TNR Film Classic: 'Gentleman's Agreement' (1947)
March 11, 2011
Twice in a season, Hollywood has broken its self-protective silence on social questions to raise the issue of anti-Semitism, in many ways the nastiest of them all. Crossfire was a melodrama in which an instance of race hatred contributed to murder, and as the first film to challenge a basic taboo, it was a courageous piece of work. Gentleman’s Agreement, however, goes much deeper into the subject to offer the anatomy of anti-Semitism in an entire social group. Darryl F. Zanuck’s production of the Laura Z.
David Thomson on Films: ‘From Here to Eternity’
March 05, 2011
It was a Friday night, and Turner Classic Movies were doing “Thirty-One Days of Oscar,” so the network played From Here to Eternity (1953). It’s a film I’m fond of (being twelve when I first saw it), and, when you’re that familiar with a picture, you’re not quite watching any more. But then, something happened.
TNR Film Classic: 'The Grapes of Wrath' (1940)
March 04, 2011
The word that comes in most handily for The Grapes of Wrath is magnificent. Movies will probably go on improving and broadening themselves; but in any event, The Grapes of Wrath is the most mature picture story that has ever been made, in feeling, in purpose, and in the use of the medium. You can drag out classics (it is often safer not to go back and see them) and you can roll off names in different tongues and times. But this is a best that has no very near comparison to date. I still don’t know how they did it, though its possibility has been latent in Hollywood for years.
David Thomson on Films: The 2011 Best Picture Oscar
February 24, 2011
For a while in this awards season, The Social Network seemed to be the favorite for the Best Picture Oscar. But the later opening of The King’s Speech has served it well. In the crucial nomination and voting period, The Social Network’s domestic box office slowed down, and it has earned less than $100 million. The picture has been hard to find in theaters, in part because it appeared on DVD in January.
David Thomson on Films: ‘Just Go With It’
February 23, 2011
The columns I’ve written so far in this space may suggest that going to the movies these days is a happy experience. That is, in part, because of the time of year: We have learned that the only movies the business has any pretense of respect for open as a year closes—because Christmas is a rich season that builds towards the Academy Awards nominations. It is also because I prefer to praise films, or to send you in search of watchable stuff.
TNR Film Classics: 'The Big Sleep' (September 23, 1946)
February 18, 2011
The Big Sleep is an unsentimental, surrealist excitement in which most of the men in Hollywood’s underworld are murdered and most of the women go for an honest but not unwilling private sleuth (Humphrey Bogart).
TNR Film Classics: 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' (January 26, 1938)
February 11, 2011
To say of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that it is among the genuine artistic achievements of this country takes no great daring. In fact, outside of Chaplin, Disney’s is the one Hollywood name that any corn doctor of art and culture dare mention without fear of losing face, or on the other hand of having to know too much about the subject. There is this to be said of Disney, however: he is appreciated by all ages, but he is granted the license and simplification of those who tell tales for children, because that is his elected medium to start with.
February 09, 2011
Black Swan was a spectacular idea. This is not a movie about ballet—it is a ballet: Tchaikovsky’s evening-length Swan Lake transposed into a modern psychosexual thriller, an edgy cinematic re-make of a dance classic. The film’s director, Darren Aronofsky, spent years circling the cloistered world of ballet trying to find a way in: he watched dancers work and perform and talked to them about their art; he marveled at ballet’s uncanny mix of melodrama, camp, eroticism, and high art, and above all at its grueling physical demands.
David Thomson on Films: Remembering Maria Schneider
February 08, 2011
A generation of male movie-goers may have gulped when they saw the obituaries for Maria Schneider and that picture of her from 2003 when she was 50—tense, not quite well, anxious about being looked at. How can we read so much into one picture? Well, how did we assume so much in 1972 when the breathtaking Schneider rolled across the screen in Last Tango in Paris like a bowling ball and took part in all those scenes with such aplomb? In 1972, we told ourselves, we were watching the most candid mainstream film we were ever likely to see.
TNR Film Classics: 'Citizen Kane' (February 24, 1941)
January 27, 2011
Will Hollywood stand up to William Randolph Hearst over the matter of Orson Welles’s film, Citizen Kane? RKO, the distributor, announces that it is going ahead with plans to show the picture. It has been booked into the number-one movie house of the nation, the Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and many other places.