Today's Liberal News

Shirley Li

The Minions Are Good. I’m Serious.

Minions! You know them, even if you don’t want to. The banana-yellow, denim-clad, booger-shaped thingamabobs are so popular that they’ve overtaken the film franchise in which they originated. They’ve had their images stitched onto every piece of merchandise possible—sanctioned or not—and probably make up the bulk of those memes your one relative won’t stop posting on Facebook.

Marcel the Shell Is the Hero the World Needs

This world was not built for the likes of Marcel, the stop-motion-animated minuscule shell who sports pink shoes. Riding in a car makes him vomit repeatedly, unreachable itches make him scream, and typing a single word using a laptop keyboard becomes a full-body workout. Marcel, voiced by the actor and comedian Jenny Slate, can be terribly naive and, given his predilection for corny one-liners, unnervingly candid. (“Guess why I smile a lot?” he observes.

The Delightful Pretentiousness of Irma Vep

HBO’s Irma Vep, perhaps the most meta show currently on TV, has the kind of high-concept premise that would confuse even its own characters. They’re members of a TV production themselves, but they can’t agree on the nature of what they’re making. One character suggests that they’re creating a long movie broken up into parts—like the way novels used to be published.

What Avril Lavigne Has Always Understood About Growing Up

Avril Lavigne seemed to baffle music writers in 2002 when she released her first single, the infectious mid-tempo banger “Complicated.” Rolling Stone dubbed her a “tiny terror” with a “nouveau-punk” sound who could be, of all things, “a fine country singer in the making.” Entertainment Weekly breathlessly wondered whether she was “the teen Bob Dylan.

When Stranger Things Finally Gave Its Villain a Voice

This article contains spoilers for the first seven episodes of Stranger Things Season 4.Only on Netflix’s sci-fi horror drama Stranger Things have teenagers gotten used to fighting interdimensional demons. Early in Season 4, Robin (played by Maya Hawke) offers an explanation for her and her friends’ nonchalance in dealing with threats from the Upside Down, the desolate alternate realm that regularly sets monsters loose.

How Hulu’s Conversations With Friends Got Sally Rooney So Wrong

Early in Sally Rooney’s debut novel, Conversations With Friends, the heroine has a nightmare. Frances, a college student, dreams that a tooth has come loose in her mouth, leaving a hole that pumps out so much blood, she can’t speak. “The blood tasted thick, clotted and salty,” she recounts. “I could feel it, vividly, running back down my throat.

Heartstopper and the Era of Feel-Good, Queer-Teen Romances

When the producer Patrick Walters first read the romance comic Heartstopper, he knew it had to be a TV show. There was something about the way the author, Alice Oseman, had illustrated the story that gave him “butterflies,” he told me over Zoom. The characters—a pair of teen boys falling in love—were adorably expressive, all wide eyes and furtive glances captured in fine strokes.

When a TV Show Undermines the People It’s Trying to Celebrate

The role of the first lady has long been ill-defined. Until recently, she was the most prominent and therefore scrutinized woman in the White House, yet her position comes with murky expectations. Modern first ladies tend to manage a staff and champion carefully chosen causes, but their duties aren’t formally circumscribed. How many duties are too many? How many are not enough?Showtime’s The First Lady purports to answer those questions.

Let the Fantastic Beasts Movies Die

This article contains spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. The final showdown in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is supposed to be epic. Albus Dumbledore, the mighty wizard played by Jude Law, comes face-to-face with his former lover turned nemesis, Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen), breaking the pact they’d made as young men never to fight each other.

When a Comic’s Silence Says Everything

In his latest special, Rothaniel, the comedian Jerrod Carmichael doesn’t seem all that interested in getting his audience to laugh—or even in being the star. Rather than emerge from a dressing room backstage, he wanders into New York City’s Blue Note Jazz Club as if he were just passing by, shrugging off his winter coat without fanfare. He takes a seat in a folding chair and grabs a mic, but he doesn’t launch into jokes. Instead, he makes sure the crowd is comfortable.

When a Comic’s Silence Says Everything

In his latest special, Rothaniel, the comedian Jerrod Carmichael doesn’t seem all that interested in getting his audience to laugh—or even in being the star. Rather than emerge from a dressing room backstage, he wanders into New York City’s Blue Note Jazz Club as if he were just passing by, shrugging off his winter coat without fanfare. He takes a seat in a folding chair and grabs a mic, but he doesn’t launch into jokes. Instead, he makes sure the crowd is comfortable.

The Night the Oscars Lost Control

The damage control began not long after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock across the face. After the two exchanged a few words, Rock glanced offscreen and appeared momentarily bewildered. Then he awkwardly tried to lighten the mood before pressing on to present the Best Documentary nominees.The altercation was the most shocking moment in Oscars history—at least for people watching at home. But inside the Dolby Theatre, the show proceeded as if nothing of consequence had happened.

What the Controversy Over Turning Red Misses

One of the funniest moments in Turning Red lasts about a second at most. Mei, the 13-year-old heroine who shape-shifts into a giant red panda whenever her emotions escape her control, has once again morphed into a flustered fuzz ball when—oh no oh no oh no—she spots her crush. She tries to contain herself, of course. She stomps her feet. She holds her breath.

The Comedies That Understand What Peak Scammer TV Does Not

At the height of her powers, Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the fraudulent blood-testing start-up Theranos, basked in the kind of adulation typically reserved for cult leaders. In one upcoming episode from Hulu’s The Dropout, which dramatizes her saga, Elizabeth (played by Amanda Seyfried) perches on yet another stage, at yet another event about being a female CEO. Her every word scores cheers from the audience of college students, most of them young women.

‘We’re Going to See an Exodus From Russia to Hollywood’

After Russian troops began invading Ukraine, Hollywood mobilized in protest. Major studios paused the release of films in Russian theaters. Netflix suspended operations in the country, halting future productions and acquisitions. This week, Discovery, WarnerMedia, and Amazon ceased their services in Russia. The U.S. film and TV business has, effectively and collectively, pulled the plug on Moscow.

The Gen-Z Drama That Launched a Million Memes

This article contains spoilers through the Season 2 finale of Euphoria.Toward the end of Euphoria’s second-season finale, which aired Sunday, two former best friends, Cassie (played by Sydney Sweeney) and Maddy (Alexa Demie), take a breather after a vicious fight. Cassie’s nose is bleeding; Maddy’s foot needs ice. “Don’t worry,” Maddy says when Cassie breaks the silence with a self-deprecating comment. “This is just the beginning.

Why Hollywood Can’t Quit Guns

For more than 30 years, Bill Davis’s job has been to help famous people look like they know what they’re doing with a gun. As an armorer working in Hollywood, Davis teaches movie stars how to properly handle firearms, and some are fast learners: He helped train Tom Cruise on the set of the film Collateral and walked away impressed with the actor’s form.

An Abortion Film That’s Both Topical and Timeless

Anne Duchesne, the hero of the film Happening, is an intelligent and serious 23-year-old woman who knows what she wants. It’s 1963 in southwest France, and if her leering university classmates judge her, the daughter of a working-class family, for her literary ambitions and for hooking up with local men, so be it. Played by Anamaria Vartolomei, Anne is economical with her words and her friendships. She rarely switches up her wardrobe or hairstyle.

16 Indie Films to Get Excited About This Year

For the second year in a row, the Sundance Film Festival had to go completely virtual, but that didn’t stop the annual celebration from giving a robust preview of the most exciting emerging artists in Hollywood. Much of this year’s slate defied the pandemic’s limitations: Twisty horror films didn’t need Park City’s frigid climate to deliver chills.

The Bloody, Brutal Business of Being a Teenage Girl

Yellowjackets, the Showtime series about a high-school girls’ soccer team stranded in the wilderness after a plane crash, can be extremely stressful to watch. The drama, which ended its first season tonight and has been renewed for a second, is relentlessly violent, and the writers seem to delight in attacking or killing off the most lovable characters.

The Movie That Understands the Secret Shame of Motherhood

Maggie Gyllenhaal has a theory that the mothers we see on-screen tend to fall into one of two categories. First, there’s the “fantasy mother,” who’s perfect in every way except when she has, say, some oatmeal on her sweater or runs a little late for a parent-teacher conference.

The Surreal TV Show That Rewrote Emily Dickinson’s Story

In Dickinson’s third and final season, the titular poet (played by Hailee Steinfeld) travels forward in time and meets the author Sylvia Plath (Saturday Night Live’s Chloe Fineman). Sylvia, it turns out, has a deep knowledge of her predecessor’s legacy. Apparently, Emily Dickinson lived a “miserable life,” should be considered “the original sad girl,” and, Sylvia whispers scandalously, “was a lesbian.

The Surreal TV Show That Rewrote Emily Dickinson’s Story

In Dickinson’s third and final season, the titular poet (played by Hailee Steinfeld) travels forward in time and meets the author Sylvia Plath (Saturday Night Live’s Chloe Fineman). Sylvia, it turns out, has a deep knowledge of her predecessor’s legacy. Apparently, Emily Dickinson lived a “miserable life,” should be considered “the original sad girl,” and, Sylvia whispers scandalously, “was a lesbian.

When Saturday Night Live Tried to Keep the Lights On

Saturday Night Live’s final episode before Christmas is usually a festive affair, and this year’s was supposed to be even more triumphant than usual. As the last show of 2021, it would’ve marked the end of a full year of uninterrupted programming, after the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 led to canceled episodes and remote sketches.

There’s No Sad Party Like a Succession Party

This article contains spoilers through the seventh episode of Succession Season 3.Given how this season of Succession has gone so far, the Roy siblings should have reason to celebrate. They held on to control of the family’s company, Waystar Royco, after a Hail Mary negotiation. They helped choose the Republicans’ next presidential nominee from the comfort of their father’s hotel suite.

The Least Exciting Avenger

This may sound harsh, but Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye, was never the most exciting Avenger in the Marvel films. Next to near-invincible heroes such as Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk, he just looked ill-equipped, wielding a bow and arrow against monstrous aliens and killer robots. One of the original six protagonists in 2012’s Avengers, the master archer (played by Jeremy Renner) gradually became an afterthought, not even appearing in 2018’s Infinity War.

What’s Lost When a Classic Anime Is Adapted by Netflix

For decades, Hollywood has struggled to adapt anime, a type of Japanese animation. The genre has a distinct visual style—lush backgrounds, sleek camera movement, exaggerated facial expressions—that looks uncanny with live actors. And the storytelling, which tends to dramatize a character’s gradual change, doesn’t always fit into the usual conflict-driven Hollywood plot structures.

Netflix’s Passing Is an Unusually Gentle Movie About a Brutal Subject

Passing looks like a daydream. Set in Manhattan at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, the film is shot in sumptuous black-and-white. The soft focus of the lens distorts the frame’s edges. Hazy imagery—a fluttering curtain here, sunlight peeking through tree branches there—often fills the screen. And the story at the center appears mellow: Two women, Irene (played by Tessa Thompson) and Clare (Ruth Negga), rekindle their friendship after years apart.

Actually, Kristen Stewart Has Always Been a Great Actor

Kristen Stewart hit the height of her fame as the star of the Twilight movies about a decade ago, and to many audiences she will always be a teenage girl falling in love with a vampire. Last month, in an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times, the actor said she’s probably made “five really good films” at most. The quip immediately inspired blog posts and social-media jokes about how perhaps the Twilight quintet filled all of those slots.