The Yes List – A 21st-Century Breakup Movie
Each week, The Daily Beast scours the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, a 21st-century breakup movie, Erykah Badu’s soulful new album (and shocking music video), and Alfred Molina channels Mark Rothko.
A 21st-Century Breakup Movie
What happens when a beautiful young actress and a filmmaker, who have been dating for four years, decide to go part-time to save the relationship—four days on, three days off and free to sleep with others—and then decided to make a film about it after the experiment fails? You get Breaking Upwards, the charming film from real-life couple Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones. The film, in which the two play themselves with a cast of handpicked actors (Julie White, Olivia Thirlby), made a big splash at the recent South by Southwest festival, and will premiere in indie theaters across the country beginning this weekend. Though Breaking Upwards is reminiscent of the controversial “Mumblecore” genre, the plot is snappy, the dialogue crackles, and both actors are convincing at portraying the dark side of open relationships as well as the benefits of being in love. View the trailer here.
Erykah Badu Brings Soul to the Grassy Knoll
Erykah Badu, the songstress who is known to many as the “Queen of Neo-Soul,” has always pushed the boundaries in her music, singing about the inner city, drug use, and veganism, but her new video, called matter-of-factly “Erykah Badu Window Seat Video Uncut,” takes her work to a while new level. The video comes along with the release of her latest album, New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh), and was filmed in Badu’s hometown of Dallas, Texas, beginning with a crackly radio broadcast from the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. Badu goes on to completely disrobe in the video but the most shocking scene comes at the end. According to SF Weekly, “What Erykah Badu is trying to say is she's shedding her skin to be who she is, but society has a way of trying to destroy anyone who would seek to be who they are outside the cultural bounds assembled for them.”
Alfred Molina Paints the Town as Mark Rothko
Alfred Molina is a brave actor, but he had to be downright fearless to get on stage and portray artist Mark Rothko—and the risk has paid off. In John Logan’s new play RED, which arrived this week on Broadway from London’s Donmar Warehouse, Molina is only one of two actors on stage, without intermission, and he has monologue after monologue as the enigmatic, highly successful, and often misunderstood painter. The play takes place in Rothko’s New York studio circa 1958-9, when the painter was preparing his massive dark red and brown series to hang inside the Seagram Building’s Four Seasons restaurant. In conversations with his assistant (played by the very talented Eddie Redmayne), Molina’s Rothko is not sympathetic—he is arrogant, afraid of change, and unable to show compassion (at least until surprising moments) toward the one person he spends the most time with. The play comes to a riveting verbal climax (Hint: Rothko never ended up hanging his series inside the Four Seasons, and in a fit of regret, returns his $30,000 advance), but the best moment of the show has no words at all. When Molina and Redmayne prime a giant canvas together with bright red paint, droplets of the color fly everywhere, over the stage and over the actor like blood, reminding us all that theater is indeed a living thing.