10 Lessons on Becoming a Champagne Connoisseur

Born into a vineyard family in Cognac, France, Carl Heline has become one of the foremost international authorities on champagne, not to mention a passionate, thoroughly engaging ambassador. He now acts as Director of Education for Champagnes at Moet Hennessey USA (whose portfolio includes Ruinart, Moet & Chandon, Veuve Clicqout, Dom Perignon and Krug). He graciously took the time to chat with BlackBook about the mysteries and misconceptions of the bubbly—here’s what we learned.

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Stop treating champagne as just a status symbol or a celebratory treat.

“It is luxury—but it doesn’t need to be linked to celebration. The French, when we go to a party, we come with a bottle of champagne; it could be April, it could be June. But I brought a $45 bottle of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label to one of the first dinners I was invited to here—and the host put it away and said he was going to save it for a special occasion.”

If it’s from California, it’s just fizzy wine.

“If anyone discovers how champagne tastes as opposed to those sparkling wines, they will choose champagne. Every single product we use, from the bottle to the cork, is more expensive, it’s better quality. It’s also in the way we age the champagne.”

A great deal of pressure goes into the bottle—so don’t “pop” that cork.

“The second fermentation creates so much pressure…it’s 90 PSI, which is more than twice the pressure in a car tire. And it’s so much higher than the sparkling wines, where they just add the gas…like Coca Cola does.”

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Don’t believe all those other claims. Champagne was created in, well, Champagne.

“If the question is who invented sparkling wine, that could be anywhere in the world. If the question is who invented champagne, it would have to be in Champagne, by definition. It’s not because we are arrogant French people. It’s because there are a hundred reasons why it can only be made in that region. It’s the most regulated wine region in the world.”

Don’t visit the Champagne region of France for the weather.

“The weather in Champagne is awful! It rains 220 days a year, it’s freezing cold in the winter. It gets as much snow as Vancouver—and to grow vineyards in Canada would be impossible.”
(BB epicurean tip: We suggest taking your champagne at St Moritz—which enjoys more than 300 days of annual sunshine.)

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It’s important to know your grapes.

“It’s about the blending, from two, three, five different years—as opposed to the vintage, which is all from one year. The Pinot Noir is like the backbone, the skeleton, the structure. The fruitiness will come more from the Pinot Meunier. And the Chardonnay will bring the spiciness and the acidity and the floral aromas. If you do drink 100% Chardonnay, you will lose the fruitiness.”

Seriously, enjoy champagne with a meal.

“In France, we drink champagne on Tuesday at lunch! I personally love it with shellfish, with a light curry, or even a croque monsieur. The rosé champagnes are actually very good with meat.”

Forget the media-established hierarchy when choosing a champagne.

“People often ask me what is the best champagne. And I say the best is the one you prefer. But what would be a glass of champagne that 99% of the time would please me? I would definitely go with the Moet et Chandon Brut Imperial. It has what I would call an elegant maturity.”

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Put away those flutes—it’s wine, it should be in a wine glass.

“Champagne really needs to be in a white wine glass. When it comes to tasting, smelling, and really feeling the quality of the wine, the flute is the worst glass you can have. And people always drink it too cold, which is maybe why they don’t know it is a great wine—it kills all the aromas.”

The French are not uppity about champagne.

“Champagne is regarded as a higher luxury than it needs to be. If you look at the best champagnes, at $200 a bottle, they are cheap compared to several thousand for the best other wines. If you ask collectors what were some of the best wines they have had, they will say La Mouline ’69, Cheval Blanc ’45…and then they will tell you Krug ’28, Krug ’29, Dom Perignon ’73. They consider that champagnes are some of the best wines in the world.”

Time to Flee NYC, is Philadelphia the Next Big Thing?

Photo via Instagram

A few years back the tide of trendiness washed the unwashed, creative masses ashore in Williamsburg, then Greenpoint and then Bushwick. Nowadays that’s one big neighborhood of fabulousness, but there is a growing feeling that the best days are over. Soaring rents are driving the artists and other creatives out and there goes the neighborhood.

The impending closing of the L train makes the dream look more like a nightmare. Already, the hood is inundated with condos and baby carriages and the talk is of what, or rather where could be next. Of course the natural move follows the L train to the already gentrifying Bed-Stuy, but the thought of commuter buses when the L train tanks is off-putting. There is nearby Ridgewood, but it’s a hop, skip and yet another bus away from the action. Some are talking the Rockaways, while others say LA. LA’s booming economy and predictable weather becons. Some say it isn’t so bad anymore with Venice, kind of cute and trendy Echo Park, Silver Lake, Highland Park, Downtown and all that, but most I know would rather slit their wrists rather than follow Horace Greeley. I am tossing Philadelphia into the equation.

WC Fields on his way to the gallows in the ’40s comedy My Little Chickadee, was granted the customary one final wish. He pleaded, “I’d like to see Paris before I die,” and the crowd growled. He lowered his expectations saying, “Philadelphia will do.” As it turns out, Philadelphia will do. I’ve been spending a lot of time in the “City of Brotherly Love” and have found for the most part that to be true, as people are truly friendlier and it’s a nice place to live. First off the rents are cheap by NY/Brooklyn standards with nice rooms to be found in the $600 range and great one bedrooms, starting around $1500. Drink prices at the countless trendy bars are way cheaper than NYC. There are raves, warehouse parties, a thriving live music scene, a DJ scene and a thriving art scene. Restaurants and foodie culture abounds and design is world class.

Without a celebrity/model base, the bottle service clubs fall short by New York standards, but for me and mine that’s a good thing. The 2 a.m. liquor curfew has people coming out early and retreating to house parties late. All in all, it’s more than survivable and Philly folks tell me there is a wave of ex-New Yawkers moving into trendy hoods like Northern Liberties and Fishtown. A walk around these neighborhoods reveals people that look exactly like the people I rub elbows with on Graham Avenue. The kicker is that Amtrak will whisk you from Philly to NYC Penn Station in an hour and a half, and by car it’s a dependable 2 hours near. You can get your NY fix with minimal effort.

In the mid ’90s at the behest of my girlfriend’s housemates, I joined forces with Philly nightlife heroes Barry Gutin, Larry Cohen, Joe Grasso and John Frankowski to create Shampoo, the first Philadelphia joint to feature a pick-and-choose door jam. The club lasted more than a decade and helped define global nightlife, there. I brought down Grace Jones, RuPaul, Joey Arias, Lady Bunny and some NYC DJs to help out—the place was a hit. At a reunion party in late November, Shampoo was recreated for one night. Major Domos Dan Cantarino, Michelle Bozzi and Nigel Richards (and most of the old gang) reveled in the past, but also the fabulous present and future of Philly nightlife. I came down as their guest—the designer and person who originally named the joint.

I ended up staying, but not just overnight; I got myself a loft. I currently commute up to NYC three or four times a week and stay over from time-to-time. I haven’t missed a beat and don’t miss much of the rat-race as Philly has all that I need to thrive. I am planning on moving back to the Big Apple in a month, since my business demands it and I truly believe NYC is the greatest city in the world. I consider Philadelphia the 6th borough, but I hope my Philly friends don’t take offense.

From ‘Carol’ to ‘Tangerine’: This Year’s Independent Spirit Award Nominees

This morning, Independent Spirit Award nominations were announced, boasting a diverse group of emerging artists and acclaimed filmmakers from Todd Haynes and Ed Lachman to Sean Baker and Cary Joji Fukunaga. The awards will be presented on February 27st so check out a selection of the nominees below and for the full list head here.

Best Feature
Producers: Duke Johnson, Charlie Kaufman, Dino Stamatopoulos, Rosa Tran

Beasts of No Nation
Producers: Daniel Crown, Idris Elba, Cary Joji Fukunaga, Amy Kaufman, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker

Producers: Elizabeth Karlsen, Christine Vachon, Stephen Woolley

Producers: Blye Pagon Faust, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Michael Sugar

Producers: Sean Baker, Karrie Cox, Marcus Cox, Darren Dean, Shih-Ching Tsou

Best Director
Sean BakerTangerine
Cary Joji Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation
Todd Haynes, Carol
Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, Anomalisa
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
David Robert Mitchell, It Follows

Best Screenplay
Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa
Donald Margulies, The End of the Tour
Phyllis Nagy, Carol
Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight
S. Craig Zahler, Bone Tomahawk

Best First Feature
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Director: Marielle Heller
Producers: Miranda Bailey, Anne Carey, Bert Hamelinck, Madeline Samit

James White
Director: Josh Mond
Producers: Max Born, Antonio Campos, Sean Durkin, Melody Roscher, Eric Schultz

Manos Sucias
Director: Josef Kubota Wladyka
Producers: Elena Greenlee, Márcia Nunes

Director: Jonas Carpignano
Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Chris Columbus, Jon Coplon, Christoph Daniel, Andrew Kortschak, John Lesher, Ryan Lough, Justin Nappi, Alain Peyrollaz, Gwyn Sannia, Marc Schmidheiny, Victor Shapiro, Ryan Zacarias

Songs My Brothers Taught Me
Director/Producer: Chloé Zhao
Producers: Mollye Asher, Nina Yang Bongiovi, Angela C. Lee, Forest Whitaker

Best First Screenplay
Jesse Andrews, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Joseph Carpignano, Mediterranea
Emma Donoghue, Room
Marielle Heller, The Diary of a Teenage Girl
John Magary, Russell Harbaugh, Myna Joseph, The Mend

Best Male Lead
Christopher Abbott, James White
Abraham Attah, Beasts of No Nation
Ben Mendelsohn, Mississippi Grind
Jason Segel, The End of the Tour
Koudous Seihon, Mediterranea

Best Female Lead
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Bel Powley, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Kitana Kiki Rodriquez, Tangerine

Best Supporting Male
Kevin Corrigan
Paul Dano, Love & Mercy
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
Michael Shannon, 99 Homes

Best Supporting Female
Robin Bartlett, H.
Marin Ireland, Glass Chin
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa
Cynthia Nixon, James White
Mya Taylor, Tangerine

Best Documentary
Directors/Producers: Lyric R. Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe
Producer: Christopher St. John
Best of Enemies
Directors/Producers: Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville

Heart of Dog
Director/Producer: Laurie Anderson
Producer: Dan Janvey

The Look of Silence
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Producer: Signe Byrge Sørensen

Directors/Producers: Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Producer: Shannon Ethridge

The Russian Woodpecker
Director/Producer: Chad Gracia
Producers: Ram Devineni, Mike Lerner

Best International Film
Embrace the Serpent
Director: Ciro Guerra

Director: Céline Sciamma

(France, Turkey)
Director: Deniz Gamze Ergüven

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
Director: Roy Andersson

Son of Saul
Director: László Nemes 

Best Cinematography
Beasts of No Nation, Cary Joji Fukunaga
Carol, Ed Lachman
It Follows, Michael Gioulakis
Meadlowland, Reed Morano
Songs My Brothers Taught Me, Joshua James Richards

Olivier Assayas on Working With Kristen Stewart and Revisiting His Past With ‘Clouds and Sils Maria’

Olivier Assayas, Kristen Stewart, Juliette Binoche

Re-run in celebration of FIAF’s “Theater & Cinema” series. Clouds of Sils Maria will screen this afternoon and this evening. Get your tickets here.

With his last film, Something in the Air, filmmaker Olivier Assayas revisited the sentiment of his profound and poetic early films to give an autobiographical look at an artist’s coming of age. With his latest cinematic endeavor, Clouds of Sils Maria, the acclaimed French director again reaches into the past—but this time through the eyes of the performer, re-teaming with one of his first collaborators, actress Juliette Binoche. Exactly 30 years ago, Assayas received his first screenwriting credit on André Téchiné’s César Award-winning Rendez-vous, the film which also catapulted Juliette Binoche to international stardom. Whereas that film told the story of an ingenue on the precipice of her career, Clouds of Sils Maria brings us into the world of seasoned, internationally celebrated actress, Maria Enders, at the peak of her career.


Written for and around Binoche, the film begins when Enders is invited to perform in the revival of the play that made her a star twenty years prior. Having originally played the role of Sigrid (an enticing young woman who drives her boss, Helena, to kill herself), now in her matured age Enders must take on the role of Helena, opposite an infamous tabloid-dwelling Hollywood starlet (Chloë Grace Moretz). To prepare for the role, Enders escapes to Sils Maria, an isolated and serene location in the French Alps. To help her rehearse, she brings along her devoted assistant, Valentine, played by Kristen Stewart in the most wonderfully nuanced and natural performance of her career—and one which made her the first American woman to win France’s César Award. With Assayas’ keen sensitivity to the human condition and the everyday suffering of artistic expression, Clouds of Sils Maria unfolds as an intimate and cerebral chamber drama that hits at the nexus of between performance, celebrity, and empathy. 

Earlier this year during the New York Film Festival, I sat down with Assayas to discuss how Binoche lured him into making this film, the weird energy of Kristen Stewart, and how woman are far more interesting subjects than men.

Looking back at Something in the Air, this film feels like a strong departure from that and in a very different register—was that a conscious decision for you?

Yeah, I mean this film kind of happened to me, and it came to me via Juliette Binoche. She’s the one who said to me, “Why don’t we make a film together?” It was not planned; there was no strategy there.

Is that how you generally approach most of your films?

Yes, although some are more concrete. When I’m making a movie like Carlos, I make it because it comes to me in a weird way, and then it grows and grows. I try to get rid of it, but it doesn’t go away, so I end up having to do it. Something in the Air was more controlled, and it was something I knew I wanted to make and knew it was the right time to make it. This movie, in a certain way it echoes movies I’ve done, like Irma Vep, which also dealt with an actress playing her own part. It’s also an extremely different film, but ultimately has something to do with a part of my life, which is this relationship with Juliette Binoche.

We started together and met via cinema because we were both involved in this movie, Rendez-vous, thirty years ago. That was her first big part as an actress and basically put her on the map and it was my first screenwriting credit, which really helped my career. So when Juliette calls me and says we should make a movie together, it’s something that has an instant echo and means something. I know why she’s calling me and saying that, and I know she has a point even if I don’t know what that point is yet at the time.


What is it about Juliette as an actor and a woman that continues to fascinate you?

It’s extremely difficult to answer that question and be completely honest about it. Juliette has done a million things and has such a big career, and my initial doubts in doing this film were about what I can do with her that she has not done a million times. I wanted to make something that wouldn’t feel like we were going over the same ground and doing the same thing over and over again, so it had to be something that would make the film interesting to me and to her. It was not a given, like, oh wow we’re going to make a film together, it was more cautious.

I know she’d made films with Abbas Kiarostami, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Bruno Dumont, and she ‘s done all those movies in the past with Leos Carax—so where do I fit in? What can I bring her that is very specifically what she has not already done. The reason I called her back three days later and said, yeah, maybe let’s try, is because I felt that she had never really played herself. So why not turn the problem around and instead of thinking of what kind of part I could write for Juliette, why not try to imagine what kind of movie I could build around her, using whatever I know of her as the inspiration for the film.

So is this a story you would not have told if not for her involvement?

No, it’s a movie that totally has its roots in what I know of Juliette, what I don’t know of her, and what I fantasize about her. It’s also the echo of our shared past. In a sense that Rendez-vous was a movie about how a very young girl becomes an actress, it ends in more of less the same place where Sils Maria ended. I haven’t seen the movie more or less since it was made, so I’m not sure I remember everything precisely, but it’s kind of a ghost story and deals with life, art, and creation. So this movie is totally fueled by our shared memories and the personality of Juliette, with the fact that she has a career in French and English.


I’ve always thought of Juliette as a woman who transcends age. Of course she has to deal with it internally, but in her roles and performances, she simply continues to evolve.

Exactly, yes. Let’s say that’s part of the subject of the film, it’s how some actresses have the capacity to transcend aging but still have to deal with it in one way or another. I suppose I would have made a similar movie around Isabelle Huppert. 

After making your last two films with male protagonists, was it refreshing to go back and tell a woman’s story? Do you find you connect to women more as an artist?

Yes, yes. I missed it. It inspires me. Although in different ways, most of my movies were really centered on woman. It’s only in the last stage of my career that I’ve been getting somewhat interested in making boys films. It’s mostly because I had never made them so all of a sudden there was something new about it for me, but my inspiration has mostly been about women. It’s always very hard to explain or understand, but it has to do with that fact that woman are more interesting.

Historically, they are in a more interesting position. The position of women in modern society is changing, and it’s transforming society. Contemporary woman have to deal with reinventing their position in society, regarding their work, family, and their love life. It’s the most important change in modern society, so it’s exciting because there are more interesting dynamics than the identity of men who feel threatened, which basically creates the worst and most stupid aspects of modern society.


How did Kristen Stewart come into the picture? Considering you wrote the film around Juliette, did you initially have anyone in mind to play opposite her?

Not really. I didn’t write with someone specific in mind. I just know that the moment I sat down and started imagining who could be  Valentin, the name of Kristen instantly jumped from the page.

Was there a particular role of hers that caught your attention?

I liked her in every movie I’ve seen of her. Even in movie like The Runaways, I thought she was so amazing as Joan Jett. I was not so fond of the film, I think it could have a million times better, but the way she grasped that character and embodied it, it was believable. She had that punk rock energy, and few actresses can do that. I met her a couple of times in real life, thanks to my producer because he had produced On the Road and they became friends. That film was in festivals when Something in the Air was traveling around, so we bumped into each other a few times. I really liked her, and I liked her presence. She has a weird presence, but she has a kind of intensity, which is what translates best on screen.


She and Juliette have a simpatico relationship and fantastic energy between them. Was that something that grew instantly and organically or did you work with them to build that dynamic?

It just happened. I don’t work with actors, I film them, but I don’t work with them in the sense that I don’t rehearse. I don’t do reading and I don’t give them comments on the psychology of the character or backstories. I’m just not interested in that, it bores me to death. I believe in spontaneity and recording in the documentary way of what happens when the actors say the lines for the first time. So you can say I film rehearsals, but another way of putting it is, that what you see in the film happens to be rehearsals, it’s like the first time they say those words, and it’s magical.

That’s where I connected the most with Kristen. I’m less organically attached to Juliette’s process. She needs to work and she needs rehearsal, but I did not give her rehearsal. She needs a coach, but I did not give her a coach. She kind of resents that still, but it’s not my culture and I don’t like it. If they want to rehearse in front of the mirror in the bathroom, I don’t have a problem with it, I just don’t want to know about it. I just want to know that whenever they are on set things will come out with a certain degree of spontaneity. So Kristen is the opposite of Juliette in that way—she learns her lines in the morning and thinks she’s done after we’ve filmed one or two takes.

That’s also evident in their characters and performances, as Juliette/Maria is so heightened and theatrical, whereas Kristen/Valentine provides a more mellow, naturalistic foil.

Exactly, and ultimately it’s not really something you can predict. You don’t know what is going to happen between two actresses in a scene. They could have disliked each other because they’d never met, so anything could have happened. Here we were extremely lucky that there was this instant bond between them and an instant connection.

Thinking of the discussions in the film, do find that theater imitates life more than life imitates theater?

Let’s suppose art is what happens at a later stage and is what happens when a playwright is writing. In the middle, what is happening is a human being trying to understand the emotions of another human being. We not so much into art as within struggling to be able to share the suffering and emotion of the fellow human being. It’s very basic and the beauty of what acting is about. Actors, they’re simultaneously part of the artistic process, they’re part of the creation, and what they bring is some human reality. They can’t fake it, they have to find one way or another to go beyond the issue of art and make it about understanding.

I could sense some strong connections between this film and R.W. Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant. Did that serve as a reference for you?

Yes, very early on. It was actually the first idea I had. I thought they would be rehearsing Petra von Kant, but then I realized that it didn’t exactly fit in, it’s the wrong pacing. When you’re dealing with a play there are a lot of words involved, so Petra was not the same rhythm and it’s much longer scenes than whatever I could afford if I wanted to make this movie interesting. So I had to make an extremely condensed version of some key moments from Petra von Kant.


Clouds of Sils Maria begins its theatrical run this weekend at IFC Center.

The Best Movies to Watch Without Leaving Bed: The Female Filmmakers You Need to Know

Every Wednesday I find myself whispering that old Beckett adage into the morning air: I can’t go on / I’ll go on. As I settle into the week’s work, and no matter how thrilling the day’s prospects, it’s that beginning of the week existential stomach ache that always seemed to start gnawing away at my insides. But breathe, just breathe, the hours will pass themselves and soon it will all be easier and the weekend will come again—one that’s rife with fantastic films playing in theaters all around the city. But in the meantime, look forward to the evening, when a wealth of wonderful films will be at your fingertips.

With so many great movies streaming online, what better way to spend a cold March night than curled up beneath the sheets with some of the best rare and incredible cinema from the comfort of home? But with myriad options streaming, I understand the decision of what to screen in your private bedroom viewing can prove a challenge. So to make your troubles easier, this week we’ve highlighted some of our favorite films from our favorite female filmmakers, all available to watch now—from incredible new talent to some of the most internationally acclaimed directors. Peruse our list, curl up under the covers, and enjoy.


IT FELT LIKE LOVE, Eliza Hittman

Set amongst languid summer days filled with hazy teenage ennui, Eliza Hittman’s debut feature It Felt Like Love focuses on Lila, a lonely and curious 14-year-old living in Brooklyn with her father. Hittman’s film exists in the small but poignant moments of life, allowing us to inhabit the harrowing pains of growing up and the struggle for identity—crafting a refreshingly raw and potent portrait of youth.

Available to Watch on Netflix



Ade’s emotionally cutting 2009 film about a young couple whose core is shaken when spending time with another couple begins to reveal the true nature of their dynamic.

Available to Watch on Hulu +



Mia Hansen-Love’s harrowing, beautiful, and realistic portrayal of life-altering heartbreak and how that pain becomes an ache that stays inside you forever and prevents you from escaping that insular hurt and isolates you from connecting with others—but shows you how maybe that immense love can transpose itself into creativity and something can be born from that as we allow ourselves to be taken by life’s current, even if we can’t ever fully let go.

Available to Watch on Netflix


BASTARDS, Claire Denis

Starring Vincent Lindon as Marco, the Parisian noir thriller plays out in the aftermath of his brother-in-law’s suicide when he seeks to rescue is estranged sister and young niece (played by Lola Créton).What follows is a sinister decent into the bleeding heart of darkness that’s tight enough to leave you gasping for air but never fully exposes itself, leaving corners cloaked in shadows with an enigmatic wink.

Available to Watch on iTunes


NEWS FROM HOME, Chantal Akerman

“Letters from Chantal Akerman’s mother are read over a series of elegantly composed shots of 1976 New York, where our (unseen) filmmaker and protagonist has relocated. Akerman’s unforgettable time capsule of the city is also a gorgeous meditation on urban alienation and personal and familial disconnection.”

Available to Watch on Hulu +


LA CIENEGA, Lucrecia Martel

“With a radical and disturbing take on narrative, beautiful cinematography, and a highly sophisticated use of on- and offscreen sound, Martel turns her tale of a dissolute bourgeois extended family, whiling away the hours of one sweaty, sticky summer, into a cinematic marvel. This visceral take on class, nature, sexuality, and the ways that political turmoil and social stagnation can manifest in human relationships is a drama of extraordinary tactility, and one of the great contemporary film debuts.”

Available to Watch on Hulu +


DAISIES, Vera Chytilová

“Maybe the New Wave’s most anarchic entry, Věra Chytilová’s absurdist farce follows the misadventures of two brash young women. Believing the world to be “spoiled,” they embark on a series of pranks in which nothing—food, clothes, men, war—is taken seriously. Daisies is an aesthetically and politically adventurous film that’s widely considered one of the great works of feminist cinema.”

Available to Watch on Hulu +



“In one of Akerman’s most penetrating character studies, Anna, an accomplished filmmaker (played by Aurore Clément), makes her way through a series of European cities to promote her latest movie. Via a succession of eerie, exquisitely shot, brief encounters—with men and women, family and strangers—we come to see her emotional and physical detachment from the world.”

Available to Watch on Hulu +



As a personal essay about the hidden past of her family, the feature beautifully weaves together an incredibly well-constructed experiment in storytelling. In the film, there’s a line that reads: “When you’re in the middle of a story, it isn’t a story at all but only a confusion, a dark roaring, a blindness. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story when you’re telling it to yourself or anyone else.” And that sentiment plays out as the through-line for the feature, as Polley’s family and those close to it reveal familial secrets, shared truths, and show us the ways in which we create the own narrative of our lives.

Stories We Tell also confronts the challenges of love—be it romantic or maternal—while exposing the myriad ways our own memory can deceive us. There’s a delicacy and heartwarming touch in Polley’s style of filmmaking that shines through in all of her work but is never more present here. It’s absolutely enthralling and fascinating to watch but heartbreaking in its honesty—always leaving you hungry to discover more. The film works as a eulogy as much as it does a perfect vehicle for self-discovery, yet feels universal in its open-ended questions and speaks directly to your soul in way that’s both rare and tender.

Available to Watch on Netflix 



As “cinema’s first Iranian vampire western,” Girl brings us into a black-and-white world of undead desire, all set in a ghost town know as Bad City, where a lonely vampire skateboards through its dimly lit streets and the sordid souls that inhabit it. Rife with prostitutes, pimps, and junkies lurking around every corner, we follow the “The Girl” as she occupies her bloodsucking isolated waking hours in darkness. Amalgamating everything from the Iranian New Wave and David Lynch-brand surrealism to graphic novels and playful nods to Sergio Leone, Amirpour has crafted a film that, while being deeply indebted to its influences, emerges as something wholly its own. With music that ranges from chilly techno to Morricone motifs, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night lures you into its strange and seductive world, putting a haunting new spin on the “pop fairytale.”

Available to Watch on iTunes 


Sonic Pleasures: Your Essential Summer Playlist

People may “not notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy” but for anyone who has stepped outside their homes today knows, the summer has just begun. The humid air clings like electric sugar to your skin and you long for a cool breeze and cold drink in your hand. But summer is also a state of mind, specific psyche that allows us to bypass some of the anxious, constant hustle and flow of the colder months—we’re more inclined to slow down and enjoy our more essential sensuous pleasures.

A dreamy haze covers the summer months and blankets us with a need for sonic accompaniment to our lives that’s both ethereal yet tethered to the emotions that haunt so strongly they mingle with the sweat on our skin. Of course, summer is riddled with new releases and festivals just about everywhere you look, but if you’re in the mood for something a little more mellow, something timeless that just feels good—I’ve got you covered.

From the songs that make you want to travel back in time with a Blue Hawaiian on an island far off in the Pacific, to songs for night driving at the end of the world, and those meant for spaced-out dreaming in the sun, here’s your essential summer playlist. Grab yourself something cold, throw on a Hawaiian shirt, and enjoy.

Photo via The Pie Shops

























































See Elle Fanning in the First Image from Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘The Neon Demon’

After heading to Bangkok for last year’s neon-punch Only God Forgives, director Nicolas Winding Refn is now about to wrap on his latest feature, The Neon Demon. Originally titled I Walk With the Dead, the idea for the all-female cast horror film came to Refn after, “One morning I woke and realized I was both surrounded and dominated by women. Strangely, a sudden urge was planted in me to make a horror film about vicious beauty.” Starring Elle Fanning, the film is “about an aspiring model who becomes prey to other women who want what she has.”

Today you can see the first image from the film above. Stay tuned, as we’ll be keeping a close eye on this one. Also, check out our interview with Refn HERE.


Mulder + Scully Forever: Revisit TV’s Greatest Duo Before The X-Files Returns This January

It’s been over a decade since the final episode of The X-Files and we’re still longing for more. We’ve wanted to believe our favorite duo, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully would return to our screens, and now our wishes have come to fruition. Fox has just announced that The X-Files’ six-episode revival event will have its premiere Sunday, January 24, at 10 p.m. Following Sunday’s debut, the show will move to Mondays at 8 p.m.

Stayed tuned, as more info is sure to roll in, and in the meantime, take a look back on some of our favorite Mulder/Scully moments below and revisit the whole series on Netflix streaming now.


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From Her Dress to HER After-Party, Rihanna Won the Met Ball

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty 

As though that yellow Guo Pei dress (a near unanimous, if equally-as-meme’d favorite) wasn’t enough to make it clear that Rihanna was the belle of last night’s ball, once the scene migrated from the Met, many headed to RiRi’s very own after party. A-List guests went downtown to Up & Down where RiRi further secured her title as winner of the night. (Not including Anna Wintour). 

The party was presented by D’USSE and Armand de Brignac. Guests included Chloë Sevigny, Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Elizabeth Banks, Diddy, Miley, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Elizabeth Banks, Keri Russell, Jessica Alba, Usher, Janelle Monae, Jeremy Scott, Hailee Steinfeld, Madonna, Kendall Jenner, and Justin Bieber.

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEChloë Sevigny. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEGabrielle Union & Dwyane Wade. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEMiley & Diddy. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEJessica Alba. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEVanessa Hudgens & Selena Gomez. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEUsher. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEJeremy Scott and Janelle Monae. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSE#Posse. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSESolange Knowles & Alan Ferguson. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEMadonna. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEChrissy Teigen & John Legend. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEKeri Russell & Elizabeth Banks. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty

Rihanna's Private Met Gala After Party At Up & Down Presented By D'USSEHailee Steinfeld. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty