There's a lot that needs forgiving if you want to enjoy the few simple pleasures offered by Shirin In Love, but the most egregious fault is perhaps too structural to overlook: The love triangle set up for the title character (Nazanin Boniadi) by writer-director Ramin Niami angles too obviously in one direction. The end result is too much of a foregone conclusion even for a predictable romantic comedy.
Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 3:27 pm
Strange and stylish and surpassingly dark, Denis Villeneuve's Enemy — especiallypaired with the same director's recent cop thriller Prisoners — makes a strong case for star Jake Gyllenhaal as maybe our most enigmatic young leading man.
As the star of Arrested Development, Jason Bateman became best known for being the most mature member of the emotionally stunted Bluth family; the roles that followed were largely of the same tone, casting the actor as the affable, mild-mannered, often put-upon nice guy.
Always playing the straight man amid casts of clowns must have created some built-up performance envy, because in his directorial debut he trades in Mr. Nice Guy for Mr. Guy Trilby, finally getting to play an apparent case of severely arrested development himself.
Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 3:13 am
Unhinged by crises both monetary and amorous, a provincial Frenchwoman tells the employees at her restaurant, "I'll be back." Then she takes off in her ancient rattletrap with no escape plan beyond an illicit smoke and a drive to clear her addled head. Turns out she'll be gone a while.
Yes, there's a road movie in Bettie's cards. Yes, there will be formative ordeals. And yes, the payoff will be uplift, along with one of those toothsome al fresco country lunches where Mediterranean types wave their arms around and argue in friendly fashion.
There are three categories of schemers in Big Men, Rachel Boynton's illuminating documentary about the oil business in West Africa: businessmen, politicians and bandits. Sometimes, though, it's hard to tell the types apart.
Painted lips, slicked-back hair and pumping fists form the core of Matt Wolf's documentary Teenage, an impressionistic history of how our concept of the teenager came to be. Composed almost entirely of dazzling archival footage — young people laboring, exercising, fighting, dancing, drinking and playing — the film traces the history of the teenager from the late 19th century to 1945.
Nonfiction writers often have to go scrounging for their dream subject. They may buy themselves a ticket to some far-flung place, or join an Iditarod team, or start researching a historical figure who seems to have led a colorful life. Sometimes, writers are fortunate enough to already have a personal passion for one subject, and writing a book about it seems only natural.
Things can take off fast on Twitter. And that's what happened when a couple of writers expressed how much they like riding trains, Amtrak specifically. It started with an idea: Wouldn't it be great if Amtrak would offer writers a chance to ride the rails for free and do some writing along the way? Soon, the idea was being tweeted and retweeted, and Amtrak replied: Sure.
As the snow melts, even in Minnesota, and daylight lingers into evening, people who like to eat with the seasons know what's coming: asparagus.
"Asparagus means the beginning of spring. It's spring!" says Nora Pouillon, chef and founder of Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C. Later this month, she'll revise her menu, and it will certainly include asparagus with salmon, and asparagus soup.
It's an elegant vegetable, Pouillon says, and unique: "Sweet and bitter at the same time."
Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 3:22 pm
Many of us have those friends who insist that they're coffee connoisseurs and drink exclusively drip brews. But really, there aren't many academic programs that train people in the taste and science of coffee.
That might all change soon. The University of California, Davis, recently founded a Coffee Center dedicated to the study of the world of java. This week, the center held its first research conference.
You might expect that the actor who's brought Community's most idiosyncratic character, Abed, to life, with such skill and empathy must relate to him in some way. Danny Pudi admits that while he's not so similar to his encyclopedically-inclined alter ego (save one incident of lighting himself on fire as a teenager), there is one area in which the actor and the character overlap: their love of film.
Adam Savage, along with partner-in-science (and snark) Jamie Hyneman, has tested over 800 myths, used 12 tons of explosives and destroyed over 100 cars on the hit TV show Mythbusters. Not only is his job incredibly cool--it's often incredibly dangerous.
Many will recognize the "@" or "at" symbol from its place in Twitter usernames. Here, @jonathancoulton leads a challenging word game involving a play on adding the letters "a-t" to word beginnings. @tempt it if you dare!
Who's a "dead guy with crazy hair because he invented physics"? In this game, The New York Times' tech columnist Farhad Manjoo and his opponent try to identify historic figures from dubious Yahoo! Answers descriptions.
Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 3:47 pm
JuJu Harris didn't set out to write a cookbook, but then again, she didn't set out to accept public assistance to feed her son, either. Harris always wanted to work with nature.
"My dream job was, I was going to grow up and be a national park ranger," she says. It didn't quite work out that way. She drifted from job to job in Oakland, Calif., where she was born. At 32, she joined the Peace Corps, traveling to Paraguay to help local farmers improve their crops.
We don't know a whole lot about the upcoming season of Orange Is The New Black, but Netflix put out three images today that might give you something to at least chew on. It certainly appears that we'll be picking up where we left off, in a very immediate sense.
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This series on first novels continues with a look at the book auction: what triggers one, how one is organized, and what running one is like. Previous posts covered how agents fall in love with books and how editors acquire them.
The thing about historical novels is that above all else, they must stand as good fiction. If not, the reader's supposed trip back into the past isn't worth the time or the token. The writer must give the feel and flow of the time in question in a manner that seems natural; characters on a street corner shouldn't remark to themselves about all of these 1922 motor cars rolling past, nor Roman legionaries point out that an axe is bronze when it should be steel.
Producer Bill Taylor says even the show's creators didn't buy the idea at first. "If you speak to all of the authors and all of the creative team, their instinctive reaction, when first hearing about Rocky becoming a musical, ranges from incredulity to plain crazy," he says.
Wes Anderson's new film The Grand Budapest Hotel begins with an author looking back on his work, explaining how he came to write a book about a hotel. The film has a story within a story within a story — but most of it is set in the late 1930s in the fictional central European country of Zubrowka on the eve of war.
Originally published on Wed March 12, 2014 3:51 pm
It's one of our guiltiest pleasures on the Internet, and though some of us may not like to admit it, chances are, we've done it. Some are even addicted. That's right, we're talking about the endless consumption and distribution of food porn.
Photos of fatty foods like grease-laced bacon and glistening donuts abound to satisfy our virtual cravings, yet their healthier counterparts — fruits and veggies – just haven't been getting as much love online.
But why should the junk food guys have all the fun?
Death and birth; grief and hope; fear and elation — these seeming opposites are made of much the same stuff, asserts Kevin Young in his eighth book of poems, which works to wrap itself around the extremes of a father's death and a son's birth. In a kind of poetic daybook or diary, Young tracks his unfolding emotions in the aftermath of his father's death, and, in a separate set of sequences, narrates his growing anticipation in the months leading up to, and then just after, the birth of his son.