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Pop Culture Watch


Art Credit: Marta Spendowska

We're back with another installment of your need-to-know entertainment news. Check out what we can't stop talking about around the Verily office this week.


The New York Times published a beautiful short film this week on one man’s commitment to his wife after her diagnosis with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Filmmaker Banker White began filming his conversations with his mother Pam shortly after her diagnosis at age 61. “One of the most striking things that Alzheimer’s has revealed,” White finds, “is the strength of my parents’ marriage, even as it alters their relationship forever.” Through photographs and film footage, White conveys what his parents’ marriage was when they were young, the way it has painfully changed as Pam becomes more reliant on her husband Ed for her basic care, and their continued commitment to one another. “I have made a commitment to this beautiful woman,” Ed tells his son, “that I will live with her forever, so whatever happens we’re definitely doing it together.” Most rom-coms end with a vague “and they lived happily ever after.” But A Marriage to Remember gives a powerful example of love, beauty, and faithfulness found in that “ever after.” White’s full-length documentary of his families experience with Alzheimer’s will broadcast on PBS this September.

Jennifer Aniston sat down with Carson Daly on The Today Show to talk about her upcoming projects and how she’s constantly asked when she will get married and have children. “I don’t know," she says. "I don’t have this checklist of things that have to be done and if they’re not checked then I’ve failed some sort of my feminism or being a woman or my worth as a woman because I haven’t birthed a child … I don’t think it’s fair to put that sort of pressure on people.” While we love weddings and babies as much as anyone, Jen has a point—if you aren't close friends, keep the questions to yourself .

The new Gone Girl trailer is here—cue the chills. As fans of the Gillian Flynn novel (which some of us devoured in a matter of days), we’ve been waiting for this movie for a long time. The story follows Nick Dunne, whose world begins to crumble after his beautiful wife, Amy, goes missing—inevitably leading everyone to ask whether he killed her. The teaser has us even more excited to watch Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in the thriller once it hits theatres October 3. Fair warning: the movie is rated R so you might want to leave the kiddos at home.


This summer brought a lot of tearjerkers to the big screen (The Fault in Our Stars and If I Stay—we're looking at you). This fall promises to be just as teary, with movies like This is Where I Leave You due out in September and Men, Women, and Children coming in October. But how do they do it? Don Steinberg explores some of the techniques and tricks that Hollywood uses to make us cry for the Wall Street Journal.

SNL is turning forty this year and Grantland celebrated by running an online tournament to determine the best SNL cast member of all time. It’s down to the final four this week: Will Ferrell, Eddie Murphy, Bill Hader, and Phil Hartman. We’re sad that neither Tina Fey nor Amy Poehler made it to the end. But with characters like Hader’s Stefon and Ferrell’s George W. Bush still in the mix, it’s sure to be a tight race. Read more on Grantland about how all these actors found their voice on SNL and went on to make it big.

Sofia Vergara stood on a spinning pedestal at the Emmy awards while the president of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences gave a speech. “What truly matters is that we never forget that our success is based on always giving the viewer something compelling to watch,” he said. Critics panned the stunt as sexist, saying Vergara (a powerful woman in her own right) was treated as simply a body—and we have to agree. Vergara defended the sketch as a “harmless joke,” but the execution just wasn't funny enough to bypass legitimate criticism. Vergara is a talented comedian and often uses her sexy image as a punhcline, but she deserves to be seen as more than just a woman with curves.

Did you catch Chelsea Samelson's commentary this week, “On Blake Lively and Being a True Hollywood Rebel”? We’ll admit it: When the editors first heard about Blake’s new lifestyle site, Preserve, we were pretty turned off. These products are so overpriced! The website is so dark! What is she doing? But after reading Samelson’s post, we're feeling a bit more warm and fuzzy toward Blake. To “create something meaningful instead of smiling for magazines and soaking up the sweet Hollywood spotlight.” It’s time we start encouraging, applauding, and building up stars like Blake who strive to do more than just look pretty.


Folk duo Shovels & Rope released their new album Swimmin’ Time this week. Our favorite tracks are “Bridge on Fire” and “Mary Ann and One-Eyed Dan.” In “Mary Ann and One-Eyed Dan” Michael Trent and Cary Ann Herst, the married couple who are Shovels & Rope have produced an ebullient ballad that manages to capture both the bursting excitement of love just found—“So long, to my former life, to a worried life, so long . . . So long to my former life, to a selfish life, so long!”—and a veteran’s struggle with PTSD. A first maybe? Shovels & Rope are “a musical embodiment of how loving couples make it work.”

British pop singer Jessie Ware released the first single off her sophomore album this week. “Say You Love Me” has our vote for the best breakup song of the year so far. The ballad is soft and beautiful yet simultaneously powerful. “‘Cause I don’t want to fall in love if you don’t want to try. But all I’ve been thinking of is maybe that you’re mine.” Ouch. We’ve been there before. The heartbreaking lyrics coupled with the sound of a gospel choir toward the end of the song packs a punch. Jessie’s album Tough Love drops October 21.

Maroon 5’s single “Animals” is ridiculously catchy. We found ourselves bopping along to the song, until we really listened to the lyrics:

“Baby, I’m preying on you tonight.

Hunt you down, eat you alive…

So what you trying to do to me

It’s like we can’t stop we’re enemies

But we get along when I’m inside you

You’re like a drug that’s killing me.”

Sort of makes you say “ew,” right? The song feels less like romance and more like harassment. Perhaps Maroon 5 is trying to capitalize on the success of stories like Fifty Shades of Grey, but we’d really prefer not to be hunted down by a predatory lover. No thanks, Adam Levine.