Culture

Review: ‘The Art of Return’

Remembering the last revolution

Glue Pour (1969) : Holt-Smithson FoundationContemporary visual art has a history problem. It often strikes viewers as disconnected from great works of the past or any kind of context, aiming at originality for originality's sake. What does a barrel of glue poured down a muddy hillside or a light bulb frozen in a cube of ink have to do with art? Fortunately for the perplexed viewer, National Gallery curator James Meyer has noticed the problem. His new book The Art of Return: The Sixties & Contemporary Culture offers a thoughtful account of how art and history inform each other, even in postmodern art.

Review: ‘Judy’ and ‘Joker’

JokerYou might not think that a biopic about a Hollywood legend on the glide path to her early death in swinging 1969 London and a comic book movie about a villain on the loose in 1970s New York would have anything in common besides titles that begin with the letter J. And yet Judy and Joker are very much alike. They both center on incredibly flashy lead performances with stars who appear in nearly every frame of the picture. They are both unflinching examinations of the toll of mental illness. And they are both astoundingly unpleasant.

Review: ‘This Is Not Propaganda’ by Peter Pomerantsev

Too much information is a bad thing

I really wanted to like Peter Pomerantsev's new book, This Is Not Propaganda. His columns in the LRB, the Guardian, and the American Interest (where I was once a staff writer) are almost always incisive and absorbing. And his first book, Nothing Is True and Everything is Possible, established him as a clearheaded capturer of the mind-fogging milieu of Putin Era Russia.

Review: ‘Ad Astra’

Brad Pitt remakes 'The Tree of Life'

Ad AstraEight years ago, long before his dazzling and surely Oscar-winning turn this summer in Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood, Brad Pitt gave a magnificent performance in The Tree of Life as a loving martinet father in 1950s Texas with Sean Penn as his pensive son, ruminating in endless voice-overs about his pains and sorrows and the origins of the universe. This weekend, you can see Pitt in a virtual remake of The Tree of Life, in which he plays the son, not the father. It's called Ad Astra, and like The Tree of Life, it's both good and awful.

Daniel Johnston: 1961 – 2019

The eternal optimism of a fractured mind

Cult favorite musician and songwriter Daniel Johnston died at 58 Wednesday at his home in Waller, Tex., just outside Houston. Johnston was known throughout the '90s and aughts as a unique, no-frills voice whose earnest lyrics were compared to the style of William Blake.

Review: ‘Cold Warriors’ by Duncan White

Anti-communist writers didn't just describe the Cold War; they were part of it

When he fled Spain in the summer of 1937, one step ahead of the secret police, George Orwell lost his personal copy of a pamphlet by Stalin with the ominous title Defects in Party Work and Measures for Liquidating Trotskyite and Other Double Dealers.

Review: Brittany Runs a Marathon

Running in place

Brittany Runs a MarathonThere's a movie called Brittany Runs a Marathon and never has a title been more accurate. It's a movie about Brittany, and yes, she runs a marathon. When she's not running the marathon, she's training for a marathon.

Slate Calls ‘IT Chapter Two’ Racist Because the Critic Didn’t Notice the Ending

The racist component to the lie Mike Hanlon tells himself is the point of the movie

You may have heard that the second installment of the movie adaptation of Stephen King's IT is subpar. You may have even heard that Pennywise, the evil interdimensional space clown, is, alas, not a gay ally! But did you know the movie is also racist? So sayeth Slate pop critic Jack Hamilton in "It: Chapter Two Adapts a Storyline About Racism Into a Storyline That’s Racist."