Happy Sunday

Someday Robert Plant’s solo albums will get the reassessment they deserve; hell, maybe I’ll attempt it. To his immense credit, his peripatetic spirit welcomed spacious, wet keyboard arabesques like “Big Log” and “Ship of Fools.” When he felt like it he created post-Zep hoarse-rock like “Burning On One Side.” Sometimes he mixed the two (“TallContinue reading “Happy Sunday”

Uneasy prophets: Jonah

The Book of J, Harold Bloom’s most rewarding book, posits an Old Testament god as petulant and erratic as any Olympian. Yahweh isn’t a god you worship: he’s a god you collude with or outsmart. Along those lines, I liked today’s NYT blog post about Jonah, his favorite book in the Bible. The great criticContinue reading “Uneasy prophets: Jonah”

That naughty “fiscally responsible” centrism

The first paragraph of Elizabeth Drew’s article in the current The New York Review of Books clears the rubble: Someday people will look back and wonder, What were they thinking? Why, in the midst of a stalled recovery, with the economy fragile and job creation slowing to a trickle, did the nation’s leaders decide thatContinue reading “That naughty “fiscally responsible” centrism”

Ground control to Major Jake: Source Code

Source Code is shorter, fleeter, and better acted than Inception, but still boasts an absurd time-warp plot that mixes Groundhog Day, Donnie Darko, and Philip K. Dick, which counts for creativity these days. Darko darkling Jake Gyllenhaal plays a soldier who, mortally injured in combat, is exploited by glowering government officials (embodied by Jeffrey Wright,Continue reading “Ground control to Major Jake: Source Code”

Working class heroes: Potiche

With hues and costumes as colorful as a box of Crayola 64’s, Potiche appropriates the language of camp and parody to deepen a narrative whose consequences are as contemporary as the phony battle over the debt ceiling. The film’s only misstep occurs after the opening credits: on her daily jog wearing fire engine red Adidas,Continue reading “Working class heroes: Potiche”

Amy Winehouse R.I.P.

The late Amy Winehouse had one of those voices from which I recoil: the British showbiz voice that’s brassy, unafraid of histrionics; the kind of voice that requires illustrative hand gestures while singing. The descendants of the Shirley Bassey school include everyone from Annie Lennox to Adele. But in the right circumstances Winehouse’s belting commandedContinue reading “Amy Winehouse R.I.P.”

The Hitchens Problem

The Awl publishes a long, truculent, loving analysis of The Christopher Hitchens Problem. Maria Bustillos identifies what makes Hitchens crusade — I mean this literally — against religion such a bore, even to those of us who embrace the instinct with enthusiasm: God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitchens’ best-selling diatribe, enumerates hisContinue reading “The Hitchens Problem”