Against Air Conditioning: Aesthetics Finally Have a Say at the Washington Post!

This piece covers a surprisingly wide range of arguments, from film noir to cost savings to the human need for siesta--it isn't the expected environmental scold. I assume the author didn't write the headline. While I strongly prefer the un-AC life (I have permission from my landlady to cover the AC vent in my room with a magnetic panel, so my Literal Garret gets gloriously subtropical, with soft caresses from fresh air and the tidal howling of crickets and cicadas) I try not to tell other people … [Read more...]

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A Long Summer: Movie notes

In the order I saw them. Saving the best for last.Hush: Home-invasion horror centering on a deaf woman. This is very suspenseful--really effective--and I loved that three of the four characters were noticeably, extremely quick-witted and resourceful. Absolutely worth watching if this is the sort of thing you like. Quite bloody. The ending has some degree of ambiguity; I'm choosing the grimmer interpretation because I think the movie has already given you plenty of reasons to consider even … [Read more...]

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From Saul Bellow, “Ravelstein”

Obviously, my purpose in mentioning the Crillon's valet service was to comfort Abe for spilling the Flore's strongest coffee on his brand-new jacket. But Abe didn't want me to console him for being what he was. He would have thought better of me for laughing at his sputtering reckless slobbering, his gauche eager tremors. He liked broad comedy, old vaudeville routines, wounding remarks, brashness, and raw fun. So he didn't think well of my weak, liberal, let's-make-it-all-better motive--my … [Read more...]

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From What’s Probably an Afterword to Andrey Platonov, “The Foundation Pit”

this book looks super All these works appear at first glance--especially to a reader unversed in Soviet history--to be highly surreal. This impression, however, is misleading; they contain barely an incident or a passage that does not directly relate to some real event or publication from these years. Platonov's focus is not on some private dream world but on political and historical reality--a reality so extraordinary as to be barely credible. buy book here; cf also my constant refrain, … [Read more...]

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A Critique of “The Wire” as an Outsider’s Tragedy Narrative

written by a Baltimorean and a fan of the show: The closest the show gets to presenting an autonomous Black solution to Black problems is Cutty’s boxing gym, and the fate of the young people who cycle through there frame the effort largely as a failure. more (via Loftus)--among other things, looks at how Simon's choice of genre (tragedy of institutions) locked him into a narrative where the important forces work on black communities from the outside.I agree w/Loftus that there's an u … [Read more...]

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Other People’s Parties: I review “About Elly”

at the Federalist: It’s easy to make “About Elly” sound simple. The film (made in 2009 but newly arrived on these shores) from Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who gave us 2011’s Oscar-winning divorce drama “A Separation,” is about a group of college friends who go off for a vacation by the sea. They bring along Elly (Taraneh Alidoosti), the teacher of one of the friends’ daughters, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear.When tragedy strikes, the friends must try to figure … [Read more...]

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Small Screens: Several Very Short Movie Reviews

What I've been watching.Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: Actually pretty fun, once you get past the narcissism and abuse of women.EDIT: I should say that the latter two elements aren't things I wish they'd left out of the movie. They add texture to what could have been a plasticky, "drugs R fun!", self-consciously edgy cliche. F&LILV manages to be neither a cautionary tale nor an ad for addiction.Whiplash: Miles Teller is a super actor. This is not the movie to see him in. It's a … [Read more...]

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