An iconic sitcom creation. A nu disco thumper. A bleak local book. Here’s what we’re reading and streaming at Portland Monthly this week.
After Jessica Walter’s passing last week, I’ve been rewatching old episodes of Arrested Development. Admittedly, I was late to the party, but eventually screen-grabs of Walter’s character Lucille Bluth making outrageous statements and only-she-would blunders won me over. Of course, we can’t discount Walter’s performances as SFPD Chief of Detectives Amy Prantiss in Amy Prantiss, the sardonic Mallory Archer in Archer, or her role in 1978’s absolutely incredible Dr. Strange.
But the Walter role that stole the stage was Lucille Bluth—the martini-fueled, self-absorbed, shamelessly enjoyable matriarch on Arrested Development. Lucille is known for zany, melodramatic absurdities and relishable one-liners. While the other characters have their charms, if I had my druthers, the show would be a raw, uncensored 25 minutes of just Lucille Bluth. Lucille is easily the most quotable (and the only reason the show made it on my watchlist). Recall that time she mistook the “drowsy eye” alcohol warning on her pill bottle for a “winking-eye” alcohol suggestion? Her iconic wink alone deserves its own compilation.
So many quick lines entered the zeitgeist—when a waitress asks her a question and she responds, “I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it.” I MEAN C’MON! Yet, she was also more than a little out of touch with the average American; I’m talking about that time she thought a single banana cost $10 and when she assumed hospitals had bars, prompting perhaps her most poignantly off conclusion, “Well this is why people hate hospitals.” Arguably her best-loved line, which Walter has said is the one fans quoted to her most often, is an anti-maternal response to Michael Bluth’s distress at his father being imprisoned—“Honey, I wanna cry so bad, but I don't think I can spare the moisture.”
No matter how serious the show got or how truly unhinged the plot became, Lucille was there with a martini glass, a wink, and a sharp witticism that made the rest make sense. So if you're looking for an easy stream this week, pour one out in honor of Walter’s character, and relive some of her most punchy and laudable moments. —Aurora Biggers, editorial intern
One of my favorite things about Jungle, the neo soul collective founded by producers Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, is that they’ve built a musical universe with recurring characters and sonic themes that tie the whole thing together like that rug in The Big Lebowski. But in an age where everything has its own “universe”—the Harry Potter Universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DCU, the MonsterVerse—this universe is a bit more subtle. Well, maybe not all the time, but it’s really groovy, and I guess that makes up for it.
This universe is perhaps most visible in their music videos, which often feature elaborately choreographed dance sequences and camera movements—most look like they were done in a single take, as is the case for their most recent single, “Keep Moving.” And if you’ve watched past Jungle videos, you’ll recognize at least one or a few familiar dancers.
The joyful new single is the first from their new album Loving In Stereo, set to drop on August 13. Where Jungle’s first two albums, Jungle and For Ever, maintained an introverted approach in songwriting and mood, the new single feels bold and celebratory, expanding the scope of the “Jungle sound,” which I was perhaps afraid they’d pigeonhole themselves into. It’s different, but it still oozes that Jungle energy, and if you know what I’m talking about, you know what I’m talking about. —Gabriel Granillo, digital editor
Do you have feelings of despair about the state of the world/America/Portland? This book will not ameliorate them. Which is not to say you shouldn’t pick it up.
It’s the story of 30-year-old Lynette, working multiple low-wage jobs, caretaking for her developmentally disabled brother, struggling to keep her head up in her Intro to Accounting course at PCC, and determined to keep her family home in a rapidly gentrifying Portland. After her bad credit and arguably worse mother block her paths to purchase, she takes matters into her own hands, pulsing through the city over the course of a night that introduces memorable characters like the gorgeous and grifting Gloria, angling for her paramour to drop dollars on a condo for her but refusing to pay her debts; Kansas and his blonde and blistered sidekick who try to swindle Lynette out of her spoils; and the forlorn, pudgy Scotch swiller with a fraternity ring whom she meets at the Driftwood Room (I KNEW it!) for a fraught transaction.
Willy Vlautin is not known for happy endings, but there’s something here that defies the downward pull. In the end, Lynette is pure life force: fierce and canny and blazing through a city that no longer has space for her, and it’s all Portland’s loss. Read it and weep. —Fiona McCann, deputy editor
It seems impossible that I had not seen Kathryn Bigelow's wet and wild 1991 bro-opus (currently streaming on HBO Max) before this week. A homoerotic action thriller where a man with the name Johnny Utah infiltrates a group of anticapitalist surfing bank robbers? One where Keanu Reeves does the infiltrating and Patrick Swayze does the bank robbing?? Where Patrick Swayze tells Keanu, "You want me so bad it's like acid in your mouth," and then jumps out of a plane??? And Cannon Beach stands in for Australia????
Well, better late than never. I sunk my teeth into Point Break on Monday, after I noticed a flurry of friends call out its gay subtext on social media, and found myself so overwhelmed that I might have to take a lap before I finish this blurb. This movie has everything: Patrick Swayze in a Ronald Reagan mask throwing a whole dog at Keanu Reeves. Keanu Reeves in a crop top playing football on the beach in the middle of the night. Two (2) instances of gay skydiving. Gary Busey.
As I continue my 2021 quest for good pulp (this month brought me RoboCop and Starship Troopers as well), Point Break has set a new bar. It's also made me interested in diving into Bigelow's early work, pre-Hurt Locker, which seems looser and frankly more interesting than her self-consciously gritty films with journalist Mark Boal. —Conner Reed, arts & culture editor