What we'll be listening to, watching, and reading to sate our pop culture needs.
A neo-soul singer, a YA movie directed by Melanie Laurent, and two art world novels make up this weekend’s ice cream sundae of delicious culture. The Emmys are just the cherry on top.
We’ve loved Melanie Laurent in front of the camera, as a master of revenge in Inglourious Bastards and the perfect brooding match to Ewan McGregor’s commitment-phobic romantic in Beginners. It turns out we love her behind the camera too. The French actress directed Breathe, and co-wrote the screenplay, an adaptation of Anne-Sophie Brasme’s young adult novel of the same name, which follows the intense friendship of two high school girls. Charlie is a bright and studious senior; Sarah is a wild card transfer student who upends Charlie’s world, especially when she reveals the secret she’s been harboring. But the real secret Breathe reveals, is that Laurent is as adept behind the scenes of a film as she is at starring in one.
Poet, memoirist, and longtime editor at W.W. Norton, Jill Bialosky turns to fiction for her latest work, with a soul-searching novel set within the inner workings of the NYC art world. Edward Darby lives in the memory of his deceased father, a Romantic poet whose ideologies also motivate the protagonist to curate the most moving art he can. This turns out to be the 9/11-inspired paintings of Agnes Murray. But it’s life’s small moments that Bialosky finds her own inspiration in, painting the mundane experiences of the everyday with a naturally poetic insight.
It might have been Simon Cowell and the U.K.’s X Factor that originally propelled Leona Lewis to stardom, but her fifth album, I Am (her first on Island Def Jam) is a declaration of independence, and a welcome one. The record, a vehicle for Lewis’s powerhouse voice, has a neo-Motown sound that harkens to another British super-singer, but adds enough EDM elements to let it stand outside of Adele’s shadow. If this is who Leona Lewis is, we like it.
We’ll be sitting TV-side Sunday night for this year’s Emmy Awards, hosted by Brooklyn Nine-Nine star and (hopefully) funny guy Andy Samberg. Will Amy Schumer continue her world domination by winning Outstanding Actress in Comedy? Will Elisabeth Moss take home an Outstanding Actress in Drama statue for her Mad Men swan song? With all the fantastic women nominated, it’s pretty much a win-win for those of us watching (as long as Samberg doesn’t pull a Seth McFarlane on us).
The Mexico-born Valeria Luiselli writes most often in Spanish, but with this translation of her latest novel, The Story of My Teeth, a U.S. audience is in for a treat, a disorienting one that swings between truth and fabrication as wildly as its unreliable narrator. Another work of fiction based in the art world, the story follows Gustavo Sánchez Sánchez, aka Highway, a retired auctioneer who lives in an industrial suburb of Mexico City. Highway holds an auction to benefit a local church, selling his own extracted teeth as works of art, the story behind each more unbelievable than the last. Sound strange? It only gets wonderfully weirder from there.
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