Why Charlize Theron Is the James Bond We Need Now    W magazine, July 2017 (part of online campaign for August 2017 cover story)   While James Bond might enjoy a martini from time to time, Lorraine Broughton—the MI6 agent played by Charlize Theron in the new action flick  Atomic Blonde —would prefer a Stoli on the rocks. This is the drink she pours herself in the film’s opening moments as she eases into an ice bath, her body a constellation of bruises, her eye swollen and ringed with a web of magenta. And though she’s promised tea at Buckingham Palace, it’s a Stoli on the rocks she orders again at an East Berlin bar filled with KGB agents, shortly before she takes home a French intelligence agent by the name of Delphine (Sofia Boutella).
   Why Elliott Smith's  Either/Or  Hurts As Good Today    W magazine, March 2017   There’s now a bar where  Figure 8  used to stand. Or, not  Figure 8 , exactly, but the red-and-blue mural along Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles that was the backdrop for the Autumn De Wilde-shot portrait that covered Elliott Smith’s fifth and final studio album. That mural marked the site of the Solutions Audio-Visual Repair Shop; with Smith’s death by apparent suicide in 2003, it also became a public site of mourning. Now it is a place called Bar Angeles, which surely must be a reference to the track off the late singer’s 1997 album,  Either/Or .
   The Dark, Twisted Natalie Portman in  Jackie  Is the Natalie Portman We've Been Missing    W magazine, December 2016   When Lee Harvey Oswald aimed a rifle at John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and fired two shots as the President and his motorcade passed through Dallas, one bullet tore through Kennedy’s skull. He collapsed in the lap of his wife, First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, who clutched at the fragments of bone and brain that stained her prim pink suit.
    La La Land  Has the Heart of a Romantic, the Head of a Cynic    W magazine, December 2016   Unabashedly earnest, dreamily photographed and convincingly acted (and sung, and danced), Whiplash director Damien Chazelle’s new musical  La La Land  is styled after the song-and-dance films of yore, with contemporary trim. (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers's numbers were never interrupted by the ringing of an iPhone.) Much of the early (near-universal) acclaim positions the movie as a musical for people who don’t like musicals—which is exactly what Chazelle may have intended.
   Don't Call It a Comeback: Nicole Kidman Has a Long History of Wearing Daring Dresses on the Red Carpet    W magazine, May 2017   In 1997, actress Nicole Kidman set the red carpet at the Oscars ablaze. She hadn’t yet been nominated for an Academy Award, and hadn’t appeared in  Eyes Wide Shut  or  Moulin Rouge!  or  Cold Mountain  (the roles that would launch her from rising star to household name), but she was fresh off  To Die For  and arm-in-arm with Tom Cruise—and she was wearing chartreuse.
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