Near the beginning of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a big black monolith appears in an African desert, leaving a group of prehistoric ape-men standing there baffled. And that was pretty much the reaction that greeted the film itself when it premiered 50 years ago this week.
It's been more than 30 years since the rugged film star's death, yet he still looms large in the national psyche. Critic John Powers was surprised to find that the indomitable American fighting man was actually a hard-earned act of self-invention.
Critic John Powers compares the heroines featured in this summer's two cultural juggernauts -- Twilight and the Millennium Trilogy. And despite being almost diametrically opposed, the characters Lisbeth Salander and Bella Swan have more in common than you may think.
Celebrated salsa musician is the subject of the film El Cantante. Our music critic takes a look at his career, marked by dazzling musical highs and personal lows including heroin addiction and a suicide attempt.
Several recent DVD releases feature great black entertainers of the 20th century. For classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz, his favorites feature the great tap dance team of Harold and Fayard Nicholas.
Critic-at-large John Powers comments on the history of roles for offbeat women in Hollywood. Powers recently saw the hit film The 40-Year-Old Virgin and got to thinking about the actress Catherine Keener, who co-stars.