George Clooney

After the recovery of missing Holocaust art from Munich, the papers have been full of breathless stories about the art's value. Is somebody missing the point?

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War Movies Used to be Big, Sprawling Things. What Happened?

The trend of small-minded war movies continues

Last year, Walter Kirn lamented the state of the ever-shrinking American war movie.

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There is one moment in The Monuments Men that is as sweet and pleasing as a fresh cupcake. It has a charm that is no small thing in the making of movies. Let’s not spoil the moment by spelling it out, let’s just admit that it employs someone named Clooney. I am happy to say that now, and happier still holding on to its memory, for apart from that this is one of the most dreadful, smug, and incoherent films I have ever seen, and a travesty of its many large subjects.

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Alexander Payne does not make mistakes, and that would seem to be his only serious handicap or restraint. But he has so many delicious virtues of taste, precision, and modesty. He has tragic instincts but will not succumb to melancholy. He is reluctant to let sex or violence overwhelm his work, especially in igniting combination. He not inclined to trust his heroes or villains; he has made a habit of wayward, awkward or unreliable characters. Give Payne an obvious movie star—like Jack Nicholson or George Clooney—and he looks for their lost ordinariness.

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The real reason people go to Telluride.

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Oscar Grouch

I’d like to thank the Academy for nothing

The novel he'd written had become a movie that was nominated for an Oscar. But that didn't mean he'd have an open ticket to the party.

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The release of The Dark Knight Rises, and the return to the screen of Bruce Wayne, has reminded us that fictional rich men love playing politics just as much as real ones. Wayne and his moneyed pals, after all, helped fill the reelection coffers of hope-and-change district attorney Harvey Dent like it was a party at George Clooney’s house.

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Suckerball

LOTTERIES, BY DEFINITION, are for losers. You enter them with an evanescent sense of grandiosity and optimism, but beneath this delusion lurks the knowledge that you wouldn’t be buying a ticket at all if you believed you had a fighting chance of obtaining the prize by normal means. Then the winner is chosen—always some distant stranger who’s notably lacking in your best traits—and it becomes insultingly apparent that you can’t beat the system by any means, including the one that you just vainly tried. The game is not only rigged against you; it isn’t really a game.

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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.

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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.

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