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Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Recent
Film

Great Scots: 'Whiskey Galore!' and 'The Maggie'

Two Scottish comedies from Alexander Mackendrick, Whiskey Galore! and The Maggie, were part of Ealing Studios movies meant for a depressed postwar England to "let off steam".

Books

Is Solipsism Art? On 'The Exhibition of Persephone Q'

Jessi Jezewska Stevens' debut novel, The Exhibition of Persephone Q, is filled with exciting ideas and quirky characters, but the book's surfeit of style can't make up for a lack of personality or perspective.

Books

The New World Will Be Built by Refugees: On Two New Japanese Novellas

The latest two Red Circle Minis, by Takuji Ichikawak and Kanji Hanawa, deal in archetypes; one set in the distant past, the other in the all too near future.

Books

Ian McEwan's Brexit Satire, 'The Cockroach', Leaves Little to the Imagination

With his latest, The Cockroach, the otherwise masterful British novelist Ian McEwan proves that too much cleverness can kill satire.

Books

The White Man's Guide to White Male Writers of the Western Canon

A certain species that thrive in English departments and creative writing programs make good fodder for satire in Dana Schwartz's The White Man's Guide to White Male Writers of the Western Canon.

Film

'The Art of Self-Defense' Is a Knockout Black Comedy

If director Riley Stearns sometimes loses his thematic bearings, he never forgets to deliver large, violent doses of comedy in the instant cult classic, The Art of Self-Defense.

Film

Absurdism and Power: Robert Altman's 'Brewster McCloud' in Today's America

As in the America of the 1970s -- with its political corruption, war, economic straits, and fatalism -- Robert Altman's Brewster McCloud resonates loudly in these times. Shall we join the circus freaks dancing on the grave of an absurd and unjust society?

Books

I Know This Because Talbott Knows This: Chuck Palahniuk's 'Adjustment Day'

Adjustment Day may not be peak Palahniuk, but it is nonetheless entertaining and twistedly educational, providing abundantly peculiar and original paths within one of his most astute and necessary social commentaries to date.

Film

Three Stylish British Silents: 'Shooting Stars', 'Underground' and 'The Informer'

While Anthony Asquith's Shooting Stars and Underground look excellent on Kino Lorber's digital restoration, Arthur Robison's The Informer, looks most spectacular, thanks to working from the original negative and a tinted nitrate print.

Film

'Hail Satan?' Is Devilishly Fun

Documentarian Penny Lane challenges you to leave behind your preconceptions and give the Devil his due in this irreverent, entertaining look at the Satanic Temple, Hail Satan?

Books

Satire's American King Bret Easton Ellis Whites Himself Out with Alleged Work of Non-Fiction, 'White'

Let's pretend for a moment that Bret Easton Ellis is capable of such a staggering feat of truth-telling, and read White as if it is indeed a work of nonfiction.

Books

Joseph Scapellato's 'The Made-Up Man' Brings Forth 21st Century Absurdism

In rendering his most avant-garde characters as members of a kind of self-help conspiracy in The Made-Up Man, Joseph Scapellato offers not an update but a revision of absurdism, and as such, many social phenomena ripe for satire get off easy.

Books

Overlooking the Overstatement: On Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and Bojack Horseman's "Thoughts and Prayers" Episode

If Shirley Jackson's simple parable, "The Lottery", couldn't inspire self-reflection in an arguably simpler time, one has to wonder what messages today -- such as that of Bojack Horseman's "The Lottery" episode -- are falling on deaf ears in these times of increasing gun violence in America.

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

David Ireland's 'Ulster American' Satirizes Oppressive Double Standards

Winner of the coveted Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award in 2018, Ulster American is primed to contribute to societal narratives while lampooning contemporary injustices.

Film

The Coen Brothers Tackle Short Story in Film Again with 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs '

Not their first foray into bringing the short story form to cinema, the Coen Brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs affirms, sadly, that in this regard, cinema is the lesser storytelling form.

Film

The Coen Brothers' 'The Ballad of Buster Scruggs' Is American Myth in Vignette

In the Coen Brothers' The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, there's something altogether new about having revisionist western ideas filtered through their rich sense of character, black comedy, and their penetrating awareness of humanity's fatal imperfections.

Theatre

Making Troy Great Again: On Shakespeare's 'Troilus and Cressida' and Trump's Ugly Political Rhetoric

The Trump presidency is Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida made real – only it's stripped of the mythology and just lying bare and ugly for all to see.

Film

NYFF 2018: 'Diamantino' Beautifully Satirizes Ugly Politics from the Ethers

Diamantino's astounding surrealistic introduction soon unfolds into an ethereal genre-mashup.

Books

'Lake Success' Is a Picaresque Journey to Nowhere

Gary Shteyngart's state of the nation satire about a billionaire on the run doesn't tell us much about anything.

Film

'Nightcrawler' and the Brand Called Lou Bloom™

The personal branding phenomenon is an ongoing crisis of humanity.

Books

'Art Comic' Is a Comedic Comic of Artful Artlessness

Matthew Thurber's Art Comic lampoons the art world by wallowing in its shallowest waters.

Film

Armando Iannucci's 'The Death of Stalin' Is Both Expectedly Humorous and Chillingly Harrowing

The Death of Stalin is rarely out-and-out hilarious, but the performances are top-notch and the writing is thoroughly witty, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

Books

'Smoking Kills' Revels in the Many Joys to Be Found in Death

Antoine Laurain's Smoking Kills is provocative and funny, but its meditations remain consistently mature.

Film

'Sorry to Bother You' Is As Eye-Opening As It Is Bizarre

Boots Riley announces himself a filmmaker to watch with an explosive racial satire that's as unforgettable as they come.

Books

Shaking the Foundations of the Novel in 'Lacking Character'

Curtis White gives a hilarious display of creative destruction.

Film

In 'Deadpool 2' the Obscenity Delightfully Continues

If you enjoyed 2016's raunchy breakout hit Deadpool, you're almost assured to love its even raunchier sequel.

Film

'Deadpool 2': The (X-)Force Is Strong with This One

The blasphemous, unyielding Deadpool 2 doesn't outdo its predecessor, but rather gives more of a good thing.

Television

Mix 'The Daily Mash' with 'The Daily Show' and You've Got 'The Mash Report'

BBC Two's The Mash Report is funny, and we really need funny these days.

Music

Ministry, L7, Sex, and Violence

We need to talk about Ministry's anti-war statement, because it encapsulates so much that's so wrong about testosterone-driven masculinist activism.

Culture

Haven't You Learned How to Take a Joke? The Comedy-on-Campus Debates

The college comedy deficit means that we are neither taught how to take a joke nor how to interpret one.

Books

'Radio Free Vermont' Showcases the Political Power of Ordinary People

Bill McKibben's novel asks readers to value resistance movements that embrace humor, creativity, and civility while inspiring activism as part of our everyday lives.

Film

Sundance 2018: 'Sorry to Bother You' + 'Blindspotting'

First-time directors Boots Riley and Carlos López Estrada tackle racial identity in radically different ways.

Books

'Eastman Was Here' Is Curious, Assured and Compelling

There's a ghostly suggestion of Philip Roth's writing voice in Portnoy's Complaint in this novel; a relatively calm voice, this time in the third person, documenting the madness.

Film

Alexander Payne's 'Downsizing' Is No Small Misfire

The new social satire from normally reliable director Alexander Payne is a well-meaning premise in search of a story.


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