Quick and Cheap Reviews of Quick and Cheap Movies

Or, a quick fix of slick flicks.Devil's Pass: Found-footage Dyatlov Pass Incident investigation. Some fun Russian scenery; very nice twist at the end.Kill List: An aging contract killer goes in for One Last Job and things predictably go haywire. An unexpectedly emotional film; you can feel the regret and confusion of the characters, and their relationships are sharply-drawn. Also very twisty in the back half, with the final twist an especially nasty one. Much better than it had to be, … [Read more...]

“Domestic Tranquility”: I review Andrew Cherlin on working-class families

for the Weekly Standard:When the sociologist Timothy Nelson asked low-income men who didn’t live with their children what the ideal father was like, eight of them spontaneously mentioned the same man: Ward Cleaver, the dad from Leave It to Beaver. That might make sense if Nelson’s interviews had taken place in the 1950s-60s, when the show aired; but these men were interviewed in the late 2000s. Why did they hark back to a man old enough to be their own grandfather? Maybe it is because the … [Read more...]

It’s Called AltFem, Not CtrlFem: An Eccentric Report

Yesterday I went to the launch of AltFem, a new magazine from the people who brought you AltMuslimah and AltCatholicah, which explores the intersection of feminism and what I suppose we must call "traditional" faith. It was a religiously diverse event--lots of headscarves; several babies! I spoke on the first panel, about forging a more inclusive feminism. I'm going to do at least one more post inspired by the event, which will be on an underexplored aspect of Mary's role as model of motherhood, … [Read more...]

For Want of a Nail: I Watch “Boogie Nights”

Over the counter with a shotgun--Pretty soon, everybody's got one.I'm in a fever when I'm beside her, desire...--U2Now I have already mentioned that there was a disturbance in my heart, a voice that spoke there and said, I want, I want, I want! It happened every afternoon, and when I tried to suppress it it got even stronger. It only said one thing, I want, I want!And I would ask, "What do you want?"But this was all it would ever tell me. It never said a thing except I … [Read more...]

I Review Christopher Beha’s New Novel of Reality-TV Redemption

for AmCon: Christopher Beha’s Arts & Entertainments is built around a classic morality-tale structure: the devil’s bargain, the spiraling consequences, the choice between a good reputation and a good conscience.Eddie Hartley is an acting teacher of the “those who can’t do” type, whose marriage is being ground down by his wife Susan’s longing for the children they can’t conceive on their own. To pay for another round of IVF treatments, Hartley sells a sex tape from his youthful relationsh … [Read more...]

The Sleazy Moral Greatness of “Phone Booth”

Last night I watched Phone Booth, the 2003 thriller (brilliantly directed by Joel Schumacher, for real) in which an unseen killer traps Colin Farrell in a public phone booth and makes increasingly painful demands. It's terrifically intense--I couldn't look away. The high concept is so great: the man suffering in public, while nobody around him has any idea what he's going through. Both Farrell and his character are fun (he's a publicist, rather than a human being) and, by the end, surprisingly … [Read more...]

“Rich Dad, Poor Dad”: I review new film about fatherhood

for AmSpec: Hirokazu Koreeda's new film, Like Father, Like Son, pretends that it will be up front about the source of its heartbreak. Koreeda is the tragedian behind 2004's Nobody Knows, based on the real-life horror of several small children abandoned in their Tokyo apartment after their mother disappeared. This time he takes a parental perspective: Like Fatheropens with a couple learning that their only child was switched at birth, and is not biologically related to them.There's a … [Read more...]


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