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Creeping Through Egypt Previewing Assassin’s Creed: Origins

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Creeping Through Egypt: Assassin’s Creed: Origins Hands-On Preview

Ubisoft

Creeping Through Egypt: Assassin’s Creed: Origins Hands-On Preview

For the first time since 2007, I had to learn how to play Assassin’s Creed. Sure, each game in the series since the premiere of the first title has brought its own tweaks, changes, and the occasional new control scheme. Black Flag’s ship-to-ship combat injected some fresh blood into the world. Assassin’s Creed: Origins, on the other hand, makes Assassin’s Creed feel like a completely new series for the first time in 10 years.

Ezio Auditore, Assassin’s Creed’s best, most charismatic protagonist to this day, carried this series on his shoulders through sheer force of charisma for three games. Afterward, even when the series was at its best (Black Flag, Rogue, Syndicate), there was always a hint of stagnation at its heart. The locales changed, and characters were fresh and exciting, but you still mostly traversed every world, made every kill, and played every side mission exactly the same. Origins, on the other hand, feels like an entirely different game.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap Season 9, Episode 1, “Foisted!”

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Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: Season 9, Episode 1, “Foisted!”

John P. Johnson/HBO

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: Season 9, Episode 1, “Foisted!”

In the uncharacteristically elaborate opening of “Foisted!,” the first new episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm in six years, the camera flies over an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles, past manicured, ritzy properties, before swooping into Larry David’s (Larry David) home through an open window. Even if this is a series largely concerned with the lives of a city’s golf-playing, fundraiser-attending upper crust, this aesthetic flourish feels out of place. After all, throughout the show’s first eight seasons, more understated camera work, sometimes shaky handhelds, guided us through gilded milieus. But a polished aerial zoom? To use Curb parlance, what a shanda!

American Horror Story: Cult Recap Episode 5, “Holes”

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American Horror Story: Cult Recap: Episode 5, “Holes”
American Horror Story: Cult Recap: Episode 5, “Holes”

It takes less than 30 seconds for “Holes,” the latest episode of American Horror Story: Cult, to reference its title. WBNR’s Bob Thompson (Dermot Mulroney) might be a pervert, but he’s not wrong to ream out Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) for her recent on-air editorializing and fear-mongering: “There’s all sorts of goddamn holes in your stories!” And throughout the episode, Crystal Liu’s screenplay goes about addressing the holes that Cult itself created with the revelations from the flashback-filled “11/9,” but the answers here aren’t only unsatisfyingly blunt, but only raise more questions, to the point that the show’s narrative up to this point has been retconned.

St. Vincent Goes Under the Knife in “Los Ageless” Music Video

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St. Vincent Goes Under the Knife in “Los Ageless” Music Video
St. Vincent Goes Under the Knife in “Los Ageless” Music Video

The new music video for St. Vincent’s “Los Ageless,” the second single from her upcoming album, MASSEDUCTION, is a vibrant, sci-fi satire of Hollywood superficiality. The video, directed by Willo Perron in partnership with Red Bull Music, finds singer-songwriter Annie Clark going to the extreme in her quest for Tinseltown perfection, enduring an ectoplasmic pedicure, swallowing slug sushi, and, in a nod to a scene from Terry Gilliam’s dystopian 1985 film Brazil, getting skin-stretching plastic surgery.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 4, “I See Money”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 4, “I See Money”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 4, “I See Money”

Symbolism in The Deuce isn’t always subtle. Sometimes it’s as obvious as a rat crawling onto a prostitute while she gives a blowjob in a porn theater. When that happens to Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) in the opening sequence of “I See Money,” the husky rodent does more than portend the indignities awaiting her. An inevitable symptom of Times Square squalor, the rat is an emblem of the collateral damage we see everywhere in the episode.

American Horror Story: Cult Recap Episode 4, “11/9”

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American Horror Story: Cult Recap: Episode 4, “11/9”
American Horror Story: Cult Recap: Episode 4, “11/9”

The secret ballot that we use to cast our votes on election day is a rare opportunity for us to express our political views without risk of public opprobrium. “11/9,” the strongest episode yet of American Horror Story: Cult, taps into the power of the voting booth to allow us such a freedom, drawing back the curtain not just on the political choices of the show’s central characters, but on their innermost thoughts. In the process of an extended flashback, “11/9” also peels back the masks of the season’s antagonistic clowns, providing these menacing murderers with rich backstories: It turns out that they’re not just manifestations of our fears in the wake of Trump’s election, but victims of a system that the president simply inherited.

The Deuce Recap Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

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The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

Paul Schiraldi

The Deuce Recap: Season 1, Episode 3, “The Principle Is All”

The Baltimore Sun reporters from The Wire described their city as “Dickensian,” a comparison that stuck as a critical shorthand and pervasive cocktail-party quip about the HBO series itself. The Deuce seems intent on recycling the parallel: In “The Principle Is All,” Darlene (Dominique Fishback) reads A Tale of Two Cities, curious to acquaint herself with the source material of the 1935 Jack Conway film adaptation that moved her to tears in “Pilot.”

Reel Journeys: Sketches from the 2017 Camden International Film Festival

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Reel Journeys: Sketches from the 2017 Camden International Film Festival

BOGIE

Reel Journeys: Sketches from the 2017 Camden International Film Festival

Downtown Camden, Maine embodies a dream—derived from collective cultural osmosis—that one might have of northern towns as hubs of autumnal Americana. An atmospherically foggy view of the coast was my backyard for four days. Each morning after several good cups of coffee I made my way from the rear porch of the Hawthorne Inn down a slope dotted with chairs and a fire pit, crossing through a wooded area over to the neighboring amphitheater, where portions of Todd Field’s In the Bedroom were shot. From there, I passed the library (featuring a tribute to Mark Robson’s Peyton Place, which was also shot in Camden) over to the main strip of town, which is rich in 19th-century buildings housing a palm reader, an ice cream parlor, numerous gift shops, and a deli that serves a terrific lobster roll.

There are at least four bookstores within a quarter mile of the Hawthorne Inn. By contrast, the Virginia town where I live doesn’t have any, and I spent most of my scant spare time in Camden at the Owl & Turtle Bookshop Café, which suggests a Hobbit’s nook, as the stairs in the center of the shop wrap around the room, uniting the upper and lower floors in a cavernous pattern that turns the smallness of the place into a cozy, cuddled-up-with-hot-chocolate-on-a-Sunday-morning asset. Craig White, who co-owns the Owl & Turtle with his wife, Maggie, told me that the author Richard Russo lives close by and pops over to sign his books for fans. I felt like Dale Cooper in the first several episodes of the original Twin Peaks: exclamatory and ready to go native.

Isle of Dogs First Trailer: Wes Anderson’s Return to Stop-Motion Animation

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Isle of Dogs First Trailer: Wes Anderson’s Return to Stop-Motion Animation

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Isle of Dogs First Trailer: Wes Anderson’s Return to Stop-Motion Animation

“The Japanese archipelago, 20 years into the future,” intones the voice at the start of the delightful trailer for Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, which sees the filmmaker returning to the world of stop-motion animation for the first time since 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Mox. Earlier this year, during a discussion about his carrer at ARTE Cinema, Anderson revealed that his follow-up to 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was heavily inspired by the work of Akira Kurosawa, which is very much evident throughout the ornate trailer.

American Horror Story: Cult Recap Episode 3, “Neighbors from Hell”

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American Horror Story: Cult Recap: Episode 3, “Neighbors from Hell”
American Horror Story: Cult Recap: Episode 3, “Neighbors from Hell”

As a society, we’ve come to rely on rules to protect us and rights to give us a sense of power. If there’s a disturbance coming from the home next to our own, we know that there are authorities who we can alert. And if our government takes an action that we find undesirable, we can petition against it. Perhaps the biggest psychic trauma, then, experienced by many people in this country after Trump’s election to the presidency—a trauma that’s the focus of American Horror Story: Cult—is the realization that those rules and rights don’t feel as sacrosanct as we thought they were.