Status Update: In Praise of Constitutional Monarchy

I’ve been watching Season 1 of The Crown, Netflix’s series about Queen Elizabeth II. I’m intrigued by how small the stakes are — rarely life or death, the conflicts instead revolve around incremental gains or losses to status, respect and privacy. One episode deals with the queen breaking with tradition to make her husband, the prince, the head of her coronation committee. The duke who inherited the role is miffed.

It’s riveting television. Continue reading

Review: Don’t Run to See Runner Runner



Runner Runner, the new film starring acting heavyweight Justin Timberlake (minus the dancing tofu costume), opens with a voiceover explaining that everything is a risk. You see, Richie Furst (Timberlake) was on the verge of having it made on Wall Street when everything collapsed due to bankers’ greed. Now, he’s just a gifted but broke Princeton grad student struggling to get his degree. Oh, you say, so this movie is going to detail the injustice of a legal code that outlaws casinos yet lets bankers make millions with your money? No. Keep reading.

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Magicians Behaving Badly

Magician and floating lady

“This might be the greatest movie ever,” my fiancée says, about 20 minutes in to Now You See Me, the 2013 film about four magicians who use their trickery to rob banks. Her comment comes on the heels of a scene in which the four—from a Las Vegas stage—appear to rob a bank in Paris, then shower the loot onto the audience. It is a scene that makes you pause to wonder whether these four magicians have figured out a way of bending the rules of space and time. Alas, the only force in this universe with more power to deceive than a magician is a film editor. There is another explanation to the trick; you just haven’t seen it yet. Continue reading