Staff Picks: ‘The Grinder,’ ‘Room,’ and Adult Coloring

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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.

The Grinder

It hasn’t been a particularly great year for new sitcoms (Life in Pieces, Dr. Ken, and Truth Be Told range from incredibly boring to horribly unwatchable) so it’s possible that my love for The Grinder is mostly based on how good it is in comparison. But it is a fun, breezy sitcom that’s only helped out by the irresistible charm of Rob Lowe. It’s a sitcom that accurately (and humorously) parodies the beats of a legal drama, but it makes it work. And it helps that Natalie Morales is around to liven things up once in a while. — Pilot Viruet, TV Editor

Lost Ocean, by Johanna Basford

I’ve been tense about a lot of things recently, the impending cold weather and darkness, the fact that a perennially underdog team I care about is actually doing really well (I’m a Mets girl), and did I mention the cold? So it’s a good thing I’ve had Johanna Basford’s coloring book sensation The Lost Ocean to calm me down. I bought a gorgeous extended set of coloring markers and am slowly, carefully inking in seaweed, and hidden treasures, dolphins, and fish. I am too restless to meditate, which makes me the ideal target for the coloring craze. Basford’s designs are so intricate that they require great focus, and let my galloping brainwaves take a backseat to violet-hued ocean waves. — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large

Room (dir. Lenny Abrahamson)

We are now entering the season of Oscarbait (biopics! Period pieces! Leonardo Dicaprio! Oh my!), and I might have dismissed Room as yet another entrant in the horse race were it not for the strong recommendation of our own Jason Bailey. Yes, Brie Larson lost a ton of weight for the role; yes, there’s an obvious hook to both Larson and Jacob Tremblay’s performances that makes them catnip to voters. But Room‘s portrait of trauma, childhood, and parenting is so complex and so cathartic it could never pass for calculating. If Room wins any big prizes, and it almost certainly will, it’ll be on the film’s own merits. — Alison Herman, Associate Editor

“Chains,” by Usher, Nash, and Bib Bourelly

The TIDAL X 10/20 show last night at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn was loud, star-studded, and self-congratulatory. But it may have been worth the effort, if only for this performance of Usher, Nas, and Bibi Bourelly’s new track “Chains” (or the $1MM raised for charity). It’s a response to the treatment of people of color in the United States, and while the chains that Usher demonstratively breaks on stage were a bit dramatic, Nas’ cosplay of Tommie Smith was completely on point. Smith is the gold-medal-winning sprinter who, with bronze medalist John Carlos, raised his black-gloved fist in the air while the national anthem was played during the medal ceremony for the men’s 200M dash at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Perhaps more interesting, however, is what Usher says preceding Nas’ entrance, as the music momentarily cuts out: “Don’t look away.” It’s a reference to the campaign launched with the song’s debut last week — “Chains,” hosted exclusively on TIDAL, can only be played through a browser if you’re directly looking at the window as the faces of unarmed victims of police violence stare back at you. — Matthew Ismael Ruiz, Music Editor

The Forbidden Room (dir. Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson)

If you’ve read the reviews of The Forbidden Room, perhaps you’ve been having trouble understanding what The Saddest Music in the World and Brand Upon the Brain! director Guy Maddin’s new film (made in collaboration with Evan Johnson) actually is. Well, now I’ve seen it, and I’m still confused, but also utterly charmed. Suffice it to say that if you love movies, you’ll want to see this odd, dreamy experiment in classic Hollywood narrative logic taken to a hysterical extreme — preferably in theaters. And if you haven’t read any of those reviews yet… maybe don’t, until after you’ve seen it. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

Arrow Season 4

The end of Arrow’s third season brought me dangerously close to swearing off the show last May, but after two episodes, I’m cautiously optimistic that the show can bring itself back from the brink of descending into convoluted comic-TV madness in season four. Though the show may still retain vestiges of that messy League of Shadows storyline — yes, they used the same guys from the Batman movies — all signs point to a more straight-forward season, which will be a breath of fresh air for the fans who managed to stick with the Oliver Queen adventure this far. — Michael Epstein, Editorial Apprentice