Laughs Across America

Filmmaker John Waters has made a career as the Prince of Perversion; however, I have always found his movies rather wholesome in their own way. Unfortunately, investment in independent directors like Waters has gone the way of the real estate boom. This means that Waters has had to come up with other ways of funding his films. Role Models (2010) is…
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Walter Mosley, Philosopher

While Walter Mosley is best known for his Easy Rawlins mystery series, he has written some excellent stand-alone fiction as well. I just finished The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey on audio and loved it. Ptolemy Grey is 91, and slipping into dementia in his cluttered apartment. Robyn, not exactly a relative, but not exactly not, cares for Ptolemy…
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Building a Mystery

How did Jesus, an itinerant preacher with a few followers in a Roman backwater, become God? As Bart Ehrman in How Jesus Became God posits, there are two answers to this question. One is the spiritual, and the other is the history of the spiritual. Ehrman, a former Christian fundamentalist, is very upfront about his agnosticism but makes…
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Beware a Dashing Man

  England, 1961, is in a full post-colonial hangover. Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is sixteen and full of dreams of Paris and the wider world. She gets them for a brief time by becoming the girlfriend of an older man, David (Peter Sarsgaard). David is dashing, glamorous, good looking, and rich. How he gets his money is a bit unscrupulous…
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Everybody Loves Bernie

Need a favor? Any favor at all? In Carthage, Texas, Bernie Tiede (Jack Black) is your man. While he is especially good with the performing arts, his vocation is as a funeral director, and he will even sing at your final ceremony if you ask. Bernie is especially good with widows, calling on them with care packages, which is how he…
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Afghan Women Breaking the Mold

Though the past decade and a half has brought enormous change to Kabul and other cities in Afghanistan, very little has changed in the villages, especially for women. Nadia Hashimi's The Pearl That Broke Its Shell tells the parallel stories of Shekiba, a woman at the turn of the last century, and her great-great-granddaughter Rahima just after…
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Sarah Waters Tells Some Tales

Sarah Waters hit the mainstream big time with The Little Stranger a few years ago, but she was already a superstar among lesbians and historical fiction buffs for her novels depicting gay and lesbian life in England. Her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, is a picaresque tale that combines Charles Dickens with Henry Fielding.  Sheltered Nan…
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