Staff Picks: Kristen Stewart, Xavier Dolan, and a “Soft Dick Rock” T-Shirt


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.

Jenny Hval’s Soft Dick Rock T-Shirt

Apocalypse, girl, is a gripping rumination on — among other, far more salient, topics — soft dicks. The Norwegian singer-songwriter makes soft dicks sound downright otherworldly in her song “Take Care of Yourself.” Now she has a t-shirt that boasts as much. To all the special men in my life, guess the cat’s outta the bag — this is what I bought you for your birthdays. (Apocalypse, girl is out June 9 on Sacred Bones.) — Jillian Mapes, Music Editor


This week I choose something that I’m well aware does a pretty good job of dating me, considering that pretty much no-one who grew up after the 1980s will be nearly as excited about it as I am: the third installment in the Sorcery! series! For the uninitiated, this was a series of four gamebooks published between 1983 and 1985 that’s been reimagined as a series of iOS/Android apps by British company Inkle. The first two were pretty much straight ports of the books, but the third one is far more ambitious, working as an open world adventure that rewards multiple playthroughs. It’s made the J train a whole lot more fun this week. — Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor


MG is Martin Gore, and you may know Martin Gore as the dude who keeps Depeche Mode weird through extensive use of evocative synths. MG is not his first album to explore the deeper sides of the synth — his 1989 Counterfeit E.P. was sign enough that this dude wasn’t as shiny as his Depeche Mode banner seemed to signify. On MG he takes that and runs, though, filling nearly an hour with lush, swampy compositions that match (and sometimes trump) Geoff Barrow (Ex Machina), Mica Levi (Under the Skin), and Trent Reznor’s (anything by David Fincher since The Social Network) recent soundtrack excursions. It’s great, unexpected, and worth every bit of praise that could possibly come its way. — Shane Barnes, Editorial Apprentice

Mommy’s Montages

Xavier Dolan’s indie sensation (out this week on DVD) has some serious problems: it’s a good half hour too long, its protagonist is an irredeemable shit, and the much-ballyhooed 1:1 aspect ratio is, for my money, pure distraction. But Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément are tremendous, Dolan’s direction is energetic, and it’s got some incredible moments—many of them found in his musical montages. An early sequence, set to Counting Crows’ “Colorblind,” is as evocative a portrait of suburban ennui as I can recall; he stunningly unlocks the freedom and hope of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” (when Gallagher sings “Maybe/You’re gonna be the one that saves me,” it sort of breaks your heart); and a late sequence that seems first a fast forward and then a fantasy serves as a concise commentary on what’s come before (and what comes after). Dolan is a born musical filmmaker; his camera captures the movement and energy of the music, which in turn comments on the narrative succinctly and effectively—and more efficiently, often, than his dialogue and scenes do. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Orphan Black

Only two seasons late, I’m finally getting in to Canadian sci-fil thriller Orphan Black. The occasionally absurd clone-cult-assasins premise goes down easy with fabulous acting from Tatiana Maslany and her supporting class, endless suspense, and flashes of real humor. No spoilers, please, I’m a few episodes short of the Season 1 finale! — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large

Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

Olivier Assayas’ new film is as stunning a meditation on youth and aging as everyone says, but for me, the very best thing in it is K-Stew. Critics are finally starting to realize that she’s a good actress, which raises the question of why she got so thoroughly destroyed for her performance in the Twilight movies. My theory, based on this film and The Runaways and even Adventureland, is that the role of Bella was just too traditionally feminine to suit her taciturn, androgynous charisma. (More than any actress living or dead, she reminds me of James Dean — and apparently her stylist agrees.) In Clouds, she’s magnetic in a way that transcends gender entirely, and that’s exactly what makes the whole movie work. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Brooklyn Salons

These days, it seems like everywhere you turn there’s a beloved Brooklyn venue shutting its doors. And, the venues that are left are dealing with crushing rent prices, making it that much more difficult for poets, musicians, dancers, playwrights and anyone else with fantastic creativity but a small Instagram following to book a spot. Luckily, there are thriving salons gathering in Brooklyn monthly, with sizable audiences and plenty of drink: Ventiko’s “Animamus Art Salon,” Tracy May Faud’s “Salonus,” Andy’s “Salon Bucca!,” Rhys Tivey’s “House Show,” and many, many more. Gertrude Stein would be proud. — Ona Abelis, Editorial Apprentice

Michelle Sui’s Goddess 2.0 at Dixon Place

Michelle Sui‘s Goddess 2.0 examines the unsettling overlap between the life of Chinese actress Ruan Lingyu and her most famous film, The Goddess, and the ways contemporary existence rests precariously atop the massive, misogynist graveyard of history. Lingyu was exhaustively glamorized and picked apart by tabloids, even in death. When she committed suicide at age 24, her funeral procession was three miles long, and was the setting of the suicides of three other women. A (dubious) suicide note she left read, “gossip is a fearful thing.” Theatrical use of projections can often seem like an easy solution, but Sui’s simultaneous critique of and curiosity with the aestheticization of the cinematically broken woman was one of the more powerful uses of projection I’ve seen onstage — which is saying something, given that Dixon Place is devoted, predominantly, to works in progress. Superimposing imagery of herself, dressed as the silent film actress, over imagery from The Goddess, Sui enters into the a frightening loop of obsession with a dead icon’s own obsessions with personal, historical and fictional traumas. The performance was one-night-only, but the beauty of most of what happens at Dixon Place is that it’ll often reappear elsewhere for a longer run, down the line. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor