David Thomson

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.

The Man Who Shaped the Way We Watch Football on TV
November 03, 2012

Some years ago, I got a call from NFL Films, from a man named Steve Sabol. Yes, he realized I was English by birth and might not know much about American football. So I explained to him that I had arrived in San Francisco in September 1981 at the start of the season in which the 49ers won their first Super Bowl—their first of five. Mr. Sabol was encouraged, but he had called me because he’d read some writing about movies that I had done. I believe I had compared Joe Montana and Gary Cooper in the way they gazed at space. That was his kind of dream.

HBO's Creepy and Revealing Take on Hitchcock
October 23, 2012

"The Girl" is like a real-life version of "Vertigo": it's about a man who falls in love with an actress and tries to remake her.

American Movies are Not Dead: They are Dying
September 14, 2012

Do American movies still aspire to greatness?

There Will Be Dud: Paul Thomas Anderson’s First Mediocre Movie
September 14, 2012

I wanted "The Master" to be great. Instead, it's a pretentious dud.

A Small Norwegian Film and the Critic Who Praised It
September 12, 2012

"Oslo, August 31st" is a film in love with life and light and faces, and it just came out on DVD.

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