Life Changings
April 07, 2003

Assassination Tango (United Artists) That Girl from Paris (Films Philos) Has Robert Duvall gone out of his professional mind? The worry seems legitimate, especially for an admirer, after Assassination Tango. Ever since I first saw him, in an Off-Broadway production of Miller's A View From the Bridge in 1965, Duvall has seemed to me one of the few American actors in both theater and film who needed only to decide to be great in order to reach classical greatness.

A Paler Shade of White
June 24, 2002

Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past by David R. Roediger (University of California Press, 323 pp., $29.95) "What is a White Man?" asked Charles Chesnutt in the pages of the Independent, a mass-circulation weekly, in 1889. This was no mere academic question.

Not Yet the End
March 25, 2002

The Invisible Masterpiece By Hans Belting Translated by Helen Atkins (University of Chicago Press, 480 pp., $45) Never was there more optimistic nonsense written about abstract art than in Germany after World War II. Abstraction, many artists and critics hoped, would guide the German public back to universal spiritual ideals and reconcile them with European civilization. The Germans were discovering abstract art anew after long years of National Socialist philistinism.

The Softness of Reason
July 13, 1992

In The Clouds, Aristophanes' great comedy about Socrates, a young man eager for the new learning goes to the Think-Academy run by that strange and notorious figure. A debate is staged for him, contrasting the merits of traditional education with those of the new discipline of argument. The spokesman for the old education is a he-man. He favors a tough military regimen, including lots of gymnastics and not much questioning.

Age of Celebritics
February 24, 1986

LOS ANGELES—Let’s see. On March 1 we have the Great Peace March. Three thousand people walking from Los Angeles to Washington for nuclear disarmament, starting at a star-studded concert in the L.A. Coliseum. Endorsed by Madonna. Tents provided by North Face. Shoe sponsorship under negotiation. Total cost: $20 million. Arrives in Washington November 15. Meanwhile, on May 25, there’s Hands Across America. A 4,000-mile human chain from Los Angeles to New York to raise $100 million to “combat domestic hunger and homelessness.” Organized by USA for Africa (“We Are the World”).