At the public screening of The Descendants I saw, there was gentle but earnest applause as the film ended. It’s merited, and I suspect it came from a middle-aged audience that is weary of noise and violence in our films, and respectful of anyone prepared to deal candidly with family material. That doesn’t mean this is softer than PG. It’s an R film, with a lot of rough language, most of it coming from a ten-year-old and a seventeen-year-old.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Rare Spirits
November 23, 2011
Paul Goodman Changed My Life Le Havre Young Goethe In Love A familiar shock arrived with a documentary called Paul Goodman Changed My Life. (He touched my life, but he didn’t really change it.) The shock was in realizing yet again that a figure once important is now virtually forgotten. In the middle of the last century, Goodman was very widely recognized as a kind of polymath critic. His sharp comments on a surprising range of topics, his analytical writings on education, politics, city planning, psychology, meant much to many.
Thomson on Films: Clint Eastwood’s Disappointingly Cautious Depiction of J. Edgar Hoover
November 15, 2011
Whatever respect you feel for Clint Eastwood, Leonardo DiCaprio, or even Warner Brothers (its distributor), I think you know that a $35 million dollar movie about J. Edgar Hoover, running over two hours (it often feels longer), is going to face this issue: Are we going to see Hoover in drag? You can argue that many things about this man are more important, but a movie is a movie. It depends on things it can show us, and this one runs the risk of “explaining” Hoover’s vicious pursuit of power (or his overcoming of insecurity) in terms of sexual repression.
David Thomson on Films: ‘Page Eight,’ a Small Screen Movie That’s Nonetheless About Large Issues
November 10, 2011
Page Eight gives every sign of being a momentous television event. It is a debut outing for “Masterpiece Contemporary” on PBS. Some of the color photography, by Martin Ruhe, is exquisite but sinister—there’s a bruised sky against college masonry in Cambridge that escapes the usual proviso that television cannot be “beautiful” without seeming picturesque. The subject matter turns on such large issues as security, intelligence, Intelligence, honor, and love. The cast is so daunting it makes you keep an open mind about which characters are not to be trusted.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Shade and Dazzle
November 09, 2011
You Don’t Like the Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo John Huston: Courage and ArtBy Jeffrey Meyers (Crown Archetype, 475 pp., $30) Guantánamo has become a dreadful word, signifying a morass of military, legal, political, diplomatic, and humanitarian complications.
November 06, 2011
To read a full life of Steve McQueen is a strain on interest, but two minutes of Bullitt and you recall his coiled, lethal impact. He was beautiful on
Thomson on Films: ‘In Time,’ a Film That Can’t Deliver on Its Own Provocative Ideas
November 01, 2011
In Time is so crammed with provocative ideas it begins to feel over-crowded. At some time in a future that looks like the recent past of Los Angeles, human aging has been stopped at twenty-five. At that point of perfection, everyone has one year left to live, and their remaining span registers as a luminous green set of numbers (their “watch”), printed on the forearm. But this situation has turned time into the new money, and so—in the way of the world—some people are richer than others. People still look like twenty-five when they are eighty.
The Unexpected Hero
November 01, 2011
James Garner understands that he created a kind of hero who thinks that aggressive and assertive masculinity is unnecessarily risky, and only a means
Thomson: ‘Homeland,’ a Clever, Confident, and Cruel New Show That Trades in Paranoia
October 25, 2011
As I write, I have seen only the first three episodes of “Homeland,” and I am mindful that the credit sequence every week contains a couple of shots of Louis Armstrong from around 1930, a detail that has not yet figured in what you’d have to call the narrative.
How ‘Margin Call’ Gets It Right About the Financial Crisis
October 22, 2011
Margin Call is the smartest movie you will ever see about the Financial Crisis. Debuting at a time when the Occupy Wall Street movement seeks to make caricatured villains of bankers and much of the public puts the blame for a lagging economy squarely on their shoulders, this movie offers an extremely thoughtful, fair and—for that very reason—ultimately much more powerful critique of how our financial system really works. It tells the story of a roughly 24-hour period at a fictional investment bank on the eve of the 2008 financial collapse.