TNR Film Classics: ‘The Age of Innocence’ (October 18, 1993)
January 13, 2012
The basic trouble with Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence (Columbia) is Edith Wharton’s novel. Looking back fifty years in 1920, Wharton conceived a tale of love versus honor set in New York high society of that past era, and she embodied it in a full-dress novel. But her material would have served only as a short story, at most a novella, for Tolstoy or Chekhov. What helps to sustain Wharton’s more extended treatment is the attractive prose in which she wraps her narrative.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: A Search, a Research
January 11, 2012
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia House of Pleasures Nuri Bilge Ceylan, of Turkey, is an exceptional writer-director, deeply serious and with the gifts to be so. The two earlier films of his that I have seen, Distant and Climates, though immediately engaging in their characters and stories, soon showed that Ceylan was using them as a means of depicting the society in which they took place—modern Turkey. Essentially he wanted us to breathe the air his people breathed. Ceylan is also a talented actor: he played the leading role in Climates with distinction. But he does not appear in his new film.
On Thursday January 5th, I was trying to read the Seth Schiesel column on the front of the Arts section of the New York Times. After a few paragraphs, it said, “Continued on Page 5,” and my fingers made the natural leafing gestures to get me to five (no matter that I am used to Schiesel having large and merited front-page display). But “page 5” turned out to be “C3B” and a full-page ad for The Descendants.
TNR Film Classics: ‘All About Eve’ (November 6, 1950)
January 06, 2012
Once a year, Hollywood relaxes the lollypop diet on which it sustains a large but jaded public, and serves up one dish of acidulous sophistication. Or to be more precise, about once a year Joseph Mankiewicz at Twentieth Century-Fox does this under the indulgent eye of Darryl F. Zanuck. The last chef’s special was Letter to Three Wives; the new one is All About Eve, the bitchiest fabrication since Mrs. Luce’s The Women. It is not true, as you may have heard, that All About Eve is a great picture and proof that Hollywood has grown up overnight.
Thomson on Films: The Oedipal Complexity of Early Psychoanalysis
January 02, 2012
A Dangerous Method is crammed with alarm and peril at the outset. A young, dark-featured woman in white is barely contained in a moving carriage in 1904—she is screaming, heaving, sighing—and she is being taken to a clinic just outside Zurich where she will become the patient of Dr Carl Jung. Outside the smart establishment, on what seems a fine day, she is carried inside still writhing like an eel on a cutting board. She turns out to be Sabina Spielrein, and she is played by Keira Knightley, not an actress who has carried me away in the past.
David Thomson on Films: Tinker, Tailor, Boredom, Why?
December 20, 2011
“Homeland” ended its first series on December 18 in a ninety-minute episode, as if it had so many loose ends to tie up, and so much to deliver before “the event of the TV season” closed. A couple of months ago, I welcomed the suspense, the plotting, and the human interest of “Homeland,” but I wondered even then if the series would go crazy with its own narrative.
TNR Film Classics: 'Miracle on 34th Street' (June 2, 1947)
December 19, 2011
Last week I voiced a hope for morebright nonsense on the screen, and this week Miracle on 34th Street was previewed for early release. It is a charming film, in part about a budding romance between Macy’s and Gimbel’s, but mostly about Santa Claus. The old gentleman (named Kris Kringle) is completely real, though the state of New York tries in a fine, big, foolish trial to prove he doesn’t exist. The point, developed quite deftly, is that if a few maladjusted people were able to prove Kringle daffy enough to be committed, they would have to prove most of the world crazy along with him.
December 19, 2011
Hedy’s Folly avoids the pitfalls of other books about Lamarr, starting with the star’s own memoir, Ecstasy and Me. These volumes ultimately fail to ca
David Thomson on Films: An Unsparing Portrait of American Breakdown
December 13, 2011
There are advertisements and reviews out there that tell you to expect comedy in Young Adult. You deserve a sterner warning. Yes, the picture is written by Diablo Cody* (of Juno and TV's “United States of Tara”) and it is directed by Jason Reitman (of Juno and Up in the Air). But, if you recall, Up in the Air had George Clooney as a cool, amiable flake whose job it is to tell people they are fired, and who is set back (to zero?) when Vera Farmiga’s colder character tells him that their love affair of convenience and intricate travel schedules is going nowhere.
How many major black-and-white movies can you think of that have been made in the last five years? I can think of five: The Wild Child (1970), The Last Picture Show (1971), Paper Moon (1973), Lenny (1974) and Young Frankenstein (1974). In all five, the decision to use monochrome was both calculated and special. There was a time in the not-so-distant when using color was the choice that was calculated and special. What happened and why? For one thing, television.