Staff Picks: “San Junipero,” ‘Better Call Saul,’ ‘From Reverence to Rape’


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 Rain Room

As a new Los Angeles resident, I can confirm that the only place it rains in Southern California is inside the Rain Room at LACMA. I recently paid a visit to Random International’s immersive installation that allows visitors to explore a dark, large-scale room in the museum with perpetually falling water. No worries, it’s filtered and re-circulated. The rain pauses when it detects a human body with the help of 3D cameras, allowing people to walk freely through the downpour. The exhibit, which runs through November 22 (fingers crossed it continues to travel), is currently sold out — but you can try for same-day tickets in person at LACMA’s box office. The Rain Room can be a very intimate experience, depending on how many others brave the rainfall with you. It’s a popular selfie opportunity, but there was a mesmerizing moment during my visit when the crowd pocketed their phones and let the sensations take hold, watching each other through the storm. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

Better Call Saul Season Two on Blu-ray

I’ve rarely been as wrong about a television show as I was about Better Call Saul, which I initially thought – and yes, here’s a link – sounded like both a bad web series and possible bellwether for the end of AMC’s golden age. That’s what I get for underestimating Vince Gilligan. What could’ve been a cheap rip-off became one of television’s most melancholy character dramas, and it somehow got even better in its second season (new this week on Blu-ray). And in unexpected ways, its spin-off status gives it a freedom your typical drama wouldn’t have; there’s a patience to the storytelling here, a deliberateness that allows us to really live in these moments and get to know these characters (particularly Bob Odenkirk’s endlessly rich Jimmy/Saul and Reah Seehorn’s complicated Kim). What’s more, its prequel positioning gives it a kick that often eludes origin stories; even when things are going well for Jimmy McGill, as they are through much of this season, we still know somewhere in the back of our minds that he’ll become Saul Goodman someday, so this is all going in the toilet sooner or later. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Molly Haskell’s From Reverence to Rape

This is a fun title to be carrying on the subway: Film critic and historian Molly Haskell’s landmark 1974 book From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. The book’s third edition, with a forward by New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis, was recently published, and many of Haskell’s sharpest insights feel (sadly) more relevant now than ever.

I find myself underlining every other sentence: “A woman who could compete and conceivably win in a man’s world would defy emotional gravity, would go against the grain of prevailing notions about the female sex”; “A movie heroine could act on the same power and career drives as a man only if, at the climax, they took second place to the sacred love of a man”; “On the screen, sex has been demystified…without a compensating understanding of how to deal with the new freedom, or with a woman’s body — or her mind.” The book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of film and feminism in America. — Lara Zarum, TV Editor

Black Mirror, Season 3, Episode 4: “San Junipero”

Finishing an episode of Black Mirror can feel like having had an annoyingly self-satisfied voice whisper, “makes you think, eh?” in your ear for an hour +. Often in its mining of the moral connotations of tech advancements, it can feel like an expensive and stylized think-piece, but “San Junipero,” while certainly not subtle, gives a bit further into character relationships and a more elliptical meditation on certain ideas than the usual push to make said ideas purely disquieting. Over and over, the episode complicates itself by questioning the limits of both paradise and reality, as opposed to pitting them against each other to try to determine which is a superior realm.

Apart from great acting from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, whose character’s mercurial temperament and affections are laid out in a stunning monologue towards the end of the episode, and Mackenzie Davis, director Owen Harris manages to deftly use 80s nostalgia as the basis for a strange — but not sinister — world of romanticism and artifice.

There’s one shot that particularly resonated: of a hallway of uploaded consciousnesses, all angelically alight but rigidly compartmentalized within a digitized system. You know that, in the realities in which they’re immersed, each of those consciousnesses is having the loveliest time ever, and outside of it, it’s just part of a dazzling but also cold, ordered system. — Moze Halperin, Senior Editor