Fresh Meat

Fresh Meat

20

Feb

2017

When the announcement was made a few months ago that Netflix would be shepherding a new series entitled The Santa Clarita Diet, I didn't exactly mark my calendar, because that name is terrible.  I was even less inspired when it was announce that the show would be a zombie comedy, a concept whose freshness was about 15 yea ...
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For We Are Many

For We Are Many

16

Feb

2017

It can be extraordinarily difficult to write about mental illness, in fiction and in reality.  Even now, as I write this, I select my words with care when I say that the current trend in television to try and make entertainment out of mental illness -- intelligent and empathetic entertainment, that is, rather than condesce ...
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The Most Beautiful Fraud: Toni Erdmann

The Most Beautiful Fraud:  <i>Toni Erdmann</i>

13

Feb

2017

Who among us does not practically break a leg running to the box office when we hear those magical words "three-hour bittersweet German art dramedy"?  The third film by the director Maren Ade, whose work I have never seen but which has been highly praised by those who have, seems like the most unlikely candidate for box o ...
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I See What You Do

I See What You Do

8

Feb

2017

There is a moment, late in I am Not Your Negro, where the great writer and thinker James Baldwin is appearing on Dick Cavett's talk show to discuss the one subject that consumed him like no other during his life:  America's compulsive reluctance to address the reality of its treatment of black citizens.  As Baldwin holds ...
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City of Stars

City of Stars

5

Feb

2017

La La Land has, as I write this, been nominated for an astounding 14 Academy Awards, and it is very likely going to win most, or even all, of them.  It has a chance of becoming the most decorated film in motion picture history, and if you follow the absurd metric that Oscars are indicative of quality, the best movie ever m ...
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Everything is (Dis)Connected

Everything is (Dis)Connected

28

Jan

2017

Ever since the early days of film and television, the question has been asked:  how much fidelity does an adaptation owe to its source material?  I don't think there's any one useful answer to this question. there have been exceedingly faithful adaptations that have been wonderful (John Huston's version of The Maltese Fa ...
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All the Ways of Communicating

All the Ways of Communicating

26

Jan

2017

The question so memorably posed by Jack Nicholson's Joker in Tim Burton's Batman -- "Hubba hubba hubba, who do you trust?" -- has become of rather grave importance in recent years.  With Donald Trump in the White House, the Republican war antagonism to the press, at a low boil at the best of times, has boiled over into ...
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As a Punishment for Crime

As a Punishment for Crime

25

Jan

2017

When you get right down to it, for capitalists, slavery was a hell of a good deal.  It opened up new markets, it was a self-reproducing form of labor, and best of all, it provided a very inexpensive and largely docile workforce.  Its failure, if you remove morality from the picture -- which capitalists are forever strivin ...
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In the Middle of the World

In the Middle of the World

22

Jan

2017

Barry Jenkins' Moonlight -- his second feature film and a quantum leap from his first, the fascinating but slight Medicine for Melancholy -- is a film that builds itself up by little moments.  Very little happens in the movie itself; it is slow and deliberate, with many of its major events implied or taking place off scr ...
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Revolutionary Theory

Revolutionary Theory

19

Jan

2017

My origin story with hip-hop still burns in my brain like it happened yesterday.  Run-D.M.C.'s Raising Hell had just been released, and for me -- a white suburban kid who'd been raised an only child in a house full of outlaw country and 'beautiful music' -- it seemed like something being beamed at me from a different plan ...
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The Curse of Memory

The Curse of Memory

18

Jan

2017

When I was much younger, a writer named Paul Slansky put out a book that had a huge effect on me.  The Clothes Have No Emperor:  A Chronicle of the Reagan '80s was formulated by its author as a defense mechanism, what we'd call today a means of self-care -- a way of staying sane in the face of the fact that the impossible ...
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Wild as the Wind

Wild as the Wind

3

Jan

2017

Nina Simone was such a singular and remarkable talent that the story of her success seemed almost inevitable.  The scientist Stephen Jay Gould once remarked that there was less to interest him in the folds of Einstein's brain than there was in the near certainty that people just as brilliant spent their lives toiling in ob ...
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The Party of What People?

The Party of What People?

30

Dec

2016

This will be my last entry of 2016.  Next year will begin, barring some unexpected act of fate, with the ascension to the presidency of Donald Trump, as dim-witted, incurious, crass, and crooked human being that has ever held public office in America.  Trump has spent the hours since the election staffing his White House ...
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Peace Won’t Pay the Rent

Peace Won’t Pay the Rent

27

Dec

2016

Joe Sacco's Palestine was first published in 1993 as a series of single-issue comic books, based on the author's trip to the occupied territories of the Gaza Strip towards the end of the First Intifada.  It was collected by Fantagraphics into a single edition in 1996, at a time when there seemed to be some cause for optim ...
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Simply Having a War on Christmastime

Simply Having a War on Christmastime

22

Dec

2016

As I've discussed endlessly in this space, one of my favorite things about the right-wing persecution complex that's been so carefully cultivated by conservative politicians over the last 50 years or so is hearing people complain about things that are not only not actually happening, but are the opposite of happening.  We ...
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