Staff Picks: ‘Street Smart,’ Summer Reading, and Justin Bieber’s Butt


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.

Street Smart

Morgan Freeman has long been the movies’ go-to voice of grandfatherly gravitas, so it’s an unexpected thrill to revisit his breakthrough performance in Jerry Schatzberg’s 1987 crime drama Street Smart (new this week on Blu-ray). The movie is interesting enough, serving as a time capsule of New York’s seedy ‘80s and old-school print journalism (while also prescient of Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, and similar scandals). But the sixth-billed Freeman is a revelation as vicious pimp “Fast Black,” using humor and camaraderie to ingratiate himself, then turning (convincingly) threatening and scary in a blink. It’s a stunning performance, deservedly Oscar nominated, and the kind of thing I wish we’d seen more of from Freeman. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Listening to Cricket Over the Internet

In 2015, a cricket-starved expat like me can tune into Australian radio and listen to the Ashes (just the oldest international sports series in the world, duh) as if I’m at home, about to throw another shrimp on the barbie. If it wasn’t the middle of winter and the middle of the night at home, that is. Anyway, what a time to be alive. — Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor

Whatever Vacation Justin Bieber’s Butt Is On

I’m not usually the type to take advice from celebrities — I have never once thought to buy Loreal skin cream, despite the fact that, for over half of my life, Andie MacDowell has made so many promises about it. But, after yesterday, I’m finding that celebrities’ butts have more of a bearing on the way I want to live my life: for, after seeing (and writing about) Justin Bieber’s butt, what I was most struck by was the beauty surrounding the butt, and by how elated the butt appeared to be about soaking up the fresh, Instagram-saturated island air. I couldn’t help but think about how much better my quality-of-butt-life would be if the island air my butt (and soul) were getting weren’t coming, simply, from Manhattan or Long Island. Now, I’m looking up distant beachside vacations for myself, and my self’s posterior. They say the market for travel agencies is dying, but clearly they hadn’t been introduced to this most famous and most cheeky of agents. Thanks, Bieber butt! — Moze Halperin, Ass-ociate Editor

Summer Reading

On my short beach vacation last week, I plowed through contemporary novels Ana of California, The Girls from Corona Del Mar, and Bennington Girls Are Easy, each in a day. I also finally finished dawdled-upon books as disparate as Didion’s The White Album and the second Outlander novel. And I started Ann Patchett’s essay collection This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage and the cult-classic novel I Capture the Castle. It’s such a pleasure to be able to binge-read on the beach; a pity modern life means we can only do it once in a while. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large

It Follows on Blu-ray

Back in March I interviewed filmmaker David Robert Mitchell about his latest movie, It Follows. It’s a supernatural coming-of-age tale that finds a young woman followed by an ominous force after having a sexual encounter. Since then, I was asked to participate in a critics’ commentary track for the Blu-ray release. I’m excited to say that the film will be available on home video on July 14. Part of the movie’s allure is that Mitchell allows us to assign our own meaning to the symbols within. I also enjoyed his references to some of horror cinema’s greatest films. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes

I’m about a zillion years late to the podcast game, but since I’ve started walking more, I’ve been binging on episodes of Pete Holmes’ interview podcast like they’re so many Law & Order reruns. Longer, lighter, and less polished than obvious (and admitted) influence WTF with Marc Maron, Holmes’ show centers on three deeply personal topics — Comedy, Sex, and God — glued together by the host’s affable willingness to overshare and get raked over the coals by his own guests. Now in its third year, You Made It Weird has begun to land high-profile guests like Jimmy Kimmel, but earlier episodes with personal friends like Kumail Nanjiani and Chelsea Peretti are an excellent entry point.— Alison Herman, Associate Editor