Michael Fassbender's Macbeth Is an Impossibly Bleak Look at Shakespeare's Maddest King

Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth—starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard—opens on a shot of a dead child’s face and only gets darker from there. While Shakespeare’s play about the Scottish thane and his wife who murder their way into power has never been a joyous romp, there’s something staggeringly bleak about this…

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The Danish Girl Tests the Bounds of Gender, But Does Not Break Them

Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl is blatant Oscar bait and it knows it. Telling the story of Lili Elbe, one of the first people to ever undergo gender confirmation surgery (as far as we know), it taps into the hot-button issue of trans rights while giving Academy voters exactly what they want: beautiful scenery, swelling…

Autre Ne Veut's Age of Transparency Is Unpredictable, Elusive, and Totally Consuming

A master class in that which is transcendently extra, the title track of Autre Ne Veut’s new album Age of Transparency begins in an indeterminate spiritual potpourri of ghostly choral moaning and soap-opera piano: the sax line comes in sounding like a sunset being airbrushed onto a billboard, the constellations…

Two Drunk Girls Hear Fetty Wap for the First Time

In the arena of music criticism, one of the most common (and objectively embarrassing) phenomena is that of the listening session—that magical time when journalists gather together as one in an office or nightclub of the label’s choosing to listen to an album in advance of its release date, often plied with alcoholic…

Scream Queens Is Offensive, Tasteless, and Pretty Fucking Funny

“Name one bad thing that’s ever happened in a Best Buy parking lot,” a security guard tells her friend midway through the Scream Queens pilot. The joke, of course, is a reference to the death of Hae Min Lee, whose real-life murder—a story popularized by the podcast Serial—may have happened in the parking lot of a Best…

'Purity' Used to Target Women, But for Franzen, Purity Targets Men 

Purity starts out, as Jonathan Franzen’s books do, with a word used unusually well, a little signal that the author is in control. In The Corrections, it was “the berserk wind.” In Freedom it was “conniving with the coal industry.” In Purity, it was “without undue weirdness transpiring,” where “transpiring” has the…

The Weeknd Turns Tragedy Into Pop on Beauty Behind the Madness

A hopeless romantic—much more hopeless than romantic—The Weeknd seems eternally obsessed with the thought of things dying, whether it’s love, people, dreams or ideas. Less grim possibilities rarely seem to cross his mind. As a narrator, he’s used to dragging his feet through life while bemoaning the frailty of love.…

Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion: Ebullient Love Songs For the Everygal

After Carly Rae Jepsen’s enormous 2012 hit “Call Me Maybe,” it seemed like the Canadian pop star would be relegated to one-hit wonder territory. The album it spurred, Kiss, never produced a single as big, plus the ubiquity of “Maybe” is difficult to top and lightning that cheesy doesn’t strike twice. But what Jepsen…

Meryl Streep's Ricki and the Flash Will Do Great on the Bar Circuit

After viewing the trailer for Ricki and the Flash, you’ll learn two things: 1. Meryl Streep can sing, and 2. the entire plot of Ricki and the Flash. More than any movie in recent memory, its trailer goes through every major beat in the story—down to the rousing finale. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Amy: The Agony and the Ecstasy (and the Crack Cocaine) of Amy Winehouse

The question at the center of Asif Kapadia’s new documentary Amy is: Can gossip foster compassion? Throughout the sensitive, 128-minute probe into the life of singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, we see footage of (and presumably shot by) the paparazzi that plagued her, the performances that defined part of her career,…

Entourage Is So Bad It Put Us in a Terrible Mood

On Wednesday, June 3, the feature length version of HBO’s Entourage was unleashed on America’s movie theaters like the cinematic equivalent of a venereal disease (hyped, preventable, and the uncomfortable manifestation of an activity—in this case, watching a weekly half hour sitcom about Hollywood dickwads—that you…