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The Anti-Romantic

What Éric Rohmer said of one of his characters could be said of him as well: He was committed to “redoing all of ­Rousseau in reverse.” His films are anti-­romantic. They reject romantic notions of liberation and autonomy. They critique the cult of romantic love. They warn against a romantic . . . . Continue Reading »

My Recipe Binder

For those of us who were adults before the advent of the Internet, a three-ring binder was the best way to keep track of our favorite recipes. Most of the women I know still have one, filled with recipes torn from magazines or printed from websites, handwritten by friends on index cards and . . . . Continue Reading »

Gelded Critics of Capitalism

Capitalism gets off easy these days. Its loud but underwhelming critics are stuck in the 1960s, repeating slogans that never quite amount to a compelling condemnation of the system. Proposing costly federal programs is all it takes to be considered an ­anti-­capitalist radical. Take, for instance, . . . . Continue Reading »

Under the Rainbow Banner

In June 1970, America’s first gay pride parades hit the streets. Four U.S. cities—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco—hosted crowds ranging from several hundred to a few thousand marching with homemade signs declaring “pride,” “power,” and “liberation.” Like . . . . Continue Reading »

Russian Purgatory

The Russian soul. The phrase serves as shorthand for Russia’s national character, after the manner of American innocence, French arrogance, Italian dolce far niente, and what used to be the English stiff upper lip. Russians are reputed to feel more than the rest of us do, think deep thoughts . . . . Continue Reading »

Strategic Long-Term Propaganda

In the opening lines of Cold Warriors, Duncan White notes that “between February and May 1955, a group covertly funded by the Central Intelligence Agency launched a secret weapon into Communist territory”: balloons carrying copies of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. This was perhaps the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Fallen Men of Film Noir

In the mid-1940s, Hollywood began to make a new kind of crime film. Combining sex and violence, lust and greed, the “noir” was distinguished by the darkness of its themes and photography. Double ­Indemnity (1944) was, as a critic noted in the New York Times, “the first of the . . . . Continue Reading »

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