Arts and Culture

The first half hour of The Final Year is as pointlessly hectic as one of those action movies that's all incidents and no plot. But gradually documentarian Greg Barker's look at Barack Obama's foreign policy team comes into focus, thanks in large part to the counterpoint played by the Trump campaign.

There's something unfair about comparing any policier to Michael Mann's Heat, even if you dissent from the popular — and one hundred percent correct — notion that Heat is the best cops-and-robbers movie ever made. For one thing, Heat is more like a movie-plus-expansion pack, a remake of a film Mann had written and directed for network television some years earlier, upgraded with a lavish budget and an A-list cast.

Based on a YA novel by Heidi McLaughlin, the endearingly old-fangled Forever My Girl is basically a stretched-out country music song with eye-catching Southern visuals and a familiar loop of lovelorn sorrow topped with uplift you can see coming from scene one.

To animation junkies, Studio Ghibli is a rare flower: No other practitioners of the craft in the last four decades have produced as many works of visual beauty and narrative complexity as the Japanese dream factory ... heck, the grinning cat-bus alone in 1988's My Neighbor Totoro displayed more wit and imagination than most American cartoons since. When Ghibli's 2014 announcement that it would cease to make new movies turned out to only be a temporary hiatus, you could hear legions of fans clutching their Totoro dolls breathe a sigh of relief.

Christian Picciolini was 14 years old when he attended the first gathering of what would become the Hammerskin Nation, a violent, white-power skinhead group. Looking back, he describes his introduction to the group as receiving a "lifeline of acceptance."

"I felt a sort of energy flow through me that I had never felt before — as if I was a part of something greater than myself," he says.

The new film Hostiles tells the story of a U.S. Army captain in the Old West circa 1892. He's spent decades fighting Native Americans and seeing his friends killed, and he's ordered to commit an act of humanitarian relief. The bitter veteran, played by Christian Bale, is tasked with escorting an old Cheyenne chief, played by Wes Studi, back to his home valley to die.

In the film, Studi only speaks a few words of English. His character's most powerful moments come when he conveys meaning with a gesture or expression.

In 'Heartland,' Writer's Block Can Be Murder

Jan 18, 2018

Ana Simo's debut novel Heartland is at once manic, brash and unsettling. It's also nearly impossible to categorize without running the risk of coming up short. It straddles the line between pulp noir and slapstick; it carries the can't-look-away sensibility of a telenovela. Simo, a Cuba-born playwright who co-founded the first lesbian theater in New York, takes readers on an erratic — and sometimes erotic — journey through the mind of a jealous lover.

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Some TV genres are perennials. They've been around since the early days of television, and probably are never going away — weekly drama series featuring doctors or cops, for example.

Other TV genres are like locusts. They get buried, lying dormant, until they suddenly resurface. On prime time TV, the game show was dead for decades until Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? brought it back. And quite recently, Netflix's Godless, like HBO's Deadwood years before it, did its best to try and revive the TV Western.

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