Staff Picks: ‘Bates Motel,’ ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex,’ Amy Poehler


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.

Bates Motel

My TV comfort food of late is Bates Motel, which I previously wrote off — admittedly after only one episode. I’m currently on season three. Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore have the supremely uncomfortable job of crafting an outrageous mother-son relationship that crosses all boundaries — and they make it seem totally normal. It’s easy to relate to some of their very human struggles — even if we can’t sympathize with a woman who manipulates her troubled son and a young man who has a convenient story for every dead friend that turns up around town. White Pine Bay doesn’t exactly upstage Twin Peaks, but it’s full of dark secrets. There’s a push and pull between the past (the Robert Bloch and Alfred Hitchcock source material) and present (text messages and, ugh, Coldplay), which is evident in the set design, costumes, and lilting Old Hollywood/mid-Atlantic accent Highmore teases with every, “Yes, Mother.” My only hope is things get increasingly bonkers. — Alison Nastasi, Weekend Editor

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)

Look, I get it, the mere idea of watching a Woody Allen movie with this title in The Year of Our Lord 2017 is, even under the best of assumptions, a big ask. But this early Allen comedy (new on Blu from Twilight Time) has some awfully funny stuff. Allen was challenged to turn the bestselling, much-discussed late-‘60s sex manual into a movie (a challenge roughly akin to, I dunno, making a movie out of What to Expect When You’re Expecting) and chose to pluck out a handful of questions with real comedic possibilities, which he would then answer in a series of comic vignettes. There’s a naughty, burlesque-show quality to the enterprise, and some of the bits either fall flat or have dated badly. But the gems are real gems – particularly Gene Wilder’s uproariously frenetic turn as a doctor who falls in love with a sheep, and the (pardon the pun) climactic sequence that goes inside the male body before and during an orgasm, which includes Tony Randall as the smooth-talking mission control, Burt Reynolds as the switchboard operator, and Allen himself as a neurotic sperm cell. — Jason Bailey, Film Editor

Amy Poehler in Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later

Since the original Wet Hot American Summer happened well before Amy Poehler became a comic mega-star, it didn’t quite capitalize on her presence in the film; Susie’s scenes were hilarious, but she didn’t seem to have as much screen time as some of the other counselors. In the new sequel (following the prequel), Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, Susie is now a wonky funhouse nostalgic vision of whatever an early 90s Hollywood producer would’ve looked like, and it’s through her — and her hunky rising star boyfriend — that we get a lot of the stupidly specific 90s film references. For example, someone using the word “slackers,” and then Susie, in a hilariously forced moment, pointing out that that movie was released a couple of weeks ago. It’s amusing to see Poehler embody a character far higher on the plane of absurdity than the kooky yet wholly endearing Leslie Knope; her zanier comic timing — that people got to know through SNL or, for those lucky enough to have caught them, early UCB performances — is on full display, for example, when she repeats, multiple times over, until it pushes into near-surrealism, that releasing a film is like having a baby. — Moze Halperin, Senior Editor