I Watch “Mistress America,” The New Noah Baumbach/Greta Gerwig Flick About Women’s Friendship

for AmCon: One of the weirder trends in today’s art is the rise of a certain kind of comedy: cynical and even scathing on the surface, but in the end, staunchly moral. These comedies push forgiveness, humility, and love as self-gift; the great enemies are personal ambition, unwillingness to embrace adult responsibility, and concern for one’s own self-image. (The lesser enemy is positive self-talk, which all these comedies go out of their way to satirize.) It’s a sort of comedic burned marsh … [Read more...]

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“I Reviewed Jail on Yelp Because I Couldn’t Afford a Therapist”: The Marshall Project

with many and varied windows into the human condition:...User-review sites have become an unlikely destination for raw, informative accounts of Americans’ everyday interactions with our criminal justice system. Yelp declined to provide the number of prison and jail reviews on its site, but dozens of correctional facilities are filed under “Public Services & Government” alongside DMVs and post offices. Search for your local prison or jail and chances are that Google reviews will pop up alo … [Read more...]

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It Always Rains on Ben Affleck: Short Movie Reviews

The Leopard: Burt Lancaster is the patriarch of an aristocratic Sicilian family whose role in society is inevitably being usurped by the rising middle class during the period of Italian unification. Directed in sun-soaked autumnal shade and color by Caravaggio--I mean, Visconti.Lancaster is so good at these autumnal roles (The Swimmer) and everything here is gorgeous to look at. My favorite social or psychological note was the complex role played by the Church/the family priest. The … [Read more...]

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The Kindle Version of My Novel, “Amends,” Now Available: Mysticism, Sleaze, Good Times and Bad Advice

You can purchase it (or the paperback, if you prefer books for mammals):A month in rehab would be stressful enough without a television audience. When the ramshackle cast checks in for "Amends," a new reality series about alcoholism and recovery, they don't know if they've been cast as villains or potential redemption arcs. Over the course of the show they learn what God sees when he shuts his eyes, how to appreciate the comforts of hallucination, and what it looks like when a wolf fights a … [Read more...]

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“Amends,” My Novel About Reality-TV Rehab, Is Available in Paperback

now! A month in rehab would be stressful enough without a television audience. When the ramshackle cast checks in for "Amends," a new reality series about alcoholism and recovery, they don't know if they've been cast as villains or potential redemption arcs. Over the course of the show they learn what God sees when he shuts his eyes, how to appreciate the comforts of hallucination, and what it looks like when a wolf fights a troll. A conservative journalist woos a homeless Ethiopian visionary. … [Read more...]

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A Vindication of the Rites of Whores: Rumer Godden’s “Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy”

When I asked people to recommend books about life in religious communities, this (as well as Godden's In This House of Brede) was one of the most frequent responses. It's a story set among the Dominican Sisters of Bethany, whose charism involves prison ministry--and so many of the sisters are themselves former criminals, what we'd call "ex-offenders" or "returning citizens." These are I think the same nuns you see in Robert Bresson's terrific nun-noir The Angels of Sin. (This is the Bresson for … [Read more...]

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Photographs from Miracle Village, A Florida Town for Sex Offenders

The Guardian writes: ...Sofia Valiente, a quietly spoken 24-year-old photographer who lives one hour’s drive from Miracle Village, came upon the community when she was photographing the small towns of south Florida. Intrigued, she started visiting the community and, having gained their trust, began documenting this enclosed world in portraits, landscapes and still lives. She even lived there for a time during the three months it took her to complete the project that has now become an intriguing … [Read more...]

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