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.
Yesterday, we noted the extreme concentration in just a few metropolitan areas of the leading-edge U.S. cleantech firms honored in the Global Cleantech 100 list of the most promising start-ups. We noted that a whopping 39 of the 58 U.S. firms included in the list are hyper-clustered in just four metropolitan areas—San Francisco, San Jose, Boston, and Los Angeles, in that order.
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.
Missing Workers: The Elephant in the Recovery
February 09, 2011
More than a few observers (here, here or here) are finding it difficult to interpret last week’s BLS employment report. The household survey recorded a fairly large 0.4 percentage-point drop in the unemployment rate, at the same time that the establishment survey recorded an increase in payroll employment of a measly 36,000. An increasingly missing piece of the puzzle may be the workers themselves. According to the latest report, fully 22 percent of 25 to 64 year-olds are not in the U.S. labor force.
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.
No Labels, No Apology
December 22, 2010
Within a week after its official launch, the No Labels movement—which I helped found—has accomplished a hitherto unimaginable feat: It has united a bitterly divided commentariat. Tribunes of left and right have issued issue denunciations and pronounced anathemas. Polarization, they say, is a wonderful thing, and those who would weaken it are at best deluded and naïve. Civility is a euphemism for the prissy repression of uninhibited democratic discourse, and the self-appointed speech police should butt out.
October 20, 2010
Leo and His Circle: The Life of Leo Castelli By Annie Cohen-Solal (Alfred A. Knopf, 540 pp., $35) I. Annie Cohen-Solal’s new biography of Leo Castelli, the art dealer who will forever be associated with the meteoric rise of Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg in the years around 1960, has set me to thinking about the interest that men and women who run galleries inspire among a fairly wide public.
October 07, 2010
The High Line New York City Millennium Park Chicago Citygarden St. Louis A common plaint of contemporary social criticism is that American society has become more an archipelago than a nation, increasingly balkanized into ethnic, class, faith, and interest groups whose members rarely interact meaningfully with people whose affiliations they do not in large measure share. The pervasiveness of this phenomenon of American selfaggregation can be debated, but its existence is pretty plain.
A Cure for Disruptive Teacher Layoffs in Los Angeles? Almost.
October 06, 2010
Some exciting education news out of Los Angeles: On Tuesday, the Board of Education approved a court settlement that would fundamentally alter (and improve) the city’s teacher layoff process. The settlement was in response to a lawsuit that I wrote a piece about back in May. Here’s the quick back-story: Los Angeles, like most school districts, lays teachers off on a “last-hired, first-fired” basis—meaning, teachers with the fewest years of experience in the classroom are the first to go in a budget crisis.
Gaming Housing Prices: Boise Bulls vs. Boston Bears
September 15, 2010
Which way are housing markets going? The recent national-level indicators have looked pretty bleak for housing bulls. Sales of new homes hit a record low in July. House prices in June topped their levels of a year ago but only, it seems, because of the now-expired federal homebuyer tax credits. There’s a lively debate about whether housing prices will continue to fall, and David Leonhardt summarized the controversy nicely in his New York Times column last week. But this debate misses an important part of the story. Because housing markets are regional, not national, there may not be a single