The House


Bully

Serving as the latest bit of evidence that a camera, a cause, and a whole lot of headline-friendly promotion can net unwarranted prestige, the Harvey Weinstein-backed Bully begins its nationwide rollout this weekend, its demand to be liked carrying an ironic whiff of oppression. From the schoolyard to the psych ward, the bully was a cinematic staple well before becoming a hot-button news topic, and we've got examples to prove it. The meanies in Lee Hirsch's new doc may commit acts of school-bus terrorism, but they'd cower to these soul-crushing jerks.

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TAGS: 15 famous, a christmas story, back to the future, ben affleck, brendan sexton iii, bully, carrie, danny glover, dazed and confused, fairuza balk, full metal jacket, harvey weinstein, heather matarazzo, joan crawford, johnny guitar, larry clark, lord of the flies, louise fletcher, mean girls, mercedes mccambridge, mildred pierce, one flew over the cuckoo s nest, rachel mcadams, sissy spacek, steven spielberg, the color purple, the craft, the karate kid, welcome to the dollhouse, william zabka


The Steel SeraglioThe Steel Seraglio flirts with the danger of Western authors appropriating Middle Eastern culture to patronizing ends—a criticism levelled at Craig Thompson's beautiful but flawed Habibi. But Mike, Linda, and Louise Carey—husband, wife, and daughter—clarify their ideas in the rich tradition of Middle Eastern folklore like butter in a pan, scorching away any nascent orientalism. What's left is universal in its appeal and precise in its humanism. In this, the novel resembles the folktales it takes after, flavored with the timelessness of fantasy—a confident One Thousand and One Nights for our present.

This timelessness proves an intelligent way to engage with the dangers of dogmatism without falling into the trap of exclusionary politics. It allows the authors to avoid overt references to present-day ideologies and religions by establishing a prehistory that precedes Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as we know it. Mike Carey has said that he and his coauthors wanted to play off "real world expectations of gender relations." This is after all a story of Bessa, the "City of Women"—how it became so, and why it doesn't actually exist in this or any other time.

Bessa's transformation into the City of Women begins when moderate Sultan Bokhari Al-Bokhari is executed and replaced by fanatical zealot Hakkim Mehdad and his Ascetics, who "shunned the pleasures of the world, but hounded those who lived by them." The dead Sultan's harem of 365 exiled concubines must find a way to escape across the desert and reclaim their city from his tyrannical rule. In doing so, they create a place that is a symbol of freedom, one "ahead of [its] time" and ahead of ours too.

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TAGS: craig thompson, fables, habibi, linda carey, louise carey, lucifer, mike carey, neil gaiman, one thousand and one nights, the sandman, the steel seraglio, the unwritten, willingham


Osama bin Laden

According to one of his widows, Osama bin Laden lived in five safe houses and fathered four children during the decade following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Madonna's new "Truth or Dare" fragrance ad is causing a stir.

The Self-Styled Siren has taken on scattered reviewing duties for the New York Post. Her first critique is a takedown of Antony Cordier's Four Lovers.

Did Rick Santorum almost call Barack Obama the N-word?

Eddie Murphy's latest career move is starring opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in a Twins sequel called Triplets.

The movie guru for The Daily Beast calls Mirror Mirror a good candidate for worst of 2012, then reviews the film like with an 8-year-old. And you thought criticism was dead.

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TAGS: antony cordier, arnold schwarzenegger, barack obama, bonnie & clyde, celine dion, danny devito, eddie murphy, farran smith nehme, four lovers, kate winslet, madonna, mirror mirror, mitt romney, my heart will go on, new york post, osama bin laden, rick santorum, the daily beast, the dark knight rises, the new york times, titanic, triplets, truth or dare, twins


Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro asks Pope Benedict, "What does a pope do?"

SNL to add female player.

Michael Musto compares last year's box office with 1968's and determines that the sky is falling.

Five-year-old black comedian jokes about being beaten.

George Zimmerman doesn't look bloodied or bruised on this security tape.

Charlie Kaufman sets debut novel at Grand Central Publishing.

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TAGS: charlie kaufman, claude lanzmann, earl scruggs, fidel castro, george zimmerman, house at the end of the street, isaiah -zay zay- fredericks, jennifer lawrence, kate mckinnon, la tombe du divin plongeur, michael musto, pope benedict xvi, richard brody, saturday night live, spike lee


Measures

An episode like "Measures" seemed inevitable at this point in Justified's third season. Its role is simple: to set up the bloodshed coming in the final two episodes. This isn't a criticism: There may not be much to say about "Measures" thematically, but the expectation of what's to come creates more than enough tension to prop up the episode. It says perhaps even more about the season as a whole that episodes without clear through lines and ideas have become such a conspicuous rarity.

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TAGS: demetrius grosse, fx, jeremy davies, justified, measures, mykelti williamson, recap, timothy olyphant, walton goggins


Whit Stillman

Karina Longworth interviews Whit Stillman.

Rich Juzwiak, for Gawker, talks about Madonna talking about Madonna.

Jean-Pierre Dardenne will preside over the Cinéfondation and short films juries at Cannes.

Check out the new issue of Slant contributor Sean Ryan's Hash Magazine.

Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master will open on October 12.

Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork sits down with Skrillex.

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TAGS: cannes film festival, gawker, hilton kramer, jean-pierre dardenne, karina longworth, madonna, mdna, park slope food coop, paul thomas anderson, pitchfork, rich juzwiak, ryan dombal, skrillex, the master, vincent van gogh, whit stillman


Julie Otsuka

Julie Otsuka's The Buddha in the Attic wins the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

Why conservatives are smearing Trayvon Martin's reputation.

Bully will be released unrated.

Madonna and Deadmau5 resolve "Molly" feud.

Madge's 40 biggest Billboard hits.

Jane Fonda to play Nancy Reagan in Lee Daniels's latest.

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TAGS: angelina jolie, billboard, bully, david bordwell, deadmau5, dick cheney, florida, harmony, jane fonda, john stewart, julie otsuka, lee daniels, madonna, maleficent, miss universe, nancy reagan, pen-faulkner, r.e.m., steven hyden, the a.v. club, the buddha in the attic, trayvon martin


Grass Widow

Grass Widow, "Goldilocks Zone." Whimsical San Francisco post-punk outfit Grass Widow's specialty, and what sets them apart from other grrrl acts like Dum Dum Girls and genre supergroup Wild Flag, is allowing their dynamic, fanciful vocals to seamlessly mingle and harmonize with the trickiest—and, ultimately, catchiest—of melodies. Using the immortal Southey fairy tale as a jumping-off point, "Goldilocks Zone," with its creepy, chugging intro of echoing voices and skittish strings, provides compelling atmosphere for a track that's focused not so much on trespassing, binging on porridge, and dozing off as it is on briskly trashing the bears' residence and watching their reactions from afar. Mike LeChevallier

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TAGS: clark, goldilocks zone, grass widow, house playlist, howse, martina topley-bird, secret, vbs


Episode 9

Go back to the first episode of Luck and you'll see how much is made of a little goat (known for his giant testicles) that hangs out in Turo's (John Ortiz) barn. Though the goat is mostly used as a form of comic relief in that episode, Turo is quick to point out that the critter is a necessary inhabitant of his barn because the horses like him. One can speculate about whether Turo is unnaturally attuned to the thoroughbreds he trains or if this assertion stems from a superstition revolving around chance. But in last night's series finale, the disappearance of the goat takes on a metaphoric importance.

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TAGS: david milch, dustin hoffman, hbo, luck, michael mann, nick nolte


The Supreme Court

Today, the Supreme Court starts three days of hearings on the constitutionality of the 2010 health care overhaul law, an epic clash that could recast the very structure of American government.

After this, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise that Lola has been caught smoking.

Jimmy Kimmel to host 64th Primetime Emmy Awards.

Matt Zoller Seitz recaps last night's Mad Men season-five premiere.

Mad Men to release single of "Zou Bisou Bisou," the song in everyone's head today.

Variety is for sale.

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TAGS: barack obama, catholic church, don draper, emmy awards, health care, jimmy kimmel, lourdes maria ciccone leon, mad men, madonna, matt zoller seitz, supreme court of the united states, the hunger games, the sopranos, the wire, variety, zou bisou bisou







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