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.
Forty years ago, under the inspiring editorship of Harold Hayes, Esquire magazine picked out Two-Lane Blacktop in advance as “the film of the year” in 1971. That was the sort of nose for young culture that some editors cultivated in those days. I suppose they thought the film could repeat the sensational business of Easy Rider, offered two years earlier, and it had a similar affectation—that in this America you could live on the road if you kept moving and if you trained your cool sensibility to follow the blacktop and trust your engine.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Unusual People
October 12, 2011
Painters have long attracted film-makers for reasons too obvious to explore. Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Michelangelo are only a few who have served their workaday turn on the screen. Now comes a considerable difference, itself in the hands of an eminent artist. Lech Majewski is a Polish film, theater, and opera director recognized widely for his startling and enriching imagination. He is much taken with the paintings of Pieter Bruegel, and his film The Mill and the Cross is his response to two Bruegel gems.
David Thomson on Films: ‘Take Shelter,’ an Arresting Film About How Small Town Ohio Is Cracking Apart
October 12, 2011
Why would you take shelter, and should you regard this title as gentle advice or a sweeping, allegorical imperative? Well, first of all we’re in what I take to be rural southern Ohio where the storm clouds have a way of building up like the slow movements in Mahler. They seem ominous, gun-metal beautiful at first, but don’t trust that they’re under control—least of all that of God, Ohio, or Mahler. Then sometimes a viscous rain falls, like motor oil, one person will say.