On Janicza Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris’ “Zola” and critical impulses

There’s no comparing Zola to anything else. As the opening show slowly dollies around A’Ziah “Zola” King (Taylour Paige) and Stefani (Riley Keough) doing their makeup, making up their identities, in a mirror-filled void, whatever cinematic reference points one might be tempted to project onto the film are dashed away confidently. Though the film may ostensibly swim through a melange of genres that might be easy to ascribe to the story, and to the viral tweet thread by King that serves as its source text, director Janicza Bravo and co-writer Jeremy O. Harris luxuriate, rather, in its shape shifting quality…


Pings, whistles, and the sound of limbo

If you put your lips together, even the worst whistlers among us can conjure the recent past. A little warble to pull you back half a decade ago, before Twitter phased out its little toot of a notification sound. On its own, the little sonic signal is cute, albeit flat, indicating interaction and engagement. But in Zola, the film directed by Janicza Bravo, co-written by Jeremy O. Harris, and based on the tweets by A’Ziah “Zola” King, a little whistle goes a long way.

The slight flute-like sound couldn’t not be in the film, restrains itself from saturating its aesthetic…


On estrangement and time and cookies for closers

There is, packaged cheekily in its subtitle, an obvious double meaning in The Boss Baby: Family Business. There is the “family business” as it concerns work (and often ownership) passed down generationally, and there is “family business”, as in matters and topics and relationships within the context of the nuclear unit. …


Looking for the ghosts of the 1990s in the “Friends” reunion, and finding an inverse of Sondheim instead

they’ll be there for you, forever

Look at these people, Aren’t they eerie?

Look at this party, Isn’t it dreary?

I’m so glad I came

— Sally, ‘Don’t Look at Me” from Follies (1971)

The Friends set is not crumbling. The Russian dressing colored couch in Central Perk is not in tatters, and the moths haven’t eaten at the corners of its upholstery. The foosball table in Joey and Chandler’s apartment isn’t in pieces. The garish purple paint in Monica’s apartment isn’t wilting and weeping off the walls. Everything is as it was, unmoored by time. Well, except its cast. One by one, they tacitly enter…


The creators behind “Circle Jerk” make its audience look at people looking in a mirror, waiting to be consumed

I never wrote the essay about my sort of-ex that I had intended to, one that started out drawing the ironic comparison between his flawed communication style and inconsistent articulation of his desires with the fascination he had (which he then shared with me) in the flawed communication style and inconsistent articulation of desire, of the women on the Real Housewives of New York. It was intended to be a poisoned lollipop of a personal essay, a mode I generally avoid, vacillating between the mild transgressions of someone who didn’t know what they wanted, the person who got strung along…


The Housewives are back, and more surreal than ever

For a brief moment, as it was both truly brief and momentary, The Real Housewives of New York returned to its quasi-anthropological (or at least by Bravo standards)/Lauren Greenfield-esque roots. In the premiere episode of its 13th season, the reality TV show paused to show us a reality that was beyond the grip of producers and could not be manicured or performed or contrived in the way that many of us reductively understand how reality TV functions. It was just about time and space for a second: the relentless streets of New York on March 1, 2020, everyone going about…


A humorous short story about a boy, a girl, a tattoo, a boy, and a little divine decadence

After speaking with five designers, three friends who had recently gone through the ordeal, reading no fewer than fifteen Yelp reviews per each seven parlors, pestering two people who had stepped out for a smoke break from each of the respective seven parlors, and contemplating six iterations each of four design ideas, getting the tattoo of bowler hat donning Liza Minelli balancing on a chair, lavender lipstick and emerald green nails smirking, on a Thursday evening in November in Connecticut was the most spontaneous thing Eli had done in his life. …


Never thought I would say that again…

The last time I cared about the Academy Awards with any kind of sincere or earnest investment was 2011, I like to tell people who didn’t ask, like the barista who once complimented my “Fuck You” Mario Kart blue shell pin on my pin as if it were then the green light to tell him my life sory. I had been transformed by Melancholia and Lars von Trier was the first auteur that I fell in love with high school (a problematic fave, to be sure), and Kirsten Dunst’s full throated embodiment of depression, of the cosmological end days, of…


You won’t catch me in seats for “ The Avengers 45: Electric Boogaloo” unless Kylie Minogue starts singing “Who Are We?” or something

That Adam Driver in Marriage Story, Every day I wake up and Marvel hires an actor I like to try to get me to watch their silly little 40 hour movies. Well, nice try Mr. Kevin Feige! Nice try! I won’t give in that easily! I have strength, will, self-respect (not really), and, most of all, I am stubborn, which I get from my Irish Catholic mother, and she and I haven’t had a pleasant conversation since 2017, and at this point, I can’t remember why.

Michelle Yeoh. Rachel Weisz. Elizabeth Olsen. Marisa Tomei. Tessa Thompson. Linda Cardellini. Michelle Pfeiffer…


On broken hearts and lost time in Sondheim’s “Follies”

In Sally’s eyes, as played by Imelda Staunton in the 2017 National Theatre revival of James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim’s musical Follies directed by Dominick Cooke, you can see madness, pain, a dream slipping through her fingers, curdling into nightmare. It’s Sally’s folly in the back part of the show, the ghosts of the past not so much stalking her, her pathetic and unfaithful husband Buddy, her former best friend Phyllis, and the object of her desire Ben, so much as creating a phantasmagoric vaudevillian performance space which forces them to confront their ills. This is “Loveland”, as the hoofers…

Kyle Turner

Snarkoleptic. Queer monster. Amateur critic. Professional snob. Writer person. I am relieved to know that I am not a golem. Words in Slate, GQ, the NYTimes, etc

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