Staff Picks: ‘Aguirre, the Wrath of God,’ Starchild & the New Romantic and Ben Whishaw


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.

Diary of a Teenage Girl

Last year’s Diary of a Teenage Girl is one of those precarious films that I appreciate immensely but cannot say that I love, simply for the reprehensibility of its content. Driven by a beautiful, subtle performance by Bel Powley and her character’s love affair with the much older Alexander Skarsgard, the film toys with expectations by making it clear that Powley is a tremendously in-control teenager and that she wants to have sex with this older dude, who happens to be dating her mom, Kristen Wiig. (Skarsgard’s oddly childlike face does not lessen the mindfuck that comes with the growing familiarity of the relationship and the viewer’s attempt to rationalize it as somehow progressively healthy.) In the end, the film makes clear that, yes, this teen is strong-headed, but yes, she’s still a teen, so this is all shouldn’t be happening. Luckily, the film backs away from descending into full-on devastation in the end, but still, the possibility lingers, even days later. — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor

Aguirre, the Wrath of God, dir. Werner Herzog

Man vs. nature movies have never exactly been my main interests, but I’ve been watching some paragons of the form as part of research for a long-term project, and my favorite so far is this Herzog classic. As the titular real-life conquistadore leading a futile expedition to El Dorado, all Klaus Kinski needs to do to embody the voracious, doomed ambitions of Westerners invading the New World is stare wild-eyed into the camera (though he does manage to do a few other things). Also excellent: the alternately sublime and quite earthly soundtrack, by German ambient pioneers Popol Vuh. — Judy Berman, Editor in Chief

Tom Noonan

It’s shameful that I haven’t seen Anomalisa yet, but I’ve been a Tom Noonan fan since his Wolfen and Manhunter days. I was delighted to discover him in Ti West’s The House of the Devil, playing a role that is the archetypal antagonist creep he’s made a career out of. He doesn’t seem to agree to a lot of interviews, content to do his own thing away from the spotlight (writing plays, directing films), so I was excited to see his Q&A at Film Society of Lincoln Center (supporting Anomalisa) published online. It’s all very Tom: “One of the rules I have as an actor is never talk to the director.” And I got a kick out of knowing he gives Charlie Kaufman shit on set for fun. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

The Circus

I’ve become very impressed with the new Showtime political series The Circus. Mark Halperin and John Heilemann (authors of Game Change and Double Down) and political advisor Mark McKinnon have gained access to every candidate and offer a behind-the-scenes look at the campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire. Shot and edited weekly, the show combines the storytelling of a documentary with the immediacy of breaking news. Last week, it gave more airtime to John Kasich than most of the networks have in months, illustrating that what’s happening on the ground isn’t always reported in the major media. It’s a fun and insightful look at the “greatest show on Earth” and I hope it continues through the conventions — if not Election Day. — Jason Ginsburg, Social Media Editor

Ben Whishaw

I was lucky enough to get to review London Spy last week, but would like to give particular focus to Ben Whishaw, whose choices are always, to say the least, interesting — and who always manages to do amazing work within them, even in hyper-stylized movies about monstrous perfumers or half-baked Shakespeare adaptations. And between Spy and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster, the actor perhaps best known as new-Q from the recent James Bond films has been in two of my recent favorites. In London Spy, he’s able to show with startling subtlety — as his character’s tenacious boyish romanticism fights truths that could destroy it — the personal effects a potential large-scale conspiracy can have. His sprightly expressions bring a perfect balance to darker roles — he’s able to compellingly morph into characters plagued by melancholy, demons, and even the desire to turn redheads into perfume. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

Starchild & the New Romantic’s “Slammin’ Mannequin”

We caught Starchild last night at one of his side gigs, playing guitar in the touring version of Chairlift, who just released their excellent new LP ​_Moth_​ last Friday. But he’s a recording artist in his own right, and has collaborated with the likes of Dev Hynes, Kindness, and Solange Knowles. It’s easy to hear all of those artists in “Slammin’ Mannequin,” the new single from his upcoming EP ​_Crucial_​, as Starchild and The New Romantic. Heavy Prince vibes abound; good luck keeping your head from bobbing. ​_Crucial_​ is out March 18 on Ghostly International. — Matthew Ismael Ruiz, Music Editor

The Thirty Twenty Ten podcast

Pop culture fans love anniversaries. We’ll relish any excuse to bring up and wax philosophical on our favorite films, shows, books, etc. “Thirty Twenty Ten,” a new podcast from the guys and gal from the Laser Time podcast network that literally serves up a weekly fix of communal media memory in the form of a crass, funny and insightful nostalgia morning radio-style talk show. Each week, a panel of pop-culture junkies reminisce and riff on the pop culture events that occurred that week 30-, 20- and 10 years ago. Rather than limiting their scope to the essential, recognizable events you would expect to find commemorated on all over the internet, the pop culture nostalgia junkies Chris Antista, Henry Gilbert, Brett Elston and Dianna Goodman dig deep into their individual passions and personal experiences to bring up obscure trivia-worthy cultural artifacts with the modern touchstones. — Michael Epstein, Editorial Apprentice