Hammered Horror: “A Horrible Way to Die”

Indie horror flick A Horrible Way to Die is a great example of how a moviemaker can misunderstand what's so special about his idea. The basic story of the film is straightforward: A woman tries to settle in to her new life in a new town, but her serial-killer ex (whom her evidence put away) has escaped from prison and is on the road heading back to her. There are some twists and turns, because Not Everyone Is What They Seem, and then there's a final confrontation between killer and girl.But … [Read more...]

“Holy Agony”: I’m at Commonweal

reviewing the Met's recent Dialogues of the Carmelites:The Metropolitan Opera’s recent production of Dialogues of the Carmelites opens with a group of habited women prostrating themselves on the floor with their arms spread. Their bodies are individual crosses that make up one big cross. This opening for Francis Poulenc’s 1956 opera, adapted from a play by Georges Bernanos and based on a real incident during the French Revolution, seems to subsume the women into a collective identity: the … [Read more...]

From VS Naipaul, “A House for Mr Biswas”

Govind and Mr Biswas had not spoken since their fight. By carrying Mr Biswas in his arms Govind had put himself on the side of authority; he had assumed authority's power to rescue and assist when there was need, authority's impersonal power to forgive. … [Read more...]

“‘Middlemarch’ and What We Mean When We Say Shame Works”: me at AmCon

sorry for length!: The idea that “shame works”—that stigmatizing behaviors and shaming the people who do them are necessary and honorable tools of public policy—is a recurring theme in both conservative and more communitarian/paternalistic liberal rhetoric. It’s often based on personal experience, or home truths from one’s mom, and because people do sometimes say that shame worked for them I had a hard time articulating why I rejected this rhetoric so completely.But I recently finished readi … [Read more...]

It’s the Feast of St Vitus!

Patron of actors and dancers. Here's my review of the terrific Ballets Russes exhibit at the National Gallery again--why not check it out today if you're in DC? And here's Plisetskaya as the Dying Swan:(and more where that came from) … [Read more...]

“Wish You Were Here”: It’s a Thriller. You Know, Like “Crime and Punishment.”

Wish You Were Here is a slight Australian suspense flick about a married couple, expecting their third child, who go on a tourist jaunt to sunny Cambodia with the wife's sister and the sister's beau. After a night of hard partying the boyfriend can't be found. The married couple return to Australia as the girlfriend stays behind to try to find her man; when she comes back, still alone, it's obvious that she's hiding something--and so is her sister's husband.There are plenty of good things … [Read more...]

“Dance of Creation”: I Review the Fantastic Ballets Russes Exhibit

at the National Gallery: ...It’s ambitious, and it mostly works. Even the walk over to the exhibit feels like a part of the show: In the cool, white, high-ceilinged landing of the gallery, you walk past George Segal’s 1971 plaster sculpture The Dancers, in which a ring of four calm and focused women practice their moves. From this image of peace and clarity you suddenly enter the dark, exotic, lush world of the Ballets Russes exhibit: a world of inspiration and ecstasy. The walls are close, the … [Read more...]


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