“Tenderness in Moonlight”: I’m at First Things

reviewing a movie, and also contemporary American Christian masculinity: Years ago I was reading testimonies from people who had experienced abusive corporal punishment. One man reached adulthood before he was able to give the right name to something for which he was frequently beaten. His parents had called it a lot of things, but the true name of his crime was “tenderness.”Moonlight, written and directed by Barry Jenkins from a story by playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, tells the story of … [Read more...]

“12 Top New England Diners”: Boston Magazine

Americana (and defensiveness about how New England is totally the best region, how dare those brash Mid-Atlantics!, because of course. But these are gorgeous): Worcester Lunch Car Company began building its diners in 1906, producing some 650 units before it shut down in 1961. The several dozen that remain today—including the Rosebud in Somerville—are instantly recognizable thanks to their unique railcar exteriors and barrel-roofed, wood-paneled, and ceramic-tiled interiors. Many even continue to … [Read more...]

“How Isis Resembles Yesterday’s Anarchists”

End Italian Immigration Now! Today, revolutionary anarchists seem archaic, almost quaint. But for around 50 years, from the 1880s to the 1930s, anarchists carried out terror attacks all over the world. Buildings blew up; world leaders and random civilians alike were killed.The parallels between then and now, when we face the threat of ISIS and other Islamic extremist groups, are many. During the decades of anarchist terrorism, it seemed like each week we heard of another incident carried … [Read more...]

Not Peace But a Sword: “The Birth of a Nation” (2016)

The Birth of a Nation, Nate Parker's searing life of Nat Turner, is a brilliant and iconic piece of Christian moviemaking--right up until Turner's slave rebellion begins.Birth has attracted intense controversy in part because of rape charges against both Parker and his co-writer. I'm not going to get into that, largely because you'll have your own beliefs on whether or how those charges should color your ticket-buying decisions, except to say that the portrayal of sexual violence in the film … [Read more...]

Prophet and Loss: I watch “Roger and Me”

Along with Barcelona, my other RNC counterprogramming was Michael Moore's 1989 documentary, Roger and Me. It's structured around Moore's quest to get a personal interview with Roger Smith, the head of General Motors, who is in the process of basically devastating Moore's hometown of Flint, Mich. by closing the GM plant there. It's incredibly powerful--I don't think there's a wasted frame. A few thoughts, beyond my basic thought which is just, "You should see this movie."Artistically it is … [Read more...]

The Only Song in the World: Short movie notes

In order of when I saw them, so this will get whiplashy.Me Without You: Brutally disappointing. The bait: Two girls forge a best friendship (YES) in the late '70s/early '80s (YES) complete with druggie punk adventures (YES!) and talking about finding their "soulmate" while using their feet to share a cigarette (YES!!!!). One of them is even Jewish!!The switch: Joke's on you, gen-X lesbian, their friendship is holding them back and it falls apart in the face of the obvious imperatives of … [Read more...]

“The Gun Control We Deserve”: Terrific article

at n+1: At the deepest level, the schizoid landscape of American gun control is the product of two phenomena, both baked into the American past and protean in their contemporary manifestations. First, a long history of skirmishes over who should be armed and how—fraught battles that pivot on questions of race, class, masculinity, and the role of law enforcement.1 Second, the synergy between American militarism and capitalism: a perennial entanglement that has produced a society in which there a … [Read more...]