Beach House, 7
“ is ruled by an aggressively capricious energy that cuts some songs off abruptly (‘Lemon Glow,’ ‘Girl Of The Year’), redirects others at whim (‘Dive’), and lets others accumulate and wash away slowly (‘Black Car,’ ‘Last Ride’). The roar of deadpanned, shoegaze-y opener ‘Dark Spring’ for example, evaporates suddenly for the sludge ballad ‘Pay No Mind,’ before the 808 groove of near-banger ‘Lemon Glow’ creeps in to pick up the pace again. The breathtaking ‘L’Inconnue,’ the first of [Beach House’s] songs to feature French lyrics by Paris-born Legrand, begins with gently rippling harmonies á la Depression Cherry’s heavenly ‘Days Of Candy,’ then turns toward a Beach House go-to: jamming overlapping parts (here including haunting, metamorphic wails from Legrand) to the fade-out.”
Read the rest of our review of 7.
“Looking back at rape-revenge films produced during the genre’s heyday in the 1970s—not coincidentally, also the decade that gave rise to the women’s liberation movement—there’s one simple question that provides endless insight into a title’s intent and impact: Does it focus more on the rape, or on the revenge? The structure of this particular subspecies of exploitation is so elemental, requiring little more than ‘woman gets raped, then kills her attacker(s),’ that the films serve as empty vessels for their creators’ attitudes about women, violence, and power. Revenge director Coralie Fargeat is very conscious about this dynamic in her debut feature, which stays faithful to the grindhouse spirit while subverting it with an unapologetically aggressive female gaze.”
Read the rest of our review of Revenge.
“[Benedict] Cumberbatch is great as Patrick Melrose, a role he specifically sought out… Cumberbatch slips and slinks into hotel rooms, restaurant chairs, and bathtubs, a man overwhelmed by the luxurious spaces he occupies, themselves a stark reminder of his privileged, violent upbringing and his current excesses. Part Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, part Barton Fink, [pilot] ‘Bad News’ is a fascinating introduction to the series and this world. It boasts all the hallmarks of a drug-fueled odyssey, and yet it never feels rote or familiar, and that’s because of Cumberbatch. His performance lends Patrick a lot of empathy, which is necessary for a story that, despite the bright colors of the visual palette and the surreal and often funny presence of outsized characters, is so incredibly dark.”
Read the rest of our review of Patrick Melrose.
Decoder Ring, “The Laff Box”
“If every episode of Decoder Ring, the new Slate podcast from TV critic Willa Paskin, is as detailed, affectionate, and engaging as this one, it’ll rightly become a hit in a real damn hurry. The concept is simple: Paskin explores a specific question or artifact from the pop cultural landscape, putting it in context, examining its history, and asking what it means and why it matters. Up first: the laugh track. In under half an hour, Paskin covers a lot of ground, from the origins of ‘the Laff Box’ to its demise, reviewing the technical way it was produced and the substitutes we might use in its absence… It’s an episode that’s personal and historical, like falling down a Wikipedia wormhole while having a fascinating conversation—an auspicious beginning, to say the least.”
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts in Podmass.
Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, and Msassyk, Isola
“The name of Studio Ghibli co-founder, Hayao Miyazaki, is constantly brought up by comic creators when they need a shorthand for describing a specific blend of spectacle and emotion in their work, but the comparison is appropriate in the case of the new Image Comics series, Isola. Co-written by Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl with art by Kerschl and Msassyk, Isola takes readers to a lush fantasy land where a lone soldier is tasked with protecting her queen, who has been transformed into a blue tiger to escape her enemies.”
Read the rest of our review of Isola.
“With players always expecting sequels to bring something bigger and newer, most series would be afraid to spend their intricate seven-game story in a single place, but Yakuza’s everlasting Kamurocho shows the value of that kind of devotion. The district is allowed to have an arc of its own, its layout always remaining the same even while its citizens and businesses change with the times. And unlike the eye-glazing urban sprawls of other open-world favorites, Kamurocho’s limited scope makes memorizing its streets and landmarks an inevitable part of playing.”
Read the rest of our thoughts on Yakuza 6.