The Problem with Oscar Voters: They All Look The Same
February 23, 2012
You may recollect that at the Academy Awards show last year, the hosting job went to Anne Hathaway and James Franco. She was 29 and he was 33, and there was a vague hope that they were young and hot enough to pull in the junior crowd for the television marathon. It didn’t work: Franco seemed bored, while Hathaway was trying too hard. There was no chemistry between them, and very little fun. So this year the host was going to be Eddie Murphy, but he backed off when the producer’s job was withdrawn from Eddie’s chum, Brett Ratner, on account of anti-gay remarks.
David Thomson on Films: ‘The Artist’ Was Awful—and Other Reasons I’m Not Watching the Oscars
February 21, 2012
Since first seeing The Artist, I believed it was going to win Best Picture. It’s “different” without being challenging or difficult or worrying. The Artist could have been designed by a computer to appeal to anyone who has a sense of nostalgia for movie history. (And 54 percent of Academy voters are over sixty). It is also a light, entertaining picture in which froth passes for energy, and pat ironies are made to seem intelligent. I enjoyed it, until the moment I guessed how close it was to getting Best Picture.
TNR Film Classics: ‘My Fair Lady’ (November 14, 1964)
February 18, 2012
The film of My Fair Lady is worth every penny of the $17 million it reportedly cost because it preserves Rex Harrison’s performance. Whatever one thinks of the musical, of the very idea of the musical, his performance is clearly a flower of artistic elegance with its roots in three-hundred-year-old comic styles, a miracle of ease that results from a lifetime’s training of superb talents. One had only to see others in this part to see a) imitators of him; b) actors who had stepped into it rather than grown into it, relying mostly on superficial suavities.
HBO’s New Show Has Good Credentials, But Is That Enough?
February 14, 2012
Last Friday, the New York Times ran a double-page-spread ad for the new HBO series Luck. It featured quotes like “Sumptuous,” “Addictive,” “Compelling,” “Brilliant,” “Astonishing,” “Breathtaking.” (You know the sort of thing, you could write it yourself.) But after three episodes of Luck, I’m still hedging my bets and crossing my fingers—or just waiting to hear a line clearly. The show has plenty of credentials and promise.
TNR Film Classics: Screen Version (October 19, 1932)
February 11, 2012
Not long ago, apropos of the film version of Eugene O’Neill’s “Strange Interlude,” I wrote an article in which I said that so far as I knew, the moving pictures had not yet turned out a play of significance, that even when the play on which the film was based had been of some importance, the screen result had not.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Nudes and Others
February 08, 2012
Crazy Horse Return The Hunter Where is Frederick Wiseman taking us now? Beginning in 1967, when our pre-eminent maker of documentaries brought us into a hospital for the criminally insane in Titicut Follies, Wiseman has shown us American lives in—among many other places—high schools, a hospital, a monastery, a welfare agency. Lately he has been drawn to France, to some Parisian institutions: the Comédie-Française and the ballet of the Paris Opera.
The Iranian film A Separation, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, seems to me the best film of 2011. It is one of the Academy Award nominees for Best Foreign Picture, but by any sense of justice in any nation (let alone the self-assessed greatest in the world) it would have been nominated for Best Picture before anything else. The ways in which the characters in A Separation struggle for truth and honor, while yielding sometimes to compromise and falsehood, is not foreign to us. Few other films made last year give such a striking sense of, “Look—isn’t this life?
David Thomson on Films: A Requiem to an Unjustly Forgotten Filmmaker
February 02, 2012
In a recent article published in Sight & Sound just days after the death of Theo Angelopoulos, the director is quoted: “The only place I really feel at home is in a car next to a driver. I don’t drive myself, but I find the simple act of passing through landscapes very moving. The way I look at the world on my various travels is what essentially defines my filmmaking.” Sometimes artists die in what might be incidents from their own work.
TNR Film Classics: American Silent Film (July 1, 1978)
January 27, 2012
If sensation-gorged sound movie audiences think about silent films at all, it is in that narrow category bounded by the ridiculous on one side and the grotesque on the other.
The Ambiguous Future of 3D Movies
January 24, 2012
It was in 1985 that the German film director Wim Wenders first saw the Pina Bausch dance company. He later admitted that he had had to be dragged to the event by a girlfriend. Though a lover of many types of music, Wenders was one of those who believed he simply didn’t get ballet or modern dance. But after a few moments of the performance, he was on the edge of his seat, so moved he was crying. He felt his life had been altered. Pina Bausch had been born in Dusseldorf in 1940 (that made her five years older than Wenders).