January 10, 2014 |
Throughout the history of boxing, the sport's appeal has been its undoing: A contest between equally matched opponents will always attract bettors, and betting begets corruption. With the rise of the National Football League, boxing has waned in popularity. Thanks to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which recently celebrated its 20th year of promoting mixed martial arts events, boxing is not even the most popular combat sport. While the sport may be in serious decline, the boxing novel is alive and well, thanks to Michael J. Seidlinger's audacious new book, "The Laughter of Strangers.
December 10, 2013 |
In the New Yorker this week, James Wood has a fascinating essay on the narrative implications of death. Inspired by the experience of attending a memorial service for a friend's younger brother, who died at 44 “suddenly, in the middle of things, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters,” it is a meditation on evanescence, serendipity and the way death offers a shape, a closure that life, with all its ongoing and overlapping turmoils, cannot....
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.
December 5, 2013 |
A nearly universal desire among writers is to make themselves conspicuous in their work. It's completely understandable. When a script that you've spent months - if not years - writing has your name on the title page, who wouldn't want the material inside to crackle with style; full of snappy rejoinders that audiences gleefully repeat as they exit the theater. Moments that scream: "I wrote that. " Having worked the whole of my professional life toward achieving such, it's kind of ironic that in adapting Solomon Northup's "Twelve Years a Slave" I would end up taking the exact opposite approach.
November 21, 2013 |
On the job for 55 years, Judi Dench elevates everything she does, from M in the James Bond epics to the less intimidating but equally determined "little old Irish lady" who's the title character in "Philomena. " Dench is not the only reason to see this unapologetic crowd-pleaser, but she is the best one. As directed by the veteran Stephen Frears, "Philomena's" "inspired by true events" narrative initially has trouble deciding what kind of film it wants to be, alternating between cheeky comedy and the more serious emotional moments inherent in the story of a woman looking for a child she was forced to give away in adoption.
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.