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Culture Index: Master of None Returns, ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Preview, ‘The Grift’ and More

Six things you should check out this week

Culture Index

Barbara Schmidt/FilmRise/Everett, Warner Bros, Netflix

Aziz Ansari and his popular Netflix series return this weekend – perfect for a Saturday and Sunday of binging. Rolling Stone unearthed much more this week, including a buzzed-about novel as stunning as its cover art, the next great true crime podcast and a documentary on a bad boy performance artist riveting to art world insiders and neophytes alike. 

Chris Burden documentary


One of the most talked-about and controversial artists of the 20th century, Chris Burden, who did everything from getting crucified to a Volkswagen Beetle to playing dead  (a stunt for which he was arrested), needed a proper documentary. 

Now, with Burden, the performance artist and sculptor, who died at 69 in 2015, finally has one. And the filmmakers got nearly everyone to participate, from Marina Abramović to tennis star John McEnroe to Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold. It’s the perfect representation of a body of work that you really had to experience in real life to totally understand.




As David Fear put it in his review: “Take one Oscar-winning actor. Pair her with a German visual artist, one with a puckish sense of humor. Give her 13 different roles, including female archetypes ranging from a Southern housewife to a blow-dried broadcast newsreader, and pray that Cindy Sherman doesn’t sue.”

So, yeah, Cate Blanchett in the feature film edit of Julian Rosefeldt’s ambitious Manifesto project (a longer version premiered as an art installation in Australia back in 2015) is the kind of artistic leap only one of our greatest, most fearless actresses can pull off. Let the Best Actress Oscar race begin. 

'Bladerunner 2049' Preview

‘Blade Runner 2049’ Preview

No, the culture-at-large has not exactly run out of good ideas, but many were skeptical about this Denis Villenueve-directed follow-up to Ridley Scott’s 1982 dystopian noir masterpiece, itself based on Philip K. Dick’s  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? But this week’s first-ever trailer from the upcoming sequel renewed hope, to put it mildly.

While moviegoers will have to wait until this October to make a final verdict, the thrilling preview saw Ryan Gosling’s Officer K face-to-face encounter with Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, sparking many breathless conversations about what exactly to expect.

Rakesh Satyal's 'No One Can Pronounce My Name'

Rakesh Satyal’s ‘No One Can Pronounce My Name’

Forget what they say about not judging a book by its cover: No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal fulfills the promise of its handsome facade. This story of trying to find one’s way in a new country, and through grief, beautifully extracts and distills every single emotion. Readers will finish wanting more.

The Grift

‘The Grift’ Podcast

In researching her bestselling book The Confidence Game, journalist Maria Konnikova dove into the world of con artists: what drives people to trick others, and why do their “marks” continue to believe them? But after three years of research, the New Yorker writer was left with more material than she could use. So she created The Grift, a podcast that spotlights all sorts of cons, from art forgers to cult leaders to Ponzi scheme masterminds. 

“These guys are charismatic and they’re fascinating,” Konnikova told the podcast The Gist. “Sometimes charisma doesn’t translate [on the written page].” 

She continued: “One of the things I learned over the years is it’s often bad to interview con artists, because you become way too sympathetic to them. You start believing them too much.” Listen and judge for yourself.

'Master of None' Season 2


‘Master of None’ Season 2

When we last left Aziz Ansari’s Dev Shah, he was on an airplane bound for Italy, where would learn to make pasta and, hopefully, get over a relationship. While we can’t really tell if he accomplishes either of those things judging by the previews we’ve seen, it looks like the second season of Master of None really ups the smart and stylish as we’ve seen a lot of Ansari and his buddy Arnold (played by Eric Wareheim) zooming around the Italian countryside on Vespas and looking like they’re having a wonderful old time.