Staff Picks: ‘Eve’s Hollywood,’ Massive Attack, and Scarlett Johansson in ‘Hail, Caesar!’


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.

Eve’s Hollywood, by Eve Babitz

Los Angeles may be just as populous as New York, and likely home to far more storytellers. Yet somehow, there are far fewer clichés about America’s other great city (or rather, clichés more positive than the idea that L.A. is nothing more than “nineteens suburbs in search of a metropolis”). Enter Babitz, a lifelong Angeleno, artist, writer, and muse whose recently reissued memoir is a wandering love letter to her given and chosen home. Babitz skips around time with ease and writes with the airy, knowing offhandedness of Renata Adler’s Jen Fain, except she eschews Manhattan sophistication in favor of a Hollywood unpretentiousness — an expression that sounds like an oxymoron until Babitz makes her case. Eve’s Hollywood doesn’t capture the totality of Los Angeles so much as the impossibility of capturing such a diverse and sprawling place. Instead, she settles for her own subjective experience, and her book is all the more effective for it. — Alison Herman, TV Editor

Scarlett Johansson in Hail, Caesar!

As most critics (including Flavorwire’s Jason Bailey) have noted, the Coen Brothers’ latest isn’t a classic, but it’s still a whole lot of fun. And the magic is in the small moments, from Channing Tatum’s exuberantly homoerotic dance number to the appearance of one “Professor Marcuse” among a cadre of Hollywood reds. With apologies to Tilda Swinton, who should be in every movie, my favorite brief performance was Scarlett Johansson’s. Now that she’s strictly playing superheroes and/or non-human avatars of men’s desire, we rarely get to see her in comedic roles, but in Caesar she’s delightful as a foulmouthed Esther Williams type trying to hide the evidence of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy under a too-tight mermaid costume. — Judy Berman, Editor-in-Chief

John Goodman in Love the Coopers

Considering the star power it aligns – Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Ed Helms, Alan Arkin, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Marisa Tomei, Anthony Mackie, Jake Lacy – it’s a little surprising that Jessie Nelson’s holiday family dramedy Love the Coopers (out this week on DVD and Blu-ray) is as bad as it is; I was hoping for at least an enjoyable knock-off of The Family Stone (considering the similarities in premise, title, and Keaton involvement), but it’s a cutesy, twinkly, forced dud, full of unlikable people and hard-to-swallow contrivances. But actors that good will have their moments in even a bad movie, and Goodman, who by this point seems physically incapable of being false onscreen, has more of them than anyone. His interactions with Keaton, the longtime wife he’s about to leave, are properly strained yet still glow with the warmth they once shared; when he tells his granddaughter, in a too-candid moment in a hospital bathroom, “She doesn’t love me anymore,” it just breaks your heart. Love the Coopers is a bad movie, but a harmless one; no one’s gonna lose any work over their involvement here. But if this is the best we can find for Mr. Goodman, we’re all in trouble. —Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Massive Attack’s “Voodoo in My Blood,” feat. Young Fathers

On Ritual Spirit — Massive Attack’s first release since 2010 — the band fed old fans’ fantasies by re-teaming with Tricky (who hadn’t appeared on one of their albums since 1994) and also perhaps enlisted new fans by collaborating with the Mercury Prize winning Scottish hip-hop group Young Fathers. Though such intergenerational collaborations often double as transparent musical marketing strategies, there’s nothing that feels whatsoever forced here, and their duet track, “Voodoo in My Blood,” is the album’s highlight, a sustained four minutes of paranoia that draws on the tension of a menacing, baritone hum and skittering percussion. It would have sounded fresh on Mezzanine; and though not everything on the EP does, this track still sounds fresh now. The sound of anxiety is, perhaps, timeless. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor

The House on Primrose Pond by Yona Zeldis McDonough

The February/Valentine’s Day book I’m most excited to get cozy with is Yona Zeldis McDonough’s The House on Primrose Pond. Yona edits fiction for my favorite Jewiish feminist literary magazine, Lilith, but her own fiction is always a cozy pleasure to read. The premise of her newly-arrived-on-shelves novel has classically delicious hook: a woman recovering from trauma at her parents’ house in New Hampshire discovers an old love note addressed to her mother, and the unraveling of mysteries and hearts begins. See you when I finish my binge-read! — Sarah Seltzer, Editor-at-Large

The Reissue of Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s All Souled Out

It’s been 25 years since the release of All Souled Out, the debut EP from New York’s own Pete Rock & CL Smooth. Their soul and jazz sample-based sound, revolutionary at the time, would come to define the New York aesthetic, both in their generation and beyond. To celebrate the anniversary, the legendary duo is reissuing that first EP, along with their first full-length record, “Mecca and The Soul Brother,” on (clear) vinyl, via Get On Down. The 2xLP package features the timeless “T.R.O.Y. (They Reminisce Over You),” a staple of any G.O.A.T. hip-hop list, as well as a second disc packed with remixes. — Matthew Ismael Ruiz, Music Editor

Mr. Robot

I waited on this show because I was scared by the hype and the insufferable tough-guy air that surrounded the show’s publicity, but this weekend I finally finished the series, and, well, I was wrong. Through the bulging eyes of two of its main characters — protagonist Rami Malek and antagonist Martin Wallström — creator Sam Esmail’s Mr. Robot manages to elevate the USA network beyond reruns of Wings and into the upper echelons of the new golden era of television. With clever use of voiceover and fastidious attention to the detail of things like honeypots, rootkits, and the way phones actually look (characters use iPhones, not some house-made uPhone with a phony OS), Mr. Robot finds itself in the fortunate position of being the hyper-specific anti-NSA, anti-capitalist show that is oh-so-essential in 2016. — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor

@Femscriptintros (Twitter)

Generally speaking, Twitter is terrible. The indignant activist-charged pockets, whether you agree with them or not, tend to induce more fury than vindication. So color me surprised and impressed by @Femscriptintros, the rare stunt twitter account that manages make its point clearly, effectively and without telling anybody off in the process. Producer Ross Putman has put together a running list compiling all the horribly superficial ways women are introduced in film scripts. In theory, these tweets should be hilarious examples of tired and often offensive clichés. In practice, they highlight just how most screenwriters and film studios reduce the role of women in cinema to a “pretty face“ and a “sexy silhouette.” — Michael Epstein, Editorial Apprentice

The Monkees

In light of the news that the Monkees will release a new album later this year, I’d like to promote the band to the Millennial generation. I caught them during the 60s revival of the 80s (which also saw new versions of Gidget and Star Trek). The good episodes are like latter-day Marx brothers films, with a mix of clever wordplay and absurdist mayhem. People forget the first season actually won the Emmy for Best Comedy, beating Get Smart and Hogan’s Heroes. The songs are pretty great, too, I remember being in a Trader Joe’s when “I’m a Believer” came over the speakers, and people up and down the aisles were singing along. Songs like “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “For Pete’s Sake” have some counterculture protest bite. The group’s first four albums all hit #1; the first two went quintuple-platinum. So I’d recommend giving the group a second look — either the series (some of episodes are on YouTube for free) or the music. — Jason Ginsburg, Social Media Editor