Wednesday, November 27 2013
My ramblings about reading are so valued that I'm now a big star in Tanzania. On my recent whirlwind tour I was mobbed at the airport and carried about on people's shoulders.
Friday, October 4 2013
More books you'll love than you can swing a cat while shaking a stick at.
Tuesday, August 13 2013
Who needs Netflix and its fees? Make a list of movies and take it to the nearest public library.
Sunday, May 12 2013
Many people assert axiomatically that "the book is always better", while others have suggested that bad books make good movies and good books make bad movies. But do films adapted from books, good or bad, give books a longer shelf-life?
Monday, April 15 2013
Everyone knows it's impossible for any woman to enjoy guilt-free sex with jazz musicians and delivery boys.
Monday, January 14 2013
Both Billy Jim Hawkins and Perry Mason are defense lawyers, but the resemblance ends there.
Wednesday, November 28 2012
TV's Mike Hammer could never be as violent and cynical as in the books; it wouldn't be allowed by censors.
Thursday, September 6 2012
John Huston understands the crushing success of failure. In the rarely seen films Sinful Davey and Fat City, he observes the self-destructive behaviors and interactions of stunned and blasted losers as closely as Jane Austen would.
Sunday, July 1 2012
Not every pre-Code film is a Scarface or Baby Face; some are only mediocre faces.
Wednesday, February 1 2012
Al Mundy (Robert Wagner) enjoys a reputation as a world-class thief, a glamorous burglar, a pickpocket's pickpocket. Too bad he landed in prison.
Monday, December 5 2011
I still yearn for a hefty volume of pages to take down from the shelf, to leaf through at my leisure or to zero in on that relevant fact.
Thursday, October 13 2011
A once-popular medical drama reveals how much has changed in America's health care industry -- and its television medical dramas -- and how much remains the same.
Wednesday, August 3 2011
All this aircraft is blatantly fetishized, with Bond at one point giving his plane an impulsive and passionate smack of the lips.
Wednesday, May 25 2011
The history of TV musicals is richer -- and stranger -- than you think. At least three sitcoms were singing long before Glee came along: That's Life, The Monkees and The Partridge Family. Before them, well, if I could sing it to you...
Monday, April 4 2011
New DVD provider RaroVideo USA is coming out of the gate with two lavish Criterion-worthy releases: The Clowns and the Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection. One is nominally "arty" and the other "lowdown", but the lines deserve to be blurred.
Wednesday, February 9 2011
Henry King's name isn't mentioned when critics start bringing up John Ford or Howard Hawks, and yet even his forgotten and little-seen works hold up better than many of his contemporaries.
Wednesday, January 12 2011
The tremendously popular Charlie Chaplin movies were played until they fell apart and flaked off the nitrate, and time's warping and woofing did the rest.
Friday, December 10 2010
Three turn-of-the-'70s movies, freshly available through Warner Archives, give us distorted reflections of a moment when peace, love and the "youth movement" became linked with murder in the popular imagination.
Sunday, November 14 2010
Men's movies show us a fantasy of the man we'd like to be (Tarzan or James Bond or Sam Spade), while women's movies are transmogrified dreams of women's real lives.
Tuesday, October 19 2010
King of the underworld! Master of disguise! Collector of exclamation points! From books to films, Fantomas was the giddy James Bond phenom of its day.
Tuesday, October 5 2010
Mary Pickford was the biggest female star at the beginning of the '20s and Greta Garbo was the biggest at the finish, but in between there were none bigger than Norma and Constance Talmadge.
Wednesday, September 15 2010
Is there always something subversive about comedy? Only when it's funny.
Monday, August 30 2010
The '60s were the most surreal decade on TV, and this show has scenes as bizarre as any sitcom, even without castaways or martians or robots or talking animals or reincarnated automobiles.
Thursday, July 22 2010
More valuable fossils have been unearthed from the strata of film history thanks to these Kino and Flicker Alley DVDs: a bunch of lost Keatons and one lost Roxie.
Thursday, June 24 2010
A world where nothing is right or reassuring, and little will ever be resolved happily, not in 30-minutes or 30 years – TV as depression, an endless picturesque grind. Rather like life.
Tuesday, April 27 2010
This show is an example of "melting pot" art from the tail end of the Ellis Island era in popular culture, when the wide variety of accents heard in city streets was reflected on the vaudeville stage, on radio, in comics, and wherever pop culture served the mythology of the mainstream.
Thursday, March 4 2010
Salto, a masterpiece of Polish cinema, seems to contain much of Poland's tradition in distilled form, as well as being a perfectly Konwickian construction.
Tuesday, January 19 2010
Kino and Flicker Alley are the labels duking it out for silent supremacy, and the spectator is the winner.
Tuesday, December 1 2009
These two new DVDs help us take a look back at forward thinkers, and although no one will like all these films equally, the whole is an experience not only edifying but, at its most radical, even pleasurable.
Wednesday, September 2 2009
Bill Frisell's ambient, fuzzy, meandering guitar doodles sound like they're trying to approximate the sad stillness blowing through the corridors of Keaton's mind.
Thursday, July 23 2009
Excellent movies are so thick on the ground that we're tripping on them – but never have so many delivered so much to such an ungrateful lot.
Thursday, March 5 2009
Steiner and Van Dyke have an eye for beauty even in misery, and their compositions make this part of the movie a pleasure to visit, even if we wouldn't want to live there.
Wednesday, January 21 2009
Everything here is in achingly beautiful and sharply restored black and white, everything is intelligent and witty, everything is deeply felt -- everything is Russell.
Wednesday, December 3 2008
The sound era added nothing thematically or tonally that wasn't already perfected in silent films.
Tuesday, October 7 2008
Takahiko Iimura read about the American underground film movement and began making experimental works based only on what he'd read. Soon he was a leading experimental filmmaker.
Thursday, July 17 2008
In what might be called the curse of Chekhov, the common setting is a living room, the common characters a family, and the common dynamic a stew of bitter backbiting and recrimination that ultimately gives the lie to Tolstoy, because here each unhappy family seems perfectly alike.