Category: Popular Culture

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Leah Lewis in “The Half of It”

Alice Wu’s autobiographical romantic comedy “The Half of It” is worth watching for many reasons, including its original and modern take on the Cyrano de Bergerac theme of love letters written by a surrogate. Perhaps the movie’s biggest revelation is the performance of Leah Lewis, a singer-songwriter whose utter naturalness on screen suggests she’ll soon...

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Mercy

Exploring the fascinating (and disturbing) connection between an obsession with “true crime” television and one chronically ill woman’s serial surgeries and medical emergencies, Marcia Trahan’s bravely honest memoir Mercy compels readers to consider the omnipresent violence — both literal and figurative — visited upon women’s bodies. Not a jolly subject, right? Surprisingly, Trahan’s telling of her...

I Lost My Body

When a movie’s plot is almost impossible to describe with a straight face — “Um, it’s an animated film about an amputated hand searching for its body, a motorcycle pizza delivery boy. . .in Paris” — you know you’re dealing with a singular creation. The French director Jeremy Clapin’s “I Lost My Body” is one...

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...