The Devil’s Double, Project Runway & More Culture Recommendations
The Devil’s Double could be the next Scarface, Project Runway makes it work, and The Times becomes art.
“I suppose there’s an anger in all of us. Some hidden rage that you keep at bay,” actor Dominic Cooper, who plays both Uday Hussein and his body double, Latif Yahia, in The Devil’s Double, told The Daily Beast. In the film, which opens today, Cooper channels that inner madness to become Uday, the playboy son of Saddam with a penchant for iron maidens, rape, and murder. It’s a riveting and revolting performance made even more compelling by the fact that he also plays Uday’s unwilling body double—and foil—Latif and has some critics dropping the word “Oscar” in late July. Latif opened up to Newsweek about his real life experience as Uday’s fiday, which literally means “bullet-catcher.” “I often saw rape, torture, killings. The torture was really sick when Uday was doing it. One time … the father of a girl Uday had raped was brought in,” Latif explained. “The father had tried to complain to Saddam, so Uday wanted to take revenge. He asked me to shoot the guy in the head, but I refused. He said, ‘I’m ordering you—shoot him!’ I went crazy. I grabbed a knife and cut my wrists in front of him. He was shocked. I was taken to the hospital, and Uday never asked me to shoot anyone again after that.” But Cooper is quick to note that this Middle Eastern gangster story is exaggerated onscreen, explaining: “The regime is dead, and we don’t really know what these people were like in their day-to-day lives.”
Heidi Klum has reminded viewers since Project Runway’s first season that “in fashion, one day you’re in, and the next you’re out.” That’s also true of the reality show, on which fashion designers compete to present their clothing at Fashion Week. After switching networks from Bravo to Lifetime, the onetime cultural phenomenon crashed. But remarkably, last season, producers pulled it together. On Thursday, Project Runway returned for its ninth season and is now firmly back “in.” The show established a new reality-television subgenre when it debuted on Bravo in 2004: that is, talented professionals competing, and pushing their skills and craft to the limits in challenges judged by well-known people in the given industry. But when the show’s owners moved it from Bravo to Lifetime; the production company that created it, Magical Elves, quit; and the producers best known for The Real World took over. When season six of Project Runway finally debuted on Lifetime, it didn’t work. But something happened last season, the show’s eighth: Project Runway started to resemble its former self, featuring strong personalities and a controversial finish, which led to a growing audience. Season 9 will see some other changes and firsts, including a public, outdoor runway challenge and face-to-face casting. “I feel closer to these designers,” judge Nina Garcia told The Daily Beast. “I know their backgrounds. I’m not finding out their backgrounds sitting at home, which is what used to happen.”
Every day for almost 30 years, Tiffany & Co. has published an ad in the upper right-hand corner of The New York Times' page A3. And every day artist Ross Bleckner has collected those ads and the articles next to them, which he's publishing in his new book, A3: Our Lives in The New York Times. The concept sounds simple, but the collection of the Times’ A3 pages from the early 1980s to the present sends a jarring message. The Tiffany ad’s single item—a diamond ring, a watch, a necklace—next to a simple slogan, always runs adjacent to a news article and a photograph, from stories about typhoons in Indonesia to burials in Kosovo. A string of $135,000 black pearls with pave diamonds, for example, advertised as the “Splendors of the South Seas,” ran next to a photo of a tornado victim in Bangladesh in May 1996. Together the clippings in Bleckner’s book tell a story of social evolution: How news has advanced; how politics has intersected with human life; how the world has changed. As Bleckner put it to The Daily Beast, A3 is a study in “luxury, tragedy, and beauty.”