Marjane Satrapi's Embroideries is a valentine of the best sort: dirtily reverent, humid with secrets revealed over tea. The comic artist's latest billet-doux to her Iranian homeland unfolds over one long afternoon, where three generations of women have gathered to mull over an issue of international concern: sex. In this blue version of The View, Satrapi's ribald grandmother holds court over a conversation on the merits of being a mistress, the power issues embedded in plastic surgery, and the debatable aesthetics of the penis (hot or not).
Transgender camp, Buddhist ghost stories, tales of nationalist
struggle, a dip into Thailand's porntastic underworld: Filmgoers at
the second ThaiTakes film festival in New York watched a wild,
puzzling brew of Thailand's latest cinema over the course of four days
in April. As speakers at the festival noted, Thai film has entered a
coltish adolescence -- the promise of greatness wobbling atop spindly
legs. Put on by a nonprofit U.S. organization dedicated to furthering
understanding of Thailand and its diasporic communities, ThaiTakes
reflected both Thai cinema's enticing potential and its struggles with
a rigid studio system, lack of funding, and an onslaught of Hollywood
The executives at ABC are becoming gruesome stage parents. First the network trotted out Desperate Housewives, its strumpety little diva darling, that derivative burlesque of Sex and the City and suburban angst and ambivalent modern womanhood. Then, with the success of that tarted-up show, ABC execs felt entitled to foist a little sister on us, mincing and prancing in the post-Desperate Housewives time slot (Sundays at 10): Grey's Anatomy, which should be renamed Sex and the Hospital. When the sanctimonious lead character started up with a wistful Ghost-of-Carrie-Bradshaws-Past voice-over, I couldn't help but wonder if I'd be able to resist throttling the TV.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Iron Bamboo begins with a prayer, actors and musicians sitting before a shrine, as they do before every performance. This time, however, the shrine is onstage, and the performers are praying in the very play, their backs to the audience. They complete their devotions and pick up shadow puppets, made from carved leather and mounted on two bamboo sticks. As the fantastic shapes play against the illuminated scrim in front of the actors, the performers' bodies, normally behind the backdrop, become as much a visual affect as the puppets themselves. It's a startling inversion, the artifice of theater put on display, as if to remind us that the performance we're watching is inextricable from the artists themselves.
Watching the premiere of The Shield's fourth season this Tuesday, I felt a bit like the show's newest addition, top cop Monica Rawling, who walked into a precinct haunted by a snarled back history and shrieking hostility. I confess I've missed out on one of cable TV's hottest series, and so found myself somewhat at a loss when confronted with the frightening, delicious dysfunction of the Farmington Police Department for the first time. What does one do, for example, with the bald, Rottweiler menace of detective Vic Mackey, who clearly feels the need to transgress the law in order to enforce it?