DiscoverCritics at Large | The New Yorker
Critics at Large | The New Yorker
Claim Ownership

Critics at Large | The New Yorker

Author: The New Yorker

Subscribed: 73,907Played: 170,642
Share

Description

Critics at Large is a weekly culture podcast from The New Yorker. Every Thursday, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss current obsessions, classic texts they’re revisiting with fresh eyes, and trends that are emerging across books, television, film, and more. The show runs the gamut of the arts and pop culture, with lively, surprising conversations about everything from Salman Rushdie to “The Real Housewives.” Through rigorous analysis and behind-the-scenes insights into The New Yorker’s reporting, the magazine’s critics help listeners make sense of our moment—and how we got here.
25 Episodes
Reverse
The campaign for an Oscar is just that: a campaign. In the weeks and months leading up to the ninety-sixth Academy Awards, actors and directors have been hard at work reminding voters and the public alike of their worthiness, P.R. agencies have churned out “for your consideration” ads, and studios have poured millions of dollars into efforts to help their films emerge victorious on Hollywood’s biggest night. In this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss the state of the race, from the front-runners to the snubs and the season’s unlikely “villain.” The hosts are joined by The New Yorker’s Michael Schulman, the author of “Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat, and Tears,” who describes how Harvey Weinstein permanently changed the landscape in the nineties by treating campaigns as “guerrilla warfare.” Today, much of the process happens behind closed doors. If the game is rigged, why do we care about the outcome? “Even though we know that there is a mechanism behind these things, a glow does attach itself to people who win,” Cunningham says. “We are still very much suckers for the glamour of merit.”Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat, and Tears,” by Michael Schulman“Oppenheimer” (2023)“Barbie” (2023)“May December” (2023)“Poor Things” (2023)“The Zone of Interest” (2023)“Nyad” (2023)“Maestro” (2023)“Shakespeare in Love” (1998)“Saving Private Ryan” (1998)“Can You Really Want an Oscar Too Much?” by Michael Schulman (The New Yorker)“Anatomy of a Fall” (2023)“Titanic” (1997)“Ferrari” (2023)New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
At this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, Usher Raymond sang through decades of hits while twirling on roller skates, making a case for himself as one of the great R. & B. artists of our time. The performance illuminates a key aspect of modern pop stardom: the fashioning of one’s legacy in real time. In this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss how musicians’ images take shape independent of their music. They consider “Bob Marley: One Love,” a new bio-pic made with the support of the Marley estate that deliberately smooths the rough edges of the singer’s life. Today’s performers take a more active role in their own reputation management, using high-profile appearances to stake a claim or reinforce their persona. At this year’s Grammy Awards, the question of legacy came to the fore when Jay-Z took issue with the fact that his wife, Beyoncé, has never won the coveted Album of the Year award. But the most indelible moments from the ceremony involved songs from decades prior—a reminder that the music itself is often more enduring than any formal accolade. “Rather than legacy in corporate terms or in institutional terms,” says Fry, there’s also “the legacy of the heart.”Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“Bob Marley: One Love” (2024)“Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell, as performed at the 2024 Grammys “If I Ain't Got You” by Alicia KeysLuke Combs’s cover of “Fast Car” by Tracy ChapmanTwins react to “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins“Walk the Line” (2005)“You Make Me Wanna . . .” by UsherNew episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
As much as contemporary audiences relish a happily ever after, some of the greatest romances of all time are ones that have turned out badly. In this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz consider stories of “wretched love”—love that’s star-crossed, unfulfilled, or somehow doomed by the taboos of the day. First, they react to listeners’ favorite examples, from Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” to “The Notebook” to the Joni Mitchell song “The Last Time I Saw Richard.” Then, the hosts discuss their own picks: the poet Frank Bidart’s collection “Desire”; James Baldwin’s novel “Giovanni’s Room”; and “A Girl’s Story,” by the Nobel Prize-winner Annie Ernaux. Why do we—and centuries’ worth of artists—gravitate toward tales of thwarted desire? Perhaps it’s because these moments unlock something that stays with us long after the sting of heartbreak has faded. “When you widen the lens, life goes on,” Schwartz says. Nevertheless, “there is a need for all of us to return to that moment because that was part of what made you who you were.”Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“Annie Ernaux Turns Memory Into Art,” by Alexandra Schwartz (The New Yorker)“Anna Karenina,” by Leo Tolstoy“Conversations with Friends,” by Sally Rooney“Desire,” by Frank Bidart“Eugene Onegin” (1879)“Giovanni’s Room,” by James Baldwin“A Girl’s Story,” by Annie Ernaux“Sense and Sensibility,” by Jane Austen“Sense and Sensibility” (1995)“Sylvia,” by Leonard MichaelsJoni Mitchell’s “The Last Time I Saw Richard”“The Notebook” (2004)“Wuthering Heights,” by Emily Brontë“Wuthering Heights” (1939)Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
If some of us have managed to avoid mean girls in life, we’ve had no such luck in art. The “mean girl”—a picture of idealized femininity who usually heads up a like-minded clique—has appeared in films like “Clueless,” “Heathers,” and, of course, the 2004 classic “Mean Girls,” written by Tina Fey. Recently, the mean girl has received a makeover. In this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss texts that have breathed new life into the trope, beginning with Ryan Murphy’s “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans,” which dramatizes the schism between the writer Truman Capote and the group of New York City socialites he called his “swans.” The hosts trace the figure of the mean girl through culture, from the character of Regina George—who returns in the 2024 movie-musical reboot of “Mean Girls,” albeit a little less mean than before—to the cast of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City.” Today, the archetype is ripe for projection, appropriation, and maybe even for sympathy. “The hope and the fear looking at these mean girls is imagining how great their lives must be,” Fry says. “But I think concurrently we would be happy to learn that, in fact, it’s lonely at the top.” Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“The Allure of the Mean Friend,” on “This American Life”“Carrie” (1976)“Daniel Deronda,” by George Eliot“Euphoria” (2019—)“Feud: Capote vs. The Swans” (2024)“Gossip Girl” (2007-2012)“Heathers” (1988)“La Côte Basque, 1965,” by Truman Capote (Esquire)“Mean Girls” (2004)“Mean Girls” (2024)“101 Dalmatians” (1961)“The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” (2020—)New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
The wives and daughters of Dubai’s ruler live in unbelievable luxury. So why do the women in Sheikh Mohammed’s family keep trying to run away? The New Yorker staff writer Heidi Blake joins In the Dark’s Madeleine Baran to tell the story of the royal women who risked everything to flee the brutality of one of the world’s most powerful men. In four episodes, drawing on thousands of pages of secret correspondence and never-before-heard audio recordings, “The Runaway Princesses” takes listeners behind palace walls, revealing a story of astonishing courage and cruelty.“The Runaway Princesses” is a four-part narrative series from In the Dark and The New Yorker. To keep listening, follow In the Dark wherever you get your podcasts or via this link https://link.chtbl.com/itd_f
What Is the Comic For?

What Is the Comic For?

2024-01-2552:18

Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix special, “The Dreamer,” has drawn criticism for its targeting of trans and disabled people–the latest in a string of controversies, and of increasingly self-referential sets. His and other standup comics’ growing fixation with cancel culture raises a pressing question: What is the role of the comic today? In this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz trace how comedians have positioned themselves in relation to their audiences over time, from the proto-standup acts of the vaudeville era to the political humor of the legendary George Carlin, who paved the way for the success of Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show.” Where Chappelle and Ricky Gervais are doubling down in the face of backlash, comedians like Jacqueline Novak and John Mulaney are finding new ways to expose societal fault lines in order to bring the crowd to a place of cohesion. But in the era of the culture wars, do we want to be challenged, or affirmed? “Whatever comedy is now, needs willing and predetermined audiences—people that are there to pay attention to a certain kind of thing,” Cunningham says. “If what we want is a kind of shattering of whatever mythologies surround us, maybe it’s not the best for that.”Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“Dave Chappelle: The Dreamer” (2023)“Ricky Gervais: Armageddon” (2023)“Chappelle’s Show” (2003-06)“Jacqueline Novak: Get on Your Knees” (2024)“Outrageous: A History of Showbiz and the Culture Wars,” by Kliph Nesteroff“I Love Lucy” (1951-57)“George Carlin’s American Dream” (2022)“The Daily Show” (1996-)“Comedy Book: How Comedy Conquered Culture–and the Magic That Makes It Work,” by Jesse David Fox“John Mulaney: Baby J” (2023)“The Anxious Precision of Jacqueline Novak’s Comedy,” by Carrie Battan (The New Yorker) “Jenny Slate: Stage Fright” (2019) “Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker” (1999)New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
The Case for Criticism

The Case for Criticism

2024-01-1846:021

In this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz turn their attention to the art—and purpose—of criticism itself. First, they revisit the work of Joan Acocella, a legendary practitioner of the craft who wrote for The New Yorker until her death, at age seventy-eight, earlier this month, applying her distinctive humor and evocative style to such diverse subjects as Mikhail Baryshnikov, the acclaimed dancer and choreographer, and the Wife of Bath, from Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.” Then the hosts reflect on their own formative influences and the role a critic can play in the life of a reader. The rise of apps like Goodreads and Letterboxd has proved to be a double-edged sword, democratizing criticism while also playing into the more toxic elements of fandom. In an era of “critical populism,” what do the professionals have to offer? “Criticism is often considered a kind of gatekeeping,” Schwartz says. “It really also can be the opposite. It can be a giving of access. And that to me dignifies the whole endeavor.” Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“Thank Goodness for Joan Acocella,” by Alexandra Schwartz (The New Yorker)“The Soloist,” by Joan Acocella (The New Yorker)“The Marrying Kind,” by Joan Acocella (The New Yorker)“Art as Technique,” by Viktor Shklovsky“Black Talk on the Move,” by Darryl Pinckney (The New York Review of Books)“Busted in New York and Other Essays,” by Darryl Pinckney“One Reason Theatre Is in Crisis: The Slow Death of Criticism,” by Jason Zinoman (American Theatre)“Let’s Rescue Book Lovers from this Online Hellscape,” by Maris Kreizman (The New York Times)“‘The O.C.’: Land of The Brooding Teen,” by Tom Shales (The Washington Post)New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
Can Slowness Save Us?

Can Slowness Save Us?

2024-01-1149:26

In recent years, in the realms of self-improvement literature, Instagram influencers, and wellness gurus, an idea has taken hold: that in a non-stop world, the act of slowing down offers a path to better living. In this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz trace the rise of “slowness culture”—from Carl Honoré’s 2004 manifesto to pandemic-era trends of mass resignations and so-called quiet quitting. The hosts discuss the work of Jenny Odell, whose books “How to Do Nothing” and “Saving Time” frame reclaiming one’s time as a life-style choice with radical roots and revolutionary political potential. But how much does an individual’s commitment to leisure pay off on the level of the collective? Is too much being laid at the feet of slowness? “For me, it’s about reclaiming an aspect of humanness, just the experience of not having to make the most with everything we have all the time,” Schwartz says. “There can be a degree of self-defeating critique where you say, ‘Oh, well, this is only accessible to the privileged few.’ And I think the better framing is, how can more people access that kind of sitting with humanness?”Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation,” by Anne Helen Petersen (BuzzFeed)“How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy,” by Jenny Odell“Improving Ourselves to Death,” by Alexandra Schwartz (The New Yorker)“In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed,” by Carl Honoré“The Sabbath,” by Abraham Joshua Heschel“Saving Time: Discovering a Life Beyond Productivity Culture,” by Jenny Odell“Slow Down: The Degrowth Manifesto,” by Kohei SaitoNew episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
Hollywood’s obsession with stories about creative types has resulted in familiar tropes—namely that of the tortured artist, whose fanatical devotion to his craft makes him an enigma to those around him—and story formulae like the bio-pic, which runs through the beats of its subject’s career like a Wikipedia entry. In this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss how some of the year’s buzziest films subvert our expectations of art about artists. “Maestro” is “a fantasia on Leonard Bernstein themes” that focusses on the toll that the legendary composer’s charisma exacts on those around him. “May December,” directed by Todd Haynes, is “a dark satire on certain tendencies in method acting.” And Cord Jefferson’s début feature, “American Fiction,” pairs a critique of the publishing industry’s hollow nods toward “diversity” with a quiet family drama. The hosts also consider other, more deliberately unglamorous depictions, such as that found in Kelly Reichardt’s “Showing Up.” The movie, which follows a sculptor struggling to make ends meet, raises the question of a much rarer archetype. “It seems to me a figure that can take more plumbing,” Cunningham says. “I want to see what that new figure, the everyday artist, can unfold to us about what it means to have a life in art.”Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“Adaptation” (2002)“American Fiction” (2023)“A Conversation with My Father,” by Grace Paley“Just Kids,” by Patti Smith“Maestro” (2023)“May December” (2023)“My Struggle,” by Karl Ove Knausgaard“New York Stories” (1989)“Showing Up” (2023)New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
After six decades as an icon in country music, it’s hard to imagine Dolly Parton had anything to prove.  But when she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 2022, she admitted to feeling uneasy.  A result of that feeling is “Rockstar,” the 77-year-old’s first foray into rock music.  “I wanted the rock people to be proud of me, let’s put it that way,” Parton tells the contributor Emily Lordi. “I wanted them to say, ‘Did you hear Dolly’s rock album? Man, she killed it.’ ” For this album, which is largely comprised of covers of classic rock songs like “Freebird” along with originals like the title track, Parton channeled the likes of Joan Jett and Melissa Etheridge (who also both appear on the album).  She didn’t want to make a countryfied rock album, but even at a full roar, her voice is unmistakable Dolly. “It’s a voice you know when you hear it, whether you like it or not,” Parton says. The artist is known for avoiding comment on political subjects, but she describes the volatile state of the culture in her song “World on Fire.” “The only way I know how to fight back is to write songs to say how I feel,” Parton says. “It’s just me trying to throw some light on some dark subjects these days.”
The Year of the Doll

The Year of the Doll

2023-12-2148:25

In the highest-grossing movie of 2023, Barbie, a literal doll, leaves the comforts of Barbieland and ventures into real-world Los Angeles, where she discovers the myriad difficulties of modern womanhood. This arc from cosseted naïveté to feminist awakening is a narrative throughline that connects some of the biggest cultural products of the year. In this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss how 2023 became “the year of the doll,” tracing the trope from “Barbie” to Yorgos Lanthimos’s film “Poor Things,” whose protagonist finds self-determination through sexual agency, and beyond. In Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” a teen-age Priscilla Beaulieu lives under the thumb of Elvis at Graceland before finally breaking free, while in Emma Cline’s novel “The Guest,” the doll figure must fend for herself after the trappings of luxury fall away, revealing the precarity of her circumstances. The hosts explore how ideas about whiteness, beauty, and women’s bodily autonomy inform these works, and how the shock of political backsliding might explain why these stories struck a chord with audiences. “Most of us believed that the work of Roe v. Wade was done,” Cunningham says. “If that is a message that we could all grasp—that a step forward is not a permanent thing—I think that would be a positive thing.”Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“Barbie” (2023) “M3GAN” (2023) “Poor Things” (2023) “Priscilla” (2023) “The Guest,” by Emma Cline “The House of Mirth,” by Edith WhartonNew episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
In the weeks since George Santos was expelled from Congress, his story has been funnelled straight into the entertainment pipeline, from a memorable sketch on “Saturday Night Live” and reports of a film in the works at HBO to his own exploits on Cameo, where he’s charging five hundred dollars apiece for personalized video messages. On this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz assess why Santos’s story resonates with audiences, and the enduring appeal of the scammer narrative, from Herman Melville’s “The Confidence-Man” to Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man.” Scammers embody—and exploit—a central tenet of the American Dream: the promise of a brighter future awaiting those audacious enough to reach for it. But their stories can also expose the weaknesses at the heart of our institutions. Why, then, do we keep coming back for more? “The level of enjoyment that we gain from these depictions of scams doesn’t mean that the critique isn’t there,” Fry says. “It’s almost like we as audiences are also begging, ‘Please make this fun for us.’ ”Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“Every Day’s a Holiday” (1937)“Inventing Anna” (2022)“Telemarketers” (2023)“The Confidence-Man,” by Herman Melville“The Dropout” (2022)“The Fabulist,” by Mark Chiusano“The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley” (2019)“The Music Man” (1957)“The Postman Always Rings Twice” (1946)The “Simpsons” episode “Marge vs. the Monorail” (1993)“The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013)“Trafficked With Mariana van Zeller” (2020 – present)New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
Margaret Talbot, writing in The New Yorker in 2005, recounted that when animators at Pixar got stuck on a project they’d file into a screening room to watch a film by Hayao Miyazaki. Best known for works like “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Princess Mononoke,” and “Spirited Away,” which received the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, in 2002, he is considered by some to be the first true auteur of children’s entertainment. On this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss the themes that have emerged across Miyazaki’s œuvre, from bittersweet depictions of late childhood to meditations on the attractions and dangers of technology. Miyazaki’s latest, “The Boy and the Heron,” is a semi-autobiographical story in which a young boy grieving his mother embarks on a quest through a magical realm as the Second World War rages in reality. The Japanese title, “How Do You Live?,” reveals the philosophical underpinnings of what may well be the filmmaker’s final work. “Wherever you are—whether it seems to be peaceful, whether things are scary—there’s something happening somewhere,” Cunningham says. “And you have to learn this as a child. There’s pain somewhere. And you have to learn how to live your life along multiple tracks.”Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989)“My Neighbor Totoro” (1988)“Old Enough!” (1991-present)“Princess Mononoke” (1997)“Spirited Away” (2001)“The Boy and the Heron” (2023)“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis (1950)“The Moomins series” by Tove Jansson (1945-70)“The Wind Rises” (2013)New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
From Merchant Ivory’s classic adaptations of E. M. Forster novels to the BBC’s beloved rendition of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” the greatest period dramas are the ones that succeed in translating the emotional experience of another era for a modern audience. On this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss their personal favorites—namely Greta Gerwig’s take on “Little Women” and Jane Campion’s “Bright Star,” which chronicles the star-crossed love affair between the poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne—and how the genre is changing. Often, the pleasure of these stories lies in their rigorous depictions of the mores and customs of the past. But recent hit series, including “Dickinson,” “Bridgerton,” and “The Great,” have adopted a marked ahistoricism, evident in the dialogue, soundtracks, and the treatments of race and sexuality. The hosts consider how “The Buccaneers,” on Apple TV+, departs from the Edith Wharton novel on which it’s based by skipping over the sociopolitical details that form the backbone of Wharton’s story. Do contemporary flourishes accentuate the appeal of the genre, or dilute it? “The strangeness of the past is precisely what makes it amazing when we find out that it is relatable to us,” Cunningham says. “If you make everything relatable, you’ve eliminated the thrill of discovery.”Read, watch, and listen with the critics:“A Room with a View” (1985)“Bridgerton” (2020-22)“Bright Star” (2009)“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000)“Dickinson” (2019-21)“Hamlet” (2000)“Howards End” (film, 1992; miniseries, 2017)“Little Women” (2019)“Mansfield Park,” by Jane Austen (film, 1999)“Marie Antoinette” (2006)“Memoirs of a Geisha,” by Arthur Golden (film, 2005)“Napoleon” (2023)“Pride and Prejudice,” by Jane Austen (miniseries, 1995; film, 2005)“The Buccaneers,” by Edith Wharton (series, 2023)“The Custom of the Country,” by Edith Wharton“The Great” (series, 2020-23)New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
Samantha Irby’s latest essay collection, “Quietly Hostile,” cemented her place as one of the great professionally funny people working today. Her books and her writing for such TV shows as “Shrill” and “Tuca & Bertie” are distinguished by a no-holds-barred, raunchy, often scatological brand of humor and a willingness to poke fun at just about anything—including herself. In a live taping of Critics at Large at this year’s New Yorker Festival, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz sat down with Irby to unpack her approach. They discussed humor as a coping mechanism; her work on the “Sex and the City” reboot, “And Just Like That . . .,” and the ensuing backlash; and how the Internet has transformed the comedy landscape. “What people enjoy is so varied,” Irby says. “The future is you finding very specific things that delight you, and having them readily available.”New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
Reality television is all about artifice, and contestants on “The Bachelor” often seem more interested in becoming influencers than in finding a spouse—but “The Golden Bachelor,” a new spinoff starring a seventy-two-year-old widower named Gerry, has been hailed for its surprising sincerity. On this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss how the show eschews—and, at times, reinforces—the tropes that have polarized viewers of the ABC franchise, and what a genre known for its phoniness can reveal about actual human emotions and experiences. The hosts consider other depictions of sex and romance at this stage of life, including Philip Roth’s memorable rendering of an older man’s libido in “The Dying Animal” and HBO’s “And Just Like That . . . ,” a rare look at older women’s erotic prospects. Then, they take a step back to examine how series like “The Bachelor” have shaped our conception of love stories writ large. “The Golden Bachelor” ’s insistence on the vitality of its contestants can feel like a step forward, but what does it mean that the show is so fixated on what Schwartz calls “a second teen-agerdom”? “The boomers set a model for what it is to be young that persists for all the generations that have followed,” she says. “Now here they are again, saying, ‘We’re here; yes, we’re older; and we want to get old in our own way.’ ”New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
In the years since the pandemic began, the experience of dining out has been utterly transformed. Coveted tables now disappear seconds after they’re released, and influencers dictate what’s in demand—or even what’s on the menu. On this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz make sense of our new culinary landscape. The hosts are joined by Hannah Goldfield, who covers restaurants and food culture for The New Yorker. Together, they consider how TikTok is changing the way we eat, and how the rise of Resy has introduced a sense of scarcity and competition into the reservation game. Then, the critics discuss “Menus-Plaisirs - Les Troisgros,” a new Frederick Wiseman documentary about a Michelin-starred French restaurant that offers a very different, behind-the-scenes view of the labor and creativity that goes into fine dining. These examples raise the question of how to balance art with the experience that informs and surrounds it. One answer is found in venues that sidestep the hype, and that remind us of why we dine out in the first place. “I don’t need to feel this grand drama of struggle and triumph,” Schwartz says. “I simply want to feel welcomed.”
The celebrity memoir has long been a place for public figures to set the record straight on the story of their lives. By any measure, Britney Spears’s life, as detailed in her new book, “The Woman in Me,” is rich material. The pop star rose to fame in the early two-thousands, and, after enduring a series of mental-health crises, was placed in a conservatorship through which her father controlled almost every aspect of her day-to-day existence. On this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss the “horror story” that emerges in the memoir as the teen-aged Spears is betrayed by everyone around her: a family intent on profiting off her talent; a young Justin Timberlake, who used his romance with Spears as a stepping stone for his own career; a ravenous media that both sexualized and shamed her. The hosts consider how “The Woman in Me” fits within the broader canon of celebrity memoirs, citing the producer Julia Phillips’s “burn-it-all-down” best-seller, “You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again,” and the late Matthew Perry’s 2022 meditation on his struggles with addiction, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.” Ultimately, these stories are just one facet of a broader narrative—and a kind of performance in their own right. “Once you submit to being a celebrity, your music, and how you appear in magazines, and what you produce as a memoir all contribute to this one big text,” Cunningham says. “It’s this grand synthesis, and, in the end, the text is Britney herself.”New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
Throughout his career, Martin Scorsese has traced crime, greed, and corruption across American life. In his new film, he turns his gaze to the violence of whiteness. Set in nineteen-twenties Oklahoma, “Killers of the Flower Moon” tells the story of a series of murders targeting the people of the Osage Nation, perpetrated by white settlers in pursuit of the community’s oil wealth. On this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss the trajectory of Scorsese’s style, from the “whirling limbs” and “short, sharp cuts” of films like “Goodfellas” to the elegiac restraint of more recent works like “The Irishman.” They’re joined by The New Yorker’s David Grann, the author of the 2017 book that formed the basis for Scorsese’s film, who describes how he first came upon the story and how members of the Osage community became involved in—and responded to—the adaptation. Then the hosts consider the multilayered coda of the film, which raises increasingly pressing questions about representation and ownership. “Killers of the Flower Moon” recounts the atrocities committed against the Osage, but it’s also an indictment of racialized evil writ large. “The trauma of this experience of course belongs most intimately to the Osage people,” Cunningham says. “But the proclivities that gave rise to it, the sensibilities that survive in our culture today—that’s something that every person that has anything to do with the United States needs to engage with.”New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
Throughout film history, heterosexual relationships have served as a battleground for questions of sex, power, and equality. From the 1949 screwball comedy “Adam’s Rib,” in which a husband and wife’s careers become a source of conflict, to the 1979 legal drama “Kramer vs. Kramer,” which reflected new cultural attitudes about divorce, fictional couples have long been tasked with working through the biggest social issues of the day. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, a different dynamic has emerged onscreen—one in which the woman holds the reins of the relationship. On this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss two new films in which traditional gender roles are flipped: Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” which won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, and “Fair Play,” the début feature from the director Chloe Domont, now streaming on Netflix. The hosts consider the rise of the “good bad man”: a well-intentioned partner whose feminist politics collapse when real power is at stake. “This is a moment when people say they want equality, and they may even feel that they want equality,” Schwartz says. “But there is some kind of cultural consensus that men are not really able to do it, because they keep getting slammed in movies like this.”New episodes drop every Thursday. Follow Critics at Large wherever you get your podcasts.
loading
Comments (7)

Janet Lafler

I know nothing about any of this (I am an old), but just that short interview clip makes me want to strangle Diane Sawyer.

Feb 22nd
Reply

Janet Lafler

As Maude said, "go out and love some more."

Feb 8th
Reply

Janet Lafler

Possibly I'm obsessed with Jane Austen, but I think Mary Crawford may be the original mean girl. Caroline Bingley wants to be a mean girl, but doesn't have the chops.

Feb 1st
Reply

Janet Lafler

AFAIK, the first of the type of deliberately anachronistic period dramas you discuss is A Knight's Tale, which is more than 20 years old now, and still the only one I've found that I enjoy. [There's a much older tradition of deliberately anachronistic musicals, e.g. Kiss Me Kate, Camelot, etc.] I think one of the things that makes The Knights Tale work is that it's not an adaptation (though supposedly "inspired" by Chaucer). It's essentially a sports movie, with all the attendant tropes.

Jan 31st
Reply

Faranak Raste

Great episode you guys. Thanks.

Dec 4th
Reply

Jack Sparrow

Rev up the energy in your videos with Velocity CapCut templates. These dynamic templates infuse a sense of speed and momentum, adding an exhilarating touch to your visual storytelling. Whether you're showcasing action sequences, sports highlights, or simply want to inject a burst of energy into your content, the Velocity CapCut Templates provide the perfect backdrop. Propel your audience into a world of excitement and speed with these captivating templates, turning every moment into a thrilling visual experience.

Nov 20th
Reply

Mahmodabasi Nozari

Oct 14th
Reply
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store