Staff Picks: Riz Ahmed, ‘The Golden Age,’ and ‘You Must Remember This’


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.

Mr. Robot

I’ve been binge watching Mr. Robot, which I’m digging for the most part. Despite some pretty big reveals that were a little too David Fincher for me, there was a period between season one and two that lost steam. I appreciate the dedication to realism and fun calling out of hacker cinema stereotypes, but I’m still trying to determine how I feel about the show’s gender politics. While I appreciate the attempt to undermine tired female tropes, like Stephanie Corneliussen’s long-suffering housewife Joanna Wellick, others just won’t quit — and at times every woman feels like an overwrought characterization of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman during different points in his life (a role Tyrell Wellick already occupies). Still, the tech terror/paranoia, style, and genuine unease are keeping me hooked. And why has it taken me so long to notice how amazing Rami Malek is? — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

The Golden Age by Joan London

Joan London’s The Golden Age is the rare novel that makes its reader want to cry at almost every single page, but manages to be uplifting at the same time. It’s about Frank, a young polio patient and budding poet in Western Australia who is also a survivor of World War II, and has arrived in the area as a refugee with his parents, urbane Hungarian Jews (the mother is a concert pianist) at something of a loss in their new home. The title of the novel is the real name of a convalescent center for children from the time; the love story between Frank and another patient, Elsa, animates the novel as it follows the children, staff and families through individual processes of adapting to new and devastating circumstances. The novel’s passages about both the war and the disease are spare but no less brutal for that, leaving the imagination to do the hard work of understanding just what the characters have endured. With the refugee crisis in Europe and the new resurgence of anti-Semitism thanks to Trump supporters, the novel feels too relevant, and reading it as a new mother made all its poignant passages feel even more meaningful to me. — Sarah Seltzer, Deputy Editor

The new season of You Must Remember This

After concluding a sprawling, ambitious, 16-part series on the Hollywood Blacklist in June, our favorite movie-nerd podcast is back with what host Karina Longworth dubs “the You Must Remember This verison of a beach read”: a six-part series telling the gossipy tale of the rise of the woman born Lucille LeSeur, then dubbed Billie Casin, and finally christened Joan Crawford. Two episodes in and it’s already a treat, filled with the kind of deep research, delicious tidbits, and eyebrow-arched narration that makes YMRT great. And, as with the Trumbo-following Blacklist series, the pre-Hail Caesar MGM season, and the Manson/true crime year, Longworth’s right on time: we’ll be hearing a lot more about Ms. Crawford in the months to come, thanks to our old pal Ryan Murphy. Listen now, impress your cattiest friends later. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Riz Ahmed in The Night Of

The best element of Nightcrawler was definitely the acting: Jake Gyllenhaal’s frightening, wiry voyeur/exploiter of human suffering, Lou, was perfectly paired with Riz Ahmed’s enigmatic, and far less sociopathic Rick, whose joblessness and loneliness led him into the hands of Lou, becoming his wide-eyed mentee in capturing footage of violence in Los Angeles. I was late to start watching The Night Of, but I’m so glad to see Ahmed get to develop another completely curious character, now over the course of a whole series. Though I’ve heard Ahmed’s character Naz’s innocence may ultimately be a question, he initially builds up so much sympathy for and curiosity about the character, somehow managing to play naivete and innocence with a magnetic intensity that could denote underlying demons. It’s hard to play a character who doesn’t know what’s going on interestingly; those characters are often just audience surrogates. But Ahmed’s Naz is a vivid series of unknowns, both to the audience and to himself. — Moze Halperin, Associate Editor