Humpday Recommendations: Doing business in China, Jazz on screen, Looking for Mom, Vargas at 20

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Read: Red Roulette — What would you do if you came from nothing and years later ended up making billions from brokering business deals with China's red aristocracy, but then your well-connected, uber-rich wife divorced you and kept most of your money before vanishing in one of Xi Jinping's first anti-corruption crusades? You'd get the hell out of Beijing and write a book about it, of course. That's exactly what Desmond Shum did, and interestingly not a peep from the CCP so far. By the way, his ex-wife is still missing. — Carlos

Watch: Round Midnight – It's not just the soundtrack. Or the great Dexter Gordon's performance, which earned him an Oscar nomination. Or director Bertrand Tavernier's obvious love for jazz and the men and women who create it. Round Midnight (1986) is the best film about music, any kind of music, I've ever seen because Tavernier lets the players play, and he reveals the relationship between the music and the life going on around it. — Willis

Read: I Couldn't Love You More —Are You My Mother, part of the Dr Seuss brand, is a story about a baby bird searching for his mother, and was a staple in my home growing up. I couldn't help but think of the children's book when I recently read the novel I Couldn't Love You More by British writer Esther Freud. The story focuses on three generations of women in one family, mainly traversing England and Ireland in the 1960s. Using delicate prose, Freud explores how very messy maternal and familial relations can haunt a person well into adulthood. It also subtly raises the question: what is a mother anyway? — Gabrielle

Raise: Victor — It's been twenty years since the brash Dominican teenager Victor Vargas tried to pick up the lovely "Juicy Judy" at NYC's Hamilton Fish public swimming pool. But Peter Sollett's classic indie film Raising Victor Vargas is just as fresh, intimate, and sweltering a portrait of life, love, and family on Manhattan's Lower East Side today as it was then. Check it on Netflix or Amazon here. Bonus: the film was shot the week before 9/11 -- see if you can spot the Twin Towers cameo. — Alex

Puppet Regime

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