For the Bronx graffiti artists of Gimme the Loot, Adam Leon's sweet, vibrant debut feature, "Bombing the Apple" is the holy grail of tagging achievements.
"The Apple" in question is the protuberance that emerges from behind the center-right wall in Shea Stadium — they refuse to acknowledge the corporate name Citi Field — every time a New York Mets player hits a home run.
Shot entirely in Hackney — a mostly ungentrified London borough — My Brother the Devil has a strong odor of authenticity. The main characters are of Egyptian origin, but their friends include people rooted in West Africa and the Caribbean. All are linked by poverty, alienation and a gangsta worldview popularized by American movies and hip-hop.
The HBO movie Phil Spector is a production that demands attention because of the heavyweight names attached. First, of course, there's the subject of the drama: Spector himself, the man who invented the "wall of sound," and recorded hits for everyone from the Crystals, Darlene Love and Ike & Tina Turner to the Beatles and the Righteous Brothers. Oh, and who also went on trial, in 2007, for the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson.
In director Antoine Fuqua's new action thriller, Olympus Has Fallen, the White House — code-named "Olympus" — is invaded by North Korean terrorists. The president and his staff are held hostage in an underground bunker, and their only hope of coming out alive is a disgraced Secret Service agent.
In theaters March 22, the film opens at a politically sensitive time, perhaps by coincidence. North Korea is much in the news for its nuclear threats and its rocky relationship with South Korea.
It's like this: Makeda is trying to make a clean break from her old life by getting a super's gig in a bohemian Toronto warehouse of artsy up-and-comers. And it won't be easy — she's still riddled with guilt and uncertainty, after having struggled for years to care for her bedridden father and to get out from under the shadow of her twin sister, Abby, who's kind of a diva and has a lot of pull in the family.
Elizabeth Strout's newest book begins with crime. Zach, the youngest member of the Burgess family, throws a severed pig's head through the front door of a mosque in his quiet, rural Maine town. The mosque is run by a recently arrived community of Somali immigrants, who have already faced some hostility from the town. Everyone is shocked, but no one more so than Zach himself.
Poet Dunya Mikhail fled her homeland, Iraq, a few years after the first Gulf War. She had been questioned by Saddam Hussein's government, and state media had labeled her writing and poetry subversive. Mikhail escaped to Jordan and eventually reached the United States, where she made a home for herself — marrying, raising a daughter and becoming a U.S. citizen.
Mikhail never physically returned to Iraq. But she revisits her homeland again and again in her poetry — line by line, stanza by stanza.
George Butler lives between two worlds. One is his apartment in London, and the other consists of conflict-ravaged places like West Africa, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Syria.
The British illustrator recently returned from his second trip to Syria, and his reportage illustrations are a powerful account of life in the country's north, where the fighting is heavy and rebels now control many areas.
The illustrations are not just about the sorrows and pain of Syrian refugees and the wounded, but often about Syrians' stubborn insistence that life will carry on despite the pain.