Oprah, Henrietta Lacks and the Little Red Hen

Michael Finkel is a writer in Montana who read the news on his smartphone one morning and came across an intriguing story. Police in Maine had arrested the elusive Sasquatch of a man known as the “North Pond hermit,” a loner suspected in more than 1,000 burglaries over a quarter of a century. While thousands … Continued

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Sympathy for the Medieval Dorks of ‘Forged in Fire’

I would like to get the people who talk about the “filmic text” of Mad Men or the “ludic aspect” of Game of Thrones to watch more demotic TV—you know, the pleasantly mindless stuff. One could write a whole dissertation on the priapic anxiety of Don Draper and Tony Soprano and still say less about … Continued

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‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is Less Relevant Than Ever in Trump’s America

“The Handmaid’s Tale: A Newly Resonant Dystopia Comes to TV.” “In Trump’s America, The Handmaid’s Tale Matters More Than Ever.” “’The Handmaid’s Tale’ dystopia is captivating, especially now that reality is more dramatic than fiction.” “’The Handmaid’s Tale’: Enraging, riveting and scarily relevant.” Everyone seems to agree that Margaret Atwood’s 1986 bestselling novel deserves a … Continued

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Are Kids’ Movies Too Violent?

In a recent interview, beloved actor Dick Van Dyke, who is currently filming a Mary Poppins sequel scheduled for release next year, raised a concern that the graphic violence and scary intensity of today’s video games and movies are having a detrimental influence on generations of young viewers. So many productions today are “all gunfire … Continued

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Forty Years Later, ‘Annie Hall’ Is Still a Work of Genius

If you’ve ever taken a course on screenwriting, Annie Hall, Woody Allen’s 1977 masterpiece, is an example of what not to do. Screenwriting experts tell you: Show, don’t tell. Don’t break the fourth wall and talk directly to the audience. Maintain the tone without wild shifts—especially something as outlandish as adding a cartoon. Make the … Continued

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What the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ Can Teach Us About Anti-Heroes

It’s not that I dislike the modern infatuation with the anti-hero. It’s that I think we’ve lost our way in search of meaning. A writer-friend of mine says we, as a culture, have succumbed to a diminished patience with cliché. Because film and television, and even sports, constantly inundate us with the “hero story,” we … Continued

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Is ‘YouTube Celebrity’ an Oxymoron?

Mamrie Hart is coming to a theater near you soon. Never heard of her? She is one of the bigger stars in the YouTube galaxy thanks to her “You Deserve a Drink” video series. And in 2017, being well-known for being on YouTube matters more than ever, apparently. Lionsgate certainly thinks so. The studio behind … Continued

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