Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Keep it secret, keep it safe: A beginner's guide to Web safety

My family has been on the Internet since 1998 or so, but I didn't really think much about Internet security at first. Oh sure, I made sure our eMachines desktop (and its 433Mhz Celeron CPU) was always running the latest Internet Explorer version and I tried not to use the same password for everything. But I didn't give much thought to where my Web traffic was going or what path it took from our computer to the Web server and back. I was dimly aware that e-mail, as one of my teachers put it, was in those days "about as private as sticking your head out the window and yelling." And I didn't do much with that knowledge.

A Luxurious New Winter Resort in Gstaad, Switzerland

It’s not every day a new luxury hotel lands in Gstaad. In fact, it’s barely every century. Which is why the recent debut of the Alpina Gstaad has been greeted with such grand fanfare. The first newly built top-end hotel to open here in more than a hundred years, the chalet-style Alpina brings a dose of modern—but no less authentically Swiss—chic to this ever-so-discreet and oh-so-luxe ski retreat.

A Rustic Farmhouse in the Hills of Italy

On a pastoral estate in Umbria, aristocratic architect Benedikt Bolza transforms a centuries-old house into a grand, rustic dwelling for his young family
Almost two decades ago, Count Antonio Bolza and his wife, Angelika, acquired Castello di Reschio, a 2,700-acre estate in the wooded hills of Umbria, Italy, with a vision of turning its rural houses—all of them centuries old and in ruins—into luxurious villas. At the time, their son Benedikt was studying to become an architect, and he soon joined the family operation, overseeing the restoration and design work on the estate. In the roughly 13 years since, Benedikt has painstakingly rebuilt 22 of the 50 houses (another three are now in progress), complete with bespoke interiors, traditional gardens, and infinity pools. The estate also offers resortlike services catering to an elite international clientele of buyers and renters.
“We not only design the homes and gardens for our clients, we manage their properties,” explains Benedikt, who also serves as the estate’s director. For years he and his family camped out in the drafty rooms of Reschio’s 11th-century castle, but eventually the time came to put down more permanent roots—especially after his wife, Nencia (of the princely Corsini family from Florence), became pregnant with their fifth child. “The castle was freezing, and when it rained we had to pull out dozens of buckets and even some umbrellas,” Nencia recalls. “We needed a home of our own, and it had to be a big one!”

The couple decided to take one of the estate’s largest homes, which also happened to be among the most challenging to update. Though its timeworn stone exterior was in decent condition, the interiors were a different story. “It was a labyrinth of staircases and poky rooms for seasonal workers and their families,” says Benedikt, who is known as Count Bolza, a title conferred by his aristocratic Austro-Hungarian lineage. “The only solution was a radical one—demolish the interiors and rebuild them from scratch, adding a level for extra space.” The architect had initially set his eyes on a less complicated property, but Nencia insisted this was the one. “I was thinking of the children,” she says. “From here they can walk to the horse stables.”
By the time Benedikt and his team of more than 100 builders and craftspeople tackled the house, he had a crystal-clear idea of how it would all fit together. “The truth is,” he says, “I love to plan every detail, from the roof down to the tiniest lampshade.” In the early years of the Castello di Reschio project, Benedikt’s obsessiveness didn’t always go over well with the workers. “They weren’t used to detailed drawings, and they thought they knew better,” he says. “In time they learned to be more meticulous. I, on the other hand, learned from their knowledge of traditional building materials.”

Three Classic Los Angeles Restaurants Get New Looks

An artwork by Doug Aitken is displayed at the Beverly Hills restaurant Spago, redesigned by Waldo Fernandez. Photo: Roger Davies
In Los Angeles three classic restaurants have been reimagined and reenergized, bringing the old-guard hot spots back to the fore. Wolfgang Puck’s Spago commemorated its 30th birthday with a top-to-bottom redo of its storied Beverly Hills flagship by AD100 designer Waldo Fernandez. The once-rustic interiors now have a sophisticated color palette and a museum-worthy art collection that includes works by Doug Aitken and Ed Ruscha.
And in Malibu, sushi mecca Nobu has moved from its cozy location on Cross Creek Road to an expansive new oceanfront home designed by the local firm Studio PCH. Meanwhile, Chinese stalwart Mr. Chow has taken over Nobu’s original space.
Mr. Chow's new Malibu location. Photo courtesy of Mr. Chow

A Warm Northern California Home Inspired by Mexican Modernism

Combining bold horizontal volumes and serene earth tones, architects Howard J. Backen and Loren Kroeger create a space for seamless indoor-outdoor living
Finding love again can be a golden opportunity—a chance to avoid past missteps, to explore new possibilities, and in the case of Anne and Edward Storm, to plan entirely fresh, forward-looking surroundings.

“Modernism is all about the future,” says Edward, a commercial real-estate developer, as he talks about the rigorous yet inviting residence he and his wife, an English professor, commissioned six years ago in Woodside, California, shortly after they wed. “The same is true of our relationship.”
Set on four rolling parklike acres punctuated with magnificent live oaks, the two-bedroom house the couple built for their life together—previous marriages and child-rearing behind them—is a retreat where golden light meets silver shadows, and solid surfaces give way to liquid accents. The creative team that Edward and Anne turned to, Howard J. Backen and Loren Kroeger, principals of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, was loosely inspired by the clients’ love of Mexico (they married in the Mexican highlands) and their admiration for the modernists Luis Barragán and Ricardo Legorreta, masters of sharply geometric houses that embrace their natural settings. For the Woodside project, Backen and Kroeger took into account the property’s geographical features, namely staggering views of the forested Santa Cruz Mountains.
“Where you are matters,” remarks Backen, a contextualist who is something of a Northern California stylesetter, especially to the winemaking elite of Napa Valley. His firm’s client list includes actor Robert Redford, film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Bill Harlan, the owner of the Napa Valley Reserve, a private wine estate executed in the sophisticated rural vernacular that is Backen’s signature—an aesthetic that will be on glorious view in a Rizzoli book about the architect’s work being published next fall.
Going modern—albeit a sensuous brand of modern—is somewhat unusual in Woodside, a pastoral community some 30 miles south of San Francisco, where Silicon Valley tech stars mingle with patrician equestrians. Although the Storms are drawn to buildings with a sculptural presence, they wanted their home to be unmistakably welcoming. “Barragán can be a little monastic, and Legorreta’s work is a little bunkerish,” Anne allows. “We like the feeling of structure and geometry but wanted something warmer.”

Where the midcentury Mexican modernists often employed planes painted in eye-popping primary colors, Backen and Kroeger utilized neutral hues and earthy materials: floors of parchment-color limestone, doors made of polished teak, and walls variously composed of stone, wood, and creamy Venetian plaster. Interior designer April Powers—she worked at Backen, Gillam & Kroeger before striking out on her own in 2009—created a complementary furnishing scheme. In the living room vintage Michael Taylor sofas clad in ivory monk’s cloth seem to blend into a wall tiled with Texas shell stone, while the dining room’s natural wicker chairs surround a table whose cast-concrete base appears as if it grew out of the limestone floor. The few works of art on display conform to the natural palette as well, such as a sepia-tone collage by Joan Brown in the master bedroom.

A 19th-Century London Townhouse Gets an Avant-Garde New Look

Stately 1830s architecture meets cutting-edge art and design in a historic home updated for a collector by Francis Sultana
A late-Georgian stucco mansion is not an obvious home for a collection of cutting-edge art and design—but this London residence comes with a historic connection to the avant-garde. In 1913, at the same address, leading society hostess Lady Hamilton created a showcase for the Bloomsbury Group’s newly established design collective, the Omega Workshops (the critic Roger Fry advised her on the decor, and Virginia Woolf’s sister Vanessa Bell was among the contributing artists). So it is entirely appropriate that, a century later, the property’s present owner—a Hong Kong–based art collector with strong ties to several European museums and galleries—has reintroduced a forward-thinking aesthetic to the place, this time with a wide-ranging international selection of pieces by designers like Mattia Bonetti and Martin Szekely and such artists as Adam Fuss, Gabriel Kuri, Fiona Rae, Anselm Reyle, and Keith Tyson.

Raider. QB Crusher. Murderer?

Some of his friends and teammates remember Anthony Wayne Smith as a strange and volatile guy, prone to paranoia and outrageous lies. Others recall a gentle giant who gave to charity and mentored kids. None would have predicted that he'd retire from football to a life of arson, torture, and murder—but that's exactly what prosecutors allege. As the former defensive end (57 1/2 career sacks) waits trial for four killings over a nine-year span, Kathy Dobie unravels a life that made his violence on the field seem like child's play

On a cool, drizzly February night in 2003, at one thirty or so in the morning, a police officer cruising down Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica spotted flames shooting horizontally out a window of the Simply Sofas furniture showroom. From overhead he could hear popping sounds as the fire leapt up to eat at the power lines in the street outside. Inside, the blaze spread quickly, engulfing upholstery and wood, roaring up through the roof and melting the metal skin right off the loading dock door.

And the Award for the Next HBO Goes to...

The quirky little start-up that once printed money by mailing you DVDs is hell-bent on morphing into the HBO—and the network, and the any-show, any-time streaming service—of tomorrow. Can Netflix and its pathologically modest founder, Reed Hastings, pull it off? Who knows? But it's going to be fun to watch, starting this month with David Fincher's $100 million House of Cards. The only guaranteed winner in the bloody battle for the on-demand future? You. On your couch

 In the beginning, there was the tube. The cathode-ray tube, that is, and "The Tube," that squat shiny box that ate up half the living room and all of your family's attention. Then came cable, and videocassettes, HBO, DVDs, and the Sony PlayStation and TiVo, satellite and Blu-ray, and the ninety-six-inch flat-screen and a slew of awkward little boxes with those mysterious colored lights, all of which changed the way we entertain ourselves. But most important, there came the Internet and Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos and Reed Hastings, who blew up all the old paradigms about who, what, when, where, why, and even how we watch, busting the chains that bind us to our cable boxes, to the never-ending scroll of 739 channels, to our prime-time prison.

How to Kick Your Jeans Habit

We're not announcing a ban on denim. But we do think you should branch out. For moves that will set you apart, learn how to wear trousers, dress chinos, motopants, and more—just like the Internet's illest dance phenomenon, Lil Buck "
 1. Winner of the 2013 "Every Man Must Wear These Pants" Award
When you finally peel off your beloved jeans, the first thing you should step into is a pair of simple gray trousers. Wear them in all the ways you wore those jeans, just like Buck does here. Nerd note: These are tropical wool—made for spring and summer.

Pants, $248 by Diesel.

From left:
Polo shirt, $1,090 by Louis Vuitton. Loafers, $70 by Perry Ellis Portfolio. Hat by Biltmore. Watch by Bell & Ross. Bracelet by Tiffany & Co.

Jacket, $2,258 by Neil Barrett. T-shirt, $16 by American Apparel. Sneakers, $75 by Vans. Sunglasses by Super. Necklace by David Yurman. Watch by Cartier. Belt by Charvet.

Sports jacket, $895 by Emporio Armani. Shirt $395 by Ralph Lauren Black Label Denim. Tie, $49 by DIBI. Shoes, $995 by Salvatore Ferragamo. Pocket square by the Tie Bar. Belt by Gucci.

2. Like Jeans But with More Horsepower
The French brand Balmain made biker-inspired motopants a sensation, but now more reasonably priced designers have caught up. The pants are tough and more than a little rock 'n' roll. Wear them with black and you'll never go wrong.

Practical function: Keeps your wallet off the highway. Style function: Sets these apart from plain ol' jeans.

Knee Patches
Bikers need their pants to be skinny; knee patches allow for movement, whether you ride a Ducati or an Aeron.

It's not that we tailored these short—this is how motopants fit. Works with Hells Angels boots or beer-run Vans.

"Matt Dillon's character in Rumble Fish would wear these today. I wear mine every day, mostly with boots but occasionally with monkstraps and a blazer. They make a statement, and the price is right."—Rogue designer Jimmy Reilly

Pants, $185 by Rogue. Tank top, $38 (for three) by Calvin Klein Underwear. Sneakers, $75 by Vans. Ssunglasses by Fabien Baron. Necklace by Tiffany & Co. Watch by Cartier. Belt by Baldwin.
3. The Best Way to Hold All These Pants Up
Give your conservative office belt the day—maybe even the summer—off by adding one of these nylon, ribbon, or even crocodile D-ring belts to your repertoire. It's the smallest things that get the most compliments.

From left: Belt (orange), $25 by Penfield. Belt, $125 by Caputo & Co. Belt, $115 by Gant by Michael Bastian. Belt, $34 by Scotch & Soda. Belt, $1,250 by Ralph Lauren.
4. We're Taking Linen Back from the Retirees
It's the slim cut that separates you from the blue hairs. Just remember: Linen's natural wrinkles add character, like distressing on broken-in denim.

Pants, $995 by Giorgio Armani. Cardigan, $780 by Prada. Shirt, $280 by Band of Outsiders. Shoes, $420 by Seize sur Vingt. Sunglasses by Ray-Ban. Watch by Longines.
5. Not All Pockets Are Created Equal: Three Different Cuts You Need to Know
Yep, it's geeky. But different kinds of pockets can change the way a pair of pants fits your body type. Find the right pockets for your shape and style—and never look back.

On-Seam Pockets
Not many guys will say it out loud, but let's be real: Some of us have big hips, we know it, and we'd ideally like to hide them. If you're that dude, on-seam pockets will slim you down.

Pants, $485 by Michael Bastian. Shirt by Ovadia & Sons. Tie by Ralph Lauren Black Label. Wallet by Ermenegildo Zegna.
Quarter Pockets
The most common. If you're constantly using your pockets—for your phone, for your wallet, or just to have something to do with your hands—these are the most convenient.

Pants, $400 by Kenzo. Shirt by Polo Ralph Lauren. Belt by Dolce & Gabbana. Key holder by Louis Vuitton.
Continental Pockets
Or "slant pockets." For your inner European. Originally found on British military uniforms, perfect for someone obsessed with minute, unique details.

Pants, $450 by Prada. Shirt by Mark McNairy New Amsterdam. Sunglasses by Fabien Baron.

6. When You're Ready to Take the Next Step
Once you've got a pair of basic pants, forge ahead into the terrain of patterned trousers. Labels like Gant Rugger have stripped away the Caddyshack vibe by slimming them down and going minimalist with the patterns.

"As long as you keep everything else simple, glen plaid pants won't make you look like a douche. I'd wear them with a blue oxford shirt or a polo and chocolate brogues or sneakers."—Gant creative director Christian Bastin

Pants, $350 by Gant Rugger. Sweater, $215 by Band of Outsiders. Sneakers, $530 by Marc Jacobs. Cap by Polo Ralph Lauren. Bracelet by Tateossian.

7. Make 'Em Green with Envy
From Milan to N.Y.C., we kept noticing different designers showing icy green pants like these at the fashion shows. If they jumped out at us on the runways, they'll do the same for you on the street.

Can't see yourself in green? All good. Chinos come in myriad colors, from tangerine dreamto purple haze.

8. Three Ways to Ditch the Belt and Streamline Your Look

The 2013 Dandy
In the bespoke days of yore, men scoffed at belt loops. Were the pants not made for you, sir? Side tabs let you adjust on the fly (and save at the tailor).

Pants, $448 by Richard James. Shirt by Band of Outsiders. Watch by TAG Heuer.
The Hollywood Nostalgist
See that V-split in the waist seam, known as a notched waist? That offered ease for Robert Redford types in higher-waisted suit pants.

Pants, $150 by Club Monaco. Shirt by Michael Bastian. Watch by Bell & Ross.
The Urban Minimalist
Designers are bringing back the waist-extension tab, which gives you a sexier profile than a button. Style points for your crotch area!

Pants, $225 by Surface to Air. Shirt by Saturdays NYC.
9. The Cuff vs. the Roll: An Existential Pants Question Finally Answered
Some guys are rolling when they should cuff, and vice versa. The rule:
If the fabric is formal—wool suit pants, say—have a tailor cuff them.

Pants, $640 by Jil Sander. Shoes, $740 by Salvatore Ferragamo.
If they're more casual—chinos or cargos—roll like Willie Nelson in Amsterdam.

Pants, $150 by Kenneth Cole New York. Shoes, $270 by N.D.C. Made by Hand.
10. Because Not All Khakis Are All Casual
There's a breed of khakis that's not meant to get ketchup-stained. These are office-ready dress khakis—think Damian Lewis in uniform on Homeland. They should be cut slim and short, creased like suit trousers, and dressed up.

Pants, $60 by Calvin Klein. Shirt, $250 by Burberry London. Tie, $150 by Alexander Olch. Loafers, $695 by Salvatore Ferragamo. Hat by Gents. Belt by Gant by Michael Bastian.

Pants, $420 by Prada. Sweater vest, $735, and polo, $880 by Prada. Shoes, $740 by Salvatore Ferragamo. Watch by Timex for J.Crew

10 Essentials: Eddie Huang

The chef and Baohaus founder shares his favorite threads, caps, vaporizer, and more
If you've followed the world of food this past year, you'll recognize Eddie Huang as the next big celebrity chef. The former lawyer turned Baohaus founder becomes a memoirist this month with Fresh Off the Boat, his story of growing up Asian-American. As sharp as Anthony Bourdain (a man he's often compared to), as marketable on TV as Guy Fieri (a man he'd rather not be), he's fresher than both, with a backwards-cap swagger and no doubt of what's dope and what's dumb. After shooting him a direct message on Twitter, Eddie got on the phone with us to talk about the ten things that are Huang-approved.

A Brief History of Retro-Mobiles

Jamie Lincoln Kitman breaks down the car world's obsession with remakes, rebirths, and rehashes.

The Real Retros
Some things never change, including these cars.

Land Rover Defender
Land Rover Defender
The most basic of Land Rovers has evolved much since its direct ancestor's debut in 1948, but it's also stayed a lot the same. One of the world's most long-lived automotive icons, it's fresh from a turn in the new Bond film and still bouncing down the road. A replacement is planned for 2016, but we can't imagine a satisfactory one.

Hindustan Ambassador
Still in production in India 53 years after England's Morris Motors stopped making it, the Amby remains beloved on the streets of both these two intertwined lands. Though rarely seen in the UK, where appalling performance, handling, and safety could be seen as liabilities, it still graces Indian new-car showrooms.

Old advertising | Remember (rebus) The 15 Sexiest Superbowl Ads of All Time — In GIF Form

The football-industrial complex knows it as well as you do: Sex sells. That said, it has made the big game a whole lot more watchable. Here, the best ads from the ages, starring Beyoncé, Britney, Adriana, and, yes, twins.

Apple, 1984
The Ridley Scott-directed ad that helped kickstart the Super Bowl Commercial Industrial complex might have also, unintentionally, been the first sexy Super Bowl commercial. All revolutions should be delivered by way of a fleet-footed Hooters waitresses.

Cindy Crawford for Pepsi, 1992
This ad proves there's nothing more enduringly hot, or American, than a beautiful woman in daisy dukes and a tank top.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Make Your Super Bowl Party a Hot Mess | Three recipes

Still letting Buffalo sauce take over your game-day buffet? Bench the orange sludge for tastier, tangier wings from three chefs leading the new Asian flavor invasion. Just don't forget the napkins

 It's not our fault we've let the one-note neon slathering known as Buffalo sauce take center field on our Super Bowl snack table for so long. All we ever knew was gloppy blue cheese and hot, hotter, heart attack.

But if you have taste buds, lately you've noticed that bold, nuanced Far East flavors are taking over the food game: David Chang of Momofuku has achieved celebri-chef status, and even your mom has a bottle of Sriracha in her fridge. So we asked three rising chefs in the East-meets-West school to remix the Super Bowl staple. Your options: a Korean chile bomb, a nuanced bite of Japanese spice, and a salty-smooth riff on Filipino adobo. No matter which one you make, the result will be sports-bar-meets-street-stall fare that's more complex—and unexpected—than Buffalo sauce.

To deep-fry, you need a high-sided vessel (like a Dutch oven or wok), a thermometer, and paper towels to pat down the wings before frying—a dry wing is a crunchy wing. Nail that and you'll win on Sunday.

K-Town Pantry Wings

1 lb. chicken wings
3 Tbsp. gochujang (Korean chile paste)
1 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
6 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
6 Tbsp. rice vinegar
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar or rice syrup
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. minced ginger
Ground black pepper, to taste
All-purpose flour for dusting
Canola or cottonseed oil (for frying; enough to be two inches deep)
Toasted sesame seeds
1 scallion, chopped

1. Cut each wing into three parts: the drumette (looks like a small drumstick), the wing (with the two bones), and the tip. Throw away the tips.

2. The night before, combine everything except the chicken, flour, frying oil, scallion, and sesame seeds in a large bowl.

3. Add the wings to the marinade, stir to coat, cover the bowl, and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.

4. When you're ready to fry the next day, remove the wings, reserving the marinade in a separate bowl. Dry the wings with paper towels.

5. Cook the remaining marinade in a saucepan over low heat until it reduces by one-third, about 20 minutes. Then let the marinade cool.

6. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Dust the wings with flour, and drop each into the pot—gently, unless you like third-degree burns. Fry each wing until it's golden and crispy, 5 to 8 minutes, then drain it on a plate with paper towels.

7. Once all the wings are done, toss them in a bowl with the leftover marinade.

8. Garnish with the toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallion, then serve them up.


Hopscotch Chicken Wings

1 lb. chicken wings
2 Tbsp. salt
12 Tbsp. butter
7 Tbsp. red miso
4 Tbsp. rayu (Japanese chile sesame oil)
6 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. ginger, grated
1 bunch green onions, charred and sliced (broil in oven until charred, then slice)
Canola or cottonseed oil (for frying; enough to be two inches deep)

1. Cut each wing into three parts: the drumette (looks like a small drumstick), the wing (with the two bones), and the tip. Throw away the tips.

2. Put the wings in a saucepan, cover with water, and add the salt. Bring the water to a simmer on medium-low heat, being careful not to boil the water.

3. Once the water starts simmering, cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let the wings sit for 8 minutes so that they cook through.

4. Drain the wings and pat them dry with a paper towel, then let them air-dry on a plate, rack, or backing sheet until they're no longer moist to the touch.

5. While you're waiting, start the sauce: Mix everything but the frying oil in a large bowl using an electric whisk or a spatula and some elbow grease.

6. Heat the frying oil to 350 degrees and gently ease in the dry wings. Once the wings turn golden brown (about 5 minutes, since they're precooked), pull them out and let them drain for a moment on a plate topped with paper towels.

7. Put the wings in with the sauce, get 'em slathered up, then eat.


Faux-Dobo Wings

1 lb. chicken wings
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1/4 Tbsp. annatto seeds
1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. butter
Rice flour
Canola or cottonseed oil (for frying; enough to be two inches deep)
Fresh cracked black pepper

1. Cut each wing into three parts: the drumette (looks like a small drumstick), the wing (with the two bones), and the tip. Throw away the tips.

2. The night before, combine   cup of the soy sauce,   cup of the white vinegar, one clove of crushed garlic, one bay leaf, and all of the peppercorns in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken wings, stir to combine, and let them sit overnight, covered, in your fridge.

3. The next day, pull the wings out and dry them off completely with paper towels. Then dredge them in the rice flour.

4. Heat the frying oil to 350 degrees and gently add the wings. If they've warmed to room temperature, they should take only 8 minutes to cook through and crisp up. If they're still chilly from the refrigerator, let them cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Pull them out and drain on a plate with paper towels.

5. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaf, and the annatto seeds. Dilute the sauce with water if the flavor is too strong.

6. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. chicken

7. Separately, mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl to make a slurry. Slowly add it to the simmering sauce while gently whisking the sauce at the same time. Once the sauce takes on a glossy sheen and thickens, you can remove it from the heat.

8. Let the sauce cool slightly for a minute, strain out the bay leaves and annatto seeds, then add it to a bowl along with the butter. Once the butter melts, toss the wings in the sauce until they're covered. Garnish with some cracked black pepper and devour.

The Worst Movie Experience of the Year (And Not Because It Sucked): Compliance

Listen, Compliance is the best film, qualitatively, on this list. It's flawlessly directed and uncompromising, and includes at least one so-subtle-it's-masterful performance. It has an eighty-nine percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Eighty-nine percent.

The problem with Compliance is that it will sap your vitality and crush your soul and leave you questioning the innate goodness of the human species, including yourself and, if it applies, the woman sitting beside you, whom you only married the month before. And I'm not being (completely) melodramatic. When Compliance was in theaters, walkouts were common. Despondence is rarely what people want from their leisure time.

The hurt starts early. Sandra, manager of a generic fast food hut in Eastern Podunk, Everystate, U.S.A., gets a call from a policeman who says that her doe-eyed high school-age cashier, Becky, stole money from a patron. The officer needs Sandra to detain Becky until he gets there.

But then he's running behind. So he asks manager Sandra to strip-search Becky. In the storeroom. And to leave her locked in the room, naked but for an apron. Sandra hesitates, but the officer eases her conscience. It'll be quicker this way, he says. You want to help Becky, don't you? You're doing great. What follows is a fifty-car-pileup of personal violations brought to bear on poor doe-eyed Becky by the people she trusts to know what's best—people who see the wrongness of what's being asked and hesitate, but quickly acquiesce to the authority figure on the other end of the line. When halfway through you the film learn what you already suspected—that the voice on the phone isn't a cop, but a sleazeball playing mind games with unsuspecting, weak-willed people—the reveal's almost irrelevant. You're already hoarse from shouting "Seriously?!" at the screen like a Tourette's-afflicted Amy Poehler. It's the supposed good guys you loathe. Can't you people take some responsibility? Show some balls? Say no? Who wrote these characters?

When the film ends on a crushing nadir, you hate-Google "Compliance" only to learn that the film is a painfully faithful re-enactment of what happened in 2004 at a Kentucky McDonald's, and that no pervy wackjob has been convicted over this call (or any of the over sixty-nine others around the country).

Suddenly, Taken 2 doesn't look like such a bad choice. At least low-grade cinematic schlock can only ruin two hours, and not your faith in humanity.

Worst Comedy: A Thousand Words

Another what-if comedy from the writer of Bruce Almighty and Click, A Thousand Words tells the story of a motor-mouthed literary agent (an utterly disinterested Eddie Murphy) who brazenly exclaims in the first five minutes he can "talk anybody into doing anything." That is, until...well, I don't exactly know...he can't?
Somehow a magic tree (yes, really) curses him and if he says more than a thousand words he'll...well, again, I don't know. Die? It's hard to tell exactly what is going on in A Thousand Words, as it clumsily jumps from one excruciatingly unfunny madcap scenario to another with all the subtly of a smack to the ear. A better title would have been 47 Minutes, because that's as long as I was able to stand.

Worst Case of False Advertising: The Grey

For those of you who haven't seen The Grey yet and want to watch it for any reason other than seeing Liam Neeson kick some wolf ass—I dunno, you like to watch people wander in the snow?—then stop reading now.

But if, like most red-blooded Americans, you were chomping at the bit to see ol' Liam go toe to toe against nasty lupine foes with nothing but broken mini-bar bottles strapped to his knuckles—I repeat: Broken mini-bar bottles. Strapped. To. His. FISTS!!!—then, read on. I'm going to save you $2.99.

Still here? Then I hate to break it to you. This doesn't happen.

I know what you're asking right now. "What? That's on the movie poster? It's the best part of the trailer! there a God?"

Why we do not see Liam Neeson bottle-stab a wolf in The Grey is one of the greatest mysteries of 2012. (Stick that on the back of the DVD box, Universal.)

Sure, there are a few CGI-wolf tussles. But mostly, this is a movie about working-class men battling nature and getting to know their true selves along the way. Snore, right?

The worst part: Just when you think the epic Liam vs. the Wolves showdown is going to happen, when he actually arms his hands with those little bottles and curls up his ham-sized fists into weapons of wolf destruction, the movie ends and the credits roll.

Was that it? Yes, that was it. Fuck. Let's go drain the mini-bar.

Worst Marketing of a Bajillion-Dollar Movie: John Carter

No, of course I didn't see John Carter—what do you take me for? I heard it wasn't that bad of a movie, right after I heard that it was one of the biggest flops in movie history. But you know what I neverheard about? What the movie was actually about. Because Disney, in their infinite wisdom, decided to base a tent-pole summer blockbuster around a pulp sci-fi novel written a century ago, name it John Carter of Mars, and blast that name out in all caps as the centerpiece of a multi-million-dollar marketing campaign—forgetting that the general public has no idea who John Carter is or why they should care, besides some typically snooze-worthy CGI and Tim Riggins fighting aliens. Disney reported a $161 million loss that quarter, and ejected their studio head soon after; thank god for The Avengers, right guys?

Most Unnecessary Remake: Total Recall

How low are Hollywood executives willing to sink in pursuit of your thirteen dollars? Well, if your definition of low involves shamelessly rebooting another sci-fi classic on the off chance its name recognition will result in even a measly profit at the box office, then lower than that.

I'm talking of course about Len Wiseman's unimaginative remake of Total Recall. A film that makes you feel, much like the 1990 original, like you're being cruelly exploited by studio system as you step into the theatre and settle in for another lifeless reboot, filled with the standard fare of ridiculous plot holes; seizure-inducing cinematography; and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink CGI. (I dare you to try the drinking game where you take a two-finger swig every time another blinding lens flare pops up on the screen. You won't make it past the first shirtless Colin Farrell.) Far from adding anything to the story, it's a soulless, 120-minute-long video game masquerading as an action thriller. Stay tuned for the remake.

Worst Sequel: Taken 2

And that is how Taken 2, sequel to Taken, the Liam-Neeson-saves-virgin-daughter from-Albanian-sex-slave-ring movie, begins. Just kidding! But it might as well be, because what actually happens in this Hollywood gravy train is just as implausible. For starters: Liam Neeson's daughter and ex-wife surprise him with a visit to a hotel in Istanbul. (Ex-husbands LOVE when their ex-wives join them abroad. Like that's a totally normal thing to do.) Then, it turns out that the Albanian sex ring dudes are already living there, and boy, do they want vengeance! (They've been waiting around for like three years.) And, strangely, the daughter seems to have no residual bad feelings about staying by herself in hotel rooms (after being kidnapped from one and almost sold to a fat Eastern European guy).  Worse, even the action is predictable to the point of being boring. I hate to say it, but watching Liam Neeson in hand-to-hand combat these days is basically like watching a Humira commercial ("Look how good my joints are working!").

The thing is, it's really not hard for an action movie to be entertaining. It's an action movie. But Taken 2's unforgivable sin is that it's damn lazy. In lieu of character development, the sequelrelies on a gazillion flashbacks to its predecessor to remind us what's actually at stake for everyone here.  Everyone being the cast of characters pulled straight from the "Make Your Own Action Movie " box: corrupt police chief, overprotective dad, sadist bad guy, sleeping guard, etc. A friend of mine once defined a being a hack as "doing a poor imitation of yourself." There's really no better word for this movie. Taken 2 is a hack.

Worst Use of Matt Damon: We Bought a Zoo

As the title suggests, the plot—as much as one exists—involves a guy buying a zoo then fixing it up so people can visit said zoo. Yeah, it's a lot like Zero Dark Thirty, but with no action, hardly any stakes, and some sad-sack animals slowly dying in the weeds. Couldn't get worse? Try casting Scarlett Johansson as a butch brunette sorta "love interest" who dresses like Brett Favre in a Wrangler commercial. And instead of endearing us to the film's star like director Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire did for Tom Cruise, We Bought a Zoo alienates us from Matt Damon by eliminating literally every thing we'd assumed was smart about his choices as an actor, thereby setting itself up as the perfect foil for the subsequent Argo/Affleck Reversal of Fortune that occurred this summer. Should've been titled Matt Damon's Reputation Buys the Farm.

Worst Film Starring a Naked Kristen Stewart: On the Road

What I'm about to say doesn't exactly sound like a non-endorsement but, really, it is. Yes, if you submit yourself to a viewing of On the Road, you will be rewarded with scene after scene of Kristen Stewart like you've never seen her. You will catch many minutes of her truly spectacular handfuls of breasts. You will see the notoriously smug tension in her face burn down into something dark and wild and sexy as she relieves a different kind of tension in two men, at the same time, in a moving car. (positively the biggest moment for handjobs ever). And, for the dude-liking population, Garrett Hedland is the closest thing to Adonis that has ever risen from a gene pool. Just wait for the Reddit supercut, though, because buying a ticket is a deal with the devil: In exchange for eye candy, whatever fragment of the life-hungry 20-year-old is left in your body will die when he sees his credo take a trip down the shredder.

The whole thing was doomed from the beginning, really. Let's adapt the most episodic, plot-less novel in the canon for the big screen. We'll get a British actor, whose French-Canadian accent sounds like prostate cancer personified, to play Sal. We'll hope they mistake our lazy, pinball-y, inert script as symbolic for Kerouac's restless chaos. And, what our film lacks in momentum and purpose, we'll make up for with the most silly cameos since Mars Attacks!.

In fact, just about the only way to survive the spectacle is turning the absurd, Whack-a-Mole drop-ins—each lasting hardly five minutes—into a drinking game. You'll take a shot for a manic Amy Adams, a crying Elisabeth Moss, and an incensed Kirsten Dunst. And, when Sal and the Gang run into Viggo Mortensen, who takes a shit and then flashes you his balls, you will toss back another. And then three, maybe four more down the hatch in deference to Trooper Steve Buscemi, who jumps out of a figurative bush, takes it up the ass, and then stumbles off screen with a thank-you-ladies-and-gentlemen bow.

My advice? If you really want to reignite the mindless, what-now? apathy of your adolescence, just go to a bar. Any bar. Get silly drunk. Cover your eyes, spin in a circle, and get freaky with whomever your finger lands on, because this movie will not "make you mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved or desirous of everything." It'll just make you mad

GQ's Spring Preview 2013: Less is More

It might be colder than a snowman's nuts outside, but all the clothes that are going to make your spring are already hitting stores. (Yes, really.) Here, we show you why the season ahead is all about simplifying. The point isn't to go monkishly minimal—it's about making every piece you wear count

Antony Starr
Age: 37
Tune in: Banshee (upcoming on Cinemax)
Role: Ex-con Lucas Hood

01. First Things First: Let Your Tie Bloom

Yes, this spring is about keeping it simple—but you need one piece that brings your look to life. Instead of mixing busy patterns, try taking a solid suit and shirt and then bringing them to life with a print tie.

Suit, $1,625 and shirt, $295 by Dolce & Gabbana. Tie, $97 by The Hill-Side. Tie bar by The Tie Bar. Pocket square by Paul Stuart.
JD Pardo
Age: 32
Tune in: Revolution (NBC)
Role: Jason Neville, the militia’s go-to guy

2. Sure, There Are Fifty Shades of Gray. Choose the Palest One.

Conventional wisdom says your gray suit should fall on the darker side of the spectrum. Let's smash the conventional wisdom. Once the weather warms up, pale gray is flat-out cooler—in every sense of the word.

Suit, $1,125, shirt, $295, and tie, $195, by Calvin Klein Collection. Loafers, $1,350 by Ermenegildo Zegna Couture.
Sterling Sulieman
Age: 28
Tune in: The New Normal (NBC)
Role: NeNe Leakes's strapping, conservative brother

3. That Pale Thing Applies to Colors, Too

Your girlfriend calls these pastels, but we like to think of them as chalky. Wear one at a time, or mix several if you want the double takes.

Sports jacket, $750 by Michael Bastian. Shirt, $154, and pants, $198, by Closed. Tie, $115 by Ralph Lauren Black Label. Sweatshirt, $175 by Todd Snyder. Watch by Rolex. Hat by Polo Ralph Lauren.
4. Look Fly. Stay Dry.

Designers have been tweaking rubberized Mackintosh-style raincoats for 200 years. This season's revelation? Suiting patterns like windowpane.

Trench coat, $1,510 by Marc Jacobs. Polo shirt, $98 by Marc by Marc Jacobs. Khakis, $395 by Band of Outsiders. Sneakers, $70 by Converse. Belt by C.S. Simko. Hat by Bally.
5. Loafing: Now Encouraged at Work

The shoe of the season? Loafers. They used to be strictly casual, but right now you can march into work in them.

Loafers, $580 by Gucci. Suit, $456 by J.Crew Ludlow.
6. If the Suit Is Pale, the Shirt Can Pop

We meant it when we said you should wear chalky colors. But don't miss the chance to electrify a pale gray suit with this bubblegum pink shirt that pops.

Shirt, $40 by American Eagle Outfitters. Suit jacket, $298 by J.Crew Ludlow. Tie, $15, tie bar, and pocket square by The Tie Bar.
07. A Belt with a Ring to It

Fashion is strange: Suddenly one belt becomes the coolest thing since Miles Davis. Right now, the D-ring is our go-to pants-holder-upper.

Belt, $115 by Gant by Michael Bastian. Pants, $150 by DKNY. Sports jacket and tie by Polo Ralph Lauren. Shirt by Patrik Ervell.
Reid Scott
Age: 35
Tune in: Veep (HBO)
Role: Dan Egan, the vice president’s deputy communications director

8. Stay (All the Way) Solid

We've championed patterned shirts and ties more than anyone, but less is more right now, remember? This spring, solid colors look super-sharp, not snoozy. Especially when you think beyond just classic white and blue dress shirts and reach for a new strain of green.

Suit, $1,625, and shirt, $295, by Dolce & Gabbana. Tie, $97 by The Hill-Side. Tie bar by The Tie Bar. Pocket Square by Paul Stuart.
Ben Feldman
Age: 32
Tune in: Mad Men (AMC)
Role: Michael Ginsberg, Don Draper’s brilliant wiseass copywriter

9. Not Even James Dean Thought of This

But we're sure he'd approve. Your jean jacket should fit as snug as a cardigan—so why not rock it like one? Just put it on under a sport coat and go.

Jean jacket, $1,120 by Brunello Cucinelli. Sports jacket, $695 by Gant by Michael Bastian. Shirt, $265 by Nick Wooster for Hamilton 1883. Pants, $192 by J Brand. Belt by Scotch & Soda

Teddy Sears
Age: 35
Tune in: Masters of Sex (upcoming on Showtime)
Role: Dr. Austin Langham, sex researcher and philanderer

10. Meet Khaki's Sophisticated Brother

Got the khaki suit down pat? Good. Now try stepping up to brown in either single-breasted or double.

Suit, $2,800 by Bottega Veneta. Polo shirt, $198 by Diesel Black Gold. Belt by Tom Ford.

11.And Chuck Taylor's (Very Rich) Cousin

Dressing up doesn't mean no-sneakers-allowed. Especially if they're high-end sneakers that never look sloppy.

Sneakers, $840 by Hermès
12. Out of the Dugout, onto the Street

The freshest leather jacket right now is the baseball jacket. Don't be afraid to knot up a tie with it.

Jacket, $1,575, and pants, $395, by Emporio Armani. Shirt, $375 by Salvatore Piccolo. Loafers, $545 by Tod’s. Belt by J.Crew.
13. A Squarer Wayfarer

We tried on every new pair of glasses, but this squared-off take on the classic reigned supreme.

Sunglasses, $95 by Warby Parker.

14. The Wider a Man's Brim, the Bigger His Style. 
Or something like that. Ditch the porkpies and fedoras and go big with an old-school Panama.

Hat, $350 by Borsalino at JJ Hat Center. Suit, $1,725 by Neil Barrett. Shirt, $65 by Tommy Hilfiger. Tie, $195 by Dior Homme. Tie bar by The Tie Bar. Pocket square by Brunello Cucinelli.
15. Trust the Italians to Think of This

One pocket square, two colors of piping. Style ingenuity from the country that knows suits best.

Pocket square, $135 by by Brunello Cucinelli. Sports jacket, $1,350 by by Polo Ralph Lauren.
Leslie Odom Jr.
Age: 31
Tune in: Smash (NBC)
Role:Insanely charming chorus member Sam Strickland

16. Teach Your Casual Clothes to Dance

Sometimes it's not the clothes you buy, it's how you put them together. Take a cardigan and khakis. Put them together as carefully as you would a tux. They're capable of moves you can't imagine.

Cardigan, $648 by Etro. Shirt, $750 by Giorgio Armani. Tie, $85 by The Hill-Side. Khakis, $450 by Prada. Loafers, $590 by Gucci. Tie bar by The Tie Bar. Hat by Stetson.
Josh Bowman
Age: 24
Tune in: Revenge (ABC)
Role: Handsome Hamptons-bred Daniel Grayson

17. This Blazer Doesn't Pack Heat

Your style shouldn't go limp as the temp rises. Now there are killer textured blazers in fabrics like this toothy linen- and-wool blend.

Suit jacket, $3,520 by Tom Ford.

18. The Sweet Spot Between a Dress Shirt and a Tee

Don't settle for the same old polo when you can now get ones with ribbing and piping. The polo shirt is progressing, and style is all about evolution, right?

Polo sweater, $395 by Todd Snyder. Pants, $645 by Prada. Pocket square by Brunello Cucinelli. Glasses by Topman.