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How “Divergent” Co-opts the Revolution

The floodgates have now officially opened. The success of Divergent, a Hunger Games knock-off that grossed $54 million in its opening weekend, ensures that we’ll see many more of its kind in the coming years. In fact, we won’t have to wait that long. Later in 2014, The Maze Runner and The Giver will follow…

Leslie Knope city council

Did “Parks and Recreation” Peak in Season Two?

One of my favorite movies about American democracy in action is “Election,” Alexander Payne’s 1999 dark comedy on the making of a high school president. Tom Perrotta, the author of the novel on which the movie is based, has cited the 1992 presidential election as inspiration, and it makes sense. The movie follows the same…

FERRELL

Will Ferrell: Liberal Folk Hero

There is a certain kind of comedian – the best kind, really – who is more  truth-teller than entertainer. We laugh with them because they so perfectly capture with words what the constraints of polite society keep us from saying and sometimes even thinking. A short, incomplete list of these comedians would include Will Rogers,…

Jessica Biel and Colin Farrell

“Total Recall” is Worse Than You Think

If someone in the future wanted to know what political and cultural issues Americans were grappling with in 2012, they would only need to go to the movies. Films as diverse as “The Hunger Games,” “Cabin in the Woods,” and “The Dark Knight Rises” have all been set in one specific social, cultural, and political…

Hoffman

A Few Words on “Death of a Salesman”

Last weekend, I was in New York to see the Broadway revival of “Death of a Salesman,” directed by Mike Nichols (“The Graduate,” “Catch-22”) and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Willie Loman. I was blown away by his performance, became even more enamored of another actor in the show, and walked out of the theater…