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There are no sure things in the volatile world of indie film distribution, but food documentaries have become reliable winners — the amuse-bouche of dinner-and-a-movie date nights, the pornography of Netflix. Half of them warn of all the terrible things in food—genetically modified organisms! high-fructose corn syrup!

A Gleefully Grisly 85-Minute Gunfight: 'Free Fire'

Apr 20, 2017

The cinema began as a medium of pure titillation, so it's unlikely Ben Wheatley's agreeably amoral comic thriller Free Fire is the movies' first-ever feature-length gunfight. I sure can't think of another one, though. An account of a weapons deal up north that quickly goes south, the movie's taut 85 minutes unfold in something close to real time in a dingy Boston warehouse, where armed-and-untrustworthy factions attempt to outshoot or outlast one another.

When 18-year-old Nermeen Ileiwat first began college, she could not wait to get into a relationship — maybe even get engaged before graduation. But after one year, the rising sophomore realized she had no idea what she wanted out of life and was in no position to get into a relationship.

That decision didn't last long. Only a few months after, Ileiwat met someone at a party, and their friendship quickly turned into something more.

Beans, beans, the magical fruit

Healthy, tasty

And useful, to boot!

Save that canned water,

And whip it to foam

It's an egg-white replacement

Made right at home!

OK, so it's not the playground rhyme you grew up with. But with the avid following that canned bean water — more appetizingly known as "aquafaba" — has gained in just a few short years, maybe it's time that rhyme got rewritten.

'Tender' Stories Are A Feast Of Ideas

Apr 20, 2017

Sofia Samatar's duology of novels, 2013's A Stranger in Olondria and last year's The Winged Histories, took place in a mythic land of Olondria — a place where words are equal to religion, politics, and magic in the power they hold over people. It's one of the most dreamlike and far-flung settings in contemporary fantasy, and it's netted Samatar a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, and the John W. Campbell Award.

In one of my favorite paintings of Joan of Arc — created by Jules Bastien-Lepage at the end of the 19th century — a disheveled, flush-faced teenager stares into the middle distance in the tangle of a garden. Behind her, faint images of saints emerge from the foliage. Unlike so many other paintings of Joan in which she's clad in armor and wields a sword, this one shows the time and place where her mind opened, and she encountered the thing that would both define and destroy her.

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The third season of the hit TV drama "Fargo" begins tonight. And with it comes a challenge - maintaining high quality with new stories and new characters. Based on the first two episodes, NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says "Fargo" delivers.

In 2017 alone, Merriam-Webster added more than 1,000 words to its dictionary.

The 1996 Coen Brothers movie Fargo was so good, and so original, that when the FX cable network announced it was making a new version for television, I expected it to be awful — especially since the creator of the adaptation was Noah Hawley, a writer-producer who hadn't really done much.

CANDIDA: Can we bring back those days again?

A lot of teenage girls grow up looking to magazines like Seventeen or Teen Vogue for tips on fashion and dating. But for some conservative Christian girls and their parents, those magazines can seem a bit risqué. For about two decades starting in 1990, the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family offered an alternative: Brio magazine, which is making a comeback in May.

On April 19, 1987, a momentous event happened: America was introduced to one of its most enduring families, The Simpsons.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been at the forefront of progressive politics over the last year.

She has sparred with President Trump on Twitter, and she was reprimanded by Republicans on the Senate floor earlier this year. Now she has written a new book, This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle To Save America's Middle Class.

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Former Obama staffer Alyssa Mastromonaco is well acquainted with the privilege — and sleeplessness — of working in the White House: "I basically ran on adrenaline, almost, for six years," she says.

Mastromonaco began as President Obama's director of scheduling and advance, then became his deputy chief of staff for operations. Her responsibilities ran the gamut from overseeing the confirmation process for Cabinet secretaries to managing the president's daily schedule and foreign travel.

It's not just Hamilton.

Musicals have always had a built-in advantage as cultural products. Individual songs can translate and build interest via cast albums or Tony telecasts in a way that's very difficult for plays to emulate. A lot of kids grow up on musicals like Grease and Annie -- and, yes, now Hamilton — while early introductions to plays, however great, might make them seem impenetrable or like homework. (I'm looking at you, William Shakespeare, and doing so lovingly.)

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

HBO's Girls ended as it began — as a fitful, contradictory, occasionally irritating, often brilliant little story about a stupendously self-involved Millennial girl who just might be on her way to figuring out what it means to be a woman.

About 50 pages into Pajtim Statovci's debut novel, the protagonist Bekim meets a cat in a Finnish gay bar. The cat is wearing human clothes and singing along to Cher's "Believe," and Bekim, for reasons that are not quite adequately explained, is immediately attracted to him. "The cat was such a wonderful, beautiful, gifted interpreter that I took him in my arms without waiting for any indication to do so, and straightaway I noticed that his silky smooth fur smelled good and that his body was muscular from top to tail," Bekim gushes.

Ever since election night last November, millions in America and around the world have wondered what happened to Hillary Clinton, who was widely expected to become the first female president of the United States.

In fact, nearly everyone in the business of politics thought she would win, including many of Trump's own people.

So how did she lose?

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Note: This piece discusses the plot details from the sixth-season premiere of Veep.

Generations ago, the American Indian Osage tribe was compelled to move. Not for the first time, white settlers pushed them off their land in the 1800s. They made their new home in a rocky, infertile area in northeast Oklahoma in hopes that settlers would finally leave them alone.

As it turned out, the land they had chosen was rich in oil, and in the early 20th century, members of the tribe became spectacularly wealthy. They bought cars and built mansions; they made so much oil money that the government began appointing white guardians to "help" them spend it.

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What does it mean to be human? In Lidia Yuknavitch's new novel The Book of Joan, what's left of the human race is orbiting above the Earth, sexless and ageless, prisoners in a technological hell. Their lives are preserved through growing limbs and grafting skin. Presiding over it all is a one-time billionaire celebrity who evolved through media and technology into a despot.

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