Film & TV

Why ‘Roseanne’ Is Actually a Documentary

Michael Harriot

In the post-Obama era, America was all-too-willing to explain how racism was a thing of the past. After all, what could be a greater symbol of America’s progress on race relations than an African American president? As soon as Obama took office white people began collectively washing their hands as if they were brain surgeons who had removed a hate tumor. Instead of realizing that prejudice was just hiding behind artificially-whitened smiles, they pointed to Oprah, Tyler Perry and Olivia Pope as evidence that racism had gone the way of smallpox, the Dodo bird and the upper lips of any Caucasians older than 32. 

Daniel Day-Lewis and the End of a Hollywood Era

Karolina Tagaris

Day-Lewis, 60, the only man to have won three lead actor Oscars, shocked the film world in June by announcing, without explanation, that he was retiring as an actor. His decision came after he finished filming “Phantom Thread,” a dark romance set in 1950s postwar London which took director Paul Thomas Anderson two years to research and write.

Buyers Jockey for Indie Films at Sundance

Piya Sinha-Roy and Lisa Richwine

Evolving movie-watching habits have brought new buyers in recent years, with Netflix and Amazon.com Inc leading the march of digital outlets to Sundance. The streaming services had started to outbid Weinstein Co for standout films. Filmmakers prospered as Amazon paid $12 million for “The Big Sick” and Netflix paid $12.5 million for “Mudbound” in 2017. This year, it was unclear whether those outlets will replace Weinstein as the pacesetters.

'The Greatest Showman' and the Problem of ‘Exploitainment’

Adam Gravano

The Greatest Showman takes the second perspective. These aren't just “freaks.” Yes, the draw is their perceived defects and differences, but what would they be without them? Why shouldn't they take pride in these and showcase them to the world? Is this even right? Is it being done in such a way as to appeal to the coarse and base in us? The question should remain unanswered, as there's plenty of exploitative media to go around for the able-bodied and sound of mind as well: every cable news confrontation, the entire reality television niche, and the revelations of #MeToo lay bare an industry to which Barnum would hardly be a stranger — perhaps even unreconstructed. 

Family, Legacy Celebrated in Mexican Animated Film 'Coco'

Piya Sinha-Roy

“There’s a lot of divisive rhetoric that aims to make us (Latino people) less than,” said Benjamin Bratt, who voices Miguel’s musical idol and late great-great-grandfather Ernesto de la Cruz. “It’s unintended but by demonstrating what really exists, (this film) goes a long way to showing that we’re all in fact in this together and are more alike than we are different,” Bratt added.

‘Heroin(e)’ Depicts Life in ‘Overdose Capital of America’

Titi Yu

Heroin(e) is a powerful film that follows the stories of three women in Huntington, West Virginia, who are battling the opioid crisis on its front lines. Drug addiction is so common in Huntington, the “overdose capital of America,” that it’s weaved into the fabric of everyday life. In one scene, paramedics work to revive an overdose victim at a convenience store while people step around the commotion and move along the checkout line as if nothing is happening.

Watching ‘American Horror Story: Murder House’

Adam Gravano

There are other tried and true elements of the season. The house's many ghosts interacting with one another as well as the Harmon family adds the complexity of conflicting goals and multigenerational drama to the tale. For example, all the women want a baby, as do Patrick and Chad, and sharing isn't exactly an option. In all, the viewer might find himself reminded that, as Sartre wrote in No Exit, “Hell is other people.” 

Greta Gerwig Makes Directorial Debut With ‘Lady Bird’

Piya Sinha-Roy

The film, which opened in limited theaters last week and will roll out in more U.S. theaters this month, marks the solo directing debut of Gerwig, 34. She carved a career co-writing and starring in independent darlings such as 2010’s “Greenberg” and 2012’s “Frances Ha.”  “Lady Bird” has already garnered critical praise and early awards buzz. “She just has this unique lens of seeing the world,” actor Beanie Feldstein, who plays Lady Bird’s best friend Julie, said of Gerwig. ​

Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman Discusses His New Film, ‘Ex Libris — New York Public Library’

Titi Yu

While many of Wiseman’s other films examine the darker forces of institutions, Ex Libris is a meditation on the central role of the New York Public Library (NYPL) in New York’s intellectual and civic life. Like all of Wiseman’s films, his genius lies in the ways in which he can create meaning out of the mundane. Wiseman wanders the administrative halls of the library and drops in on staff meetings that might otherwise be seen as a bore. 

‘Battle of the Sexes’ -- Then and Now

Lynn Sherr

That scene, in Battle of the Sexes, the smartly engaging and depressingly relevant new movie about the match starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, is a blast from the past loaded with lessons for the future, an eerie reminder that today’s rebloom of sexism is a scary echo of decades — actually, centuries — of innate and cultural misogyny. And it’s a handy playbook to get through our current crisis. Crises.

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