Three staffers, three unabashed recommendations.
I realize there are other implications in referring to Magic Mike XXL as a feel-good movie, but with nearly daily dispatches about the impending apocalypse, I don’t care how my escapism is perceived right now. I mean, I’m not going to pretend that the movie isn’t full of beautiful men cavorting. This Channing Tatum-led sequel features plenty of that, but it’s also a delightful, low-stakes road trip movie. Friendships are mended, people get shit-faced, and some of the most elaborate stripteases are performed by Tatum and his co-stars Joe Manganiello, Adam Rodriguez, and Matt Bomer. (The fifth amigo, Kevin Nash, really just stands there.) Throw in Jada Pinkett Smith’s imperious performance as Rome, who has a very inclusive policy at her club, and Donald Glover’s singing, and you’ve got solid weekend afternoon of “just take my mind off of crap” viewing. Tatum has also used Magic Mike XXL as a springboard for a kind of “woke” exploration of desire that goes beyond a hetero man’s point of view, which I support. Although youthful, hard bodies remain the focus of the film, plenty of other body types and ages are also held up as desirable. [Danette Chavez]
Following the enamel pin boom of the past couple of years, embroidered patches seem to be having a moment, which works for me because I was always losing the backs of those pins anyway. On that note, Sweden-based Etsy seller Jenni’s Prints has some excellent options for sporting your personal aesthetic and/or pop culture fandom on your chest (or sleeve). She’s got a whole Twin Peaks line—including a replica Twin Peaks sheriff’s department patch—but my favorite is the oversized back patch replicating the “Hell” portion of Hieronymus Bosch’s famous 16th-century triptych The Garden Of Earthly Delights. It just screams, “I took art history, but I also dig lron Maiden,” sewn on the back of a denim vest. [Katie Rife]
North Korea is both a paranoid and alluring country. For the last half century, it has operated essentially as a sovereign nuclear bunker, with nothing going in or out, save for threats from its leader, Kim Jong Un, or the “Rocket Man,” as our president likes to mock. Under three generations of the totalitarian Kim regime, North Korean society has mostly been devoid of outside influence, its citizens isolated from the rest of the world physically, technologically, and culturally. In Made In North Korea: Graphics From Everyday Life In The DPRK (Phaidon), Nicholas Bonner has assembled a fascinating collection of graphic ephemera from the country—everything from comic books to canned sardine wrappers and airsick bags to cigarette boxes. Steeped in Cold War-era Communist iconography and antiquated fonts, this coffee-table book reveals a country with a design aesthetic frozen in 1950s amber, and much of it is enchanting and beautiful to behold. [Kevin Pang]