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SNL Kicks Off a New Era with Season 48 Premiere: Review

Saturday Night Live opened its 48th season with its biggest cast changes in decades. With eight cast members departing at various stages of their SNL tenure, and a ninth missing in action but supposedly returning later (Cecily Strong is doing a play in Los Angeles, and—unlike past temporary absences—wasn’t shown in the opening credits), the show is close to peak overhaul level (11 cast members left between seasons 20 and 21). Thee changeover was notable enough to warrant a cold-open sketch all about it, with Peyton Manning (host Miles Teller) and his brother Eli (Andrew Dismukes) offering live commentary on the season’s supposed kickoff: a self-consciously hacky sketch about Donald Trump (James Justin Johnson) and, well, whatever zany characters the writers decide to throw at him in an att...

Underpinning SA’s BPO Explosion

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Till Digs Into a Deeply Shameful, Deeply American Tragedy: Review

This review is part of our coverage of the 2022 New York Film Festival. The Pitch: The horrific, deeply shameful, and deeply American story of Emmett Till galvanized the civil rights movement with its tragedy: A 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago, visiting relatives in Mississippi, was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered for having the temerity to interact with a white woman, and Emmett’s mother Mamie Till-Mobley (then known as Mamie Till-Bradley) made the momentous decision to have an open-coffin funeral for her son, displaying his body, mutilated by his killers and bloated from being dumped into a river. These images, heavily circulated in Black publications, brought attention to the evils and injustice of U.S. racism — though they were not enough for Till’s killers (who admitted to the cr...

Paul Schrader’s Master Gardener Treads Very Familiar Soil: Review

This review is part of our coverage of the 2022 New York Film Festival. The Pitch: So there’s this stoic-looking man, sitting at a desk in a dark, spartan room, writing in his journal as we hear his thoughts in voiceover. That’s the set-up for Paul Schrader’s Master Gardener, as it was for his previous two films, The Card Counter and First Reformed. This was also the spirit, at least, of many other movies he has written and/or directed over the years, but his most recent unofficial trilogy takes on a ritualistic quality, as if Schrader is performing his version of stations of the cross, on progressively skimpier budgets. The newest iteration stars Joel Edgerton as Narvel Roth, head horticulturist at Gracewood Gardens, and though his routines appear regimented, he also seems closer to peace...

Why Gen Xers & Boomers are Embracing Cryptocurrency 

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The Nostalgia of Hocus Pocus 2 Only Serves Itself

Hocus Pocus 2, the long-awaited-by-some sequel to the 1993 fantasy comedy horror film rocking the same name, is best summed up with a stray fart joke. A newly resurrected Mary Sanderson (Kathy Najimy), one of the three nefarious Sanderson sisters (Salem witches whose 1600s reign of terror over the town ended by the noose) stumbles into a Walgreens. She and her siblings, Sarah (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Winifred (Bette Midler), are in search of provisions, and lured into entering the pharmacy by the film’s teen heroes. One by one they walk in. Mary, awed by the automatic doors, steps through and immediately, casually, unwarrantedly trumpets her flatulence. End scene. Farts are funny when they have a point. Hocus Pocus 2’s fart has no point. Mary farts because the filmmakers, producers, and ...

The Greatest Beer Run Ever Is a Pretty Likeable Movie, and That’s a Huge Problem: Review

The Pitch: Peter Farrelly is back with his first film since Green Book, a biopic about an average white guy from New York in the 1960s who learned a lot about the world by stepping outside of his comfort zone in the American South, whilst simultaneously charming the more worldly people around him. His new one, The Greatest Beer Run Ever, is a little different: it’s a biopic about an average white guy from New York in the 1960s who learns a lot about the world by stepping outside of his comfort zone in the Vietnam War, whilst simultaneously charming the more worldly people around him. This time, Zac Efron stars as Chickie Donahue, a shiftless merchant mariner who has a lot of friends serving in Vietnam. Chickie resents the cynical attitude the American media and youth culture have towards t...

Rap Song of the Week: Smino and J. Cole Light It Up on “90 Proof”

Rap Song of the Week runs down all the hip-hop tracks you need to hear every Friday. Check out the full playlist here. This week, Smino gears up for his upcoming album Luv 4 Rent with “90 Proof” featuring J. Cole. Since dropping “24-8” earlier this month, Smino’s been teasing his next album, Luv 4 Rent, with the hashtag “droptober.” To close out September, the St. Louis native has reunited with J. Cole for his confessional new single, “90 Proof.” Over a soulful groove co-produced by frequent collaborator monte booker and Groove, Smino uses a singsong flow to plead patience from a woman he hasn’t been able to commit to. Admitting he’s not “great at relationships,” Smino expresses his feelings the best way he knows how. In addition to opening up with lyrics like, “My heart start be...

Chan-wook Park’s Decision to Leave Is a Sizzling Romantic Thriller: Review

This review is part of our coverage of the 2022 New York Film Festival. The Pitch: A mountain climber is found dead at the bottom of one of Busan’s most intimidating peaks. An accident? Probably. But ace Busan detective Hae-jun (Park Hae-il) still finds himself drawn to the man’s Chinese widow, Seo-rae (Tang Wei), with whom he shares a beguiling, unspoken connection. She’s elusive, enigmatic; he grows more obsessed with her the longer he watches her on long stakeouts. And the closer the two get, the harder it is for him to see the woman she truly is — and the harder for her to hide it. The Mist: If there’s one thing you can count on from a Chan-wook Park film, it’s that it will be chock full of surprises. That’s certainly true of Oldboy, Stoker, and The Handmaiden, thre...

Beyond the Boys’ Club: Ann Wilson of Heart

Beyond the Boys’ Club is a monthly column from journalist and radio host Anne Erickson, focusing on women in the heavy music genres, as they offer their perspectives on the music industry and discuss their personal experiences. Erickson is also a music artist herself and has a new EP and single, “Last Love,” with Upon Wings. The latest edition of Beyond the Boys’ Club features an interview with the legendary Ann Wilson of Heart. As one of the founding members of female-led rock mainstays Heart, Ann Wilson knows just how difficult it was for women to break into rock music decades ago. She also knows what it takes to have staying power as a musical artist, as Wilson is still releasing imaginative new music and playing jam-packed shows. Wilson released her latest solo album, Fierce Bliss, ear...

Who Should Take Over The Daily Show After Trevor Noah Leaves?

The Daily Show was must-see viewing during the last days of a time when American TV viewing habits were a lot more predictable. Today, the continued fragmentation of late night has meant that every show, not just The Daily Show, has had a reduced impact on pop culture — but the show’s legacy endures from the Jon Stewart era, making current host Trevor Noah’s announcement that he plans to leave the series after seven years very interesting news for any comedian who might be interested in suiting up for a desk job. Noah’s departure actually follows how Stewart announced his plans to leave The Daily Show without an immediate successor in place. Noah was revealed as the new host several weeks following Stewart’s departure, after making spending six months as a correspondent, and if the series ...

Song of the Week: Paramore Gives Us a Reason to Leave the House with “This Is Why”

Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, Paramore make a huge return with “This Is Why.” It’s been 20 years since Hayley Williams moved from Mississippi to Tennessee, met the Farro brothers, and began the story of Paramore, one of the most exciting bands of the new millennium. Paramore has outlived most of their contemporaries, not just by continuing to exist as an entity, but also in terms of their enduring cultural relevance. While many bands of the Warped Tour Era flamed out or carried on by catering to nostalgia, Paramore have managed to remain vi...