Hereditary
Photo: A24

The movie to watch

Hereditary

“It’s a supremely effective gauntlet of supernatural horror that’s also, at its blackened heart, a grueling domestic drama about how trauma, resentment, and guilt can seep into the roots of a family tree, rotting it from the inside out. So much of the film’s spooky power belongs to [Toni] Collette. She’s been down this darkened street before, having played a mother mourning her own mother while raising a child who sees dead people. But she digs much deeper in Hereditary, not just leaning into the full, volcanic agony of Annie’s grief—a force as possessive, in a manner of speaking, as any invading spirit—but also complicating it with conflicting notes of bitter fury, wavering affection, and even dark humor.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The show to watch

The Staircase

The Staircase eschews narration entirely and uses interviews sparingly, resulting in episodes that consist mostly of long, uninterrupted scenes of [Michael] Peterson’s well-paid legal team, led by attorney David Rudolf, joking and talking strategy; attorneys presenting evidence and cross-examining it in court; and Peterson and his college-aged children discussing the trial with their friends and each other. At times, for the casual viewer of the genre, this approach may feel excessively drawn out, even numbing. But not only is it heaven for armchair detectives who thrive on detail, but it’s also one of the subtle ways [Jean-Xavier] de Lestrade puts his stamp on the series.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The video game to play

Vampyr

“The designers at Dontnod, who previously helmed the beloved time-travel adventure Life Is Strange, have created a uniquely ambitious RPG—although it’s ambitious in ways that entirely buck expectation. Whereas all modern design conventions demand shiny graphics and clean, satisfying combat, often at the expense of writing, Vampyr goes in the exact opposite direction. It’s a richly mechanical literary experiment of wildly malevolent intentions, but you’ll have to work to uncover its charms.”
Read the rest of our review here.

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The book to read

Lauren Groff, Florida

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“While [Lauren Groff’s] first collection, Delicate Edible Birds, was filled with narratives that spanned decades and showed characters growing up, falling in love, and making defining friendships, Florida is a series of more focused vignettes, with many stories spanning just a single night or weekend, leaving the rest of what happens to the reader’s imagination... Groff’s prose seamlessly drifts between the pressures of the moment—howling winds and empty bellies—and the circumstances that led her characters to their perilous situations. She splashes in just a moment of life on the other side of these dangers before moving on.”
Read the rest of our review here.


The podcast to listen to

30 For 30 Podcasts

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“Reported and produced by [Julia Lowrie] Henderson over the course of nearly two years, season three’s investigation of Bikram Choudhury’s controversial yoga fitness revolution would not be possible without her narrative prowess. The series spends minimal time on the more athletic aspects of this intense yoga practice and instead focuses on its charismatic leader in telling the story that might best resonate with listeners in the modern era: the toxic masculinity that led Bikram yoga from its burgeoning boom beginning in the 1970s to its current bust amid sexual assault allegations.”
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts here.


The album to listen to

Zeal & Ardor, Stranger Fruit

“On the thrilling Stranger Fruit, elements of gospel and the blues coil like twisted roots around the album’s tallest pillars of fury, resulting in anthems at once heavier and more soulful than the ‘Satanic spirituals’ on last year’s Devil Is Fine. The project’s mastermind, Manuel Gagneux, can shift on a dime from a Deep South croon to a Norwegian howl. There’s fire, too, in his lyrics, which drip with menace: ‘You can’t run, you can’t hide,’ he insists on ominous lead single ‘Gravedigger’s Chant’—the first of many warnings about life in America, circa 1860 or 2018.”
Read about the rest of the week’s albums here.

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