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Thursday, August 23 2012

Putting the Bite Back into Snow White with ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’

After some bland remakes of this classic fairytale, it's nice to see the poison put back into Snow White's apple.


Sunday, August 5 2012

Standing at the Edge of a Cliff: China in Two Books

Like the scene in romantic movies where two lovers see each other from across a crowded room and begin running towards one another, culturally the US seems to be rushing towards China as fast as China is rushing towards the US.


Thursday, July 26 2012

Tears in Rain: ‘Blade Runner’ and Philip K. Dick’s Legacy in Film

Thirty years after the release of Blade Runner, with a remake of Total Recall on the horizon, the work of Philip K. Dick continues to find its way into our cinemas and minds. How did the visions of a paranoid loner become the most relevant science fiction of our time?


Sunday, June 24 2012

What It Means to Be Human: ‘Never Let Me Go’’

The film, Never Let Me Go, follows the book relatively well, although it eliminates some of the story, and isn't able to mirror the novel's careful and timed revelations about the mystery of Hailsham's students.


Thursday, June 21 2012

The Politics of American Perceptions

If Republicans and Democrats were in a street fight, who would win? Beyond Red and Blue is the rare book that gracefully helps you see the legitimacy of the other side of your sacred political beliefs.


Tuesday, June 19 2012

An Early Moan from the Great Moaner: Jack Kerouac’s ‘The Sea Is My Brother’

Jack Kerouac’s greatest achievement is the creation of the most compassionate of 20th century literatures; not just the adolescent fraternalisms or calls for equality, but the glee of rushing down the mountain with the good news, or as the good news, curious about humanity, forgiving, ready to report well and true.


Wednesday, June 13 2012

Post-Black, Post-Racial… Post-Trayvon

The sense that a cohesion of group identity was no longer a defining factor of black life had taken a firm hold in America. Then Trayvon Martin was killed.


Thursday, May 24 2012

Sherlock Holmes, Dirk Gently and the Case of the Eccentric Detective

With two TV shows returning Arthur Conan Doyle's creation to our screens, Sherlock Holmes has never seemed more influential. But for the good of detective fiction, it might be time to look elsewhere for our unorthodox investigators...


Thursday, May 17 2012

Sergio Leone: Something to Do with Death

Britain’s pop culture knight, Christopher Frayling, offers the definitive biography and interpretation of the Spaghetti Western maestro, Sergio Leone.


Sunday, May 13 2012

Systemic and Subjective: The Violence of ‘The International’ and the Global Financial Order

The weapons deals in The International and the back-door negotiations between corporate lobbies and Congress are two sides of the same coin; both use overwhelming systemic violence to further their ends.


Sunday, May 6 2012

International Beats: The Desire for the Foreign in Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’

With the film adaptation of On the Road just a month away, it's important to once again define what characterized the Beat movement: an infatuation with the foreign.


Monday, April 30 2012

The Bloody Ballad of Charlie and Ira Louvin

The Louvin Brothers made heavenly sounds, but the road they took to get there was Hell on Earth.


Sunday, April 29 2012

Enjoy Orientalism-Lite with ‘Stranger Magic’

Stranger Magic is an exhaustive compendium of the various tales in the Arabian Nights collection, as well as a robust and energetic investigation into how these stories of “Oriental” myth and folklore have seeped into the European imagination from the 18th century onward.


Wednesday, April 25 2012

‘Lord of the Flies’ Still Reigns

Fear and brutality inherent in the human condition and the drive to survive are themes that have never gone out of fashion. The stakes get even higher when those involved are children, and that's obviously a big seller.


Thursday, April 19 2012

Where Angels Fear to Tread: Steven Pinker’s ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’

Is it worst to be killed by a crazed mob wielding machetes or to die via conveyor belt and filing system? The Better Angels of Our Nature keeps falling victim to the halo effect, creating an aura around reason itself.


Wednesday, April 18 2012

That Thing That Makes Funk Funky: ‘The One: The Life and Music of James Brown’

James Brown – an untrained musician, mind you, operating on not much more than feel, instinct and desire – revolutionized black pop music, setting off depth charges that would still be exploding a decade hence.


Tuesday, April 10 2012

A Third Spain, Neither Left Nor Right, United by Sex?

"Spanish majas wearing traditional peinetas made-in-Spain enhance their legs with imported French stockings; dark Spanish beauties leave Andalusia to sit in front of American typewriters in an office in Barcelona or Madrid; sexy middle-class señoritas speed away on German bicycles."


Monday, April 9 2012

Grunge: Straining to Challenge the Status Quo

Grunge: Music and Memory casts grunge as the unsure middle weight stepping into the ring against one pop music brawler after another. Down goes Michael Jackson, down goes Guns 'n' Roses, and while Springsteen is putting the finishing touches onHuman Touch/Lucky Town, Nirvana and Pearl Jam release the most influential albums of the decade.


Thursday, April 5 2012

Not Gonna Lie: ‘The Hunger Games’, Twitter, and Reverse Victimization

Would it matter at all if Katniss Everdeen, a white teenager in the book The Hunger Games, had been portrayed in the film by a suitably teenage and female, black actor? For the young racists who have gone berserk on Twitter about the supporting character Rue being portrayed by an African-American actor, apparently the answer is yes.


Thursday, March 29 2012

We Need This Map: Tony Judt and Timothy Snyder’s ‘Thinking the Twentieth Century’

This is a three-dimensional map of intellectual terrain, marked hastily but with enormous detail and vividness in the course of a conversation between two well-regarded historians. They have spread the map out on the hood of your car—or perhaps, in honor of Tony Judt, the map has been handed to you in a train station.


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