Fresh Air: Pop Culture
'Violette' Evokes Exasperating Self-Pity, A Trait The...07/08/14
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 Italian Noir
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 Costs
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.
For A Rabbi Who Worked With The Nazis, Is Judgment 'Unjust'?
Claude Lanzmann's documentary profiles a Viennese rabbi put to work in a Czech concentration camp. Although Benjamin Murmelstein was himself not a free man, he was despised by fellow Jewish prisoners.
'Borgen' Is Denmark's 'West Wing' (But Even Better)
Critic John Powers says that Borgen, a Danish TV series about a woman who unexpectedly becomes Denmark's prime minister is "irresistibly bingeable." The third and final season has just been released on DVD.
Three Protesters, One 'Square': Film Goes Inside Egypt's Revolution
As we approach the third anniversary of the demonstrations in Egypt, Fresh Air critic John Powers reviews a documentary that captures the story of Cairo's Tahrir Square. He says the film "is less a final reckoning than an exciting bulletin from the...
Frustrating Heroine Stars In Fresh, Feminist 'Nightingale'
Nina Borg, the heroine of Death of a Nightingale, is a Red Cross nurse on a mission to save the dispossessed. But she neglects her own family as she rescues those in need in Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbol's elaborately plotted page-turner.
'Great Beauty,' 'Narco Cultura': Excess, Succeeding Wildly
Critic John Powers says Italy's submission for the best foreign language film Oscar and a documentary about the Mexican drug war got him thinking about a William Blake proverb: "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."
Female Friendship Puts 'New' Angle On Italian Classism And Machismo
Bound by the confines of gender and finances, two young women take divergent paths in Elena Ferrante's The Story of a New Name, the second book in her "Neapolitan Novels" trilogy. Critic John Powers believes the bold, expansive series to be...
'Masters Of Sex' Get Unmasterful Treatment On Showtime
The series follows the stories of science pioneers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who helped bring sexuality into the light. Critic John Powers says it clearly aspires to be "the Mad Men of sex" -- but falls short in both its eye for detail and...
Aussie Detective Jack Irish Is More Than Old-School Macho
The fictional Australian hard-boiled detective is the star of several sharp, funny novels by Peter Temple. Two of those books have recently been adapted into TV movies starring Guy Pearce. Critic-at-large John Powers says Pearce perfectly conveys a...
Addictive 'Infatuations' Takes A Metaphysical Look At Crime
Spanish novelist Javier Marías is well-known in Europe, but not as popular in the United States. Critic John Powers says Marías' latest work — an unsettling, slightly sinister twist on the mystery novel — ought to raise the author's profile here in...
'My Lunches With Orson' Puts You At The Table With Welles
For years, there were rumors that filmmaker Henry Jaglom had taped hours of his conversations with Orson Welles but that the tapes had been lost. They weren't. Now the transcripts have been released in a new book, edited and introduced by Peter...
'The Bling Ring': Celebrity Culture And Its Little Monsters
A new film from Sofia Coppola, who made Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette, is based on the real-life story of a group of Southern California teens who, in 2008 and 2009, began breaking into the homes of celebrities and stealing everything from...
Peeling Away The Layers In A 'Portrait Of Jason'
In her classic '60s documentary, Shirley Clarke profiles a loquacious 33-year-old gay hustler who dreams of having a nightclub act. Her subject could hardly be more complex — and in examining him, she raises important questions about the relationship...
Hunting For Secrets In 'The Shining's' Room 237
A new documentary looks at obsessive fans of Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror film The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. These fanatics look for hidden meanings in the movie, and while some of their theories sound outrageous, it's too...
A Measured Look At Roth As The Writer Turns 80
The celebration of Philip Roth's career reaches its peak in a new documentary — Philip Roth Unmasked — that will screen on PBS next week as part of the American Masters series. There's no doubt that Roth is a master, and not just an American one, but...
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