"it Just Feels Right"
December 03, 2008
When MGM moved Tom Cruise's Nazi biopic Valkyrie from a summer release (we want box office!) to a fall release (we want awards!) to a February 2009 release (we want to bury this movie where no one can ever find it!), there was a widespread expectation that it would, in fact, stink. Then, in a burst of renewed confidence, the studio moved the release back to this month, just in time for awards-season glory. Except not quite.
The Audacity Of Competence
November 05, 2008
I believe in the power of personality in presidential politics as much as anyone. And there's no doubt in my mind that Obama won not so much because he had the superior message (which he did) but because he was by leaps and bounds the superior messenger. That said, his win is also a win for everyone who admires boring, everyday competence. Obama picked competent people to advise him and those competent people helped him run a killer campaign. They were smart, organized, calm, unified, focused, innovative, flexible...in short, everything that the McCain campaign was not.
The Mini-review: 'Tropic Thunder'
August 14, 2008
I'm on break this week and next, so readers will be (mostly) spared my cinematic exhortations until the end of the month. But I did want to weigh in briefly on Tropic Thunder, which opened yesterday. First, a few words about the Robert Downey Jr. minstrel-show "controversy." Downey is not acting in blackface (except in the literal sense); he's playing a character who is acting in blackface. Anyone who fails to grasp this distinction should probably also conclude that playing Archie Bunker made Carroll O'Connor a racist.
Oh, How The Mighty Have Fallen
July 01, 2008
While doing research for a piece, I came across this 1990 gem in the Washington Post: He's a bookworm who looks like Pat Paulsen. His idea of excitement is a long hike in the woods. He does impressions, for God's sake. He wears extremely bad ties. David Souter is not your standard hunka hunka burning love. News that the 51-year-old judge had never married set off a flurry of speculation that the Supreme Court might be getting its first gay justice.
April 23, 2008
Minutes after the polls closed on March 2 in the westernmost Russian city of Kaliningrad--certifying a blowout victory by presidential candidate Dmitri Anatolyevich Medvedev, handpicked heir to Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin--the men of the hour made an appearance at a massive concert underway in Red Square. As broadcast by NTV, a television channel owned by Gazprom (where Medvedev chairs the board of directors), the scene looked like something out of Mission: Impossible.
"the Story Of Tom Cruise, Scientologist"
January 16, 2008
It was quickly pulled from Youtube, but Defamer has now performed the invaluable service of re-posting Tom Cruise's terrifying 2005 paean to his adopted faith. I don't think it's an exageration to say that this is by far the most engrossing performance Cruise has given in years, perhaps ever.
Eyes Wide Shut
November 01, 2007
From Joel Stein's Ron Paul piece in Time: On Tuesday, both Paul and Tom Cruise were guests on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The actor went to Paul's dressing room to thank him for his work on a bill fighting the forced mental screening of grade-school kids. "Go. Go. Go. Go hard," Cruise said.
October 30, 2006
Most parents feel a twinge of anxiety at the thought of leaving their teenagers unsupervised for any length of time. It’s not that the kids are bad; it’s just that, set free from parental oversight, the urge to run wild can prove irresistible. The 1983 Tom Cruise hit Risky Business provided a worst- case template for how quickly things can spiral out of control: One minute, your super-responsible son is lip-synching Bob Seger tunes in his underpants.
Paint it Black
November 29, 2005
It's rarely an attractive sight when a lifelong good guy decides it's time to show everyone he can be bad. For most men, such crises of character involve the midlife acquisition of a motorcycle or sports car, though in some cases an electric guitar suffices. (The leather jacket and sunglasses are givens.) The metamorphosis can be particularly disturbing in filmmakers, who after all have more vivid ways of dramatizing their states of mind than mere automobiles and accoutrements.