What we’ll be listening to, watching, and reading to sate our pop culture needs.
This weekend we’ll be happy Being a Bad Feminist, especially since it involves new music from Montreal’s wonderful weirdo Mozart’s Sister and Roxane Gay’s new book of essays. We’ve also got Helen Mirren on the big screen, singing comedians Garfunkel & Oates on the small one, and a novel that will transport you to post-war Brooklyn through the keen eyes of plucky heroine Wally Baker.
Thanks to this new show from IFC, which premiered on Thursday night, we finally get our favorite musical-comedy duo, Garfunkel & Oates, for more than the length of one of their bitingly funny songs (see: “Pregnant Women Are Smug”). Furthering comedy’s current state of incredible girlness—Inside Amy Schumer, Broad City—but in the musical vein of Flight of the Conchords, Ricki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are masters of the deadpan joke and guitar-backed hilarity, coyly making fun of everything from dating to hand jobs in this kookier version of their real-life, best-friend selves.
It’s been a banner year for Salon essayist and Rumpus editor Roxane Gay—her urgently moving novel An Untamed State made its brilliant debut in May and now we get Bad Feminist, sharp commentary that touches on crucial social issues that range from light-hearted (“Blurred Lines”) to incredibly heavy (Trayvon Martin). With each essay—like “Not Here to Make Friends” which takes us from a note she received from a classmate in high school to an examination of whether female characters must be likeable—Gay deftly unpacks the many complicated facets of living as a fierce feminist in this modern-day mess, accepting its contradictions and celebrating our flaws.
In these days of homogenous pop, weirdness is a virtue and this new album from Mozart’s Sister, the project of Montreal-based Caila Thompson-Hannant, is an appealing celebration of quirk, full of knob-twisting, ample sampling, and bedroom beats. On Being, Thompson-Hannant delves into electronica with an inspiring inventiveness like a less-frenetic Tune-Yards and a more light-hearted Grimes, with songs that unfold further with every listen.
As Madame Mallory, a snooty chef warring with the Indian family running a restaurant across the street in their insular French village, the incomparable Helen Mirren is worth the price of admission for this new movie from the director of Chocolat. Full of mouth-watering food porn and offering a predictably heart-warming narrative, The Hundred-Foot Journey is a joint production from Steven Spielberg and Oprah—the perfect combo of moviemaking magic and sap.
This wonderfully New York novel by Elizabeth Gaffney begins with a turreted mansion in Brooklyn Heights, and the young girl, Wally Baker, whose grandparents live there. As she celebrates the end of World War II with the local neighborhood kids, everything is about to change, and we change too as Wally deals with her mother’s emotional instability, her father’s return from the war, and later, her decision to study the at-the-time very unladylike world of entomology at Barnard and the Museum of Natural History, and her love of an artist in the Village that her father disapproves of. It’s a post-war tale as much about New York City and woven around a poignant timeline of events, with a supporting cast of characters as unique and memorable as Wally herself.
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