Director

What Her Victory Looked Like
January 09, 2008

MANCHESTER, NH-- For the reporters covering her campaign, the first clear sign that Hillary Clinton would win the New Hampshire primary came in the form of a beaming Terry McAuliffe. At roughly 10:30 Tuesday night, the former Democratic Party chairman and longtime Friend Of The Clintons appeared in the filing center where reporters had just hours earlier been prepared to type out Hillary's obituary to proclaim victory.

A Confused Kingdom
September 28, 2007

Last week, I wrote about The Hunting Party, a film that tried (and failed) to integrate geopolitics into a black comedy. This week, The Kingdom attempts the only slightly less daunting task of integrating geopolitics into an action film. (Rather see a movie that leaves out the geopolitics altogether? I'm afraid you have a fewfrustratingmonths ahead of you.) That The Kingdom manages, to at least some degree, to accomplish the feat is a tribute to its director, Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Rundown), who guides the film with poise and intelligence.

Bean Counter
July 11, 2006

If Democrats win back the House in the midterms today, they'll owe an enormous debt to organized labor, which has spent more than $40 million--and sent millions of voters to the polls--to help the party take control of Congress. The AFL-CIO alone has targeted more than 200 contests in 21 states this cycle, and unions, despite their declining power, are still acting as difference-makers in many races.

Boxed Out
December 12, 2005

Damon Runyon called fighter James J. Braddock the greatest human interest tale in boxing history.  His once-promising career cut short by losses and injuries, Braddock and his family fell into poverty during the Great Depression. Though he took any available job working on the docks, he couldn't make ends meet. His children near starvation, he applied for federal relief and begged former colleagues for help. On a fluke, in 1934 he was offered a one-time fight against a contender, a fight he was given no chance to win.

Paint it Black
November 29, 2005

It's rarely an attractive sight when a lifelong good guy decides it's time to show everyone he can be bad.  For most men, such crises of character involve the midlife acquisition of a motorcycle or sports car, though in some cases an electric guitar suffices. (The leather jacket and sunglasses are givens.) The metamorphosis can be particularly disturbing in filmmakers, who after all have more vivid ways of dramatizing their states of mind than mere automobiles and accoutrements.

Failed State
September 05, 2005

Can any governor succeed in California?

A Long Time Coming
July 26, 2005

A Very Long Engagement is all that its title promises. At two and a quarter hours, it is the longest film yet by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet; happily, it is also the most engaging, a stylish and satisfying epic of love and war, hope and memory. After an early career of directing shorts and commercials, in 1991 Jeunet and partner Marc Caro broke into feature films with the post-apocalyptic black comedy Delicatessen. This was followed by City of Lost Children, another meticulously designed dystopian nightmare.

Second Time Farce
June 21, 2005

In Hollywood, the one thing as inevitable as death and taxes is sequels. They roll them out, year after year, the 2s and IIs, the Returns and Revenges, and Strikes Backs and Strikes Agains. For decades, the first rule of making a successful sequel has been simple and unchanging: Figure out what you did right the first time and do it again. The problem, of course, is that this isn't always so easy. For every The Godfather: Part II there's a The Two Jakes; for every The Empire Strikes Back, an Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Lifeless Aquatic
May 10, 2005

Early in Bottle Rocket, writer-director Wes Anderson's 1996 debut film, a little girl asks her recently de-institutionalized 26-year-old brother when he will be coming home. "I can't come home," he explains. "I'm an adult." With that scene Anderson, himself 26 at the time, announced the theme that would dominate all his movies to date: the plight of the man-child, too old to live life like a kid but not mature enough to stop trying. In Bottle Rocket, it was half-hearted thieves Anthony and Dignan straddling the gap between boyhood and manhood.

Class Notes
March 16, 2005

"The context of [Mansfield Park] and nearly everything Jane Austen wrote is near-ridiculous from today's perspective," one young character lectures another early in the film Metropolitan.  "Has it ever occurred to you," the latter replies, "that today, looked at from Jane Austen's perspective, would look even worse?" Finally available on DVD, Metropolitan is essentially an extension of this rebuttal.

Pages