Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

5 hidden gems from last year for your first weekend of the new one

Nocturama (Photo: Grasshopper Films)

The movie to watch


“For all the varieties of filmic pleasure it mainlines and all the tried-and-true genre thrills it twists to its own ends, it draws the line at violence, which is always abrupt and sobering in the film. But that isn’t to say that [Bertrand] Bonello isn’t above sadistically toying with viewer sympathies and anxieties or mounting a climax that is as formally ingenious as it is crushing. There’s something to be said for putting terror in the hands of a bunch of moody young people who don’t look like they would show up at the same party, let alone form an extremist cell. It filters out everything but the true common denominators: frustration, alienation, futility.”
Read the rest of our review here.


Nocturama is now streaming on Netflix.

The video game to play


Echo is the stealth game pared down to its raw essence, a terse, mean piece of game design. Played on easy, it’s still as brutal as it is economical, with exactly one enemy type (an army of eerie clones of the protagonist) and few mechanics to grasp. But this tautness masks some of the most daring aesthetic choices the genre’s ever seen. The writing is uncommonly rich, meted out in sarcastic banter between the protagonist and a witheringly scornful AI compatriot, a theatrical dialogue that explores a far-flung society in which scarcity has been abolished but mass class distinction still exists.”
See the rest of our picks for best games of 2017. 

The book to read

Zinzi Clemmons, What We Lose


“Zinzi Clemmons uses a poetic style, rich imagery, and fervent introspection to delve deep into the heart of racial divides, economic guilt, and the severe desperation of loss in her debut novel, What We Lose. The story not only thematically and structurally changes the usual story of loss, but also highlights a hardened subject matter with new and original attention. Thandi, a young woman growing up on the East Coast, struggles to find balance in her life after the slow and heartbreaking death of her South African mother. In her journey to accept that which is beyond loss, Thandi searches for who she has become and what is left when nothing else seems to remain.”
Read the rest of our review here.

The TV show to watch


“Jim Brockmire needs a win, a drink, and a penicillin booster, probably in the opposite order. Played by Hank Azaria, the eponymous character of IFC’s Brockmire is a disgraced play-by-play man who fell off the face of the earth after the discovery of his wife’s infidelity bled its way into his call of a professional ball game. He reemerges in Morristown, Pennsylvania, an economically depressed notch on the Rust Belt staking its comeback to one of two American institutions: the energy concern that’s fracking the hell out of the shale beneath the town, and the local minor league baseball team that rebranded itself in honor of the new local vocation.”
Read the rest of our review here.


The album to listen to

The Horrors, V

“With their fifth album, The Horrors delivered their best batch of songs to date, a further refinement of the formula—Simple Minds-esque new wave meets baggy Madchester meets shoegaze psychedelia—that the British group has been perfecting ever since 2011’s Skying officially shrugged off the group’s gothic, shriek-punk origins. These songs are also their biggest: There isn’t a moment on V that doesn’t sound tailored for arena stages (where the group’s lately been playing with Depeche Mode, an obvious influence on roiling industrial cuts like ‘Machine’), yet minus the pomposity that so many groups tend to affect at that level.”
Read the rest of our review here.


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