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More Recent Features
‘The Good Place’ Builds on Last Season’s Twist, Emphasizing the Need to Connect

The Good Place is as much a commentary on human relationships as it is a high concept comedy about the afterlife.

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Aberrant Movements: Justifying Thought Without a Ground in Deleuze’s Philosophy

Lapoujade's work on Deleuze attempts to come to grips with the ways in which our constructions of knowledge seek justification: how do we learn to think otherwise?

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27 Sep 2017 // 8:29 AM

TIFF 2017: My Days of Mercy

As an indictment of the death penalty, the most unsettling aspect of My Days of Mercy is in how it presents the terrifying orderliness of taking a human life.

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St. Lenox and That Old Time Religion

Through the practice of law to music video directing, St. Lenox's Andrew Choi is working through many mediums to explore cultural anxiety in the era of Trump.

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Threads of Humor in the Darkest Places: Gail Honeyman on Her Debut Book About Mental Illness

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, now being adapted for a feature film, artfully balances dark humor and cathartic pathos.

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Iglooghost: Neō Wax Bloom

Neō Wax Bloom is the product of insatiable and earnest curiosity about musical subcultures. It becomes a museum of contemporary digital sound, and Iglooghost its curator.

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Hiss Golden Messenger: Hallelujah Anyhow

As long as life carries on and darkness exists, the world needs messengers of hope. Hiss Golden Messenger deliver that here, making it relevant regardless of time and place.

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27 Sep 2017 // 2:15 AM

Christian Lopez: Red Arrow

With Red Arrow Christian Lopez proves that his sights are set far beyond the parameters of Americana.

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27 Sep 2017 // 2:10 AM

Gary Peacock Trio: Tangents

This top-of-the-line piano trio plays with an intense beauty that is, perhaps, not often enough interrupted by joy.

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On the Fullness Found in Emptiness: The Mojave School in the Nevada Desert

To some, Pahrump, Nevada, is just a stop on the back roads to Death Valley. To Watkins, it's a fringe town within a fringe state -- a place where literature can take root.

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‘The Sinner’ Transcends the Procedural Genre With Complex Narrative and Performances

The Sinner, a sad, stunning exploration of trauma, starts with a killer hook and goes deep.

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Reason on the Cusp of Madness: Anti-Semitism and Mihail Sebastian

The ease with which one can draw a line from the message of For Two Thousand Years to the events of 2017 is almost too terrifying to contemplate.

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Phil Lesh and Bob Weir Come Together to Jam for Mt. Tam

Catching these counterculture pioneers in an intimate setting is a treat.

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26 Sep 2017 // 8:30 AM

TIFF 2017: High Fantasy

High Fantasy presents a brilliant take on the sci-fi body-switching genre, transforming a device that’s usually used for laughs into one that uncovers deeper truths about the complex nature of identity.

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The Healing Power of Music: A Conversation with Linda Perhacs

At 75, Linda Perhacs shows no signs of slowing down creatively, returning for her third album a mere three years after a more than 40-year absence.

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Hard to Stomach: Romania, Anti-Semitism, and the Lessons of Fascism

Mihail Sebastian's depiction of the many faces of anti-Semitism in For Two Thousand Years, from workplace jokes to street violence, is breath-taking in its horror.

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26 Sep 2017 // 2:30 AM

Josh Ritter: Gathering

On his ninth full-length studio album, Josh Ritter continues to combine poetic imagery with organic, expertly crafted arrangements.

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Pere Ubu: 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo

The underground rock outfit, Pere Ubu, returns with 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo, re-establishing its off-kilter take on the rock music form.

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Shout Out Louds: Ease My Mind

Ease My Mind gives the impression of a record made by musicians finally comfortable with their place in the world.

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26 Sep 2017 // 2:10 AM

John Tejada: Ceol

A little bit of Tejada is better than none at all.

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Chicago Afrobeat Project: What Goes Up

Master drummer Tony Allen lends his legendary skills to Chicago Afrobeat Project's soul and social consciousness to make some hard-hitting grooves.

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A New Sound in the South: J Roddy Walston on ‘Destroyers of the Soft Life’

At any moment the band might tear a hole through the speakers with songs bursting at the seams with stadium-sized power.

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25 Sep 2017 // 10:30 AM

TIFF 2017: What Will People Say

The culture clash in What Will People Say is manifest in a life-and-death difference between interpretations of defiance.

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What Is Brought Back in Michel Leiris’ ‘Phantom Africa’ Is Not Tangible

Phantom Africa represents a poignant and beautiful window into something more universal.

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Martial Solal and David Liebman: Masters in Bordeaux

Two modern jazz giants give us an understated duet album. Covers are most welcome here.

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‘Battle of the Sexes’ Whiffs the Serve

This easy-rock dramatization of the 1973 blockbuster match between Billie Jean King and past-his-prime champ Bobby Riggs has its moments but can’t capture the liberating drama of the moment.

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25 Sep 2017 // 8:13 AM

Paul Weller: Mother Ethiopia

Paul Weller offers a homage to Ethiopian music on latest EP, Mother Ethiopia.

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Imitating Aeroplanes: Planet Language

The middle of the album by itself would represent a largely unremarkable debut for the electropop of Imitating Aeroplanes. But the beginning and end of this album are so strong that they lift up the whole record.

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25 Sep 2017 // 7:52 AM

Grave Pleasures: Motherblood

Motherblood is loaded with apocalyptic imagery amidst dark-hearted romanticism.

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Is the Comedy Duo Mitchell and Webb Really ‘Back’?

Mitchell and Webb's created personas culminated in their groundbreaking sitcom, Peep Show. Reuniting for new series Back, will it be more of the same? Does that even matter?

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The Killers: Wonderful Wonderful

It will never go down as anyone's favorite Killers album, but this is easily the most fun the Vegas rockers have had in years.

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Was the Blues Born on a Vaudeville Stage?

Black creative and economic self-determination within the music industry didn’t begin with Chance the Rapper, or Prince, or even Motown.

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Charles Bradley’s Voice Full of Love and Hurt: The Interview

Soul master Charles Bradley talks about the painful changes that shaped his latest album and the way that his raw, powerful music helps him transcend heartache.

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On Memory and Nostalgia: Seth’s ‘Palookaville 23’

A wonderful addition to Seth’s already brilliant body of work, Palookaville 23 is a reminder of how much time he’s dedicated to his art, and how worthwhile that time has been.

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‘Top of the Lake’: Season Two Showcases a Series That Has Found Its Voice

Top of the Lake's second season picks up where the first left off, and makes the series even more compelling.

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Art Garfunkel’s Endearing, Impressionistic, Reflective Thoughts About His Life and Times

In What Is It All but Luminous Garfunkel reveals the soft, lush, probably difficult, and definitely peculiar character that has been taking notes, observing, singing, and remembering for over 50 years.

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STS9 Takes ‘Artifact’ for a Mystical Ride at Red Rocks

Anticipation runs high and there’s a sense of history in the air as fans fill the famed mountain ampitheatre on this balmy Colorado night that kicks off the band’s three-night 20th anniversary run.

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By Defending Ourselves, We’re Limiting Ourselves: Director Ildikó Enyedi ‘On Body and Soul’

"I had a wish for my two characters to risk themselves in order to have a full life -- not to have that miserable and limited life... because they were looking for more safety."

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In ‘Bobbi Jene’, a Dancer’s Artistic Vision Is Rooted in Personal Sacrifice

While Bobbi Jene often veers too closely to melodrama, seeing an emboldened woman artistically express her sexuality and earn effusive praise for it is inspirational.

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22 Sep 2017 // 3:00 AM

The Flipside #7: Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’

With "Look What You Made Me Do" and other songs soon to be plastered over the airwaves, the Flipside boys look back on Taylor Swift's 1989 and whether it lives up to its reputation.

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A World Made of War: On Oriana Fallaci’s Fearless Journalism

Cristina de Stefano’s discusses her perceptive insight into the fascinating Italian journalist with Oriana Fallaci, a book delivered in a riveting and engaging narrative style that’s evocative of Fallaci herself.

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The Rolling Stones: Their Satanic Majesties Request (50th Anniversary)

Despite (or perhaps because of) the outside pressures the Rolling Stones faced in recording Satanic Majesties, it stands 50 years later as arguably the most experimental, tongue-in-cheek, and underappreciated album of their long history.

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Chris Bell: I Am the Cosmos (Deluxe Edition)

With Big Star, Chris Bell helped invent power pop as we know it. I Am the Cosmos is his brilliant posthumous solo masterpiece, and the definitive edition is out now.

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Van Morrison: Roll with the Punches

Calling Morrison enigmatic is like calling candy sweet: it’s the defining characteristic. Morrison’s best music has always been complex and mysterious.

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22 Sep 2017 // 2:10 AM

Fred Hersch: Open Book

Built around a long, wholly-improvised concert performance, this solo piano recital from Fred Hersch is stunning evidence that he is one of the few great solo jazz pianists currently alive.

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Bettany Hughes’ ‘Istanbul’ Evokes the Past and Compels the Future

This learned and lively book by award-winning historian, author, and broadcaster Bettany Hughes offers a riveting biography of a city that has remained relevant for well over two millennia.

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Idols, Ideals, and Reminders in ‘Generations: Captain Marvel & Ms. Marvel #1’

Ms. Marvel reconnects with her idol, but a choppy narrative limits the impact.

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‘Goodnight, L.A.’ and Hello, Hollywood

Unsung heroes of classic rock get their due in this cinematic book.

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The Pottery Barn Principle of ‘Fear the Walking Dead’

Season three's exploration of the politics of survival is fascinating, even with the series' over-reliance on coincidence.

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On Discovering the In-your-face Glory of the Slits’ Album, ‘Cut’

The iconic cover plus hybrid punky-reggae establishes the Slits' Cut as a significant variation on the British late '70s DIY ethos.

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21 Sep 2017 // 2:30 AM

The Horrors: V

The Horrors get their mojo back with songs to match the swagger.

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21 Sep 2017 // 2:20 AM

Metz: Strange Peace

On the band's third album, there is a constant search for a frequency that is thrilling and a commitment to it.

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Stills & Collins: Everybody Knows

Their voices blend together well, especially on the title song. The roughness of Stephen Stills’ leathery vocals meshes well with Judy Collins’ velvety crooning and fits the black humor of Cohen’s lyrics.

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Randy Newman: Dark Matter

Randy Newman puts together a variety show with comedy, tragedy, and romance (and, yeah, some farce).

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Joe Henderson and Alice Coltrane: The Elements

The Elements represents Joe Henderson’s sole full immersion into the avant-garde, with help from a few seasoned veterans, including Alice Coltrane, Charlie Haden, and Michael White.

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Norse Code: The Rise of Nordic Literature

Nordisk Books, a small, UK-based press, is behind the push of a Nordic literature revival. PopMatters talks with Duncan Lewis about taking the genre beyond the usual crime novels.

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The Tale of a Screenwriter, ‘Rewrite Man’ Is an Ode to Professionalism, Not Virtuosity

The life and times of forgotten screenwriter Warren Skaaren double as an education on the convoluted beast that was New Hollywood.

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‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Is Comically Bad

Matthew Vaughn’s hyper-kinetic spy comedy can’t decide if it’s a lighthearted spoof of the Bond films it obviously loves, or a smug and ironic takedown of espionage thrillers.

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There Is Power in ‘Curry’

Naban Ruthnum’s provocative intellectual journey traces the complex roots of curry and its diasporic colonization of the West.

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Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ Signaled That Comic Book Films Had Become a Pillar of Blockbuster Cinema

A faithful adaptation of Marvel's flagship character was inescapable in the spring of 2002.

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Amadou & Mariam: La Confusion

A euphoric swirl of nostalgic synths and warm Afropop, La Confusion is a breath of fresh air from the ever-masterful duo of Amadou & Mariam.

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The Clientele: Music for the Age of Miracles

England's favorite pop dreamers awake from a seven-year slumber, giving us more of what made us like them so much in the first place.

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Mount Kimbie: Love What Survives

Mount Kimbie returns with Love What Survives, introducing post-punk elements to its electronic core, and in the process producing its finest record to date.

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Hype Williams: Rainbow Edition

To listen to Rainbow Edition is to constantly be waiting for the next thing.

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Are You Experiencing Any Difficulties?: An Interview with Graham Reynolds

Celebrating the release of Richard Linklater's landmark sci-fi film A Scanner Darkly, composer Graham Reynolds guides us through the soundtrack's casually thrilling creation.

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‘Mr. Robot and Philosophy’ Tries to Grasp an Elusive Subject

How do you dive into philosophy with a show that so deeply relies on style? For many of the essays contained within Mr. Robot and Philosophy, the answer is to ape that style.

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The Characters in ‘Every Kind of Wanting’ Are Caught in a Messy Web

How three unique families and assorted loved ones deal with modern love, desire, and family.

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The Slits: Return of the Giant Slits

The post-punk pioneers' second album gets a reissue/remaster, but its anarchy and tumult still sounds one step too beyond (just as it did in 1981).

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Paul Weller’s Impossible Idea

One of the UK's most revolutionary rock figures isn't showing any signs of slowing down. His insatiable thirst for the new leads to the creation of A Kind Revolution. Weller talks with PopMatters about his new music and career.

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Gary Numan: Savage (Songs From a Broken World)

In the age of climate science denial, synth legend Gary Numan offers up a bleak dystopian landscape as a cautionary tale.

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The Western and Melancholy: On Arturo Ripstein’s ‘Time to Die’

Time to Die suggests that love and values are the existential gambits of the melancholic attempt to reconcile oneself with the irreconcilable indifference of the world.

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Wolves in the Throne Room: Thrice Woven

Wolves in the Throne Room return in blazing fashion with Thrice Woven, a work that defines the very substance of the black metal band.

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Eilen Jewell: Down Hearted Blues

Jewell and company offer pristine versions of wonderful blues tunes from America’s past.

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‘Eye Chart’ Is About Much More Than Just Identifying Objects Near and Far

The "Object Lessons" series continues with this brief but rich exploration into why we see, when we see, how clearly we see, and what we understand about the things we see.

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‘Gotham’ Season Three’s Unique Take on Batman’s Origin Continues to Ramp Up the Crazy

Gotham relies on its fast pace and embrace of the insane to work as the diverse and bizarre show it wants to be, but occasionally the show is too surreal for its own good.

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‘The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature’ Opens Doors Hitherto Closed to Us

Yunte Huang grapples with some monumental subject matter, and the results are spellbinding.

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Jack Kirby’s Influence Is Felt on Nearly Every Page of ‘Marvel Year By Year’

All of the important in-continuity events are here: the death of Gwen Stacy, the Kree-Skull War, the death of Jean Grey, Civil War.

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‘Band Aid’ Serves as a Plaster for What Ails the Jaded Movie Lover

This winning indie comedy-drama splits those two genres as neatly as an atom but gets the most energy out of the comedy side.

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18 Sep 2017 // 2:30 AM

Boombox = Life

Woofers on blast up the jam block rock: A fragmentary history of ghettoblasting.

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Foo Fighters: Concrete and Gold

Veteran rockers Foo Fighters join forces with pop producer Greg Kurstin, and the unexpected result is the finest album of their long recording career.

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Luna: A Sentimental Education / A Place of Greater Safety

True to his predilections, Dean Wareham moves the band and song, in covers and instrumentals, and usually away from too much volume.

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Chris Hillman: Bidin’ My Time

The former Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers member revisits classic musical pathways on the sturdy Americana release Bidin’ My Time, his first effort in more than ten years.

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F.J. McMahon: Spirit of the Golden Juice

Available once more, F.J. McMahon’s stark and sobering assessment of the decline of ‘60s idealism and impending introspective ‘70s is the rarest of rarities: a true lost masterpiece.

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Never Settle, Never Rest on Your Laurels: Activist Catherine Hernandez on Her Book, ‘Scarborough’

Theatre practitioner Catherine Hernandez reveals the complexity of representation and responsibility in writing fiction.

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‘The Violins of Saint-Jacques’ Is a Lush Portrait of a Lost World

This only novel from Patrick Leigh Fermor, a master of travel writing, is a culturally astute depiction of a Caribbean island's lavish, last Mardi Gras.

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‘mother!’ Is Poignant and Powerful, and Not At All Pleasant

This is a grotesque, two-horned beast of a marital drama, a nightmarish vision of emotional abandonment and psychological abuse, all for the sake of art.

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The Trials, Battles, and Victories of a Pussy Rioter

Maria Alyokhina, one of the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot, relates her saga of protest, imprisonment, and advocation for human rights in Riot Days.

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Aronofsky’s ‘mother!’ of All Head Trips

Bold, pretentious, and divisive, Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller is an exhilarating (and exhausting) cinematic experience.

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We Good: An Interview with The JuJu Exchange

Dropping his stage name of Donnie Trumpet, Nico Segal is moving from being one of Chance the Rapper's chief artistic collaborators to exploring the way we communicate through jazz.

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Back to Blue Bayou: An Interview With Linda Ronstadt

In her exclusive interview with PopMatters, Linda Ronstadt revisits Simple Dreams just in time for Rhino's 40th anniversary edition of her classic number one album.

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Hundred Waters: Communicating

Hundred Waters' third album has many appealing parts, but a core that feels unstable or even nonexistent.

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Nothing But Thieves: Broken Machine

On Broken Machine, Nothing But Thieves have crafted a hook filled modern rock album that matches the ambition and intensity of any guitar band around today.

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Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton: Choir of the Mind

Emily Haines’ sophomore effort is a bold, if somewhat depressing, feminist statement.

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The Waterboys: Out of All This Blue

Yeats? Dylan? Cohen? Kanye? The Waterboys embrace hip-hop and things get... interesting

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Walter White, Heisenberg, and Time Out of Mind: The Legacy of ‘Breaking Bad’

An examination of how AMC's Breaking Bad played with the conventions of time, character, and attitude.

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Titles, Legacies, and Basics in ‘Generations: Captain Marvel & Captain Mar-Vell #1’

Carol Danvers gets back to basics on what it means to be Captain Marvel.

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‘How I Became a North Korean’ Is Not Just About Borders and Identity

Author Krys Lee's novel about three characters escaping North Korea resonates with pain, longing, and possibilities.

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14 Sep 2017 // 10:00 AM

TIFF 2017: mother!

While Aronofsky’s artistry is at an all-time-low, it's his misogyny that makes this film abhorrent.

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Good, Bad Place: Season One of ‘The Good Place’ Upended Expectations

Michael Schur's sinister community design used the ideals of the American Dream to fool its characters and its audience; what sort of critique will be built into season two?

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Sci-Fi Author Ursula LeGuin’s Stories of Class War, Religious Dissension, Identity Politics and More

No matter what ignites the dynamic fusion of thought and action in her Hainish fictions, Le Guin generates provocative and intelligent considerations of complex forces.

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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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