The Hollywood Western, as a genre, is a realm of fantasy. Once Upon a Time in the West is, in its pseudo-realistic way a fantasy superimposed on that general fantasy. Sergio Leone is the best-known of the European makers of Westerns that we’ve been getting lately, mostly from Italy. I haven’t seen his previous films, but veteran Leonists tell me that this new one is like them, only very much more so.
On Thursday, April 5, I saw the best movie I have seen so far this year. It was only 74 seconds long. That seems quick, yet it felt stealthy and suspenseful as it traveled through time. For the show was the story of a life, or 25 years of it. That is Lindsay Lohan’s age now, and her future is more precarious than 25 usually promises. I watched it first in the early morning of the fifth on Yahoo.
What does “deep blue” mean in this film, or in the Terence Rattigan play that has prompted a movie from Terrence Davies sixty years later? Deep blue is no small matter; it’s not just Miles Davis doing “Kind of Blue,” William Gass’s book On Being Blue, a nickname for IBM, or Lucian Freud’s painting, “Man in a Blue Scarf.” Four out of ten people name blue as their favorite color. So I have always wanted more from The Deep Blue Sea than it ever delivers. Rattigan was the leading English playwright during the war and into the early 1950s, before the disruptions of John Osborne and Harold Pinter.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: The Past Today
March 29, 2012
Footnote The Deep Blue Sea This Is Not a Film From Israel comes a film of contrasts. Footnote uses sophisticated style to deal with an ancient subject. Joseph Cedar, the writer-director, tells a story about Talmudic studies and couches it in cinematic brio. This verve also counterpoints the drama. Along with the talk about deep scholarship comes this visual approach that is a kind of modern complement.
David Thomson on Films: Why I Hate ‘The Hunger Games’
March 27, 2012
There are several spoilers in this review of The Hunger Games, and I’ll get them out of the way early. The film shows precious little hunger and no sense of game. It’s a terrible movie, but it grossed $68.25 million on its first Friday. So that’s where your teenage daughters were over the weekend—or what they told you. And that’s why film critics sometimes feel their own futility. I know, or I have heard, that the series of books by Suzanne Collins, of which The Hunger Games was the first, have sold all over the world in amazing numbers since 2008.
TNR Film Classic: Movie Brutalists (1966)
March 24, 2012
The basic ideas among young American film-makers are simple: the big movies we grew up on are either corrupt, obsolete or dead, or are beyond our reach (we can’t get a chance to make Hollywood films)—so we’ll make films of our own, cheap films that we can make in our own way.
David Thomson on Films: Should Horses Be Sacrificed For Art?
March 20, 2012
In every way it is regrettable—that three horses have died in the making of Luck over a period of twelve weeks; and that the slowly developing series is going to be cut off, not exactly in its prime, but with glimpses of that glow in the distance.
Stalking Geoff Dyer
March 13, 2012
The rich, problematic delight with Geoff Dyer’s new book, Zona is that it’s so much more fun than the film it addresses, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1
Just over a week ago, at the Chardon High School near Cleveland, Ohio, a seventeen-year-old youth opened fire on fellow students: Six were wounded and three have died. A teacher said it was important to get the rest of the students back to school to “show that terror and evil do not win out.” Such things keep happening, and people make brave, encouraging, and ridiculous statements.
David Thomson on Films: What Ever Happened to Meg Ryan?
March 01, 2012
In the Cut is not a new film, but many of you won’t have seen it, and some who saw it when it opened in 2003, amid critical abuse, should think of seeing it again. Then it may become new, beautiful and very disturbing. So, in the wake of the annual hysteria over our current movies, let me recall an “old” masterpiece, all the more resonant in that it was largely missed by the people whose business it is to guide us in what to see. Frannie lives in New York where she teaches English at a run-down college.