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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Put the X in Specs

Put the X in Specs

7

Feb

2017

In professional foot-ball's "Super Bowl", the New England Patriots, owned by a man who vocally supports a rich, horrible billionaire authority figure, defeated the Atlanta Falcons, vocally supported by an owner who is a rich, horrible billionaire authority figure.  This brings to a close America's most recent sporting sea ...
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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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Between Impression and Expression: Fred Hampton

Between Impression and Expression:  Fred Hampton

11

Jan

2017

With some things, you have to learn by either seeing it or participating in it.  And you know yourselves that there are people walking around your community today that have all types of degrees that should be at this meeting, but are not here.  Right?  Because you can have as many degrees as a thermometer; if you don't h ...
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Put Me In, Coachella – Part III

Put Me In, Coachella – Part III

10

Jan

2017

I don't really care for outdoor music festivals.  For one thing, I am a hundred and seventeen years old, and it is something that young people do, like smart drugs, the Banana Sprite Challenge, and being a well-dressed neo-Nazi.  It also robs being outdoors of its major appeal (peace and tranquility), and robs noisy rock ...
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Put Me In, Coachella – Part II

Put Me In, Coachella – Part II

6

Jan

2017

The Coachella Music Festival has been in the news lately, partly because it's just that time of year and there's never enough content to go around so somehow an overpriced outdoor concert is transformed into 'news', but mostly because of allegations that Philip Anschutz (the owner of AEG, the entertainment conglomerate that ...
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