Off Beat

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is the author of some of the best-named books in the history of American poetry. You’d have to search a long time to find titles as good as the one he gave his reportedly million-seller, A Coney Island of the Mind, in 1958 (or even A Far Rockaway of the Heart in 1998). Early in his career, Ferlinghetti moved to California, founding the City Lights bookstore and publishing house in San Francisco. It’s there on the West Coast that he practiced his left-leaning social activism while writing more than 30 slim volumes of poetry and prose, and he reached his 100th birthday on March 24 this year. What’s more, he . . . um . . . well, what did Lawrence Ferlinghetti actually do, to claim a place for himself in American letters?

‘Shazam!’ Review

Sure, it’s a comic book origin story, hot on the heels of one comic book origin story released four weekends ago and just ahead of another comic book origin story coming next weekend. But Shazam! is fun and funny, anchored by a charismatic actor who brings some childlike joy to a genre that seems unlikely to wear out its welcome anytime soon.

America Still Needs Athens and Jerusalem

Ben Shapiro’s 10th book, The Right Side of History: How Reason and Moral Purpose Made the West Great, concerns itself with Western history, where it came from and where it’s going. It’s the latest in a line of recent releases from public intellectuals, all troubled by the same paradox: We live in the wealthiest and most technologically advanced society in recorded history, and, at the same time, one of the most unhappy ones.

The Boys of Summer

With the flutter of the year’s first robin redbreast, with the promise of the first warm breeze of spring—the patter of an early April rain, the almost phosphorescent green of young grass, a scent of new life in the morning air—the season turns at last from winter to provide us what we are always given, this time of year: the cloying metaphors of baseball columns. The sentimental globules of Opening Day reflections. The sickly sweet reviews of new baseball books, like the genteel retching of a consumptive maiden.

Author of NYT Anti-Israel Piece Works for Group Funded by Qatar

New York Times building

The author of this Sunday’s New York Times magazine cover story about the campaign to boycott, divest, and sanction the state of Israel works for an organization whose major donor, Qatar, is also the largest state funder of the terrorist group Hamas. Other significant donors to the author’s organization, the International Crisis Group, are leading supporters of the anti-Semitic boycott movement the author describes in his piece.

‘The Standoff at Sparrow Creek’ Mini-Review

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek is a small movie. I don’t mean this derogatorily, just descriptively: it’s short, at 88 minutes; it has a modestly sized cast at just seven guys (give or take a few extras), and it’s rare that more than three of them are in the same room at any given time; it takes place almost entirely in a couple of rooms in a lumber warehouse, starkly light with overhead fluorescents and on-the-ground portable work lights; and odds are you’ll see it on the small screen at home, given that it’s streaming now.

So, sure, it’s small. But it’s also riveting, with a compelling cast and an intriguing story and a thriller’s sensibility. For roughly one-hundredth the cost of a major blockbuster, writer/director Henry Dunham keeps you on the edge of your seat for the hour and a half you’re with him and his militiamen.

‘Dumbo’ Review

Dumbo

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is considered a bit of a joke—the CGI is weightless and cartoony; the character design is a bit silly at times; don’t even get me started on the Mad Hatter’s dance-off at the end—but there’s still something interesting about it. It feels very much like a Tim Burton movie, alternately whimsical and horrifying, with crooked towers and doleful eccentrics lending a vitality to the proceedings.