Fresh Air: Pop Culture
Examining The War On Mexican Drug Cartels, Through...07/07/15
Two new works of art — the documentary film Cartel Land and the novel The Cartel — shine a light on the seemingly endless drug war in Mexico. John Powers says both works are bleak, but gripping.
Algerian Writer Kamel Daoud Stands Camus' 'The Stranger'...
In his first novel, The Meursault Investigation, Kamel Daoud retells The Stranger from an Arab perspective. John Powers says Daoud's retelling will forever change the way you read the Camus classic.
An Indian Coming-Of-Age Trilogy, Restored To Its 'True...
Indian director Satyajit Ray first came to prominence in the '50s with the three films known as The Apu Trilogy. John Powers says that even half a century later, the films "still expand our horizons."
Gangsters, Goons And 'Grievious Bodily Harm' In Ted Lewis'...
Soho Press recently reissued the late British crime writer's final novel. Critic John Powers says Lewis' GBH is a pulp-fiction triumph worthy of Jim Thompson or James Ellroy.
3,600-Page Autobiographical Novel Is An Honest And...
My Struggle is about Karl Ove Knausgaard's wrangle with his father, with death, with his muse and so on. The 46-year-old Norwegian's pointedly unliterary book has become a literary sensation.
The PBS Version Of 'Wolf Hall' Unfolds Like A Real-Life...
The show, based on Hilary Mantel's acclaimed novel, stars Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's chief minister. Critic John Powers says it's darkly lit, finely acted and thoroughly compelling.
'Seymour': A Loving Portrait Of An Acclaimed Classical...
Seymour: An Introduction is an inspiring new documentary by the actor Ethan Hawke. It's about Seymour Bernstein, who quit a successful concert career at the age of 50 to become a piano teacher.
'A Little Life': An Unforgettable Novel About The Grace Of...
In Hanya Yanagihara's deeply moving novel, college friends rise, lose their bearings, fall in love, squabble and wrestle with life's tragedies in New York City.
Fair Warning: Watch One 'Foyle's War' Episode, And You'll...
The British series is set during and after World War II. Detective Foyle tackles crimes connected to the war — murder and spying, black markets and profiteering. It's "terrifically entertaining."
Full Of Complexity And Ambivalence, 'American Sniper'...
The film about a Navy SEAL whose service in Iraq made him a mythic figure has become a cultural lightning rod. But the squabbles are too simple for a low-key movie striking in its lack of stridency.
'Leviathan' And 'Red Army' Deliver A Peek Inside Russia,...
Leviathan follows a man who fights back after a corrupt mayor uses eminent domain to claim his house, and Red Army recounts the story of the Soviet Union's famous hockey team.
Werner Herzog's Audacious Early Films Showcased In New...
The 71-year-old German filmmaker made daring movies in the 1970s that pushed viewers into unsettling mental spaces. The tremendous boxed set Herzog: The Collection highlights his authentic style.
British Comedians Take A 'Trip To Italy' And Make Fun Of...
In the sequel to The Trip, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon drive around Italy, instead of England, and engage in lively banter. The film isn't freighted with ambition, but it's extremely enjoyable.
'A Hard Day's Night': A Pop Artifact That Still Crackles...
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day's Night, a spectacular restoration is in theaters and on DVD. The black-and-white photography of the Beatles is gorgeous, and the movie isn't half bad.
'Violette' Evokes Exasperating Self-Pity, A Trait The...
The film Violette is a fictionalized portrait of Violette Leduc, the trailblazing French novelist who was considered difficult. The strangely gripping movie captures a key moment in feminist history.
Two Italys Take A Road Trip In 'Il Sorpasso'
The 1962 comic drama follows two young men: one who smacks of Italy's joyless '50s and one who embodies the prosperity and recklessness of the '60s. The film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Movie Monsters, Monster Movies And Why 'Godzilla' Endures
Unlike Jaws and Alien, whose creatures are soulless things to be destroyed, Godzilla resonates because of something that once defined the best monster movies — a sense of compassion for the monster.
Exploring Life's Incurable Soiledness With The Father Of...
A crackling new translation of Giorgio Scerbanenco's crime novel Private Venus has just been released. Critic John Powers read it in a single sitting.
'Redeployment' Explores Iraq War's Physical And Psychic...
In his short story collection, former Marine Phil Klay takes his experience in Iraq and clarifies it, lucidly tracing the moral, political and psychological curlicues of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Remembering Harold Ramis, Master Of The 'Smart Dumb-Movie'
Best known for Animal House, Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day, Ramis died Monday at 69. Critic John Powers says Ramis was like a favorite uncle who spices up the family reunion by spiking the punch.
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