Film, Music, Visual Arts

Now More Than Ever, We Need Jacob Bronowski

            Ever since the rise of “prestige television” there has been a corresponding rise in the number of documentary films and documentary series. The choice is bewildering to the point of being intimidating: celebrities and athletes dead and alive, every murder solved or unsolved, sommeliers and sushi chefs. All make […]

The Holdovers is a New Holiday Classic

        Paul Giamatti’s character, in a film directed by Alexander Payne, is a teacher and wannabe writer who is depressed and angry at his station in life. He abuses alcohol. Others think he is a sad sack and doormat, so he acts out in petty ways. He goes on a journey with […]

Why Your Child’s First Rock Concert Matters More Than You Think

        There are any number of life rituals parents notice as pivotal maturations of their child(ren)’s development. Among the perennials: the first sleep-over without parents, driving lessons, the first good cry over a desperately sad movie. They all have their place. For now, my own is watching my daughter evolve her own […]

Cartoonist Roz Chast Finds Herself in the Midwest

        The cartoonist Roz Chast, of New Yorker fame, was in St. Louis on Monday to do a reading from her new book, I Must Be Dreaming (Bloomsbury, 2023). The event was expected to draw more people than the usual bookstore space could host, so tickets were sold months in advance for […]

A Screenwriter Cuts through the Bullshit

    Creativity is, by definition, the opposite of formula. So why do supposed creatives get rich selling other people formulas? When Paul Guyot started writing screenplays, the only how-to book was the one Syd Field wrote in 1979, when hardly anybody knew what screenwriting was. Field’s only movie credit at the time was Spree, […]

Time Shard Passages: Christopher Stark and 48 St. Stephen Premiere New Duet

        Christopher Stark’s world premiere of “Cocci di tempo” (which he translates from Italian as “Shards of time”) on Saturday, October 28 at Washington University’s 560 Music Center was a collaboration between the composer and 48 St. Stephen, the piano-violin duet who brought it to life. Stark, who teaches composition in WashU’s […]

Streaming Killed More Than Just Music

        If necessity is the mother of invention, convenience is the father of a strange brand of privileged indifference. The advent of indoor plumbing in the mid-nineteenth century improved daily life and public health by such exponential leaps and bounds that we shudder to think of life without an indoor toilet or […]

Why Lessons in Chemistry Reduced Me to Tears

    It promised to be such a fun evening. My book club, which read and adored Lessons in Chemistry, had decided to get together to watch the streaming version, a couple episodes at a time. “Can we wear pajamas?” one woman texted. “Absolutely.” The table was covered with Brie, spicy jam, crackers, bridge mix, […]

Nick Cave’s “The Mercy Seat” Is the Best Halloween Song You Have Never Heard

        Christmas music resides along a spectrum wide enough to include light allegories about bullying a young reindeer (John David Mark’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” 1949) and masterpieces such as J.S. Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” (1734). Most of us would be hard-pressed to name Halloween music classics—although lists do exist, and there is […]

Why Dawn of the Dead is the Seventies’ Ultimate Coming-of-Age Movie

      The “living dead” are neither living nor dead, but they possess incredible longevity in our culture. But have we ever stopped to consider what the zombie apocalypse genre has done for us, if not to us? Prophesying scenarios about the end of the world is not new. According to scholars, zombies are […]