Weekend Guide

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The Weekend Guide: April 29-May 1

VIVA from Magnolia PicturesHéctor Medina in VIVA, a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

SEE: VIVA
Exploring the complicated codes of machismo and gay culture in a destitute but transitioning sector of Havana, VIVA is both a touching and harsh film. Jesus, a gay hairdresser, pursues his drag star dreams while hustling on the side. His father, Angel, returns from a stint in prison and forcefully sets himself up in Jesus’s home and life. As they struggle to reconcile, Mama, an aging queen, offers tough warmth and protection to both men.

Eva Hesse
German-American sculptor Eva Hesse died of a brain tumor at just 34. But her short life contained more hardship and success than most. Escaping the Holocaust, Hesse came to the U.S., where she studied at Yale. This documentary explores her artwork and journals to show an accomplished young artist celebrated by her Conceptual artist peers and committed to her craft as she confronted adversity and ultimately death.

READ: Golden Delicious by Christopher Boucher
Appleseed, Massachusetts, is the town that metafiction built. When the economy begins to rot, due to a blight of bookworms that burrow into the residents’ very meaning, the young narrator finds his own life and that of those he loves upended. Boucher’s strange story is referentially so. Prepare to meet Reader and question the very act of literature as you consume this book.

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Culture Film & Television

The Weekend Guide: April 22-24

Tom Hiddleston stars in The Night Manager on AMCSEE: The Night Manager on AMC and online
Travel the world on an epic espionage assignment crafted by legendary spy novelist John le Carré. Tom Hiddleston stars as Jonathan Pine, a hotel manager recruited to thwart an international arms dealer played by the suavely villainous Hugh Laurie. Visually, the six-part series is stunning, whisking viewers off to exotic locales. But the cast and plot of this adaptation will be the true cause of your binge-watching.

READ: Approval Junkie: Adventures in Caring Too Much by Faith Salie
A kind of self-help book that reads like a comedic monologue, Approval Junkie explores the hilarious lengths one woman will go to gain admiration and affection. Salie’s book isn’t a sad sack’s memoir but a humorous and vulnerable work by an accomplished TV (CBS News) and radio host (NPR), one plagued by perfectionism and a relatable if sometimes perverse need for validation.

GET: Miu Miusic at the App Store
Miu Miu’s app is an image-driven music service curated by DJ Frédéric Sanchez that takes listeners through kaleidoscopic graphics of fashion. Select a song and design theme, then perfect your runway walk to pics of Miu Miu styles.

READY FOR YOUR CLOSE-UP? READ MORE

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The Weekend Guide: April 15-17

Kevin MorbyHEAR: Singing Saw by Kevin Morby
If comparisons to the lyrical geniuses Lee Hazelwood, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan haven’t been enough to lure you to Kevin Morby’s albums, well, then we don’t have words for you. Morby’s third release, his best to date, features lush folk-rock mixed with flourishes from a saxophone (“Destroyer”), a trumpet (“Dorothy”) and a gospel choir (“I Have Been to the Mountain”).

DO: Obscura Day
Digital encyclopedia of global oddities Atlas Obscura invites you to embark on an adventure this Saturday. Sign up for any number of group outings to bizarre places like the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn; the House of Balls in Minneapolis; Kiev’s death mask museum; a secret garden party in a New York City cemetery; the Harry Partch Instrumentarium in Seattle; Tieranatomisches Theater in Berlin; or a concert in Oslo’s Emanuel Vigeland Museum and Mausoleum.

Record Store Day
Even if you’re not into collecting vinyl, Record Store Day (also Saturday) brings abundant treats for the music enthusiast. Local retailers often host performers, exclusive releases and product rollouts; plus, fans gather en masse to share rare finds. Rolling Stone has a comprehensive guide to the major record releases and reissues coinciding with this year’s event. But just drop into your local music store to see what’s playing.

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The Weekend Guide: April 8-10

Logan Marshall-Green in The InvitationSEE: The Invitation
Our imaginations and paranoias are often more horrific than any boogeyman. This seems the premise of Karyn Kusama’s newest film. Set at a Hollywood Hills dinner party, The Invitation causes us to question whether Will’s (Logan Marshall-Green) ex-wife and her new husband are hiding something behind their serene hospitality or whether we are yoked to an increasingly troubled protagonist. The chills derive from the subtle uncertainty sown in their interactions.

HEAR: Sept. 5th by dvsn
Pronounced “division,” this R&B duo on Drake’s OVO Sound label received a warm, lingering embrace from the music community for their sparse but sultry jams. Echoing rhythms lay the groundwork for a careful crescendo of sound and emotion on songs like “Hallucinations.” Ultimately the seduction of their music rests on its ability to retreat into the background or command attention, depending on one’s mood.

Love Streams by Tim Hecker
Working with Oscar-winning Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson, veteran electric musician Tim Hecker created a delicate album featuring the sounds of an Icelandic choir, a harpsichord, bass clarinets, strings and electric guitars along with his usual boards and mixers. It’s a pastiche of orchestration, resembling church choral compositions, suitable to a digital age when novelty can derive from our nostalgia.

Ology by Gallant
The debut of another emerging alt-R&B act, Gallant, eviscerates with so many feelings, from the frustrated hopelessness beautifully rendered on “Bourbon” to the bargain striking of “Bone + Tissue.” Gallant’s “Weight in Gold” rightly gained acclaim and some popularity. This collection of new tracks will doubtlessly grant more airtime for his mesmerizing vocal range and to air his fuzzy emotions.

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Culture Film & Television Music

The Weekend Guide: April 1-3

Tacocat, Lost Time

LISTEN: Lost Time by Tacocat
Witty digital-age banter set to punk chords could be the soundtrack to our zeitgeist. And Tacocat drives these pop culture surf-rock anthems along with charging guitars, kicky rhythms and lyrical chirps that bite. Sendups of misogyny, smartphone relations and cyberbullying are joyful and fun, even when the serious implications of those conditions enter the songs.

SEE: Miles Ahead
Don Cheadle stars as legendary trumpeter Miles Davis in this provocative biopic based on the jazz great’s life. Although the subject is one of the most successful and glamorous musicians of modern time, Cheadle (who stars in, writes and directs the film) shows Davis when he was plagued by heroin and other demons, taking creative license to shape a narrative.

SEE: Everybody Wants Some!!
Director Richard Linklater bills this film as the natural sequel to 1993’s Dazed and Confused. While the cast of characters is different, their fixations and fascinations stay the course of the coming-of-age story given a luster of fun.

DOCS THAT ROCK AND MORE

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The Weekend Guide: March 18-20

Valley sunglassesSHOP: VALLEY Sunglasses
The perfect shades for getting noticed while cloaking your identity—it’s all about enigma. VALLEY sunglasses are dramatic, Italian crafted and distinctive. Choose from a variety of geometric styles (cat eye, round, square and aviator) in stunning tortoise patterns or sleek hues. We think they’re perfect for festival season or a spring ski trip.

WATCH: My Beautiful Broken Brain on Netflix
Lotje Sodderland’s brain hemorrhage left the articulate and vibrant 34-year-old woman speech and logic impaired. The documentary follows the bravely upbeat Sodderland on the road to recovery as she struggles with her condition and the strange but interesting symptoms it imposes. Along the way she meets director David Lynch, who co-produced this inspiring film.

Pee-wee’s Big Holiday on Netflix
Paul Reubens returns as the lovable oddball with the enviable red bike and ragtag crew of friends. Netflix’s original takes Pee-wee to the Big Apple after an encounter with a cool stranger played by Joe Manganiello. Another road trip film, in the tradition of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, this special exposes the hilarious bow-tied man-child to life beyond his small-town playhouse. 

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The Weekend Guide: March 11-13

Emmy the Great
HEAR: Second Love by Emmy the Great
Pop singer and songwriter Emma Lee Moss’s third album covers difficult emotional terrain, but this soul-stirring singer seems to skate on it with her honeyed voice. Occasionally the atmospheric album becomes aloof, yet songs like “Algorithm” and “Hyperlink” reduce love’s struggles to orchestrated abstractions that an indie-inclined audience would recognize as brilliant modern day similes.

READ: An Unrestored Woman: And Other Stories by Shobha Rao
Stories exploring the 1947 schism of India and Pakistan could seem as daunting as that contentious border. In Shobha Rao’s hands, however, we are immersed in the sympathetic lives of citizens arbitrarily controlled by the geo-political divisions of territory. Love is aborted, children lost, families separated, individuals left to their alien resources in paired stories set both in the diaspora and the domestic.

SEE: City of Gold
The prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold is an admired and imitated connoisseur of urban eats. It’s not an exaggeration to attribute to him our national predilections for food trucks, obscure ethnic foods and adventurous eating. This documentary follows the insatiable scribe around LA, a city that warmly embraces him and his enthusiasm for its citizens and their culinary ambitions.

BINGE ON A WEB SERIES AND WEARABLE SNACKS: READ MORE

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ALL POSTS Culture Music

The Weekend Guide: March 4-6

Esperanza Spalding
LISTEN: Emily’s D+Evolution by Esperanza Spalding
The jazz vocalist, bassist and composer seems to absorb and reinterpret musical genres with refreshing ingenuity. Using her middle name as an alter ego, on Emily’s D+Evolution Spalding constructs jazz rock that is interchangeably boundary-pushing while reminiscent of Joni Mitchell, a musician who also used jazz music to support her jarringly personal reflections. But instead of folk, funk fills this soundscape, making the result distinctly Spalding’s own.

untitled unmastered by Kendrick Lamar

Released Friday on the sly, this collection of untitled tracks by the undisputed hip-hop master bristles with Lamar’s seething lyricism and layered grooves. “Untitled” was previously performed on The Colbert Report; “Untitled 2” was later debuted on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Combined, however, these eight songs show that Lamar’s touch is golden and his vision for hip-hop holistic and honest.

READ: Version Control by Dexter Palmer
Set in a recognizable future, Palmer’s work explores the impact of technology on our relationships and collective memories. Rebecca works at a dating site while her reality appears to unravel as she recovers from a personal loss. Her husband, meanwhile, labors on a causality violation device—a type of time machine. Version Control ultimately explores being present, even as we flirt with the future and struggle with the past.

Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard
Maynard is known in the literary world both for her 1998 memoir about her teenage relationship with the much older J. D. Salinger and for her own body of work, both novels and journalism. Under the Influence shows her rhapsodic talent in the service of Helen. A drinker whose life is collapsing, Helen becomes seduced by glamorous friends as she tries to maintain her relationship with her young son.

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The Weekend Guide: February 26-28

Christine and the Queens

LISTEN: Chaleur Humaine by Christine and the Queens
This reissue in English of the French pop chart-topper will alleviate plenty of Google translation. According to Christine herself (Héloïse Letissier), many of her incisive lyrics exploring identity and sexuality were originally written in English anyway. Thank goodness, we monoglots can now sing (and still dance) along.

SVIIB by School of Seven Bells
Recorded as a eulogy of sorts for band member Benjamin Curtis, with whom this album was written, singer Alejandra Deheza concocted this penetrating but uplifting collection of songs. A poppy music haze bleeds into dance anthems and touching indie rock. Atmospheric layers wrap Deheza’s personal reflections in a meditative but engaging experience that is just captivating.

STREAM: American Masters: Sister Rosetta Tharpe: The Godmother of Rock and Roll on PBS
Sister Tharpe brought gospel into the rock era with her singular stringing and performances at the Cotton Club and other New York venues, attracting the admiration of legends like Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington. Her guitar chops inspired Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and Little Richard. Watch her story and see her perform in this historical documentary.

READ MORE. FOR INSTANCE, THESE BOOKS.

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ALL POSTS Film & Television Music

The Weekend Guide: February 19-21

Vinyl starring Bobby Cannavale on HBOWATCH: Vinyl on HBO
Brought to you by Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter, Vinyl profiles a pivotal period in music history, the 1970s. Set in New York City, this new HBO series stars Bobby Cannavale as a record producer during the era that saw the birth of hip-hop, punk and disco. Olivia Wilde costars.

The Circus on Showtime
As if it weren’t entertaining enough, the 2016 election gets the documentary treatment. Watch the candidates for more than just a soundbite or debate. The camera follows all the presidential contenders on the campaign trail and behind the scenes into the sphere where the camera rarely treads.

HEAR: Livin’ on a High Note by Mavis Staples 
Living legend and soul pioneer Mavis Staples has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity in recent years, even performing on the youthful festival circuit. With her latest release, Ms. Staples taps the talent of musicians Nick Cave, M. Ward, Neko Case, Justin Vernon and Benjamin Booker for what sounds like a celebratory lap on an already astounding musical career.

Mowing by Michael Nau
These mellifluous grooves defy the pop, folk and indie genres. Really, Mowing is more of a lounge album, thoughtful and relaxing, chill but never ambient. Nau lays down goading and encouraging lyrics on “Smooth Aisles.” “Your Jewel” skips along on a reggae beat. And “In There” furthers Nau’s philosophical inquiry with kind advice set to a bluesy guitar.

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