‘Soul’ shows us not only what we might be missing about the point of living, but also what we are missing right now. Parents with more than one child know this already: Babies show up with personalities, differences, and strong attitudes toward broccoli, music, and siblings. There’s nature, there’s nurture, and then there’s just what you get—and who the heck knows where that stuff comes from? In Pixar’s Soul, now streaming on Disney+, director Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc. and Inside Out) attempts to answer that question along with defining the meaning of life and identifying a soul’s central purpose. These are hefty tasks to pack into a full-length animated feature and still hope it appeals to the entire family. Well, it doesn’t, but … Read More
Both series offer compelling, transformative views into what family means. An HBO Max three-part docuseries, Expecting Amy, and the final season of the award-winning and oft-Emmy-nominated Schitt’s Creek (a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation sitcom on Netflix in the United States) deliver plenty of laughs—and compelling, transformative views into what family means. They are brilliant. Expecting Amy is a behind-the-scenes docuseries of comedian (and actress, producer, writer, and director—she seems able to do everything) Amy Schumer’s life on the road as she develops new material for her 2019 Netflix special, Growing. While she rehearses, shuttles to and from hotels and venues, and cuts deals on her cell phone, she also struggles with a truly crummy pregnancy. Suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum—near-constant nausea—she carries on interviews while holding a … Read More
‘The Art of Political Murder,’ produced by George Clooney, is now streaming on HBO. There is a lot of blood. Blood on the concrete next to the car. Blood on the chunk of concrete used to bludgeon his head. Blood on the cloth covering his body. And then there’s the blood on the hands of the people who murdered bishop and parish priest Juan José Gerardi Conedera. In Guatemala in the 1960s and ’70s, Gerardi was bishop of Verapaz and Quiché. He became auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Guatemala in 1984. He was an outspoken human rights activist working for official acceptance of indigenous languages and the improved status of Mayan peoples. He openly criticized the military’s violence against … Read More
This December week, I received precisely one dozen Christmas cards. They’ve been collecting day by day in the garage, slowly shedding their potential viral load out there next to the band saw. I have a large family, and the holiday letters and annual summaries typically numbered many more times that. But this is the social media age, and one of the treasures of that technology is that I do not see my cousins once a year on a flat Kodak card but weekly in Facebook and Instagram. I watch their children and grandchildren grow in increments rather than suffer the shock that yearly photos from afar can deliver of seeing a child I remember as a toddler suddenly appear six … Read More
Would the world really look different with better media representation? What if way back in 1947 Hollywood had produced films by Black screenwriters featuring gay actors for studios run by women? Would the world look different today? The Netflix series Hollywood (2020) positions itself to address this question then doesn’t quite get around to confronting it. Regardless, it’s intriguing ground to cover, however incompletely, and if the thought-provoking discussion doesn’t happen on screen, it might still happen in living rooms after the credits roll. The series weaves imagined stories of celebrities such as Rock Hudson, Anna May Wong, and Hattie McDaniel into an alternative, fantasy history that suggests racism, sexism, and homophobia might have been neatly sidestepped had the film industry just … Read More
This Netflix drama sparks meaningful conversations about family life. Behind the scenes in competitive ice skating, all is not sequins and sweetness in Netflix’s one-season wonder, Spinning Out. The series is compelling for unexpected reasons, and it takes uncommon risks in tackling a verboten topic. Spinning Out sidesteps the glamour of the Winter Olympics fan-favorite competitions and fixes its gaze on the fact that these girls and young women are accomplished, elite athletes—and they didn’t get there by humming “Swan Lake” and wearing cute leotards. There are sweaty workouts and demanding drills from coaches, crack-of-dawn ice times in chilly arenas, and backstabbing mothers gossiping in the bleachers. Skaters fret about injuring tendons, bruising bones, and recovering from terrifying falls. The … Read More
‘Inside the Vatican’ premieres Tuesday, April 28 on PBS Next week, PBS releases a new documentary of the Vatican offering tantalizing peeks into spaces no tourist can access and revealing the everyday work life for some of the 2,600 people working in the independent city-state. Filmed during Pope Francis’s fifth year, “Inside the Vatican” is loosely structured around the church calendar and important events: Easter, a papal visit to Ireland, installing new cardinals, preparing for Christmas. It feels a bit like three documentaries: one of workers and who make the Vatican run, one of the clerical leadership, and a closing—and hopeful— section on the sex scandals inside the church. It’s an espresso-tinged steep in Italian culture (The sculptures! The paintings! … Read More
Come the holidays, I feed a lot of people. I have five sisters, they went out and got five husbands, the begatting began, those kiddos grew up and brought home new people, and soon we needed a valet to park the cars for a family dinner. I order two birds and a breast, set up a turkey roaster on the mudroom bench, and buy so many pounds of potatoes that the grocery bagger helps me schlep them to the car. I move the buffet out of the dining room, tie up the chandelier so it doesn’t bonk people on the head, and scour the house for every available chair. My grandmother’s table takes five leaves and seats 12 if I … Read More
The end of the year is here, and with it comes Star Tribune’s list of most read Opinions. 19 for ’19: The most-read opinions 4. “We are asking the wrong questions about domestic violence,” by Pamela Hill Nettleton, Ph.D., who studies gender in media and teaches media studies and communication at the University of St. Thomas. When it comes to domestic violence, we ask the wrong question: “Why does she stay?” We ought to ask: “Why does he hit?” You can read the full article via the Star Tribune, and the article is also available here on this site.
Listen to Pamela’s at the link. Dangerous Discourses: Media Coverage of Violence Against Women, Dr. Pamela Hill Nettleton “We’ve been asking the wrong questions. We ask ‘why does she stay’ instead of ‘why is he hitting her…’” This is just one of the points you’ll hear in my conversation with Dr. Pamela Nettleton. We discuss how the media’s coverage of violence against women perpetuates a culture of violence. We also discuss how our social systems are set up to burden women who are victims of violence.