All posts filed under: Reviews: Books & Film

Why ‘Black Panther’ Is a Defining Moment for Black America | Carvell Wallace, The New York Times

I made a rare appearance at the theater last night, and rarer still, I purchased my favorite salty-sweet combination — popcorn and Sprite — my craving setting me back nearly fifteen bucks. (Such a purchase generally requires something along the lines of a leap of faith, i.e., that I step up to the concession and order without first checking to see what it will cost.) It was all to see Black Panther, in Columbus, Ohio, with my sister and brother-in-law. I was truly spellbound by the film, riveted by the cool inversion of the generally accepted norm that white Western capitalist culture is the superior standard and the rightful model for modernity and beyond. There’s something innovative and new here, with this film, something that is refreshing. As director Ryan Cooglar put it, “The concept of an African story, with actors of African descent at the forefront, combined with the scale of modern franchise filmmaking, is something that hasn’t really been seen before. You feel like you’re getting the opportunity of seeing something fresh, being …

Talking Trump: Trust me everyone’s talking about it, and believe me it’s bigly

There is a fine article in the The Atlantic. It’s a very fine article in the very fine magazine The Atlantic. This article, How to Talk Trump: A short guide to speaking the president’s dialect, is — look, it’s a very fine article, and truly they do very fine, really good work at The Atlantic, so if you want to speak big league, like Donald Trump, who is, frankly, the President of the United States, I might add, then you will absolutely read this article.

On writing: Giving your laughter a bit of weight

I finished the first installment of David Sedaris’ diaries a few months back. I would only recommend it to the most rabid of Sedaris fanatics. After all, they are, in fact, the Sedaris diaries. They are not categorized by subject or topic — there’s no attempt to add a coherent theme or an organizing principle of any sort. It’s just the Sedaris diaries, which for most would be uninteresting, perhaps a form of torture, even; but if you want to know the life of Sedaris and get an even better sense of his writing process, then it’s worthwhile. I had a good deal of fun with it, listening to Sedaris himself narrate the audiobook. I also stumbled across a short six-minute video, linked below, of Sedaris discussing the diaries. In the vid he tosses out a few bits of writerly wisdom.

Manhunt: Unabomber (2017, Netflix)

Manhunt is an intriguing series. It dramatizes the story of Ted Kaczynski, aka the UNABOMBER. Those of us who grew up in the Nineties remember the story of bombs that arrived by mail and exploded in the hands of the recipients. It went on for years and years, the FBI’s most expensive manhunt. The new Netflix series, Manhunt, is a compelling crime story, but it’s far more. Before he was caught, Kaczynski was actually able to negotiate to have his manifesto printed in the Washington Post. At the time, the public dismissed the manifesto whose premise seemed ridiculous: The Industrial Revolution and its consequences have been a disaster for the human race. It was easy enough, back then, to reject Kaczynski as mentally insane, but this Netflix series raises the provocative question: was Ted Kaczynski right?

Invisible Man, Mychal Denzel Smith (2016)

This last weekend I started reading Mychal Denzel Smith, Invisible Man, Got The Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education (2016). I’ve just started, but I appreciate how Smith immediately gets to the essential and defining issue for activists in the 21st century: connecting the dots between all of the forms of privilege and prejudice. One of the first things Smith talks about is how his dissatisfaction with the status quo led him to read radical thinkers, which tended to be male-dominated. The strength and bravado of the great black figures like Malcolm X helped Smith in his journy to discover himself as a radical and to more intimately understand himself as a person, but it had its limits.

Jenny Diski on fucking loving clichés

I’m enjoying reading Jenny Diski, this for the first time. She’s a Brit and not very widely read here in the states, but she’s a truly talented writer, with a compelling life story. Diski’s memoir writing takes her blunt and unapologetic descriptions of her unorthodox life and combines them with understated British humor and interludes of literary flourish that somehow remain unpretentious.