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.
Rivka Galchen’s Little Labors, Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, and other criticism-meets-essay works by women
I read Rivka Galchen’s Little Labors in a day during a chaotic week; its a series of short ruminations the author wrote while she had a young child (dubbed “the puma” by her mother). It’s a smart, whimsical take on a very manic period in a person life, filled with observations that rang piercingly true to me as the mom of a 9-month-old — and others that felt alien, too, because every mother is different. Interestingly enough, I had just finished Maggie Nelson’s similarly-paced Bluets and have been thinking nonstop about the role of such short-burst, slim, criticism-meets-essay works by women. So I read Willa Paskin’s thoughtful take on the same:”These books are short, digestible, digressive, personal, often fragmented. They combine memoir, biography, diary, critical and academic readings, anecdote, factoids, and a kind of mystical sense of coincidence,” she writes. Her piece is comprehensive and smart, yet because of the elliptical nature of these books, it still leaves me wanting to further explore. I’m reading Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness next to keep doing so. — Sarah Seltzer, Deputy Editor
Justina Machado on One Day at a Time
As Vanessa Diaz on Six Feet Under, Justina Machado’s role began as an underwritten supportive wife character, but the show thankfully soon deepened her presence; Machado was given room to explore the collision of her character’s overarching steadfastness and her paralyzing depression following the death of her mom, in what turned out to be one of the show’s many performances that still stand out within TV canon. So it was pretty cool when — after years of supporting roles — Machado was announced to be playing the central character on the remake of One Day at a Time, as a Cuban American veteran with the wellbeing of her entire family — not to mention her own wellbeing — resting on her shoulders. Here, she sustains the same emotional weight she brought to Six Feet Under, balanced by the heightened levity of a standard multi-cam sitcom, which underscores one of the most vital aspects of this new series: that its format leads you to expect easy humor, but that it can so quickly get very real, and not relent as equivocally as you might expect a sitcom to in its usual, palatable doses of seriousness.
One episode of note is the third, in which Machado’s character, Penelope, fights with her mother, Lydia (Rita Moreno!!), first about needing space and agency to bring up her children, and then about faith. The sitcom is pretty bold to bear numerous scenes of deeply rooted conflict in one episode — and they work because Machado and Moreno don’t shy away from giving into the legitimate drama of them, but are also able to swing back into semi-theatrical multi-cam comedy without totally undoing the serious undertones of the series. Read my colleague Lara Zarum’s full review of the show here, or, you know, just start watching. — Moze Halperin, Senior Editor
Louie Season 5
I was on a plane and the (free) pickings were slim, so I re-watched a couple episodes from Season 5 of Louie, Louis C.K.’s FX comedy that’s been on hiatus since August 2015. (Is there a connection between Louie leaving TV just as Trump announced his presidential bid and thus overwhelmed it? Come back, Louie, all is forgiven!) Maybe it’s because it only lasted eight episodes, but Season 5 had faded from my memory and I was grateful for the reminder of what a consistently funny and surprising show this is. The fifth season begins with a hilarious cold open in which Louie shits his pants on the way home from buying groceries with his daughters, and it includes one of Louie‘s best guest spots — Michael Rapaport as Louie’s sister’s ex-boyfriend, a cop with an unhinged personality who latches onto Louie. The season ends with a two-parter as Louie goes on the road. If you gave up on the show earlier in its run, or if you haven’t revisited the last season, you’re in for a treat. — Lara Zarum, TV Editor
The Naked Superwitches Of The Rio Amore Soundtrack
Detested by cinema’s elite and often derided by genre critics, Spanish filmmaker Jess Franco made a career out of pushing boundaries. With a prolific filmography that reads as one long fever dream, Franco made microbudget features that focused on the sexy and violent, with the occasional foray into porn. Franco’s 1981 film The Story of Linda falls into the latter category. The movie has several titillating alternate titles, including Naked Super Witches of the Rio Amore. That’s the title Berlin label Private Records used for their latest limited-edition release, in collaboration with the legendary ’60s and ‘70s porn soundtrack producer Gerhard Heinz. The spectacularly sleazy and groovy Super Witches LP will be available at the end of January. Here’s the NSFW link to buy and for more info. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor
Stardust Memories on Blu-ray
When it was released in September of 1980, Stardust Memories was seen as a rare misfire for Woody Allen; it received mostly negative reviews (even from frequent boosters like Roger Ebert) and barely broke even commercially. But, as with much of Allen’s work, time was on its side. What its initial reviewers read as a mean-spirited attack on his fans and critics now fits snugly into the subset of his hard-edged, ostensibly autobiographical pictures like Deconstructing Harry and Husbands and Wives. It’s got some of his most evocatively surreal sequences, traffics in a baroque style quite unlike the rest of his filmography, daringly intertwines fantasy and reality, and finds, in Jessica Harper, one of Allen’s most charismatic and charming leading ladies. Plus, the black-and-white cinematography by the great Gordon Willis is gorgeous – and nicely captured by Twilight Time’s recent-ish Blu-ray transfer. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor