Late in Don DeLillo's latest novel, Zero K, an unnamed operative of the Convergence, a cultish institute offering the promise of immortality via cryogenic freezing, tells a group of soon-to-be-frozen patients, “You are completely outside the narrative of what we refer to as history.” Adherents of the Convergence's quasi-religious ideology are attempting to outrun not just death, but language, geography, even humanity itself. In the hallways of the Convergence, video screens display montages of mass death (climate catastrophe, terror, war), reminders of the human horror they're escaping. Once resurrected from their deep-freeze slumber, they'll awake to a world liberated from horror and also freed from the banal strictures of daily life, the weight of the past, the limitations of human perception. They'll even speak a new language, one that “will offer new meanings, entire new levels of perception.”
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is dreaming of better days, specifically his long-lost Winterfell, where he watches as his father, Ned, and uncle, Benjen, learn to spar. He even happens upon a slow stable boy, Willis, and realizes that this is an even more innocent version of the man who's been protecting him in the present, Hodor (Kristian Nairn). This, of course, is an illusion, and the mysterious vision-sharing man known only as the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) soon pulls Bran back to his crippled reality. “You finally show me something I care about, and then you drag me away,” shouts Bran, and it's hard not to hear echoes of the most ardent yet frustrated Game of Thrones fans, because the show's sprawling narrative has room for no more than 10 minutes an episode for each character. That makes it increasingly hard to becoming truly invested in any of them, especially with a new subplot on the Iron Islands, where the possibly insane Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk), claiming to be the Drowned God, deposes his brother, Balon (Patrick Malahide), by flinging him over a rickety bridge in the middle of a storm.
- Carice van Houten
- Conleth Hill
- Dean-Charles Chapman
- faye marsay
- Game of Thrones
- George R.R. Martin
- Isaac Hempstead Wright
- jonathan pryce
- Kit Harington
- kristian nairn
- Lena Headey
- Liam Cunningham
- max von sydow
- Michael McElhatton
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
- owen teale
- Patrick Malahide
- Peter Dinklage
- Pilou Asbaek
- Tom Wlaschiha
Rihanna x Stance
Rihanna's latest album, Anti, is notable for its dearth of dance beats. The EDM bubble has, of course, deflated, if not burst, but some of the singer's biggest hits have beckoned listeners to the dance floor: “Pon de Replay,” “SOS,” “Don't Stop the Music,” “Only Girl (In the World).” Her crowning achievement in the genre is her collaboration with Scottish super-DJ/producer Calvin Harris, “We Found Love,” a song our own Eric Henderson once claimed “makes the urge to get turnt up feel like an almost religious impulse.”
Just two months after her lawsuit against producer Dr. Luke, a.k.a. Lukasz Gottwald, for allegedly drugging, raping, and verbally abusing her was tossed out by a New York judge, barring the singer from recording outside the parameters of her contract with the Swedish super-producer, Kesha is already releasing new music. But don't call it a loophole. Russian DJ Zedd took to Twitter to explain that Dr. Luke's label, to which the “Fuck Him He's a DJ” singer is signed, had given their blessing for the release.
Tonight's episode of The Americans comes to a head as Elizabeth (Keri Russell) knocks the wind out of Martha (Alison Wright), the latter's insistent protests supplanted by staccato gasps. In the show's arc this season, “Travel Agents” performs much the same function: A sharp exhalation, a moment of release, paves the way for a more restrained, if no less formidable, reckoning. One half of the episode is made up of searches, stakeouts, and wiretaps; the other, of questions, confessions, and tangled sympathies. It is, in short, a cleverly constructed hybrid, resolving the tension of the previous three episodes only to unleash a torrent of emotion. It's as if the body blow Elizabeth delivers is the last crack in the dam, and the characters are left waiting downriver for the terrible flood to arrive.
Previous seasons of Game of Thrones have played a precarious dance between the past and present action detailed within George R.R. Martin's series, but the season-six premiere episode, “The Red Woman,” provides viewers with their first glimpse of what the future looks like, and it's disappointing. Melisandre (Carice van Houten), the sorceress from whom this episode takes its title, stands over the bloodless corpse of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and remarks that “I saw him in the flames, fighting at Winterfell.” Magic may yet play a role in some sort of resurrection, but this episode focuses only on the weary, bitter state of affairs in Westeros.
Three days later and I still have difficulty defining the heightened emotional state we've been experiencing in Minneapolis. I've personally been spontaneously ambushed by welling tears that have been hardly unexpected. But whether Prince's death knocked you flat or merely held your attention, to be in Minneapolis right now, and to see and read about the tributes pouring in from every corner of the globe, is to tap into a once-in-a-lifetime moment of civic communion. You don't have to be Prince's biggest fan—I'm about 97 to 98 percent sure I'm not—to recognize it. This is a town of 3.5 million Prince stories.
Bruce Beresford's Mr. Church is remarkable for how it manages to indulge so many offensive and shopworn clichés at once. A risible example of the magical negro trope, Henry Church (Eddie Murphy) appears in the lives of Marie (Natascha McElhone) and her daughter, Charlotte (played as a girl by Natalie Coughlin, then as a teenager and adult by Britt Robertson) as if out of the ether. Marie has been given six months to live from breast cancer and Henry, it turns out, has been hired by the woman's deceased ex-lover to be the mother and daughter's personal cook. But Marie hangs on, with six months becoming six years, which is enough time for this true renaissance man to become a surrogate father to Charlotte, encouraging her to read more and a become a writer (an ambition that she puts on hold after an unexpected pregnancy), as well as a painter and jazz pianist.
Noah Buschel's The Phenom may be about a struggling young pitcher's attempt to overcome his mental block after a bad baseball game has him sent down to the minors, but the film is by no means a standard sports movie. Outside of an opening scene of baseball action that turns out to be archival footage two people are watching on a TV set, there's none of the big-game action and sentimental triumph-over-adversity arcs that are usually de rigueur for these types of films. Instead, The Phenom is mostly made up of a series of conversations: therapy sessions and confrontations, the film diving into the past in order to understand the present, the way pitching wunderkind Hopper Gibson (Johnny Simmons) explores his own personal history under the guidance of his psychologist, Dr. Mobley (Paul Giamatti).
Back in 2011, when George C. Wolfe was on a panel of theater professionals tasked to pick the top 10 American musicals of all time, he made a special plea for Shuffle Along, an all-black musical from 1921. “It has a great score that brought jazz dance to Broadway and invigorated the form,” argued the award-winning writer and director. It wasn't the best musical, he explained, but it should be considered for its status as a phenomenon of the musical theater. Shuffle Along didn't make the cut on that occasion, but the Tony Award-winning director of Angels in America and Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk can be very persuasive when he's impassioned about something. Fast-forward a few years to the present and Wolfe has gotten the opportunity to mount a new production of the long-forgotten musical on Broadway.
Now sporting a new title, Shuffle Along, Or, The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, the trail-blazing musical gets a new lease of life this month with a stellar cast headlined by six-time Tony Award-winner Audra McDonald. Wolfe's production retains the groundbreaking score by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, and features a new libretto by Wolfe which replaces the original book by vaudevillians Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles. The song and book writing teams who created the show have now become characters on the stage, portrayed by Brian Stokes Mitchell, Billy Porter, Brandon Victor Dixon, and Joshua Henry. Wolfe talked to me recently about the legendary musical from 95 years ago and what fires his enthusiasm for this current Broadway production.