I’m still homebound with Peggy the Dog after her surgery, which means I’ve had ample time to accumulate recommendations for this week’s newsletter. In brief, some of the favorite things I’ve watched/listened to:
Three Identical Strangers. The hook is simple: three triplets, separated at birth, find each other at age 18. But what could’ve been a People Magazine style “can you imagine!” transforms into something much more complicated, and sad, and thought provoking.
Leave No Trace. Ben Foster is probably my favorite working actor, and I will watch him in truly anything, but especially in a film by the woman who directed Winter’s Bone, set in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. It’s exquisite. Manohla Dargis’s review helps explain why.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? You don’t need me to tell you that this movie is worthwhile. I knew it would be, but I also knew what my reaction would be, which is why I needed to wait for it to come to VOD so I could be ruined in private. I thought I was ready to see it, but I don’t know if I quite was, or if anyone quite is. I found it existentially moving, in a way I can’t quite articulate . It touches on and soothes those elemental insecurities of childhood, while also allowing space to mourn the present world. And in this particular moment, it feels so essential that nothing sad or bad or untoward has been revealed about Rogers. It suggests that love and care can be authentic. That's part of what prompts the sobbing, the feeling that something has forever shifted inside you.
(Recommends Not Watching) Ocean’s 8. I hated this not because it’s filled with women but because it’s so poorly directed and plotted that it someone makes a heist involving nine charismatic actors as exciting as an instructional DMV film. It felt like everyone was acting underwater (save Hathaway, who was indeed great). What a lost opportunity.
The Rider. Still my favorite film of the year.
A Star is Born. Finally got the chance to steal away for two hours to see everyone’s favorite film of the Fall. It’s easy to have high expectations dashed when you see something a week after seemingly everyone else, but it did not disappoint. A first act that’ll go down in the Perfect First Act Hall of Fame. I want Gaga’s brown hair. Some very good music including one song that was obviously (and actually) written by Jason Isbell. And some truly lovely nods to the previous films, and why remakes happen and matter.
The Showtime mini-doc on the making of the New York Times Trump tax story. It’s really interesting! Even if the tax story, like all the previous would-be scandals, hasn’t stuck to Trump — something I explain at length here.
LeBron’s new quasi talk show on HBO, The Shop. When I first saw the preview for this, I was like ugh, what’s Jon Stewart doing, white-guying around in there! But give it a 30 minutes, and you’ll be hooked.
The music of Colter Wall. A 20-something guy from Saskatchewan who sounds like Johnny Cash? Astonishingly good.
And some reading:
What would it be like if college was free? Berea College has been living that dream for more than a century.
God Maggie Gyllenhaal gives a good interview.
This week’s just trust me on this one.
The best 107-year-old barber.
The evangelical women voting for Beto O’Rourke
Why the women of country have been removed from the airwaves — and what they’re doing about it
Ostensibly about how Kanye got red-pilled, but actually about a fundamental (and often ignored) part of Trumpism
The best piece of political writing I read this week.
As always, if you know someone who’d like this sort of thing in their inbox every week-ish, forward it their way. You can sign up here. You can follow Peggy’s recovery here. You can read my latest piece here. And if you give any of the recs above a try, let me know your thoughts.