Month: November 2016

The Descent

  Today is Thanksgiving, though you wouldn’t guess it from the sterile walls and empty smells. Visiting hours here are from 1:00-2:00 PM every day. Toy Story 3 murmurs in the background as my family and I approach the main desk. To enter the visiting area, there are certain guidelines one must follow: no purses, no wallets, no food, no beverages, no cell phones, and, it goes without saying, no weapons. Present your ID to the front desk if you are older than 16. I hadn’t thought I would need my wallet. “Well, then I guess I’m 15,” I...

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Nocturnal Animals with Direction and Screenplay by Tom Ford

  If I were to describe my visceral reaction to Nocturnal Animals, the new Tom Ford, I’d say it was a series of peaking electric shocks followed by cardiac arrest, or as a looming tide of fear and dread which waxes until I’m forced to swallow it. Two or three times I considered leaving the theater, which in my case means I’m probably watching an exceptional film. I remained in my seat and felt the pressure of the story on my eyelids. I challenge you to watch the opening credits without flinching. Amy Adams plays Susan Morrow, the owner...

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The Terranauts by T. C. Boyle

  T. C. Boyle’s new novel is all about the plot, with the author is at his acerbic best. You would not be blamed for thinking he has no faith at all in humanity until you get to the end. I can’t tell you about that because it would be the final spoiler of all the spoilers I will not reveal. In case you were living under a rock like I was in 1991, one of the major science experiments of all time called Biosphere 2 put a crew of eight scientists into an artificial glass-enclosed ecological environment for...

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Elle directed by Paul Verhoeven

  For those that find cliché an imposition on their patience, Elle directed by Paul Verhoeven is two-edged. Yes, the film seems to find some conventions of the thriller indispensable, like the loud, sudden noise that turns out to mean nothing. And is it a spoiler to say that a character shouldn’t go down into the basement? But the film is so ingenious otherwise, so original in its plot contortions and so fuck you I’ll show you anything I want in its bravery, that ‘must see’ rings out at you from the screen. The film stars Isabelle Huppert, and if that doesn’t make you want to...

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Death Sure Changes a Person

    The first time I saw Lucille after she died, she told me, “You better find someone new, Harlan, or you’ll be lonely.” Needless to say, I was surprised. Just three weeks after she’d passed on, here was the world’s most jealous woman telling me I should run out and start dating someone new. “I don’t know what I expected over there,” she went on, “but it wasn’t this. Everyone is with everyone they’ve ever really been with. I don’t mean flings, but the people you actually loved. Even if you wouldn’t have wanted to share that person...

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