The Spectacular Now easily earns the epithet of teen film, a genre known more for its box-office potential than festival and critic buzz. It has all the makings of another superficial flick—sex, booze, a teenage soap star in a leading role, and a plot borrowed from young-adult literature.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has earned Western fascination with his over-the-top motorcycle riding and judo-fighting public persona, aggressive foreign policy, and his seemingly captivating power over the Russian people. However, Putin’s third term has quickly proven that, with a restless Moscow middle class increasingly discontent with his authoritarianism and local activists fed up with the corruption of the capital, the love affair between Russia and Putin may not be one for the ages. In his new book, Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In And Out Of Love With Vladimir Putin (Yale University Presss) Ben Judah, who grew up the son of a Balkans reporter and whose earliest memories are of the collapse of communism in Bulgaria, explains Putin’s fall from popularity and its context in the greater narrative of modern Russia. Judah, a former reporter and current Russia analyst for the European Council on Foreign Relations, spoke to the Prospect about Syria, dissent outside of Moscow and what the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games mean to one of the world’s most enigmatic and athletic world leaders.