Painting the Town Red: “The Exiles,” A Masterpiece of Lost L.A.

Kent MacKenzie's The Exiles played exactly once, at the 1961 Venice Film Festival, and then vanished for more than forty years. It was rediscovered in 2003, and you can find it now on Netflix--which you should do, for real, here's why. The Exiles follows a group of American Indian men and women over the course of one night at the very end of noir-era Los Angeles. The neighborhood where the film was shot was demolished--excuse me, I mean renewed--shortly afterward. The Native actors were … [Read more...]

Before #yesallwomen, There Was “The Gift of Fear”: Me at AmCon

w/criticism, but you should read the book: I had the vertiginous experience of reading Gavin de Becker’s 1997 bestseller The Gift of Fear in the midst of the reporting and reaction to the killings at UC-Santa Barbara. I read Gift for the same reason as hundreds of other women: A close friend told me to. And there’s a reason the book gets passed along. It’s pushy, it’s overstated, it’s flawed—but it’s a powerful guide to recognizing potential violence and listening to your … [Read more...]

My Vampire Spring Continues With 1987′s “Near Dark”

HOW HAVE I NEVER SEEN THIS MASTERPIECE BEFORE? It is just so successful at doing what it promises. Kathryn Bigelow's horror classic is dusty, full of gorgeous sunsets and terrific use of light, breathtakingly sleazy, and emotionally effective. You get dirtbag biker-type vampires ("How old are you?" "Let's just say, I fought for the South") and a vampire child who's ridiculously fun, then actually scary, and then immensely sad. My jaw dropped at the brutal fights. I liked the moral … [Read more...]

Poor Little Rich Christian: Hulu’s Intermittently-Insightful “Rev.”

“First let's say morning prayer. But let's say it quietly, in case somebody here has got a hangover.” That's from the first episode of Rev., a Hulu series about an Anglican vicar in a tough London neighborhood, and it captures the show's best side: a humorous acceptance of human weakness, combined with a seriousness about prayer. There's a lot to love about Rev., so although I'm going to be critical, I want to start by highlighting what's so intriguing and endearing about the show. Its … [Read more...]

“A Stillborn Child Leads to a Murder Charge”: Me at AmCon

on an awful, years-long case: In 2006, 15-year-old Rennie Gibbs became pregnant. She tested positive for marijuana and cocaine during her pregnancy. Her daughter Samiya was born a month premature, with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. An autopsy on the child found traces of a cocaine byproduct, and Rennie was charged with murder—or rather, with what Mississippi calls “depraved heart murder,” signifying an especially callous crime. Gibbs’s case has wound its way through the … [Read more...]

John L. Allen, Jr. on Pope Francis’s Anti-Abuse Commission

here: Francis also showed sensitivity by ensuring that a victim was part of the team, in this case a well-known Irish campaigner for victims’ rights named Marie Collins. Among other things, Collins is known to have the ear of Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who, like O’Malley, is a prelate known around the world for taking strong stands in favor of coming clean on the abuse scandals. much more; and do scroll down to the final item in this column as well. ETA: But see. … [Read more...]

“Art Breakers”: I’m in The American Interest

reviewing: The first chamber sets up the thesis of “Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950,” at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington through May 26. As visitors enter, a 1950s filmstrip plays, showing nuclear blasts recorded for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. To one side, so you only see it once you’re already in the room, there’s a smashed baby grand piano with an axe still sticking out of its body: the remains of a 2013 performance art piece in which Raphael Montañez Ortiz … [Read more...]


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