The first single from Miley Cyrus's new album, “Malibu,” sparked a flurry of think pieces that both doubled down on the criticism that the singer has received over the years for her cultural appropriation of hip-hop signifiers while also rebuking her for abandoning it. That Miley adopted a more mellow pop-rock sound and traded grillz and twerking for a more squeaky-clean image and frolicking in a country meadow, respectively, was seen as proof that hip-hop was nothing more than a costume.
Locarno Film Festival
Albert Serra's recent The Death of Louis XIV feels like a fictional cousin to Mrs. Fang, winner of the Golden Leopard at this year's Locarno Film Festival, as Wang Bing's latest similarly maps out the process by which the glow of a human life is dimmed. Mrs. Fang, a sixtysomething former farmer from rural southeast China, has been suffering from Alzheimer's for several years. Wang visits her modest family home on two separate occasions: in 2015, when she's already unable to speak or leave her bed and her family discusses her funeral, and a year later, in the days before her death. Throughout these visits, Wang employs his by-now familiar mode of calm, unadorned observation, moving smoothly between the conversations conducted around Mrs. Fang's bed, forays outside the cramped home to follow discussions on the street and villagers on fishing trips, and tight close-ups of Mrs. Fang's face on the pillow—the latter of which suffused with an intimacy so intense that it makes the surroundings disappear and time stand still for a while, despite their only making up a comparatively small part of the film.
The latest episode of HBO's Insecure finds all three of the show's protagonists single and, more than in any other episode up to this point, ready to mingle. For Issa (Issa Rae), a new romantic possibility comes in the form of Daniel (Y'lan Noel), who makes his first appearance here since last season. Molly (Yvonne Orji), meanwhile, is considering an even bigger shakeup in the way she thinks about and values dating: polyamory.
The latest Twin Peaks: The Return is, to invoke the Bard, “such stuff as dreams are made on.” David Lynch has always conjured up his disorienting, often disturbing narratives according to an intuitive dream logic. The original Twin Peaks often used Agent Cooper's dreams to forward, and occasionally frustrate, the central mystery of who killed Laura Palmer. And the new series has taken several dreamlike excursions into far leftfield, in particular the recursive flashbacks of “Part 8.” But never before has Lynch commented quite so explicitly about the philosophical, even metaphysical, function of dreams. Suffice it to say, dreams and visions—as well as a few rather gnomic discussions thereof—take up practically the entirety of “Part 14.”
“Eastwatch” picks up exactly where the last episode of Game of Thrones left off, with Bronn (Jerome Flynn) fishing Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) out of a river, and marks a turning point for the series, as it finally fully embraces its fantasy. To this point, Game of Thrones has carefully rooted itself in medieval lore and tactics (dragons-as-nuclear-bombs notwithstanding), but “Eastwatch” feels more like a heist movie than what's come before. To some extent, this is a result of the ever-accelerated pacing: The journey is no longer shown, only the destinations, and character re-introductions are distilled into essential quips and action. But more importantly, it's an episode that dials back from the epic confrontations that have filled out the majority of this season, choosing instead to focus on eight brave individuals and their almost certainly hopeless quest.
The first days of the Locarno Film Festival were dominated by a heat so intense that it took great effort to focus on the challenging cinema for which the Swiss festival is renowned and not just on staying hydrated and fleeing to the next air-conditioned space. But as the warmth receded and proper concentration returned, several titles that screened on the opening weekend emerged from the fug as some of the most intriguing films of the year.
Unlike in Switzerland, the sweltering heat of the Dominican Republic inspires fervor, even hysteria—as in Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias’s Cocote, which opened the festival’s experimentally minded Signs of Life section, which this year became a competitive section for the first time and opened its doors to films of all lengths. Much like the filmmaker’s Santa Teresa and Other Stories, a very loose adaptation of Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, Cocote proceeds by inserting enough flights of fancy into an established narrative that its through line often becomes thrillingly blurred. While this film’s plot doesn’t draw on any preexisting material, it does feel broadly archetypical, telling the story of how Alberto (Vicente Santos), a gardener working at a wealthy estate in Santo Domingo, returns to his home village following the death of his father at the hands of a local bigwig. Alberto’s smart attire and newfound respectability mark him as a prodigal son for his mother and sisters, who expect him both to take part in a nine-day burial ritual and avenge his father, neither of which are in keeping with his sense of urban rationality and poise.
Ever since Issa Dee’s (Issa Rae) philandering last season, many Insecure viewers have situated themselves firmly in one of two camps: #TeamIssa or #TeamLawrence. Even though Molly (Yvonne Orji) did her best to defend her friend in last week’s episode—Issa cheated, but she’s not a cheater—Issa’s indiscretions made her the less sympathetic of the recently uncoupled pair. Moreover, it’s easy to root for the character who’s starting to get his shit together; since the start of the season, we’ve seen Lawrence (Jay Ellis) officially end things with Issa, get in better shape, and find his own place.
Last night’s episode of Twin Peaks: The Return testified to the life-affirming power of cherry pie, gave viewers an object lesson in Existentialism 101, and suggested, in suitably surreal fashion, that the more things change, the more they stay the same. A recurrent leitmotiv in the show’s iconography, cherry pie signifies David Lynch’s unabashed embrace of old-fashioned Americana, a deep-running feeling of kinship and respect for the salt-of-the-earth denizens of the country’s outlying and often overlooked small towns. In “Part 13,” a damn good slice of cherry pie plays a pivotal role in several storylines.
Macall B. Polay/HBO
As epic and satisfying as it is to finally see dragons and Dothraki face off against the Lannisters outside of King’s Landing, the more important battle of “The Spoils of War” is between Game of Thrones’s two types of storytelling. The first, which plagues the episode’s first 20 minutes, is the stuff of pure exposition: tactical discussions, cryptic premonitions, and theory. At best, the language occasionally crackles in the right hands, as with the way in which Mark Gatiss cloyingly portrays the Iron Bank’s representative, Tycho Nestoris. “Arithmetic, not sentiment” makes for the sort of too-calculated approach that can swamp an episode before it even begins. It’s not much better when Jon Snow (Kit Harington) invites Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) to view the obsidian tunnels beneath Dragonstone. Sure, there are cave drawings that show the Children and the First Men fighting together against the wights, but that convenient bit of ancient history simply isn’t compelling.
- Aidan Gillen
- Alfie Allen
- Conleth Hill
- Daniel Portman
- Ellie Kendrick
- Emilia Clarke
- freddie stroma
- Game of Thrones
- Gwendoline Christie
- isaac hempsted wright
- Jerome Flynn
- Kit Harington
- Lena Headey
- Maisie Williams
- Mark Gatiss
- Nathalie Emmanuel
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
- Peter Dinklage
- Sophie Turner
- the spoils of war
A co-production between the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Germany, Cocote, Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias’s Cocote concerns an evangelical gardener, Alberto (played by Vicente Santos), who returns to his hometown in the Dominican Republic to attend his father’s funeral. In order to mourn his paterfamilias, who was killed by an influential man, Alberto must take part in religious celebrations that are contrary to his will and beliefs.