Staff Picks: Flavorwire’s Favorite Cultural Things This Week


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.

Chaos Chaos, Committed to the Crime

Chaos Chaos (formerly Smoosh) is an indie-pop duo from Seattle whose new EP, Committed to the Crime, is accessible yet exquisite. Bandmates and sisters Asya and Chloe Saavedra have been performing since their teens, by which time they’d already appeared as Smoosh on Jimmy Kimmel Live, opened with Sufjan Stevens and Cat Power, and released four albums. They’ve now reinvented themselves with Committed to the Crime, a fun, energetic gambol through young womanhood. There’s nothing new or especially innovative here, but there doesn’t need to be. Asya and Chloe brilliantly portray youth, love, fear of ambition and the constant search for something better with clean hooks and sing-along lyrics. It’s brief and glittering synth-pop you’ll have on repeat, dancing at your desk (which is what I’m doing now). — Angela Lashbrook, Editorial Apprentice

Laurence Anyways and the Films of Xavier Dolan

Allow me to acknowledge how behind the times I am in having just discovered the French-language films of Canadian filmmaker and actor Xavier Dolan. On a recent trip to Montreal, talk of this local wunderkind lured me to a few of his films (i.e. the ones on Netflix: 2009’s I Killed My Mother, 2011’s Heartbeats, and 2012 masterpiece Laurence Anyways). His work routinely deals with LGBT issues in engrossing, non-inclusionary ways I found to be transcendent in their slight surrealism. Looking forward to seeing his latest, Mommy, when it finally screens in America in the coming months. — Jillian Mapes, Music Editor

Roger Corman’s The Raven

Just in time for Halloween, Shout Factory is unleashing The Vincent Price Collection II (out on October 21), a marvelous collection that assembles seven classic horror flicks on four Blu-rays, in gorgeous new transfers with copious special features. I’m still working my way through the set, but the highlight thus far is 1963’s The Raven, Roger Corman’s (verrrrrrry loose!) adaptation of the classic Poe poem. It’s a cheerfully goofy picture, finding a deliciously campy Price teaming up with Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, plus a hilariously miscast Jack Nicholson as the male ingénue (the guy’s one of our finest actors, but boy is he terrible in this). The effects are silly and the script is all over the place, but it’s handsomely mounted, and there’s real joy in it—particularly when Corman puts his three legends in the same room and lets them commence the scenery-chewing competition. Not a good movie, per se, but a helluva lot of fun, and that’s about all I ask for this time of year. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

The Wonders (dir. Alice Rohrwacher)

Your Finchers and your Andersons and your Cronenbergs may be getting the lion’s share of the attention at this year’s New York Film Festival, but look beyond the marquee names and you’ll find dozens of great movies from around the world. On Friday, I caught The Wonders, a Cannes Grand Prix-winning film that follows an impoverished family of beekeepers in rural Italy whose way of life is quickly disappearing. Rohrwacher’s closeup portrait of Gelsomina, the precocious eldest daughter who cares for both her parents and sisters, is one of the most fascinating depictions of a teenage girl I’ve ever seen. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

These Video Interviews With AHS: Freak Show’s Mat Fraser and Rose Siggins

Perhaps more than any other season of American Horror Story: Freak Show has had one hell of a lead-up to its October 8 premiere. There have been too many teasers, posters, and plot tidbits to bother linking to, and the Internet is already full-up of thoughts on the first two episodes of the season, which FX provided to critics. And this, before the show has even aired. Everything was scrutinized beyond belief — except for these interviews with Mat Fraser and Rose Siggins, who play Paul the Illustrated Seal and Legless Suzi, respectively.

Fraser’s interview is especially powerful, as he talks about himself as a “freak” and how that empowers him to use his body to gain attention that he would be otherwise unable to gain. Siggins’, meanwhile, is mostly touching in the way it shows her as a mother. For a show that pretty frequently exploits the disadvantaged for their sheer power to shock, these interviews hint at what will hopefully be a more nuanced, human approach to the “freaks” of AHS: Freak Show. Given the show’s history, it’s a small hint — but a hint nonetheless. — Shane Barnes, Editorial Apprentice

A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor

With all the reading I do for work, I really have to carve out my time for sheer reading for pleasure, but I was greedy for every moment that I got to spend with Will Chancellor’s wonderful debut novel. A work ten years in the making, it’s a bildungsroman about a young man, Owen, bound for the Olympics in water polo who suffers a career-ending injury in his eye. Adrift, he travels over to Berlin, determined to become an artist. Where the book goes from there is strange, surprising, and very funny; and it’s as intelligently dense with esoteric allusion (from Greeks to Spooky Action at a Distance to phenomenology) as your average Gilmore Girls episode is with highbrow pop culture references. There’s a bit of John Irving in its ambitions and it’s also a really excellent book about swimming and athletics, which feels rare. I was sad to see it end, and Chancellor’s definitely a writer to watch. — Elisabeth Donnelly, Nonfiction Editor

15-or-so seconds of Elisabeth Moss’ expressions in Listen Up Philip

In much-needed contrast to Jason Schwartzman’s Philip, who never sheds his cloak of monotonous cruelty to reveal who he really is, Elisabeth Moss’s Ashley has one of the best moments of emotional uncloaking in recent film-memory in Listen Up Philip. When Philip abruptly heads off to teach in an adjunct creative writing position at a university, he takes with him the ugliness his success has wrought. After he walks out the door, we see in Moss a sense of sudden weightlessness — or has she suddenly fallen back to earth? or is it both? it’s definitely both; the camera lingers on Moss for long enough for her to, in fact, circle a globe of emotions a few times over. It’s better — and more uncanny — than any form of special effect cinema can offer. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor