"The aimlessness is by design. This is no shapely sitcom with memorable, freestanding episodes; the camera shakes, colors are muted, there is no soundtrack, scenes interrupt each other, time advances by skips and jumps. Underneath, Looking seems to sweat. The primary writers are gay men, and in the course of two seasons the hint of autobiography begins to express itself: an improbable, impregnable loneliness. Like Girls, to which it's often been compared, Looking has replaced consciousness-raising with self-consciousness-raising, the pastime of those whose assimilation has ostensibly put them past politics but who can't believe that politics are unnecessary when self-acceptance hasn't been wrought. The effect of Looking is not, as the National Gay Task Force might have had it, to show straight audiences that gay people deserve to be citizens. It is to show that being a citizen only gets you so far when you have never thought of yourself as one. Plenty of people, straight and gay, are sexually immature and romantically inept; but Patrick seems as little ready to connect to another man, in any fashion and for any length of time, as when he was a closeted fifteen-year-old with no sense of being entitled to any rights, hiding what he had transformed into criminal urges under a blanket in the back of a bus."

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TAGS: daniel wenger, fka twigs, genevieve valentine, glass & patron, hbo, j.f. lawton, looking, los angeles plays itself, pretty woman, the dissolve, the new yorker, thom andersen, video games


The Walking Dead

Not long into "Try," Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) plays Nine Inch Nails' "Somewhat Damaged," a song essentially about succumbing to heartlessness—losing one's humanity despite all attempts to be better. It's apropos for an episode that pivots on numerous precarious attitudes toward what precisely the Alexandria Safe-Zone stands for, especially in the wake of Noah and Aiden's deaths. And yet the song isn't quite as remarkable as the setting in which it's played: a makeshift, candlelit memorial service for Aiden, attended only by his family. When Deanna obliges her husband (Steve Coulter) by turning the abrasive rock track off, the crucial, symbolic moment speaks to her unwillingness to see the ugliness that she's allowed to grow underneath Alexandria's prim and proper veneer.

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TAGS: alexandra breckenridge, andrew lincoln, chandler riggs, christian serratos, corey brill, danai gurira, katelyn nacon, major dodson, michael traynor, nine inch nails, recap, somewhat damaged, sonequa martin-green, Steve Coulter, steven yeun, the walking dead, Tovah Feldshuh, try


M.I.A.

1. "Arular 10 Years Later: M.I.A. Reflects on Globe-Shaking Debut." How fights with Diplo, an altercation with Oprah and being labeled a terrorist have shaped her past decade.

"Everybody in the media was calling me a [terrorist]. It was horrible because even my friends and people in the music industry had to disown me. The pressure got so intense. The media turned against me, my ex-boyfriend turned against me and became a pawn to actually do that and, yeah, it's like it was this really difficult time — to be like, no, this is real, this is real, this is real. It was a really difficult time because I felt that what I'd done up to that point is offered really positive things and had music and fashion and visual stuff that represented something that was positive and not negative. I don't know, you could debate the gunshots [played over the music at her shows], but generally if you came to my show you did not go away feeling sad and you did not go away in a negative way. You went away having experienced a whole bunch of happy things and you felt empowered."

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TAGS: arular, ashley judd, diplo, grantland, insurgent, kodak, m.i.a., mission: impossible rogue nation, oprah winfrey, quentin hardy, robert greene, rolling stone, sean penn, shailene woodley, the gunman, the new york times, wesley morris







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