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.
September 12, 2013 |
Documentaries by their nature are prisoners of their moment in time. If they are fortunate, as the makers of "Red Obsession" are, that moment, even if it's brief, will be able to hold our interest. "Red Obsession," as it turns out, is a title that references two specific situations. One is the passion wine lovers worldwide have for the great Bordeaux reds, premier cru or first-growth vineyards such as Chateau Latour, Chateau Margaux and Chateau Lafite Rothschild. The second is what happens when those wines catch the attention of the moneyed classes of that populous land once known to headline writers everywhere as Red China.
September 8, 2013 |
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, firefighters from Engine 54, Ladder 4 and Battalion 9 responded to the call that the World Trade Center had been attacked. None survived. In the following days, a 10 1/2-foot Statue of Liberty replica was mysteriously placed among the flowers and items of commemoration around the firehouse on 8th Avenue and 49th street. Soon Lady Liberty was covered in hundreds of memorial tokens including origami cranes, flags and badges from around the world, children's drawings and photos of the fallen.
July 25, 2013 |
Hearing the news Tuesday that the new heir to the British throne was a boy, my first thought was of Lady Mary Crawley, heroine of the post-Edwardian-era soap "Downton Abbey. " With no male heir left to inherit her family's estate, it falls on her to produce a son. When she becomes pregnant, the show had even the most feminist-minded audience members hoping for a boy. And when it comes to pass, viewers were so elated that even the death of Mary's true love, just moments after he held his son for the first time, seemed of secondary consequence.
July 9, 2013 |
"Drunk History," which has lived on the website Funny or Die in fits and starts since 2007, graduates to television Tuesday, courtesy of Comedy Central. It is a strange business: a show in which people who have had too much to drink, for real, travel to the edge of coherence. There will be vomit. Some will find it offensive, immoral, irresponsible - a highly defensible position. It's also very funny, a thing of twisted genius and, for the next eight weeks possibly the most original comedy on television.