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Don DeLillo's 'The Body Artist' takes the stage in sold-out weekend

(01/22/18 5:00am)

It is almost as if Don DeLillo’s “The Body Artist” was always meant to be adapted for the stage, as if some invisible force was, for years, guiding director-writer Jody McAuliffe, Rachel Jett — who plays Lauren Hartke, the body artist — and all their collaborators toward this project. Or at least that’s how it sounded to me when McAuliffe, professor of the practice of theater studies and professor of Slavic and Eurasian studies, told me about the origins of “The Body Artist.”

The end of a chapter

(01/10/18 5:00am)

It’s 1:45 a.m. and after four months of reading, I’ve just finished “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.” In about 12 hours, I’ll be on a plane back to Duke, but right now my mother’s house is quiet and the Christmas tree is still up, warming the room, the light of one hundred little bulbs refracted off the glass ornaments. 

Tribalism, artistic consciousness and Hollywood's reckoning

(01/03/18 5:00am)

A few days ago, there was a headline on Vox: “How tribalism overrules progressive tenets like ‘believing women.’” The focus of the story, written by Constance Grady, is J.K. Rowling’s recent statement on the casting of Johnny Depp in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” Rowling, a longtime contributor to charities that support victims of domestic abuse, recently voiced her approval of Depp’s casting as the eponymous wizard, despite abuse allegations made by his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Joe Swanberg's 'Easy' is authentic, empathetic in second season

(12/20/17 5:00am)

With his Netflix series “Easy,” currently in its second season, director Joe Swanberg does some growing up. The meandering, documentary-style naturalism of his early films — characteristic of the subgenre referred to as “mumblecore” — is still present in Swanberg’s most recent work, but there’s a new order and focus to the storytelling.

'Passages' embraces the fragmentary spirit of Walter Benjamin's work

(12/06/17 5:00am)

Walter Benjamin, the famed literary and cultural critic, once called “The Arcades Project” — his seminal, fragmentary study of 19th-century Paris — “the theatre of all my struggles and all my ideas.” So it is fitting, given the metaphor, that last Thursday, a throng of people filed into Durham’s Full Frame Theater to watch filmmaker and art historian Judith Wechsler’s “The Passages of Walter Benjamin,” which documents the critic’s life and, of course, his most famous work, “The Arcades Project.”

'The Good Doctor' and the impersonality of 'high art'

(11/29/17 5:04am)

“The Good Doctor” is the kind of show people like to call a “guilty pleasure” — a term I object to. It’s broad, predictable and epically sentimental, schmaltzy even. The show, which follows Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore), a brilliant surgical resident with autism and savant syndrome, plays like a typical medical procedural, complete with impossibly attractive doctors, a pristine hospital and a vaguely emotional pop score. It is also the time slot’s most-watched broadcast program in the last 11 years. All that’s to say, “The Good Doctor” has the makings of televised comfort food, like “This is Us” if the Pearson clan never made it out of that hospital.

'The Center Will Not Hold' is a cinematic love letter to Joan Didion

(11/01/17 4:00am)

A 20-something writer from Sacramento lands in New York after winning a college essay contest. She is to work for Vogue. In the beginning, she is young and amazed by everything in the city, though soon she will grow unbearably tired of it. She will move back to her home state and write for an assortment of magazines, producing the contents of what will eventually become “Slouching Towards Bethlehem.”  “Play it As it Lays,” a novel, and “The White Album,” more essays and reporting, will follow. She will give voice to the confusion of the 1960s and 1970s, that sense of unraveling egged on by Charles Manson and the Vietnam War. At the age of 70, she will win a National Book Award for “The Year of Magical Thinking.” By that time, she will already be a literary giant. And in October 2017, a documentary charting her life, aptly titled “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold,” will be released on Netflix the same day as the second season of “Stranger Things.”

'For Catalina's Time' explores culture of Mexico's Costa Chica

(10/18/17 4:01am)

Upon entering the main gallery of the John Hope Franklin Center, I found myself feeling slightly overwhelmed. People milled about, entering and exiting a conference room adjacent to the exhibit I’d come to see. At the edge of the gallery, two people conversed about construction. And yet, amid the varied clamor, my mind was elsewhere, in a place I had neither been to nor heard of before: a region of Mexico called the Costa Chica. It is the setting and subject of Sandra Luz Barroso’s photographs now on display in “For Catalina’s Time.”

The fourth season of 'Broad City' finds humor in the political moment

(10/11/17 4:00am)

Three episodes into its fourth season, “Broad City” is growing up, for better or worse. The series’ dynamic, often stoned duo — the no-holds-barred, ever-twerking Ilana and her more subdued best friend, Abbi — are changing jobs, developing a slightly firmer grasp on the conventions of adulthood and, most importantly, navigating the current political climate.

Scenes from the Carrboro Music Festival

(09/27/17 4:09am)

On a peculiarly hot September day, a circle of drummers dressed in intricate patterns of red, black and white dance in the middle of West Weaver St., intermingled with grooving children, teenagers and a handful of gregarious adults. A crowd encircles the celebration, sporadically cheering. If it were another day, the scene would be a source of uncommon spectacle. But today, Sept. 24, it is to be expected. The Carrboro Music Festival, in its 20th year, has taken over the streets. The festival began Saturday with a handful of performances at Town Commons, and a couple hours into Sunday’s festivities, the merriment and music are still going strong. Batalá Durham, one of more than 150 groups scheduled to play the festival, pounds on in a crescendo of movement and music, culminating in a seemingly abrupt stop. Onlookers begin to glance around, looking for the next performance to watch.

Duke Coffeehouse turns 50: A look back at a complicated history

(09/20/17 1:11pm)

If you’re a regular at the Duke Coffeehouse or simply pop in for a milkshake or a coffee every now and then, you’ve probably glanced over the Polaroids of current and former employees hanging on the back wall, just beyond the bar. The collage of faces represents a small piece of the Coffeehouse’s complicated and lengthy history—it is a saga that could easily fill a thick volume. This year, the Coffeehouse recognizes that history with a celebration of 50 years, though to regulars and even some staff members, the particulars of the Coffeehouse’s origin story remain unknown.

'MONK@100' brings life to the legacy of musician Thelonious Monk

(09/06/17 4:02am)

Before Thelonious Monk revolutionized American music alongside players with names like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, before he raised eyebrows and lit up souls, by playing in the cracks and experimenting with dissonance, he was just a kid from Rocky Mount, N.C. And in just a little over a month, the legacy and music of the singular jazz icon will return in full force to where it all started, or, to be precise, roughly 90 miles from where it all started.

'Landline' is a love letter to human messiness

(08/16/17 4:00am)

“Landline,” the latest film from writer-director Gillian Robespierre, is set in a time when women dressed like Elaine from “Seinfeld” and people checked their messages via pay phone—in other words, New York City, 1995. Yet, despite the fact that the movie is set more than 20 years ago (smart phones are conspicuously absent), the characters couldn’t feel more vibrant and contemporary. Like “Obvious Child”—Robespierre’s first film— “Landline” is an unusually honest story about people who stumble into, and make, big glorious messes that sometimes resolve themselves and sometimes don’t. 

The most wonderful time of the year?

(12/14/16 3:44pm)

Well the holiday season is here and the signs are all around campus. Whether it’s the occasional shrub adorned by lights or a newly decorated common room, Duke students are reminded that when the mental dust of finals has settled and end-of-course grades have been factored into our cumulative GPAs, there will be the solace of winter break. Though, in an election year where nothing went as expected and everything felt sour, it’s only reasonable to ponder whether the most wonderful time of the year—that is post-finals—will actually be so wonderful.

Refusing to try: Medicaid expansion in North Carolina

(11/30/16 3:12pm)

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column in which I considered the future of the Affordable Care Act in the hands of a Trump presidency. I acknowledged then that I was no expert on the politics or policy of the American health care system and I’ll do so again now. This week I’m writing about Medicaid expansion—the most thrilling political conversation-starter out there (a guy can dream, right).

But is it better than Obamacare?

(11/16/16 2:59pm)

I should start by readily acknowledging the fact that I am not an expert in the policy or politics of the American healthcare system. But as a college student with a lifelong history of heart disease—I’ve got the pacemaker and everything—it’s a subject that I don’t take lightly, especially as I near the day when I’ll venture into the job pool and out of my eligibility for dependent coverage on my parents’ health insurance.