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    Mo Brings Plenty Was About to Quit Acting. Then Came ‘Yellowstone.’

    The actor wasn’t satisfied with the Native representation he saw onscreen. Now he’s helping TV’s biggest drama get it right.In a scene from Season 3 of the hit neo-Western series “Yellowstone,” Mo, the steady right hand and loyal fixer of the Native American power broker Thomas Rainwater, lights some sage and lets the smoke waft through Rainwater’s office. They’re about to meet with Angela Blue Thunder (Q’orianka Kilcher), a hard-charging Native lawyer with a take-no-prisoners attitude toward going after the Montana ranch land owned by John Dutton (Kevin Costner).Angela contemptuously douses the sage with water, but Mo — played by the actor Mo Brings Plenty — with a “who is this person?” look on his face, relights it after she leaves, allowing his boss to breathe in some of its healing powers. The moment contains both seriousness and subtle humor.“In our culture, we use these items to cleanse the space and protect the mind,” Brings Plenty said in a recent video interview from Fort Worth, Texas, where “Yellowstone,” on Paramount Network, had its Season 5 premiere screening this month. “But burning sage and sweet grass has become a fad and has been culturally misappropriated,” he added, and those substances “are sacred to us.” For Brings Plenty, getting these details right is crucial.“On and off the set, Mo really tries to be a bridge connecting Indigenous people with our industry in film,” said Kilcher, who is of Indigenous South American heritage. “It’s amazing to see all the good work that he’s doing.”In a series that takes great care with its Native American characters and story lines, Brings Plenty keeps it as real as anyone. Onscreen he exudes a quiet strength, even when his character is executing some of the show’s frequently unsavory business. Offscreen he’s an adviser and a trusted confidante of the “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan and his creative team. He even wrangles horses.Playing a character who started off as Rainwater’s nameless driver, Brings Plenty has gradually become a regular presence, especially in episodes that involve Native rituals. At the end of Season 4, he conducts a hanbleceya, a sort of vision quest, for Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes), a white character married to a Native American woman, Monica (Kelsey Asbille). In a moving scene from the most recent episode, which aired on Sunday, he oversees a burial ritual for the son that died at birth after Monica was in a car accident.From left, Gil Birmingham, Brings Plenty and Luke Grimes in Season 5.Paramount NetworkThat last sequence hit home for Brings Plenty, whose mother lost three infant sons when he was a child. “It was a powerful moment, and very real for me,” he said.Brings Plenty, 53, was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation, in South Dakota — though his mother is from the Cheyenne River Reservation and he has relatives on the Rosebud Reservation, also both in South Dakota.“I spent time on all three reservations, so I always say I grew up in the Lakota Nation,” he said.His interest in acting dates back to the days when he would ask children on the reservation why they didn’t have more pride in their identity. The most common answer? They never saw themselves on TV.“So I thought, ‘How do I change that?’” he said. “Because I wasn’t on TV either.”He added: “The misrepresentation of us has been occurring for so long.” He saw an opportunity to be the change he wanted to see.He started in theater, worked his way into stunt riding (“I knew I could fall off a horse and take it”), then began landing supporting roles in film and television (“Hell on Wheels,” “The Revenant”).But just a few years ago, he was ready to pack it in and return to his ranch in Kansas. Appreciative of his opportunities, he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the Native representation he saw onscreen. He felt discouraged. He and his family agreed that he would wait until the end of the year to make a decision. That’s when “Yellowstone” came calling.Gil Birmingham, who plays Thomas Rainwater and has been friends with Brings Plenty for several years, likes to tell the story of how the character Mo got his name on the show. Sheridan had not given the character a name — he was just Rainwater’s driver — and during one of the many scenes between Birmingham and Brings Plenty, Birmingham called his old friend by his real name: “Mo”(short for Moses).“So Taylor decided that he was going to use that name for the character as well,” Birmingham said in a phone interview. “When Mo is out and about, it’s pretty funny because people tend to call you by your character name, and it happens to be his real name. There’s no distinction there for fans.”When fans do recognize Brings Plenty in public, it’s often because of his braids, which hang below his waist. As with most matters in Mo’s world, the braids carry cultural significance.“We wear two braids as men to honor the gifts of the women,” he said.“One strand” of each braid “represents the higher power,” he continued. “The second strand represents the Earth, which is also a physical being. The third strand represents our spirit. It’s a reminder that if we can live with that balance of all things, and we bring them all together, it makes a braid that is strong.”For Sheridan, Brings Plenty’s overriding quality is truthfulness.“There is a real honesty to Mo’s acting — a comfortable vulnerability,” Sheridan said in an email. “One of the great things about long-form storytelling is that it allows me to react to actors who really shine. Mo began as a co-star on the show, and now he is a series regular. That is how much his portrayal leapt from the screen.”“Mo brings a great stability and a great loyalty, and you just have a sense that you’re being protected and you’re safe with Mo around,” Birmingham says of Brings Plenty’s character. Barrett Emke for The New York TimesThe dynamics among the Native American characters on the broadly drawn “Yellowstone” are probably the show’s most nuanced. Thomas Rainwater, the most prominent Native character, did not grow up on the reservation; he is a suit-and-tie-wearing graduate of Harvard Business School who applies his knowledge to his duties as chairman of the Confederated Tribes of Broken Rock. Mo did grow up on the reservation; one could argue that he operates closer to the culture than his boss. Angela Blue Thunder is also from the reservation, and she has scores to settle with the Dutton family.They all have one thing in common: They want the land that they see as rightfully theirs — and that the Duttons fiercely protect as their own.“Mo brings a great cultural anchoring, and a perspective that tries to balance out the kind of world that Thomas Rainwater is operating in — that is, a system of laws and paradigms that aren’t familiar for, or operated by, the Native people,” Birmingham said of Brings Plenty’s character. “Mo brings a great stability and a great loyalty, and you just have a sense that you’re being protected and you’re safe with Mo around.”These are heady times for Native American representation on television, with a great quantity and range of characters and stories. “Dark Winds,” on AMC +, follows two Navajo policemen investigating a mysterious double murder. ABC’s “Alaska Daily,” about the doings of a scrappy Anchorage newspaper, shines a light on the crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women, a subject also featured on “Yellowstone” and in Sheridan’s 2017 film “Wind River” (its cast includes Birmingham and Asbille of “Yellowstone”). Hulu’s “Reservation Dogs,” a droll comedy about four teenagers growing up on an Oklahoma reservation, won a prestigious Peabody Award.“‘Yellowstone’ was the catalyst to make room, to give space and inspiration for others to get involved with Native stories and give Native people opportunities,” Brings Plenty said. “We’ve often been left behind, but the way I see it and understand it, Taylor Sheridan said: ‘Come on, let’s go. That’s enough of you guys being back there. Let’s bring you up to the forefront.’”Sheridan says it’s a matter of accuracy.“One cannot accurately tell the story of the West without telling the story of the original inhabitants of the region,” he said. “Sure, ‘Yellowstone’ is highly dramatized, but the story lines are all rooted in truth. To ignore the impact of our settlement on Native people is to tell half the story. And the Native American half has been habitually ignored by the entertainment industry. We don’t ignore it. We look right at it.”For Brings Plenty, it’s all about honoring his culture and his ancestors — not just other Lakota, but all Native Americans.“My grandparents, they always said: ‘Speak Indian. Dance Indian. Sing Indian,’” he said. “They never said, ‘Speak Lakota’ — everything was Indian. So we try to remember those teachings and pass them on.” More

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    What’s on TV This Week: ‘Love Actually’ 20-Year Reunion and ‘Barmageddon’

    The stars of the beloved holiday movie reflect with Diane Sawyer, and USA airs a preview of Blake Shelton’s new celebrity game show.Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is a vast one. Here are some of the shows, specials and movies coming to TV this week, Nov. 28-Dec. 4. Details and times are subject to change.MondaySOUTHERN HOSPITALITY 9 p.m. on Bravo. The Bravo-celebrity and business owner Leva Bonaparte is starring in this new reality show, which is a spinoff of “Southern Charm.” In this series, cameras follow Bonaparte and her staff as they run the Charleston, S.C., restaurant Republic Garden & Lounge. Fights, drama and hookups are sure to be on the menu.BARMAGEDDON 11 p.m. on USA. Drinking games like keg curling, beer pong and flip cup are not just for college house parties anymore. Blake Shelton and Carson Daly are bringing the fun to Shelton’s Nashville bar, Ole Red, to compete in drinking-related challenges, with the professional wrestler Nikki Bella in tow as host. This week, there is a special preview of the show before the full season starts on Dec. 5. Guests include Gwen Stefani, Sheryl Crow and Jay Pharoah.TuesdayTHE LAUGHTER & SECRETS OF LOVE ACTUALLY: 20 YEARS LATER 8 p.m. on ABC. It might be hard to believe that its been nearly 20 years since we first experienced the “to me, you are perfect” sign, Hugh Grant as a prime minister dancing to “Jump (For My Love),” and Emma Thompson opening a Joni Mitchell CD instead of the necklace she thought she was getting. Diane Sawyer is sitting down with Grant, Thompson and others to discuss the beloved 2003 holiday movie, including what was going on behind the scenes (one not-so-fun fact: Grant did not want to do that famous dance sequence).The cast of “Ranked” as seen in HBO’s “My So-Called High School Rank.”HBOMY SO-CALLED HIGH SCHOOL RANK 9 p.m. on HBO. This new documentary is kind of like “High School Musical” — but real life. The story follows students at Granite Bay High School, near Sacramento, Calif., as they put on a production of their musical “Ranked,” which focuses on the difficult process of college applications. After the production, high schools around the country including Fordham High School for the Arts in New York City and Ripley High School in West Virginia reach out to Granite Bay see if they can put on their own production of the show.WednesdayCHRISTMAS IN ROCKEFELLER CENTER 8 p.m. on NBC. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which stands 82-feet tall this year, is making its New York City debut with a ceremonial tree lighting and a range of celebrity guests. Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani will be performing a duet of their song “You Make It Feel Like Christmas”; and Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Andrea Bocelli and the Radio City Rockettes will be in attendance — to name just a few.SECRETS OF THE DEAD: ABANDONING THE TITANIC 8 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The details around the sinking of the Titanic are by no means unknown at this point, but this documentary investigates a question about a lesser-known detail: Who was the captain of the ship that was seen within view of the passenger liner as it sunk? Shortly after the maritime disaster, the SS Californian and its captain, Stanley Lord, were accused of abandoning the Titanic but were later exonerated — so who exactly was out there?LOVE WITHOUT BORDERS 9 p.m. on Bravo. Social experiments turned reality dating shows are all the rage these days (just watch “Love Is Blind” or “Are You the One?”). This new show follows five people who have not had much luck finding love at home in the United States, so they travel around the world to meet up with people who are supposedly their perfect matches. They have to travel at a moment’s notice without even seeing a picture of the person they are to meet.ThursdayDolly Parton in “Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas.”Katherine Bomboy/NBCDOLLY PARTON’S MOUNTAIN MAGIC CHRISTMAS 8 p.m. on NBC. Dolly Parton plays herself in this musical within a musical based around the magic of Dollywood around Christmastime. Throughout the production, Parton goes on a journey to her past, which teaches her a lesson about the importance of the holiday. The star-studded cast includes Jimmy Fallon and Miley Cyrus.FridayDON’T WORRY DARLING (2022) 7:55 p.m. on HBO. This film, which premiered in September after some iffy moments on the press trail, stars Harry Styles and Florence Pugh as a seemingly perfect couple with a happy-looking life — until it all starts to fall apart. “The movie’s take on gender roles is stinging,” Manohla Dargis wrote in her review for The New York Times. “But its targets are amorphous (yes, agreed, sexism is bad) and carefully nonpartisan, and its take on the prison-house of the traditional feminine role — what Betty Friedan called the ‘happy housewife heroine’ in her 1963 classic ‘The Feminine Mystique’ — is shallow.”MATT ROGERS: HAVE YOU HEARD OF CHRISTMAS? 10 p.m. on Showtime. This holiday special, based on Matt Rogers’s live show of the same name, has it all: music, sketches and celebrity guests — all with the goal of Rogers being able to crown himself the “Pop Prince of Christmas.” Bowen Yang, Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson join him on his mission.SaturdayWill Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel in “Elf.”Alan Markfield/New Line ProductionsELF (2003) 7 p.m. on AMC. Before viewing, make sure you’re fully stocked on waffles, maple syrup and marshmallows because Buddy the Elf’s diet, while shocking, can also induce some serious sugar cravings. Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human man who was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised as one of Santa’s elves. As he grows up and notices that he is a couple of feet taller than everyone else, he feels like he no longer fits in and travels to New York City to try to find his real father. Turns out, he does not fit in there either, and chaos ensues as Buddy embraces the holiday spirit more than his family.SundayCHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT (1945) 4 p.m. on TCM. Elizabeth Lane (Barbara Stanwyck) is a food-column writer whose recipes and tales about family life on a farm keep the war hero Jefferson Jones (Dennis Morgan) entertained while he recovers in a hospital. Elizabeth’s publisher — who does not know that it has all been a charade and that Elizabeth doesn’t have the picturesque life that she pretends to have in her column — suggests that she hosts Jefferson for Christmas dinner. More

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    Is Bilal Baig Ready for Fame? Sort Of.

    “Sort Of,” the melancholy comedy loosely based on the performer’s life and experiences, returns for its second season on HBO Max on Dec. 1.Only a few minutes after the writer and performer Bilal Baig arrived at an upstairs gallery of the Whitney Museum of American Art, a fan approached.“Are you in a Canadian TV show?” a man in a pink shirt said. “It’s the best show ever.”Baig acknowledged the compliment politely, though so quietly as to discourage further conversation. The man’s wistful closing salvo: “I’ll never be as cool as you.”On that morning at the Whitney, Baig, 28, did look chic, in a knit dress, teal trench coat and high-heeled boots. Most people don’t wear jewel-toned leather without some comfort in visibility. But for Baig, a Toronto native and a queer transfeminine Muslim artist at the mostly sweet center of overlapping identities, being seen has its complications. (Baig typically uses they/them pronouns but accepts others. “Anything except the pronouns I was given,” they said. “Also, gender to me is so much about what other people are throwing on. I’m just rolling with it.”)In “Sort Of,” the HBO Max half-hour comedy Baig created with the writer and performer Fab Filippo, Baig stars as Sabi Mehboob, a gender nonbinary nanny and bartender. Baig is not Sabi. Sabi trained as an electrician; Baig studied theater. And Baig has been out for years longer, and in generally more accepting places. Yet overlap remains. Both share a watchfulness, as well as a sense of humor so dry it’s practically a weather event.Baig with Amanda Cordner in “Sort Of,” which returns for its second season on Dec. 1.HBO MaxWhen asked about similarities, Baig said, “The thing that I feel most connected to with that character is the level of guardedness, which is probably common in the transfeminine experience. I understand why Sabi doesn’t trust the world and trust people in general. I get that on a deep psychological level.“There is always a piece of, Is someone going to hurt me?” Baig continued. “Is someone looking at me in a way that maybe isn’t exactly how I want them to look at me? It’s fascinating. I live that every day.”“Sort Of,” which returns to HBO Max for a second season on Dec. 1, got started in 2018. Baig, a recent theater graduate who had a small role in a Toronto play, began chatting backstage with Filippo, who was also in the cast. Filippo suggested collaborating on a TV show, specifically a TV show inspired by Baig’s life. Baig had never really done TV before and was seriously considering abandoning acting for nonprofit work. But the idea was intriguing.“It felt challenging and scary,” Baig said. “So I really wanted to do it.”There were more conversations. Filippo recalled a day early on in which he admitted struggling with ‘they’ as a singular pronoun. “Like, ‘I just can’t get around the plural,’” he recalled saying. “And Bilal very gently said, ‘Or maybe you don’t quite see me yet.’ They held this really strong line with a kind of grace that was really exceptional.”Together the two creators decided that “Sort Of,” which grew to include the family for which Sabi nannies and also Sabi’s own families, biological and found, would focus on identity and transition in a general sense, not a particular one. A mellow, finely observed comedy, it recognizes that almost all of us are in transition in one way or another, if we will only stop to notice.Themes and questions that might have seemed pertinent — How does Sabi identify? Will people accept Sabi? Will people find Sabi attractive? — are mostly settled or not especially important. Instead, Baig and Filippo modeled the comedy on that of other shows about 20-somethings juggling jobs, friends and romantic partners.“If we just don’t change much about that but insert this body, this skin color, this gender into it, that felt fresh and funny to us,” Baig said. “And like, it’s possible.”Some elements were borrowed, directly or circuitously, from Baig’s life. Many of Sabi’s habits of gesture and expression are Baig all the way — the long pauses, the crushing deadpan, the purposefully blank expression. Sabi’s relationship with their parents doesn’t map onto Baig’s exactly. But Sabi does experience estrangement, particularly from their father. And Baig feels some estrangement, too.“The ties between us are, I feel, quite unraveled,” Baig said of their parents. “They know about the show. They know about how I move through the world. But it’s not rosy at all.”And yet Baig moves through the world with more sureness than Sabi, even as performer and character share a belief that the world may not always be welcoming. Ellora Patnaik, the actress who plays Sabi’s mother, has known Baig for years.“Bilal is in a place of much more confidence, and awareness, and really looking forward to the future with more certainty than uncertainty,” Patnaik said in a recent interview. “Not that everything is rock solid, especially in their community. But they can look at things and really, really feel like they have a bit more control over their life. Sabi, they’re still searching.”The creators didn’t want that search to feel singular. Baig and Filippo were determined to show a variety of genders, ages and sexual and racial identities, suggesting a rich spectrum of human experience rather than fixed points. And mindful of shows in which queer and transgender characters meet tragic ends, they wanted to provide a counternarrative.“That was actually easy,” Baig said. “All we had to do was not show Sabi getting killed. Literally, that was it.”Yet, “Sort Of” advances no particular agenda, and if the show is provocative, that provocation comes from its lived-in tone, its quietness, its broad acceptance of its characters.“I get human beings,” Baig said. “I get excited by them. I want to throw them in spaces where they’re talking to each other.”“The thing that I feel most connected to with that character is the level of guardedness,” Baig said about Sabi, the protagonist of “Sort Of.”Yael Malka for The New York TimesA company called Sphere Media put up the money for a sizzle reel, which convinced the Canadian Broadcasting Company to order the series. Just before filming began, HBO Max joined, too, which Baig described as terrifying: “It’s the pressure of, OK, we’ll be reaching so many more people.”“Sort Of” was spared the pressure of being the first show to orbit a nonbinary main character. That honor likely goes to Mae Martin’s Netflix comedy “Feel Good.” But that first shoot, which began at the height of the pandemic, still felt fraught.“Everybody thought they were going to die,” Filippo said. “Going to work was pretty scary.”Everyone made it through, and the show, which debuted in November 2021, quickly became a critic’s darling. (“It is the kind of representation everyone deserves,” a critic from Mashable wrote, “and ‘Sort Of’ makes it look easy.”) It received a Peabody and won the best comedy prize at the Canadian Screen Awards. Baig declined to submit in either the actor or actress categories, which helped nudge the awards toward removing gender from its acting categories altogether.This approval has brought Baig a level of fame that is just on the edge of comfortable. At the Whitney, I had planned to ask whether Baig was famous-famous or still only Canada-famous, which was when the man in the pink shirt approached. Turns out the man was from Toronto, so that was one answer.Baig said: “Especially in Toronto, there’s a respect. People say really nice things and then totally leave me alone.”If fame has never been the goal, Baig appreciates the opportunities it provides to tell more stories, stories that aren’t necessarily Baig’s own. “There’s more I want to create and say,” they said.In the meantime, Baig would welcome at least a third season to round off Sabi’s story. This next season focuses on love, in all of its forms. An additional season might see Sabi settling even deeper into their identity.“These walls that are up for them are just very slowly coming down,” Baig said.Baig has walls, too, of course, and they’ll come down or they won’t. But this sense of apartness, of reserve, has made Baig a keen observer of human behavior, a quality that twines with an innate empathy to produce the distinctive tone of “Sort Of” — caustic, melancholy, ultimately generous.An hour into the visit, we had taken the stairs down to an exhibit of Edward Hopper paintings. Baig paused at a painting of a woman sitting up in bed, lit by a low morning sun.“This feels like something I would do,” Baig said. “I’m good with it. I think sad people are fascinating.” More

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    Irene Cara, ‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ Singer, Dies at 63

    Ms. Cara was a child star from the Bronx who gained international fame as the singer of major pop anthems from movies of the 1980s.Irene Cara, the Academy Award-winning singer who performed the electric title tracks in two aspirational self-expression movies of the 1980s, “Flashdance” and “Fame,” has died. She was 63.Her death at her Florida home was confirmed by her publicist, Judith A. Moose, on Twitter on Saturday. Ms. Moose, who did not specify when Ms. Cara died, said her cause of death was “currently unknown and will be released when information is available.”Ms. Cara, a child actor, dancer and singer, was the voice behind two of the biggest movie theme songs of the 1980s. She performed the title track from the movie “Fame” (1980), which followed a group of artsy high school students as they move through their first auditions to graduation.In 1984, she won the Oscar for best original song as one of the writers of “Flashdance … What a Feeling,” the title song from “Flashdance,” which she also sang. The buoyant song also earned Ms. Cara a Grammy Award in 1984 for best pop vocal performance, female, and a Golden Globe for best original song. The movie, like “Fame,” chronicled the aspirations of a young person seeking to express themselves through art, in this case, dance.Ms. Cara was born Irene Escalera on March 18, 1959, in the Bronx. She repeatedly disputed reports about her birth year, at times describing it as in 1964. Her official Twitter account says she was born in 1962. Her mother told The New York Times in 1970 that a young Ms. Cara, already a busy performer, was 11 years old.Her mother, Louise Escalera, was a cashier and her father, Gaspar Escalera, was a musician and worked at a steel factory. Details on Ms. Cara’s survivors were not immediately available.Ms. Cara grew up in New York City and attended music, acting and dance classes as a child and was said to be able to play the piano by ear at age five. She attended the Professional Children’s School in Manhattan, a school for child performers and children studying the arts.As a child, she sang and danced on Spanish-language television. At 13, she was a regular on “The Electric Company,” a children’s show from the 1970s. She was also a member of its band, the Short Circus.She stayed busy, taking roles in theater, television and film, including the title role in “Sparkle,” a 1976 film about a family of female singers in the 1960s that was remade in 2012.Her breakout role was in the movie musical “Fame,” where she played Coco Hernandez, a student at a school modeled after the high school now known as Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. On the film’s soundtrack, Ms. Cara sang the title track, “Fame,” and another single, the ballad “Out Here on My Own.”Both songs were nominated for an Oscar in 1981. The film was nominated for several awards and “Fame” won for both best original song and score.She continued to act and make music into the 1990s, when she was embroiled in a legal battle with her record company over her earnings. She was awarded $1.5 million by a California jury in 1993 but Ms. Cara said she was “virtually blacklisted” by the music industry because of the dispute, People magazine reported in 2001.In recent years, she shared songs from her catalog, including some that had not been released, on her podcast, “The Back Story.”In an episode from July 2019, she spoke about her ballad “As Long as it Lasts,” and said it had similar qualities to “Out Here on My Own,” and explained why she connected to both songs.“Very naked, just vocal and piano and a great lyric and a great story within the lyric, those are the kinds of songs I relate to as a songwriter,” Ms. Cara said. More

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    Lars von Trier Had the Key to the End of ‘The Kingdom’ All Along

    As he grapples with Parkinson’s and considers what’s next, the director continues to provoke in “The Kingdom Exodus,” the final season of his haunted-hospital drama.In the first two seasons of Lars von Trier’s haunted-hospital drama “The Kingdom,” hailed since the 1990s as Denmark’s “Twin Peaks,” von Trier appears in a tuxedo at the end of each episode to offer a droll recap and wish viewers a pleasant evening. With an impish grin and an appeal to “take the good with the evil,” he ends with a devil-horn salute.But in the belated five-part conclusion, “The Kingdom Exodus,” which begins streaming Sunday on Mubi, von Trier delivers his closing remarks from behind a curtain.“I’ve retired a bit physically,” he says, his shoes peeking out from under the curtain, citing “vanity” as the reason. “The 24 years that have passed since the old episodes have left their mark, and I can’t compete with the unbearably cocky young Lars von Trier.”It is, on one level, a gag typical of von Trier, 66, a filmmaker who never has never taken himself too seriously, sometimes to a fault, even as he has created some of the most ferociously imaginative, rule-bending and at times infuriating movies of the last 30 years, including “Breaking the Waves,” “Dancer in the Dark” and “Dogville.”But the comment is also a reflection of his current state. In August, von Trier’s production company, Zentropa, announced that he had Parkinson’s disease. Weeks later, a visibly trembling von Trier gave a surprise, prerecorded introduction at the premiere of “The Kingdom Exodus” at the Venice Film Festival, later telling Variety that he intended to take a break from filmmaking. In a video call from his home in Copenhagen this month, he warned he would not be able to speak as precisely as he wanted.“That took at least a quarter of my brain, in the sense that I can’t find the words,” he said of his illness, “and in English it’s twice as difficult.” Or as he said in a second interview later in the week, his dark, self-deprecating humor coming through: “I would like to say to you that I am not as stupid as you think I am right now.”Von Trier was joking, as he does almost compulsively in conversation, his sense of humor no less mordant or provocative now than it was when the first two seasons of “Kingdom” aired on Danish television, in 1994 and 1997. A combination of horror and satire set at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, the series was an early international breakthrough for von Trier, and finishing it completes a circle of sorts, one with origins dating to his 1987 feature “Epidemic,” which used the hospital as a location.Episodes of the first two seasons of “The Kingdom,” which aired in the 1990s, ended with a recap by von Trier and an appeal to “take the good with the evil.”Zentropa/MubiIn “The Kingdom Exodus,” which begins streaming on Sunday, von Trier delivers the recaps from behind a curtain. Zentropa/MubiStill, as he considers what’s next, he seemed more circumspect than the von Trier who raised eyebrows at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009 when he declared, “I am the best director in the world.” Or who, two years later at the same festival, expressed sympathy for Hitler and delivered the line “OK, I’m a Nazi” — another joke, but one that got him temporarily barred from Cannes. (Unprompted, he expressed regret over the over the 2011 incident when we spoke, referring to it as “the catastrophe.”)The actor Willem Dafoe, who began working with von Trier on “Manderlay” (2005) and plays the satanic Grand Duc in “Exodus,” spoke of two qualities that keep drawing him back to von Trier — the director’s ability to communicate without speaking and his habit of speaking too much.“He’s well known for not having a filter, and sometimes it gets him into trouble because he goes to places socially that may be difficult to accept,” Dafoe said. “But creatively, that kind of looseness, that kind of allows him to contemplate the unthinkable.”At Venice this year, “Exodus” was received as a return to form, but the fact that it was even completed was improbable. The franchise is a ghost story in more ways than one.The series was always meant to have a third, final season. But after Season 2, the principal actors started to die. Ernst-Hugo Jaregard, who played the imperious, dyspeptic Swedish physician Stig Helmer, died in 1998. Kirsten Rolffes, who played the malingering spiritualist Mrs. Drusse, died in 2000. After a while, von Trier said, he gave up.“But then four years ago I had a mental situation that was not good,” he said, “and I knew the only thing that could help was to work.” “Exodus” was simply the easiest thing to do.A third season of “The Kingdom” was stalled after its principle characters began dying, including Ernst-Hugo Jaregard (as Dr. Stig Helmer), who died in 1998.Zentropa/MubiMikael Persbrandt plays Helmer’s son in “Exodus.” Like his father, he is a Swede who complains constantly about Danes.Zentropa/MubiVon Trier, who shares screenwriting credit across the series with his longtime collaborator Niels Vorsel, wrote much more slowly than he usually did. (“Dogville,” he said, was written in 10 days.) His ambition was to give the series as much of an ending as possible. This season is also, he thinks, the funniest of the three.Unlike the first two installments, which were mainly studio productions, “Exodus” was filmed principally at the real-life Rigshospitalet, during Covid, no less. The story brings back some original characters in supporting roles while presenting substitutes for the departed leads.In place of Stig Helmer, “Exodus” offers Stig Helmer Jr. (Mikael Persbrandt), who takes a job at the hospital to experience living in the nation that drove his father mad. (Like his father, he constantly carps about Danish customs.) In place of Mrs. Drusse, the show has Karen (Bodil Jorgensen), a sleepwalker who, in the first of many meta touches, is introduced watching the closing credits of Season 2’s final episode and complaining, “That’s no ending.”The shoot was difficult for von Trier, who remembered receiving his diagnosis during the course of the production.“I have never felt so bad on a shoot before,” he said. “But on the other hand, I enjoyed especially the work with the actors.”The feeling was mutual for Jorgensen, who had starred in von Trier’s “The Idiots,” from 1998. On a set in 2014, she was run over by a tractor, and her lungs collapsed. Her road to recovery was long. The shared experience of having overcome physical obstacles had bonded her and her director, she said. “I survived, and Lars survived.”She added: “What I experienced was that every day, he got more and more interested in the telling of the story.”In early seasons, Kirsten Rolffes plays the Miss Marple-type character Mrs. Drusse, who is in touch with the spiritual realm. Rolffes died in 2000.Zentropa/MubiIn place of Mrs. Drusse, “Exodus” has Karen (Bodil Jorgensen), a sleepwalker who seems similarly attuned to the supernatural.Zentropa/MubiVon Trier said he has always considered “The Kingdom” a “left-hand work,” a money job that permits a certain kind of freedom. He likes that sort of abandon, even if he cares more for his feature films. “The good side is of course that you take any idea and say it’s good enough and put it in,” he said.Still, one subplot in “Exodus” plays with fire, even for a director inclined toward controversy. In it, Stig Jr., who is working to make the hospital more inclusive (new rules on pronouns abound), tries to initiate a romance with a colleague (Tuva Novotny) by asking her consent by email. She winds up running to a lawyer (Alexander Skarsgard), who somehow represents them both.The references to sexual harassment risk appearing pointed: In 2017, Bjork, who starred in “Dancer in the Dark,” accused a “Danish director” who was widely understood to be von Trier of unwanted touches and sexual advances. That same year, Peter Aalbaek Jensen, who co-founded Zentropa, was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women at the company, to which he later responded, in The Hollywood Reporter, “I’ll stop slapping asses.”Von Trier said that the subplot of “Exodus” was inspired by broader cultural discussions in Denmark. He has consistently denied Bjork’s accusations. (“I don’t have to defend,” he said during our interview. “I have nothing to defend.”)Whatever ways “Exodus” dares being called objectionable, the response so far has been enthusiastic. Alberto Barbera, the director of the Venice Film Festival, suggested that the audience’s familiarity with the original — and with von Trier’s prankishness — played a role in its positive reception.As “often happens with cult works,” he wrote in an email, there was “lively participation accompanied with a mixture of spontaneous applause, laughs and — probably for many — moments of nostalgia for being taken back.”Jorgensen, who has had health struggles of her own, said that the shared experience of having overcome physical obstacles had bonded her and von Trier.Christian Geisnæs/ZentropaTo the extent that he ever did, von Trier no longer considers himself the best director in the world. “It’s not like running 100 meters, and then the stopwatch will tell you if you won,” he said. “You can’t compare art, and you can’t compare films.”But there are some constants. He still hasn’t been to the United States. He still doesn’t fly. (If he allowed himself one flight? “To Iceland, to meet Bjork in person and really talk this through.”) He is still searching for projects now that “Kingdom” is completed, but he said his health would need to improve before he started something new.In the meantime, he has his routines. Our first conversation took place the day of the Danish general election, and he had just voted — as usual, he said, “for the most-left party I could find.” (In case anyone still wondered whether he is a Nazi.) Jorgensen, who lives near von Trier, mentioned taking regular walks with him, saying it was good for his Parkinson’s.Then there is one project that he is already shooting — a video series with the working title “Report From Lars.” He wants it to be available free, perhaps on the internet.In each chapter, von Trier will share insights that he has learned about filmmaking.“Then people who hate my films can do the opposite,” he said. More

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    Evan Mock Is Having the Best Time

    After a childhood of surfing and skateboarding on Oahu’s North Shore, the “Gossip Girl” star, party-circuit fixture and friend to many brands is making waves on the island of Manhattan.On a recent afternoon, Evan Mock was trying to do laundry in his East Village condo, but something was wrong with the dryer. Perturbed beeps cut through the retro-soul music playing in the airy third-floor walk-up. The machine kept starting and stopping. He mentioned a theory, something about excessive lint accumulation and a defective filter.Mr. Mock, 25, is probably best known for his role as the pink-haired, Park Avenue-raised, Tarkovsky-loving bisexual son of a right-wing media mogul on the HBO Max reboot of “Gossip Girl,” which returns for its second season on Dec. 1. But the downtown denizen has a lot of other things going on.A king of the “collab,” he has worked with brands including the Danish jewelry manufacturer Pandora and the Italian footwear designer Giuseppe Zanotti. He has modeled for designers including Paco Rabanne and Virgil Abloh. His skateboarding prowess has landed him a hefty sponsorship from Hurley and an elusive spot on the Instagram grid of Frank Ocean. A few months ago he started a fashion line, Wahine, with the stylist Donté McGuine.He is a bona fide multi-hyphenate, a party-circuit fixture, an it boy, a man about town. Also, he has frosted tips now.Mr. Mock with his usual order at Madhufalla Organic Juice and Smoothie Bar on Mulberry Street: a shot of wheatgrass juice and a shot of ginger.Ryan Jones for The New York TimesDespite the hyper résumé, Mr. Mock is laid-back. Serene. As the light streamed into his apartment, he reclined by a floor-to-ceiling corner window. “Sometimes it’s too much,” he said, referring to the intense sunlight. “But I’m not complaining.”He took a swig of coconut water from a Tetra Pak. His feet were up. They were clad in last month’s limited release North Face x Paraboot shoes, the ones with the vulcanized rubber outsoles, matelassé full grain leather uppers and an elastic collar — a mule so exclusive that it was not even available for purchase. As the streetwear website Hypebeast reported: “Simply put, you cannot buy this.”Growing up, Mr. Mock often went around barefoot. Born and raised on the North Shore of Oahu, his father put him on his first surfboard when he was 2 years old. “I caught my first wave before I could swim,” he said.He was home-schooled into his teenage years to accommodate peak surf hours. Around age 11, he also got into skateboarding. (“Pretty late,” he said.) By 16, he was making more than $15,000 a month from skateboarding sponsorships. He then moved to California to pursue what he called his “skateboarding dreams.” (He did air quotes around the words “skateboarding dreams.”)Hints of his modeling career were scattered throughout the tidy two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment. On his kitchen counter sat a Louis Vuitton purse — a brand for which he walked the runway in 2019. In the corner of the living room, there was an overflowing Rimowa suitcase — the luxury German luggage maker for which he wrote, co-produced and starred in an online commercial last year. It shows Mr. Mock skateboarding through Manhattan donning a Rimowa cross-body messenger bag as he recounts, in a voice-over narrative, a whirlwind romance with a girl he met outside a club in Barcelona. Entranced by her beauty, he speaks of impulsively buying her a ticket to accompany him to Paris. But a lost passport, a brief stint in airport jail and six-hour flight delay put an end to the fling.Across the room, by a stack of shoe boxes, what looked at first like a regular McDonald’s Happy Meal box, was, upon closer inspection, a box of Cactus Plant Flea Market x McDonald’s collectibles from the streetwear label’s limited-run release. The figurines (originally retailing around $10) were reportedly listed on eBay for over $25,000, though the prices have since dropped significantly.Mr. Mock got up to clean his lint trap. “Let’s just get on some bikes,” he said.He puts a lot of mileage on his VanMoof e-bike. The day before, he rode uptown for a “Gossip Girl” A.D.R. (automated dialogue replacement) session, then back down to the Lower East Side to check out a Japanese whiskey bar he might invest in on Chrystie Street.“We could go to Curbs,” Mr. Mock said, referring to a section of Lafayette Street that has become popular among New York skateboarders for the many curbs afforded by its triangular layout.He started to get changed, switching his white T-shirt for a vintage dark gray Number Nine T-shirt. Above the chest pocket it had a small graphic of a speech bubble containing the word “cigarettes.” “It’s a Japanese brand that was illest back in the day,” Mr. Mock said of Number Nine. “Everyone in Japan knows what’s up.”Mr. Mock with Mr. Hiraga in Lower Manhattan.Ryan Jones for The New York TimesHe put on and then took off a hoodie of his own design, a boxy Wahine zip-up. On the front, the outline of a valentine heart surrounding a word that cannot be printed in The New York Times. “I drew it on my friend’s bathroom wall and then I took a picture of it,” he said of the design’s origin.He completed the outfit with a pair of dark-wash Palace jeans, Ambush edition Nike Air Adjust Force sneakers, a silver bomber jacket, a Palace hat and Isabel Marant sunglasses. Outside, he glided through Alphabet City on his next-gen smart-tech bike. As the scenery swept by, he kept one hand in the pocket of the unzipped bomber.Near the REI store, he swerved lithely across Houston Street to give a hello kiss to the photographer Gray Sorrenti, who happened to be passing by with the model-actress Blue Lindeberg. The chance encounter took place directly across from the 55-by-75-foot Calvin Klein billboard where, one year ago, Mr. Mock had appeared, smiling down at NoHo in nothing but black boxer briefs and thigh tattoos.The next stop was Madhufalla, a juice and smoothie bar on Mulberry Street. Mr. Mock ordered his usual: a ginger shot and a wheatgrass shot. “Sweeter than you’d think,” he said. He downed both in the store and ordered an açai berry almond milk smoothie to go.“Sometimes it’s too much,” Mr. Mock said of the intense sunlight in his New York apartment. “But I’m not complaining.”Ryan Jones for The New York TimesAround the corner, at Curbs, he fist-bumped a couple of acquaintances before taking a seat on a bench. Between sips of the smoothie, he talked about “Gossip Girl.” The original CW series, which ran from 2007 through 2012, was, he said, “before my time.” And when the showrunner of the HBO Max reboot, Joshua Safran, reached out to him about playing the part of Aki Menzies, Mr. Mock had never acted.“There were a lot of different firsts,” he said. “When I first read the script, I thought there was nothing more opposite than my actual life. In terms of living somewhere cold, going to a private school, all the drama.”He paused. Then picked up again: “It’s funny, because I never actually went to school. But the character is basically me — besides being filthy rich, going to a private school and living uptown in New York.”A game of eight ball at Ace Bar.Ryan Jones for The New York TimesOn his first day of filming, he had to take part in a sex scene with Emily Alyn Lind, the actress who plays his girlfriend. The inherently awkward situation had the added discomfort of taking place in September 2020. Between shots, the cast members wore K95 masks and plastic face coverings. During their downtime, the actors had to isolate in a room by themselves until they were called back to the set. “But, honestly, I’m kind of glad it happened like that, because we got the weird stuff out of the way,” Mr. Mock said. “Hopefully, everything from here on out will be a little bit quote-unquote normal.”He watched a skateboarder wipe out in front of the bistro Jack’s Wife Freda. Ms. Lindeberg, the actress and model, walked by again. This is something Mr. Mock loves about New York: “You basically have no option but to see homies everywhere you go,” he said. As if on cue, another friend, the actor Nico Hiraga, rode up on a skateboard, joined shortly by another skateboarding friend, George Hemp.“We could go play pool,” Mr. Mock suggested.Soon Mr. Hiraga and Mr. Hemp got Citi Bikes, and the group headed north. All three biked almost exclusively one-handed. The ride was punctuated by more run-ins. On St. Marks Place, Mr. Mock pulled over to hug his brand-deal agent, Jenelle Phillip, who was outdoor-dining at Cafe Mogador. On East 10th Street, at the edge of Tompkins Square Park, he stopped to chat with the skateboarding documentarian Greg Hunt, who was out with his camera, trying to take advantage of the good light. Mr. Mock said he had spotted other familiar faces in the 12-block journey, but he couldn’t pull over for everyone.It was early evening by the time he and his friends reached the Ace Bar on East Fifth Street. “Meet the Fockers” was playing on the TV screen above the Skee-Ball machine.“I love this movie,” Mr. Hiraga said, smiling. “I’m in my saga era.”A few feet from the pool table, a man stood contrapposto, beer in one hand, the other, adamantly on his hip. Mr. Mock said he tends to stand similarly, in a kind of half-akimbo pose. Skateboarders have a certain way of holding themselves — Mr. Mock offered the word “feminine” to describe it, but then agreed that it’s more about fluidity, or a specific grace that comes from being in a constant negotiation with gravity.He added that he has broken each arm three times. In one spill, he broke four fingers. What happens, he explained, is that you learn how to fall.Mr. Mock frequently travels through Manhattan by e-bike.Ryan Jones for The New York Times“If you watch skaters fall, it looks like Bruce Lee fighting water,” Mr. Mock said. “Falling in the same certain type of way, you get reflexes after a while. You can save yourself most of the time, but sometimes you can’t.”Is breaking bones scary?“It just comes with it,” he said. “You expect it.”He turned back to the pool table, adjusting his Palace jeans, which were more or less held up by a leather belt that he said he had gotten from “some random dude in Rome.” More

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    Late Night Predicts a Tough Thanksgiving

    For the humans, there’s inflation; for the turkeys, there’s avian flu. “To be fair, I’m pretty sure every Thanksgiving is a tough one for turkey,” said Stephen Colbert.Welcome to Best of Late Night, a rundown of the previous night’s highlights that lets you sleep — and lets us get paid to watch comedy. Here are the 50 best movies on Netflix right now.Thank$giving 2022Thanksgiving will be affected by inflation this year.In his Wednesday night monologue, Stephen Colbert attributed that to “a variety of factors, including the war in Ukraine, high fuel prices. But the number one factor, according to experts, is Hunter Biden’s laptop.”“In other words, it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg for a wing and a thigh.” — JAMES CORDEN“This year, your Thanksgiving might look a little different, because prices are up on almost everything, from frozen pie crusts to pumpkin pie mix to a dozen dinner rolls. Well, there goes my favorite dessert: a dozen dinner rolls.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“But it’s not just the supporting players. It’s also the star of the show, Tom Turkey. In addition to inflation, a blight of avian flu means that Thanksgiving 2022 is shaping up to be a tough one for turkey. To be fair, I’m pretty sure every Thanksgiving is a tough one for turkey.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“Prices are up because of inflation and supply chain issues. so don’t be surprised if this year, the candied yams are just a potato with a Starburst in it.” — JAMES CORDEN“A new record high for Thanksgiving food items. You know how the economists figured this out? Pie chart.” — JAMES CORDENThe Punchiest Punchlines (The Night Before Edition)“Today was so-called ‘Blackout Wednesday,’ which is known as the biggest bar night of the year. So if you’re watching me right now, you a loser.” — SETH MEYERS“It’s a great tradition, you talk smack about your family to your friends, and then tomorrow you talk smack about your friends to your family.” — JIMMY FALLON“This is actually one of the biggest drinking nights of the year, which is why tomorrow morning people are going to be, like, ‘I’m most thankful for this bacon, egg and cheese and Gatorade.’” — JIMMY FALLON“Right now, some of you are excited to see your family, while the rest of you are about to draw an extra line on a Covid test.” — JIMMY FALLON“It’s a special time, when we gather with family and friends to share our gratitude through America’s traditional expression of love: the food coma.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“A bit of history: I read that Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving an official holiday in 1863. It’s like during the Civil War, he saw our country fighting each other and thought, ‘We should make a whole meal out of this.’” — JIMMY FALLONThe Bits Worth WatchingBruce Springsteen shared his favorite Thanksgiving dishes on Wednesday’s “Late Night With Seth Meyers.”Also, Check This OutHugh Jackman and Zen McGrath in “The Son.”Rekha Garton/Sony Pictures ClassicsHugh Jackman plays the father of a troubled teenager in Florian Zeller’s drama “The Son.” More

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    Late Night Can’t Wait to Finally See Trump’s Tax Returns

    Jimmy Kimmel joked that Trump “promised to release his tax returns more times than he promised to release Melania.”Welcome to Best of Late Night, a rundown of the previous night’s highlights that lets you sleep — and lets us get paid to watch comedy. Here are the 50 best movies on Netflix right now.Just in Time for ThanksgivingOn Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected former President Donald Trump’s request to block a House committee from obtaining his tax returns.“He promised to release his tax returns more times than he promised to release Melania,” Jimmy Kimmel joked. “Like 10,000.”“Democrats will only have a few weeks to access the documents before the Republicans retake the House and make them disappear. Basically, Trump’s tax returns are like a close friend’s Instagram story.” — JIMMY KIMMEL“Now, following this ruling, we can finally find out if he wrote off Eric as a loss.” — STEPHEN COLBERTThe Punchiest Punchlines (Farewell, Dr. Fauci Edition)“Today, Dr. Fauci gave his final White House briefing before his retirement. He was like, ‘This is my last day, so if you want to inject bleach, go nuts.’” — JIMMY FALLON“Dr. Anthony Fauci today gave what is likely his last coronavirus briefing before retiring at the end of the year. And you can tell he’s kinda given up, because he gave the briefing from a rave.” — SETH MEYERS“Dr. Fauci is 81 years old. Today, Biden was like, ‘Congrats on your early retirement.’” — JIMMY FALLONThe Bits Worth WatchingStephen Colbert addressed the issues plaguing this year’s World Cup on Tuesday’s “Late Show.”What We’re Excited About on Wednesday NightThe “Dead to Me” star Linda Cardellini will stop by “The Late Late Show” on Wednesday night.Also, Check This OutWomen now make up a majority of players in the New York Philharmonic, but they dominate some sections of the orchestra more than others: 27 of the ensemble’s 30 violinists are women. Calla Kessler for The New York TimesFor the first time in 180 years, women outnumber men in the New York Philharmonic. More