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“Spider-Man: Far from Home,” starring Tom Holland as the Queens teen-ager Peter Parker, rapidly intertwines the big events that capped the “Avengers” cycle—Thanos’s mass obliteration of half of humanity and of half the Avengers, in “Infinity War,” and the return of those victims coupled with the (likely definitive) deaths of other heroes, in “Endgame”—with the conventional high-school life that Peter leads when he’s not Spider-Man. The incorporation of the prior movies’ plot twists into each new work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a formidable screenwriting challenge, and the makers of “Far from Home” meet that challenge with a graceful wit that, unfortunately, isn’t matched by much else in the movie.

Early on in “Far from Home,” there’s a clip from a memorial video tribute to Tony Stark, Black Widow, and others among “Endgame” ’s departed, which is being shown as part of a benefit event for victims of “the Blip”—the catastrophic event, shown in “Infinity War,” that wiped out half the world’s population. Now, five years later, the victims of the Blip have all come back, with results that are somewhat comedic: when those who “blipped out” returned, they nonetheless remained exactly the same age as at the time they left. That’s why one of Peter’s friends, Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori), a Blipee, complains that his little brother (who didn’t blip) is now his older brother. (Imagine if Steven Soderbergh had the chance to direct a Marvel movie, and the world-building feast of civic fantasy that he might have made of the comedies, melodramas, and perhaps even tragedies resulting from the sudden return of Blip victims.)

Unfortunately, the director of “Far from Home,” Jon Watts, and the film’s screenwriters, Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers, stick only briefly with the dislocation caused by the Blip before quickly leveraging it into far more conventional heroics and a far simpler dramatic dilemma. The victims’ benefit is a public event featuring May Parker (Marisa Tomei), Peter’s aunt and guardian, as m.c.; it also features Spider-Man, the local hero of Queens, who’s there to sign autographs—and who, of course, remains silent, to avoid being identified with the sixteen-year-old Peter. That secrecy is carried over from the previous Spider-Man movie, “Homecoming,” which hinted at a future romance between Peter and his classmate M.J. (played in both movies by Zendaya), and suggested the complications inherent in keeping his superheroic identity hidden from her. (Only his best friend, Ned, played by Jacob Batalon, is aware of Peter’s double life.) Peter’s romantic dreams—and their conflict with his Avenging responsibilities—are the dramatic mainspring of “Far from Home.”

From the start of the film, strange things are happening—the small Mexican town of Ixtenco has been reduced to ruins by what residents call a cyclone with a face. Other towns elsewhere have been similarly ravaged by crude colossi, and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has shown up and taken note. He dispatches the late Tony Stark’s friend and factotum, Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), to go backstage at the benefit and let Peter know that his Spider services will be required. But Peter has other plans: the school year is nearing its end, and he and a handful of classmates—including M.J. and Ned—are heading to Europe, under teachers’ supervision, for a so-called science trip, where Peter plans to ingratiate himself with M.J. and bump their relationship out of the friend zone.

The first stop is Venice, where the cyclone-like monster makes another appearance—a huge humanoid made of churning water that threatens the city’s architectural treasures, its population, and Peter’s friends. Peter’s Spider-Man suit is up in his hotel room and he can’t get to it in time—but another superhero, Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a greenish man with a green globe head and a trail of green smoke, makes an appearance and fends off the monster, earning himself, from his appearance on local news, the quasi-Italian moniker of Mysterio.

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Then Nick Fury arrives and cajoles Peter into sacrificing the trip in order to save the world—and guilts Peter, too, with the delivery of a gift and a legacy: Tony Stark’s distinctive sunglasses, which the dying hero had expressly willed to Peter. But those glasses turn out to be something more: the command center of Tony’s interactive system of surveillance and weaponry, called Edith—an acronym for “Even dead, I’m the hero.” Nick gets Peter into a meeting with Mysterio, who explains the danger they face: the monster is one of the four so-called Elementals—of earth, air, fire, and water. The fire monster is about to lay waste to Prague, where Peter and Beck must go in order to stop it and thwart its plans to destroy the world.

But—avoiding spoilers—another villain appears, and his weapon of choice is distinctively cinematic: he commands a device called Illusion-Tech, by means of which he produces three-dimensional images and sounds of an extraordinary realism that occupy vast city spaces and persuade both the general public and the Avengers of their menace. In effect, this dastardly illusionist is a maker of persuasive computer-graphic action scenes akin to those that Marvel movies are based on, and these effects serve two purposes for their master villain. First, they delude Peter, Nick, and any other superheroes in the vicinity into combatting chimeras and rendering themselves vulnerable to the villain’s actual, physical weaponry. Second, they do exactly what the movies themselves do: they create illusions that are taken for realities, which are reported on by the media as authentic news, and which, in the process, allow the villain to craft a public image to his own advantage.

The villain in “Far from Home” is a malevolent director who takes advantage of what he considers the general gullibility of the public. He’s a manipulative cynic who declares, “It’s easy to fool people when they’re already fooling themselves”; he asserts that “people believe, and nowadays they’ll believe anything”; he boasts, “They’ll see what I want them to see,” and he explains that he created his illusions “to give the world something to believe in,” adding—with his own arrogant self-delusion—that his trickery “is the truth.” What Peter has to do, in order to save himself, his friends, and the world, is—as he puts it—“to get on the inside of the illusion,” to penetrate it to find and defeat the villain who’s creating it.

“Far from Home” is a work of crude and trendy distinctions between material realities and fabricated media images. Made as if in response to the prevalence of fake news and insidious propaganda, the movie relies on a sort of informational virtue signalling that vaunts its own cynical self-promotion: the idea that Marvel’s own audiovisual illusions, unlike those made by the villain, come clearly labelled as fantasies and aren’t meant to override the ability of viewers to distinguish them from reality. This false modesty conceals the colossal success of the Marvel series in the pretense that an image, however fabricated or illusory, doesn’t itself constitute a reality for some subset of its viewers. (The details of this very movie, after all, are more widely reported and discussed than those of any recent documentary.) Lest the Marvel moguls doubt the reality of their own illusions, they should imagine the outcry that would result from their repudiation of the details of previous Marvel movies or of the canonical characters.

Rather, “Far from Home” follows the dictates of the series with a solemn and pharisaical rigidity, pursuing the didactic simplicity of its bland heroics with little other than a few snappy comebacks to distract from the lockstep drama. In the process, the movie doesn’t bother to establish its own ground rules of reality or truth. There are not any clear premises for the fighting, nor any sense of what may prove lethal or disabling. Peter takes part in plenty of rock-’em-sock-’em action scenes, in the course of which he takes crashing falls that would mean broken bones and ruptured organs for mere mortals. Though, beneath his suit, he, too, is a vulnerable human, whose vulnerability always takes second place to a bit of jokey imagery, as when he is hit by a speeding train and, though knocked out, awakens mildly bruised in a small-town jail cell in the Netherlands, taken there, as if to a drunk tank, instead of to a hospital bed. There’s no sense of physical danger to the movie’s characters—and yet, appallingly, the mighty scenes of grand-scale urban destruction, in such places as Venice, Prague, and London, imply a gory trail of bodies that the movie doesn’t dare to deliver or even hint at. Its stakes remain theoretical; its superheroic violence remains fun.

The ostensible virtuousness of the computer-generated fantasies of “Spider-Man: Far from Home” is foregrounded in the mild earnestness with which it views high-school life and teen-age characters. As malevolent illusions go, the movie’s sanitized emptying-out of childhood and adolescence is of a piece with a general infantilization of imagination through the rigid and narrow superspectacles that superhero movies have become. There’s one sharp moment of comedic flair, when the jealous Peter tells Edith to launch a drone strike against a muscled and debonair classmate named Brad (Remy Hii), who’s also courting M.J., but it’s the only time when any semblance of loose emotion breaks through, and it’s quickly suppressed.

The cast of actors offers a welcome ethnic diversity that, however, is no better developed than that of erstwhile Benetton ads; the movie’s characters have little life beyond what advances the action, little personality beyond the traits that lead to the few and simple strands of the sentimental happy ending. Beside the superheroic overlay, the movie’s depth of characterization and imaginative amplitude of social relations (as well as its placing of American characters in European settings) could have been borrowed straight from the Disney playbook of decades past—in particular, from “The Lizzie McGuire Movie,” which got more fun out of its European settings and reflected the authentic modesty of its goofy and self-deprecatingly adolescent humor.

As for the all-important July 4th-tentpole-movie action scenes—the ostensible C.G.I. highlights—they could have used the help of a diabolical illusionist, because the benevolent ones, who made the film, created fight scenes of a fungible churning, without much visual wit, texture, or compositional thought. As for the evil illusions themselves, they’re in accordance with the entire movie’s cinema-by-numbers approach. I’m reminded of Norman Mailer’s remark that the only characters that novelists cannot create are novelists better than themselves.

Peter de Sève’s “Dog Days of Summer”

July 2, 2019 | News | No Comments

Peter de Sève has drawn more than forty covers for The New Yorker. His first came in 1993, during the summer, and his latest draws on that season’s sunlit torpor. In between, de Sève also became a renowned character designer: in the past few decades, he’s helped create some of the most beloved figures in animation, including the cast of “A Bug’s Life,” “Finding Nemo,” “Mulan,” and “Ice Age.” We recently talked to the artist about the arc of his career.

You started out doing editorial illustrations and moved into the world of animation. What brought you to character design?

In the early nineties, I created more than a hundred drawings for an Irish folktale called Finn McCoul, which was produced as a kind of primitive animated video. It required me to draw a handful of characters consistently, in every imaginable pose, which pretty much describes the job of a character designer. A producer at Disney liked the drawings and invited me to work on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” I’ve been working on one or another animated film ever since.

What do you think makes a good character? Do you have any favorites?

I think the best characters are those you remember, and I wish I could say that it’s all on the strength of the design itself, but it’s not. Animation is a collaborative medium. Between the moment a character is sketched on a page and the moment it appears on the screen, dozens of artists, animators, and technicians have contributed to the final product. That’s why, when a character does make it through the gauntlet intact, it’s a real thrill. A personal favorite of mine has always been Sid from the “Ice Age” movies. He was probably the first character who appeared just as I intended, and he ended up being something pretty special. To me, anyway.

A lot of your work involves animals.

I am particularly fond of drawing animals, and my obsession with them goes back to my childhood. Growing up, I had a revolving menagerie in my basement and bedroom that included reptiles, amphibians, little mammals, and birds. I also worked in a pet shop for a couple of years as a teen-ager. I still love animals but am content with having just one dog (Henry) and one cat (Cleo), both of whom have been featured on New Yorker covers.

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This cover is very much a New York scene. Do a lot of your ideas come from the city?

Almost all of them. In fact, for a string of about eight covers, every idea was inspired by something or someone from within a block of my house here in Park Slope.

Do you have any surprising influences?

To be honest, I doubt you would be surprised by any of them. I collect original work by artists I admire, some stretching back two hundred years, but every one of the pieces on my wall has something to teach me.

For more summer covers by de Sève, see below:

NORTH KOREA (The Borowitz Report)—Setting foot in North Korea for the first time, on Sunday, President Donald Trump praised that nation’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, for his efforts on immigration, telling Kim, “No one is trying to get into your country.”

After crossing into North Korea from the Demilitarized Zone, Trump remarked to the North Korean leader, “Your border is amazing! There are no people whatsoever trying to get in. You should see our border—it’s a complete mess.”

Barely containing his envy, Trump continued, “Of course, you don’t have Congress to deal with, like I do. They’ve caused all the problems I’ve had on immigration. You’ve got a much better deal. You want to build a wall, you build a wall. No one can tell you you can’t.”

Surveying the border admiringly, Trump bemoaned the brevity of his impromptu visit with Kim. “I have so much to learn from you,” Trump said. “You must be doing something right.”

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1st Jul 2019

Updated: Last week we brought you the news that Meghan Markle had secretly had her engagement ring redesigned, a detail the world managed to miss during her appearance at Trooping the Colour back in June. Now, we have confirmation surrounding the redesign, which was part of a larger gift to the Duchess of Sussex from her husband, Prince Harry.

As per a report by Omid Scobie, the royal reporter who writes for Harper’s Bazaar, Prince Harry gifted his wife a new eternity band, and while designing the new piece, he also asked the jeweller, Lorraine Schwartz, to update the engagement ring.

The eternity band, which you can read more about here, was a gift to celebrate both the couple’s anniversary and also the birth of their first child. Scobie writes: “While working closely with the famous New York-based jeweler, the prince also took the opportunity to have Meghan’s engagement ring—which features two stones that once belonged to Princess Diana—resized and reset with a new delicate diamond band.”

The new and improved version of the ring was debuted at Trooping the Colour, alongside the eternity band. 

June 25, 2019: It would seem that with all the excitement brought on by Meghan Markle’s appearance at the Trooping the Colour parade on June 8, the world missed one small but crucial detail: the duchess has had her incredibly sentimental engagement ring redesigned. 

Upon closer inspection, royal watchers noticed that while the ring still featured its centre cushion-cut diamond, as well as the two smaller diamonds from Princess Diana’s jewellery collection, said stones now sat atop a different band. The original yellow gold band has been replaced with a daintier diamond-studded one, which you can see here. 

“The Duchess has reset her ring in a new setting with a thinner, diamond pavé band as opposed to the original band, which was noticeably thicker and plain,” Fenton & Co jeweller Laura Lambert, told British  “This has been achieved by removing the centre and accent stones from the original setting and creating a new setting from scratch that is bespoke for those specific diamonds.”

While the reason behind the duchess’s decision to redesign the band of the ring she previously described as “perfect” remains unclear, the engagement ring still sits perfectly alongside her wedding band, as well as the new eternity ring she also debuted at the Trooping the Colour celebrations. 

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“I think everything about Harry’s thoughtfulness and the inclusion of [Princess Diana’s stones] and obviously not being able to meet his mom, it’s so important to me to know that she’s a part of this with us,” Markle said of the ring, shortly after the pair’s engagement was announced. “It’s incredibly special to be able to have this [ring] which sort of links where [Harry comes] from and Botswana, which is important to us.”

Perhaps Markle had to have her ring resized during her pregnancy? If that is the case, she may have decided to use this as an opportunity to make the design, which Prince Harry is to thank for, a little more her own. 

“The heavier, plain band is a more traditional style, whereas a more delicate pavé band reflects her modern, fashion-forward aesthetic,” explained Lambert. “The Duchess has characteristically taken tradition and put her own spin on it. She’s taken what was probably a practical decision and used it to add her own design twist which is lovely.”


1st Jul 2019

Charlotte Casiraghi has married her partner Dimitri Rassam, again–this time during a religious service in Provence, France.

Casiraghi, who is Grace Kelly’s granddaughter and the daughter of Princess Caroline, first tied the knot with Rassam in Monaco in June. The couple hosted a civil wedding ceremony at Monaco’s Prince’s Palace, where the bride wore a brocade Saint Laurent dress, later changing into Chanel for the reception at luxury hotel Villa La Vigie. Now, she has worn a third incredible gown for a religious ceremony in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Casiraghi, who is eleventh in line to the Monegasque throne, wore Giambattista Valli haute couture to say “I do” to her film producer partner in a private reception held last Saturday at the Abbaye Sainte-Marie de Pierredon, outside St. Remy de Provence in the south of France.

The bride wore an off-the-shoulder silk chiffon gown, which featured delicate embroidery throughout, accessorising with a simple veil. 

The look was reminiscent of the dress her mother wore to marry banker Philippe Junot in the ‘70s. Her mother’s Marc Bohan for Christian Dior gown featured a similar flowing silhouette, high neckline, and was also made of delicate silk chiffon. 

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A young Princess Caroline at her 1978 wedding. Image credit: Getty Images

Interestingly, Casiraghi chose to host her second wedding on the same day as her mother’s first wedding, which took place on June 29, although back in 1978. This makes it seem all the more likely that the dress was a nod to her mother.

The religious ceremony was an intimate affair attended by senior members of the Monaco royal family, with the bride’s mother and siblings in attendance, as well as the current reigning monarch, the bride’s uncle, Prince Albert II.

Taking to Instagram, the designer, Giambattista Valli, wrote: “Very happy to be part of their dream!”

Traditionally speaking, Monégasque royal weddings usually do have several components to them– usually a civil ceremony, a religious ceremony, and a reception. Casiraghi has simply chosen to space her events out across the month, while past royal brides, like her mother, and grandmother, have hosted them closer together.

Casiraghi and Rassam became engaged in March of 2018, after a year of dating and they also share a son together, Balthazar, who was born in October of 2018. 

Read more about their first wedding here.


1st Jul 2019

All the breathtaking haute fashion drama of Paris couture week has arrived for another season and storied French fashion house, Christian Dior, invites you to take a seat in the front row and enjoy all the beauty of their autumn/winter ‘19’/’20 couture show as it unfolds live in Paris.

In a video shared on social media, the fashion house shared the inspiration behind creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s, haute couture autumn/winter ‘19/’20 show. The designer said in a previous interview with Vogue UK that inspiration can come from anywhere — “You never know where inspiration is going to come from when you work in fashion,” — and this year is par for the course.

According to the video a “recurrent element in the vocabulary of Ancient Greek architecture” called “the caryatids” formed part of the couture narrative for the show. This element is, per the video, “part female form, part column [and] have come to be a metaphorical illustration of the supporting role women play, both in architecture and society.”


Chiuri was named creative director at Christian Dior in 2016 and since taking up the mantle, the designer — who is the first female creative director of the house — has proven with each show and collection, what a brilliant leading fashion voice she is.

Chiuri’s Christian Dior haute couture autumn/winter ‘19/’20 will take place at their famed Parisian address, 30 Avenue Montaigne, at 10.30pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) tonight and you can watch it all without any international travel involved.

Watch the Christian Dior haute couture autumn/winter ‘19/’20 show live here (see below) tonight at 10.30pm AEST, on, or on Christian Dior’s Facebook page or YouTube channel.

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The show goes on. On Sunday, in a bizarre bit of diplomacy that had been proposed on Twitter just a day before, President Trump met the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, at the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Korean Peninsula. Beyond the D.M.Z., which is four kilometres wide, the two Koreas are technically at war, which is why some twenty-eight thousand American military personnel are still based in South Korea; soldiers, including Americans, have died in flashes of violence in and around the heavily fortified strip of land. Trump nevertheless became the first sitting U.S. President to step into North Korea, the most authoritarian state on earth, which is led by a third-generation tyrant.

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“Good to see you again,” a beaming Kim said, as he greeted the President. “I never expected to meet you in this place.” Trump’s overture to Kim in a tweet on Saturday was, he said, a “very courageous and determined act.”

Trump responded, “Big moment, big moment.” He boasted that “tremendous things” are happening, even though no tangible progress has been made on North Korea’s denuclearization since the leaders’ first summit, a year ago, in Singapore. The second summit, in Hanoi, which took place in February, was a debacle. Trump walked out of those talks. The North Koreans grew cold on diplomacy. The D.M.Z. photo op appears to have been designed to help Kim save face. With cameras rolling, Trump told Kim, “We met and we liked each other from day one, and that was very important.”

The single, modest agreement that emerged from the encounter, which lasted fifty-three minutes, was to resume working group talks next month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in South Korea. Asked if the hastily organized rendezvous (which must have driven the Secret Service nuts) was a gamble, Pompeo responded, “It worked,” and then laughed. But he also conceded that the two sides had not yet made any progress on the issue at the heart of the negotiations—defining what “denuclearization” means. The term was the centerpiece of a modest agreement in Singapore. The United States wants North Korea to surrender all of its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, along with its ballistic missiles, and end all research-and-development programs. In the past, North Korea has called for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from the Peninsula and a pledge that no nuclear weapons will ever threaten the North.

The resumption of talks was widely welcomed. But analysts with long experience in dealing with North Korea were skeptical about the prospects. “This is diplomacy as a reality show—devoid of substance, purely driven by the pursuit of faux-historic photo ops,” Abraham Denmark, a former East Asia specialist at the Pentagon who now directs the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told me. “By casting a potential summit meeting in the D.M.Z. as a last-minute opportunity to just say ‘Hi,’ President Trump can minimize any expectations of tangible progress but maintain the sense that diplomacy with Kim Jong Un continues.”

At the D.M.Z., Kim agreed to do only what he had already promised in Singapore last year: allow more talks between their teams. “Some will see that as success, others as merely another iteration in the ‘Waiting for Godot’ scenario that represents negotiations with North Korea,” Bruce Klingner, a former C.I.A. deputy division chief for Korea who is now at the Heritage Foundation, told me. “Trump has reaped the fruits of diplomacy without having tilled the soil of making actual progress.” The President has touted progress in the return of American servicemen’s remains from the war, the release of American detainees, and a moratorium on both nuclear and long-range missile tests. “Each of those is good but none is unique, and every one was achieved in greater number or significance during previous U.S. Administrations,” Klingner said.

The impending talks will buy both leaders more time. Trump can counter criticism that he has made little progress in foreign policy, notably in North Korea, his biggest gamble, as the U.S. election cycle begins. Kim “can claim a similar public-relations and propaganda victory,” Frank Aum, a former senior Pentagon adviser, who is now at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said. “Each meeting he has with the U.S. President legitimizes the North Korean leader.”

Trump’s embrace of Kim has helped improve the profile of North Korea, which for decades has been an international pariah, among the world’s major powers. Since the President’s second meeting with Kim, in Hanoi, other world leaders have held their own summits with the leader. On June 21st, President Xi Jinping made the first visit to North Korea by a Chinese leader in fourteen years—ever since North Korea began testing nuclear weapons. In May, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, hosted Kim at their first-ever summit, in Vladivostok. “The international coalition to ‘maximize pressure’ on North Korea has dissipated, and Kim today has built significant diplomatic relations with Seoul, Beijing, and Moscow,” Denmark said.

A lot of work remains to get beyond the gamesmanship that has typified the first year of the Trump-Kim flirtation. “If they address the core issues of denuclearization and sanctions relief, rather than just summit logistics or other lower-hanging fruit, then we have the real chance of reaching a breakthrough agreement,” Aum said.

After the talks, Trump said that he was in no hurry. “Speed is not the object,” he told reporters. He described the challenges as “very big stuff—pretty complicated, but not as complicated as people think.” He used similar language in pledging to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, an initiative that stalled after the rollout of an economic plan during a conference in Bahrain this month.

Letting diplomacy drag out carries dangers. “North Korea has presumably used the past twelve months, since Singapore, to continue building its nuclear weapons and ballistic-missiles programs,” Denmark told me. The one bit of progress often cited by Trump is that North Korea has not tested the weaponry that it is building. Many experts believe that Kim will never completely surrender the programs that effectively guarantee the dynasty’s survival. The most viable outcome, some analysts suggest, may be North Korea surrendering some of its bombs and missiles and then freezing its programs, with extensive international verification.

But North Korea’s commitment to diplomacy even on simple issues, such as returning the remains of American service personnel who died during the Korean War, has been put in doubt. More than five thousand are still missing in action in North Korea. (Others are still missing in South Korea). In July, 2018, shortly after the Singapore summit, North Korea returned fifty-five boxes of American remains, then abruptly stopped, despite repeated requests from Washington to fulfill its promise. Over the years, the United States has paid millions of dollars to fund North Korean teams to find American bodies. The boxes returned do not necessarily even represent one body. “Until all are identified, we will not know how commingled the boxes are,” a Pentagon spokesman told me, on Sunday. “Of those, we have identified six service members.” In the past, forensic experts have found animal bones included among returned remains.

En route back to Washington, Trump tweeted, “Leaving South Korea after a wonderful meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un. Stood on the soil of North Korea, an important statement for all, and a great honor!” But, still, no concrete progress on wresting the world’s deadliest weapons from the world’s most brutal regime.

In the fifth minute of the United States’ World Cup quarter-final game against France, the French defender Griedge Mbock Bathy pulled down the American striker Alex Morgan outside the penalty area and was shown a yellow card. Megan Rapinoe took the ensuing free kick and delivered a low, hard shot that bent around a small wall of French defenders, dipped through a sea of legs, and slipped past the goalkeeper, who appeared not even to have seen the ball. Rapinoe turned, trotted toward a corner of the field, and presented herself to the crowd. As her teammates leapt on her back, she held the pose: arms outstretched, chest out, chin up. She looked like an opera diva, about to drop into a curtsy during a curtain call. It would be an understatement to say that Rapinoe has a flair for the dramatic. No athlete I can think of right now has such a perfect sense of herself on a stage—nor such a command of it.

Rapinoe, the captain of the U.S. women’s national team, is accustomed to the spotlight, on and off the field. At the 2011 quarter-finals, Rapinoe sent up a perfect high cross that Abby Wambach headed home during stoppage time, one of the most memorable goals in World Cup history. Rapinoe became the first white professional athlete to take a knee during the national anthem in support of the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest of systemic racism and police brutality, risking her spot on the national team. (U.S. Soccer later instituted a rule requiring all players to stand.) Rapinoe has posed with her wife, the W.N.B.A. player Sue Bird, nude in ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue. Her freewheeling play, precise footwork, and uncanny vision facilitate the flow of the United States’ offense. Rapinoe has become the most consistent and articulate spokesperson for the women’s national team in the players’ battle for equal pay. And Rapinoe has scored every goal for the United States during the knockout rounds: two on Tuesday, against Spain, and two on Friday, against France.

That, of course, is not all that Rapinoe has got attention for lately. Earlier this week, the soccer magazine Eight by Eight released a video in which Rapinoe was asked whether she was excited about visiting the White House after the World Cup. “I’m not going to the fucking White House,” she said. She’d said this before. “I am not going to fake it, hobnob with the President, who is clearly against so many of the things that I am [for] and so many of the things that I actually am,” Rapinoe told Sports Illustrated. “I have no interest in extending our platform to him.” But, this time, the world was paying attention (11.5 million views as of Saturday morning)—and Donald Trump eventually weighed in on Twitter, criticizing her lack of patriotism, throwing in dog whistles about black unemployment and the N.B.A. “owner” controversy, and inviting the U.S. women’s national team to the White House, win or lose.

This did not go over well; first, Trump tweeted at the wrong handle, and then some of Rapinoe’s teammates backed her up. “In regards to the ‘President’s’ tweet today, I know women who you cannot control or grope anger you, but I stand by [Rapinoe],” Ali Krieger wrote in one response. (Bonus points for her ironic quote marks around the word “President.”) “I think we all support Megan,” Jill Ellis, the team’s coach, said more diplomatically. “She knows that.”

By now, the U.S. players and coaches are used to speaking frankly about issues that other teams, in other sports, played by another gender, would consider a “distraction” before a big game—and the quarter-final against France was the biggest game of all. It is not an exaggeration to say that the match between the host nation and the United States was the most anticipated contest in the history of women’s soccer, a showcase of how far the game has come. Record-setting television audiences were expected; tickets were reselling for thousands of dollars. France, like several other countries, had banned women’s soccer in the middle of the twentieth century, but, in recent years, participation has exploded on every level, and its club teams have become models of professionalism and excellence. The United States had not beaten France in the teams’ last three meetings. But France has never won a major international title, and, as the host nation, it was under enormous pressure to match the success of the men’s team, which won the 2018 World Cup—but with the added need to validate France’s investment in the women’s game. Like most women’s teams, it was tasked not only with winning but justifying its own existence.

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For the United States, the stakes were just as high. Anything less than a title for the defending champions would be considered a failure—at least in one sense. But Rapinoe, who turns thirty-four next week, has proved that the game isn’t limited to what happens on the field, and what happens on the field isn’t merely a game. No matter the outcome for the U.S. team, her virtuoso performance will reverberate.

Sunday Reading: A Night at the Theatre

July 1, 2019 | News | No Comments

“In those years, our thought processes were becoming so magical, so paranoid, that to imagine writing a play about this environment was like trying to pick one’s teeth with a ball of wool.” This is how Arthur Miller describes the complexities of his early attempts to write “The Crucible,” which premièred at the height of the McCarthy era. Miller’s play spoke to a generation that was living in a kind of paralysis—its members fearful that, if they spoke up, they might be labelled subversive or unpatriotic. In that sense, his work, like so many remarkable dramas before it, offered a revealing and candid look at the price of human frailty.

This week, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces that explore the lives of dramatists and the world of theatre. Truman Capote travels to Leningrad and describes the events leading up to the Soviet première of the American opera “Porgy and Bess.” Wolcott Gibbs reviews the original Broadway staging of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and Kenneth Tynan writes about the original productions of “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Sweet Bird of Youth.” In “The Celluloid Brasserie,” Andy Logan visits Tennessee Williams and asks him about his hit play “The Glass Menagerie.” Larissa MacFarquhar profiles the playwright Edward Albee, and Hilton Als explores the world of Ntozake Shange. In “Beyond Nelly,” John Lahr chronicles the making of Tony Kushner’s epic drama “Angels in America.” Michael Schulman profiles Lynn Nottage and considers her tough yet empathetic portraits of America. Finally, Janet Malcolm traces the journeys of Anton Chekhov and revisits his plays. We hope that you enjoy these glimpses into the nature of dramatic artistry.

“Why I Wrote ‘The Crucible’ ”

“I am not sure what ‘The Crucible’ is telling people now, but I know that its paranoid center is still pumping out the same darkly attractive warning that it did in the fifties.”

“Porgy and Bess in Russia”

“The theatre grew quieter than a hens’ roost at sunset as the audience settled back, confident that now the curtain would rise and reveal what it had paid its rubles to see—‘Porgy and Bess.’ ”

“Lower Depths, Southern Style”

“ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a brilliant, implacable play about the disintegration of a woman, or, if you like, of a society.”

“Ireland and Points West”

“The supreme virtue of ‘A Raisin in the Sun,’ Lorraine Hansberry’s new play, is its proud, joyous proximity to its source, which is life as the dramatist has lived it.”

“Passion Plays”

“If there is a single theme that runs through Edward Albee’s work, it is the importance of being open to a full consciousness of life, with all the social and emotional risk that that entails.”

“The Celluloid Brassière”

“For a journalist unwilling to interview Tennessee Williams, who wrote the latest hit show, ‘The Glass Menagerie,’ the only alternative is giving up his press card.”

“Color Vision”

“For the first time, we were being shown a world of unimpeachable cool not as it played itself out around St. Mark’s Place but on Broadway, in a ‘choreopoem’ by Ntozake Shange called ‘for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf.’ ”

“Beyond Nelly”

“ ‘Angels in America’ was now officially in the world, covered more or less in glory. It was a victory for Tony Kushner, for theatre, for the transforming power of the imagination to turn devastation into beauty.”

“Three Journeys”

“If the trip to Sakhalin did not yield a work of literary distinction, its personal (and eventual literary) significance for Anton Chekhov was momentous. He needed to go on a journey.”

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“The Listener”

“The playwright Lynn Nottage, who has thick dreads and a warm, warbling voice, has built a career on making invisible people visible.”

Your July 2019 horoscope is here

July 1, 2019 | News | No Comments

22 June-22 July
Every day you’re getting closer to your destiny. Some of the steps you’ll take will be subtle, but this month could bring a sharp hand-brake U-turn as you review recent personal changes and possible partnership shifts too. Even when the unexpected shows up (as it most likely will) you’re currently equipped with all the charm and power you need to handle it.

Your July style icon: Ariana Grande

23 July-23 August
You’re the golden girl now in a four week phase that allows you to take centre stage and shine. It’s a good time to review your style and attitude, as you could find that what seems fine on the outside could require some major TLC on the inside. Work on any emotional or physical issues now and you’ll value being loved for who you truly are, not just for what others think you are.

Your July style icon: Mila Kunis

24 August-22 September
If you feel the need to go into temporary hibernation, aim instead to open up more to trusted friends. Putting energy into creative collaborations will productively shift any blues or doubts, especially if it’s romance that has got you perplexed. This could also set you on the path to self love or reveal a love that’s closer than you think but just hadn’t noticed before.

Your July style icon: Pippa Middleton

23 September-23 October
How you live and work are in the spotlight now with potential shifts in energies that prioritise your job over home activities during the next six months. It may be time for a rethink so that you love what you do so much that it doesn’t feel like work at all. Turn some career dreams into reality now, and you could discover a romantic connection in the process too.

Your July style icon: Felicity Jones

24 October-22 November
If you’ve been dithering over a big life plan that you know would fulfil you but seems far too scary to start, this month the universe steps in to make you take those first vital steps. You’ve been finding it hard to make your mark or get your voice heard lately so backtrack, double your efforts and add to your talents. By next month you’ll be set to stun and silence any critics.

Your July style icon: Emma Stone

23 November-21 December
Your world gets bigger this month so see where the creative or investigative muse takes you. Your only limitations are financial, and a shake-up of your cash flow may be all it takes to help you get serious about plans for expansion and fund an idea that’s been on hold. Even more intriguingly, this month love also links to travel, the internet or a spiritual quest.

Your July style icon: Gemma Chan

22 December-20 January
You tend to like the status quo but a deep-seated need for change is being revealed now. If you don’t change from within, the universe may force your hand and external events could propel you into uncharted territory. This is a good time to review your options and aim to direct how your destiny plays out, as financial and romantic connections could get intense.

Your July style icon: Irina Shayk

21 January-18 February
A health quest that’s been more about your emotions than your body gets an unexpected boost this month. It’s all about ‘mind over matter’ as a positive outlook can make even the most challenging situation appear surmountable. Backing off from a relationship issue helps to put it in perspective, so that love and work begin to feel more harmonious before the month ends.

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Your July style icon: Rosamund Pike

19 February-20 March 
If there’s been confusion lately between love and friendship or between pleasure and personal ambitions, the areas you really should be focusing on become more clearly defined now. The key to it all is raising your wellbeing levels. Review plans to get right with your body and you’ll see exponential improvements with romance and your individual talents now too.

Your July style icon: Emily Blunt

21 March-20 April
It’s officially playtime for you this month as the focus moves from home issues to leisure and romance. More intuitive than usual, you could have a breakthrough with how to combine pleasure with work so that you get the best of both worlds. A chez vous-based side hustle or a return to a scheme that was the right idea but the wrong time could be worth revisiting now.

Your July style icon: Claire Foy

21 April-21 May
You rarely need an excuse to luxe up your life and adding glamour to your home this month could morph it into the perfect setting for love. You might embark on a voyage of personal discovery now too. If your bigger picture vision is not yet workable, rethink and carefully curate your plans. Small steps will get you further in the long run than trying to do too much, too soon.

Your July style icon: Emilia Clarke

22 May-21 June
A new phase with money starts now and it could be an ‘out of the blue’ expense or windfall that prompts a review of your financial affairs, especially with any shared responsibilities. You’re on fire socially, with wit at your fingertips and the language of love flows now too to bring dazzling hook-ups if solo or, within an LTR, a chance to consolidate your union.

Your July style icon: Nicole Kidman