For Those in Peril

For Those in Peril

31

Oct

2016

The third film I saw at this year's Chicago International Film Festival was far and away the best -- and very likely one of the best documentaries I've seen in a decade or more.  Gianfranco Rosi's Fire at Sea is by turns beautiful, powerful, moving, quiet, angry, and always deeply humane; as a treatment of its subject, it ...
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Stuck in the Middle with You

Stuck in the Middle with You

28

Oct

2016

There are a lot of films that bear the signs of having been kicked around a long time before they ever made it to the big screen.  This is particularly true with indie films, which struggle to even get completed, let alone distributed; by the time they finally make their debut at film festivals, they're working off of scri ...
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Anarchy in the E.U.M.

Anarchy in the E.U.M.

27

Oct

2016

One of the pleasures of attending a good film festival -- and there are many -- is that you never know what you're going to get.  You'll see first-time directors whose work is entirely new, leaving you with nothing to compare it to; you'll see films that will likely play at that festival and no other, and likely never surf ...
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Black Power

Black Power

26

Oct

2016

The inexorable march of the Marvel Cinematic Universe* goes on, and its latest manifestation is the Netflix series Luke Cage.  Debuting earlier this month, it stars Mike Colter as the black Harlem-based action hero, based on the bruising '70s comic book creation and brought to life by Cheo Hodari Coker.Luke Cage -- known ...
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It’s Pronounced Jolly

It’s Pronounced Jolly

21

Oct

2016

Christopher Guest is a divisive figure in the comedy world.  The comedies he makes with his stock company of gifted improvisers -- ranging from This is Spinal Tap to For Your Consideration -- tend to be loved by critics and fans, but Guest also has a reputation (well-earned, from my personal experience) as a difficult ...
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La Nuit des Prolétaires

La Nuit des Prolétaires

20

Oct

2016

I've made no secret of the fact that I think of the Paris Commune as one of the pivotal events in human history.  It was not only one of the first, but still is one of the most audacious experiments in equality, freedom, and liberation from oppression that has ever taken place.  One of its most remarkable qualities of thi ...
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The Not-So-Great Beyond

The Not-So-Great Beyond

19

Oct

2016

High-concept sit-coms are hard to pull off.  Setting a half-hour, joke-heavy TV show in anything but an ordinary setting requires an awful lot of heavy lifting:  not only do you have to spend a lot of time and effort on stuff like sets and costumes, but you also need to pay at least a decent amount of attention to the pre ...
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The Not-So-Great Game

The Not-So-Great Game

17

Oct

2016

Respectability politics had what may be its grandest moment yesterday when an office being rented by the Republican Party of North Carolina suffered fire damage after someone threw a Molotov cocktail through a window.  Barely had the embers cooled than a group of Democrats -- yes, Democrats -- started an online fundraisin ...
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The Center Cannot Hold

The Center Cannot Hold

13

Oct

2016

Polls are frivolous, untrustworthy, and based on inherently flawed methods.  They have only heightened the horse-race nature of elections, further sportified our political process, and cause enormous amounts of anxiety in a race that is already painfully stressful.  That said, if almost every recent poll is any indication ...
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Unpresidented

Unpresidented

10

Oct

2016

Last night's debate between centrist plutocrat Hillary Clinton and (in comedian John Mulaney's nice phrase) amateur-night pimp Donald Trump wasn't particularly instructive, but it certainly seems to have thrown a significant portion of the populace into a tizzy.The 'town hall' format, allowing as it did for hooting oranguta ...
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Sluts!

Sluts!

3

Oct

2016

Two of the most frequently encountered modalities in the modern world of television comedy share a common weakness:  the way the negative personalities of the main characters tend to get in the way of the laughs.  Comedies centered around protagonists with mental illness can succeed, and the genre has produced at least on ...
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