Afghanistan has no film industry, which makes a new movie called The Black Tulip, about good people seeking some kind of normal life in modern Kabul despite the constant threat of violence, destruction and despair, doubly dangerous to have made and inestimably valuable to watch. Filmed entirely in a country where women’s rights are still tested daily and cameras are so verboten that even a tourist’s throwaway Instamatic is an invitation to trouble—and produced, written and directed by a woman, no less!—this is a gripping experience as politically enlightening and emotionally involving as it is educational and beautiful to look at.
The trenches of South Africa in the 1960s, in the grip of apartheid—the equivalent of the American Civil War fought on foreign soil—continue to provide fertile material for movies fueled by the flames of morality, conscience and the struggle for human rights. Along the way, new heroes are discovered and old oversights corrected. The latest is Black Butterflies, a footnote to history about the rebellious, courageous and tragic life of South African poet Ingrid Jonker (triumphantly played by Carice van Houten, the rangy, riveting Dutch star who skyrocketed to world acclaim in Paul Verhoeven’s World War II saga, Black Book). She’s not the only person to defy the government and speak out against racism during apartheid, but her story is unique because the odds she faced to improve conditions and ameliorate the fate of the disgraced country she loved were overwhelming. As the daughter of Abraham Jonker, the powerful, mean-spirited minister of censorship, she had no one to turn to for approval.
Wednesday, July 13
Hoisted by Your Own Petanque
We’re in those post-Fourth doldrums, in which it seems the sticky heat won’t ever end—we miss our blazers! We used to look professional! But at least we’re one up on the men in sandals, waggling their ill-kept toes at us as we skulk over to Read More
The Last Critic
As reported by the New York Times last night, today, the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case reconvened today, and the former IMF chief was released from his bail on his own recognizance. He must only promise to appear in court, as the charges against him have not been dropped. More on the press conference and future of the case, after the jump.
I had something unpleasant happen to me in October. I met an old friend for lunch. Let’s call him Alan. I hadn’t seen Alan for years, not since we were the only male members of the Mahjong team in college. One day he popped up on my Facebook page, asking to friend me. I friended Read More
In September, Oprah Winfrey chose Freedom, the near-universally praised new novel by Jonathan Franzen, as a selection for her book club. This was significant for reasons apart from the fact that every Franzen-related tidbit — from stolen glasses to leaked copies to typos in the British edition — became headline news. Read More
Another Freedom Day has passed and if it isn’t bright sunshine morning spreading its rosy-fingered lipstick out all over that greatest force for good in a world of brazen, extremist, pornographying, chain-smoking, pot-snorting liberal media outlets, America. And the America we have today is a far hue and cry from the unicorn ranch in fantasyland Read More
The saga of Jonathan Franzen’s stolen glasses has come to its appropriate end: the man who took the Freedom author’s glasses hostage Monday night has come forward and identified himself. James Fletcher, a 27-year-old student at Imperial College London, detailed the full narrative of his eyewear-snatching to GQ UK, and the tale Read More
Like many writers — or, rather, people who want to look like writers, or just look more intelligent in general — Jonathan Franzen wears glasses. They are black and fairly oval-shaped, with perked dimples on the top corners of the frames affixed with the usual silver droplet. He has minus eight vision so he wears Read More
After being given an edition of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom that lacked the pristine copy of the American version, readers in England can now experience the much-lauded novel in its full, typo-free glory.
The British operations of HarperCollins will pull nearly all of the 80,000 books from shelves and replace them with a corrected version, the Read More