David Thomson on Films: ‘The Beaver’
May 10, 2011
There are things wrong with The Beaver, starting with the gamble of giving that title to a Mel Gibson picture in the moment of his lowest public esteem. The considerable courage in making his character a profound depressive is not adequately explained—in life, depressives are often suffering because they don’t understand their problem, but, in drama, it’s hard to offer just a numb stare to such questions. We expect explanation, where depression sees only chaos. In addition, as this story trails away it tries to slip a facile feel-good disguise over its persuasive claim that life is shit.
That Seventies Review
March 18, 2010
You may, or should, be familiar with Todd Gitlin's terrific book "The Sixties." It turns out he also has a lot of fascinating observations about the 70's as well: Bad ideas traveled fast without even the benefit of the Internet. Heavy drugs helped (though Nixon didn’t seem to need anything more than alcohol). Conspiracy theories spawned theories of who benefited from conspiracy theories. There was gold at the end of Gravity’s Rainbow. Even Oliver Stone was not necessary. For example, Wheen notes, “It was A Clockwork Orange which convinced [Arthur] Bremer that he must shoot George Wallac
January 25, 2006
You hear a lot of complaining, and rightly so, about Hollywood's tendency to churn out safe, unimaginative pabulum--the remakes, the sequels, the blow-everything-up movies. Less remarked upon is the opposite problem: The studios' inability (or unwillingness) to make B+ movies, competent, mid-sized genre films that are formulaic in the good sense. There was a time when Hollywood excelled at producing such solid but unexceptional fare--Westerns are the classic example--but no longer.
It's a Mad, Mad Verdict
July 12, 1982
If the law truly means what it says, then John W. Hinckley Jr. had to be found not guilty of the attempted murder of the President of the United States. Not because he didn’t do it—and not even because the defense proved that mental illness caused his acts—but because the jury could not help entertaining a reasonable doubt about Hinckley’s sanity at the time of the shooting.