Godard's children and vegan pop-tarts
The Inheritance, All the Vermeers in New York, Brutus Bakeshop.
Swiss Army Man is a millennial update of Cast Away that cheekily preaches a gospel of bromance as it simultaneously derides male toxicity.
Radha and D passing a bag of funions between them in Brownsville in The 40-Year-Old Version should replace Woody Allen and Diane Keaton underneath the 59th street bridge as quintessence of NYC romance.
Dir. Ephraim Asili
Rent via your preferred theater
I caught this last year and I’m very excited it’s now widely available to stream. The overall mood of Ephraim Asili’s feature debut is one of youthful optimism, charged with that hunger for knowledge.
Books (James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Nikki Giovanni, and many more) are not just set dressings, but highly charged objects that spark political awakening in this update of and homage to Godard’s La Chinoise. Asili trades privileged Maoists in Paris for Black socialist-creatives in West Philadelphia and maintains a sense of the radical as much as his forebear.
Upon inheriting his grandmother's home, a young Black man refashions it into a socialist collective. He learns, among other things, that running a communal space is harder said than done, especially when your childhood friend breaks house rules and pilfers a spoonful of someone else’s spirulina and casually employs the word ‘bitch.’ Interpolating archival and documentary footage into his fiction, Asili tracks potent themes in an unfussy manner. You can read a full review I wrote here.
There’s a scene in The Inheritance where one of the characters very messily tries to work some carrots into a juicer, which was not only charming but a reminder of the connection between Black activism and veganism. More in this longread from Eater a few months back by Amira Mercer on the Black history plant-based diets.
ALL THE VERMEERS IN NEW YORK
Dir. Jon Jost, 1990
Streaming on Mubi
The tentpoles of early adulthood in NYC — trying to make rent, dating an older guy you don’t actually like, coping with roommates (this one an opera singer who warms up her vocal chords with Meredith Monk gibberish ad nauseum) — form the skeleton of this movie. But its beating heart or rather brain that runs the whole operation is the incongruity of art and commerce. Clashing ideologies rear their head from the start: a smarmy-yet-bland finance bro clocks out of trading and heads to The Met on a weekly basis to revive himself. His lofty exercise leads him to pick up a young aspiring actress with a French accent on the grounds that she looks like the girl with the pearl earring (she doesn’t) — thus cementing her as an art object and personal font of restorative beauty for his free market-compromised soul. (Don’t worry, she’s not too into it and pretends she doesn’t even speak English and makes her friend accompany her on a date as her translator.)
Jost films in elegant long takes and curated frames bathed in light so natural where everything look like spun-gold. The characters are set at a disarming distance and this Brechtian alienation combined with clunky romance casts the film in the shadow of Godard, which only makes perfect sense since the French auteur’s primary concern was also politics & art. When you expect a bit of romance here all you get is transaction, and the viewers, with unrestricted views of the Dutch masters, are complicit in the tensile spectacle.
“The Beyonce of poptarts”
I’m addicted to these, which I pick up from Ursula alongside New Mexican chile-laced breakfast burritos. Unlike most newfangled iterations, Lani Halliday’s poptart actually crumbles like the original and isn’t just a repackaged puff-pastry in disguise. Beware: it fractures unevenly and if you are like me you’ll try to catch all the pieces before they fall down your shirt. The guava filling (actually guava paste) is probably a tinge too sweet and overabundant, if such a thing could ever be said, though gamely balanced by the zinginess of the passion fruit frosting— thickly glossed over the entirety of the pastry, no skimping here. It’s the color of miso or a worn mid-century sofa, which is to say not the most appetizing shade, but bedazzled by a motley assortment of sprinkles.
The chocolate maple cardamom flavor is just as good, the sleek and sophisticated yin to the guava passion fruit’s cheer-filled yang. Both happen to be vegan and gluten-free (!) without tasting noticeably healthful or missing out on any deliciousness. Same with the miso chocolate chip cookies, which are nutty underscored with strong notes of coconut oil. They ship everything or you can try making the poptarts from scratch, which doesn’t look too hard.