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Movies

Penn’s ‘Into the Wild’ Is Beautiful, Stirring, Complex

Penn’s ‘Into the Wild’ Is Beautiful, Stirring, Complex "…too-muchness is the essence of the story—a hero's gallant, possibly mad and inevitably doomed attempt to channel too much experience and too many ideas through one young life that can't possibly hold it all… Moviegoers will argue the question of whether the young man's quest succeeds or fails: Is he a pilgrim who finds the transcendence he sought, or a wounded bird flying blind on lofty ambitions, or both? There's no arguing, however, that ‘Into the Wild’ is a new experience, even though some of its countercultural themes and tropes may seem familiar. It's a mainstream movie of ideas that lives in a world of fateful action.” READ MORE >


Books

After the Apocalypse

After the Apocalypse “As they travel the father feeds his son a story, the nearest that he can come to a creed or a reason to keep on going: that he and his son are ‘carrying the fire.’ …the boy seems to intuit a promise: that life will not always be thus; that it will improve, that beauty and purpose, sunlight and green plenty will return; in short that everything is going to be ‘okay,’ a word which both characters endlessly repeat to each other, touching it compulsively like a sore place or a missing tooth. They are carrying the fire through a world destroyed by fire, and therefore—a leap of logic or faith that by the time the novel opens has become almost insurmountable for both of them—the boy must struggle on, so that he can be present at, or somehow contribute to, the eventual rebirth of the world.” READ MORE >


Movies

California Burning

California Burning “A strange and enthralling evocation of frontier capitalism and manifest destiny set at the dawn of the 20th century… There's hardly a dull moment. Digs collapse, gushers burst into flame, God metes out punishment and so does man. Revelations overturn the narrative: The last 20 minutes are as shocking in their way as the plague that rains from the sky in Magnolia's finale. By the time the closing words "There Will Be Blood" appear (with a burst of Brahms) inscribed in heavy gothic letters on the screen, Anderson's movie has come to seem an Old Testament story of cosmic comeuppance and filicidal madness—American history glimpsed through the smoke and fire that the lightning left behind.” READ MORE >


Books

Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?

Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge? “Ms. Jacoby doesn’t expect to revolutionize the nation’s educational system or cause millions of Americans to switch off ‘American Idol’ and pick up Schopenhauer. But she would like to start a conversation about why the United States seems particularly vulnerable to such a virulent strain of anti-intellectualism… Avoiding the liberal or conservative label in this particular argument, she prefers to call herself a ‘cultural conservationist.’” READ MORE >

(0) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    education | reason

Music

Dark Star: Why Amy Winehouse is not just a celebrity train wreck

Dark Star: Why Amy Winehouse is not just a celebrity train wreck “…she's a romantic poet of the train wreck… Amy Winehouse is a genuinely troubled soul; the songs on Back to Black chronicle her tumultuous relationship with Fielder-Civil, and ‘Rehab’ is reportedly something close to reportage, a more or less autobiographical account of her record company's efforts to get her into alcohol-addiction treatment back in 2005. But one wonders if Winehouse would have turned into quite such a mess had it not proved so fruitful for her music… If indeed Sunday night's Grammy triumph is the start of true comeback, this talented singer-songwriter may find herself facing something of an existential career crisis... READ MORE >

(0) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    amy winehouse | grammys | singers

Books

Death’s Army

Death’s Army “Americans had never endured anything like the losses they suffered between 1861 and 1865 and have experienced nothing like them since." The author writes: “’The work of death was Civil War America’s most fundamental and most demanding undertaking.’ Her account of how that work was done, much of it gleaned from the letters of those who found themselves forced to do it, is too richly detailed and covers too much ground to be summarized easily. She overlooks nothing — from the unsettling enthusiasm some men showed for killing to the near-universal struggle for an answer to the question posed by the Confederate poet Sidney Lanier: ‘How does God have the heart to allow it?’” READ MORE >

(0) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    civil war | death | theodicy | us

Movies

Another ‘Pro-Life” Movie?

Another ‘Pro-Life” Movie? "...after the movie ended I wondered what all the fuss was about... I wonder how much of the adulation of reviewers (and the judges at Cannes) stemmed from what they may have perceived as the 'message' of the movie: i.e., illegal abortions are bad, so legal ones must be good. For me, the movie was a litany of the horrors of any abortion, and as much a 'pro-life' movie as 'Juno,' which I had seen the day before. How can observing a lifeless fetus make one anything but pro-life?" READ MORE >

(0) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    abortion | pro-life

TV

“Lost,” that endless engrossing philosophical mish-mash

“Lost,” that endless engrossing philosophical mish-mash Like cramming fistfuls of metaphysical crayons back into their tiny box, the Island on "Lost" can barely contain all the colorful epistemologies in its midst. It is a big stew of Philosophy 101's greatest hits... It's like the Monty Python sketch, "International Philosophy," in which Greek and German philosophers battle it out on the soccer field (Socrates's winning goal is contested by Hegel as not being an "a priori reality"). Back on "Lost" Philosophy Island, the implications are just as absurd: After all, if everything is imbued with meaning, then how meaningful is any one thing? READ MORE >

(0) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    lost | philosophy

Books

The Dawkins Confusion

The Dawkins Confusion “The God Delusion is full of bluster and bombast, but it really doesn’t give even the slightest reason for thinking belief in God mistaken, let alone a ‘delusion.’ Dawkins seems to have chosen God as his sworn enemy. (Let’s hope for Dawkins’ sake God doesn’t return the compliment.)... You might say… READ MORE >

(0) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    atheism | darwinism | dawkins | science

Music

Wilco frontman takes a more direct lyrical approach on striking new album

Wilco frontman takes a more direct lyrical approach on striking new album “...alienation seemed to be the point on Wilco’s overly arch art-rock projects Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born, but on Sky Blue Sky Tweedy reaches out from his solitude in hopes of meeting his listeners—both the woman in the song and the strangers buying his CDs—face-to-face… The album’s title track contrasts our… READ MORE >

(0) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    wilco

Movies

A Chronicler of Alienated Europeans in a Flimsy New World

A Chronicler of Alienated Europeans in a Flimsy New World “Mr. Antonioni’s fashionableness shouldn’t distract us from his accomplishment. He was a visionary whose portrayal of the failure of Eros in a hypereroticized climate addressed the modern world and its discontents in a new, intensely poetic cinematic language. Here was depicted for the first time on screen a world in which attention… READ MORE >

(0) COMMENTS  |  TOPICS:    antonioni | italian cinema

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