What we’ll be listening to, watching, and reading to sate our pop culture needs.
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Whether you fancy some drama (The Honorable Woman), an emotional laugh (Happy Christmas), or just good ol’ fashioned dance music (La Roux), we’ve got you covered.
In the ’90s Kim Shattuck was one of the reigning queens of punk-pop, wreaking havoc with her band The Muffs (their cover of “Kids in America” left an indelible print on the decade’s soundtrack with its appearance in Clueless). And after a 10-year hiatus, they’re back with Whoop De Doo. Shattuck, thankfully, hasn’t lost any of her angst, or her surly vocals (like Courtney Love with an extra dose of twee). A mix of ’60s girl group, ’90s alt-nostalgia, and pure punk pop, Whoop is a welcome return.
Anna Kendrick stars in the latest from prolific actor/writer/director Joe Swanberg (“Drinking Buddies”) as Jenny, the aimless, irresponsible, sometimes–party girl who comes to live with her brother Jeff, his wife (played by the always excellent Melanie Lynskey), and the couple’s 2-year-old kid in Chicago. Happy Christmas is typical Swanberg—he likes to let his films unfold, letting the actors improvise and the camera catch what it may—a realistic tale spinning hilarity and woe. Lena Dunham is, unsurprisingly, especially adept at this as Jenny’s BFF in a movie that delves into female friendship and gender roles as much as it does familial relations.
TV is the place for big, juicy roles for women right now, and The Honorable Woman provides just that for Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays Nessa Stein, a woman taking over her father’s Zionist arms-dealing business in this eight-part political thriller miniseries. Premiering on BBC this week (and Sundance next), we’ll be riveted as Stein faces investigation by British intelligence, not to mention all the dangers inherent in her line of work, particularly poignant as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to flare.
Yes, Like No Other is a young adult novel. And no, we will not be ashamed for loving it. Journalist Una LaMarche’s tale of forbidden love between an ultra-orthodox heroine, 16-year-old Devorah, and Jaxon, the West Indian boy she falls for, is a page-turning read that delves into the intensity of teenage passion, the race relations of the Brooklyn neighborhood it’s set in, and the dawning unfairness Devorah faces as a Hasidic girl. It’s a coming-of-age story with a whole lot of layers.
Elly Jackson, the main entity behind La Roux, was only 21 in 2009 when her debut La Roux was released, lighting up the earbuds of synth-pop lovers everywhere. Since then she’s lived some life—acrimoniously splitting with her producer Ben Langmaid, finishing Trouble In Paradise with engineer Ian Sherwin—and you can hear it. But Trouble, despite its greater depth of emotion, actually sounds more like fun—disco-tinged club numbers, funk-infused dance tracks, and just enough ’80s reverence to make you break out the Aqua Net.
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