CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 3, 2013 |
Robert N. Bellah, a UC Berkeley sociologist who turned the analysis of religion's role in American society into a bestselling book and a thriving academic pursuit, died Tuesday at an Oakland hospital. He was 86. The cause was complications after heart surgery, said his daughter, Jennifer Bellah Maguire. Bellah made his mark with a provocative 1967 essay titled "Civil Religion in America," which argued that a central feature of the American political tradition was the belief in God as a higher authority over the nation.
July 18, 2013 |
God only knows what Nicolas Winding Refn had in mind when he made "Only God Forgives. " The Danish filmmaker's latest theater of the macabre is brutal, bloody, saturated with revenge, sex and death, yet stunningly devoid of meaning, purpose, emotion or decent lighting. Seriously. Artful shadows can certainly set a mood; too many and it merely looks like someone is trying too hard. That sense of overreach haunts "Only God Forgives. " Starring Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas and Vithaya Pansringarm, the film comes as a disappointment after the provocative intrigue of the brutal bad guys Refn diced so deliciously, if not delicately, in his brilliant 2011 neo-noir "Drive.
July 14, 2013 |
Only God Forgives Available on VOD beginning July 19 With all the talk about Nicolas Winding Refn possibly directing a James Bond movie, or a Wonder Woman film, or a "Logan's Run" remake, fans of the Danish filmmaker might have begun to worry that he was losing the edge he brought to his cult favorites "Bronson" and "Drive. " But the early reports that Refn's violent crime thriller "Only God Forgives" had been booed at Cannes proved perversely reassuring, and sure enough, the movie is distinctively Refn-esque, with "Drive" star Ryan Gosling playing a drug lord who tussles with the authorities in Thailand when his no-good younger brother gets killed by the cops.
July 13, 2013
Re "Rose-colored blinders," Opinion, July 11 Meghan Daum wonders about the sort of community we are when we thank God for delivering us from tragedy rather than asking in God's name how such tragedy could happen in the first place. I'm reminded of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who pointed out that God created man in his image and that man, being a gentleman, returned the favor. If humans create their gods, then it isn't surprising that in America, any escape from a tragic situation is regarded as genuinely miraculous, especially when these tragedies are much too common.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 5, 2013 |
It's a story line that's become so familiar over the years it hardly makes us blink: A gang member hunting down rivals kills an innocent kid. But the courtroom drama that unfolded last month left me unexpectedly troubled. The child, shot to death a year ago, was a toddler in his father's arms. The gang member who shot him was 15. He'd fired into a pack of strangers because someone had the wrong color on. He was sentenced to 90 years in prison in a courtroom heavy with outrage and grief.
June 28, 2013 |
A novelist writes of a Brazilian mega-city where the rich soar in helicopters above the traffic and the squalor. A movie depicts rogue Rio de Janeiro cops who kill and extort money from terrified slum-dwellers. A hip-hopper in the peripheral neighborhoods of Sao Paulo raps about daily life in the periferia set to the funky rhythms of samba and U.S. soul. Although the popular outrage that has spilled across Brazil this month has taken some by surprise, the cultural warning signals have been visible for a while.
June 25, 2013 |
Google built its doodle from Antoni Gaudi -inspired pieces, honoring the 161st anniversary of the architect's birth. The famed Barcelona builder, known as “God's architect,” used mathematical precision to incorporate nature's ripples into his textured structures, including the gray granite Palace Episcopa l de Estorga and the curvy Casa Batllo , which still stand in Spain. Born to a boilermaker in Reus , Spain, Gaudi was a figurehead of Catalan Modernism and a devout Catholic, which is often reflected in the crosses that top his structures.
June 20, 2013 |
Executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey had lofty aspirations for their miniseries "The Bible," but the Twitter fans who dubbed Diogo Morgado "Hot Jesus" found more earthly pleasures in the History program as well. Morgado wasn't well known outside his native Portugal before the first of his five episodes aired on the History Channel, but given that the series' ratings topped 13 million U.S. viewers some weeks, it's safe to say he's a recognizable face nowadays. ("I know you from somewhere ... church?"
June 19, 2013 |
James Gandolfini, who died unexpectedly on Wednesday after reportedly suffering a heart attack while in Italy, will forever be remembered for playing the neurotic New Jersey mobster Tony Soprano on HBO's hit series "The Sopranos. " Theater audiences in Los Angeles and New York got a chance to see Gandolfini at his finest in the stage comedy "God of Carnage," by French playwright Yasmina Reza. The actor played one of four Brooklyn parents who come to blows over a playground brawl involving their children.
June 16, 2013 |
As the same-sex marriage debate continues throughout the U.S., another front in the battle over gay rights has emerged thousands of miles away in the East African nation of Uganda, where in 2009 a bill was drafted that would impose the death penalty for certain homosexual behavior and prison time for anyone failing to report gays to the authorities. In Uganda and throughout parts of Africa, many believe homosexuality to be an imported Western evil, part of a so-called gay agenda.