“I think it's one of the most noble risks we have ever taken.” This comes from an executive at Twentieth Century Fox, the studio that gave us Sunrise, Shirley Temple, and The Robe. When a corporation has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, talk of nobility is often a warning sign of stupidity. So sane producers may have read Yann Martel’s 2001 novel, seen that it was selling 9 million copies across the world, and concluded that there was no need for a movie of Life of Pi—the same escape clause I raised a week ago in connection with the latest Anna Karenina.
A few weeks ago on this site, Mark Bowden said the movie Argo was “brilliant” and “captures the moment [of the Iranian hostage crisis] perfectly. It is a movie about a small charade played out in the middle of the larger one, the rescue of six Americans who walked away from the [American] embassy on the day of the takeover and hid inside the Canadian embassy.
I went to see Looper, encouraged or provoked by a few excited reviews I had seen, though every account of the film warned, don’t bother to understand the plot. There is even a moment when the Bruce Willis character (a generous term) says as much, while plainly offering us a tranquillizer to get through the next couple of hours. I have a simpler guide to the film’s nonsense: In the future there will be time travel, in which people still shoot at each other not just with the large guns we know and dread, but with encrusted phallic firepower that hints at a comic-book past.
Some years ago, I got a call from NFL Films, from a man named Steve Sabol. Yes, he realized I was English by birth and might not know much about American football. So I explained to him that I had arrived in San Francisco in September 1981 at the start of the season in which the 49ers won their first Super Bowl—their first of five. Mr. Sabol was encouraged, but he had called me because he’d read some writing about movies that I had done. I believe I had compared Joe Montana and Gary Cooper in the way they gazed at space. That was his kind of dream.