1. Katy Perry is really funny and appealing in this. I love how she acts out her lyrics!
2. This is a reminder that she has so many good songs (and some of her very best songs didn't even make it into this).
3. Taylor Swift has made better front-to-back albums (especially her first three), but single for single--the relative strength of their best-possible greatest hits compilations--they're pretty evenly matched, which makes their feud much more interesting.
4. I wasn't sure how I felt about the two new tracks when she performed them on SNL last weekend, but they're both growing on me fast.


(Un)happy Birthday

In honor of Moz turning 58 (yesterday), here are my 58 favorite Morrissey or Smiths songs.

01. “Now My Heart Is Full”
02. “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”
03. “What She Said”
04. “Suedehead”
05. “The Queen Is Dead”
06. “Speedway”
07. “Half a Person”
08. “Nowhere Fast”
09. “Pretty Girls Make Graves”
10. “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby”
11. “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before”
12. “Bigmouth Strikes Again”
13. “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”
14. “Cemetry Gates”
15. “You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side”
16. “Still Ill”
17. “I Know It’s Over”
18. “Hand in Glove”
19. “A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours”
20. “Hold on to Your Friends”
21. “Every Day Is Like Sunday”
22. “Meat Is Murder”
23. “Girl Afraid”
24. “Panic”
25. “First of the Gang to Die”
26. “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get”
27. “This Charming Man”
28. “William, It Was Really Nothing”
30. “I Want the One I Can’t Have”
31. “Ask”
32. “How Soon Is Now?”
33. “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish”
33. “I Just Want to See the Boy Happy”
34. “You Have Killed Me”
35. “Is It Really So Strange?”
36. “What Difference Does It Make?”
37. “These Things Take Time”
38. “Reel Around the Fountain”
39. “That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"
40. “Never Had No One Ever”
41. “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others”
42. “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side”
43. “Ganglord”
44. “The Youngest Was the Most Loved”
45. “Alma Matters”
46. “Handsome Devil”
47. “Girlfriend in a Coma”
48. “Vicar in a Tutu”
49. “Unhappy Birthday”
50. “This Night Has Opened My Eyes”
51. “Irish Blood, English Heart”
52. “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”
53. “Spring-Heeled Jim”
54. “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”
55. “I Will See You in Far off Places”
56. “Shoplifters of the World Unite”
57. “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”
58. “Istanbul”


Four More

The hits just keep coming.

01. Twin Peaks: The Return Holy shit.
02. Master of None, season 2 Stellar when topical, amiable enough when it settles on romantic comedy.
03. King Charles III (BBC Two) Terrific as these things go, and great fun, with a superb lead performance.
04. Vancouver: No Fixed Address Better as a discussion-starter than as a diagnosis, conflating, as it does, phenomena that are (arguably) not directly related; vital in Vancouver, still significant beyond our fair city.


Twenty Seventeen

Things I like so far this year, roughly in order of enthusiasm:

01. Ernst Kantorowicz: A Life
02. The Lost City of Z
03. Get Out
04. the NBA playoffs
05. Riverdale and Jughead, Vol. 2
06. More Life
07. Re-listening to old Cat Power records
08. Sleater-Kinney, Live in Paris
09. The Handmaid's Tale TV show
10. Free Fire
11. Song to Song


The relatively rough quality of this 22-year-old (!) video of Falconetti-in-flannel-era Chan Marshall doing "Rockets" only makes it more endearing. I thought of this when we saw Mitski play a couple months ago (great show, but too short). 90s Cat Power seems to the prototype for her aesthetic.


Yes, there are two paths you can go by

For reasons that are not clear to me, my YouTube main page 'recommended' this video of Dolly Parton covering "Stairway to Heaven." I'm glad that it did. To be sure, I did not expect when I woke up this morning to spend my afternoon listening on repeat to Dolly Parton singing "Stairway to Heaven." I didn't know that she had covered "Stairway to Heaven," and I don't even especially like Led Zeppelin, but I like this very much, and sometimes the Internet is remarkable.


A Twitter troll may now be the Most Powerful Person in the World, but at least the Holy See sees through the soul-crushing bullshit.


Things I'm interested in: Jordan Peele/Get Out, Russell Westbrook, Kristen Stewart. Things The Ringer has good, new articles on: Jordan Peele/Get Out, Russell Westbrook, Kristen Stewart. Bill Simmons & Co. are essentially Santa for adults who like reading about pop-culture and sports.



With all the praise and recognition bestowed on Moonlight (which, again, I think is a good movie, and I'm happy it won the Oscar), why did Céline Sciamma's Girlhood, a superior filmic Bildungsroman, pass by almost unnoticed?


Should win/Will win
Jackie image

Always fun. (I've also updated my would-be Oscar ballot and my general 2016 lists to reflect late viewings, especially Pablo Lorraín's superlative pop-historical phantasmagoria, Jackie, about which I plan to write something soon.)

Should win: La La Land
Will win: La La Land
From a cultural/political standpoint, I'm pulling for Moonlight, but La La Land is the better movie.

Should win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should win: Natalie Portman, Jackie
Will win: Emma Stone, La La Land
I prefer Portman in Jackie by a hair over Huppert in Elle, but if Huppert were nominated for Things to Come (better performance and better film than Elle) it'd go the other way around.

Should win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Will win: Denzel Washington, Fences
If Andrew Garfield were up for Silence, he'd be my pick. (I didn't see Hacksaw Ridge.)

Should win: Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Will win: Viola Davis, Fences
Davis is extraordinary in Fences, to be sure, but such egregious "category fraud" is really unfair to true supporting performances, like Williams' sparingly used, affecting turn in Manchester by the Sea.

Should win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Will win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Should win: Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Will win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Will win: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Is there any significant difference between August Wilson's theatrical script and the screenplay for Fences? Absent close inspection, there doesn't seem to be, which is why I'll go with Moonlight instead, from among this group. But how was Whit Stillman not nominated here?! His translation of Austen's epistolary Lady Susan into the fleshed-out (and thoroughly terrific) Love and Friendship is the most impressive example of adaptation in recent memory.

Should win: Rodrigo Prieto, Silence
Will win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land
At least Scorsese's masterpiece is up for something.

Should win: Mica Levi, Jackie
Will win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
I've only included this category here so that I can "vote" for that crazy, indelible Jackie score.
Sister, Sister

Solange interviewed by Beyoncé is a must-read. Some wonderful, excerptible moments:

BEYONCÉ: Your voice on the album, the tone of your voice, the vulnerability in your voice and in your arrangements, the sweetness and the honesty and purity in your voice—what inspired you to sing in that tone?

SOLANGE: It was very intentional that I sang as a woman who was very in control, a woman who could have this conversation without yelling and screaming, because I still often feel that when black women try to have these conversations, we are not portrayed as in control, emotionally intact women, capable of having the hard conversations without losing that control.


SOLANGE: Well, I find a lot of similarities in Master P and our dad.

BEYONCÉ: Me, too. [laughs]


BEYONCÉ: What are some misconceptions about being a strong woman?

SOLANGE: Oh my God, they're endless! [laughs] One thing that I constantly have to fight against is not feeling arrogant when I say I wrote every lyric on this album. I still have not been able to say that. That's the first time I've actually ever said it, because of the challenges that we go through when we celebrate our work and our achievements. I remember Björk saying that she felt like, no matter what stage in her career, if a man is credited on something that she's done, he's going to get the credit for it. And, unfortunately, that still rings true. It's something I've learned so much about from you, getting to be in control of your own narrative. And, at this point, it should be an expectation, not something that you're asking permission for. I feel like I'm getting closer to that, not taking on all the baggage when I have to just stand up for myself and say, "No, I'm uncomfortable with that." And I really appreciate you and mom being examples of that, being able to speak about our achievements, these things that deserve to be celebrated, without feeling bashful about it.


BEYONCÉ: What is the funniest text you got from our mom this week? [both laugh] That's too personal, never mind. You've got to love Mama Tina. How does it feel to have the dopest wedding photo of all time?

SOLANGE: Oh my God, that is subjective!

BEYONCÉ: What makes you laugh the hardest?

SOLANGE: The Real Housewives of Atlanta, hands-down.

BEYONCÉ: Really?! I didn't know that.





This feels like it happened many, many years ago. How weird this memory must be now for Sia (and for Mini Nishimura, the interpretive dancer)!
In another great contribution to her "10+ Years Later" column, Teresa Nieman revisits Miike's Audition, directly pinpointing what's still so frightfully good about the film (namely, its slow-build creepiness and uneasy mood) and also what seems decidedly less jolting than it did a decade and a half ago.


This is repugnant. How many people are going to suffer and die because of this megalomaniacal scumbag's racism and paranoia?


Beyoncé, Solange, etc.

Pazz & Jop results came out today, and I find myself more in agreement with the critical consensus than in most recent years. (I mainly stand by my ballot, submitted a month ago, but if I'd sent it in today the Ariana Grande album would be higher and Nelly Furtado's "Pipe Dreams," which I hadn't heard yet, would be on the singles list.) Such a great cover, too! It's just too bad that neither Beyoncé nor Solange quite managed to win the albums poll. David Bowie was great, fine, but I agree with Dan Weiss's remark that, "If this [i.e., Lemonade] couldn't score the first album win by a woman of color in the 43rd or 44th year of this poll, what could?" I wish my own published comments - on A Seat at the Table and "Formation" - were as pithy and dead-on.


La La Land, Isabelle Huppert, etc.
la la land_2

Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and, really, this year I can't quibble too much, at least in terms of what was reasonably presumed to be possible. I was hoping Scorsese would make it in for what is in my view his greatest film, but I also expected that Silence would be too rigorous/religious (religorous?) for Academy tastes. And Tom Hanks keeps being weirdly ignored for the work he's doing of late, which is so much better than his earlier, over-awarded work back in the 90s. But I'm really pleased to see Isabelle Huppert nominated (even if I prefer her less showy Things to Come performance), and La La Land is a perfectly worthy juggernaut as such things go.

If I were to create a ballot drawing only from Oscar-eligible films (so, no 2016 festival releases that didn't open commercially last year, e.g., A Quiet Passion, Life after Life, The Death of Louis XIV, Personal Shopper, and so on and so forth), it would look like this:

The Witch
La La Land

Martin Scorsese, Silence
Robert Eggers, The Witch
Pablo Lorraín, Jackie
Terence Davies, Sunset Song
Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Isabelle Huppert, Things to Come
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Kate Beckinsale, Love and Friendship
Sandra Hüller, Toni Erdmann

Andrew Garfield, Silence
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Adam Driver, Paterson
Mark Rylance, The BFG
Tom Hanks, Sully

Goldshifteh Farahani, Paterson
Lily Gladstone, Certain Women
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea
Imogen Poots, Green Room
Kate Dickie, The Witch

John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane
John Travolta, In a Valley of Violence
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Tom Bennett, Love and Friendship