Sam Waterston

The Snoozeroom

THE RIVETING DRAMA and moral risks that are part of TV journalism offer a fertile field for artists. Paddy Chayefsky in Network told us the story of “the first known instance of a man who was killed because he had lousy ratings.” In Broadcast News, James L. Brooks showed us the real dangers to the soul of journalism when vacuous flash is valued over substance.

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When I saw the 1949 film of The Great Gatsby, the only other person in the screening room was Edmund Wilson(whom I didn’t know). Afterward, as he left, a smiling Paramount publicity man asked him how he had liked the picture. “Not very much, I’m afraid,” said Wilson,and kept walking to the elevator.

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(500) Days of Summer is a story of boy meets girl, but it is not a love story. We know this because a basso profundo narrator (Richard McGonagle) tells us so in the opening moments of the film. The boy, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), ought to know this, too, because the girl, Summer (Zooey Deschanel), has informed him that she is not interested in having a boyfriend, that she wants to avoid anything “serious,” and that she considers love an illusion. But Tom does not believe Summer, and to a considerable degree neither do we.

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