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Even IMAX Can’t Make Marvel’s ‘Inhumans’ Impressive

ABC/Disney’s IMAX debut of its newest series does nothing but emphasize the series' considerable flaws.

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Aaron Katz’s ‘Gemini’ Frames Him as a Storyteller with a Clear and Decisive Vision

While a deceptively simple film, beneath Gemini's visually polished skin lies a social awareness of the foibles of the media, and its consumption within contemporary culture.

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‘South Pole Station’ Presents an UnFamiliar but Believable World

South Pole Station is an unflinching yet loving look at family in all its forms.

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Family Flavours in Mike Leigh’s ‘Life is Sweet’

Family, friends, and food form the focus of Leigh’s broad but funny, relatable and affectionate 1990 film, which here receives a welcome Blu-ray and DVD re-release from BFI.

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18 Oct 2017 // 2:30 AM

Bell Witch: Mirror Reaper

Bell Witch moves the listener with a deathly journey that is often poetic and at times philosophically rich.

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18 Oct 2017 // 2:20 AM

Pink: Beautiful Trauma

Indulgence and cliché were never attributes we've used to describe peak-era Pink, but on this languid, ballad-heavy effort, they fit perfectly.

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JD McPherson: Undivided Heart and Soul

McPherson has shaken things up a bit. His music is less genre bound than his past endeavors. Heck, some of this record resembles the work of '60s girl groups or even '70s New Wave pop.

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Willie Watson: Folksinger Vol. 2

On Folksinger Vol. 2, Willie Watson once again establishes himself as a fine interpreter of song.

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18 Oct 2017 // 2:05 AM

ORB: Naturality

ORB are a trio that sounds like a trio -- the surprises are few and tedium is bountiful.

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The Five Phases of Metallica: A Case Study in Catalog Organization

A layperson takes a stab at music sabermetrics by tracing Metallica's success and failures through these five phases.

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Steady Dark Grooves: An Interview with the Horrors

Rhys Webb of the Horrors opens up about the process and direction behind their latest album, V, and how they've managed to thrive and stay together through their first decade.

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‘Queer Game Studies’ Aims to Break Entrenched Binaries

This collection exemplifies what great benefits the wider gaming community stands to reap as people of more diverse backgrounds find themselves comfortable within that community.

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‘The Astronaut Wives Club’ Shoots for the Moon, Finds a Star or Two

Based on Lily Koppel's 2013 book by the same name, The Astronaut Wives Club suffers from a bloated cast, allowing for only one or two compelling storylines.

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‘Baby Driver’ Really Really Wants to Be Cool, Which is Not Cool

If this seriocomic heist flick about a music-obsessed getaway driver had more on its mind than some killer tracks, it might have been a blast.

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John le Carré‘s ‘A Legacy of Spies’ Has that Old Dark Magic

Le Carré’s first George Smiley novel since 1990 finds the spymaster’s old henchman forced to excavate the details of a long-buried mission they both wish they could forget.

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Jerry Yester: Pass Your Light Around

The songs reflect the '70s, the time from which they emerged. This music recalls the soft pop of that era.

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Quadro Nuevo and Cairo Steps: Flying Carpet

Two world music powerhouses unite influences and traditions for their first collaborative album.

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The Replacements: For Sale - Live at Maxwell’s 1986

Long thought lost to time, this live recording captures the Replacements at their peak. Their ragged, soused live show-once a thing of anecdotal legend-is presented in its fullest form, warts and all.

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Locked In: An Interview with Electronic Producer Lee Gamble

"I like the alchemy of the whole thing. You have nothing and you build something and keep working and it feels like yours."

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17 Oct 2017 // 2:30 AM

Beck: Colors

Say hello to yacht-rock Beck. Enjoy your voyage.

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Weapons of Poetry and Images: On the Works of Pier Paolo Pasolini

A thread runs through Pasolini's artistic and political work for which he used various terms to identify the sacred, the mythic, the soul, and the spirit -- all strategies for appreciating life in even the most difficult circumstances.

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TOKiMONSTA: Lune Rouge

TOKiMONSTA strikes a balance between pain and peace on Lune Rouge, her fullest and most diverse work yet.

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Hello, Hypocrisy, My Old Friend: ‘The Religion of the Future’

Roberto Mangabeira Unger eats his own tail in his helpless "new" synthesis of philosophy, religion, and politics.

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Inform, Provoke, Challenge, Entertain: ‘Best American Essays 2017’

This year's collection of Best American Essays seamlessly blends the political, personal and universal. Most of them do it very well.

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Will Billy Corgan, the Uncoolest of Rock Musicians, Achieve Cool Status with ‘Ogilala’?

Corgan's willingness to be himself regardless of the critical and social blowback he suffered for doing “unhip” things made him a singular weirdo within a ‘90s rock scene stuffed full of weirdos, loners, and ennui-saturated youth. To this day, and with this album, he continues to be himself. Are you cool with that?

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16 Oct 2017 // 2:30 AM

St. Vincent: Masseduction

Despite some great moments, Masseduction doesn't always sound comfortable letting its artifice crumble, and its half-hearted attempts at social commentary cause it to sag at times.

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Slumgod Millionaire: On ‘Nayakan’, The Godfather of Indian Gangster Films

On revisiting Nayakan we are reminded that men become gods not as a sign of presumed cultural backwardness but because the modern nation-state has failed.

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Lindstrøm: It’s Alright Between Us As It Is

The Norwegian electronic producer's first solo album in a half decade finds him replacing "space disco" with cool, '80s-influenced arrangements.

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Dave Douglas with the Westerlies and Anwar Marshall: Little Giant Still Life

Dave Douglas doesn't pass the torch to the Westerlies. They both already possess the same flame.

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The Village Callers: Live

The Village Callers' only full album lives on with a vinyl reissue, but some things are better left in the past.

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Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge: Full Moon (Expanded Edition)

Long eclipsed by the works of many country contemporaries, Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge’s first album, Full Moon, gets a new look

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Puerto Rican Illustrator Rosa Colón on Her Ode to Leaving Home, ‘Goodbye for Now’

Reminiscent of the short, simple stories of Adrian Tomine, Goodbye for Now shows the personal side of Puerto Rico’s ongoing economic crisis.

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Lauren Elkins Challenges the View That Flâneurie Is a Pleasure Reserved for Men

In Flâneuse Elkins combines her own experiences as a walker with those of many notable women, including Virginia Woolf, Agnés Varda, and Martha Gellhorn.

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Truth in Beauty and Beauty in Truth: Graphic Memoir ‘Diario de Oaxaca’

Peter Kuper’s work reminds us of the vibrant and inspired everyday people who live under the tyranny of petty and corrupt officials in both Mexico and the United States.

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‘The Departure’ Casts a Loving Gaze Upon an Unconventional Buddhist Priest

The Departure is a searching study of a universally relatable character who has seen a great deal of sorrow in this world.

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The Incessant Violation in Aronofsky’s ‘Mother!’ Makes Me Mad in a Good Way

The house, wife, and their shared outcry against violation are dangerously tied to white feminism. Viewing Mother! from a racial context circumscribes the power of its possible feminist message.

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Martin Luther’s Rise from Small-town Theologian to Bold and Defiant Heretic

A World Ablaze is an edifying treat for any general reader looking to get acquainted with the towering but very human figure of Martin Luther.

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Del Sol String Quartet: Dark Queen Mantra

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25th year as an ensemble.

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Filtered Through the Prism of David Bowie’s Quixotic Mind: ‘A New Career in a New Town’

The third installment of the series of deluxe David Bowie box sets covers some of his most celebrated albums but not without controversy.

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13 Oct 2017 // 2:30 AM

Robert Plant: Carry Fire

The latest album from the voice of Led Zeppelin is another top-notch, adventurous collection of music that’s nearly impossible to classify.

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The Church: Man Woman Life Death Infinity

With an album title that tries to cover everyone everywhere for all time, the Church's latest just might please them all.

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Game Theory and Marx: ‘Narcos’ as a Capitalist Parable

Narcos depicts the narcotics industry as a form of capitalism run amok, an unending game motivating its central criminals.

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T.C. Boyle’s  ‘The Relive Box and Other Stories’ Will Leave You Reeling

Humorous, compassionate, unpredictable, weathered (literally and figuratively), brutal, and magically realistic -- this is a collection of stories that matters.

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Shaping a Sibling Rivalry in ‘All-New Wolverine #25’

Laura and Daken deal with a new threat that requires strengthening a strained sibling relationship.

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‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’ Will Have Captain America Squirming in His Skivvies

This film is a clever and provocative look at love, sexuality, and the lies that preserve our fragile happiness.

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Ravi Coltrane and SFJazz Honor John Coltrane with A Love Supreme

Considering that Coltrane only played the classic composition in its entirety a single time (at a 1965 show in France), it’s a work of art that remains ripe for further interpretation.

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A Clash of Hip-Hop Legend, Pop-Culture Philosophizing, and one Incredible Story

What is the true value of music? Cyrus Bozorgmehr considers this question in his wild retelling of the story of Once Upon a Time in Shaolin; the Wu-Tang Clan's single-copy album project.

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‘Star Trek: Discovery’ and ‘The Orville’: To Boldly Go Where We’ve Already Gone

Whereas Star Trek: Discovery continues to explore ideological complexities, so far The Orville seems little more than a celebration of MacFarlane’s love of the Star Trek property and his ability to indulge in expensive cosplay.

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Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile: Lotta Sea Lice

Indie rock collaborations can be ripe for disappointment, but Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile wow by doubling down on the clever lyricism and exploratory guitars that make them each revered figures on their own.

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12 Oct 2017 // 2:20 AM

Kiasmos: Blurred EP

Kiasmos creates a spellbinding, affecting electronic EP with songs that are given space to bloom.

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Marc Almond: Shadows and Reflections

The maestro interpreter's album of '60s covers is tailor-made for him, but less deference and more daring could have made it better than it is.

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12 Oct 2017 // 2:10 AM

Grieves: Running Wild

Rhymesayers isn't known for putting out conventional hip-hop albums, and Running Wild doesn't break that mold. But in this case, that's not really a good thing.

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12 Oct 2017 // 2:05 AM

Melkbelly: Nothing Valley

The Chicago band’s combustion engine runs on chaotic cohesion.

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Pearl Reaves and Her Retro R&B: The Magical Obscurity of the Working Artist

A generically labeled 45rpm leads to unforeseen connections between an illegal squat, a ramshackle used record outlet, and an obscure R&B outfit that eventually lands at the Mount Olive Temple of Christ in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

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Gov’t Mule Rocks the Equinox with Revolutionary Fervor in Oakland

Guitarist Warren Haynes always brings a fiery rock ‘n’ roll show to town, but he’s also carved out a well-earned reputation for delivering music that taps into the current cultural zeitgeist.

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Telling Stories: The Craft of Narrative and the Writing Life

Equal parts textbook, memoir, and reflection on the writing process, this is a cogent, realistic, and inspirational advice for professional and novice writers of all sorts.

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Jiro Taniguchi’s ‘Furari’ Will Enchant You

The maximalist minimalism of Jiro Taniguchi's work is on full display in this gentle, rewarding work.

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Though Rich in Subject Matter, ‘Veil’ Has Trouble Finding a Narrative

There's so much to say about the challenges, frustrations, and offenses facing women who veil, that Veil has difficulty sorting it all out in a meaningful way.

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Lydia Loveless: Boy Crazy and Single(s)

A reissue of her 2013 EP Boy Crazy serves as a reminder that Lydia Loveless has always lived at full volume.

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Why, After All These Years, Are We Still Speaking in Sein Language?

Just like with hip-hop, Seinfeld has broadened our collective slang and everyday rhetorical wit.

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Backtrack to Center: An Interview with Wild Cub’s Keegan DeWitt

"We made the first [album] as a bunch of kids in a house, so we're just really happy that we've gone through this process to make this big, emotionally and artistically dense record."

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Marilyn Manson: Heaven Upside Down

New album sees Manson attempt to reclaim his crown as nation’s favorite boogie man.

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The Residents: 80 Aching Orphans: 45 Years of the Residents

Right now we need some weird in our life. So, the release of a career spanning Residents box set is right on time.

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By the Grain of Her Voice: Hillary Clinton’s ‘What Happened’ on Audiobook

The audiobook puts you in the room where it's happening, where Clinton is facing herself. She is being real, whether any of us likes her or agrees with her or not.

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Recalling a Time When We Looked Forward to Commercials: ‘Watch Around The Clock: In Color’

This new DVD set of vintage cartoons, TV shows, movies, and commercials tries to replicate the '70s TV-watching experience.

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‘Once Upon an Algorithm’ Is at Points an Enjoyable, Engaging Read

Martin Erwig's inventive analogies can't quite overcome the dry language he uses to convey them.

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What to Push and When to Push It: Palestinian Director Maysaloun Hamoud on ‘In Between’

In Between emits an idealistic spirit to create unity, and Hamoud equally looks towards feminism as a unifying framework for the contemporary world.

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10 Oct 2017 // 2:35 AM

10 Conversation-Shifting Contemporary Books About Music

These are multiple works of genre history and works tackling important issues of race, class, and gender. All challenge dominant narratives of music.

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Stars: There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light

Listening to Stars' new album is like being wrapped in a warm, comforting blanket. A catchy synth-pop blanket where our biggest concerns are who we're dating, not what's going on in the world at large.

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Deradoorian: Eternal Recurrence

Following a very open and expansive record, Deradoorian dives into a minimalistic state with Eternal Recurrence, exposing all the subtlety and emotion of her music.

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Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams: Contraband Love

The truest Americana doesn’t just convey sound; it captures feeling. On their sophomore release, Campbell and Williams prove themselves masters of the form in the fullest sense.

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Sudan Archives: Sudan Archives

Whatever you think you know about violin music, forget it. On her debut EP, Sudan Archives redefines what four strings can do.

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Hope Is Big: An Interview with Deer Tick

A long break for the band yielded not one but two albums: one all-acoustic and one all-electric. Deer Tick are back, baby.

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‘Toward a Hot Jew’ Is No Joe Sacco — And That’s a Good Thing

Politics and the personal collide in the convention-challenging and genre-bending graphic narratives of Jewish artist-memoirist Miriam Libicki.

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‘The Weight of Ink’ Is a Shining Example of Historical Fiction’s Best Qualities

Through its three protagonists, The Weight of Ink questions what it means to be alive, to love, and to be fulfilled.

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Sex in 1968: A Joe Sarno Double-Shot

All the Sins of Sodom and Vibrations's tales of talky, restless, desperate, and sex-starved middle-class Americans.

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‘iZombie’s Ambitious Season 3 Tells a Big Story in Its Limited Run

Constrained by a shorter season, iZombie nevertheless goes all out on a global-scale narrative arc.

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: Talk Tight

The Melbourne band's first EP gets an official US release.

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9 Oct 2017 // 8:35 AM

Mike Stern: Trip

Mike Stern has fallen. Trip shows that he can get back up just fine.

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Sprung from a $36 Ukulele: ‘Joni: The Anthology’

If Joan Baez was the purest folkie, Judy Collins the chanteuse, then Joni Mitchell was probably the siren.

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9 Oct 2017 // 8:24 AM

David Crosby: Sky Trails

David Crosby gets a second (third? fourth?) wind and releases two albums in less than a year. Good ones, too...

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Kamasi Washington: Harmony of Difference

Compared to Kamasi Washington's previous record, The Epic, the duration of the trip might have been minimized, but the scope and purpose of the artist has not wearied in Harmony of Difference.

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9 Oct 2017 // 7:54 AM

Kelela: Take Me Apart

Kelela's excellent debut manages to evoke megastar crooners from decades past, cyborgs from the future, and, unmistakably, the defining sounds of pop music's present.

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Distill the Swarm: The Top 20 Extreme Metal Debuts of 2017

Pay no heed to what the curmudgeons say as there are plenty of fascinating sounds being forged annually by new metal bands. 2017’s swarm has been distilled…

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9 Oct 2017 // 2:30 AM

An Ozarker Considers Netflix’s ‘Ozark’

The local crime boss tells a lengthy parable about the difference between a hillbilly and a redneck; the upshot being that the hillbilly is craftier and more bound to a set of principles than a redneck.

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Parody, Pastiche, and Poignant Observation: On Polish Journalist Ryszard Kapuscinsi’s Insight

Kapuscinski's journalism reminds us that the boundary between truth and fiction is one that needs to be pushed at more often.

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‘Void Star’ Stands Out As Unique and Accomplished Sci-fi

Zachary Mason's Void Star requires some effort, but the reward is a wonderfully immersive plunge into a world that is persuasively novel in some places, and appealingly familiar in others.

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Bava, Baby, Bava! Three Films from Italy’s Horror Maestro

Erik the Conqueror, Roy Colt and Winchester Jack and Kill Baby Kill show Bava's colorful ways with the camera.

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‘Mr. Robot’: Season 2 Widened the Narrative/Character Canvas Beyond Elliot’s Fractured Viewpoint

Disconnecting technology, connecting humans: as the world came apart, Mr. Robot's characters came together in promising new configurations.

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As Thoreau Says, Not As He Does: ‘The Boatman’ and ‘Walden and Civil Disobedience’

It is what Thoreau wrote about how to live -- not, mind you, the way he actually lived -- that makes him a significant cultural figure.

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‘The Mountain Between Us’ Is All Glory, No Guts

The Mountain Between Us is an easily digestible romance that might have been more interesting if it were a bit harder to swallow.

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Downtown Boys: Cost of Living

Cost of Living isn’t just a punk album with “something to say”; it is one that boasts an impressively sustainable ideology.

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Comics Scholarship Finds Its Voice With ‘INKS’ and ‘Drawing the Line’

From Ohio State (a hotbed for comics studies) comes INKS and Drawing the Line, books for both academics and fans of comics alike.

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6 Oct 2017 // 8:17 AM

The Flipside #8: ‘The Gambler’ (2014)

An overlooked 2014 remake of a James Caan classic asks a daring cinematic question: can Mark Wahlberg convincingly play a tenured English professor?

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Carole King: Tapestry - Live in Hyde Park

Carole King’s seminal 1971 album Tapestry forms the core of this live album celebrating her long career and immense legacy as influential songwriter and musician.

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Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Music of West Africa

Choice cuts from the vast range of music in West Africa make for another polished installment of the Rough Guides collection.

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Human Existence, in One Album: Ólafur Arnalds’ ‘Eulogy for Evolution’ Ten Years Later

Ólafur Arnalds' stunning debut Eulogy for Evolution, still his masterpiece, remains a gorgeous and disquieting vision of human life.

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Counting the Stars: Treasured Singer-Songwriter Brenda Russell Shares Her Story

A composer of the Tony-winning musical The Color Purple, Brenda Russell revisits her rare solo album Love Life (1981), while legends like Roberta Flack, David Foster, and Valerie Simpson join PopMatters for an exclusive tribute to her career.

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‘Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows’, ‘Marriage of a Thousand Lies’ & ‘No One Can Pronounce My Name’

While the post-9/11 period and its racialization and criminalization of brown bodies marked one epoch of the South Asian experience, recent South Asian immigrant literature suggests the beginning of another frame: sexuality.

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The Joke’s on Batman in ‘Batman: White Knight #1’

This story doesn't just tweak the winning formula that has made Batman so successful over the past 70 years. It turns it on its head, inside out, and everything in between.

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More Recent Features
//Mixed media
//Blogs

NYFF 2017: 'Mudbound'

// Notes from the Road

"Dee Rees’ churning and melodramatic epic follows two families in 1940s Mississippi, one black and one white, and the wars they fight abroad and at home.

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