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Your Weekly Pop Culture Mandate: August 30th

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Five things you must not miss this week, including Anton Corbijn's The American and Jonathan Franzen's long-awaited new novel, Freedom.

BOOKSFreedom, Jonathan Franzen

Freedom, Jonathan Franzen

The Guardian declares it the novel of the century. Its author is being heralded as the Great American Novelist. Even President Obama is excited about it. But all hyperbole aside, Freedom is the most important English-language work since the Magna Carta. Okay, maybe not, but it is everything you love (or hate) about Franzen, taken to the umpteenth power. Mixing Updike’s cultural anthropology with DeLillo’s academic gloom-and-doom, Freedom is full of gentrified neighborhoods, Volvo 240s, and “professional Democrats,” set against the backdrop of the post-9/11 Bush years. August 31

 

MOVIESThe American, Anton Corbijn

The American, Violante Placido

After a hit job in Sweden goes awry, an international assassin (George Clooney) retreats to rural Italy. There, he must balance his nontraditional career with his affection for the locals, namely Clara, a pretty villager with whom he has a steamy romance. We'd worry that the "killer with a good heart" plot is clichéd, except for the reassuring presence of Anton Corbijn — whose résumé includes memorable rock videos and the Ian Curtis biopic Control. September 1

 

MUSICMinotaur, The Clientele

The Clientele, Minotaur

After a decade of soft whispers and hazy melodies, The Clientele turns up the volume (however slightly) on Minotaur. This mini album spices up the band’s classic lush-pop with occasional spurts of up-tempo liveliness. But fans of Clientele’s reverb-drenched vocals and watery production shouldn’t worry  — Minotaur isn’t a departure, just a breath of fresh air. August 31

 

BOOKSTake Ivy, Teruyoshi Hayashida

Take Ivy

Forty years ago, a Japanese photographer came to the United States with his camera, to document the styles and tones of the Ivy League university. Published in 1965 as Take Ivy, his work inspired the trendy youth of Tokyo to adopt the sartorial cues of America’s elite. After some very limited Japanese-language runs, a translated version of the book is finally hitting our shores, where it’ll be welcomed into artists lofts and Nantucket cottages alike. September 1

 

MOVIESPrince of Broadway, Sean Baker

Prince of Broadway

Sean Baker’s newest film depicts a realm of New York that most people (locals included) too often overlook: the illicit black market that sustains so much of our immigrant class. The movie tells the story of two Ghanaian immigrants, Lucky and Levon. The former is taken by surprise when his alleged son pops into his life, while the latter tries to salvage his crumbling marriage. By highlighting the ordinary, domestic problems each faces, the movie gives us a relatable lens through which to view a troubling political situation. September 3