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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.

Film

In 'Downhill', Getting Dark Just Means Getting Harsh

Nat Faxon and Jim Rash's comedy, Downhill, paints in broad strokes and peaks early, never matching the clever satire of its source material, Force Majeure.

Film

The Power of Looking Compels 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Set in 18th century France, Céline Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire applies ravishing historical details to the timeless poetry of forbidden love.

Books

On André Aciman's Psychodrama of Flirting with New Beaus While Brooding over Old Flames, 'Find Me'

André Aciman's long-awaited sequel to Call Me By Your Name, Find Me, isn't so much an extension of the previous book's queries about romance and sexuality as it is a work of convenient revisionism.

Film

Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Is a Uniquely Intelligent Satire

South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s latest film, Parasite, combines the epic class warfare of Snowpiercer with the zany activism of Okja, resulting in a brilliant, many-layered exploration of social stratification and capitalism.

Film

Pedro Almodóvar's 'Pain and Glory' and the Healing Power of Art

Veteran Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar's pointedly autobiographical film, Pain and Glory, reflects on the power of art in shaping a life and legacy.

Music

Jay Som's 'Anak Ko' Embraces Difficult Change

DIY musician Jay Som's Anak Ko exudes tentativeness in the face of subtle personal upheaval, but a veil of motherly tenderness offsets the loneliness and desperation.

Culture

Jia Tolentino's 'Trick Mirror' Is a Studied Index of Contemporary Ills

Jia Tolentino's first collection of essays, Trick Mirror, expertly navigates how the byproducts of capitalism and the Internet permeate culture, values, politics, and the daily lives of people worldwide.

Film

Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood' Is a Baffling Act of Historical Revisionism

The legendary director's hotly anticipated ninth film, Once Upon a time... in Hollywood, applies his trademark wit to '60s Hollywood, but ultimately it's an oddly conservative machismo, not inventive filmmaking, that shines through.

Books

'The Nickel Boys' Continues Colson Whitehead's Inquiry into American Racism

Colson Whiteheads' The Nickle Boys fictionalizes the true story of a Florida prison for boys in the 1960s, further exploring America's furtive legacy of racist violence.

Film

'The Dead Don't Die' Confronts Climate Change with Deadpan Whimsicality

With The Dead Don't Die, Jim Jarmusch deliberately deprives his latest film of the propulsive terrors innate to most zombie films, instead using the genre to matter-of-factly rhapsodize about consumer culture and the inevitability of the apocalypse.

Television

'Black Mirror' Season 5 Should Be Its Last

It makes perfect sense that 2019 — the last year of the decade — should also be the last year for one of the 2010s' best shows. To continue would be a disservice to viewers.

Film

'Booksmart' Is the Best Comedy of 2019 So Far

Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, Booksmart, featuring a lineup of superbly talented young performers, revels in a utopian view of progressive America.

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Joanna Hogg's 'The Souvenir' Is a Defiantly Autobiographical Domestic Drama

Director Joanna Hogg sheds nuanced light on a dysfunctional relationship similar to one of her own in The Souvenir.

Books

Ted Chiang's 'Exhalation' Calmly Stares Oblivion in the Face

With his second collection of short stories, Exhalation, master of existential science fiction Ted Chiang explores AI, time travel, and alternate realities with the studious eye of an anthropologist.

Television

The 'Twilight Zone' Reboot Is an Uneven Anthology of Schlocky Horror

The first five episodes of The Twilight Zone (2019-) developed by Jordan Peele, Simon Kinberg and Marco Ramirez, vary wildly in quality, but even the best of the bunch lack nuance and bite.

Books

Power, Sex and Love in Sally Rooney's 'Normal People'

The Irish novelist Sally Rooney centers her drama, Normal People, around the desperations of youth under late-capitalism, but the novel's psychological excavations, nuanced and piercing, owe just as much to the influence of Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf.

Film

'Her Smell' Is a Rollicking Fever Dream of Abuse and Redemption

Director Alex Ross Perry, a master of acidic comedy, continues his stellar partnership with Elisabeth Moss in Her Smell, a fast-burning rock drama that takes place mostly behind-the-scenes.

Film

Claire Denis Goes for Broke with Hallucinatory Space Thriller, 'High Life'

High Life is more a series of tensions and breaking points than it is a traditionally satisfying space narrative, but Denis's allegiance to directors like Tarkovsky and Kubrick offers an intriguing view of humanity at the gates of the final frontier.

Film

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Literature? Olivier Assayas' 'Non-Fiction'

By satirizing the French literary intelligentsia, Assayas' Non-Fiction (Doubles vie) chronicles the hypocrisies of the modern psyche without attaching itself to any particular worldview.

Film

Jordan Peele’s 'Us' Is a Conceptually Dense Study in Uncanny Horror

The budding auteur's follow up to Get Out, Us, is murkier than its predecessor but features a treasure trove of potent references to keep its ambitious premise afloat.

Film

Julianne Moore Anchors Sebastián Lelio's Striking 'Gloria Bell'

Sebastián Lelio's fascination with womanhood and desire have culminated in Gloria Bell, with actor Julianne Moore tailor-made to its particular kind of searching melancholy.

Television

'Broad City' Season 5 is the Sharpest, Queerest and Most Essential

Their brilliant show may be ending, but the future looks bright for Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, who've already amassed several non-Broad City credits each.

Film

'Isn’t It Romantic' Is Escapist Fare with a Cheeky Twist

Starring Rebel Wilson, the half rom-com, half satire Isn't It Romantic has a hypocritical message, but its self-mocking charms work well.

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