Review: Eye in the Sky

Gavin Hood’s 2015 film Eye in the Sky is a very well constructed thriller, crispy written and mostly well acted. And it is a film with an important central issue. The ethical dimension The central subject of Eye in the Sky is not drone warfare per se, no matter what some reviewers say, it is […]

Who Made Donald Trump a popular candidate?

One of the many amusements of the 2016 presidential primaries is watching establishment Republicans panic as Donald Trump elbows his way to the nomination and endangers down-ballot races. That establishment should find Trump’s appeal easy to understand, since they prepared his way: the Southern strategy’s appeal to less-educated working class white men, their relentless and […]

Review: Welcome to FOB Haiku

In Welcome to FOB Haiku (Middle West Press, 2015), Randy Brown has written some of the best poetry that I know of to come out of our war in Afghanistan. Most poets surely hope that their books of poetry will last, but most books of poetry end up as ephemera headed for the cultural landfill. […]

Film Review: 45 Years

45 Years is a very fine and wise film, modest enough in scale to feel like a stage play, with a play’s emphasis on dialog. A comfortably retired couple is a few days away from hosting a big party with their many friends to celebrate 45 years of marriage. What could possibly go wrong? What’s […]

Review: Hail, Caesar

Hail Caesar is far more than a parody of or homage to Hollywood, more than a period piece (1951), more than a vehicle for cameo appearances by various stars, and less a series of set pieces than the trailer implies. Forget the tepid New York Times review — this is a good film. There are […]

Sarah Palin and PTSD

Track Palin was charged in January 2016 with “fourth-degree assault, interfering with the report of a domestic violence crime and possession of a firearm while intoxicated.” Sarah Palin blamed President Obama, even though she has tried to deny it since. On Feb. 1, Donald Trump supported her, and also blamed Obama. Only a fool could […]

Review: Brooklyn

Brooklyn, directed by John Crowley, is an engaging film, well written and nicely acted, set in the 1950s not as those years were but as we might want them to have been. It is a feel-good confection. While Brooklyn is said to be about the quintessential immigration experience, it seems to be more about the […]

Review: Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s 2015 film, succeeds in part because of its wonderful evocation of the art scenes in between-wars Paris and in 1950s New York. The film is visually lush, with so much wonderful art, vintage photographs and brief film clips, and some very clever fade-ins and fade-outs of individuals within […]

Review: Suffragette

Suffragette is a well made film, but might ultimately be the victim of the classic trap of hagiography: two-dimensional characters. The film’s strength— its successful depiction of an era and two of its most important political issues — is to some extent weakened by a somewhat flat characterization. The fiend who manages the women at […]

Review: Leviathan

If you appreciate dark foreign films, speaking thematically, you get it all in Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan (2014): the sense of fatalism, quixotic determination fueled by indignation and vodka, the mockery of people hoping that this time the system will work for them, the self-destructiveness of resistance, misogyny, the insecurity of daily life, rapacious governments, collaborationist […]