Staff Picks: Charlotte Rampling, ‘Architecture and Morality,’ and ‘The Big Short’


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. Scroll through for our picks, and tell us what you’ve been loving in the comments.

Fire and Blood: The European Civil War 1914-1945 by Enzo Traverso

I’m halfway through Enzo Traverso’s Fire and Blood: 1914–1945, out from Verso this month. Traverso’s book is a history that argues for an understanding of the two World Wars in Europe as one long civil war comprising several belligerent factions. The takeaway is that this 30-year unrest can no longer be chalked up to a vague “battle against totalitarianism” — a fantasy of the right. Instead Traverso privileges the complexity of competing ideas, and he uncovers forgotten historical actors who have been ideologically redistributed out of history. — Jonathon Sturgeon, Literary Editor

Radio Valencia

It’s 2016, but I’m listening to Internet radio anyway. Every Wednesday afternoon I have a date with Radio Valencia out of San Francisco, because DJ Bunnywhiskers plays fun genre soundtracks (keeping the Euro cult film dream alive), Ennio Morricone and his best Italo friends, experimental stuff, and weird library music. They’re great sets, and your listenership supports non-commercial community goodness. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years

I already got to write about Andrew Haigh’s extraordinary 45 Years earlier this week, but I wanted to take up a little extra space to mention particularly how meticulous and haunting Charlotte Rampling (really, her face in the final moment of the film will continue to reappear in your head as you go about your week) was in the film. Rampling here plays the antithesis of the enigmatic characters French directors love to cast her as. Here, she’s the warm, loving Kate Mercer — an easy character for the audience to initially connect with, and to stick to like emotional velcro. And you want to, until her emotional life becomes uncomfortable, foreign, and incredibly tense, as her notions of a self she’s settled into over a 45 year relationship is suddenly pulled out from beneath her. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

The Big Short (dir. Adam McKay)

The first time I saw the trailer for The Big Short (and the second, and the third, and the fourth; let no one say Hollywood doesn’t know how to target its marketing), all I saw before my eyes glazed over was “warmed-over Wolf of Wall Street.” But various people I trust, including our own film editor Jason Bailey, convinced me my first impression was wrong. And I’m so glad they did: The Big Short is indeed a funny, furious movie about the financial crisis, but it’s also a few things I wasn’t expecting, including a telling look back on mid-aughts popular culture, a film smartly conscious of its own moral contradictions, and a showcase for the capital-a Acting chops of one Steve Carell — a better one, I think, than Foxcatcher, which fit a little too neatly into the storied tradition of “comic actor goes way serious to prove himself.” But maybe that’s because I have a soft spot for endearingly type-A Jewish characters, à la Ari Gold. Bonus: those who liked this movie as much as I did ought to check out director Adam McKay’s interview in Mike Sacks’ Poking a Dead Frog, which demonstrates interest in The Big Short‘s themes long before McKay was able to make the film happen. — Alison Herman, Associate Editor

Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark — Architecture & Morality

Only in the ‘80s could a synthpop band get away with naming an album something so self-serious as Architecture & Morality, and yet OMD did — barely. It yielded a few strong singles, but the thing as a whole wasn’t a giant hit. It’s not at all a consistent piece of art, and yet the album’s waves of brooding mellotrons manage to create a sad world that rivals even the harshest post-punk albums of the same year. It’s the rare album that sounds distinctly of a time, and can conjure scenes of an era without sounding stuck in that era. — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor

Master of None

I spent the New Year’s weekend watching Asiz Ansari’s clever and genre-defying Netflix series Master of None. The show explores issues of race and sexuality from the unique point of view of an Indian-American main character. It’s funny but also realistic, and reminds me of two FX series, Louie (but lighter) and The Comedians (but with more than just two Jewish white guys). It’s a refreshing change from many of the broadcast networks’ one-season-then-gone cookie-cutter sitcoms. I’ve also been reading Lisa Goldstein’s sci-fi novel Weighing Shadows , a sort of feminist take on time travel unlike anything I’ve encountered before. Both the book and Master of None will hopefully lead me to less mainstream, conventional pop culture. — Jason Ginsburg, Social Media Editor


Everybody has limits. A life spent over-consuming culture is far more enjoyable than one spent withholding it, but no one can experience everything and that is OK. So in the gap between my first and second “terms” as a Flavorwire editorial apprentice, I did three things. 1. I saw Star Wars, 2. I played Fallout 4, and 3. I slept. A lot. The current prevailing theory is that “catching up on sleep” is not really a thing, but I think that’s just what scientists tell themselves so they don’t have a nervous breakdown while cracking their third five-hour energy of the week to get through analyzing their data. The National Institute of Health recommends we get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. I recommend getting it while the getting’s good. — Michael Epstein, Editorial Apprentice