Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

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We once again have your back here at Flavorwire if you’re in need of some nourishment to satiate your appetite for all things cultural. This week’s round of staff recommendations offers a diverse sampling of art, literature, and sport to keep your brows high and your mind engaged throughout the rest of the week.

Speedy Ortiz — Major Arcana

I had been hearing great things about Northampton, MA-based Speedy Ortiz for months before I finally gave their debut album a spin, so I feel like the absolute last person to jump on their bandwagon. If you’re a fan of ’90s indie rock who somehow hasn’t heard of them yet, you’ll want to dig deep into the album’s murky grunge guitars and frontwoman Sadie Dupuis’ Liz Phair sound-alike drawl. Speedy Ortiz aren’t just evoking a bygone era, though — their greatest strength might be their pensive lyrics, shot through with rich, surprising imagery. I’ve had one particular line from the chorus to “Casper” stuck in my head for days: “I wanted you like a ghost wants revenge.” At a time when the real Liz Phair is doing, well, this, it’s nice to hear a voice like hers being put to such good use. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Casa de Lava – Caderno by Pedro Costa

You’ll never enjoy the convenience of seeing a Pedro Costa movie in a commercial theater, but his films are worth the journey. You might find his minimalist, docu-style portraits of impoverished Portuguese immigrants difficult to watch, but his images are unforgettable. A new book from artist-run publisher Pierre von Kleist Editions — a recreation of the production scrapbook Costa kept during the making of Casa de Lava — offers an intimate look at his process and reveals why the director is one of cinema’s most important artists working today. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

The Thin Man series

This is a bit on the random side, inasmuch as they’re merely on a list of movies I’m slowly working my way through, but I’m just now getting into The Thin Man movies, and they’re delightful. The original is both a terrific mystery and great screwball, but the first follow-up, After the Thin Man, may be even better — a rare example of a sequel topping the original. With their characters firmly established, the filmmakers can let Nick and Nora just drink, joke, and be sexy, solving mysteries in evening wear and generally being awesome. These movies are a bubbly, zingy treat. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Orange Is the New Black

For someone who loves TV as much as I do, I’m behind on just about everything. I’m normally pretty OK with this, even if I’ve caught up with a great show years after its original airing. However, I was cursing myself for being even a little late on Netflix’s critically acclaimed new series Orange Is the New Black, which many of us at Flavorwire have been raving about since it started streaming. I saw why almost immediately: this is really, sincerely so much of what TV has been missing. It revolves almost completely around complex, intriguing, diverse women, but it by no means panders or even aims for a female audience (despite the impression I initially got from the title). Their stories are fresh and socially relevant in a way that feels much more matter-of-fact than preachy. The cast is also super impressive, with veterans like the always excellent Kate Mulgrew, wonderful newcomers like Laverne Cox, and a bunch of actors I had no idea I missed (Jason Biggs! Laura Prepon! Natasha Lyonne!!). There’s so much to talk about, but you really just have to see Orange Is the New Black for yourself. After getting into this show, I never want to be late on any great show ever again. — Sarah Fonder, Editorial Apprentice

“Natasha Lyonne, Locked Up” by Emma Brown

I loved Natasha Lyonne’s interview in Interview, not just because she’s in my new obsession Orange Is the New Black. In the interview, for a former tabloid fixture, she’s remarkably mature and collected in musing on her former life. — Michelle Dean, Editor at Large

Elect H. Mouse State Judge by Nelly Reifler

Nelly Reifler’s debut novel, due out August 6, is a hilariously weird little book about a cult of religious fanatics who kidnap the children of a recently elected judge, who then hires a pair of sexually charged and crooked private detectives to save his children. The twist: the judge and his daughters are mice, Barbie and Ken are the detectives, and the cult is made up of Sunshine family dolls. Presumably taking place within the mind (and, perhaps, bedroom floor) of a child in the late ’70s, the book is reminiscent of Toy Story with a Coen Brothers twist. — Tyler Coates, Deputy Editor

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss — Raising Sand

I’m about six years behind on this, but I cannot stop listening to the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss album Raising Sand. Every track is beautifully arranged, performed, and produced. It’s so incredibly soothing on a summer night (or day, or wine-fueled day/night) and I recommend it highly. — Lillian Ruiz, Social Media Editor