What we’ll be listening to, watching, and reading to sate our pop culture needs.
We’re Wild for this weekend’s picks—a bit of pop culture comfort following two weeks of bad news.
Ever since we finished reading Cheryl Strayed’s powerful page-turner of a memoir about the death of her mother and her life-changing hike on the Pacific Coast Trail, we’ve been chomping at the bit to see it on the silver screen. Okay, so we didn’t imagine America’s sweetheart Reese Witherspoon (who also produced Wild) in the lead role, but she kills it, bringing to life the pain and regret and triumph of the real world Cheryl, who co-wrote the script (with Nick Hornby). After this week, we need a tale of hard-won victory.
Yes, Wishin’ and Hopin’ is a Lifetime movie based on a Wally Lamb book, which could be considered two strikes against it, but the film features Molly Ringwald and we’ll happily watch anything starring this redhead hall-of-famer. In it she plays Madame Frenchette, a substitute teacher who breathes some life into a 1960s fifth-grade class via a Christmas pageant she helps them prepare for. Plus: SNL alum Cheri Oteri plays a nun at the parochial school, so it has to be funny.
Even a queen needs help sometimes, and on The London Sessions, R&B royalty Mary J. Blige gets it from up-and-coming songwriters and producers like Sam Smith and Naughty Boy. The collection mixes ballads and bangers, all dripping with the soul that only Blige’s vocals can bring.
“I just want to meet a guy I like as much as you, is that too much to ask?” Gillian Jacobs’s character Paige says to her lesbian BFF Sasha early on in this female friendship–centered indie. Of course, then she does—a dermatologist played by Adam Brody at his cutest/nerdiest—and the intimate plutonic relationship the women share is thrown out of balance as they grow up and away from one another. The details of their splintering relationship ring painfully true in Life Partners, and co-writers Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz, real-life besties, obviously had some experiences to draw from. A brief appearance by SNL–wonder woman Kate McKinnon, as one of Paige’s bad dates, is a terrific bonus.
Though this book, about the farcical nature of our “post-racial” society, came out nearly three years ago, it’s time to pick it back up, and for those of us who haven’t read it, pore over this brilliant book for the first time. In The New Jim Crow civil rights litigator Michelle Alexander explains how America’s caste system didn’t end with slavery, it’s just taken a new form with the help of our Prison Industrial Complex and its target of Black men. This is necessary reading for right now.
This year marks Yo La Tengo’s 30-year anniversary and Painful is a perfect way to celebrate. The trio—Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew—create the music indie rock dreams are made of and this album hits all their high notes. Lush compositions, ethereal vocals, and just the right amount of reverb on these 11 tracks will make you hope YLT is around for another three decades.
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