In 2007, David Goldhill's father, in good overall health, checked into the hospital with a minor case of pneumonia. Within a few days, he developed sepsis, then a wave of secondary infections. A few weeks after entering the hospital and the day after his 83rd birthday, he died.
Mrs. Bridge and Gen. Custer: one an invented character, the other a historical figure. You know their names, you can see their faces, even hear their voices as they move across the landscapes in your mind. One in a dining room, in a house in a Kansas City neighborhood, the other riding across the rolling plains of Montana. Mrs. India Bridge and Gen. Custer are some of the most memorable creations of Evan S. Connell, who died this week at the age of 88.
Originally published on Mon January 14, 2013 2:35 pm
Over the course of time, Supreme Court justices have written 225 books. Few reveal much about the justices themselves, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor's autobiography, My Beloved World, is a searingly candid memoir about her life growing up in the tenements of the Bronx, going to Princeton and Yale Law School, becoming a prosecutor and a private corporate lawyer and, at age 38, becoming a federal judge.
For many, the stakes and the scale of World War II are hard to fathom. It was a war fought around the world, against powerful, determined regimes in Europe and the Pacific; some 65 million people died. And as the number of people who have actual memories of the war dwindle — as of next year, there will be fewer than 1 million living veterans — the mission of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans becomes all the more urgent.
For years, I've taken issue with depictions of mentally ill characters in books and movies. Irrational behavior is easily explained away: They're crazy! No need to elaborate further.
So when I picked up Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See, I was apprehensive that the main character, an untreated bipolar Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and child for an international adventure, might be a kooky manic cliche.
The historical drama is a staple of the film awards season, and the tortured history of modern Germany — with its echoes of the brutal Third Reich and war — has played a central role in many an award-winning film. But the new film Barbara, which was Germany's official entry to this year's Oscars, is a nuanced portrait of the more recent history of a newly reunited East and West.
Jeff Bridges made his film debut when he was 4 months old and has been acting ever since — he has appeared in dozens of films and won an Oscar along the way, yet will always be known for his defining performance as The Dude in 1998's The Big Lebowski. He has now co-written a book drawing life lessons from the character called The Dude and the Zen Master.
It's taken over 100 episodes, but we're finally digging deeply into Downton Abbey this week, and because Stephen isn't big into the genre of ladies in hats, we called in someone who is: our friend and yours, Barrie Hardymon. (Yes, you Barrie people can jump around with excitement now. We'll only cry a little with jealousy.) We'll talk about the first episode of the new season, what does and doesn't work about the show overall, and Maggie Smith (and yes, this causes Glen to break out his Maggie Smith impression, and what's better than that?).
This interview was originally broadcast on May 7, 2012.
Lena Dunham was just 23 years old when her second feature film, Tiny Furniture, won the best narrative feature prize at the South by Southwest Film Festival. The movie's success led to Dunham striking a deal with HBO for a comedy series about a group of 20-something girls navigating New York City.
Finally, what we've been waiting for. Let's bring back our winners to play the Ask Me One More final round. From Name that Candy Bar, Sarah Sheppard.
EISENBERG: It's All Squeak to Me, Stephen Kendall. Time to Turn off the TV, Dan Moren. Street Music, Steve Spinoglio. Celebrity Secret Words, Margaret Maloney. All right, Noah, how are we going to wrap this show up?
Of all the cable comedies returning with new episodes Sunday, Girls is the most ambitious — as well as the most unpredictable, and occasionally unsettling.
When thirtysomething premiered on ABC more than 25 years ago — yes, it's been that long — that drama series was both embraced and attacked for focusing so intently on the problems of self-obsessed people in their 30s. What that drama did for that generation, Girls does for a new one — and for an even younger demographic, by presenting a quartet of young women in their mid-20s.
The second season of HBO's critically acclaimed series Girls begins Sunday night, but the show about 20-something girls navigating their social and work lives in New York has itself been criticized for not being diverse enough.
By now, most of you have heard the buzz about Girls: It's written by 26-year-old Lena Dunham, and stars a quartet of young women whose plans sometimes crash face-first into life's nasty realities.
The show's smart dialogue attracted writer Allison Samuels, a cultural critic for Newsweek/The Daily Beast.
The creators of The Thrilling Adventure Hour proudly call it "fake radio." It's less an homage to old-time radio and more of a clever update. A live monthly performance at Largo, a 200-seat, scruffy-chic Hollywood nightclub is also available as a popular podcast through Nerdist.
Decked out in impeccable suits and a fedora so crisply brimmed it could cut through drywall, Josh Brolin stars in Gangster Squad as a square-jawed policeman of the first order, an Eliot Ness type who would sooner burn a pile of dirty money than pocket a single dollar.
In 1949 Los Angeles, Brolin's Sgt. John O'Mara has been trusted with the task of rebuffing the threat posed by Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), an East Coast gangster working quickly and ruthlessly to set up shop.
During The Baytown Outlaws prologue — a bloody massacre scene that doubles as a credit sequence — director Barry Battles interrupts the carnage with comic-book-style panels. It's a gambit he uses again later, and an appropriate one. This Deep South odyssey is a pulp fantasy and knows it.
If Tolstoy was right about every unhappy family being unhappy in its own way, the cinema of domestic dysfunction will likely never die. But it has gotten awfully droopy, mired in familiar plotting, quasi-wise psychobabble, or — in the case of so many comedies — a knowing prankishness (I'm looking at you, Judd Apatow) that wearies the soul.
There isn't much to say about Struck by Lightning, except that it's one of those interchangeable teen movies that lands in theaters in early January, the morgue for films nobody knows what to do with. That it was released at all is likely due to the clout of Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt on Glee and who wrote the screenplay, along with a companion young adult novel, as a vehicle for what appears to be his own blossoming savior complex.
Barry Lopez is known for writing about the natural world. His books include Arctic Dreams and Of Wolves and Men, where he explores the relationship between the physical landscape and human culture. But in a new essay in the January issue of Harper's Magazine, Lopez writes that he was sexually molested by a family friend when he was a boy, and says the man was never brought to justice.
And this morning here in Los Angeles the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were announced. The movie with the most nominations: Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln," with 12 nods.
(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LINCOLN")
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS: (as Lincoln) Euclid's first common notion is this: Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other. That's a rule of mathematical reasoning. It's true because it works.
Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 1:14 pm
It turns out that if you ask the Academy at large who are the best directors, you get a very different answer from the one you get if you ask the Directors Guild of America (DGA). The DGA nominations a couple of days ago went to Ben Affleck for Argo, Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, Tom Hooper for Les Miserables, Ang Lee for Life Of Pi, and Steven Spielberg for Lincoln.
Will Self's latest novel, the Booker-shortlisted Umbrella, is a strange and sprawling modernist experiment that takes the human mind as its subject and, like the human mind, is infinitely capacious, wretchedly petty and ultimately magnificent, even in its defects.