Cyrus, Art Basel, Elliot Allagash Yes List Picks
Each week, The Daily Beast scours the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, Jonah Hill gets dark and twisted, a teen prep novel for grownups, and Art Basel returns.
John C. Reilly (Finally!) Gets the Girl
After playing the quirky sidekick, a boneheaded porn star, a jilted husband, and other less-than-romantic roles, John C. Reilly finally gets a chance to step up and play the dashing lead, opposite Marisa Tomei no less, in this week’s can’t-miss film, Cyrus. The movie comes from Mark and Jay Duplass, the mild-mannered art house filmmakers behind The Puffy Chair, who used the slightly bigger budget afforded by Fox Searchlight to cast marquee names including Tomei, Catherine Keener, and Jonah Hill, the portly young comedian from the Apatow pack who also currently stars in Get Him to the Greek, a goofy raunch comedy that falls solidly into Hill’s regular milieu. Fortunately for moviegoers, Hill stretched himself beyond slapstick for Cyrus, playing Tomei’s disturbed son who has an unconventionally close relationship with his divorced mother. When O’Reilly’s character comes along and begins to date his mother, Cyrus, a 21-year-old “New Age musician,” goes slightly bonkers. And, as they say, hijinks ensue. Cyrus has been praised for its true-to-life tone, because “despite their weird interrelations, these mismatched folks do seem like people you might know for real,” while Ella Taylor of the Village Voice calls it a “freakishly engrossing black comedy about excessively mothered men and the women who enable them.” Amen to that.
Art Basel Returns
It’s that time of year again. Art Basel kicked off in Switzerland Wednesday and has left some movers in the art world pronouncing the market fully revitalized. Featuring nearly 300 leading galleries from five continents, the premier show is gathering a litany of famous faces, from Dasha Zhukova and Roman Abramovich to Peter Brant and Bianca Jagger, and collectors are actually buying. Europeans were especially successful this week, sculptor Do Ho Suh sold to an Istanbul collection; another continental collector shelled out a quarter million dollars for an Otto Piene. New York galleries also did well, with especially brisk sales at Lehmann Maupin, Luhring Augustine, and Sperone Westwater. If you can’t afford a trip on Swissair, not to worry. Anthony Haden-Guest reports live from Basel, which ends Sunday night, on the stellar art, glittery parties, and red-hot market.
The Perils of Prep Popularity
Young writer Simon Rich has had a seemingly astronomical rise through the comedy ranks; as the son of New York Times columnist Frank Rich, Simon graduated from Harvard, landed a gig writing sketches for Saturday Night Live, and published two short-story collections along the way. But we can verify that his success is earned—Rich is simply very funny, and a very good writer. And this is made even more clear with the publication of Rich’s first novel, Elliot Allagash. Allagash is a prep school book set in Manhattan, but Gossip Girl it is not. Instead, it focuses on teenage males, and in particular, on one very popular, very wealthy teen named Elliot, and a schlubby nerd named Seymour. In a Pygmalion-esque move, Elliot offers Seymour the keys to popularity and school domination in return for any favor he requests, and Seymour takes the deal. Needless to say, Seymour becomes the big man on campus, but there is a high price. Allagash is appropriate for teens to read, but its black comedy makes it a very adult book about the dangers of being young, insecure, and with nothing to lose.