Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week

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Need a great book to read, album to listen to, or TV show to get hooked on? The Flavorwire team is here to help: in this weekly feature, our editorial staffers recommend the cultural object or experience they’ve enjoyed most in the past seven days. Click through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Thomas Piketty — The Future of Capital

I bought this a couple of weeks back and have been toting it back and forth to work on the subway ever since. It’s as fascinating as everyone says. It’s accessible and well-written. And it’s fucking huge. My back hurts. Pray for me. Pray for all of us. — Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor

Trying to Figure Out What the Deal Is With Birdman

Really all I’ve been doing this week is listening to the new FKA twigs album, but the world has already made that its pick for the week. In between — when I’m needing a moment’s rest from twigs’ lush isolation and high-pitched haze — I’ve been turning to the Birdman trailer, one of the most befuddling and intriguing trailers about washed up actors’ attempted theatrical comebacks since Clouds of Sils Maria started tantalizing with its… clouds and Sils Marias. Birdman‘s genius casting – Michael Keaton stars as struggling thespian who formerly played a bird-like superhero, trying to revive his career — coupled with the notion that it’s master-of-bleakness Iñárritu’s first comedy — have made it one of the most anticipated releases of 2014. And, to further build that anticipation, the two-minute trailer manages to never truly reveal the movie’s core, or what the fuck it’s exactly supposed to be. It opens with a very serious, could-be philosophical V.O. of “How did we end up here?,” which continues as “This place is horrible… smells like balls.” The trailer is thereafter driven by its musical pastiche: its scored by a histrionic rock-ballad version of “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” then a sweeping classical piece, then some giddy jazz percussion. Everything the trailer sets up it seems to subsequently trample, until we wonder what, exactly, we’re supposed to be left with. The trailer both evacuates itself and the viewer, leaving us exhausted — yet so damn excited for the full movie to continue its perplexing attack on the senses. — Moze Halperin, Editorial Apprentice

FX’s You’re The Worst

I really liked the first two episodes of You’re The Worst and its commitment to being a disastrous, screwed up version of a romantic-comedy but had my doubts about how long it could keep it up. It’s been doing a fine job since. In fact, each episode that airs is better than the last and it’s becoming the show I look forward to the most each week. You’re The Worst has found a way to make me love these two vile characters as they navigate a reluctant relationship. It’s a show that’s dedicated to exploring the idea that there is no such thing as a normal relationship — and it’s doing so while remaining very, very funny. — Pilot Viruet, TV Editor

David Cronenberg’s Scanners

The Criterion Collection recently unveiled a classy, spiffed-up DVD/Blu-ray special edition of David Cronenberg’s Scanners, but don’t worry—the picture still feels as scuzzy and disreputable as it did back in 1981. Cronenberg deploys a deceptively bland, sterile aesthetic to create this world of smug, sinister white men, and seems to take pleasure in violating it with his gross-out effects. But this isn’t just a freak show; he’s already a ruthlessly efficient thriller-maker, wielding satisfyingly blunt shots and bludgeon-like edits. Shades of Hitchcock color the narrative, which courts serious silliness (and occasionally succumbs), but Cronenberg’s confidence and style ultimately win out. Criterion’s loaded-up special edition features a new documentary on the effects, recent interviews with the actors, a vintage Canadian television appearance by the director, his entire first feature film (the 65-minute Stereo, from 1969), and archival radio spots and a trailer. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Repelling cats with orange scent

As a new cat owner, I am adjusting to the daily rhythms of living with a cat, and how they constantly think that they have a right to paw at you at 5am when you’re dead asleep just so they can eat some food. But there is a magic trick in the world, and it is that cats hate orange scent. Currently I have some orange oil in my bed — it works, and it’s hilarious, when the cat is being a bit too forward. Highly recommended. — Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

So You Think You Can Dance: My Crying Ritual

You know, maybe this just means I’m mentally unstable, but I cry every week watching So You Think You Can Dance, and I really enjoy it. The show’s in its bajillionth season, and I know some of the judges are super hokey (Mary Murphy, it’s time to retire your “Hot Tamale Train” catchphrase, an unnecessary ‘gotcha!’ moment). But over the course of watching several seasons, I’ve learned loads about modern dance. I can now differentiate between contemporary and jazz, quickstep and foxtrot, krumping and animation. Educational and emotionally stirring — that’s more than I can say about any other reality show I’ve watched. — Jillian Mapes, Music Editor