December 6, 2013 |
For a short and breezy documentary narrated by Adam Sandler in which a group of famous comedians talk about themselves, "The Improv: 50 Years Behind the Brick Wall" packs a surprisingly provocative punch. In these days of digital "stardom," when fame is tweet-fleeting and the goal too often seems more Simon Cowell-approved branding than original voice, the rigors of an old-fashioned comedy club seem historically artisanal, like candle-dipping at Colonial Williamsburg. In the post-"Seinfeld" years, stand-up comedy, once the province of the scruffy and outrageous, has become increasingly sleek and well fed. Ray Romano, Jay Leno, Bill Maher, Judd Apatow, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, the Wayans brothers, Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, Jimmy Fallon - the people reminiscing here about the Improv are among the media elite, with studio deals and television shows, car collections and famous divorces.
November 11, 2013 |
The country's newest generation of veterans - the 2 million Americans who served honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan - is eager for meaningful civilian work. But misconceptions about veterans often prevent them from getting a fair shake to put their skills to work, achieve their potential and contribute fully to the nation's economy. On this Veterans Day, we ask all Americans to make sure veterans get the consideration they deserve. According to September Bureau of Labor data analyzed by Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families, post-9/11 veterans ages 20 to 24 are 81% more likely to be unemployed than their non-veteran peers, and those ages 25 to 29 are 71% more likely to be out of a job. This situation is especially frustrating because veterans make great employees.
November 8, 2013 |
"The Book Thief," the handsome, inevitable adaptation of Markus Zusak's internationally bestselling novel, unfolds as a curiosity on the big screen. Centered on a war-afflicted girl who develops a passion for books, it features little discussion of the emotional pull of reading, storytelling or writing. It's set in Hitler-run, World War II-era Germany with an odd emphasis on uplift over unease. And, most peculiarly, it's a tale narrated by Death (a slithery-sounding Roger Allam) that wants tears shed for tragedies that befall its big-hearted non-Jewish German characters, but skirts explicitly addressing the fate of that generation's Jews.
October 16, 2013 |
Two advocacy groups have released a new video narrated by actress Evangeline Lilly to bring attention to their campaign against federal surveillance efforts. Fight for the Future and Demand Progress crowd-funded the new video, which attempts to explain the intricate methods that National Security Agency and other federal agencies are using to monitor Internet activity and phone calls. WATCH: 5 videos to introduce new Apple...
October 4, 2013 |
Matana Roberts does not make easy listening music. Although in mainstream culture jazz is frequently relegated to an awards show backdrop or an oh-so-spooky bit of shading for pay-cable political dramas, the music remains a springboard into avant-garde expression for this Chicago-born saxophonist, who explores both personal and social history on "Coin Coin Chapter Two: Mississippi Moonchile. " A challenging, engrossing listen that follows her ambitious "Chapter One" from 2011, this 49-minute piece (broken into 18 seamless tracks)
September 19, 2013 |
"Who Asked You?" is Terry McMillan's eighth book, and it is a corker: a long, smooth, Indian-summer cocktail. For all the racy, scandalous pleasures in books such as "Waiting to Exhale" and "How Stella Got Her Groove Back," McMillan is a serious writer, the kind of novelist of whom the late John Gardner strongly approved ("true art is moral"). Her new book is rich in narrative tension, nuanced humor and moral heft absent from many a work of modern "literary fiction. " "The problem with a lot of us is that we don't have a moral compass," McMillan says.