The Fall of the House of Usher
The most gripping moment in 2022’s Academy Award-winning documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed is when members of the now disgraced Sackler Family, whose pharmaceutical company manufactured and marketed the highly addictive painkiller Oxy-Contin, are ordered to attend a virtual hearing in which they're confronted by families who had been impacted by the drug. Listening to tragic stories of accidental overdoses, birth defects, and young men cut down in their prime due to a prescription medication that had been promoted as safe and non-addicting, the Sacklers could not look more bored, even slightly annoyed. It’s a chilling reminder that extreme wealth often results in a loss of empathy, if not one’s entire soul. Continue Reading →
Survival of the Thickest
In 1995, way back last century, I went shopping for a dress to wear to my cousin’s wedding. Accompanied by my mother, it soon became apparent to us both that I, both a big and tall girl, wouldn’t be able to buy a dress in the Juniors section. My options eventually whittled down to one adult black velvet dress that, while the saleswoman assured us was totally chic for weddings, nevertheless showcased to the world that I could not fit into a fun or stylish dress for someone my age and that’s rough. It’s very rough. Continue Reading →
What We Do in the Shadows
Season 5 of What We Do in the Shadows premieres tomorrow, and you might have some difficulty parsing that it’s already there. Many sitcoms tend to run out of steam by season 5 (you’ll note that exactly when Fonzie jumped the shark), resorting to dropping plot arcs without explanation, swapping out established characters for newer, less interesting characters, setting up tiresome romances, and relying on gimmick episodes, like flashbacks, clip shows, and musicals. Despite its supernatural premise, What We Do in the Shadows still follows much of the standard sitcom structure, so it’s a minor miracle that it’s still the freshest, funniest half-hour show on television right now, without anyone having to put on a fat suit or get stuck in an elevator. Continue Reading →
Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields
The acclaimed documentarian joins The Spool to discuss Brooke Shields, her work, her life, and her relationship to "Brooke Shields" the image.
In 1981, Roger Ebert wrote a profile on Brooke Shields in which he—quoting a press agent—said, “She will be with us for the rest of our lives.” That turned out to be remarkably prescient, but neither the agent nor Ebert could have anticipated the myriad number of ways Shields has been with us in that time. Yes, she is extraordinarily beautiful. But many equally attractive people have come and gone, while Shields remains a consistent part of pop culture’s firmament. From her early appearances in films like Pretty Baby (1978), The Blue Lagoon (1980), and Endless Love (1981) and her controversial TV ads for Calvin Klein jeans, all of which focused on her sexuality while she was literally a child, to her shift in the later Eighties to become America’s Virgin to her reinvention as a comedic actress in the Nineties to becoming an advocate for those suffering from postpartum depression (and suffering the slings and arrows of Tom Cruise in full asshole mode as a result), Shields has been a persistently relevant figure in the American popular consciousness.
While Shields has lived much of her life in the public eye, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, a fascinating two-part documentary from Lana Wilson now streaming on Hulu, proves that she still has a great deal to say. Given access to nearly a half-century’s worth of archival material, which she presents alongside contemporary interviews with Shields, Wilson paints a fascinating, eye-opening portrait that demands a new consideration of Shields and her career. Much of her story is harrowing, be it specific to her life—her wrenching descriptions of sexual assault and her tumultuous relationship with her mother—or experiences too many young women in the spotlight share. (If you think having someone inquire about the state of your virginity sounds awful, imagine having talk show hosts do so on live television.) And yet, not only has Shields survived, she is thriving. She has found peace with herself and is able to look back on her life with a sense of control over it. Continue Reading →
For some, the hyper-vocal smug handsome guy archetype quickly wears out his welcome. That’s likely why so many seem allergic to Ryan Reynolds these days. For this writer, however, that kind of performer is like catnip. So Joel McHale’s newest sitcom turn as Frank of Seattle’s Animal Control Division is very welcome indeed. Alas, the show wrapped around him sparks more ambivalence. Continue Reading →
It’s strange how politics and bureaucracy are, in part, what made the Star Wars prequels such a stultifying affair while they give Andor a jolt that’s a large part of its charm. Nonetheless, thanks to excellent performances from the likes of Denise Gough as Imperial officer Dedra Meero and Kyle Soller as disgraced space cop Syril Karn, that was the reality of 2022. Continue Reading →
Scener ur ett äktenskap
A man stands in his living room, bent double and screaming into his closed fists. The pain is so new he’s still discovering just how deep it goes, bewildered and terrified to feel that the wound goes all the way into the bone. Watching from the floor of my office as I paint Halloween decorations, I could feel old scars tingling as the wounds under them sang remember that moment? Remember how it felt? Continue Reading →