Movies

A Nation of Two

 As part of my annual catching up with Oscar, I overcame my reluctance and saw Michael Haneke’s Amour. Haneke’s preoccupation with cruelty, both physical and...

Pillheads

About fifteen minutes into Silver Linings Playbook, its hero, Pat Solitano—played by Bradley Cooper—is out jogging near his Philadelphia neighborhood when a young...

Raw Spaghetti

The director Quentin Tarantino loves genre, the grungier the better. His first three films, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown, are gangster movies—or,...

Class Photo

Most Americans forty or older will recall the 1989 case of the young woman brutalized by a rampaging mob of teenagers while jogging in Central Park. Coming amid...

Hide & Seek

If you knew only the plots of Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, you might conclude that they are sibling movies. Both are based on actual events—respectively, the rescue...

Devices & Desires

Leo Tolstoy hated theater, or at least the more stylized varieties of it. The author of some well-received plays as well as his much more famous novels, the Count...

Survivors

Often when the film adaptation of an acclaimed novel fails, it fails through excessive deference—a filmmaker overawed by the book and unable to reconceptualize it...

The Closer

In the foreground of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is the thrust and parry of politics—powerful men competing to control the conclusion and aftermath of the Civil War...

Thin Air

David Mitchell’s virtuosic novel Cloud Atlas enfolds six plots into one theme: No man is an island but neither is any era. In all times, in all places, as one of...

Love Among the Ruins

The time-travel action film Looper closely resembles James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi classic The Terminator, reiterating that film’s futuristic vision of a murderous...

Hooch & Hokum

In one respect, Paul Thomas Anderson stands apart from even the best of living American directors: he is both a fabricator of spectacle and a shrewd psychologist....

The Age of Regret

Given its overwhelmingly young audience demographic, it’s interesting to see what Hollywood does when it gets its hands on the unsettling themes of old age....
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