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Jesse Walker, senior editor
J. Hoberman's An Army of Phantoms looks at the early years of the Cold War through the lens of Hollywood and at '40s/'50s Hollywood through the lens of the Cold War. The result is a thoughtful and entertaining portrait of an America beset by fear, not just of the Russians but of advertising, TV, juvenile delinquents, the mafia, and more. Along the way we encounter Communist propaganda, anti-Communist propaganda, UFO sightings, HUAC hearings, prestige pictures, monster movies, westerns, a war in Korea, and a cast of characters that ranges from Ronald Reagan to the film critics at the Daily Worker, who manage to describe both The Fountainhead and For Whom the Bell Tolls as "openly fascist." Hoberman even explores the politics of Biblical spectaculars, which turn out to be more pointed than you'd probably expect.
Matt Welch, editor in chief
Have you ever self-diagnosed a jammed-wrist situation and thought you could ameliorate it by buying one of those generic over-the-counter doo-hickies at your local every-other-block pharmacy? Think again, old people! The Titan Wrist Brace, given to me by a doctor at Howard University, is a lace-up, eminently adjustable (and fashionably jet-black) problem-solver, perfect for work and sleep alike. I mean, if your wrist really hurts.
(Note: I'm not kidding)
For parents of toddlers, or adults who occasionally put themselves into situations where watching non-verbal Communist-era cartoons about a comical mole is like the funniest thing ever, Krtek Little Mole 1, or any other collection of the classic and beloved Czech television series (whose creator, Zdenek Miler, died at the end of November) is a surprise and a delight.
Since baseball movies are by definition the only genre more debased than political cartoons, and since the terrific Michael Lewis book Moneyball (which I reviewed in 2003) was followed by an ambivalent real-life epilogue, the movie version’s tale of revolutionary nerdboyism and management assholery seemed doomed from the start, and yet it wasn't. In part, that's due to Brad Pitt, but the filmmakers were also wise to let a little of the ambivalence hover in the air at the end. Being the first one through the door does damage your shoulder, and sometimes you don't really get past the doorway.