June 21, 2012 Aaron Sorkin's new HBO series follows the inner workings of a cable news show that sets out to challenge our hyperpartisan, 24/7 news culture. But critic John Powers says Sorkin has created a show that replicates much of what it thinks it's opposing.
April 24, 2012 Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov writes short, surrealistic stories full of dark comedic surprises. His latest is The Case of the General's Thumb, but critic John Powers suggests starting with his 1996 novel, Death and the Penguin. It's a fast-paced, witty read and what Powers calls "an almost perfect novel."
March 21, 2012 The 1993 documentary The War Room, which offered a verite look behind the scenes of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, has just been released on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD. Critic-at-large John Powers explains why the film was revelatory — and why it could never be made today.
February 22, 2012 An absorbing new documentary by Danish director Lise Birk Pedersen charts four years in the life of Masha Drokova, who became famous as the girl who publicly kissed Vladimir Putin. Critic John Powers says it "offers a fresh glimpse into how Putin's Russia actually works."
January 17, 2012 The Iranian film A Separation won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday. Critic John Powers says the remarkable film takes viewers inside a country that is far more complicated and fascinating than news headlines indicate.
November 1, 2011 At its core, John le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy isn't really about espionage, says critic John Powers. The 1974 novel, adapted for the screen in 1979 by the BBC, is actually about secrets and lies and shifting identities — which is to say, a metaphor for our own daily lives.
October 7, 2011 It's been more than 30 years since the rugged film star's death, yet he still looms large in the national psyche. Critic John Powers was surprised to find that the indomitable American fighting man was actually a hard-earned act of self-invention.
July 4, 2011 A new DVD set follows the presidential campaigns of '60, '64 and '68 — and shows just how much times have changed. Critic John Powers says it's hard not to feel a bit nostalgic for the days when running for president was treated as something noble, not grubby.
April 27, 2011 David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel, The Pale King, was recently published. But to truly enjoy his work, says critic John Powers, you must read his earlier pieces, which were filled with "a staggering eye for detail" from "a mind that was never predictable."
April 20, 2011 In the splendid documentary Nostalgia for the Light, Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzman draws parallels between astronomers searching for stars in the world's driest desert and women searching for the remains of loved ones who were disappeared under the Pinochet regime.