Silicon Valley Recap Season 4, Episode 1, "Success Failure"

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Silicon Valley Recap: Season 4, Episode 1, "Success Failure"

John P. Johnson

Silicon Valley Recap: Season 4, Episode 1, "Success Failure"

Richard (Thomas Middleditch) bumbles his way to an unlikely victory at the start of the season premiere of Silicon Valley, posing as an Uber driver in the latest chapter of Pied Piper's comically inept struggle to survive. The nerdily awkward pitch Richard initiates to the venture capitalist in his back seat, video-conferencing with the rest of the Pied Piper team to show off the unexpectedly popular platform they've created more or less by accident, doubles as a reunion for the show's viewers, bringing the main characters together in all their dysfunctional glory.

Tribeca Film Festival Review Flames

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Tribeca Film Festival Review: Flames

Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival Review: Flames

Early in Flames, we see the film's co-writers, co-editors, co-directors, and co-stars, Zefrey Throwell and Josephine Decker, in the first of many compromising positions. Decker's hanging off a bed upside down and naked, while Throwell, standing right-side up, has comically unglamorous sex with her, his pumping ass facing the camera while they both laugh. We're seeing a real side of sex that Joe Swanberg explored in his early films but that's not often acknowledged by cinema (which usually offers erotic and romantic titillation that's self-seriously sanitized): its potentialities as a hang-out activity, when one's grown so comfortable with a partner that self-consciousness eases and pleasure deepens. Knowledge that one doesn't have to elicit an orgasm per minute from their partner is freedom—a step toward lovers allowing themselves to be human in one another's company.

Tribeca Film Festival Review The Departure

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Tribeca Film Festival Review: The Departure

Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival Review: The Departure

Death hangs over The Departure in grandly cosmic fashion. Lana Wilson's documentary is a portrait of Ittetsu Nemoto, a Buddhist priest in Japan who's devoted his life to preparing people for death and trying to talk people out of taking their own lives. The film's opening sequence captures in detail one of Nemoto's workshops, in which, among other things, he has his followers write down on small pieces of paper various things they feel they can't live without, and then proceed, in stages, to crumple most of them up and throw them away. This establishes not only the film's thoughtful approach to death, but also its calm aesthetic, with its long takes and wide shots inducing a sense of serene reflection wholly appropriate to its eternal subject matter.

Tribeca Film Festival Review The Family I Had

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Tribeca Film Festival Review: The Family I Had

Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival Review: The Family I Had

Charity Lee occupies the center of one of those true-crime stories that's so operatically atrocious it's impossible to comprehend. In 2007, Charity's 13-year-old son, Paris, savagely murdered her four-year-old daughter and his half-sister, Ella, strangling and beating the girl, stabbing her 17 times with a kitchen knife. Katie Green and Carlye Rubin's documentary The Family I Had opens with Charity's recollection of hearing of Ella's death, which is initially presented as a terrifyingly arbitrary incident. We hear the recording of Paris's call to 911, in which he sounds remorseful and panicked, as if he's snapped out of a slumber and is describing an act committed by another person.

Tribeca Film Festival Review Dog Years

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Tribeca Film Festival Review: Dog Years

Tribeca Film Festival

Tribeca Film Festival Review: Dog Years

It's unseemly watching Burt Reynolds, one of the greatest movie stars, beg for sympathy in Adam Rifkin's Dog Years. The film bears a resemblance to Daniel Noah's Max Rose, as both are vehicles for their stars to explore their own legacies within a thinly fictional framework. But in Max Rose, Jerry Lewis had the sense not to overtly soften his character's crustiness, maintaining his dignity and reminding viewers that he was still a vital actor despite the production's pervading mediocrity. Reynolds still has his characteristic comic-masculine force, and he can still throw a line away with masterful panache, but he allows Rifkin to enable his self-pity.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

“Smile” is the second Doctor Who episode from screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce. It's a distinct improvement over the misfire of 2014's “In the Forest of the Night,” which made the mistake of reducing the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to a passive bystander, with no role to play in the resolution of that episode's crisis. Here, the Doctor and Bill (Pearl Mackie) are at the center of the action throughout, and there's a feeling of accomplishment for them at the end that was missing from “In the Forest of the Night.” Even so, there are points where the logic of the plot is rather strained, with a final ethical quandary that comes out of nowhere.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"

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RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"
RuPaul’s Drag Race Recap: Season 9, Episode 5, "Kardashian: The Musical"

“This is RuPaul's best friend race!” exclaims Alexis Michelle as three or four other RuPaul's Drag Race contestants kiss and make up in the workroom. What happens when queens all get along? Producers manufacture drama, silly. And, even for a show that wears its fabrications and intentionality on its rhinestoned sleeve, the machinations start to seem just a touch mannered. Following a series of episodes that effortlessly drew personality (or lack thereof) from a cast that seems more look-oriented than personality-dependent, the fifth episode of the show's ninth season is a marked regression. And not only because I now, after all these blessed years, am forced to finally write the names of all the Kardashians, a situation for which it will take me some time to forgive Mama Ru.

The Sexy Brutale Game Review

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The Sexy Brutale Game Review

Tequila Works

The Sexy Brutale Game Review

Reginald Sixpence totters around the Chapel, searching for something hidden in the Marquis's safe. A few rooms over, one of the manor's servants shuffles around, an act that would be innocent enough if not for the hideous gas masks he wears, or for the simple fact that in a few hours he's going to pick up the antique hunting rifle and murder Sixpence. You know this because you, Lafcadio Boone, have seen it all before, and the task set before you in The Sexy Brutale is to now figure out a way to stop it.

Maybe you've come across this Groundhog Day-like gambit before in a video game (see Majora's Mask and Ghost Trick), but the eerie intimacy of The Sexy Brutale's mansion and the game's rapid pace—a 12-hour in-game time loop that passes in 10 minutes—makes the conceit feel fresh. Each discrete area of the two-story manor has its own decor and atmosphere, from a set of security cameras in the casino to a live rehearsal in the music room. And the scenarios of each are equally unique: Willow Blue, who haunts the long hallways of the guest rooms is driven by some unseen force to commit suicide, whereas two thieves find that they're the evening's entertainment after they become trapped in an on-stage deathtrap.

Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s “Lust for Life” Is Utterly Cool

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Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s “Lust for Life” Is Utterly Cool
Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s “Lust for Life” Is Utterly Cool

If “Love,” the dreamy first single from Lana Del Rey's upcoming album, Lust for Life, felt like more of the same from the soporific singer-songwriter, the newly released title track is a refreshing about-face. Opening with the sound of a motorcycle revving its engine, “Lust for Life” reprises the themes—youth, love, death, escape—of countless Del Rey songs before it: “They say only the good die young/That just ain't right/'Cause we're having too much fun,” she laments. Some '60s girl-group shoops underscore Del Rey's spoken passages, which make nods to the Angels's “My Boyfriend's Back.”

The Americans Recap Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

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The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

Eric Liebowitz/FX

The Americans Recap: Season 5, Episode 7, "The Committee on Human Rights"

Directed by Matthew Rhys, this week's episode of The Americans, “The Committee on Human Rights,” begins exactly where “Crossbreed” left off. But let me begin at the end, specifically with that haunting image of Gabriel (Frank Langella) and Philip (Rhys) seated across from one another inside the former's apartment. Throughout this evocatively staged sequence that serves as a tribute to Gabriel's work throughout the years in trying to keep Philip and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) well informed and grounded, my eye kept gravitating to a patch of white unpainted wall near Gabriel's head. And my mind went to Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Pulse, a film in which people leave behind splotchy black stains—redolent of the blast shadows of Hiroshima victims—on walls when they die, or simply go missing. That blackness is a symbol of all that's inexplicable about our lives, just as the swath of unpainted wall here represents the one thing that Gabriel doesn't come clean about throughout a profound unloading of his conscience: that he kept Mischa away from Philip.