The Big Small Screen
June 23, 2011
Too Big to FailHBO Bobby Fischer Against the World HBO In the last few weeks, America has had the chance to see two disturbing movies about our warping emphasis on heroes. Both of them played on cable, on HBO in fact, and some may think that therefore they fall under the rubric of “television.” But this misunderstanding has not prevented many of the best film directors in America from being driven to cable recently for worthwhile work.
David Thomson on Films: ‘Mildred Pierce’
March 25, 2011
You can see why HBO thought to re-make Mildred Pierce, especially if it had Kate Winslet committed to playing the title part. The James M. Cain novel (published in 1941) is attuned to our grim economy: It’s the story of a single mother in Glendale in 1931 who has to take a job as a waitress and who then builds it into a flourishing, modest restaurant trade, based on the pies she bakes at home. As with so much of Cain, this is a story about money and business—I think he was more interested in those things than in the sex that dogged his reputation.
The Jets Go Hollywood
September 13, 2010
The Jets begin this season as a Super Bowl favorite. That in itself is unusual. But there is something even more unusual taking place, something that rarely happens in the world of sports: The team appears to be in the process of upending its identity as a secondary attraction in its own city. As a longtime Jets fan, I know this is supposed to make me thrilled. But the truth is, I feel a bit uneasy. Sportswriters commonly mischaracterize the identity of the Jets, labeling them perennial losers, disappointments, or underdogs. But this isn’t really accurate.
Dr. Laura: Worse Than Her Callers
August 26, 2010
[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner] Laura Kipnis' bizarre Slate piece on the latest Dr. Laura controversy is one of the least convincing articles you are likely to read this summer. Here is Kipnis' summary of the episode that landed Dr. Laura in hot water: Jade [a black woman married to a white man] had called Dr. Laura (of all people) for advice on situations when her husband's friends and relations brought up race in ways she found insulting. "Well, can you give me an example of a racist comment? 'Cause sometimes people are hypersensitive," countered Dr. L.
Introducing Citizen Cohn
June 29, 2010
Does the world really need another blog on politics and policy? There was a time when that question made sense. A year and a half ago, when I started a blog about health care reform, I distinctly remember thinking it would be a nice little diversion from my longer articles—a way to keep in touch with readers and, once in a while, to amplify a point I couldn’t make within the confines of the print magazine. I turned out to be very wrong.
June 21, 2010
I cannot pinpoint the precise moment in time when the transformation kicked in, the shift from the occasional one-night stand with someone I thought of as a vapid twit into a torrid love affair of passionate tweets. But I remember the circumstance. I was drunk, quite drunk. As is my habit when I am drunk, I assaulted the kitchen: whipped cream out of the can, smoked mussels packed in what appeared to be high-viscosity motor oil, several substantial fistfuls of Cheez-Its.
Please “Treme,” I Beg You--Get Over Yourself
May 07, 2010
On Wednesday, TNR senior editor Ruth Franklin explored the way authenticity is played with in David Simon’s new HBO show, “Treme.” Here, John McWhorter offers his own, markedly different opinion on the subject. People can get irritating about their authenticity.
THE READ: David Simon’s World
May 05, 2010
In the third episode of “Treme,” David Simon’s new HBO series about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a group of Mardi Gras Indians are holding a memorial ceremony for one of their members, whose badly decomposed remains were just discovered in a shed behind his house. As they sing and chant, a large white bus marked “Katrina Tour” rolls into the street and stops in front of them. The driver rolls down his window; all we see of the passengers is their flashbulbs. “Drive away from here, sir!” the Indians shout.
Samantha And Fern
May 01, 2010
My old friend Samantha Power, a member of the president’s National Security Council staff, came to dinner last Sunday night after a showing of the movie Sergio, drawn from her book of the same title and directed by Greg Barton. The film is an HBO production which will air on May 6. Sergio was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the Brazilian head of the United Nations mission to Iraq who was killed in a terrorist explosion at the U.N.’s headquarters in August 2003, months after the American invasion and months before Saddam Hussein was snared in his cave of hiding.
May 21, 2007
The Ministry of Special CasesBy Nathan Englander (Alfred A. Knopf, 339 pp., $25) IN ONE OF the best-known stories in For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, the collection of short stories that shot Nathan Englander into the literary stratosphere seven years ago, a middle-aged WASP sitting in a taxi cab has the sudden and inexplicable revelation that he is Jewish. The next day he visits a rabbi in Brooklyn, who informs him that he is a gilgul, or reincarnated soul, and sends him off with a copy of The Chosen.