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Books

When You Discover Your Father Had an Affair with Frida Kahlo...

The story of one of Frida Kahlo's short affairs, captured in Marc Petitjean's excellent book, The Heart, offers an inspired glimpse into the surreal Parisian art scene of 1939.

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Books

On the Socially Conscious Filmmaker, Sidney Lumet

Maura Spiegel's biography provides a thorough and compelling look at the life and films of the progressive New York icon filmmaker, Sidney Lumet.

Books

The Rolling Stones Go to College

The Cambridge Companion to the Rolling Stones, the first book of academic essays about the band, considers not only what the band accomplished, but why, 60 years since they formed, the Rolling Stones still matter.

Books

The Curmudgeonly King of Noir Chronicled in 'Notes From the Velvet Underground: The Life of Lou Reed'

Howard Sounes' Notes From the Velvet Underground is a beautifully considered book, with enough detail about the life and career of Lou Reed for the geeks, enough context for the historians, and just enough juicy stuff for everyone else.

Books

Chavisa Woods: 100 Times (A Memoir of Sexism)

Chavis Woods' 100 Times (A Memoir of Sexism) is the ideal tool for inciting the collective rage needed to subvert gender-based harassment and violence.

Film

Ludicrous Irony in Scorsese's 'The Irishman'

With its big performances and stellar script, The Irishman is the glorious culmination of Scorsese's lifelong fascination with mobsters and their built-in self-destruction.

Books

Irving Berlin: New York Genius (By the Book)

Exploring the interplay of Irving Berlin's life with the life of New York City, noted biographer James Kaplan offers a visceral narrative of Berlin as self-made man and witty, wily, tough Jewish immigrant. Enjoy this excerpt of Kaplan's book, Irving Berlin: New York Genius.

James Kaplan
Film

Cynthia Erivo's Performance Carries Kasi Lemmons' 'Harriet'

Cynthia Erivo's transcendent turn as Union spy, escaped slave, and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman shines through Kasi Lemmons' heroic but oversimplified biopic, Harriet.

Film

Rupert Goold's 'Judy' and the Queer-ing of the Biopic

Recent queer icon films Judy, Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman tease their key audience while keeping one foot solidly in straight land. Is this progress?

Film

Eddie Murphy Returns to Form (and Fun) in 'Dolemite Is My Name'

Director Craig Brewer helms his breezy tribute to Rudy Ray Moore, the '70s Blaxploitation icon who influenced an entire generation of young Black performers, with Dolemite Is My Name.

Books

William S. Burroughs and the Cult of Rock 'n' Roll

Critic Casey Rae depicts William S. Burroughs as a wise sage whom the wild creatives seek out for his wisdom... well, almost.

Books

Joanna Russ, the First Minister of Feminist Science Fiction

Gwyneth Jones's masterly account of the life and times of Joanna Russ serves as a timely reminder of the strides made in visibility and diversity in science fiction literature —and the distance still left to traverse.

Film

'Official Secrets' Is a Devastating Reminder of the Power of Deception

Gavin Hood's thriller about British whistleblower Katharine Gun's attempt to stop the Iraq War, Official Secrets, is nothing special artistically, but its intense relevance burns the screen.

Books

A Biography Worthy of 'Hiroshima' Author John Hersey

John Hersey covered Hiroshima and America's race riots with empathy, courage, and profound humility. Jeremy Treglown's biography, Mr. Straight Arrow, should bring a new generation of readers to Hersey's work.

Film

Chanya Button's 'Vita & Virginia' Imprisons and Cages Virginia Woolf

Looking upon Virginia Woolf with an immature and childish creative lust, writer/director Chanya Button and co-writer Eileen Atkins reduce her to a bland literary figure in Vita & Virginia, leaving us to remember the contrarian truth.

Books

Could Marion Turner's Book on Chaucer Alter Future Scholarly Work?

From Marion Turner's work, Chaucer: A European Life, Chaucer emerges as a man who lived through intrigue, rebellions, a peasant's rising, and above all, a determination to translate.

Books

When Harper Lee Came up Short: 'Furious Hours'

Casey Cep traces Harper Lee's winding road to defeat in Furious Hours.

Film

Lanthimos' 'The Favourite' Plays with History and Our Emotional Impulsivity

Stylistically risqué, The Favourite relates to a certain type of subversive British cinema from filmmakers such as Peter Greenaway, although it is not an imitation.

Books

On Warren Zevon, the "Kurt Vonnegut of Rock Music"

Author C. M. Kushins talks with PopMatters about the complicated legacy of Warren Zevon, from crack-up to recovery and back again, and his research for Nothing's Bad Luck: The Lives of Warren Zevon.

Books

'Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom' Is as Monumental as the Man It Chronicles

Noted historian David W. Blight offers readers the fullest portrait of Frederick Douglass yet in this "biography of a voice".

Books

'All the Lives We Ever Lived' Finds Comfort in Mourning with Virginia Woolf

These days, when personal grief becomes a public performance on social media, it's heartening to have a book such as Katharine Smyth's All the Lives We Ever Lived, wherein deep introspection is given space and literature provides both solace and inspiration.

Books

'The Song Is You' Is the Sinatra Biography That’s Not a Biography

The revised and expanded version of Will Friedwald's acclaimed Sinatra book, The Song Is You, is about the music and nothing but the music.

Books

Edward Gorey, Agent of Chaos

Two recent books on screenwriter, illustrator and author Edward Gorey, Born to Be Posthumous and Gorey's Worlds, are engaging works that show that Gorey's mystique remains safely impenetrable.

Books

On 'Love and Strife', but Mostly the Strife, of Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow has won many literary awards, including the Nobel, Pulitzer, and National Book Award. Yet Zachary Leader's thorough work, The Life of Saul Bellow: Love and Strife, 1965-2005, a PopMatters pick, begins with Below asking himself, "Was I a man or was I a jerk?"

Books

Townes Van Zandt: 'Music, Genius, and Rage'

Townes Van Zandt's longtime road manager and producer, Harold F. Eggers, Jr., looks back on road-life with the haunted songwriter. He has more stories than most.

Books

John Berger was a Lifelong Cultural Agitator with a Valuable Point of View

Joshua Sperling's biography of John Berger is more of an art history text that's focused on specific social and political elements as they are connected through Berger's perspective.

Film

'Vice', Dick Cheney, and the Satisfaction of the Deed Itself

Adam McKay's gonzo Dick Cheney biopic satire, Vice, won't be compared to Shakespeare, but it shares the Bard's disinterest in supervillains' motivations.

Books

Why Does Natsume Sōseki Still Resonate with Readers?

Literary scholar John Nathan's biography of Natsume Sōseki puts his great accomplishments -- and many shortcomings -- in superb literary and historical context.

Books

Hayao Miyazaki's Films Help Us See Ourselves "with Eyes Unclouded"

Japanese Studies scholar Susan Napier's Miyazakiworld reveals an animation auteur with an urgent message to convey about our future -- and ourselves.

Film

Jason Reitman's Tabloid Journalism Film About Gary Hart, 'The Front Runner' Is Altman Lite

Funny and thoughtful but not sharp enough, Jason Reitman's satire about Gary Hart's tabloid downfall aims for controlled chaos but settles for conventional finger-wagging.

Film

Band of Brothers: Jason Reitman, Matt Bai, and Jay Carson on 'The Front Runner'

Filmmaker Jason Reitman and co-writers Matt Bai and Jay Carson delve into the band-like creative process behind their thought-provoking political drama, The Front Runner, revolving around Gary Hart's scandalous 1988 presidential campaign.

Books

'Freak Kingdom': On Hunter S. Thompson's Fight Against Fascism

In Freak Kingdom, Timothy Denevi gives a charmingly sensational account of Hunter S. Thompson's life in order to prove his point that Thompson actually conducted himself as quite a serious anti-fascist.

Film

'On Her Shoulders': Awareness of Trauma Is Not Enough

In this interview with Director Alexandria Bombach centered on her recent documentary about Nadia Murad, On Her Shoulders, she reflects on how we process another's trauma, and how we might be moved beyond simply awareness.

Film

All the Right Intentions Can’t Bring 'Boy Erased' to Life

The tragedy of conversion therapy is confronted in Boy Erased, a well-meaning but perfectly conventional message movie.

Books

'Confidential Confidential' Analyzes Scandal, Libel, and '50s-era Celebrity Culture

Samantha Barbas' Confidential Confidential brings to mind Fox News, Donald Trump, and the current American cultural-political climate of lies and hysteria.

Film

'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' Is an Honest, Empathetic Look at Big City Loneliness

In sneaky ways Can You Ever Forgive Me? works as a rallying cry for the dejected.

Film

Melissa McCarthy Wonderfully Dominates the Unlikely Caper, 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?'

Director Marielle Heller offers this witty, observant insight into the psyche of a desperate writer, Lee Israel, who becomes a master forger.

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