Jessica Weisberg

Jessica Weisberg is a writer living in New York.

Recent Articles

Director's Cut: A Conversation with Cary Fukunaga

AP Images/Richard Shotwell
AP Images/Richard Shotwell C ontemporary television’s writer-creators are celebrated, while its directors are often hired guns on set for an episode or two. But the entire eight-episode arc of the new HBO miniseries True Detective , starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as Louisiana criminal investigators, was directed by 36-year-old Cary Fukunaga. Fukunaga researched his first feature film, Sin Nombre , by spending weeks riding the violent Mexican railways. Since then, with Ang Lee–like versatility, he has taken on projects ranging from Jane Eyre to science fiction. Jessica Weisberg spoke to Fukunaga about movie directors working in TV, how he finds stories, and the early episodes’ look of Southern Gothic grounded in the photogenic blight of Louisiana oil refineries. True Detective ’s launch last week was HBO’s highest-rated debut since Boardwalk Empire in 2010. The second episode airs Sunday night. JW: What about the script of True Detective compelled you? CF: Originally...

Greta Gerwig, Dancing with Herself

The anti-celebrity of the Frances Ha star

John Cuneo C omic actress Greta Gerwig has a versatile look—indolent or boyish, athletic or glamorous, always blond and beautiful but with broad shoulders and doughy cheeks that make her resemble an improbably attractive rugby player. The through line in her work is her pained gaze telegraphing that she’s alone in the world, and she wouldn’t expect otherwise. Gerwig started her career in movies referred to as “mumble-core.” By definition, a mumblecore film was a low-key drama set in post-college American life in the first decade of the 21st century, made with sweat and the contents of a piggy bank. Many of the actors were nonprofessionals, and the stories they told were about well-educated people too creative to get a law degree but too pragmatic to idealize bohemian poverty. Both in front of and behind the camera, the mumblecore crew seemed like happy underachievers, confronting their tenuous existence with a mix of navel-gazing and bravery—in their element before the economy crashed...

Stalked, Virtually

James Lasdun’s memoir on the terrifying frailty of reputation in the Internet era.

Courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux
O ur lives rarely turn out the way we plan. Perhaps it’s to counter this pervasive sense of uncertainty that so many people feel compelled to write memoirs of perseverance, reframing the shifts their lives have taken into a sure-footed narrative arc. But confusion is the reigning feeling in James Lasdun’s new memoir Give Me Everything You Have (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). A highly regarded, New York-based British novelist, essayist, and poet, Lasdun writes about being stalked for more than six years, unable to do a thing about it. “I’m not so sure of anything anymore,” Lasdun tells us early on in the book. His memoir is a portrait not of growth but of paralyzed shock at the Internet’s capacity to turn one of his best students into an encroaching virtual monster. Give Me Everything You Can is Lasdun’s last-ditch effort to finally stop his stalker, a former student whom he calls Nasreen, after several failed attempts to involve the police. Every day, Nasreen, an aspiring Iranian-...

A Farewell to Arms, and the United States

Hector Barajas is opening up his home to serve as a safe house for deported veterans like himself, stranded in Mexico, far from the country they served.

Hector Barajas
Hector Barajas Deported veterans at Hector Barajas's safe house, which is opening in an event in Mexico today. H ector Barajas, a former paratrooper in the U.S. Army, lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Rosarito Beach, a seaside Mexican village 15 miles south of the border. Barajas, 36, has lived near Rosarito since 2009, usually with another deported veteran living in his second bedroom or on his couch. He is a leading advocate against the deportation of veterans, which has become a more prevalent concern for members of our armed forces in recent years, and his home has become the cause’s unofficial headquarters. Barajas’ current houseguest, Fabian Rebolledo, received a Purple Heart for his service in Kosovo. When Rebolledo, 37, was deported to Tijuana earlier this year, he called Barajas almost immediately. Today, Barajas will designate his apartment a safe house for deported military veterans. The announcement and press conference will bring no obvious, direct changes: the...

Guilt by Association

A network of organizations that uses environmental concerns to justify anti-immigration views is now courting liberals.

(JohnTanton.org)
A few years ago, anti-immigration ads began popping up in a number of progressive magazines, including this one. The ads displayed an environmental wasteland and suggested that immigrants were somehow the cause -- one showed an image of a congested highway with an adjoining paragraph about how immigration contributes to commuter traffic. The ads were purchased by a network of anti-immigration organizations, all of them with ties to a man named John Tanton. According to the Center for New Community, which monitors the white nationalist movement, Tanton has fostered over a dozen groups that work to reduce immigration. Six of these organizations, including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), have been cataloged as "hate groups" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, but Tanton doesn't seem bothered by his critics. He even framed a copy of the center's 2002 investigation of him (titled "The Puppeteer") and hung it in his office. Tanton is not the financier of this network...