November 4, 2013 Bound by the confines of gender and finances, two young women take divergent paths in Elena Ferrante's The Story of a New Name, the second book in her "Neapolitan Novels" trilogy. Critic John Powers believes the bold, expansive series to be semi-autobiographical, a revelation from a secretive author who won't reveal her true name.
September 26, 2013 The series follows the stories of science pioneers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who helped bring sexuality into the light. Critic John Powers says it clearly aspires to be "the Mad Men of sex" — but falls short in both its eye for detail and its retrograde portrayals of sex.
August 22, 2013 The fictional Australian hard-boiled detective is the star of several sharp, funny novels by Peter Temple. Two of those books have recently been adapted into TV movies starring Guy Pearce. Critic-at-large John Powers says Pearce perfectly conveys a complex blend of old and new masculinity.
August 12, 2013 Spanish novelist Javier Marías is well-known in Europe, but not as popular in the United States. Critic John Powers says Marías' latest work — an unsettling, slightly sinister twist on the mystery novel — ought to raise the author's profile here in America.
July 24, 2013 For years, there were rumors that filmmaker Henry Jaglom had taped hours of his conversations with Orson Welles but that the tapes had been lost. They weren't. Now the transcripts have been released in a new book, edited and introduced by Peter Biskind.
June 25, 2013 A new film from Sofia Coppola, who made Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette, is based on the real-life story of a group of Southern California teens who, in 2008 and 2009, began breaking into the homes of celebrities and stealing everything from designer clothing to watches and jewelry.
May 2, 2013 In her classic '60s documentary, Shirley Clarke profiles a loquacious 33-year-old gay hustler who dreams of having a nightclub act. Her subject could hardly be more complex — and in examining him, she raises important questions about the relationship between fact and fiction.
March 29, 2013 A new documentary looks at obsessive fans of Stanley Kubrick's 1980 horror film The Shining, starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. These fanatics look for hidden meanings in the movie, and while some of their theories sound outrageous, it's too simple to call such thinking deranged.
March 19, 2013 The celebration of Philip Roth's career reaches its peak in a new documentary — Philip Roth Unmasked — that will screen on PBS next week as part of the American Masters series. There's no doubt that Roth is a master, and not just an American one, but the film tiptoes around the novelist's dark ferocity.