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Michelle Orange

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix's The Get Down Makes You Wonder How It Keeps From Going Under

The Bronx is burning in the introductory episodes of The Get Down, Netflix’s new series that presents as urban-cinematic fable the genesis of rap. The cluttered, over-caffeinated 90-minute pilot, directed by creator and executive producer Baz Luhrmann, takes place in the summer of 1977, when a serial killer terrorized New......
The banality of evil

Vita Activa Points to What Hannah Arendt Might Mean in the Age of Trump

Hannah Arendt is unlikely to be a social media star. Newly relevant 40 years after her death, the German-born philosopher’s work is distinctly ill-suited to contemporary tools of relevance. Twitter’s context of no context values aphorism, parody and potted wisdom — branded content available in bulk. The author of The......
This may look like that scene in Crash

Disney's Zootopia Paws at Segregated City Life

In Zootopia, animals do a lot of the things that animals in Disney movies usually do: They speak, to begin with; they walk upright and wear funny clothes; they exhibit attitudes that align or ironically misalign with their species' appearance and reputation; they hold jobs; they experience outsize emotion and......

Jean-Luc Godard Goes 3-D in Goodbye to Language

The experience of being eluded by Jean-Luc Godard has its consolations, foremost among them the 83-year-old director's prerogative to elude. If a Godard film appears held together by random imagery, whispered non sequiturs and a roll of duct tape, that's exactly the point. To muddle through confusion, boredom, vaguely formed......

Nelson Mandela and Idris Elba Deserve Better Than Mandela

What becomes a legend most? After prolonged incubation, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom offers the biopic's usual reply: legend itself. Bigger, louder, more expensive legend, brought to bear by the best talents and technologies of the day. The name Nelson Mandela is already shorthand for the things Mandela shows him......
Into the Abyss

Into the Abyss Review

An egalitarian study of crime and punishment in a small Southern town, Into the Abyss is also an unmistakably Herzogian inquiry into the lawlessness of the human soul. That would be the abyss of the title, though if you're looking for more of that kind of shameless lyrical swagger, you......

Revenge of the Electric Car Review

I couldn't get my parents to watch Who Killed the Electric Car, Chris Paine's indictment of the forces that brought down a promising green technology, when it came out in 2006. Their lack of interest in the issue typified a culture, as Churchill once noted, that does the right thing......

America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments Review

A follow-up to director Darryl Roberts's 2008 inquiry into this country's ad-bolstered beauty standards, America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments is a choppy, unfocused, intermittently compelling report on the tortured, fluctuating state of the national backside. Of Roberts's many self-evident queries—Do diets work? Is health care corrupt? Does eating......

Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace Review

Back Door Channels: The Price of Peace opens with a four-minute history of 4,000 years worth of conflict in the Middle East. Although the next 90 minutes are dedicated to the decade leading up to the Israeli-Egyptian treaty brokered in 1979, the effect is no less head spinning. Untangling the......