Taking Out the Garbage 

Highlights from the week in criticism.
Oct. 25 2001 1:38 PM

Taking Out the Garbage 

 

 

Book cover 

Book
Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage, by Joseph E. Persico (Random House). Critics recommend historian Persico's latest to all audiences. For academics it "fills a void in WWII histories" (Kirkus Reviews) by detailing the roles of Roosevelt and American intelligence during the war, but it also has enough color to interest general readers. Time's Lance Morrow praises the author with adjectives usually reserved for snack food, complimenting his "historical zest." Many identify tangential passages about the zany adventures of amateur spies as particularly entertaining—"Some of this stuff is beside the point, whatever the point, but none of it is boring" (Thomas Powers, the New York Times). Two common complaints: The book "contains no startling revelations" (Nathan Miller, the Washington Post); and it fails to explain what motivated FDR. (Click here to search the FDR library's online clothing catalog.)— B.M.L.

4_shoppingbag_24x30

To purchase this book from barnesandnoble.com, click here.

CD cover 

Music
Beautiful Garbage, by Garbage (Sony). Critics trash this forced follow-up to Version 2.0 (1998). An "identity-crisis album,"Beautiful Garbage shows the band "sorely lacking on many of its cut-and-paste arrangements" (Steve Morse, the Boston Globe). Particular weaknesses include lead singer—"potty-mouthed alt-vixen" Shirley Manson—in "Androgyny": She "smells like teen pop, an R-rated Britney Spears knockoff with plenty of stop-start dramatics and breathy, faux-sexy vocalese." And the style-stealing continues in other songs: "Cup of Coffee" is a "slow-burning broodfest, complete with Theremin and a pensive, Radiohead-like melody" (Sharon Zimmerman, the Washington Post). "Trying to drop their old mask, Garbage haven't found a new face of their own yet but they definitely know where to look" (Jon Pareles, Rolling Stone). (Click here to read an interview with the band and hear tracks from the album.)— A.B.

4_shoppingbag_24x30

To purchase this cd from amazon, click here.

Movie still 

Movies
The Last Castle (DreamWorks). The critics fire slings and arrows at this Castle. Robert Redford, "in the nobly burnished self-mythologic perfection of his late-middle-aged golden god-ness" (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly), stars as a disgraced three-star general who arrives at a military prison run by a sadistic warden (James Gandolfini) and spearheads an uprising. "Mr. Redford's motives can never be less than noble. … At its core, Castle is less about leadership than about the perquisites associated with movie-star power" (Elvis Mitchell, the New York Times). The film is also criticized for its heavy-handed symbolism, preachy tone, narrative holes, and slow pace. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, "[I]t grips us, and we shake away logical questions," but other reviewers don't shake away any complaints. (Click here for an interview with Gandolfini about The Sopranos.)— B.W.

Movie still 

Riding in Cars With Boys (Sony Pictures). The only esteemed critic who likes this coming-of-age saga—starring Drew Barrymore, directed by Penny Marshall, and based on a memoir by Beverly Donofrio—is the Chicago Sun-Times' Roger Ebert: "It's a brave movie, in the way it centers on a mother who gets trapped in the wrong life, doesn't get out for a long time, takes her misery out on her son, and blames everything on her fate and bad luck." Others see only its "miscalculated and often superficial script" and a "wasted opportunity" (Kenneth Turan, the Los Angeles Times). Despite Barrymore's "special empathy" for her "headstrong, narcissistic" character, Marshall "regularly downshifts" the film's anger to "low-gear cute every time the road gets good and tough" (Lisa Schwartzbaum, Entertainment Weekly). (Click here to read Barrymore's letters at the film's official Web site.)— A.B.

Movie still 

From Hell (Fox). Critics embrace the Hughes brothers' take on Jack the Ripper, "a conspiracy-theory thriller with brains and a heart" (Elvis Mitchell, the New York Times). The movie is a visual marvel: From Prague locations, the directors have created a vision of the Victorian underworld that is "dark, clammy and exhilarating" (Roger Ebert, the Chicago Sun-Times). Critics applaud Johnny Depp's turn as Inspector Frederick Abberline, who picks clues out of an opium haze. They're less enthusiastic about Heather Graham as a steely prostitute; she's a bit too "feminist of inclination to strike an authentic note" (Stephen Hunter, the Washington Post). (Click here to visit the movie's official Web site.)—B.C.

 

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 11:40 AM The U.S. Has Spent $7 Billion Fighting the War on Drugs in Afghanistan. It Hasn’t Worked. 
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 21 2014 12:40 PM Asamkirche: The Rococo Church Where Death Hides in Plain Sight
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM George Tiller's Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Doctor, Claims Right of Free Speech
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 21 2014 12:05 PM Same-Sex Couples at Home With Themselves in 1980s America
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.