Category: Popular Culture

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Tim Urban’s The Story of Us

The popular blogger and stick-figure cartoonist Tim Urban posts educational and intellectually provocative articles on his Website, WaitButWhy.com. Everything there is worth reading. But during these plague times, his magnum opus, his masterpiece of expository and explanatory writing, a multi-part series called “The Story of Us,” is indispensable, not to be missed. In it, Urban attempts to...

Amy Schumer in “I Feel Pretty”

Although we can understand it’s appeal to connoissuers of vulgarity, we’re not a big fan of Amy Schumer’s saucy stand-up comedy. Which is why her performance in “I Feel Pretty” knocked us out. Yes, she’s funny. But in this movie about one woman’s journey of self-acceptance (of her body, of herself), Schumer is vulnerable, brave,...

Bold Predictions for 2020

We’ve consulted the elves, fairies, and ancient spirits flitting around our garden, and they’ve offered some insights into the future. We predict: + A cataclysmic environmental disaster on the scale of the 9/11 attacks, such as the entire continent of Australia going up in flames, will spark a global revolution of unprecedented size and impact,...

Bodied

We regret that the sensationally smart, funny, and illuminating feature film Bodied has a title that offers little clue to what the film’s about. Namely: battle rap. This sub-culture of popular culture is both fascinating and ripe for satire, and the brain trust behind the movie — producer Eminem, writer Alex Larsen and director Joseph Kahn...

Third Eye Spies

The Central Intelligence Agency has earned both renown and scorn for its “secret” programs designed to encourage American hegemony over the rest of the world. For years a tantalizing rumor circulated around the Internet: The CIA was using psychics to perform “remote viewing” of distant targets. The new documentary Third Eye Spies confirms the rumor —...

Peanut Butter Falcon

Few movies combine backwoods professional wrestling, Outer Banks crabbing, and a main character with Downs Syndrome. Few movies are as charming, endearing, and ravishingly human as The Peanut Butter Falcon. Based loosely –very loosely — on Huckleberry Finn, “PBF” charts the unlikely friendship between an escapee from  a state-run residential facility (Zack Gottsagen) and a felonious fisherman (Shia...

Knock Down the House

The award-winning documentary Knock Down the House by director Rachel Lears, covers four working-class, “regular” women — a registered nurse, a bartender, a coal miner’s daughter — running for Congress during the 2018 mid-term elections, including the sensationally charismatic, eloquent and inspiring Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, who, most of us now know, shocked the world by defeating an entrenched...

Free Solo

The impossible is possible. We understand the concept in theory; films like “Free Solo” remind us of the thrilling truth. The movie documents climber Alex Honnold’s attempt to scale Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan cliff face — more than 3,000 feet of virtually perpendicular rock — without ropes, clamps, or nets, using only his claw-like hands,...

The Hate U Give

America’s ongoing oppression of people of color, expressed most viciously in police brutality against unarmed black men, is the subject of director George Tillman, Jr.’s film version of Angie Thomas’s book “The Hate U Give.” (The title refers to a Tupac Shakur lyric riffing on the theme of “you reap what you sow.”) The movie...

Derren Brown’s “Sacrifice”

The British mentalist, magician and showman Derren Brown has long created television specials of enduring power and controversy. Much of his work concerns psychological manipulation and social coercion. In our view, shows like “Russian Roulette” (filmed live on a 15-minute delay) and “The Push” (in which an average member of the public is convinced to...