The Yes List – The Thrill of Bored to Death
Each week, The Daily Beast scours the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, a neurotic author is memorably brought to life by Jason Schwartzman in HBO's Bored to Death.
Jason Schwartzman, P.I.
Jason Schwartzman and Zach Galifianakis have been the go-to familiar faces an awful lot lately in their roles in Funny People and The Hangover, and now the duo is headlining HBO’s Bored to Death, a quirky half-hour comedy created and based on author Jonathan Ames' life (and imagination). Struggling with his second novel and the break-up with his girlfriend, Schwartzman—perfect in his role as the show’s version of Ames, “another self-hating New York Jew”—posts an ad on Craigslist for his services as an unlicensed private detective. Hijinks ensue. Galifianakis offers dependably unsound advice as Ray, Ames’ best friend and cartoonist who is convinced women are into them “because [they]’re artists.” The Juno-esque opening credits, noir-ish color palette, and sardonic supporting cast (a dashing Ted Danson plays Ames’ editor) transfer that wonderful indie-comedy feeling from theaters to TV once week. Bored to Death premieres Sunday at 9:30 p.m.
Muse Goes Mainstream
The British trio Muse turns up the adrenaline with their newest CD, The Resistance, out this week. The fifth album from the band, known for their eclectic musical genre mix, is even more diverse than their previous efforts. With 11 tracks, Muse makes knowing pop-culture references from Guiding Light to Timbaland, accelerating their characteristically slower sound, and even include an R&B track. Though the album may, at times, sound like the triumvirate is suffering from a case of aural ADHD, they are undeniably in control of their sound. The first single “Uprising”—memorably performed live last week at the MTV VMAs—is more pop than rock, and there are now rumblings that Muse could record the theme for the newest James Bond film. But these three Brits aren’t afraid of getting heavy—the album’s most powerful track, “United States of Eurasia,” which begins as a piano ballad and progresses into an Arabian-sounding rock opera a la Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” comments on the war in Iraq.
Revisiting Robert Frank's 'Americans'
From 1955 to 1956, famed photographer Robert Frank hopped in his used Ford coupe and drove across America, capturing whatever images caught his eye. By the end of his journey, Frank reached 30 states and had 776 rolls of film, 83 of which were featured in his landmark book The Americans, which featured an introduction by Jack Kerouac. In honor of the 50th anniversary of The Americans, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens a new exhibition to tell the stories behind those iconic images, Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans, which will run from September 22 to January 3. From a lonely girl in a Miami hotel elevator to a majestic Marlboro man resting against a trash can, Frank depicted American bohemianism in black-and-white, criticizing consumerism and emphasizing outsiders. “As exhibitions go, this one strikes a remarkable balance of incisive, exhaustive scholarship and rich visceral satisfaction,” writes Philip Gefter on The Daily Beast. The Met’s exhibition, previously held at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, is accompanied by a 500-page catalogue, illustrating, with original contact sheets and correspondence with mentors Walker Evans and Edward Steichen, how Frank encapsulated an entire era in so few photographs.