Staff Picks: ‘Parks and Recreation,’ ‘The Handmaiden,’ “Best of Luck With The Wall”


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.

Parks and Recreation

I’ve been cocooning myself in late-night Netflix episodes of Parks and Recreation lately (pro tip: no Twitter before bed), and have found these little fables about effective, compassionate local government to be very soothing bedtime stories. Creator Mike Schur, who also created NBC’s new (and excellent) sitcom The Good Place, seems to pour his own preoccupations with morality and ethics into his series; Parks and Rec isn’t just a fun show about a group of kooky co-workers like The Office, but a pean to people who care, who see the world for what it is but don’t give into nihilism or despair. No matter the challenges facing Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope — sneaky “gotcha” journalists; slanderous partisan attacks; a cruelly vindictive opposition in the form of the Sanitation Department — Parks and Rec insists that compassion, decency, and hard work can effect change. It’s important not to slip into a comfort coma right now, but if you need a brief antidote to panic-inducing news alerts, Parks and Rec is there for you. — Lara Zarum, TV Editor

The Handmaiden

You know that feeling where just about everything you see happening in the world is nauseating and you just want to see the patriarchy (or some miniature form of it) get torn apart by lesbians in turn-of-the-20th century, Japanese-Occupied Korea? I didn’t quite know the latter, more specific part of that feeling, either, until I watched the just-released-on-VOD film last night, and realized it was exactly the type of movie I needed right about now. Despite occasionally questioning its structuring, I became otherwise immersed in this beautiful and vicious film, that happens to bear more of a firmly beating heart than the frenetic march its trailer would suggest. Its fixation on the opposite poles of eroticism — as something that can be oppressive or liberating — and where it takes that focus were made all the more captivating through director Park Chan-wook’s almost violently lush filming and Kim Min-hee’s and Kim Tae-ri’s abilities to balance continuity and flexibility with their characters as we see them shift through alternate perspectives. — Moze Halperin, Senior Editor

Best of Luck With the Wall

The US-Mexico border is just under 2,000 miles long. You probably know this already, because we’ve been hearing about the border — and the feasibility, or lack thereof, of building a wall along it — for over a year now. But still, the actual size of the undertaking is hard to visualize — what does 2,000 miles look like? What can you relate it to? Happily, a new video project has taken on the task of translating the border from abstract concept on paper to visual entity. It’s the work of one Josh Begley, who worked with Citizenfour filmmaker Laura Poitras on the project, and is composed of some 200,000 aerial images. The project’s name? Glad you asked. It’s entitled, wryly, “Good Luck With the Wall.” The video’s not emeddable, annoyingly, but you can watch it at the Intercept here. — Tom Hawking, Editor-in-Chief

Keanu, (currently playing on HBO)

Keanu is the rediscovered treasure of an action/farce from Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael-Key. It’s a sort of stoner shoot-em-up reminiscent of Pineapple Express with a little bit of Half Baked thrown in, but the humor, all about the code-switching and posturing that occurs when two nerdy guys find themselves in the realm of gangs and guns, is uniquely Key and Peele’s. Look, we need dumb comedies where things get blown up and people take extended drug trips scored to wacky songs (in this case, the late great George Michael is a key motif throughout the film) even in times of trauma. Especially in times of trauma. Also, the titular kitten is very cute. Very, very cute. — Sarah Seltzer, Deputy Editor