What we'll be listening to, watching, and reading to sate our pop culture needs.
A movie that respectfully looks at the realities of pregnancy? A mainstream reality show that features a trans woman? This weekend’s pop culture’s got all sorts of breakthroughs. Plus a surreally feminist book to read and an electro-pop album to dance to. Don’t say we never did anything for you.
This heartwarming indie starring Cobie Smulders as a high-school teacher dealing with a surprise pregnancy at the same time as one of her students, has the blessing of Planned Parenthood and actually addresses pregnancy, and the impending life changes of motherhood, in all of its complexities and consequences. Written and directed by Kris Swanberg, and based loosely on her own experiences, Unexpected doesn’t center on Smulders’s character’s relationship with her partner, but rather her student, and the unlikely friendship they form. It just might be the “she’s having a baby” movie we’ve been waiting for.
Yes, Caitlyn Jenner’s public transition isn’t without its issues, but the I Am Cait premiere on Sunday night marks what will hopefully be a huge step for the acceptance and understanding of what it means to be a trans person in our culture today. If this clip is any indication, Caitlyn has an urgent sense of how powerful her platform is, and we’re interested to see just how she uses it.
Laurie Foos has a knack for the surreal with a side of feminism (her first novel Ex Utero centered on a woman who lost her uterus at a shopping mall), and her latest book continues that trajectory. With six narrators—three mothers and their 15-year-old daughters—The Blue Girl tells the story of an idyllic lakeside town and a girl with blue skin and hair like lightning bolts who mysteriously arrives one day. The women of the town bake her moon pies, filled as much with the secrets of their domestic life despairs as pastry cream, and that’s when things begin to change.
This indie electro-pop duo (perhaps best known for their amazing 2010 album of Hall & Oates covers) is thankfully once again dishing out those hook-heavy gems after a five-year hiatus. On Recreational Love, vocalist Inara George (who also sings her heart out in The Living Sisters) and keyboardist/producer Greg Kurstin are as catchy as ever, with nods to funk, R&B, and straight-up pop, like a bag of candy for your ears.
Sophie Deraspe’s documentary takes on the strange case of Amina Abdallah Arraf Al Omari, a Syrian lesbian who was actually anything but. The film treats it as a mystery, but anyone with any awareness of the news knows [spoiler alert!] that Amina, who gained a huge following documenting the trials of her community, was a persona created by Tom MacMaster, a straight American living in Scotland. A Gay Girl in Damascus examines this extreme case of political and romantic (Amina had a serious online relationship with a woman in Montreal) catfishing with a blend of cinematic reenactments and informative interviews.
It’s not just about the stories. Journalism is also about who is telling them.
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