Staff Picks: ‘Grace and Frankie,’ Beril Gulcan, and Vintage CinemaScope


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.

Grace and Frankie

Seventy-year-olds, they’re just like us! Grace and Frankie has experienced something of a domino effect among Flavorwire staff, and so I dutifully take my turn singing the Netflix buddy comedy’s praises. When you hear the premise of the show — Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda play a set of (totally opposite) wives whose husbands leave them later in life for each other — your mind may go to a First Wives Club place. But Grace and Frankie is more like the reimagination of The Odd Couple that would actually work (in your face, Matthew Perry!), but that the networks are too afraid to make. Miley Cyrus knows what’s up. — Jillian Mapes, Music Editor

Hustle and Flow

I’m bad with films, and 2015 has been a slow and ongoing exercise in trying to rectify that — it’s a case of filling gaps, one by one, and this was one that really should have been filled years ago. But still, better late than never, and if like me you missed this film on its 2005 release, then it’s definitely worth visiting — and if you didn’t, you might want to revisit it anyway. Terrence Howard gives a spectacular performance as small-time pimp and aspiring rapper D-Jay, but none of the cast really puts a foot wrong. The music’s fantastic, too — and it won Three Six Mafia an Oscar, a fact that remains hilarious and awesome a decade on. WHOOP THAT TRICK, Academy! — Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor

The Merchant of Four Seasons

I’ve finally been catching up with the films of Rainer Werner Fassbiner, and this 1971 effort (new last week on DVD and Blu-ray from Criterion) is a mesmerizing film, often brutal to watch yet undeniably powerful. This portrait of a wildly unhappy marriage exhibits Fassbinder’s oft-noted Douglas Sirk influence, but this is melodrama played with neither a wink not a gloss; he frames the action in flat, unforgiving compositions, the lack of score almost ghostly, and spotlights performances so anchored and unadorned that it plays like documentary. These are plain people, flawed, in conflict and despair, and even the brief periods of hope and happiness are like time bombs waiting to explode. It all becomes misery, eventually, up to an including the tragic yet businesslike dialogue exchange that closes this difficult but fascinating picture. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

I had no idea what a “Duggar” was until recently. During the Josh Duggar sexual molestation scandal press flurry, one article mentioned Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier, a book about patriarchal insanity (apologies, but I don’t remember where I spotted it). I just started it, so I can’t comment on its progress just yet — but more generally, there’s a call to return to a simpler way of living over the past decade that is often perverted by religious groups and others that this terrifying true story brings to light. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

“Black and White ‘Scope: International Cinema” at the Brooklyn Academy of Music

BAM features some of the best film programming in New York, and their current series offers a great opportunity to catch up on some of the most beautiful films of the 20th century. Focusing on black-and-white movies from around the world that were shot in CinemaScope — the gorgeous anamorphic widescreen format that debuted in 1953 — it travels from France (Truffaut’s Jules et Jim and Shoot the Pianoplayer, Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad) to Japan (Mifune’s Sanjuro, a handful of Kurosawa films), making plenty of fascinating stops in between. Over the weekend, I finally got to see Fellini’s La Dolce Vita on the big screen, and am planning to make several trips back to BAM before the series ends June 16. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Beril Gulcan — “I See A Red Door”

Brooklyn-based Turkish photographer Beril Gulcan’s current exhibition at Williamsburg’s PUREHOUSE collective is definitely worth seeing if you’re looking for something fresh. Gulcan presents three of her on-going projects — “Blackface” (powerful portrait photographs), “Cuba” (a firsthand look at the colorful country), and a collage series that really brings out the mastery of Gulcan’s eye. She stitches together buildings, fruits, faces, birds, and inanimate objects to create strange, but beautiful new characters and people who look like, perhaps, the inner spirits of the originals. “I See A Red Door” is on view now until June 12th. — Ona Abelis, Editorial Apprentice

My staff pick today is Sheryl Sandberg. I’ve been a sometimes-harsh critic of her organization, but in the wake of her husband Dave Goldberg’s sudden death I’ve felt nothing but sympathy for their lovely-seeming family. Then today, to mark the end of the Jewish mourning period, she wrote an incredibly, searingly honest piece on Facebook that is going to help a lot of Americans confront how to mourn and deal with sudden tragedy when it affects friends and loved ones. The randomness of a tragedy like this knows know class, race or gender boundaries. Her candor will do a world of good. A sample is below. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-At-Large

Many of my co-workers had a look of fear in their eyes as I approached. I knew why—they wanted to help but weren’t sure how. Should I mention it? Should I not mention it? If I mention it, what the hell do I say? I realized that to restore that closeness with my colleagues that has always been so important to me, I needed to let them in. And that meant being more open and vulnerable than I ever wanted to be. I told those I work with most closely that they could ask me their honest questions and I would answer. I also said it was okay for them to talk about how they felt. One colleague admitted she’d been driving by my house frequently, not sure if she should come in. Another said he was paralyzed when I was around, worried he might say the wrong thing. Speaking openly replaced the fear of doing and saying the wrong thing.