Witness the wisdom of Pete, the diner man from Frank Oz’s The Muppets Take Manhattan, as he explains life to Kermit. Peoples is peoples. Okay?
My first book was about elevator inspectors, and who is going to support a debut novel by some weird black guy about elevator inspectors? And the answer is independent bookstores. They’ve always been supportive of my books no matter how oddball they sounded…
The Great Hack is a new documentary about how Cambridge Analytica worked with private user data happily served up by Facebook in order to minutely target propaganda that helped win the 2016 election for Donald Trump.
Not available on Netflix until this Wednesday, it is already stirring up legal issues in the UK.
It’s a sign of how quickly it feels like the world is being torn apart around us that even a ripped-from-the-headlines documentary, such as Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim’s “The Great Hack,” can feel almost dated…
Here’s the trailer:
One of the year’s more interesting books is Christopher Ingraham’s If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now. A data reporter for the Washington Post, Ingraham became the focus of some viral blowback after publishing a story in 2015 about how federal government-compiled data showed that Red Lake County in Minnesota was supposedly the worst place in America to live.
The residents were not happy. He went to visit, ended up moving his family there, and wrote a book about the experience.
My interview with Ingraham ran in Publishers Weekly.
I reviewed three new graphic novels—well, a graphic memoir of self-discovery and heartache by Ulli Lust, one immersive graphic biography about Stephen Hawking, and George Takei’s internment-camp memoir, to be precise—in a summer roundup for this weekend’s book section of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
They’re all smart, absorbing reads and well worth your time.
In the new comedy from Lynn Shelton (Humpday), podcaster, comic, and Glow star Marc Maron plays a disgruntled pawn shop owner who gets sucked into a screwball plot about Civil War truthers when he comes across a rare sword.
Sword of Trust opens this week. My review is at PopMatters:
Sword of Trust is in many ways a quintessentially Southern movie. But that sensibility is primarily expressed in the laconic humor and slippery slides from bonhomie to violence. Shelton expends little effort on a cinematic sense of place, aside from some melancholic insets of faded storefronts around the Birmingham, Alabama pawn shop where the action takes place. That is, except for the obsession with the Civil War, or as some characters might characterize it, “Thuh Wah of Nawthun Aggression”…
Here’s the trailer:
A hybrid superhero-antihero misfire that wastes Tom Hardy in a should-have-been great role, Venom is somehow even less fun than when he played both Kray twins a few years back in the London gangster epic bomb Legend.
Venom is playing now pretty much everywhere. My review is at Film Journal International:
There are plenty of characters from the Spider-Man universe who could manage having a movie all to themselves. Eddie Redmayne as the Green Goblin. Maybe Tilda Swinton as a gender-reversed Doctor Octopus; just imagine the goggles. In theory, Venom should be perfectly able to handle a story all on his own. Despite serving as a somewhat weak anti-Peter Parker in the mostly forgotten Spider-Man 3, the ravening parasitic alien being seems like a perfectly good villain to set loose on an unsuspecting world…