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October 29, 2012 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
In the wake of last week's third and final presidential debate, as both campaigns shifted into end-game mode and the conversation tilted toward not what had happened but how it could be spun, I began to think about Joan Didion's “Political Fictions,” a 2001 collection of essays that frames the electoral process as less a matter of facts or policy than the expression of “a series of fables about American experience.” These fables have...
March 13, 2014 | By David Colker
Hal Douglas was a movie star, but only until the feature film started. Douglas, who was one of the most sought-after voice artists working in film and television, did the narration for so many movie trailers that he could not recall how many he recorded even in a given week. But some of the most prominent films for which he was the voice of the trailers were "Men in Black" (1 and 2), "Philadelphia," "Lethal Weapon," "Marley & Me" and "Forrest Gump. " Comedies, dramas, sci-fi blockbusters, documentaries - he did them all, not to mention thousands of TV show promotions and commercials.
January 24, 2013 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
PARK CITY, Utah - A new title has been added to the list of movie credits that describe jobs few people understand. Move over, gaffer, best boy and second second assistant director, and make room for the "written by" credit on an increasing number of documentary films. "It's a niche within a niche," admits Mark Monroe, one of the best. "There's certainly a lot of discussion about whether it belongs or not. It's a question I get asked five times a day. But no one I've ever worked with has ever had any issue with giving me a writing credit.
February 22, 2014 | By Karen Wada
Elizabeth LeCompte was walking past a New York gallery window when sculptures by Dutch artist Folkert de Jong caught her eye. "They were so ugly and scary and beautiful at the same time," recalls the director of the Wooster Group. "It was what I always want for my work to be. " LeCompte invited De Jong to create pieces for her experimental troupe. His costumes, set elements and props will be seen in "CRY, TROJANS! (Troilus & Cressida)," a retelling of Shakespeare's Trojan War saga, which begins its world-premiere run Feb. 27 at REDCAT.
March 13, 2011 | By Mark Olsen, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Widely hailed as one of the world's most exciting filmmakers during the 1990s, Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami has spent most of the last decade seeming purposefully on the margins, making documentaries and experimental films. With "Certified Copy," which opened in Los Angeles and New York on Friday and will be available on cable video on demand March 23, he returns to narrative feature filmmaking while staking out bold new territory. Shooting a feature outside Iran for the first time, Kiarostami has crafted an elusive look at art and love set amid the beauty of a small Tuscan town.
May 21, 2001
The article "Battle of Biblical Proportions" (May 11), on the "scholarly group" that is dedicated to disproving whatever historic reality there might be for the pre-Christian part of the biblical narrative, failed to discuss the importance of religious narrative to the moral power of religion. Inspirational narrative is not only the basis for religion-based morality; it is also the basis for the secular morality seen in patriotism and feelings of civic responsibility. American history, for example, may be presented to American children as tales of heroism and a moral struggle for freedom and democracy, or it could be presented as an epic of slavery, genocide, racism and imperialist exploitation.
Some of the most stimulating theater in L.A. in 2002 has been imported from Canada as part of the UCLA Live series. This week offers a brief opportunity to see "In on It," from Toronto-based da da kamera. It's almost as much a must-see event for theater lovers as Robert Lepage's "the far side of the moon," also presented at the Freud Playhouse, was earlier this year. "In on It" is much shorter and less adorned than its Canadian predecessor.
July 21, 2003 | Lewis Segal, Times Staff Writer
For more than a quarter-century, the locally based Avaz International Dance Theatre has specialized in adaptations of folklore -- adaptations more abstract and impressionistic in recent years, but still identifiably in a world dance tradition. That artistic identity radically changed Saturday with the premiere of "Guran" in the Luckman Theatre at Cal State L.A.
September 5, 2010 | By Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
Three Delays A Novel Charlie Smith Harper paper Perennial: 368 pp., $14.99 Billy and Alice are a tripped-out Scott and Zelda, a Jane Austen romance via Hunter S. Thompson, a Romeo and Juliet on the burned-out edge of the baby boom. Billy has no doubts about their shared eternal love, but although Alice is mostly on board, she's got a tendency to marry other men. Billy maintains his insistence that they're meant to be together; believe him and their love is destiny — lose faith and it looks like delusion.
March 11, 2011 | By Sheri Linden
Dark as dirt, the Depression-era drama "Redland" opens with an act of terrible self-violence and maintains a tone of misery and dread for much of its running time. There's undeniable beauty too in much of the imagery in this ambitious first film, but if its gutsy, handmade aesthetic makes it unfashionable among American indies, the undernourished narrative puts it on common ground with many of its digital cousins. Hardscrabble would be a step up for the family at the center of the story.
January 10, 2014 | By Jim Ruland
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 | By David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times Book Critic
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 | By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
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 | By John Ridley / ‘12 Years a Slave'
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 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
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 | By Gen. James Jones and Dan Goldenberg
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.
July 25, 2009 | David A. Keeps
In the hands of Marguerite Inman of Velvet Spade Designs, cactuses and succulents look anything but dry. Exhibiting a witty and sometimes wacky sense of humor, Inman turns plant arrangements into what she calls "narrative scenes," with animal figurines, cast-iron statuary and other elements. Pint-sized plastic deer may roam doe-eyed through a forest of river rocks, echeveria and moss. For a surreal touch, one piece creates the effect of tiny fallen trees using real antlers.
November 8, 2013 | By Robert Abele
"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 | By Chris O'Brien
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...
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