Glen Weldon

Glen Weldon is a regular panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He also reviews books and movies for NPR.org and is a contributor to NPR's pop culture blog Monkey See, where he posts weekly about comics and comics culture.

Over the course of his career, he has spent time as a theater critic, a science writer, an oral historian, a writing teacher, a bookstore clerk, a PR flack, a seriously terrible marine biologist and a slightly better-than-average competitive swimmer.

Weldon is the author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, a cultural history of the iconic character. His fiction and criticism have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Slate, Story, McSweeney's, The Dallas Morning News, Washington City Paper and many other publications. He is the recipient of an NEA Arts Journalism Fellowship, a Ragdale Writing Fellowship and a PEW Fellowship in the Arts for Fiction.

The FX series The Americans has never been a ratings juggernaut, but over the course of five seasons it has earned the unstinting devotion of fans and critics. That's at least partly attributable to its willingness to put its characters, and its audience, through something that's become a hallmark of the era of "Prestige Television": Change.

There will be grunts.

Grunts of recognition, that is. If you watch Steven Spielberg's solidly built sci-fi phantasmagoria Ready Player One in a crowded theater, there will be grunts aplenty, so prepare yourself for them.

You can't, you won't — but try.

For the first hour or so of HBO's two-night documentary event, The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, you'd be forgiven for assuming the key word in that title is Diaries. In a brief opening, Shandling himself, who died almost exactly two years ago now, shows the diaries he kept all his life to the camera, and reads a particularly banal passage.

He grins. Or maybe he winces. It's a little of both, really. And there it is: That pained smile was the patch of comedy real-estate Shandling staked out for himself, and still owns.

(THE FILM CRITIC steps to the podium.)

CRITIC: Good evening. Thank you all for coming. I'll read a brief statement, and then I'll be happy to take your questions.

(He removes a piece of paper from his jacket pocket, unfolds it, and begins to read.)

The process of coming to terms with one's sexuality varies widely, depending on the individual — it can be scary, invigorating, heartbreaking, life-affirming; usually it's some complex combination of those feelings and more. What does not vary in the process of coming out is the fact that it is a process. It has a timeline, and not necessarily a smooth one. It's marked by fits and starts, denials and avowals, fraught conversations in somebody's car, the fear of rejection and, hopefully, the relief of acceptance.

Which is probably why we keep making movies about it.

"I'm just like you," says gay 17-year-old Simon Spier (straight 22-year-old Nick Robinson), by way of introduction. We assume, at first, that he's just getting his Ferris Bueller on and introducing himself to the audience, but it turns out he's instead replying, via pseudonymous e-mail account, to an anonymous blog post written by one of his schoolmates. A correspondence ensues between their respective, most secret selves, as both Simon and the young man he calls "Blue" are still in the closet.

Why are you reading this?

That's a serious question; I'm sincerely curious: Why are you sitting there, right now, reading a review of the movie Death Wish?

For my part, I can tell you that the reason I'm writing this review is because it's my job — but you? What's your excuse?

I mean: It's Death Wish.

You will either go to see it, because it's Death Wish, or you very, very won't, because it's Death Wish.

'Game Night' Is Winning

Feb 22, 2018

Restraint seems an odd word to apply to a film this crowded with car chases, gunplay, sneering bad guys, panicky good guys and one gleefully gruesome instance of ad-hoc, back-alley, gunshot-wound surgery.

And yet, here we are.

Another season of the darkly brilliant series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has come to an end, and now, as has happened twice before, it falls to me the doughty task of sorting its original songs — 25 of them, this year — into a clear-eyed, dispassionate, purely objective, precision-engineered ranking that gleams with the cold light of surgic

In 1938, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster — two Jewish kids from Cleveland who were reading the alarming news coming out of Europe — created precisely the hero necessary to put things right: an impossibly strong and nigh-invulnerable paragon of virtue and butt-kicking they called Superman. He could have ended Hitler's advance with a snap of his fingers — and he definitely would have, if only he weren't a creature of pure fantasy.

I fell in love this week. Happens more often than you might think.

But the fact that it's happened before, and will happen again, doesn't mean this latest infatuation is any less passionate, abiding, head-over-heels, birds-suddenly-appear, stars-fall-down-from-the-sky resolute.

My husband's cool with it. He always is; we have an understanding. Also the object of my love is a podcast. Probably should have mentioned that at the top.

In the not-so-wee, not-so-small hours of the morning Tuesday — 8:30-ish a.m. Eastern Time — a superhero film earned itself an Oscar nomination.

That wasn't so unusual, really. The superhero film genre has been with us for almost 40 years now — dating from that momentous December 1978 day when Superman: The Movie busted its very first blocks — and superhero movies have racked up lots of nominations, and a few wins, over that time.

... For visual effects.

For sound editing and/or mixing (LOTS of those).

For hair and makeup.

It's easiest to say what The Awl and The Hairpin were by describing what they weren't.

They weren't places you went for lazy listicles and clickbait quizzes — Which Character From 'The Greatest Showman' Are You?

You didn't go there to get yet another hot take on whatever it was that everyone on social media was buzzing about that day.

They didn't do takes — hot or cold. They weren't reactive.

The promotional campaign for American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace, which premieres Wednesday, January 17, on FX, is all gowns and glamour: The camera lingers over a head of Medusa, the designer's internationally recognized logo. We see flashbulbs, red carpets, bold prints, glasses of champagne.

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