jeff heimbrock

old soul, teenage dreams

ethan hawke is my hero

One of my routine podcasts, Little Gold Men, released this interview with Ethan Hawke, in town for his Broadway run of Sam Shepard’s True West, and still promoting his somehow overlooked First Reformed, the Paul Schrader film now streaming on Amazon Prime. Hawke is slowly, but clearly, becoming a hero of mine. His interview last year on Filmspotting highlighted his clarity of artistic thought and his frankness about the industry and his place in it was totally mind opening. This one is no less so.

Despite a dubious headline…

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the interview is a refresher of Hawke’s brilliance when it comes to discussing his craft and his dismay with the business (and perhaps the culture at large that upholds it as well). Gathering some of my favorite sections for posterity.

On spirituality in the movies

…spiritual life is something that is incredibly hard to dramatize. It always has been. You can make movies about a lot of things, but an inner life—what are the inner machinations of my soul that lead me to a certain belief system?—is something very. . .it’s just not drama. It’s made for literature. . . but for movies, it’s very, very hard. Bergman has some great ones, you know, but as an actor, it has to live in the writing. . .

ON RECESSIVE PERFORMANCES

. . .the DNA of the project is such where I immerse you in my journals and an inner thought. And if you’re paying attention, you start to realize that he’s no longer making sense. He tells you things that start not being true, and you start to be inside his psyche. When I first met Paul, he asked me if I knew what a recessive performance was, and I did. 

Hawke begins to detail what he means by that but gets distracted by one of his side tangents. The idea of the recessive is perhaps best described as the opposite of excessive (or in genetic language, the dominant). In simple terms, it is the understated performance that is prevalent now, writer and professor Shonni Enelow suggests, because of tenants of inner turmoil, anxious reserve and depressive seclusion reflected from a modern world of violating surveillance and a culture of performance. More on that to come.

On the meditation film

There’s a different kind of cinema that is inviting you and your creativity to join the movie—that’s Diary of a Country Priest, Winter Light, a lot of movies in the 50s where there was an intersection between literature and film, and film wasn’t such complete big business, and people feel like the job of a movie is to entertain you. Fanny and Alexander’s job isn’t to wow you. Its job is somewhere similar to what Anna Karenina’s job is: it’s inviting you, it is entertaining you, but it’s also asking you to join it. That’s what Paul wanted to do. A recessive performance doesn’t try to juggle and tell you jokes, and cry, and take out your sword and do swashbuckling tricks. It’s inviting you to participate in a dialogue with me. The challenge is more like a guided-meditation challenge.

On acting

People think acting is about memorizing lines and things like that, or they think it’s about a celebration of personality like, “Whoa, isn’t that person amazing?” Really, at it’s finest, it’s void of that. It’s the complete loss of personality in service of a larger story. 

This stopped me in my tracks when I listened to it. He is completely right. One of the valuable things I learned from my time studying at the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago was an obvious one: it’s not about you. Taking yourself out of it to serve the larger work. It’s a spiritual thing, really. Working with an ensemble, collaborating. That’s what it’s about. I feel too often that my peers, especially in New York, value the bells-and-whistle performances, and end up emulating that. I succumb to that instinct too. My inclination for showboating and hamming it up is something I still have to temper. Stopping myself from trying to please and be adored (hello, ego!) and really dig into who the person is, what the story is. It can be a real challenge, especially in a results-driven (aka money) theatrical environment, which New York can be.

Once you start realizing that the essence of you is quite fantastically malleable, it’s almost some kind of spiritual question, because what is the essence of you that is not malleable? That’s the next question. Then, you get into acting—and how you can wear these different clothes and how you could have a different past and still be you. If you had different heartbreaks, how would that inform the way you speak? You start realizing that acting isn’t about memorizing lines—it’s about the movement of energy. 

Acting as A life’s work

My daughter is studying acting. She just left Juilliard, and she’s 20 years old and she’s really into it. She keeps asking me questions about this job versus this job and this job. The real jump is when you start not going job to job, meaning that there’s a connection between all the jobs, and that your life as a performer has a continuity to it.

The dream, isn’t it? Why do I have a steady job and still feel like I’m constantly hustling? To be in the place of access and privilege where you can start seeing roles and jobs as part of a larger body of work, that is where I want to start heading.

Acting as meditation, acting through relaxation

It’s a guided meditation—that’s where I’m going with this, where you relax, and focus on imagination, concentration, relaxation. You are entering, hopefully, some subconscious state where you’re, I, the actor, am also being played. We are being played together. I am the focal point, but that’s really it—in a meaningful performance, it’s a shared experience, because it’s not just about me dictating something. I don’t have an agenda with the audience. People say, “What do you want people to take away from this movie?” I've already lost by the question. What I really want is for you to have an experience that is your own.

Capitalism as a paradigm of culture

We live in a country that celebrates the accumulation of wealth. If a movie made a lot of money, it’s a good movie. Right? If a crack dealer makes a lot of money, he’s a good crack dealer. If you really prioritize, and the whole culture deifies and celebrates things that make a lot of money, you would be amazed if you do it for long enough who might get elected president. You see what I’m saying?

I have thought about this a lot. I have been lucky enough to gravitate towards friends and colleagues who aren’t afraid of challenging art, who still read books (real ones!), who watch plays and are as interested in the past as they are the future. This is my bubble, and it’s not limited to my immediate surroundings, but with the constant distraction and barrage of information and stimulation, I do worry that, if we don’t protect it, the interesting stuff will all dissolve away, for the public appetite is entirely for empty calorie movies and theater. Even looking at some of the Broadway line-up…it’s just depressing. That’s why I try and champion denser, richer works of film and theater. God, I sound like a pompous asshole, don’t I?

I grew up on comic books. I have four kids; I've seen all the comic-book movies. My problem is not with the movies. My problem is with the culture that now is hero-worshiping the money they’re making. That’s really what I’m talking about, because right now—look, if One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest came out today, it would not be a studio release. We are not celebrating and challenging young people to watch difficult, incendiary, participate in—whether it’s literature, art, music. 

Another reminder to breathe, think, slow down and engage. Reminds me of Anne Bogart’s essay on “Arrest”…artistic experiences that really envelop us, change us, open our hearts and minds to new roads of empathy and radical thought. First, though, we have to listen and receive.

On #metoo

I think one of my heroes, Jack O’Brien, who’s a theater director . . . I was interviewing him for a bunch of young directors, young theater students—this is 10 years ago. The first question: some kid raises his hand and says, “Hey, Mr. O’Brien. What do you think is the most important thing about being a director?” He said, “Lack of sexual misconduct”. . . He said, “If you’re going to create a safe place for creativity, and people are going to understand why she gets chosen to be in the light and not her, and why this one gets the big part, and why this one doesn’t, and why this person gets to sing the final song, there needs to be some actual leadership.” Actual leadership means that you are prioritizing content of character, work ethic—things that we can root our self-esteem in, and not that you’re cuter or you kissed me backstage. Once you start that kind of behavior, the whole machine breaks down, and there’s a lack of leadership.

On acting for stage vs film

It’s a little bit like doing an album in a studio and doing a concert at Madison Square Garden. I mean, it’s the same muscles, but it’s just a much heightened, more disciplined exercise.

123 Things I Loved in 2017

BOOKS:

1. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

2. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

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3. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

4. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

5. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

6. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

7. My Life in France by Julia Child

8. The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

9. What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

10. Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman

CINEMA

*first time watches, released before 2017. Top Ten of 2017 coming when I feel like I've seen all the crap I need to see*

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11. Dog Day Afternoon (1975, d. Sidney Lumet)

12. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986, d. Woody Allen)

13. The Conversation (1974, d. Francis Ford Coppola)

14. King Kong (1933, d. Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack)

15. The Lady Vanishes (1938, d. Alfred Hitchcock)

16. Duck Soup (1933, d. Leo McCarey)

17. Goodfellas (1990, d. Martin Scorsese)

18. Modern Times (1936, d. Charlie Chaplin)

19. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992, d. David Lynch)

20. Blade Runner (1982, d. Ridley Scott)

Enlightening Re-Watches:

21. The Graduate (1967, d. Mike Nichols)

22. Before Sunrise (1995, d. Richard Linklater)

23. Little Women (1994, d. Gillian Armstrong)

24. North by Northwest (1959, d. Alfred Hitchcock)

25. Favorite 2017 movie theater experience: going with my squeamish best friends to Get Out with a packed crowd at the AMC in Times Square.

TELEVISION:

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26. Gilmore Girls (Seasons 1-2)

27. Sex and the City (Complete Series)

28. Big Little Lies (Season 1) 

29. Dear White People (Season 1)

30. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Pilot)

31. Game of Thrones (Season 1)

32. American Vandal (Season 1)

33. Twin Peaks (Season 1)

34. Master of None (Season 1)

35. Love You More (Pilot)

36. The Bold Type (Season 1)

THEATRE:

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37. Julius Caesar (Delacorte Theater, Shakespeare in the Park)

38. A Doll's House, Part Two (Golden Theater)

39. The Play That Goes Wrong (Lyceum Theater)

40. Groundhog Day (August Wilson Theater)

41. The Little Foxes (Samuel J. Friedman Theater, MTC)

42. Indecent (Cort Theater)

43. Sweat (Studio 54)

44. People, Places, and Things (St. Ann's Warehouse)

PERFORMANCES

45. Denise Gough in People, Places, and Things

46. Cynthia Nixon in A Quiet Passion/The Little Foxes/Sex and the City

47. Laurie Metcalf in A Doll's House, Part Two/Lady Bird

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48. Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird

49. Robert Pattinson in Good Time

50. Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies

51. Andy Karl in Groundhog Day

52. Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out

53. Tracey Letts in Lady Bird

54. Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon

55. Elizabeth Marvel in Julius Caesar

56. Carrie Coon in Mary Jane/The Post

57. Finn Wittrock in The Glass Menagerie

58. Eva Noblezada in Miss Saigon

59. Ben Platt in Dear Evan Hansen

60. Rachel Bay Jones in Dear Evan Hansen

61. Condola Rashad in A Doll's House, Part Two

62. Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation

63. Mia Farrow in Hannah and Her Sisters/Another Woman/Broadway Danny Rose

64. Dianne Wiest in Hannah and Her Sisters

65. Charlotte Rampling in Stardust Memories

*performances I admired from 2016 films can be found in my 2016 Cinema Wrap-Up*

MUSIC

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Faves from 2017:

66. Melodrama, Lorde (Fav track: "Supercut")

67. The Search for Everything, John Mayer (Fav track: "Emoji of a Wave")

68. MASSEDUCTION, St. Vincent (Fav track: "Happy Birthday Johnny") 

69. You Don't Own Me Anymore, The Secret Sisters (Fav track: "Tennessee River Runs Low"

70. Rainbow, Ke$ha (Fav track: "Let 'Em Talk")

71. Dua Lipa, Dua Lipa (Fav track: "New Rules")

72. CTRL, SZA (Fav track: "Drew Barrymore")

73. Tell Me You Love Me, Demi Lovato (Fav track: "Daddy Issues")

74. American Teen, Khalid (Fav track: "American Teen")

75. "The Joke," Brandi Carlile

76. "The Cure," Lady Gaga

77. "How Does a Moment Last Forever," Celine Dion

78. "If I Dare," Sara Bareilles

79. Joanne World Tour, Lady Gaga

80. And all my other top hits on Spotify

Faves pre-2017:

81. I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, The 1975

82. Cugi's Cocktails, Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra

83. Raconte-moi, Stacey Kent

84. With a Smile and a Song, Doris Day

85. Blade Runner (Motion Picture Soundtrack), Vangelis

PLACES

86. Goods for the Study (West Village, NYC)

87. The Metrograph (Lower East Side, NYC)

88. Casellula (Hell's Kitchen, NYC)

89. Buvette (West Village, NYC)

90. Musée d'Orsay (Paris)

91. Chez Casimir (Paris)

PODCASTS

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92. Little Known Facts

  • Episode 39- Judith Light
  • Episode 60- Julianne Moore

93. Pod Save America

94. The Read

95. S-Town

96. You Must Remember This

  • 95: Jean Harlow Flashback (Dead Blondes Part 3)

97. Katie Couric

  • 25. Ina Garten: At Home With The Barfeoot Contessa
  • 35. Sen. Cory Booker: Living His Values

98. Fighting in the War Room

  • 163: Is Netflix Burying Movies by Not Releasing Them in Theaters?

99. This American Life

100. Dear Sugar Radio

  • How Do I Survive the Critics? (March 13, 2015)
  • The Power of No (with Oprah Winfrey)

101. The Turnaround with Jesse Thorn

  • Larry King (July 6, 2017)
  • Audie Cornish (July 3, 2017)

102. The Next Picture Show

  • #86-87: A Ghost Story/Carnival of Souls
  • Blade Runner/Blade Runner 2049

103. Pop Culture Happy Hour

104. Longform Podcast

  • Episode 261: Hillary Clinton
  • Episode 265: Michael Barbaro
  • Episode 243: Samin Nosrat
  • Episode 226: Terry Gross

WRITE-UPS/INSTAGRAMS

105. @bymariandrew

106. Transcript: President Obama on What Books Mean To Him (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)

107. How To Build an Autocracy (David Frum,  The Atlantic)

108. Together Alone: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness (Michael Hobbes, Huffington Post)

109. You May Want to Marry My Husband (Amy Krouse Rosenthal, The New York Times)

110. Nora Knows What to Do (Ariel Levy, The New Yorker)

111. How Twin Peaks Invented Modern Television (James Parker, The Atlantic)

112. Notes on Camp (Susan Sontag)

113. Why Good People Ghost: The Rise of a Dishonest Dating Culture (Heidi Priebe, Thought Catalog)

114. My So-Called Instagram Life (Clara Doller, The New York Times)

115. The Return of Lorde (Jonah Weiner, The New York Times Magazine)

116. Work and Reward: The Great Disconnect (The Editorial Board, The New York Times)

117. The 'Busy' Trap (Tim Kreider, The New York Times)

118. Happiness is Other People (Ruth Whippman, The New York Times)

119. Stephen Sondheim, Theater's Greatest Lyricist (Lin-Manuel Miranda, The New York Times Style Magazine)

YOUTUBE

120. 73 Questions with Nicole Kidman (Vogue)

121. TimesTalks: Chelsea Handler and Gloria Steinem (TimesTalks)

122. Logan: Superhero Movies Get Old (Nerdwriter)

123. One Way to Deconstruct There Will Be Blood- Or Any Movie (Nerdwriter)

 

eat, pray, eat again: stray thoughts from France (part 1)

Bonjour from a glamorous Starbucks in Bordeaux, France (yes, that Bordeaux). I've been having a whirlwind vacation that has so far taken me to Paris, Beaune (Burgundy area), and Lyon. My limited French sounds absolutely heinous coming out my midwestern mouth, but I've been getting by with my American ingenuity. I have often been ordering things without any real idea of what will come to the table. Initially consumed by the idea that I would be whisked off my feet in a subdued but whirlwind romance with a sullen-faced dreamboat I bump into in a café, my affairs have been restricted to fondly gazing at French dudes wearing tight pants.

Traveling alone has led to some very solitary dining experiences (which I'm learning aren't as satisfying as they are in New York, where I always feel like I'm escaping people). I have been reading a lot on my iPhone (I know). I've also been making precious use of the Evernote membership I convinced myself I NEEDED a few months ago. Here are some stray thoughts from France:

12.7.17 Paris, France

-If anything, Paris has inspired me to dress better. I was very self-conscious walking around the boulevards today, in my New York Times t-shirt and my 2-year old khaki shorts. I looked like a fresh arrival at Princeton. But this is my everyday costume (swap khakis for jeans and that's my daily look). 

This kind of pared down style can help you become a billionaire, (according to Mark Zuckerberg) but I am supposed to be glamorous artist! An actor! A GAY MAN!!! There is no doubt I can escape my boyish looks, at least not for a couple more years unfortunately. I am going to turn thirty and still get carded in midtown. I walk down 8th avenue and get asked if I'm in town competing at the Jimmy Awards. I want so badly to look and sound like a man, but alas. 

-Paris is the most beautiful city. Untouched, timeless, forever glowing in the past, its buildings reaching out from decades bygone, its atmosphere as effervescent as it always has been (or we're told it always was). 

-Omg the waitress just ran out to shoo away a drunk and disorderly man, after a patron tried to get him away by throwing water on him. Hilarious. "Oh la la" says the woman next to me.

-I think I just saw Marion Cotillard get into an Uber, but it could just be one of my queer flashes.

-Coming to France was the right choice. Even if I got sick the day I left. Even if I have to sacrifice a job because of this trip. I think it'll have been worth it. Because this trip is for me. Strictly for me. And when's the last time I truly did something like that??

13.7.17 Paris, France

-I think I'm looking too much for a Disney prince. My standard is high. I would like to say that I'm worth and deserve the best, but I don't know if I actually believe in that 100%. 

-I bet someone is looking over at me and thinking "he must be writing a book." Well here's what I have to say: I am.

-Girl next to me at Les Etages (cocktail bar in Le Marais, rec. to me by Sara): "I always see the glass half full until the foreplay. Then I know what I am getting myself into. The fourth date is when I realize who you are and if i like you."

14.7.17- Beaune, France

-I need to stop ordering dessert- I get too full before it comes and can hardly eat it (lying). My second glass at Bistrot was the Santenay (2013) and it's a bit lighter wine, maybe a little spicier than the Côte de Nuits. I wonder what côte means in french. COAST. Côte d'Utopia. Un dramatique dans trois parts.

-I keep myself extremely busy. So busy I'm trying to schedule downtime to let my head breathe. I don't think that's how it works. 

-Cheese I loved was comté (?) not sure on spelling but that's what the waiter said. He is very cute. French Michael Cera. Very young. 

15.7.17 Beaune, France

-I'm reading up about silence and the power of silence and silence is something I think is supremely lacking in my life. I need space to receive. I need space for surprise. Everything is so programmed, my whole day is programmed. I don't allow myself time to wander. How can I maintain my productiveness and then allow myself time to breathe? Maybe cutting down my social media time will help. That soul sucking vortex only serves as constant reminder of everything that I convince myself I'm not (pretty, funny, talented, useful, worthwhile, worth anything).

-What's happening to our attention spans? Will we even be able to go the Opéra in 30 years?! I am fearful for it all. 

-When I'm older, Lord, please grant me the grace and circumstance to wear a jean jacket under a tied sweater wrap.

-I'm going to have to change my Scruff tribe to Stuffed Pig after this trip considering the amount of butter I'm consuming.

-I wonder if Emily Brontë ever thought her passionate, deeply soulful piece of literature would be read on a 5" screen.

-I told myself that 3 glasses of anything would be my limit from now on. That was literally yesterday (or maybe today??) I'm on my 4th glass of wine.

-I'm going to get another damned almond croissant tomorrow morning before my train. That shit is just crack. I bit into it and it was like that scene from Moulin Rouge when they drink Absinthe. Kylie Minogue didn't appear, but I did have a brief vision of Nicole Kidman whispering something melodramatic in my face.

How To Use Instagram in 15 Easy Steps

1. Pour glass of wine and open Instagram.

2. Check for any recent notifications, because the most important thing on this app is YOU.

3. Scroll through 7-10 posts and **"like" half of them (but be above liking the other ones, ESPECIALLY if you know them in real life).

**"like" anything you don't actually like out of friend obligation, but stay away from "liking" anything you do actually like in fear of social judgment or seeming interested in someone.

4. Watch 1 hour of Instagram stories. If they have more than 5 on the docket- skip to the next victim. If you wanted a three hour show, you'd pop in your DVD of Titanic (which, incidentally, has not left the DVD player).

5. Realize from Instagram story that you were not invited to an event with several of your friends or perhaps your FRIEND'S event. Start mentally clocking the ways your are inadequate. Re-fill wine glass.

6. Understand you are desperate for validation now, scroll through your camera roll and find a half-way decent photo that you can post under the thin guise of a "throwback" photo.

7. Tell yourself you ARE NOT going to look at your notifications; let 'em rack up!

8. Check notifications every 30-45 seconds.

9. Go to Instagram search. There you will find search suggestions of people you DON'T follow but are stalking because you've convinced yourself you're meant to be together and have already found your dream home in Connecticut on Trulia. Check their page like the hapless dog that you are.

10. Head to the Explore page. You're drunk enough now that you don't feel shame liking every beach picture of hot people you don't know, but not drunk enough to avoid feeling like the 4th rate pig at the county fair. Re-fill wine glass.

11. Realize this is all trivial and perhaps life itself is futile and fruitless and maybe you're turning into what Nietzsche called a passive nihilist or maybe you're millennial ennui with life has made you into a borderline clinical depressive but either way you've mastered the art of letting people you either barely know, don't respect, or don't know at all convince you that you are perhaps the 5th rate pig at the county fair or even that you didn't get that far and should be on someone's breakfast sandwich by now.

12. With a newly poured glass of wine (who's counting) head to the follower notifications. Evaluate how your friends are using the app and dodge the point of the feature (exploration) and make it about you...clearly they had time to like all of these OTHER people's posts, just not yours. Feel shame and betrayal. Go to their page and start unliking every photo you've ever liked of theirs, blame your vindictiveness on the wine.

13. Revelations come that your sexy throwback photo was posted too late in the night, which MUST be why you aren't getting the likes you deserve! Delete photo and schedule it for noon tomorrow.

14. Declare out LOUD that you are DONE! with the app for the night and settle down for whatever show someone else told you to watch on Netflix.

15. Wait 20 mins. Repeat steps 1-14. 

Things You Will Love: January/February 2017

WRITE-UPS

SCROLL-WORTHY

  • @annettelabedzki: My new Insta obsession is Annette Labedzki, a Canadian artist who displays swirling paints and oils in hypnotic and miraculous videos.
  • @albumplusart: Eisen Bernardo combines pieces of classical art with famous album covers for spectacular results.
  • @abstractsunday: Christoph Niemann nifty pieces of abstract art are sure to brighten up your feed. Also, be sure to catch Niemann's episode of the excellent Netflix series Abstract: The Art of Design.
  • @pastelpaperplane: If you like hand-made, maps, typewriters, aesthetics of the hand-written, look no further.
  • @bymariandrewMari Andrew's twee illustrations are a good reminder of the tiny, beautiful things in this world.
  • @obviousstateI have a bookstagram fetish, and Obvious State fulfills 100% with its' "modern art Inspired by classic lit and provocative language."
  • @mylittlebooktiqueBooks, coffee, bliss.
  • @tortus_copenhagen: A gorgeous man making gorgeous ceramics. Enough said.

CINEMA

Much of my February was spent catching up on the 2016 Oscar race, finally coming to a place where I felt comfortable declaring my favorites of 2016. Here are the others that I am gaga about:

  • Sicario (2015, d. Denis Villeneuve): I re-watched this master thriller, available on Amazon Prime, and was reminded of how tightly wound Taylor Sheridan's screenplay is. Of all the working screenwriters today, his work is one I will definitely flock to.
  • Sudden Fear (1952, d. Denis Miller): Joan Crawford stars in this melodramatic noir film that is endlessly entertaining, a testament to Miller's mastery of style and Crawford's enduring capabilities as an actress.
  • The LEGO Batman Movie (2017, d. Chris McKay): As a longtime Batman devotee, and an ardent admirer of 2014's The LEGO Movie, I was bound to be endeared to this wacky, pop animated flick. And boy, was I. Get tickets.

MUSIC

  • The 1975: My new-found obsession. I haven't stopped listening to their 2016 album i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, particularly the haunting hypnosis of "Somebody Else" and the tangy, quirky "Paris". While we're on the subject, their new single, "By Your Side" is a lush drop of synth romance.
  • "Chained to the Rhythm": I would be remiss if I didn't mention Katy Perry's new candy pop tune that should be on your running mix ASAP.
  • You all know by now, but if you don't, John Mayer's new EP The Search for Everything- Wave Two is phenomenal.

THEATRE

  • Dear Evan Hansen (Music Box Theater): Yes, I know you already know. Pasek & Paul's endlessly catchy score pairs so beautifully with this heart-tugging story and Ben Platt is performing on a level all his own. 

BOOKS

  • Auditioning by Joanna Merlin: The audition space can be a scary one to approach. Joanna Merlin demystifies some of our assumed insecurities about the whole thing and gives secrets to help you conquer rather than be beaten down.
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin: Aided by the occasion of Black History Month and Raoul Peck's excellent Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro, I decided that it was high time I invested in my first Baldwin. What I discovered is an indispensable writer, a visionary American author who's dissection of race in America is, unfortunately, as vibrant and necessary today as it was in 1963. Looking forward to diving into more of his oeuvre.
  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton: This Pulitzer prize winning novel was my pick for my book club last month, and I was so drawn in by this account of New York high society, and its notions of societal ennui and lovers caught between each other and the world.

TELEVISION

  • Abstract: The Art of DesignNetflix's new docu-series highlights the worlds of some of our most imaginative minds. Each episode is vastly different but uniformly inspired.
  • Batman: The Animated SeriesI was delighted to discover that Amazon Prime now includes seasons 1-4 of this excellent series. I was skeptical because of my undying love for it as a kid, but luckily, it holds up remarkably well.

PODCASTS

  • Pod Save America: This is one of my few must-listens every week. From the guys previously behind Keepin' It 1600, this politics pod is a great way to stay up to date on what's happening in a fresh and funny format. Fav episodes so far have been their interview with the Atlantic’s Julia Ioffe on all things Russia and their episode with the inimitable Katie Couric.
  • The Read: Another must listen every week, Crissle and Kid Fury break down the week's pop culture news and answer listener advice letters. The results are always the realest and the most hilarious. Fav episode is their recent discussion of the Grammy's and how Blue Ivy is the baddest bitch that ever lived.'

YOUTUBE

Everything I'd Recommend from 2016

*2016 was a difficult year, but also one of immense joy. I jet skied with dolphins in San Diego, snow skied in the mountains of Colorado, surfed and skydived in Hawaii. I started a book club, furnished a new apartment, made out with a married straight man in an acting class, and fell in love with Corepower Yoga. I laughed until I cried, cried until I had to laugh. I drunkenly yelled at a pizza man in Portland for getting there too early. I lived on the Upper West Side for exactly four weeks and convinced myself that I was Meg Ryan, which paid off when my boyfriend threw me a surprise birthday party that was You’ve Got Mail themed (best party ever). I watched 239 movies, read 47 books (new personal record!) and finally played a game on my PS4. I guzzled wine during every presidential debate, visited the HRC Brooklyn campaign HQ, protested at Trump Tower, and got the fortune of meeting Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama (!!). I ate corn on the cob for the first time (I know) and learned how to cook (sort of). I watched a bat terrorize a matinee audience in Sacramento, CA and received a blessing from Hawaiian spiritual leaders. I get to tap dance every day on a jumbotron in Time Square and made a Waitress video that Sara Bareilles “liked”. I saw so many friends create stunning pieces of theatre, and I got to be reminded again and again how grateful I am to know so many intelligent, creative, and kind people. Looking back, 2016 kicked ass and kicked my ass, and I’m not sure I would have it any other way. Here are my favorite things from the past year. x*

PLACES

Food:

  • Rumba (Seattle, WA)
  • Linger (Denver, CO)
    • *This eclectic mix of food gives you a taste from places all around the world...almost like Denver commissioned EPCOT to open a restaurant and dish out the flavors of all peoples.*
  • Quality Italian (New York, NY)
  • Siena Tavern (Chicago, IL)
  • True Food Kitchen (Austin, TX)
    • *This holistic eating experience was so good I bought the cookbook and have been whipping up delicious healthy meals since. Definitely prefer True Food to Breitbart Food.
  • Arsaga’s at the Depot (Fayetteville, AR)

Bookstores and Cafes:

Cinemas:

PODCASTS

TED Radio Hour:

Longform Podcast:

WTF with Marc Maron:

The Next Picture Show:

*this podcast examines a new movie through the comparison of an older one that inspired it. the hosts are intelligent and thorough, and the discussion is essential.*

  • Ep. 009/010: New Hope/Force Awakens
  • Ep. 021/022: Psycho/10 Cloverfield Lane
  • Ep. 029/030: L.A. Confidential/Chinatown

Fighting in the War Room:

You Must Remember This:

  • *this film history podcast is always fascinating, but the Hollywood Blacklist episode series is particularly gobsmacking.*

Fresh Air:

  • Sarah Paulson
  • Scott Rudin
    • *this interview with the prolific Scott Rudin is just about as good as any of the theatre content I enjoyed this year. One of the most invaluable figures in the current American theatre.*

Rupaul’s What’s the Tee:

BOOKS

fiction/non-fiction in no order:

plays in no order:

FILM

pre-2016 first times:

  • THE WOMEN (1939, d. George Cukor)
  • BALL OF FIRE (1941, d. Howard Hawks)
  • THE PALM BEACH STORY (1942, d. Preston Sturges)
  • DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944, d. Billy Wilder)
  • THE THIRD MAN (1947, d. Carol Reed)
    • *got to see this at Film Forum as part of their double feature series. the vibe of the whole movie is so stylized and expressionistic- fabulous.
  • ROPE (1948, d. Alfred Hitchcock)
  • THE INNOCENTS (1961, d. Jack Clayton)
  • CHINATOWN (1974, d. Roman Polanski)
  • A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984, Wes Craven)
  • THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (1995, d. Rob Reiner)
  • SCREAM 2 (1997, d. Wes Craven)
    • *imo, one of Laurie Metcalf’s greatest accomplishments*
  • L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997, Curtis Hanson)
  • CLOVERFIELD (2008, d. Matt Reeves)
  • SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (2008, d. Charlie Kaufman)
  • CORALINE (2009, d. Henry Selick)
  • AT BERKELEY (2013, d. Frederick Wiseman)

2016 documentaries:

  • BY SIDNEY LUMET (d. Nancy Buirski)
  • 13TH (d. Ava DuVernay)
  • EVERYTHING IS COPY (d. Jacob Bernstein, Nick Hooker)
    • *i’ve had an ongoing obsession with Nora Ephron all year- her insightful wit was infectious, and this documentary is a prime example of why*
  • TICKLED (d. David Farrier, Dylan Reeve)
  • WEINER (d. Josh Kriegman; Elyse Steinberg)
  • OJ: MADE IN AMERICA (d. Ezra Edelman)
    • *essential- reveals the dark perils of celebrity worship, and the trial that shaped (or rather demonstrated) America’s ongoing struggle with race relations*

*can’t decide on my favorite narrative movies until I can catch up- probably in February*

TELEVISION

2016:

  • FARGO (seasons 1 & 2)
  • LADY DYNAMITE (season 1)
  • STRANGER THINGS
  • FLEABAG
  • GREASE LIVE!
    • *single-handedly raised the standards not just for musicals on television, but all live televised performances. also, Ana Gasteyer*
  • BLACK MIRROR (favs: "Nosedive" "San Junipero")
  • RuPAUL'S DRAG RACE (s8)
  • THE PEOPLE vs. OJ SIMPSON
    • *Sarah Paulson has raised the bar*
  • WESTWORLD (disclaimer: only halfway through)

pre-2016:

  • THE GOLDEN GIRLS (seasons 1-3)
  • SHERLOCK (seasons 1-3)
  • BOB'S BURGERS (seasons 1-4)
  • MURDER SHE WROTE (season 1)
    • *i still haven’t listened to Serial, but I WILL watch Murder She Wrote until 4am*
  • THE NEWSROOM (season 1)

MUSIC

pre-2016:

single tracks:

WRITE-UPS

THEATRE

*I didn’t get to see as much off-Broadway as I would have liked, and I’m still mad at myself for missing Sunday in the Park with Jake. Alas, here are some shows I saw in 2016 I was kinda crazy about*

  • Eclipsed (Golden Theater)
  • American Psycho (Schoenfeld Theatre)
  • The Humans (Helen Hayes Theatre)
  • Shuffle Along (Music Box Theatre)
  • The Crucible (Walter Kerr Theatre)
  • Waitress (Brooks Atkinson Theatre)
  • Fiddler on the Roof (Broadway Theater)
  • Love, Love, Love (Laura Pels Theatre)
  • Othello (New York Theatre Workshop)

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