New Yorker: Culture

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“USA v Scott” and the Fight to Prove That Humanitarian Aid Is Not a Crime

Ora DeKornfeld and Isabel Castro’s short documentary “USA v Scott” highlights the moral questions facing an Arizona community when Scott Warren was prosecuted for bringing water to migrants in the desert. On January 17, 2018, Scott Warren, a thirty-six-year-old geographer, walked into a bare-bones building called the Barn, in the small town of Ajo,...

How Virginia Woolf Kept Her Brother Alive in Letters

For Virginia Woolf, correspondence became a way to transcend a climate of illness—to envision a future she couldn’t see.Photograph from AlamyHours after watching her twenty-six-year-old brother die, Virginia Stephen wrote a letter to one of her dearest friends. In that letter, written on November 20, 1906, she did not utter a word about her brother’s...

Rediscovering “The Happy Ending,” a Movie About the Dreams and Delusions of Marriage (and the Movies)

“The Happy Ending,” a passionate and cinema-centric drama starring Jean Simmons, burrows deeply into one woman’s harrowing experience of domestic life.Photograph by Pax Enterprises / AlamyThe shudderingly impassioned, history-jangled, cinema-centric drama “The Happy Ending,” from 1969, reflects vast changes in Hollywood and in American society, and...

The Unexpected Sunlight of Waxahatchee’s “Saint Cloud”

Katie Crutchfield, also known as Waxahatchee, conceived her fifth solo album,“Saint Cloud,” as a long, elliptical, autobiographical story.Photograph by Molly MatalonKatie Crutchfield, who records music under the name Waxahatchee, released “Saint Cloud,” her fifth solo album, in late March, just as the country went under coronavirus lockdown. In the...

Willa Cather’s Quietly Shattering War Novel

Willa Cather’s “One of Ours” merges pandemic and war into a general season of death.Photograph from NYT / Getty“One of Ours,” Willa Cather’s novel of youth, the prairie, influenza, and war, was one of the author’s greatest successes, winning her the Pulitzer Prize in 1923. It also elicited some of the most scathing criticism of her career. Edmund Wilson...

Steven Prince, an Early Scorsese Star, “Was the Guy with the Gun”

In “American Boy,” Martin Scorsese is a deliberately obtrusive authorial presence from the very first shot, in which he and Steven Prince share a hot tub.Photograph from EverettAt a pivotal point in Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” from 1976, the budding vigilante Travis Bickle steps into a Manhattan hotel room with Easy Andy, a fast-talking “travelling...

The Foolish, Impulsive Delights of “Search Party”

What most distinguishes the increasingly self-aggrandizing Dory (Alia Shawkat) in the new season of “Search Party” is her transformation into a media sensation.Photograph by Jon Pack / HBO MaxWhen the second season of the dark comedy “Search Party” came to an end, in 2017, the four entitled millennials whose bumbling shenanigans animate the show were...

How “Starship Troopers” Aligns with Our Moment of American Defeat

For most of Paul Verhoeven’s cult-classic film, humanity, in every possible facet, gets its ass kicked.Photograph from AlamyIt has become clear, in these last decades of decadence, decline, towering institutional violence, and rampant bad taste, that American life is stuck somewhere inside the Paul Verhoeven cinematic universe. In the bloody, satirical...

You Find Yourself in the Circle

The Stunning Second Life of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”

The Nickelodeon cartoon “Avatar: The Last Airbender”—now on Netflix, and more popular than ever—functions as both a comfort watch and a means of catharsis.Photograph from Nickelodeon Network / EverettA fifteen-year-old cartoon is an unlikely contender for most-watched show in America. And yet when “Avatar: The Last Airbender” arrived on Netflix, in...

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