David Thomson

"Zero Dark Thirty" Has All the Depth of a John Wayne Movie
December 21, 2012

Chastain's character has the depth and personality of a placard, but if you like World War II films, you’ll enjoy this.

Richard Burton Was a Great Writer
December 20, 2012

The Richard Burton DiariesEdited by Chris Williams (Yale University Press, 693 pp., $35)   JUNE 14, 1969, and for a dawn moment he was calm, remembering Wordsworth and Dylan Thomas: “I love my wife. I love her dearly. Honest. Talk about the beauty, silent, bare.... Sitting on the Thames with the river imitating a blue-grey ghost. My God the very houses seem asleep.

The Best Movie of the Year: Michael Haneke's Amour
December 12, 2012

Amour is an unsentimental film about an intense, selfish love,

A Terrifying New Quasi-Documentary About a Woman's Mysterious Death
December 05, 2012

Joyce Carol Vincent lay dead in her London flat for three years before being found. A disturbing new film asks how this could have happened.

Life of Pi's Clumsy 3D Storytelling
November 28, 2012

 “I think it's one of the most noble risks we have ever taken.” This comes from an executive at Twentieth Century Fox, the studio that gave us Sunrise, Shirley Temple, and The Robe. When a corporation has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, talk of nobility is often a warning sign of stupidity. So sane producers may have read Yann Martel’s 2001 novel, seen that it was selling 9 million copies across the world, and concluded that there was no need for a movie of Life of Pi—the same escape clause I raised a week ago in connection with the latest Anna Karenina.

An Atrocious and Unnecessary Anna Karenina
November 19, 2012

The novel was published in the mid-1870s, but how old is Anna Karenina herself? The book places her around 28, though the husband, Karenin, is 20 years her senior. There was a film in 1935, with Garbo, who was 30 at the time, and Basil Rathbone as Karenin, when he was 42. That’s a fair gap, but what was better still, those two seemed to have aged and grown bitter in their marriage. There was another version, in 1948, with Vivien Leigh (35) and Ralph Richardson, who was 46. This time, we have Keira Knightley, 27, and Jude Law, who is 40.

Spielberg’s Lincoln is a Film for our Political Moment
November 13, 2012

This is a movie of negotiations in smoke-filled rooms; it could have been called "The Thirteenth Amendment."

Don't Look to Argo for a Nuanced Portrait of Iran
November 10, 2012

A few weeks ago on this site, Mark Bowden said the movie Argo was “brilliant” and “captures the moment [of the Iranian hostage crisis] perfectly. It is a movie about a small charade played out in the middle of the larger one, the rescue of six Americans who walked away from the [American] embassy on the day of the takeover and hid inside the Canadian embassy.

Life is Too Short for Cloud Atlas’s Self-Indulgence
November 08, 2012

The Wachowskis should go back to making mean-spirited movies.

Emily Blunt and the Half-Life of Female Action Stars
November 04, 2012

I went to see Looper, encouraged or provoked by a few excited reviews I had seen, though every account of the film warned, don’t bother to understand the plot. There is even a moment when the Bruce Willis character (a generous term) says as much, while plainly offering us a tranquillizer to get through the next couple of hours. I have a simpler guide to the film’s nonsense: In the future there will be time travel, in which people still shoot at each other not just with the large guns we know and dread, but with encrusted phallic firepower that hints at a comic-book past.

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