Sonny Bunch Articles

Screen Tests

Jul 06, 2015

Richard Schickel—the Time critic who has been writing about movies for a living since 1965—estimates in the opening chapter of Keepers that he has seen roughly “22,590 films, or about 294 of them a year. Which means that two out of every three days, for a long time now, I have been at the movies.” Keepers is the distillation of a lifetime of moviegoing knowledge, a collection of must-sees with a few don’t-bothers thrown in to keep things lively.

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Here Comes Trouble

The Internet is the mob’s best friend
Apr 06, 2015

After two years of reading and writing about those who live the politicized life—those who suffuse every aspect of their personas with politics and allow ideological considerations to trump all others—I’d finally found what I was looking for: I’d discovered the worst person in the world. 

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A Stellar Eclipse

The fault, dear moviegoers, is not in our stars
Sep 15, 2014

The multiplex in the age of brands—an era of sequels and prequels, of movies derived from comic books and board games, of repackaged and repurposed “intellectual property” that comes with “high pre-awareness” and appeals to “all four quadrants”—isn’t the friendliest place for movie stars. 

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Presidents at Leisure

Two centuries of lightening the burden.
Oct 21, 2013

Philosophers, war heroes, a movie star: A wide variety of men with an even wider variety of cultural tastes have inhabited the White House over the centuries. And evolving standards and technologies have combined with evolving political realities to create a culture the White House’s original inhabitants would not likely recognize.

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Free Use and Abuse

The pitfalls, and potential, of copyright.
Mar 04, 2013

Following the Republican shellacking in the recent election, David Brooks highlighted some voices shaping center-right conversation on the Internet. One of his more surprising choices was that of a Republican Study Committee staffer who had penned a (quickly withdrawn) memo for the caucus of conservative House members regarding the need to reform copyright laws.

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Hide and Go Seek

A curiously opaque view of transparency.
Sep 17, 2012

Throughout Privacy, Garret Keizer’s extended essay on the topic in an increasingly public world, the author confuses and conflates voluntary sharing with forced governmental action. “Does anything say so much about the times we live in as the fact that the word sharing has almost everything to do with personal information and almost nothing to do with personal wealth?” he wonders.

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Screen Test

What can you say about an art exhibition that isn’t sure it’s art?
Jun 18, 2012


There’s a weirdly apologetic tone to this exhibit. Upon entering, one is confronted by a mission statement from curator Chris Melissinos: 

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Evil on Parade

What were Americans thinking about the Third Reich?
Mar 26, 2012

The common counterfactual as it relates to Hitler is somewhat fantastical: If you could go back in time and kill the Austrian madman before he ascended to Germany’s chancellorship, would you do so? Nay, would you be morally obligated to do so? More interesting, perhaps, is the question that arises in Andrew Nagorski’s fascinating look at the rise of Hitler as seen through the eyes of Americans: Would you be morally obligated to stop Hitler from killing himself?

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Never Enough

A chronicle of Britain’s privileged underclass.
Oct 03, 2011

The pseudonymous author of this memoir, Winston Smith, chose the moniker because of the maddening bureaucracy within which he worked. His blog, “Winston Smith—Working With the Underclass,”  won an Orwell Prize for chronicling the labyrinthine, dysfunctional horror show that had become the British welfare state. And the name fit, conjuring up images of 1984 and the crushing toll the various ministries of the nation-state take on those caught up in their cogs.

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