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 below.
The First Monday in May (dir. Andrew Rossi)
The First Monday in May is not a terrifically artistic documentary, and it’s not even a particularly insightful one. It is voyeuristic, though, and with the topics of fashion, and Vogue, and Anna Wintour, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, voyeurism is hard to resist.
The film focuses on the Met Costume Institute’s annual spring exhibition, specifically 2015’s China: Through the Looking Glass. The show, which was a collaboration with the museum’s Department of Asian Art, sought to showcase designers’ interpretations of China through fashion. The exhibition does not intend to critique or comment on the way fashion, particularly Western fashion, has completely fantasized (and disparaged) Chinese culture. This is something made known throughout, thanks to comments by the show’s curator Andrew Bolton, as well as Anna Wintour, and also the head of the Met and its Department of Asian Art. It’s actually something that the director of the film, Andrew Rossi, manages to joke about through careful editing, a feat that suggests the Met, and Wintour, maybe didn’t have final editorial say in the cut of this film.
A few key examples: after Bolton and Wintour face off with a particularly ceaseless Chinese reporter about the insensitivity of the show, Bolton, in a separate room, turns to Wintour and says, “She was making it far too political! All she cared about was the politics!” The concern of the reporter earns legitimacy when, later, Wintour, examining the exhibition space the day-of, grabs a printed curtain, rubs it between her gnarled fingers, and asks an assistant, “What is this? Nylon?” “It’s pure silk,” the assistant says. “No, it’s rayon. Made in China,” Wintour says, laughing.
We never get to see whether or not the show was considered a success, artistically. We see that it was the fifth-most attended exhibition in the Met’s history, topping even the Alexander McQueen show. But we don’t know, if we don’t Google, whether or not it was considered racist, or if the Department of Asian Art was happy with it. We barely even see how the clothes were displayed. And yet, all negativity aside, it was still a thoroughly entertaining film, offering insight into a process that is otherwise foreign to most of us. It might not be the most important thing in the world, but it’s sure fun to watch. — Shane Barnes, Associate Editor
The other day, when I saw the full cast list of David Lynch’s upcoming Twin Peaks revival, I was perhaps most thrilled to see Josh Fadem on it — despite the fact that he is not particularly famous (compared to some of the huge names involved in the project), and despite the fact that I have no idea what his role is or how small it is.
One of the funniest standup sets I’ve ever seen live was a part of some random show I went to at UCB LA — I don’t remember why I went, and I don’t remember who else performed. But for about five to seven minutes, from the moment the diminutive, disheveled Fadem stumbled onstage and spent a whole minute fiddling in a ballet of clumsiness with his mic to the end of his brief routine, I was so down with everything he was doing (most comedians require some buffer time to get used to their schtick).
I recognized Fadem as Liz Lemon’s obscenely young agent on 30 Rock, and he has a recurring role on Better Call Saul. But his standup is completely singular — the clip above is a perfect example. Fadem begins with a setup that sounds like the beginning of a hackneyed “what’s up with that” joke about restaurant decorum, and then goes to another place entirely — and then just stays in that place. A great deal of his comedy hinges on bizarre physical and vocal outbursts, but there’s also a level of containment and control to them:
Anyway, this is all to say that I hope that he at least gets to play an “owl [who’s] not what [he] seems” on Twin Peaks — if he doesn’t have a larger role. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor
Holding Out for the End of Game of Thrones
I’m going to tell you a secret: After five years and diminishing returns last season, I was ready to be done with Game of Thrones. Its flavor — not just fantasy setting, but elements like the large sprawling political intrigue, the “sexposition” and visceral violence — have been well replicated elsewhere. Plus, there’s so much TV out there… Wouldn’t the show rather I remember it in its prime, rather than its middling later years?
But then, of course, I still watched it and, of course, it’s still as enjoyable as anything else I’ve watched all year. There are real reasons to have high hopes: This is the first season that will be most off-book, which means you can throw out all those book-based fan theories. After watching the first episode,the show appears to be moving at a slightly speedier pace than last year. I’m ready for GoT to move into its final act, and there’s maybe just the slightest evidence that I’ll get my wish.
Plus, after five years of making it appointment television, I kind of have to see this through… Right? — Michael Epstein, Editorial Apprentice
The May 2016 Issue of Poetry Magazine
The May issue of Poetry Magazine taught me I have a serious blind spot when it comes to the Australian poets. I’m incredibly excited to dig into the work of Samuel Wagan Watson, Susan Fealy, Elizabeth Campbell, Pam Brown, Astrid Lorange, and L.K. Holt. Jaya Savige’s evocative essay “Creation’s Holiday”: On Silence and Monsters in Australian Poetry uses works from the poet Judith Wright, an Aboriginal activist, and Chris Edwards’ “A Fluke,” a mistranslation of Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Un coup de dés…” inserting “Hannibal Lecter” into the passage, as signposts. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor
“The Sickness” from J Dilla’s The Diary
It’s usually ill-advised for the label boss to jump on the single and in the video for the latest release on their label (i.e. literally any Sean Combs verse), but when that label boss is Mass Appeal’s Nasir Jones, the rules are a bit different. In this video for “The Sickness,” the latest single from J Dilla’s posthumous “lost” LP The Diary, the two spit bars through animated avatars, and the legendary producer more than holds his own against an admittedly average Nas verse. But the Madlib beat is hard AF—as if there was any doubt. — Matthew Ismael Ruiz, Music Editor
Louis C.K. on WTF with Marc Maron
For WTF‘s 700th episode, Maron reels in a couple big fish. First, Julia Louis-Dreyfus sit down for the first time to discuss her long and eventful career. She’s her usual charming, irreverent self, and it’s a great conversation. But the second part, when Louis C.K. drops by the garage and basically narrates the story of how Horace and Pete came to be, is a real trip. There are so many great details: C.K.’s amazing impression of Jack Nicholson turning down the part of Uncle Pete; the fact that he approached Edie Falco out of the blue at the Emmys and asked her to be on the show; his description of getting turned on while writing Laurie Metcalf’s incredible monologue. It’s a great story, a star-studded odyssey that sounds like it would make a great episode of TV. — Lara Zarum, Contributor, TV