Pomo Picks

What to Read, Watch, and Listen to This Week: September 24

The content in our queues, from tacos to Thom Yorke

By Portland Monthly Staff September 24, 2020

House Hunters International, with its bold clients and beautiful locales, has been satisfying news editor Julia Silverman’s wanderlust.

Image: HGTV

There’s a lot going on right now. Maybe you’re protesting, maybe you’re donating to wildfire victims, maybe you’re keeping tabs on the way your representatives are responding to the present moment. Keep doing that!

Our lives are not one thing, though, and you’re also probably looking to escape, however briefly, into a show or a book or an album that might help you shut out the world or understand it a little better. To get the wheels turning, here’s the stuff filling our queues at Portland Monthly this week, from tacos to Thom Yorke. 

From the Basement

Perhaps to my detriment—in terms of productivity—From the Basement, a live performance web series created by producer Nigel Godrich that ran from 2006 to 2009, has been ever-so-slowly and ever-so-quietly releasing their entire catalogue of episodes on YouTube … for free … in HD.
The series, which has featured guests like Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, Sonic Youth, Iggy Pop, Beck, Fleet Foxes, The Shins, Gnarls Barkley, (must I go on? OK, I will) The White Stripes, Andrew Bird, The Kills, PJ Harvey, and so, so many more, was shot at the BBC's Maida Vale studios and was oddly prescient for our current music scene in that it featured no live audience, hosts, or interviews. Just straight-up, highly energized, beautifully filmed performances.
Deadlines be damned. I’ve got to see Thom Yorke try to dance. Gabriel Granillo, digital editor

House Hunters International

Lately, I've been dreaming of relocating. (I'm not the only one, judging from my various social media feeds.) It's unlikely—the kids are in school, we own a home, our jobs are here, but a girl can dream. And so, instead of running away to start anew, these days I just cue up another episode of the delightfully banal House Hunters International (many, many reruns available via Hulu) and dream that I too am a newlywed moving to Copenhagen, say, with $900 per month to spend on an apartment that positively must include at least two bedrooms to accommodate visiting families, be in the city center, include old-world charm yet modern appliances, and feature an outdoor space for entertaining all the friends I have yet to meet but am blissfully certain I will make.
The episodes slip by almost without me knowing—a family of five is relocating to Bariloche, Argentina; a gay man with an excellent mustache who has been dumped is seeking a new life as a cabaret singer in Nice, France; two pleasant-seeming Canadians honeymooned years ago in Berlin and fell in love with the architecture. Each time, they visit three potential homes and must choose between them. Every episode ends with a postscript in which they invariably celebrate their choice as being the best they've ever made in their life (save for a young woman who took a job in Jyvasjkyla, Finland, who seemed dubious). Annoyingly, I'm terrible at guessing which one they'll choose—statistically, I should get it right 33 percent of the time, but I think my real rate is about 10 percent, perhaps because they almost never chose the one I'd want for myself.
With this many episodes under my belt, I even have some favorites among the realtors who pilot their clients around a new city, gently breaking the bad news that in London, for example, most flats are unlikely to feature a dishwasher (though I too would draw the line at a dorm-sized mini-fridge). I am somewhat picky; I prefer episodes set in countries that have stable leadership, healthcare for all, and don't generally make the news for natural disasters. For this reason, I also eschew the US-set original House Hunters—I'm not interested in the search for granite countertops, a man cave, and walk-in closets in Cincinnati.
But a flat with a view of the Coliseum in Athens or the Opera House in Sydney? HGTV, take me away. —Julia Silverman, news editor

New York Film Festival

Every year I whine about not being able to make it to the fancy film festivals: TIFF, NYFF, Venice, Sundance. When I lived in Boston, I would just accept my little IFF Boston tickets, enjoy my advance screening of The Favourite, and act grateful. This year, though, things have changed: the 58th New York Film Festival has gone digital, because *gestures broadly*, and now I can watch the new Christian Petzold movie from my living room with a beer I found in the back of the fridge. 

My most anticipated title on this NYFF slate was Nomadland, the new Chloe Zhao film starring Frances McDormand that spawned this tweet from Ty Burr at the Boston Globe which felt market-tested to punch me in the faceI dawdled for a few days after tickets were released, trying to make strategic use of my funds because I did not think a digital screening could sell out. Lo and behold, Nomadland did, and now I am left with something to whine about.

Not much, though. I've already seen Steve McQueen's tactile, glowing Lovers Rock, which is set almost entirely at a reggae-infused house party in ’80s London, and Gunda, a wordless Norwegian doc that follows a pig, her piglets, a one-legged chicken, and a handful of cows for some breathtaking visual poetry (I know). At press time, I'm preparing to screen the new Sofia Coppola film, On the Rocks, with Bill Murray and Rashida Jones, and the new Almodóvar short The Human Voice starring Tilda Swinton. There's also the aforementioned Petzold movie UndineFrench Exit starring Michelle Pfeifer and Lucas Hedges, a gay doc/drama hybrid, and plenty more. 

The festival runs through October 11, and lots of films still have tickets available. For anyone who, like me, tears up whenever anyone says the word "movie theater," this is a pretty solid reprieve. Plenty of the films screen in limited four-hour windows, which means you're likely watching them at the same time as a bunch of other people. And it cannot be overstated how nice it is to remember that people are still making work, and that a lot of it is good—while art probably can't save us right now, it can definitely fill our tanks a little. —Conner Reed, arts & culture editor

Taco Chronicles Volume 2

This documentary Netflix series, now in its second season, spends each episode taking a deep dive into different types of tacos: fish tacos, birria, suadero, cochinita pibil, cabrito (young goat), puffy and crispy-shelled American tacos, and burritos. Food writers, chefs, and anthropologists provide context and history. The show focuses primarily on Mexico, but jumps to California, Texas, and Japan, too. Interviews with the taqueros, as well as the people eating the tacos, help viewers understand the unique roles that different tacos play—suadero as a late-night post-clubbing snack in Mexico City; cabrito as part of a communal gathering around the charcoal fire; and crispy tacos as a food of convenience and nostalgia, invented by Mexican immigrants and popularized by Taco Bell.
The whole series is a love letter to tacos, as evidenced by chef Fermín Nuñez of Suerte in Austin, who explains the process of eating a taco like this: “In the first bite, you lift the taco, tilt your head, and raise two fingers. It’s like a soft kiss to the taco. You go, ‘Hi, there.’ Bite and kiss. The second kiss is the best one. And the third kiss is the farewell, meaning it’s over.”
Prepare to find yourself, midway through the episode, pressing pause and heading out to pick up some tacos ASAP. —Katherine Chew Hamilton, food editor
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