Staff Picks: ‘Detroiters,’ ‘I Am Not Your Negro,’ and More


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.


Richard Splett is probably my favorite non-Selina character on Veep, so I was very excited to see that Sam Richardson had his own show (with best friend/former SNL writer Tim Robinson; the two co-created the series and co-write some episodes), and then even more excited to see that that show was very, very funny. Hinging on the friendship between the co-heads of a struggling advertising firm in the depopulated city its business reflects, Detroiters sees the two goofball leads making episodic attempts at creativity and professional knowhow within the resource-strapped world of local TV advertising in the Motor City. Flavorwire TV editor Lara Zarum rightly praised its “good-natured goofiness, hyper-repetition, and a wide array of genuinely funny performances” in her review. With thematic echoes of Nathan for You, through the main characters’ profession, Detroiters is able to explore what American small businesses look like — and what they have to do to survive — in a city that’s been institutionally neglected; and through that we get some hilarious, strange, yet often quite empathic, character portraits. (From the “hot tub king of Detroit” to the bartender who offers a selection of both cold and hot beer to the elderly ad agency secretary who still emulates the “sexy secretary” archetype of a bygone era.) Both of the series’ creators hail from Detroit, and it reads as a comic portrait rendered by two people who deeply know and love the place. Even the show’s jizz humor is oddly sweet. — Moze Halperin, Senior Editor

Cave Evil: Warcults

If you like noise music, Magic: The Gathering, Warhammer, and black metal fonts, check out Emperors of Eternal Evil’s board game Cave Evil: Warcults. You get to battle some gnarly, subterranean creatures as a powerful Warlord. If you own the maker’s first game Cave Evil, you can integrate it with War Cults — or play War Cults as a standalone (but the ability to become a Necromancer with the first game is aces). Several of the folks behind the scenes are major influencers in the experimental noise and sound-as-art communities — such as artist Commode Minstrels in Bullface (full disclosure: one of the group is a pal of mine), Matt Brinkman from Fort Thunder, Friends Forever’s Nate Hayden, and more. Matt Carr, illustrator for horror/gore death metal bands galore, also contributed his talents. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

I Am Not Your Negro

Flavorwire film editor Jason Bailey gave this film the number one spot on his list of best documentaries of 2016, and I can see why: I Am Not Your Negro is one of those movies that makes you see the world in a different light. Like Ava DuVernay’s 13th, it feels revelatory even if its message is not new to you. Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck stitches together passages from a book that James Baldwin began but never finished, called Remember This House — a memoir of black America told through the biographies of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Peck also weaves together footage of Baldwin speaking on talk shows and in lecture halls with ironically contrasting images, from films, TV shows, and advertisements of the 1960s, of the idyllic — and totally white — American dream. At a taut 90 minutes, the film is packed with insights that resonate deeply at this moment in American history. Go see it. — Lara Zarum, TV Editor

Bad Day at Black Rock on Blu-ray

Warner Archives’ recent Blu-ray upgrade of this gruff, taciturn neo-Western from director John Sturges gave me an excuse to finally fill in a blind spot (it’s one I’ve been meaning to watch since Paul Thomas Anderson mentioned it on the Boogie Nights audio commentary), and it does not disappoint. Set in a Western town that time forgot – but set in the post-WWII period of its release – it’s a terrific little picture, with Spencer Tracy absolutely crushing it as a stranger in town utterly uninterested in suffering fools. The narrative is marvelously minimalist, a script that keeps secrets without cheating, while the dialogue is roughly eloquent; the frames are filled with some of the all-time great movie faces (including Robert Ryan, Walter Brennan, Ernest Borgnine, Lee Marvin, and Anne Francis). And it’s worth seeking out in HD; the widescreen Eastmancolor photography is to die for. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

The exact opposite of Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s “Womanhood Defined”

This is a sort of anti-staff pick; I’m just going to say a quick word about Natasha Vargas-Cooper’s much-discussed piece “Womanhood Redefined” for The American Conservative. If you don’t want to read nearly 5,000 words of TERFishness, I certainly don’t blame you; I expect you’ll be even less inclined to slog through the piece if I tell you that, inter alia, it compares trans people to Rachel Dolezal, refers to gender reassignment surgery as “surgical mutilation,” and, in the sort of rich irony generally reserved for the alt-right, compares living in a world where the concept of gender is being questioned to living in The Matrix. But if you’ve got a half hour, sit down and read it, because honestly, it’s convenient to have every shitty argument that characterizes the worst of second-wave feminism collected in one place. It’s a handy guide as to how not to be an asshole, a What Would Jens Do?-style point of reference as to how not to approach the T end of the LGBT spectrum. If you find yourself wondering about something trans-related and for whatever reason find yourself unable to, y’know, just ask an actual trans person for their thoughts, then ask yourself this: what would Natasha Vargas-Cooper do? And then do the absolute, polar opposite. — Tom Hawking, Editor-in-Chief