December 2, 2010 Critic John Powers has a theory about movies: The best gifts to give aren't necessarily the most recent hits. His 13 picks for the 2010 holiday season include a Charlie Chaplin classic, a Charles Laughton masterpiece and one of the greatest documentaries ever produced.
November 12, 2010 The late director Elia Kazan had a profound influence on American film in the decades after World War II. Critic John Powers says a new box set featuring 15 of his films, including On the Waterfront and Wild River, is a "terrific collection anchored by some of the most mythic performances in film history."
November 1, 2010 In the past few weeks, two films have explored the careers of men who have found a place in the pantheon of popular mythology. Critic John Powers says seeing Carlos and The Social Network side by side made him think about how much social values have changed in recent decades.
October 20, 2010 David Grossman began working on his novel To the End of the Land while his son Uri was in the Israeli Army. He hoped it would protect him. It didn't. Uri was killed, and Grossman's fiction explores the fragility of families, nations and life itself.
September 30, 2010 Young-ha Kim's latest thriller, Your Republic Is Calling You, is about a North Korean spy living covertly in Seoul for two decades — when he's suddenly called to return to Pyongyang. Critic John Powers says the suspenseful novel offers a gripping look inside modern Korean culture.
September 14, 2010 Filmmaker Lixin Fan's Last Train Home documents the journey 130 million migrant workers make back to their rural villages every Chinese New Year. But the movie is not only about families traveling home — it's about China's modernization. Critic John Powers says the images in the "epic and intimate" movie are "absolutely ravishing."
August 27, 2010 The French outlaw Jacques Mesrine, who terrorized France and killed 39 people, is the subject of the thrilling Mesrine: Killer Instinct, which stars Vincent Cassell as Mesrine and Gerard Depardieu as a Parisian crime boss. Critic John Powers applauds Cassell's acting, saying it "ranks with the best of DeNiro or Pacino or, more recently, Daniel Day-Lewis."
August 2, 2010 In 1963, French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot decided to make a movie that would reinvent the movies. It was called Inferno, and the unfinished film was an enormous failure. But a new documentary about the disastrous project is anything but — critic John Powers says Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno is "cinematically thrilling."
July 19, 2010 Critic John Powers compares the heroines featured in this summer's two cultural juggernauts — Twilight and the Millennium Trilogy. And despite being almost diametrically opposed, the characters Lisbeth Salander and Bella Swan have more in common than you may think.
July 2, 2010 Tilda Swinton stars as a wealthy wife and mother who gets involved with a younger man in Luca Guadagnino's acclaimed new film I Am Love. Fresh Air's critic-at-large John Powers says the movie offers grownup audiences something they've been missing. (Recommended)
May 10, 2010 Dorothy Sayers' genteelly dapper detective, portrayed by Ian Carmichael in the '70s BBC miniseries, returns in a newly released DVD set. Critic John Powers reviews the first two episodes of a murder-mystery collection whose success on American TV paved the way for PBS's popular Mystery franchise.