Last week, I saw 12 Years a Slave and thought it was absolutely superb. For this reason, and because it concerns arguably the most important aspect of American history, I have been seeking out commentary about the film. What I have found instead is a bunch of hand-wringing about whether the movie should have even been made.
Geeks versus the government
This piece originally appeared on newstatesman.com.Let’s get the personal bit out of the way. How did Peter Capaldi do?
The trailer for director Wes Anderson’s next movie, due out in 2014 and called The Grand Budapest Hotel, came out Thursday. It features harpsichord-esque background music, a madcap plot, impish hipster humor made funnier by contrast to its opulent surroundings, and lots of shots of characters framed in the center, as though they are on a stage.
I started working with Stanley at The New Republic in 1978, when I was twenty-four and he was sixty-two. The best part of my job was proofreading his reviews. It involved no work, since we both regarded him as editorially infallible. We spent a few moments each week on the phone correcting the typesetter’s errors, then moved on to an art he relished as much as film: conversation. That is, he entertained, and I listened.
You won't even notice Tom Hanks's awful Boston accent
Paul Greengrass could make the most mundane human activity—slouching in a work cubicle, napping in a hammock—feel dramatic. In the opening scene of the English director's latest frenetic film, Captain Phillips, we find the titular hero, Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks), leaning intently over a desk in his Underhill, Vermont, home—on March 28, 2009, to be exact. Phillips rifles through documents, clicks around his computer, locates his work badge, and checks his watch.
“The Unknown Known”: The scope and limits of documentary
As an investigation, The Unknown Known adds little to our memory of Rumsfeld’s press conferences and his lugubrious ruminations over what words meant. The marvel of the film (and of other Morris projects) is the cold lucidity of the light in undeviating close-up on the “witness.”
The first time I met Stanley I had just started at The New Republic in the job of assistant literary editor, which has long entailed being the liaison between Stanley and the magazine. For several months I had spoken to him on the phone each week. I knew him by his singular voice, which had the genteel lilt of a nineteenth-century aristocrat. (“It’s delightful to hear from you, Laura dear.”) He was in his mid-nineties then, with bad eyesight, and used e-mail, endearingly, with cheerful ineptitude.
April 10, 1961
At last. Michelangelo Antonioni is an Italian director who has just made his seventh film and who is so highly esteemed abroad that there has already been an Antonioni Festival in London. For the eleven years of his career no Antonioni film has been released here. Now at last comes Avventura, which is the sixth of his works.
December 10, 1993
Steven Spielberg has made his own Holocaust museum. In Schindler's List (Universal), an adaptation by Steven Zaillian of Thomas Keneally's book, Spielberg has created a 184-minute account of the fate of Kraków's Jews under the German occupation, centered on the German businessman and bon vivant, Oskar Schindler, who devised a ruse to save 1,100 Jews from the Auschwitz ovens. A closing note tells us that in Poland today there are fewer than 4,000 Jews but in the world there are 6,000 "Schindler Jews," survivors and descendants.