There’s only one person on the cover of Selena Gomez’s new album, but the liner notes list 37 other songwriters and producers. That includes Scandinavian production teams, Charli XCX, and the guy who got “Good for You” ready for A$AP Rocky. This is the village that it took to make the 16-track deluxe edition of the pop starlet’s Revival.
Terry O’Neill’s new book, Two Days That Rocked the World: Elton John Live at Dodger Stadium, documents the rock superstar’s October 1975 career-peak concerts. But the photographer didn’t know at the time that John was about to enter a valley. “He used to go onstage and give absolutely everything,” says O’Neill, talking about the photograph seen here of John having just woken up in his bed aboard his private plane. “I found out that he’d tried to kill himself not long after these shows. He was spent. Those days were fab, but there was a dark side to it all.”
Remember when the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer first came out? Everything seemed copacetic, but then there was that backward slice of the fandom that was wondering why John Boyega's Stormtrooper character, Finn, was black. (Some close-minded commenters insisted the Stormtroopers had to be an army of all-white clones.) Boyega initially responded to the racist questioning and disapproval with a succinct "Get used to it," on Instagram. But in a recent interview with V Magazine, the actor elaborated, saying, "[The negativity] was unnecessary ... I'm in the movie, what are you going to do about it? You either enjoy it or you don't. I'm not saying get used to the future, but what is already happening. People of color and women are increasingly being shown on-screen. For things to be whitewashed just doesn’t make sense."
"I wonder what vomit with vibrato would sound like?" said no one ever. Until now. Here that is, along with The Terminator, The Exorcist, and Se7en like you've never seen (or heard) them before:
The structure is ingenious: three plainly demarcated, 45-minute acts set in 1984, 1988, and 1998, each building to a momentous product launch and a seminal moment in the life of Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender). It’s Aaron Sorkin’s way of turning Steve Jobs into a theatrical tour de force, compressing the exposition in Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography to the point that it boils—and nearly boils over.
The first act is a thing of beauty and the second good enough. Shame about that third act, though, and the ending that retroactively diminishes everything that preceded it. Steve Jobs could be a study in what's wrong with a mainstream cinema that venerates celebrity above all and locates the tragedy of American life in the absence of good dads.
As The Walking Dead has shown over the years, there's no dearth of methods for vanquishing a zombie. You can smash them, slice them, tear them to pieces, blow them away, or do some
overly-gratuitous tasteful combination of all the above. As a reminder, Fast Company decided to compile the most inventive (read: cringeworthy) of the show's kills thus far. Warning: What follows is definitely not for the fainthearted. If you can, enjoy (and I guess take notes — yes, you can totally used another zombie's head as a mallet! — if you believe this kind of apocalypse is inevitable):
As part of a BBC Radio 1 residency mix, James Blake unveiled a beautifully tragic cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence" on Thursday. "When Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel wrote this, they said ... it was about the breakdown of communication," Blake explained. "One New Year's Eve I had a friend of mine sadly pass away, and previous to that, the things he had been saying to me sounded like an attempt to reach out to people. I thought that after that happened this seemed to be the only song that could represent how I felt at the time." The cover (dedicated to his friend) speaks for itself.
New York Comic Con kicked off this morning, and the Javits Center was already brimming by the time fans filed into see The Final Girls actress Malin Akerman and director Todd Strauss-Schulson chat about their surprisingly meta horror film, which opens in limited release and on demand October 9. Taissa Farmiga and Akerman lead a strong cast, with Farmiga playing Max, a teen reeling from the loss of her mom, and Ackerman serving as both her late mom and the character her mom played in an ’80s slasher movie. Like we said, heady stuff. Here are seven highlights from the panel.
The drug-addict mother, the fictional son, the defective airplane parts: Secrets are at the core of many great American plays. Sometimes they are secrets kept by one character from the others, or from the outer world; the drama is in the revelation of what the audience already knows. Other times, though, the audience is the dupe, the playwright springing his secret like a sex toy to juice up the proceedings. (I’m looking at you, Neil LaBute.) One of the mysterious achievements of Sam Shepard’s 1983 play Fool for Love, only now having its Broadway debut, is the way it combines these two seemingly incompatible modes of withholding in a story whose point is the huge damage caused by a lack of information. When the withholding and revelation are handled as adroitly as they are in Daniel Aukin’s terrific staging for the Manhattan Theatre Club, Fool for Love acquires the force of Greek tragedy — one Greek tragedy in particular.
“I regret all of [the deaths] and none of them at the same time. It’s harder with the show because the actors are involved and they’re like good people – most of them,” Robert Kirkman said to at-capacity audience at New York Comic-Con on Thursday. “Everyone but Norman [Reedus].” Kirkman was speaking with Nerdist’s Dan Casey about the entire Walking Dead universe – the comics, the novels, the video game, and of course, the show, which returns for its sixth season on Sunday. From the jump, Casey tried to get some juicy news out of Kirkman like, for instance, if we would see the big baddie Negan, leader of the Saviors, entering the show. “Are people excited about Negan?” Kirkman demurred. “I think it would be very cool if Negan were to be introduced into the show. I don’t know when that would happen though.” He paused and added, “I do, but I can’t say.”
Amazon’s new comedy Red Oaks is so likable, I wish I liked it more.
Overseen by filmmaker David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express), with episodes directed by Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Hal Hartley (Trust), and Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL), it's about an incoming college sophomore named David (Craig Roberts of Submarine) who spends the summer of 1985 working as an assistant tennis pro at Red Oaks, a New Jersey country club with a mostly Jewish clientele. Like the main character of another current '80s comedy, ABC's The Goldbergs, David wants to be a filmmaker, an ambition that contradicts the wishes of his father, Sam (Richard Kind), who suffers a (thankfully not too severe) heart attack in the pilot's first scene and spends the rest of the series recovering. "There are a lot of wealthy people who are gonna remember you down the road when they pay you to do their taxes," he tells David, which doesn't set the young Scorsese-wannabe's own heart racing.
Matthew Knowles — father and former manager of Beyoncé, current manager of the defunct Destiny's Child, and man who earns no money when Beyoncé reunites with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams and doesn't refer it as "Destiny's Child" — will be teaching a one-day workshop called "The Entertainment Industry: How Do I Get In?" on October 24 at the Hobby Center in Houston, Texas.
Here's what the $199 course for "aspiring singers, dancers, composers, writers, producers, managers, publicists, attorneys, business managers and all other entertainment industry hopefuls" will probably look like:
Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature this morning. I underestimated her, and it cost me. Alexievich is a Belarusian journalist whose oral histories have chronicled upheavals in the Soviet and post-Soviet spheres: War’s Unwomanly Face, about the role of Soviet women in World War II; The Last Witnesses, about children in the same war; Grozny Boys, about the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan; Enchanted With Death, about suicides after the fall of the Soviet Union. For years, Belarus’s government had expelled her from the country, but she returned to live in Minsk in 2011. Her books have sold millions of copies in Russian. Four of them have appeared in English, most recently Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, published by Dalkey Archive Press in 2005. Today I spoke to its translator, Keith Gessen, an old friend of mine who’s also a novelist, founder of n+1, former book critic for New York, and translator of other writing in Russian, including the poet Kirill Medvedev and the fiction writer Lyudmila Petrushevskaya.
Back in October 2012, when Kacy Hill was just 18 years old, she packed up her old Honda Civic and drove to Los Angeles from Arizona looking for more exciting times. She found a place on Craigslist and overpaid to sleep in the living room. She was unsure of how she was going to make any money, but caught a break modeling for American Apparel. By the time I met the girl with the ghostly falsetto at midtown Manhattan's Gibson Studio this week, her former employer had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But unlike some of the more sordid tales we’ve come to learn about the company's history, Hill’s time at American Apparel is marked by its fortuitous segue, after a year of work, into a gig as a backup dancer on Kanye West’s Yeezus Tour, followed by a record deal with Ye's Def Jam subsidiary G.O.O.D. Music in 2014. Today, Vulture is premiering Kacy Hill's debut EP Bloo, a compact collection of songs and remixes that embody her quick transition from West Coast no-name to one of the year’s most promising new artists.
At the Twilight 10th-anniversary panel at New York Comic-Con, Stephenie Meyer spilled the beans on Life and Death, her brand-new gender-flipped rewrite of the YA classic. "The idea came from answering questions at book signings," Meyer revealed. "People would always say Bella is a damsel in distress, when she's actually just a human in a world full of superheroes. Can you lift a car over your head?" At first, her publisher just wanted her to write a "wistful forward" about how the book had changed her life, but, Meyer said, "The more I thought about it, I thought that would be so sappy. I wanted to make it more fun."
Meyer has heard the criticisms that she'd just done a simple "find-and-replace" on her characters' names, and she agrees that the project should not be considered a brand-new original book. "Everyone is saying this is not a new book, and I know," she says. "This is totally bonus material." Still, Meyer argues the ease of the transition proves that her tropes weren't as gendered as her critics claim. "It was like a science experiment," she said. "At the end, you have to go back and ask, Was your hypothesis correct? And it was! The essential action beats of the story are unchanged."
Vin Diesel's latest film, The Last Witch Hunter, isn't due out till October 23, but you can listen to Ciara's new song from the soundtrack now. For the film, the not-so-elusive chanteuse serves up a haunting, soulful rendition of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black." Though the song wasn't on Ciara's radar before Universal approached her, she told Rolling Stone, "[the song] was actually a sound I've always wanted to play with, and it just didn't get any better than being able to cover a Rolling Stones song. I feel like it pushes the edge and the limit for me, in reference to what people probably expect from me. So this was so many cool things in one. It was a huge honor, and then creatively I just got to really have some fun that I don't usually do in my music."
The dark track should strike fear into the hearts of all Futurehive members.
Go grab a piece of cherry pie to console yourself. As if Twin Peaks fans needed more bad news: It's been confirmed that Michael Ontkean will not be reprising his role as Harry S. Truman, the soft-spoken and unlucky-with-love sheriff of the kooky Washington town, for the show's upcoming revival on Showtime. According to TVLine, someone close to the actor says that “Michael is fully retired from show business, and has been for many years," ruling out any potential creative differences for the lack of involvement. It's confirmed that the role of Truman will instead be recast, with current rumors that veteran actor Robert Forster will fill the role (who, interestingly enough, was supposedly David Lynch's original choice for Truman during the show's initial run). But let's remember the good times, shall we? Look at these Bookhouse Boys, d'awwwww:
When first we checked in on Furious 8's search for a director, Universal was wary of Vin Diesel taking the job himself. And when we last checked in, Diesel was promising to reveal the choice on his Facebook page, leading to fears that he would indeed pull a Dick Cheney. Now THR reports that's unlikely to be the case, as the studio has landed on Straight Outta Compton's F. Gary Gray for the gig. Gray was one of three filmmakers short-listed for the job alongside The Transporter's Louis Leterrier and You're Next's Adam Wingard; his filmography also includes A Man Apart with Vin Diesel and The Italian Job with Jason Statham. It's like he was part of the family already.
There are a variety of jobs in this economy (in this economy?!). Some jobs have music playing over a speaker, which probably means you’re working at a restaurant (yummy!). Some jobs drag and demand you listen to music that's as upbeat as possible (as coke-line stains on desks are no longer de rigueur). Some jobs allow you an opportunity to listen to a podcast, a fact that constantly amazes this writer (what could they possibly be doing all day? Filing? Is it really just eight hours of filing and "Radiolab" archives?). Some of us, who spend a lot of time with words for work, are forced to go instrumental (because you can’t be writing an obit and accidentally slip the word Tubthumping in there). Personally, as I find jazz too jazzy, this means minimal movie scores, like Arcade Fire’s one for Her or Explosions in the Sky’s one for Prince Avalanche. Until now!!!
As of today, I am adding Chris Walla’s Tape Loops to my rotation. The second solo album from the former Death Cab for Cutie instrumentalist is perfectly atmospheric, loosely packed with piano chords and faint textures. Made by using a tape machine to layer sliced analog tape together, the result sounds like Brian Eno walking through a snowy Scandinavian forest. I’m sorry if that last sentence almost put you to sleep, but it’s good to know that Tape Loops is a super-chill record, ideal if that’s the headspace you are looking for between the hours of nine and five. Take it from me: I listened to it while writing this post! You can stream the album (via NPR) below. The album is out October 16.
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