SNLbrought back their 1990s sketch about infamous salesman Bill Brasky over the weekend. Will Ferrell came back for the bit, but Tim Meadows — who participated four times from '96 to '98 — was nowhere to be seen. Meadows quickly detailed his feelings on the matter on his Facebook wall: "I guess it just dawned on me that I mean NOTHING to them ... I'm just being overly sensitive. It doesn't matter in the long run. I'm grateful for what they did for me." Later: "I will never watch SNL again" and "Fuck them." Even later: "I talked to a friend on the show who said it WAS a last minute sketch. I acted like a baby. I'm happy for all of my friends success and will always be grateful and proud to have been a part of SNL." Settled, then.
Overpriced fashion-type-person boutique Opening Ceremony has had some luck in the past with cross-promotional fashion, and it looks like they're ready to throw in their weight with this year's crop of Oscar hopefuls. Last spring, their Spring Breakers collection was a sold-out hit, even if largely buoyed by one iconic, must-have piece of headgear (and I'd really like to know more about whoever bought those $20 "HARMONY" friendship bracelets, assuming, perhaps erroneously, that it was not Harmony Korine). It helped that Spring Breakers was an incredibly tactile movie, as packed with emphasized objects and iconography as a Twin Peaks episode, so it was not at all unreasonable to start wondering if/how you could incorporate a little Alien/Brit/Candy visual flourish into your lifestyle within a couple hours of leaving the theater.
Spike Jonze has always been a styley filmmaker — that's "styley"; not "stylish" or "stylized" but somewhere in between the two — and his upcoming futuristic romance Her, with its Arcade Fire/Yeah Yeah Yeahs–assisted soundtrack, is this year's cool-kids Oscar hopeful. But to Jonze's credit, unlike that other early-aughts Charlie Kaufman collaborator Michel Gondry, his feature-film work tends to leave you thinking more about, like, life, maaaan, rather than how you can re-create Cameron Diaz's voluminous hairstyle. This has not stopped Opening Ceremony from using his work as inspiration, first back in 2009 with their Where the Wild Things Are collection (seriously), and now, I'm gonna say intriguingly, with a Her-inspired line. I haven't seen Her yet, but I know it takes place in Los Angeles in the near-future, and I know Joaquin Phoenix might single-handedly make me rethink my stance on mustaches. Sounds like the recipe for a great editorial spread!
If the title of this piece sounds like an Encyclopedia Brown book, that's because we have a bona fide caper on our hands.
This past Friday, the nominations for the 56th annual Grammy Awards were released. As per usual, there were surprises, there were snubs, and many of the decisions make very little sense. But even while being aware of the troll that is the decision-making process, it's almost impossible not to care. Because a Grammy will forever be this sick, twisted, archival form of validation.
Part of this year's madness is the state of rhythm and blues. In 2012, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences performed major overhauls of many of its categories, deciding to consolidate here, rename there, and in some cases, eliminate altogether. Best Contemporary R&B Album, a category that existed from 2003 to 2011, was one of the categories eliminated, with the remaining umbrella category, Best R&B Album, absorbing albums that formerly would have landed in the contemporary field.
Much of the East Coast spent last week huddled beneath an onslaught of wintry mix — but down in balmy South Beach, the glaciers of ice were embedded in the lyrics of Raekwon the Chef. See, at Art Basel, the annual art festival that has rippled outward to become a monsoon, the stout Wu-Tang swordsman was omnipresent. It was unclear if gallery-scene Illuminati Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian had blessed him with an elaborate induction ceremony, but the Chef was reveling in the moment.
On Thursday night, Raekwon was poolside at the ritzy Delano Hotel, attending a fundraising event for an organization that uses proceeds from art auctions to provide dental care for kids. When bidding for an album cover signed by Jean-Michel Basquiat petered out in the mid-thousands, he barked on the microphone to encourage big spenders. “Put your hands together for this fly, international, luxurious art,” he said. Not coincidentally, Fly International Luxurious Art — or F.I.L.A. — is the title of his forthcoming album. (As an aside, it still sounds amazing when he just talks, like the dude is simultaneously eating Legos and commanding a platoon to flank its enemy.)
Clear eyes and full hearts don't mean jack when it comes to the Friday Night Lights movie, the one that would pick up where the TV series left off, the one we've been hearing about since the show wrapped its five-year run in 2011. Peter Berg, who directed and cowrote the original 2004 film and went on to executive-produce the series, tells Collider, "There’s not gonna be a movie." That's a hard no where many maybes have recently trod. But it's not a definitive no quite yet: "We talked about it, some people thought it was a good idea, some didn't; I’ve come to believe it’s probably not a good idea and I seriously doubt it’s gonna happen." Multiply "not gonna" by "seriously doubt" and align your hopes accordingly.
If you haven't yet watched the six extant episodes of the BBC's Sherlock, (1) why aren't you living your best life?, and (2) don't play the above video, as it constitutes an enormous spoiler about the end of Series 2 and everything that is good in the world will be ruined for you. You will spend the rest of your wretched days regretting the decision, muttering under your breath about how Bendlyboo Crambersnootch destroyed your life as you attempt to sell broken electronic goods from a dirty blanket on the front lawn of your former home. You've been warned. The Curse of the 'Snootch looms for incautious YouTube clickers. He will mock your wholly avoidable destruction from beneath his giant pile of gold.
Now more than ever, pop culture is about the small stuff — an obscure TV show, a few notes in a pop song, a tweet. To celebrate a year of micro moments, every day a new Grantland writer will highlight one specific thing — a Big Little Thing — that we won't soon forget.
Max Martini plays the nameless Navy SEAL commander in Captain Phillips. Here is a fairly comprehensive summary of his actions in the film: About two-thirds into the movie, he arrives in a black SUV on a tarmac in Virginia and has a very important phone call, during which he is informed that a commercial ship has been hijacked by Somali pirates while making a run between Oman and Mombasa. During the conversation he says, more or less, “I understand.” A little while later, he jumps out of the same transport plane, parachutes into the ocean off the coast of Somalia, boards a Navy ship, and pretends to be a hostage negotiator while planning the extraction of Captain Richard Phillips from the Maersk Alabama lifeboat, where Phillips is being held hostage by four pirates. Martini is onscreen for less than five minutes, and his dialogue in the film’s final act amounts to “I need sights on target,” “I’m the negotiator,” “I need three targets green,” “release weapons on my command,” “speed up the tow,” “stop the tow,” and “execute.”
Would it be too on the nose (or on something else) to say that Showtime's Masters of Sex has reached the plateau stage? Most rookie series tend to fumble with quality like an adolescent with a bra strap. But the beguiling Masters has been both thrilling and remarkably consistent: From the very first episodes, the show has had a rhythm and quiet confidence that belied its years. It's not noisy and it's not particularly rough; unlike other prestige hours it doesn't screw with our heads or play games with our hearts. Occasionally it's downright abstemious: Last night's penultimate episode was the first in weeks without a bang, and, because of that, there weren't even any memorable whimpers. And yet, even dressed, the show's many pleasures couldn't be denied. Masters is the rare young series that knows what it wants and exactly how to achieve it.
Sorry. Let's leave the bad puns in the opening, just as the show does. (Quick sidebar: I find Masters of Sex's panting, pun-heavy credits truly awful, a close runner-up to Homeland's interminable jazz-labyrinth. I just don't understand why a sly and subtle series about grown-up emotions would introduce itself with a dopey montage that's arguably less mature than a Blink-182 album cover.) The point being, I've fallen hard for Masters over the past few weeks. It goes without saying that the show's nimble exploration of gender and power sets it apart from a macho cable landscape riddled with bullet holes and splashed with blood. But like the determined Dr. DePaul, Masters is no token. It has proven to be exceptional for what it is, not what it isn't. Under the sure hand of showrunner Michelle Ashford, there's a delicacy to the storytelling that strikes me as utterly unique, something unhurried and resolutely modest — not in its ambition but in its demeanor. Relationships simmer slowly, characters are treated gently and with great respect. The Eisenhower-era teaching hospital at Washington University has just as many affairs and conveniently metaphorical medical diagnoses as present-day Seattle Grace. Yet the desire lines between the personalities — historical and otherwise — are drawn so carefully and then looped around one another with such skill that we're drawn in close without ever noticing the knots. Despite the title (and those cheesy credits), the show is intimate, not physical.
I know it's been mentioned a thousand times, but I'd be failing in my duties as a recapper if I didn't note that Paul Rudd has obviously made a deal with the devil. Or scientists. Maybe a vitamin company. He is 44 years old, but he is not 44 years old. Why has his face stayed the same for 20 years? I'm not superficially interested; I'm curious on a molecular level. I'm staring at this and it's destroying everything I thought I knew about life, mortality, and acceptance. (This is a topic of special significance to any of us old enough to recognize the revival of Bill Brasky from the late-’90s SNL catalogue. Paul Rudd has beat us all.)
Rudd hosted Saturday Night Live with musical guests One Direction this week, and even with special cameos from some of his Anchorman 2 costars (along with SNL alumni Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen), it didn't quite one-up the show's delightfully weird previous episode, hosted by Josh Hutcherson. Whaaaat? I know! It's not that Rudd wasn't a great host or that there weren't several funny sketches — Dan Charles the One Direction super-fan, a divorcing couple who caught the Fleetwood Mac dance bug, and a woman haunted by memories of past boyfriends were among my favorites — but the relative quiet surrounding Hutcherson and Haim created a lot of room for new, oddball material and characters that I found myself missing this week when Dooneese and Ron Burgundy crashed the party.
You know the poster for Grudge Matchwith Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone that's plastered all over the place right now? It shows the two grizzled screen veterans locked in an eternal punch, the fantasy matchup between Rocky Balboa and Raging Bull that everyone's been clamoring for all this time? Now, using your mind, Photoshop Lindsay Lohan's and Paris Hilton's faces over De Niro's and Sly's. The latest chapter of another blood feud old as time (2005) involves Paris, Lindsay, and Paris's little brother Barron Hilton in a classic case of he emoji'd, she emoji'd.
Lindsay and Paris were both at Art Basel in Miami, following the party trail of rich kids, artists, and rich kids who fancy themselves artists. Naturally they were at the same house party in a rented Florida mansion, when Barron Hilton was accused by a partygoer of continuing the proud Hilton family tradition of talking shit about Lindsay Lohan. Shortly thereafter, Hilton found himself on the receiving end of a moderate beatdown that left him with cuts on his face, which he uploaded to Instagram so that it could be decided in the selfie court of public opinion.
When attempting to predict the future winner of a Grammy award, it is vital that logic-logic be set aside in favor of Grammy-logic. Here are the tenets of Grammy-logic: Concepts such as “cultural relevance” and “youth music” do not exist. The most daring and progressive artists need not be recognized. The only reality is the existential nowhere that is the middlest of middlebrow. To get into this mind-set, you must dispatch your sense of right and wrong and adjust your perception to that of a faceless, middle-aged record-industry insider.
Some will insist this is impossible. Many more will argue it’s pointless.
I will simply say that I have done it, and that in the process I have figured out who’s winning the three top categories.
1. Frozen, $31.6 million (last week: no. 2; $134.3 million cumulative)
Was I talking about The Best Man Holiday potentially sticking around in the top five through mid-January last week? Can I change my vote to Frozen? After playing sidekick to the Catching Fire–led Thanksgiving box office bonanza, Frozenjumped ahead to first place this weekend and pulled "the highest post-Thanksgiving gross ever, ahead of Toy Story 2," which made $27.8 million back in 1999.
The future has not been written, except for the part where humanity ends up with a second Terminator TV show in six years. Following The Sarah Connor Chronicles — and completely breaking away from it — Skydance Productions and Annapurna Pictures are working on a new series to launch in tandem with their 2015 franchise reboot. Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller, cowriters on Thor and X-Men: First Class, as well as story editors on Sarah Connor Chronicles, will write and executive produce the show. It sounds a little rehash-y and blah until you read that the story "will follow a critical moment from the first Terminator film (1984) and, where the film's story goes one way, the upcoming series will take the same moment in a completely different direction. As the rebooted film trilogy and the new TV series progress, the two narratives will intersect with each other in surprising and dramatic ways." That sounds cool.
Four years ago, the Black Lips got run out of India after a messy performance. Guys made out onstage, guys strummed guitars with their genitals — pretty standard stuff for the Atlanta foursome that formed as rude high schoolers back in 1999. Over the course of six albums, the self-described "flower punks" have maintained their straightforward, fun-centric, booze-friendly approach, most recently with 2011’s Mark Ronson–produced Arabia Mountain. The band's moments beyond the indie box have been rare (a performance of "O Katrina" on Conan, a spot on the (500) Days of Summer soundtrack with "Bad Kids"), but they stay as busy as anyone, playing between 100 and 200 shows every year. Last autumn, the Pitchfork favorites brought their act to the Middle East, playing a market historically underserved by Western groups. The Lips did Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Cypress, and the United Arab Emirates. Kids Like You and Me is the result, a 75-minute rock documentary and concert film following the Black Lips and their tour mates, Lebanon's Lazzy Lung. The documentary is available this week; here, Black Lips bassist and vocalist Jared Swilley talks about the group's sticky reputation, music's value in a climate of political upheaval, and which big idea Metallica swiped from the Lips.