David Thomson

‘Lawless’ is ‘Bonnie and Clyde’-Lite
September 03, 2012

"Lawless" is an excuse to round up some attractive actors and let them loose. That doesn't mean it's not worth seeing.

The Riddle of Tony Scott
August 27, 2012

If anyone ever said they don’t make movies the way they used to in the days of John Wayne, you could turn to Tony Scott for refutation.

A Serial Killer Movie You Can’t Watch in America
August 24, 2012

It is called The Black Panther, and for the moment at least it cannot be seen in America. I daresay it deserves another title, now, one that avoids suggestions of horror or intimations of radical black politics. There is horror in this movie, though our standards for that genre have changed so much since 1977, when the film very briefly opened in Britain.

Magic Matthew: McConaughey's Journey From Slacker to Darkness
August 14, 2012

"Killer Joe" is a terrible film, but it marks the latest in a year of great performances from Matthew McConaughey.

The Inscrutable Life and Death of Marilyn Monroe
August 06, 2012

Fifty years ago, late on August 4 or in the early hours of August 5—so little can be said of her with certainty—Marilyn Monroe died, and began her life in legend. This was only 50 years ago, in Los Angeles, when she was a very important if vague person who may have known even more important persons. There were doctors in attendance, and then coroners; there were police investigations. The world decided it was shocked and stricken by the sudden departure of the 36-year-old, yet not surprised.

Was This the Most Dangerous Film in American History?
July 30, 2012

One of the puzzles facing the film historian (amateur or professional) occurs when a child climbs upon the parental knee and asks, “Well, Dad, what was the black list?” The parent struggles to explain that, once upon a nervous time, the Hollywood movie was said to be rife with un-American suggestions and the energetic insinuation of socialist alternatives. The child blinks, and says, “Father, isn’t that preposterous?

Aurora and Batman
July 24, 2012

How startling to see the speed with which the film business can respond to audience taste. Within hours of the massacre at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, (far quicker than the removal of the Joe Paterno statue), Warner Brothers were in action. Premieres in Paris and Tokyo were cancelled. Most of the players in the movie—writer-director Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, and Anne Hathaway—issued statements of sorrow.

Pleading Insanity: Why Robert Blake Now Acts Crazy For a Living
July 16, 2012

Did you see Robert Blake on the “Piers Morgan Show” last week? You can catch up with it on the CNN website, even if it’s now become a series of bites or takes, with bleeps here and there. It was the movie of the week, where you couldn’t take your eyes off the screen and didn’t know what to believe. What more can you ask for? First, the contestants: Piers Morgan is 47, six-feet-one and barely shy of 200 pounds, I’d guess. He has a plush, self-satisfied poker face, not too far from David Cameron.

When Did Oliver Stone Lose His Spark of Big Ambition?
July 09, 2012

Savages is trashy, vulgar, preposterous, cruel—and maybe the most interesting and entertaining film Oliver Stone has made since Nixon. What more do you want when the country is burning, gridlocked, and practicing ballet on the brink? Don’t say the movies lack instincts about where we’re headed.

From Howard Beale to Aaron Sorkin
July 01, 2012

We think we know what an “anchor” is—that quaint tri-form hunk of heavy metal that vessels throw overboard when they want to stop. That action and the word promise stability and security. So “anchor” has passed into the collected metaphors of our survival: A sentence is anchored to its main verb; a country is kept steady by its constitution; Citizen Kane holds the cause of film history in place. Your family is what keeps you where you should be in the rising swell and cross-currents of life. Aaron Sorkin is a mainstay of old-fashioned adult optimism.

Pages