By Kirk Miller / September 3, 2019 9:07 am

Welcome to Culture Hound, InsideHook’s deep dive into the month’s most important cultural happenings, pop and otherwise. 

WATCH: Ad Astra

Liv Tyler in a save-the-world space epic is not promising (witness: Armageddon). But this new sci-fi flick from director James Gray (The Lost City of Z, The Immigrant) that also stars Brad Pitt looks like more of a character drama focusing a father-son relationship, more akin in tone to Interstellar or Arrival.

For more movie picks, check out The 20 Films to See Between Now and December.

WATCH AND LISTEN: Sturgill Simpson

The alt-country star — best known for his drawling cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom” — returns with Sound & Fury, a new album and anime Netflix special that the singer claims is inspired by Eminem, The Cars, Black Sabbath and old funk records … and full of “mad shit-talking songs.” (9/27)

BUY: William Wallace’s Sword from Braveheart

The latest entertainment auction from the Hollywood-themed Prop Store might be its best. Among the items up for grabs — and all easily fetching five-to-six figures — include Russell Crowe’s armor from Gladiator, Jack Nicholson’s axe from The Shining, a remote-controlled R2D2 from Star Wars: Rogue One, Mel Gibson’s sword from Braveheart, a facehugger from Alien and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (Begins 9/30)

Talking to Strangers

READ: Talking to Strangers

Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink) revisits terrible moments in recent history, including England’s relations with Hitler before WWII, the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State and the financial deceptions of Bernie Madoff, and discusses the “tools and strategies we use to make sense of people we don’t know” … and how we’re looking at and communicating with strangers.

STREAM: The I-Land

Strangers wake up on a deserted island, and suddenly realize they might be pawns in a larger game. Is it Lost? Is it a commentary on Fyre Festival? Either way, it’s a mini-series, so at least we’ll get answers by the end. (9/12, Netflix)


BUY: Parks

Photographer Brian Kelley collects 300 United States national park maps, ephemera and brochures spanning over a century. This hardcover also offers a unique look at the creation and influence of Massimo Vignelli’s Unigrid System of graphic design, made specifically for the parks. (9/12)


PERUSE: Treats

It’s been a long time since this thick, glossy, artsy and unabashedly erotic photo tome (which launched the career of Emily Ratajkowski) has put out a new issue. Issue 13 finally arrives this month — lucky you.

LISTEN: Songs of the Week

All of our favorite new music, now with a little backstory on each song. Check out our inaugural SOTW column with new tunes by Lana del Rey, Charli XCX, Iggy Pop, White Reaper and more.

And don’t forget …

Horror sequels both big and small (but equally gory) arrive via It: Chapter Two (9/6) and Rob Zombie’s 3 From Hell (9/16) … He worked with everyone from Joseph McCarthy to a young Donald Trump, and now the controversial power broker is the subject of the new doc Where’s My Roy Cohn? (9/20) … 1,500 museums throughout all 50 states will be free on Museum Day; maybe visit one or two of ‘em (9/21) … The 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ penultimate album Abbey Road gets a comprehensive three-CD/Blu-ray/book box set release (9/27) … Margaret Atwood returns to the world of The Handmaid’s Tale with sequel The Testaments (9/10)Wu-Tang Clan gets a dramatized series on Hulu (9/4), Anthony Jeselnik lands a new Comedy Central talk show (9/6) and Bill Burr has a new Netflix comedy special (9/10) … Finally, we have the welcome small-screen return of American Horror Story (9/18), Between Two Ferns — this time as a movie (9/20), Crank Yankers (9/25, after a 12-year hiatus), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (9/25), South Park (9/25), The Good Place (9/26) and Saturday Night Live (9/28). As well, there’s a Comedy Central roast of Alec Baldwin (9/15).