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  • Concert Review: Panic! at the Disco Brings Theatrical Flair to Forum February 16, 2019
    At one particularly crowd-pleasing point during Panic! at the Disco’s show Friday at the Forum, Brendon Urie played the group’s cover of one of the “Greatest Showman” songs, from the recent tribute album devoted to that film, and it’s not hard to see why he would gravitate to the musical. Urie’s so much of a […]
    Alex Stedman
  • Box Office: ‘Alita: Battle Angel,’ ‘Lego Movie 2’ to Lead President’s Day Weekend February 16, 2019
    “Alita: Battle Angel” is holding a slim lead ahead of “Lego Movie 2’s” second frame with an estimated four-day take of $29.1 million from 3,790 North American locations. “Lego Movie 2: The Second Part,” meanwhile, is heading for about $25 million for a domestic tally of around $66 million. The two films lead the pack […]
    Erin Nyren
  • Robert Mapplethorpe Biopic Teams Talks about ‘Fast and Furious’ Filming February 16, 2019
    Thursday night’s New York premiere of the Matt Smith-led biopic “Mapplethorpe” took place at Cinépolis Chelsea, just steps from the Chelsea Hotel where the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe once lived — but director Ondi Timoner had no sense of that legacy when she first encountered him in a very different context. “When I was ten […]
  • Just Days Left to Catch Canal Plus’ ‘The Bureau’ on MyFFF February 16, 2019
    The most lauded of titles on this year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, UniFrance’s online showcase featured by over 50 OTT services around the world, may not be a film but a drama series. With four seasons aired, and a milestone in world sales on a French TV show, slow-boiling espionage series ‘Le Bureau des légendes’ (“The Bureau”) is […]
    John Hopewell
  • Bruno Ganz, Star of ‘Downfall’ and ‘Wings of Desire,’ Dies at 77 February 16, 2019
    Bruno Ganz, the Swiss actor best known for dramatizing Adolf Hitler’s final days in 2004’s “Downfall,” has died. He was 77. Ganz died at his home in Zurich on Friday, his representatives told media outlets. The cause of death was reportedly colon cancer. In addition to delivering one of the definitive cinematic portrayals of Hitler, […]
    Henry Chu
  • Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese Video Platform Bilibili February 16, 2019
    Alibaba has purchased an 8% stake in the Chinese online video platform Bilibili, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Bilibili is one of China’s top video streaming and entertainment platforms, with about 92 million monthly active users and 450 million page-views per day. Founded in 2009, it was listed on the NASDAQ last March. Alibaba’s […]
    Rebecca Davis
  • Sundance Film Review: Stephen K. Bannon in ‘The Brink’ February 16, 2019
    Stephen K. Bannon drinks Kombucha (who knew?), the fermented tea beverage for health fanatics that tastes like…well, if they ever invented a soft drink called Germs, that’s what Kombucha tastes like. In “The Brink,” Alison Klayman’s fly-on-the-wall, rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-a-white-nationalist documentary, Bannon explains that he likes Kombucha because it g […]
    Owen Gleiberman
  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78 February 16, 2019
    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the […]
    Cynthia Littleton
  • TV Writer Christopher Knopf, Former WGA West President, Dies at 91 February 16, 2019
    Prolific Emmy-nominated television writer Christopher Edwin Knopf, former president of the Writers Guild of America West, died in his sleep of congestive heart failure on Feb. 13. He was 91. Knopf was born in New York and attended UCLA, leaving during his senior year to join the Air Force during World War II. He finished […]
    Dave McNary
  • Jussie Smollett Case: Two Suspects Released Without Charges as New Evidence Emerges February 16, 2019
    After two days of questioning, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday evening that it has released two suspects in the Jussie Smollett case without filing charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had developed new information in the case. Police no longer consider the men to be suspects. “Due to new evidence as a […]

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Top Book News provided by The New York Review of Books©

  • The Power of Andrea Dworkin’s Rage
    Dworkin would become the ur-figure of so-called anti-sex feminism, a contentious term used to characterize feminist opposition to pornography, prostitution, and S&M. Her reputation, forged through thundering speeches and legislative efforts as well as her writing, is one of stridency, man-hate, and paranoid histrionics. In her work, rage is authority; her imperious voice and dirty mouth make for a feminist literature empty of caveats and equivocation. And reading her now, beyond the anti-porn intransigence she’s both reviled and revered for, one feels a prescient apocalyptic urgency, one perfectly calibrated, it seems, to the high stakes of our time.
  • #KoreaToo
    It is curious that a book not primarily focused on sexual violence has become a cultural touchstone for Korea’s version of the Me Too movement. But the local activism grouped under the American label of Me Too must be understood as a total rebellion against deeply patriarchal, Confucian structures that, in the digital era, have found cruel new forms.
  • The Migrant Caravan: Made in USA
    The migrant caravan that left Honduras and headed north toward the US last October is the largest flight from drug trafficking in history. Though the phenomenon of Central American caravans isn’t new, never before have thousands of people decided to flee from criminal organizations in such numbers. It is, in a sense, the biggest anti-mafia march the world has ever seen.
  • Undefeated, ISIS Is Back in Iraq
    The intelligence my colleagues and I have collected is disturbing: over the past fifteen months, hundreds of attacks linked to ISIS have taken place in areas that were supposed to have been liberated. Islamic State fighters have regrouped in the provinces of Kirkuk, Diyala, Salahaddin, and parts of Anbar—territory they know well. In towns and villages across the country’s northwest, these guerrillas are mounting ambushes against Iraqi security forces in attacks the scale of which has not been seen in years. Even in parts of Mosul itself, the northern city reconquered in 2017 by government forces after a long and costly campaign, the ominous black-and-white ISIS flag has flown again in recent months, causing panic and fear among the civilian population.
  • The Fight for Justice Takes Its Toll on Ferguson Activists
    Danye Jones is one of at least five young Ferguson activists who have died since 2014. The suspicion in the activist community “speaks to the level of distrust for law enforcement in many communities in St. Louis,” said ArchCity Defenders director Blake Strode. “It speaks to what many people have experienced themselves with law enforcement, and what they believe law enforcement to be capable of.” St. Louis police have by far the highest rate of shootings in the country, with more than five per 100,000 people, and most of the victims of police shootings are black. Even black St. Louis police officers believe the St. Louis police are racist—there are two, essentially segregated police unions, one white, one black.
  • A Refuge from Reality, à la Russe
    Though closely associated with Russia, both before and after the 1917 Revolution, the concept of “internal exile” is not exclusively linked to the Soviet experience and has existed at other times and places. But internal exile during the Soviet period came to mean far more than a definition of where you could and couldn’t travel. Instead, it represented something more metaphorical—about traveling within yourself or relocating mentally. It signified a sort of “retreat into the self” that allowed many people to live more happily while avoiding anything to do with politics or public life. 
  • Why Is Medicine So Expensive?
    The prominence of high drug prices among current American grievances derives from three recent episodes. In 2014 Gilead Sciences brought out Sovaldi, a drug that cures hepatitis C within twelve weeks but costs $1,000 a pill, making the price of a full course of treatment $84,000. In 2015 Turing Pharmaceuticals, a new company headed by Martin Shkreli, a hedge-fund manager, acquired Daraprim, the sole treatment available in the United States for a life-threatening parasitic infection, and raised the price per tablet from $13.50 to $750. And in 2016 Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which had a stranglehold on the market for EpiPens (used to counter allergic shock), began selling them wholesale for $284 apiece, a 600 percent increase over the wholesale price in 2007, and offering them only in packages of two.
  • Olmec
    The bone-crushing pain of turning into a jaguar: palpable in the shaman’s cleft head carved in basalt or jade; in his downturned squared-off open mouth; lips stretched and dilated in birthing, in a scream. Try to imagine yourself crossing from one world of pain into another, the quiet needed to summon the fury needed to […]
  • Syria’s Torture Photos: Witness to Atrocity
    Caesar thought, or at least hoped, that the photographs showing Syrian torture victims would lead to the toppling of Assad. But the Caesar photographs—like countless others, including that of little Alan Kurdi lying face-down on a Turkish beach—didn’t do that because they couldn’t. Photographs cannot overthrow dictators; photographs can only bolster a political awareness that already exists, even if only among a minority. “Photographs cannot create a moral position, but they can reinforce one—and can help build a nascent one,” Sontag wrote in On Photography. “What determines the possibility of being affected morally by photographs is the existence of a relevant political consciousness.” 
  • The Secret Streets of Brassaï & Louis Stettner
    Two retrospectives at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art demonstrate the relationship between two different but equally diligent photographers of the streets. Louis Stettner showed a compassionate tenderness toward his subjects, while Brassaï sought to create characters or archetypes out of the people he photographed. Like Brassaï, Stettner was a multi-talented artist, and during his very long career he practiced painting, sculpture, and collage as well as photography until late in life. Both outsiders, they succeeded in discovering the secrets of their chosen city, Paris. And for both photographers, the street was their teacher.
  • ‘Our Bodies Were Born into Hard Labor’
    Of herself, Sarah Smarsh writes, “I was the proverbial teen pregnancy, my very existence the mark of poverty. I was in a poor girl’s lining like a penny in a purse—not worth much, according to the economy, but kept in production.”
  • America’s Original Identity Politics
    We hear a great deal these days about the right’s hostility to “identity politics.” In this framing, the election of 2016 was a populist backlash of ordinary voters against an aberrant left too concerned with narrow questions about niche groups and out of touch with the troubles of Middle Americans. The good news is that it simply isn’t true that identity politics represents the end of America or of liberal democracy. Nor is it true that identity politics began on the left, or that the Klan was America’s first “identity movement.” The only thing new about “the omnipresent rhetoric of identity” is the voices that have been added to it, reshaping it in ways that alarm and affront those who used to be its sole authors. But it was always omnipresent.
  • The Star of the Silken Screen
    Andy Warhol combined social and pictorial intelligence in a way not seen in this country since John Singer Sargent. In one of the most unexpected artistic transformations of the last century, he found a way to make a highly synthetic, semimechanized kind of painting feel authentic. His attitude and posture, his public persona, and his forays into filmmaking and other media were radical in the world of high art, but his aesthetic inclinations were more traditional. They harked back to, and partially bridged, two widely divergent tendencies in American art: social realism and abstraction, the Yankee peddler and the Transcendentalist.
  • Giving Voice to Guadeloupe
    The law of 1946, known as the law of assimilation, initiated by the poet Aimé Césaire, transformed the island from a colony into a French Overseas Département, or “DOM.” The inhabitants of Guadeloupe have been deprived of their national identity and become domiens. I, too, am a domienne. They said we didn’t have a language. Creole, a language invented in the plantation system as a challenge to the white planters, was a dialect long forbidden at school; it took a group of brave intellectuals for a diploma of Creole Studies to gain recognition. They said we weren’t creative. We are either the descendants of African slaves or the descendants of indentured Indian laborers or the descendants of the French colonizers. Nobody believed that these three components could have fused to create an original culture.
  • The Fatal Ensnaring of Dan DePew
    Sexual panic permeated the 1980s, dictating who was criminalized and who got locked up, and for what behaviors. Poking around in newspaper databases in those pre-Google days, I came across the headline “Two Men Charged in Kidnapping Plot” from 1989, a cryptic story buried in the back pages of The New York Times about two undercover cops who had offered to provide two other men with a child to star in a homemade snuff film. One of those other two men was Daniel DePew. It might be said that entrapment cases are a Rorschach test of a society’s obsessions and fears at any given time. Who and what are we most afraid of? How can we lock them up for life and convince ourselves they deserve it? Let the DePew case offer some answers.
  • ‘The Pain Never Went Away’
    The problems had started in the factory where you worked. I described it in my first novel, The End of Eddy: one afternoon we got a call from the factory informing us that something heavy had fallen on you. Your back was mangled, crushed. They told us it would be several years before you could walk again, before you could even walk. The first weeks you stayed completely in bed, without moving. You’d lost the ability to speak. At first you could only ask for food or drink, then over time you began to use longer sentences, to express your desires, your cravings, your fits of anger. Your speech didn’t replace your pain. Because of what they’ve done to your body, you will never have a chance to uncover the person you’ve become.
  • Aretha’s Grace
    The queen’s power dwells in her silence. That’s not what one expects to learn from a film about an almighty singer whose voice created a score for several dramatic decades of American life, and who will be ever defined by the way that voice made people feel. But it’s one of many striking revelations about Aretha Franklin in a new film that stars her, a film that is extraordinary in part because of the sense in which it’s not new at all.     
  • Fool Britannia
    From the ill-conceived Brexit referendum onward, Britain’s governing class has embarrassed itself. The Remain campaign was complacent, the Leave campaign brazenly mendacious, and as soon as the result was known, most of the loudest advocates for severing ties with the European Union ran away like naughty schoolboys whose cricket ball had smashed a greenhouse window. Negotiations have revealed the pitiful intellectual limitations of a succession of blustering cabinet ministers, the leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition doesn’t appear to want to oppose, and the prime minister has engineered her own humiliation by starting the countdown to Brexit without a plan that could command wide support, resulting in the heaviest parliamentary defeat in history.
  • The Fake Threat of Jewish Communism
    One of the great merits of Paul Hanebrink’s A Specter Haunting Europe is its demonstration of how Europe’s most pervasive and powerful twentieth-century manifestation of anti-Semitic thought—the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism—emerged before the rise of National Socialism and has continued to have a curious life long after the Holocaust and the defeat of Nazi Germany. Hanebrink’s approach is not to repeat what he considers an error of the interwar era—the futile attempt to refute a myth on the basis of historical facts and statistical data. Trying to discredit powerful political myths with mere facts, as we know all too well today, is a frustrating endeavor. Thus Hanebrink seeks instead to understand the historical background and the “cultural logic” of the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism—how it functioned and morphed through different phases.
  • Climate Signs
    At two degrees, our best-case climate scenario, melting ice sheets will still pass a point of no return, flooding NYC and dozens of other world cities. In fact, we’re on track for over four degrees of warming and an unfathomable scale of suffering by century’s end. For my part, I’m only beginning to see that the question of how to prepare our kids for the horrors to come is collateral to the problem of how to deal as adults with the damage we’ve stewarded them into. What helped me see this was a road sign—one of those LED billboards you normally spot on a highway alerting drivers to a hazard. Oddly, the sign was standing on the grass of a public park. How did that get there, I wondered.
  • Among the Vitamin K ‘Anti-Vaxxers’
    Babies are at the highest risk for Vitamin-K Deficiency Bleeding in the first week of life, so the standard of care is to give the shot within an hour after birth. Many parents don’t know that the risk of VKDB is high in untreated newborns. I, like many pediatricians, see an increasing number of refusals. These parents see a vulnerability similar to the one that I see in their children, but in their minds the threats come from society. The way I see it, society is by no means benign, but it does offer vaccines and Vitamin K as safeguards against threats that come from nature.
  • Men’s Lib
    Henry Miller believed in amorality when it came to sex. For him, “sexual morality” could only mean the prudery and hypocrisy and zealous oversight of his elders, which he hated. Nothing could be more foreign to Miller’s narrator than to have regret or misgivings about a sexual encounter based on a woman’s response or her circumstances. He did not see the subordination of women as one of his society’s many cruelties and stupidities.
  • Farmworker Anxieties
    To the Editors: Michael Greenberg’s essay “In the Valley of Fear” captures the overwhelming sense of anxiety among many farm laborer families in California. Daily life among family members, whether traveling to work or to school, shopping, or just visiting friends, places them at risk of sudden arrest and possible deportation at the hands of federal ICE agents. At the same time, Greenberg inaccurately portrays recent trends in California agricultural production, and in the state’s farm labor market.
  • Building in Berkeley
    To the Editors: In the article “California: The State of Resistance,” Michael Greenberg wrote, “I was surprised to see virtually no new construction in Berkeley.” I don’t know where he looked, but I could offer a tour of just-completed, under construction, and permits-issued residential sites, most several stories taller than what they replace. Is it enough? No, but far better than a decade ago when nothing was being built, and a clear sign of progress.
  • ‘My Responsibility to History’: An Interview with Zhang Shihe
    Ian Johnson: Where does it come from, this sense of justice—your experiences in the Cultural Revolution? Zhang Shihe: Mao ordered young people to the countryside. I was sent to work on the Xi’an to Qinghai railway, with some 26,000 others. Most were broken when they came home. Today, they have children and grandchildren, but thousands died prematurely after coming back—it ruined so many people’s health. These old guys don’t want that forgotten.
  • Waiting with Immigrants
    To be an immigrant in America is to wait. This goes double for the millions of immigrants who have found themselves at the sour end of the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) bureaucracy—and triple in the age of Trump. If you are an immigrant in the process of deportation proceedings, you must wait for your Master Calendar, on which a bureaucrat will assign you to a check-in date several months into the future. At this check-in, you may win several more months of anxious waiting—or disappear into a detention center, where you will wait for a one-way plane ride to a country you may no longer know.
  • Rome: Where Migrants Face Eviction as Fascists Find a Home
    Across Italy, some 10,000 migrants and refugees are living in squats. In search of shelter, many have joined vulnerable Italians in occupying empty buildings. The housing crisis is not an accident. It is part of a deliberate strategy by the government to make Italy as inhospitable to migrants as possible. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has made attacking immigrants a cornerstone of his politics. At the same time, Italy has seen a resurgence of support for fascism.
  • Godard’s Conflagration of Images
    In a fabulously eccentric Skype press conference held after the movie’s première at the last Cannes Film Festival, Godard remarked that “most of the films in Cannes this year and in preceding years show what is happening, but very few films are designed to show what is not happening.” The Image Book, he hoped, would show precisely that dimension—in its method if not its subject matter. Since taking the digital turn some twenty years ago, Godard’s movies have been gnarly ruminations on Europe’s cataclysmic past century, the significance of his chosen medium, and, by implication, his own mortality.
  • Finding My Father’s Auschwitz File
    Auschwitz and Dachau frame the emotional structure of my life. Thinking of my father in the course of a day, I think of Auschwitz. Thinking about my mother, I think about Dachau. I still think often about their murdered children and murdered spouses. The few details I know about my parents’ day-to-day existence at Auschwitz and Dachau are drawn from the few memories my parents shared. I knew there was much I didn’t learn from them about their past, but it was not until I discovered my father’s Auschwitz file that I recognized how far from understanding their history I was.
  • ‘The Joy of the Discovery’: An Interview with Jennifer Doudna
    Claudia Dreifus: I’m told you’ve had bad dreams about the downside of your genome-editing discovery. Jennifer Doudna: There’s one in particular that haunts me. I had been thinking a lot about the profound tool it is, about all of the wonderful things that it enables—cures for genetic diseases and conditions, an increased food supply. But it also brings the potential for eugenics, for state-sponsored alteration of human beings. You even can imagine creating new species of humans.
  • The Striking Demands of LA Teachers
    There’s a growing sense in Los Angeles that communities are being cleaved and traditional schools underfunded by the flashiness and promised innovation of charter schools. I was surprised by the extent to which striking counselors and teachers brought up these issues of funding and privatization. The union’s demand for more school counselors has emerged more strongly than in other recent teacher strikes—because, teachers said, of the increasingly acute needs of the majority brown and working-class student population. In this sense, the strike was as much about an ideological question as a labor dispute: Who is the public being served by public education?
  • Rapping with Fanon
    Rocé’s anthology album carries more than a whiff of radical chic nostalgia, which he does little to conceal when he describes the 1960s and 1970s as “an epoch of struggles, of possibility.” Yet Par les damné.e.s de la terre is an unexpectedly moving document, not only because it presents an extraordinary archive of recordings, but also because it illuminates the radical hopes that Frantz Fanon’s ideas had once inspired. It is a powerful reminder of what that world sounded like. 
  • Can a Translation Be a Masterpiece, Too?
    A translation can indeed be creative and “important,” but it is the creativity of astute accommodation and damage limitation, the “importance” of allowing as much as possible of that original to happen in the translator’s culture. To imagine, however, that Henry James could ever be to the Italians what he is to us, or Giovanni Verga to us what he is to Italians, is nonsense.
  • Poons v. Koons: The Art of ‘The Price of Everything’
    The quandary at the heart of The Price of Everything, the art world documentary recently acquired by HBO, is summed up in a scene with the great German artist Gerhard Richter. Gesturing to one of his own paintings, Richter explains, “It’s not good when this is the value of a house. It’s not fair. I like it, but it’s not a house.” Viewers who anticipate a filmic celebration of capitalism as a force for cultural good, or alternatively, a condemnation of commodification, will be disappointed. The Price of Everything develops no particular argument, posits no solutions, uncovers no scandals. It isn’t a polemic, it’s a portrait, and in its mix of the grotesque and the earnest, a pragmatic and recognizable one.
  • Listening to Women’s Bodies
    Between hiding what we’re told is embarrassing and presenting ourselves to the world to be appraised, women’s relationships to our bodies can be complex, even brutal. As the host of Bodies podcast Allison Behringer reminds us in one episode, being a woman only comes with one instruction: “Be beautiful.” Behringer emphasizes sharing practical, constructive information. Bodies wants to help. The show demonstrates the difference between a compassionate, forward-thinking doctor and one who is just going through the motions. It empowers women to do their own research.

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