Staff Picks: ‘Star Wars,’ Ron Funches, and ‘Fallout 4’


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.

Fallout 4

My staff pick for this week is Fallout 4, which I may or may not have built an entire PC for the express purpose of playing. (And, er, for doing work, he said quickly to the IRS.) It’s one of the most hyped video game releases ever, but for once, it largely lives up to the publicity — I’m only a few hours in, but the plot is engaging and the game itself enjoyable and challenging enough. That’s almost beside the point, though, because the joy of Fallout has always been wandering aimlessly through the wasteland and seeing what you find. Last night I came across a weird, random dude living with six cats in a little shack in the middle of nowhere, its walls adorned with… pictures of cats. This game is the best. — Tom Hawking, Deputy Editor

Majical Cloudz at National Sawdust

I was lucky enough to have caught Majical Cloudz’s performance at National Sawdust in Brooklyn last month; the new space, which New York magazine dubbed “a tiny high-tech clubhouse” was quite the dramatic setting for Devon Welsh’s aching croon. This black-and-white video, featuring a live performance of “Game Show,” captures a glimpse of the room’s avant-garde intimacy. The crowd sat in a semicircle around the stageless area that Welsh and Matthew Otto performed from, buffered by a massive bouquet of faux flowers that fans picked from at the show’s end. The clip elegantly captures an experience that was admittedly difficult to describe with words. — Matthew Ismael Ruiz, Music Editor

Film School Rejects on the Star Wars Prequels

With the release of the modestly anticipated (ha ha) seventh Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, a mere month away, much of the what’ll-we-talk-about-while-we’re-waiting conversation on film sites has turned to the single most worrisome aspect of Star Wars hype: the terrible prequel trilogy. Over at Slate, Forrest Wickman wrote a smart (until that smug kicker) reminder of how excited we all were about the Phantom Menace trailers. At the A.V. Club, Jesse Hassenger wrote a reasoned, thoughtful “For Your Consideration,” positing that the ire directed at the 1999-2005 films is out of proportion to their actual quality. But I think the best work on this subject was done by Matthew Monagle at Film School Rejects, who gave the entire matter the full, detailed response it truly deserves. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Image Credit: Katy Grannan, The New Yorker

“Unfollow,” by Adrian Chen

Because of my job, I read a lot on the Internet. I also read a lot of garbage on the Internet, and I read a lot about garbage on the Internet. Not only is Adrian Chen’s methodical, wrenching account of Megan Phelps-Roper’s decision to leave the Westboro Baptist Church emphatically not garbage, it’s a love letter to the power of empathy, especially for those most of us would quickly dismiss as, well, garbage. Phelps-Roper’s story, and the deeply reported way in which Chen tells it, is truly great. I can’t remember the last time a magazine article, let alone one about the Internet, gave me chills. This one has every time I’ve thought about it since my first read-through. — Alison Herman, Associate Editor

Out 1: Noli me tangere (dir. Jacques Rivette)

I’m currently about ten hours into French New Wave director Jacques Rivette’s 13-hour Out 1, one of the longest movies ever made. It’s screening in four parts, through tomorrow, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, its first theatrical engagement since its premiere in 1971. I’ll wait until I’ve finished watching the film to declare it a masterpiece (though I’m pretty sure it is), but it’s certainly a more gripping and thought-provoking “puzzle movie” than you’d expect from something whose characters can be described as two experimental theater troupes and two inscrutable street cons, and whose plot… well, can’t really be described at all. Everything from Balzac to post-1968 French radical politics comes into play in this epic of great and odd conversations (and silent passages). And watching it both before and after this weekend’s brutal Paris attacks has been a reminder — and a way of celebrating — France’s unique contribution to the world’s cultural canon. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

The Funches of Us

Until this week, stand-up comedian Ron Funches has been forced to trade on a dual identity. On the one hand, his mellow and cuddly but sharp persona wins lots of laughs during his frequent appearances as guest and self-proclaimed title champion on late-night Comedy Central free-association contest @Midnight. Yet he’s likely earned more fans from his role on the remarkably bland CBS sitcom Undateable Live. I was incredibly relieved (and amused) upon finding he decided to channel the former, funnier side of himself in his debut stand-up album. — Michael Epstein, Editorial Apprentice